Comparing Inbound and Outbound Marketing Strategies

Posted by Leslie Van Zee on August 23rd, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Inbound and outbound marketing are very different ways of approaching how to reach your prospects. Neither is necessarily better than the other; rather each has advantages and disadvantages and is more appropriate for different situations. Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy to better understand which might be best to help you reach your goals.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is generally considered a more traditional marketing method because it has been used longer than inbound marketing. Outbound marketing is focused on putting your message in front of your ideal customer. The advantage is that the marketer is in control of the message, in terms of what is said, and when, how and where it is seen. This type of marketing requires the marketer to know more about the prospects they are trying to reach because they are reaching out to directly contact those prospects with their message. This approach is more focused on selling than inbound marketing.

At Vantage Local, our online display ads are a great example of outbound marketing.  Some other examples of outbound marketing include email blasts, trade shows, cold calling, and advertising.  Some online marketing experts believe as much as 90% of online marketing is now done using outbound tactics. [i]

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing's focus is getting prospects to reach out to you to ask for what you have to offer. Inbound marketing aims to position you as an expert and go-to resource with the information you are giving your audience. Many experts believe blogging is the primary tool to use in your inbound marketing efforts, with social media ranking a close second.

As the most prevalent inbound marketing tool, blogs require that you build up a sizeable audience for them to be an effective marketing tool.  One of the things a blog allows you to do is to simply provide general information and to answer questions your audience asks. Since a large proportion of people researching your topic may not be ready to buy when they first see your information, inbound marketing is a way to nurture relationship with prospects until they are ready to buy.

Which should you use?

The reality is, the choice of marketing tactics is more what works for the specific goal at hand. Outbound marketing can be a good way to build awareness of your brand, while inbound marketing is good for maintaining contact with existing prospects.  Inbound marketing can be time consuming, while outbound marketing requires an upfront investment in advertising budget.

Most online marketers use some combination of outbound and inbound marketing tactics. Identify your marketing goal, then evaluate how inbound and outbound tactics might help you reach them. This will help you find the combination of tactics works best for you.

[i] http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/2989/Inbound-Marketing-vs-Outbound-Marketing.aspx

2 Responses to “Comparing Inbound and Outbound Marketing Strategies”

  1. Seeing as I work in SEO, I'm a little partial to inbound marketing. In my opinion, outbound marketing is an attempt to interrupt someone's day and hope you catch their attention. Meanwhile, inbound marketing is about making your site ready for when someone comes looking for you. Wile you don't have to be 100% one or the other, I think inbound marketing is well worth the time.

  2. Ross Clurman says:

    I like both strategies for different reasons. You have to combine both to push information (outbound -- gaining new prospects), and pull attention (inbound -- keeping clients informed) when necessary. I agree with Nick in that content-driven SEO is key for getting found and definitely worth the investment of time/resources.

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