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Inbound Marketing Vs Outbound Marketing

Date Created: 12/02/2020

Since the early 2010s marketing, advertising and communication have taken huge leaps. Inbound vs Outbound is becoming something lately. Those daily innovations on the Internet give room for great change in the way an interactive mix between a brand and customers happens. If you worked for an agency in the mid-90s you would only think of all those different, complicated, creative ways with which you can push some product or service to a target audience. At the same time, you and your colleagues may not have been 100% sure you’ve hit the right target audience.

To make things a bit more tangible, in the whole inbound vs outbound battle think of yourself as an advertiser in a cocktail party. Your outbound methods would be handing a few leaflets here and there trying to advertise or push something to individuals that have the chance to throw those leaflets away. Your inbound methods would be getting into conversations gently and talking about what some of those other people talked, letting them discover whatever you were about to advertise.

There’s no doubt that the main difference between inbound and outbound marketing is pretty easy to understand. Now, a lot of people involved in the industry are saying that outbound is dying if it’s not dead already. However, this can’t be true. Using inbound itself needs a few outbound tactics, to begin with. And apart from that, simply pushing stuff to your target audience or people, in general, can serve some purposes pretty well, if not better, too.

So, in understanding what you’d like to gain the most you’d surely need to create a list of some bits and pieces regarding how these two functions to ultimately make stupid clear what their pros and cons are. Well, you came to the right place.

Here is a comparison between inbound and outbound marketing.

  1. Message communication

As implied above, the most notable difference lies in communication. Outbound, being more traditional, it uses the effect of talking to mass audiences trying to make a specific targeted audience serve a specific purpose. However, when TV, radio or newspaper are not mandatory, by tracking people’s digital activities one can be pretty sure of when and where to push a commercial or an advertisement. 

On the other hand, inbound means using people’s interests and trying to be discovered by them in return. In this case, brands send messages based on whatever people are looking for. 

There’s a big similarity here between the two. Inbound pulls to ultimately push something and get a conversion, whereas outbound pushes something to ultimately pull something and get the conversion. Both can lead to conversion, but through an opposite approach.


  1. Channels used

Generally, being viewed as the method of a grey-haired, romantic advertiser, outbound marketing is mostly conducted through traditional Above-the-line media. Those include TV, radio, cinema advertising, print ads, and billboard ads. Some social media can also serve as a bullhorn here. YouTube ads and ads on Google’s search page are two examples where content can be mass spread.

As for inbound, it’s solely done through Below-the-line media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, newsletters, events, and blogs are generally some effective tools in giving whatever targeted people seek. 


  1. Approach and Emphasis

There’s some notable difference in this aspect too. Outbound being a continuity of traditional advertising is focused on product-related content. It’s about promoting something by making it as sexy or as delicious as possible. By taking a look at all those commercials about chocolate bars, detergents, deodorants or even insurance companies, and you’ll see that they’re more or less focused on basically how useful or entertaining the advertised product or service is. 

This is not exactly what inbound does. Since customers can control whatever comes to them when surfing on the Internet, grabbing their attention is fundamental. The content of inbound marketing is centered around the customer’s needs and wants, rather than a brand’s offer. Despite this, at the end of the day, there has to be some connection between simply talking to people about whatever they’d like to hear and making them customers. 

  1. Budget spent

Moving to something that pretty much every single human being cared about, a good thing about inbound marketing is the plethora of choices on how to spend. By having an idea of what works and what doesn’t one has the ability to allocate the budget very specifically. There are way too many different types of advertisements on digital and social media. By being able to monitor results every single day things can look much easier. If a copy looks like trash after a day of publishing, the people that work for those copies can easily come up with something else within a few hours of work.

Now, in outbound marketing, things are not as simple. People should be very, very careful in allocating the budget. Depending on what is advertised, on which channels, during what time and how big the production is, the money spent can be a lot, and you really can’t play here. A TV commercial is not possible to take down after a few weeks of not giving fruitful results. 

If inbound is not going to hit the bull’s eye and a brand has to push something to a mass audience through Above-the-line media, there’s no room for experimenting with people’s reactions. If you’re used to doing marketing only through Below-the-line media, you need to be a bit precautious and not mess things up.


Taking a deeper look at all this, it’s pretty obvious that any creative person is going to have zero problems adapting to different situations using inbound or outbound methods. The way it looks, in their core these two are not that much different. It all depends on what you’ve got to do at each given time. Brands or people have to introduce themselves to the outside world, build something around their name, and turn some people into loyal customers and ultimately advocates. 

During this huge process, both outbound and inbound are useful.

If you want to learn more about what interaction between a brand and a target audience truly means, feel free to visit other sections of One Team’s website or give us a call.



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