Inbound vs Outbound marketing: Which strategy to choose?

You’ve heard the marketing terms inbound and outbound, but do you know which strategy is right for your business? Understanding their differences and how they work together can drive more leads through your sales funnel.

written by Aleksandar Debeljak
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Have you, as a consumer, ever complained that you have received too much value? Hopefully the answer is no. This is the idea of how the new kind of marketing works.

Acquiring customers in an organic and natural way is the basis for how inbound marketing has gained in popularity because “Content is king” simply. The opposite of this method is called outbound marketing and is the old-fashioned marketing. Outbound marketing targets large audiences which can make it impersonal and the advertising is considered by many to be difficult or urgent.

If you are unsure of what the differences are between the two, then read on because this article will give you the information needed to create a better marketing strategy to fit the needs of your business.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a method designed to engage with a specific audience and to pull that audience towards your company’s products or services through the creation of quality content that adds value to them. This approach is great because it utilizes content marketing, SEO and social media to effectively target people who are already looking for your product or service to solve their problem. By adding value to these potential customers, inbound marketing will deliver more qualified leads and a better ROI.

The advantages with inbound marketing

  • Inbound marketing is all about creating great content to share with your audience.
  • It’s about delighting them, educating them and engaging them in an open and transparent way
  • Inbound marketers believe in their efforts more than outbound marketers.
  • Inbound gives higher ROI.
  • Inbound produces higher quality leads for sales.
  • Inbound lead generation has improved over the past year.
  • Inbound marketing is a more complex approach than outbound marketing.
  • With inbound marketing, the message is specific and useful. Rather than forced upon you, the message is instead offered up on a nice shiny silver platter — ready for you to consume whenever convenient.
  • With inbound marketing, you own your distribution and it grows much like an asset.
  • With inbound marketing, everything is digital, and everything is quantifiable.
  • 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of the company’s content before talking with a sales representative.
  • Inbound marketing efforts are 62% less expensive than outbound.
  • 76% of B2B buyers leverage three or more information channels when researching a purchase.
Inbound marketing is about delighting customers, educating them and engaging them in an open and transparent way.Click To Tweet

What is outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing is a method designed to push out paid advertisement to an audience in the hope that some of them will find it appealing and respond to the call-to-action. While this approach was good in the past, outbound marketing techniques such as TV ads, direct mail and telemarketing are now outdated due to technology because it interrupts those who may not be interested in your services at the present moment.

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The disadvantages with outbound marketing

  • 32% of marketers say that “print advertising (print, outdoor, broadcast)” is the most overrated marketing tactic.
  • 85% of people fast forward through commercials
  • 84% of 25­–35 year-olds are likely to click off a website with excessive advertising
  • 45% of direct mail never gets opened, 200 million people are on the national Do Not Call Registry
  • Your relationship with your customer is based on attention grabbing rather than value.
  • With outbound marketing, you are always renting your distribution.
  • With outbound marketing, the success of the marketing is hard to measure.

How to use inbound and outbound to your advantage

An overview of the inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing approach:

Inbound marketing

  • Permissive
  • Pull tactics
  • Two-way communication
  • Content provides value
  • Customers come to you
  • Can be easily measured for ROI
  • Marketing channels: blogs, search engines, influencers, social media, PPC and opt-in email

Outbound marketing

  • Interruptive
  • Push tactics
  • One-way communication
  • Content provides little to no value
  • Customers are sought after
  • Tough to measure for ROI
  • Marketing channels: print ads, TV ads, direct mail, radio, trade shows and telemarketing.

Although the benefits of inbound marketing are many, there is still a purpose of using outbound. For example, email and phone calls are still important to use, but before you send an email or call someone, it’s important that you have information about them to solve their problems and challenges.

If you use the customer information that you have received from your inbound efforts, this can make your outbound campaigns more effective by creating personalized communication.


Now you know that inbound marketing is the “natural approach” to attract customers when they are ready. outbound marketing on the other hand is the “in your face approach” that in our digital era tends to turn off a lot of customers by being too product focused or delivering the message at the wrong time.

At DLE Solutions, we feel that a mix of both inbound and outbound marketing is beneficial. Inbound marketing tactics are a cost effective way to attract leads to your business which will allow you to learn more about your customers before sending out tailored outbound materials.

How does your business utilize inbound or outbound marketing to build customer loyalty and deliver a ROI in the digital era? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

More inbound marketing resources:

About Aleksandar Debeljak

Aleksandar Debeljak is a Digital Marketing Specialist who helps clients align marketing campaigns to their business goals. Follow him on Twitter @aleksdebeljak.