Inbound Marketing Vs. Outbound Marketing (Which is Better?)

Aug 29, 2021 10:28:42 AM | Inbound Marketing Inbound Marketing Vs. Outbound Marketing (Which is Better?)

 “Inbound or outbound marketing, Which is better?”, it’s a question I’m asked all the time. Other industry leaders and experts have answered it many times. I’ll share with you my opinion and to help you to make up your mind about which is best for your business.

Some experts claim that outbound marketing is dead, while others say that it doesn’t work in B2B. Others have concluded that inbound marketing is the only option. Both methods need you to focus on different channels and media to reach prospects. Baring in mind that if you work in B2B marketing, you have a budget to consider, goals to meet, and stakes to set.


What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing is a traditional approach to reaching your potential customers. With outbound marketing, you focus on pushing marketing messaging to your audience. It is promoting your business to people without their permission. Outbound marketing uses marketing channels like:

  • Direct email

  • Online ads

  • Print advertising

  • Billboards

  • Cold calling

  • Television and radio ads

  • Trade shows

  • Pay per click

  • Etc.


Outbound marketing has a ‘hit and hope’ approach. You push out your messaging and hope someone or anyone responds. This use of mass media rarely has a targeted approach. This means your messaging is an uninvited guest. These days outbound marketing methods are not popular with the modern consumer.

 According to, 86% of people skip TV commercials and 44% of direct mail is never opened. Traditional methods are shrinking in consumption and value. 

Advantages of Outbound marketing

  1. Reaches a wide audience.

  2. Helps you reach prospects who may not be aware of your product or services.

Disadvantages of Outbound marketing

  1. High investment with a low return.

  2. Customers block and avoid it (do not call, spam filters, DVR).

  3. Delivers irrelevant messaging to prospects.

  4. Invasive and avoided by customers (Interruption Marketing).

  5. Communication is only one way.


What is Inbound Marketing?


Inbound marketing refers to permission-based marketing that pulls prospects to your business. With inbound, you provide free valuable advice and insights at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Once the prospect is ready to buy you delight them and turn them into brand advocates.

Inbound marketing helps your organization turn strangers into advocates of your brand. The idea is that once your customers find success, they will then share their stories with others. This creates new organic leads for your business. The flywheel model drives this idea of customer-driven growth. The more delighted customer you have the more your business grows.

Inbound marketing strategies seek to attract, engage, and delight customers.


A video (short clip) about the flywheel

Inbound marketing strategies used to pull customers to your business include:

  • Blog articles

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

  • Videos

  • E-books and pillar pages

  • How-to guides

  • Podcasts

  • Social media marketing

  • Email marketing

  • Etc.


 Content Marketing Institute says 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles instead of an advertisement. 


Advantages of Inbound marketing

  1. Inbound marketing costs 62 percent less per lead than outbound marketing.

  2. Data-driven and so you have customer behavior insights.

  3. Permission-based (noninvasive), customers receive the relevant messaging when they are ready.

  4. Builds an interactive customer experience.

  5. Encourages customer loyalty and retention.

  6. Positions brands as experts and thought leaders in the industry.


Disadvantages of Inbound marketing

  1. Inbound marketing requires consistency and time investment to produce quality content.

  2. It takes time to see the impact of inbound marketing


The key differences between Inbound and Outbound marketing


Inbound marketing differs from traditional outbound marketing in its approach to creating leads. Here are some key contrasts between them:

  1. Communication.

  • Inbound marketing is a two-way communication model. This gives room for interaction and feedback.

  • Outbound marketing broadcasts messaging to the customer and is a one-way communication strategy.

  1. Targeting and Segmentation.

  • Inbound marketing creates contextual messaging to different segments of your target market.

  • Outbound marketing is one message that fits all.

  1. Value.

  • Inbound marketing is about empowering your prospect to overcome their pain points.
  • Outbound marketing does not attempt to solve their problems.
  1. Customer experience.

  • Inbound marketers attempt to engage, entertain and educate customers.

  • Outbound marketers do not seek to educate the buyer nor engage them.


Table Comparing Inbound and Outbound marketing

Inbound Marketing (Pull) Outbound Marketing (Push)
The marketer educates The marketer simply sells
The most valuable content wins The marketer rarely interacts with the audience
The marketer interacts with the audience The biggest wins
The marketer gets permission from the customer The marketer interrupts the customer

Inbound Marketing

"Pull Marketing"

  • The marketer educates
  • The most valuable content wins
  • The marketer interacts with the audience
  • Marketer gets permission

Outbound Marketing

"Push Marketing"

  • The marketer simply sells
  • The marketer rarely interacts with the audience
  • The biggest budget wins
  • The marketer interrupts the customer



At this point, the differences between inbound and outbound marketing are clear. If you are looking to be in business for a while, start your inbound marketing journey.


Switching from Outbound to Inbound Marketing


So far, I have made the case for inbound marketing over outbound marketing. Going inbound is the best long-term goal for a business that plans to grow and be competitive. HubSpot says 70% of marketers are investing in content marketing. But, it is not as easy as halting all your outbound efforts overnight.

Outbound marketing, in isolation, is inefficient and a waste of company resources. The fact is legacy media engagement is on the decline. Numbers show that Netflix, YouTube, Apple TV, and Roku are replacing the television set. Even though the traditional way is losing its influence, it still has a large reach. After all, both inbound and outbound marketing efforts have their effective pros.

Companies that use a mix of both inbound and outbound get more fruitful results. Find out more in the Not Another State of Marketing Report by HubSpot. The switch needs strong planning and execution aligned with your company’s SMART goals.


See what inbound marketing can do for your business


Are you ready to increase leads, revenue, and brand authority? See how inbound marketing can boost your marketing efforts.

Free Smart goals worksheet
Tumisang Bogwasi

Written By : Tumisang Bogwasi

Tumisang is an entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of Fine Media. His passion for building businesses fuels him to share the world of Inbound with as many people as possible.