Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing.

Digital Marketing

Inbound and outbound marketing, Which of this terms do you hear more frequently?

If you are a marketer or you are interested in Digital Marketing, you will frequently hear this two terms inbound and outbound marketing. They are not supposed to confuse you or make you feel like a novice. These are two common marketing strategy that digital and traditional marketers use to carry out most of their marketing activities.

Anyway, It might be confusing if you are new to marketing. But let’s take a look at what these two terms are all about.

What is inbound marketing?

Have you ever seen something that interest you online, maybe an interesting title, a short post, an article, a video, a picture, and then you wanted to know more about the source, you clicked on a link and you probably found yourself on a different page, it could be on the same platform or outside the platform. Well, that is the modus operandi of inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is an online marketing strategy that tends to attract prospects (web traffic) with valuable contents from different channels or platform to a platform.

Inbound marketing strategy is not an instant sales pitch, instead, it’s to bring prospects into a platform with valuable content, where they will be nurtured also with valuable content and probably in the future be converted into a customer. These whole processes are made up of three stages, lead generation, nurturing and conversion.

Outbound marketing

In contrast, if you have ever seen ads on a billboard, or in a newspaper, or if a salesman has ever approached you in the street or wherever, to give you someone kind of sales pitch, to convince you to buy something you probably don’t need. Or if you have ever been interrupted from your favourite program by an advertisement, that is a typical example of an outbound marketing.

It’s a traditional form of marketing. The whole activity of outbound marketing is aimed at convincing, converting, and sometimes deceiving its prospects to buy instantly. And this form of marketing uses all forms of traditional marketing channels like billboards, television, radio, newspapers, salesman, flyers, etc. And also sometimes it uses some channels online.

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What are the differences between inbound marketing and outbound marketing?

The two forms have different ways of approach and functions, few includes


Inbound marketing is Permissive in nature. This means, it’s not intended to force potential customers into buying decisions, rather it gives the opportunity to build trust before making buying decisions.

In contrast, outbound marketing is interrupting in nature. You can observe this by those advertisement interrupting your favourite show on-air (radio). Or a salesman trying to pitch you about a product or service under the scorching hot sun, or the advert on a billboard that is displaying the celebrity you don’t care to see et and so on.

Two-way communication/One-way communication

Inbound marketing create opportunities for two way communications. Prospects can satisfy their curiosity by asking questions and receiving answers through comments, email etc

Outbound marketing is all about out sending out the message, there’s no opportunity to ask questions, except in a special kind of occasions like a program organized by the advertiser or salesman etc

Provide value/Provide little no value.

The major focus on inbound marketing strategy is to provide the prospect valuable content in form of articles, videos, pictures, ebooks or books etc that will add value to the prospects in various ways Eg. information, advice or as a free product or services.

While outbound marketing in most cases is focused on providing information that will lead to the prospect making buying decisions.

Pull tactics/Push tactic.

Inbound marketing uses pull tactics. It pulls it’s prospects into a platform, nurture them before converting them to customers.

In contrast, outbound marketing uses push tactics. It’s always pitching the prospects to buy wherever it finds him or her.


Inbound marketing uses channels like website or blog, search engines, referrals, social media etc

While outbound marketing uses channels such as TV ads, radio, telemarketing, billboards, Newspapers, Magazines etc

Which is the best strategy to adopt?

The form to adopt by marketer will largely depend on among many factors which include, the market, the intention,  and the budget of the marketer.

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While outbound marketing lack focus, in the sense that its marketing campaigns are targeted to the entire audience. For example, the Ads on the billboard or an Ads after a short break in a TV program is targeted to everyone, even though you are not interested. That makes outbound marketing ineffective, in the sense that resources are wasted reaching people who are not interested. But that doesn’t make the entire campaign useless because even though the campaign at that moment is not converting and fulfilling its intended purpose, it’s indirectly promoting awareness.

But inbound marketing focuses on its interested prospects, this makes it possible to offer the right solution and build better credibility.

Also having a focused market makes inbound marketing more cost effective. This is because all cost of promotions is targeted to a specific audience. And this actually requires a strategy which is aimed at knowing the market, there interest or problems, how they function, where they are etc, creating the right content that will appeal, pull and nurture them and also know the right channels to explore in distributing content and carrying out promotional campaigns.

Outbound marketing is more expensive because it’s whole marketing campaigns are targeted to the entire audience.


Marketers are now adopting inbound marketing most especially because of its cost-effective and ROI rate (return on investment). The internet has also made inbound marketing more attractive.

Most people now spend much time online, this has given marketers new approach to marketing activities. They are now going where the market is, and this has been possible with the help of social media and blogs.

But this doesn’t make outbound marketing less important. The two forms can also be combined to achieve the overall marketing objectives. But in deciding whether to adopt a single form (inbound or outbound marketing) will largely depend on the marketer overall strategies, resources and objectives.


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