Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

digital marketing strategy services

Written by Bloody Marketing


It’s time for a deathmatch unlike any other: inbound vs. outbound marketing. Two warriors, both firecrackers, cut from the same cloth, whose ultimate goals are one and the same. But that is where the similarities end. 

Their personalities contrast. Their philosophies contradict. Their fighting styles clash. 

Oh yes. This promises to be quite the bloodbath. 


Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing – What’s it all about?


In the days of yore, before the internet, pretty much all marketing was outbound marketing. Direct mail, TV ads, radio ads, cold calling, and billboards – that’s all there was, and all there really needed to be.

A few years into the 21st century, however, when digital marketing was first coming into its own, everything changed. The term ‘Inbound Marketing’ was coined by HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah in 2006, who believed that marketing “can and should be more loveable.” 

In stark contrast to the disruptive, in-your-face approach of traditional outbound marketing, inbound marketing was about taking a smarter, more subtle approach to winning new customers.  

But despite the meteoric rise of inbound marketing, outbound marketing would not be so easily silenced. In fact, now empowered by new streams of opportunity birthed by the internet, outbound marketing is fighting more ferociously than ever. 

Let’s take a closer look at our combatants. 


What is Inbound Marketing?


Inbound marketing is a non-salesy way of attracting prospects, engaging them with relevant content, and guiding them gently through the sales funnel. 

The idea is that this doesn’t need to be shoved in people’s face; with inbound marketing, if people are looking for a certain something, they will naturally come across your business. 

Examples of inbound marketing are:

  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • SEO foundations
  • Social media campaigns

With all this in place, your business is capable of gaining prospects and converting them into customers without having to do any outbound marketing. In other words, inbound marketing can theoretically succeed all by itself.

Inbound marketing is about pulling, not pushing. It fights gracefully, with soft but accurate strokes. It’s opponent, on the other hand…


What is Outbound Marketing?   


Also known as ‘Interruption Marketing’, outbound marketing encompasses tactics used to get your business in front of as many people as possible – regardless of whether or not those people might be interested in your offering. It’s brash, bold, in-yer-bloody-face kinda stuff.

Outbound marketing typically includes:

  • Direct mail 
  • Google Adwords 
  • Press Releases 
  • Social media ads 
  • Email campaigns  

Traditionally, outbound marketing was limited to TV, print, radio, direct mail, and billboards. But now, in this era of digital marketing, there are new outbound methods which are used liberally by countless businesses and marketers, with the most prevalent being PPC advertising. 

Google Adwords and other PPC methods have become the focal point of many marketing strategies – and if done correctly, they can be pretty darn effective. Why? Because unlike traditional outbound strategies, PPC can be somewhat targeted, since it is reliant on specific keywords. 

Nonetheless, PPC, and indeed outbound marketing as a whole, is a trap into which a staggering amount of modern businesses have fallen… 


The problem with Outbound Marketing


If treated with the same reckless abandon as other outbound strategies, then Google Adwords and the like can devour a marketing budget in a matter of days – with little to no return on investment. 

This is because adwords are often bought without any prior foundational work being done. Sure, a quick excursion into adwords may earn you a few clicks – but without a decent website complete with quality copy, video, blogs, and other inbound material to back it up, there will be nothing to guide your prospects further into your sales funnel. No conversions, no sales, no point. 

Furthermore, without doing the legwork of inbound foundational SEO, your business will be disregarded by Google the second you stop paying them for adwords. 

In order for it to have any worthwhile investment, therefore, outbound marketing must be built on the foundations of inbound marketing. Otherwise, outbound marketing is basically like gambling – or, as my colleague so beautifully described it, “like pissing into the wind.” 



In defence of Outbound Marketing


Regardless, we here at Bloody Marketing do engage with outbound marketing as well as inbound marketing. There’s a good reason for that.

Because it packs a hell of a punch!

See, inbound marketing is rather too concerned with its own appearance. It dances around the ring, quietly and elegantly, hoping to entice people and make friends – but it is afraid to make any enemies. While it may make a splash, it will never cause a tsunami.  

Outbound marketing, however, doesn’t give a sh*t what people think of it. It’s a broad-stroking badass, capable of landing some serious killer blows.

Inbound marketing may be the new, dashing knight in shiny armour – but outbound marketing is the gruff, seasoned veteran that has been around since the start. It’s what the older generations are used to, and it ain’t going nowhere. So, who wins this fight?


Inbound Marketing AND Outbound Marketing – the dream team!


Sorry to disappoint, but there will be no bloodshed tonight. There will be no victor. 

Because rather than fighting against each other, inbound and outbound marketing should be working TOGETHER. Wow, what a twist! Didn’t see that one coming! 😃

First, spend time developing inbound marketing. Build a functioning, professional-looking, high-converting website. Fill it with quality copy, graphics, videos and blogs. Properly brand and build your social media channels. Lay the groundworks of organic SEO. Build a mailing list, conduct keyword research, and establish your target audience 

Then, you can light the fuse with outbound marketing. PPC, email campaigns, social media ads, and whatever else – with inbound marketing by its side, these outbound methods will launch your business to the heavens, winning you new customers left, right, and centre.  

That’s how we do marketing, at least. One, two, KNOCK-OUT.

Now it’s your turn. 

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