Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Ranya Barakat

December 24, 2014

Inbound Marketing as a strategy saw an enormous leap in several businesses shifting towards it in 2014.

Many people made the change, and for some, they are still thinking about it. Saying that reminds me of the shift from Apple to Android phone, and vice versa! In this post, I tried to briefly explain the key differences between Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing.

Outbound marketing is interruption-based marketing. It works because businesses find a medium with a large following and periodically publish ads (interrupt that following with ads). The concept is that a small percentage of the audience will listen/see the ad (the interruption in the storyline) and hopefully convert it into a customer. Classic examples of Outbound Marketing is ads on TV, Radio, Direct Mail, Mass Emailing, Newspaper, Outdoors, Flyers, etc.…


Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is permission-based marketing that generally occurs using the following 2 techniques:

  1. Communicate with an audience has permitted you to do so. 
  2. Answer questions people are asking and generate those answers around the web in anticipation of the question.

Both of these premises are permission-based.

Yes, the audience number in the first technique is smaller than the numbers in mass media of Outbound Marketing. Still, because the audience has permitted you or asked to receive the message, they convert at a 750% higher rate than interruption-based marketing. Examples of such Inbound Marketing techniques are subscription-based email marketing, social media, blog subscribers, webinar attendees, etc.

Using the second technique, the audience number is virtually infinite since your audience online is endless. Thanks to targeting keywords and search engine optimization, you can answer questions customers might be asking about your industry or provide them with industry trends or any other useful information to the customer. Since this audience is looking for the information you are proliferating throughout the web, the conversion rates are unparalleled.

Examples of this Inbound Marketing technique are SEO, keyword targeting, landing page strategy, content/blog strategy, etc. Remember at this point that your website has been geared to manage the flow of Inbound Marketing content. 

So that's the 1st and most obvious difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing - how you communicate with the potential customer. Are you flashing uninvited messages infant of their faces, trying your so very best to grab their attention? Are you interrupting them? Or are you providing them with useful information that they are searching for while subtitling delivering your product information to them?

Another key, ultra crucial, important angle of Inbound Marketing that is not available in Outbound Marketing, and never will be is this:

With inbound marketing, everything is digital, and everything is quantifiable.

No more guessing or assuming results. Complex algorithms, software, robots, and systems track if your marketing strategy is effective or not and convert leads into customers, and finally, promoters. An inbound marketing strategy is highly measurable. It allows for analysis of all aspects of your campaign. Examples of this type of analysis include:

  • The ROI of the methods you are using
  • The change in conversion, engagement, lead and bounce rates
  • Click-Through Rate on the Call To Action buttons

The most mind-blowing part of Inbound Marketing Analysis is the closed-loop reporting. Closed-loop reporting lets you track someone’s IP address as soon as it hits your website. Then, it tells you how that IP address got there and how much time it is spending on the site. This kind of information provides you with an in-depth look into your customer behavior. It will also show you which blog posts they have read, which pages they viewed, and whether they reached the site organically or through an alternate method like social media. So you know who is from where, reading what, where they clicked, and in how much time.

In summary, Inbound Marketing is highly measurable and will provide you with information crucial for your business intelligence and that Outbound Marketing efforts can not provide you with. Inbound marketing, when executed professionally, will always succeed because it provides you with the opportunity to communicate with people who have permitted you to do so, in an educational manner, on a self-selected selection of platforms, with quantifiable metrics. That is the winning equation—music to the ears of any Marketeer in 2015.

One last time, Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing? Which do you choose? I full-heartedly go with the Inbound. Why? Because it works.

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Ranya Barakat

Ranya is a serial entrepreneur with over 8 years of experience working on the HubSpot CRM. She loves pushing her sleeves up , and getting s*** done. When she is not running her HubSpot partner agency, you can find her upside down on her yoga mat.

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