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Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing

What are inbound and outbound marketing strategies? Inbound marketing is the process of developing content to draw a customer into a funnel of nurture and conversion. Outbound marketing is the process of interrupting a prospect, injecting your message, product, or service. The most traditional forms of marketing, usually fall into the outbound category.

Here, we will discuss the different forms of inbound and outbound marketing. We will also take a look at which strategy is considered more effective.


For many years, outbound marketing is the tried and true method. Traditionally, it’s the go-to strategy of marketing professionals, as well as, a source of quality leads. These tactics are designed to reach the customer directly, interrupting their daily activities and attention streams. It is important to understand that over the years, outbound gained massive saturation. Customers are numb, as they are exposed to ads everywhere. The result, outbound marketing becomes aggressive to maintain its efficiency.

Types of outbound marketing:

  • Television Ads

  • Radio Ads

  • Telemarketing

  • Direct mail

  • Cold emails

  • Seminars

  • Billboards

  • Tradeshows (also considered inbound)

Advantages of Outbound

Depending on the structure of your company and the types of products you sell, outbound marketing quickly and easily creates conversions and turn. Consumer products are well served by outbound marketing, through impulse purchases, along with, the lack of long discovery or purchasing cycles. In this scenario, a person can click an ad, observe the product, and purchase it in less than five minutes.

When it’s difficult for a customer to make a decision remotely, outbound marketing shows the product in action. This is where a tradeshow strategy plays an important role. Displaying capital equipment helps to illustrate things like scale, functionality, and tangibility to a product. A tradeshow captures leads with well-established, tangible results.

One thing that is not discussed enough, is a company with a small or nonexistent marketing staff. In this situations, while inbound marketing is less expensive, it is more time intensive to develop distribution collateral. For this reason, companies may let the PPC take the brunt of the work.

Disadvantages of Outbound

There are also a growing number of disadvantages to outbound vs inbound. Some of the primary problems have to do with the users themselves. For instance, one of the major struggles with advertisements is that due to saturation. It becomes ever more difficult to get prospects to actually view or engage with an ad. We are overstimulated and surrounded by advertising and the internet made this worse. Ads on social media, articles, billboards, on the radio, in our emails, and on our phones. The list goes on. We train ourselves to work around them so that we can comfortably continue. 84% of 25-34 year old's report leaving a website due to intrusive ads. This means, that users are actively avoiding situations where companies are interrupting. Unfortunately, this is the foundation of outbound marketing. This also opens the case for inbound marketing’s continued traction over the last 10 years.

Inbound marketing

Over the last decade, marketers recognized another way to get people's attention, one that wasn’t as disruptive or aggressive, yielding high results, over time. Quality content pulls people in and holds attention better. With a few strategic tactics, inbound marketing generate leads for the sales team, converting into sales. This is a major shift in the marketing mindset. The “ad” is masked as educational or informative content, rather than trying to interrupt. Marketing provides something of value, a customer-centric strategy.

There are several types of inbound marketing:

  • Blogs

  • White papers

  • Social media

  • SEO

  • Training

  • Word of mouth

  • Testimonials

  • Case studies

  • “How it’s Made” videos

  • Drip campaigns

How Inbound Works

There are four main stages of inbound marketing. If each stage is properly set up, a company will develop a steady stream of leads, prospects, and ultimately closed sales:


This is typically, free content that prospects can consume at their own pace, no strings attached. This content should be very customer-centric, without pushing your agenda on to the prospect. This is an important step, establishing trust with the customer.


Start to nurture a lead once opted into our funnel. This is when a customer is slowly introduced to your product through more educational and informative content, allowing them to acclimate to the idea of working with your company. This is very soft selling. Typically this is where you begin to qualify a customer so they can move into the conversion stages of the funnel.

Forms of Nurture Campaigns:

  • Gated content

  • Dynamic content

  • Landing pages

  • Forms

  • CTA (call to action)

  • Drip campaigns


Conversion is the responsibility of the sales team. This stage takes place once marketing signals that the customer is ripe for contact.

Brand Evangelization

This is an important stage of the process. As converted leads are far less complex to market to, it is possible to continue marketing. This allows you to stay top of mind and speaks highly of your company.

Advantages of Inbound Marketing

As you build up a base of inbound marketing content, triggers, and funnels, the investment will continue to provide ROI long after the investment is made. Since ROI is currently one of the hottest KPI, this is especially attractive for many companies.

Inbound marketing is extremely efficient for building brand awareness and quickly positions the company as a thought leader in the industry. This helps build massive trust with prospects and customers alike. We all know that trust in a brand and company is one of the most important roles marketing plays. When people trust you, they are far more likely to work with you.

This type of marketing runs in the background once it is correctly distributed. While there is maintenance and modifications as information is collected, this style of marketing is a fairly hands-off way of driving conversions. Hook your content up to gated content or put it into a funnel with a landing page and feed your sales team nice warm leads.

Inbound marketing works is because it can be used to retain and evangelize existing customers. Evangelizing existing companies is one of the least expensive and highly effective forms of marketing. It’s essentially, giving existing customers content to spread word of mouth about your company. They are already sold, nurture them with important updates and informative content. They will come back and next time, bring their friends!

There are several reassuring statistics that support the concept of moving to inbound marketing. Websites with a blog get 55% more traffic than sites that don’t. To further drive the point home, 45% of companies said that inbound marketing produced most of their leads. This compared to 22% saying that outbound produced more leads. 46% of companies say that inbound created higher ROI and only 12% said that outbound had higher ROI. All of this compared, shows the landscape of advertising and marketing leaning toward the idea that inbound creates more effective ROI than outbound marketing.

Disadvantages of Inbound

Really, there are only two disadvantages to inbound marketing. They both come down to time. Inbound marketing takes time to develop, plan, distribute, and implement. It also takes longer for inbound to initially, start working, as it has to send down roots and establish itself. Time is something a lot of companies don’t have to spread around. Once invested, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

After reviewing the differences between inbound and outbound marketing, there is a strong leaning to inbound. However, we feel it is important to state that outbound still has a place in modern marketing. At least for the time being, we recommend that companies evaluate their standing in each category. If they lack inbound coverage, develop it as a priority. If you need help with your inbound marketing strategies, contact Nesbit Marketing:



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