Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Pros & Cons

A person looks up inbound vs outbound marketing

Every marketer has likely heard the familiar argument about which one is better: inbound or outbound marketing strategies?

Getting overwhelmed with advice and information is easy. Knowing which strategies to use is not. Should you focus on talking directly to leads, creating flashy signage, going all digital, or something else?

Both of these marketing strategies have distinct applications, advantages, and challenges.

We’ll discuss inbound vs. outbound marketing using some examples, explore their pros and cons, and help you determine which strategy your company should be using (Hint: It’s both!).

Related: How Small Businesses Benefit From Inbound Marketing

What Is Inbound Marketing?

The goal of most inbound marketing is to attract customers to your brand. It targets prospects primarily looking for products online—where most consumers start their journey.

They start by looking for a product, service, or content that fulfills their needs and solves their problems. So, inbound content should explain how your brand can resolve their issues and answer key questions in your niche.

Inbound marketing takes many forms, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Guidebooks
  • Video content

Each of these pieces of content can help differentiate your brand from its competitors. Inbound marketers embed testimonials, product comparisons, 5-star reviews, and competitive pricing in content like podcasts, social media posts, and whitepapers.

However, keep in mind that your content should be thoughtful and relevant to customers at different points in their journey—keep the material varied but the messaging consistent.

An Example of Inbound Marketing

If someone is looking for new marketing software for their business, they might head to Google and search for something like “best marketing tool.”

They’d probably find a blog post near the top outlining the best marketing platforms. Then, they would read it and decide to learn more about digital marketing.

At the end of the article, there’s a link to an upcoming webinar to learn more about marketing strategies. They enter their information, sign up, and attend the webinar.

Next, they receive a follow-up with case studies and a prompt to request a demo. Finally, they go into a sales call already interested and likely ready to buy.

Pros and Cons of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing can bring various benefits to brands.

  • It’s non-invasive. Your prospects can browse through blog posts, listen to podcasts, or attend a webinar on their own time.
  • It’s educational. Inbound marketing content is specifically designed to educate prospects through every stage of the sales funnel.
  • It’s quantifiable. You can tie different parts of your strategy to metrics and monitor them over time.

However, inbound marketing isn’t always the best strategy—there are some drawbacks.

  • It requires maintenance. Your content must develop and evolve along with your customers’ needs and wants.
  • It takes time and effort. Testing and developing different content that entices customers to take action takes a lot of time.
  • It demands a holistic strategy. You’ll have to use different tools to implement multi-channel, integrated campaigns.
Man speaking on a webinar
Man speaking on a webinar

What Is Outbound Marketing?

This marketing strategy focuses on sending messages to large numbers of people to make a sale. However, some outbound marketing—like telemarketing—can also be more targeted and specific instead of broad. Many outbound marketers believe that the more people you reach, the larger the return, which is true in some cases.

People often associate outbound marketing with traditional methods, like:

  • Direct mail
  • Live events
  • Cold calling
  • Billboard ads
  • Newspaper ads
  • TV and radio ads

However, you can also apply outbound marketing to modern technologies, like PPC advertising, email drip campaigns, etc.

An Example of Outbound Marketing

Imagine someone driving down the highway—they see a billboard for a new restaurant. They briefly think it looks nice but soon forget about it.

A few weeks later, they see a commercial for the same restaurant, have the same thought, and promptly forget about it when their show comes back.

Then, a while later, they receive a coupon in the mail for that restaurant and decide to give it a try.

Related: How Inbound Telemarketing Benefits B2B Companies

Pros and Cons of Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing comes with various benefits, like:

  • It promotes brand awareness. Outbound marketing helps you reach more people who are unaware of your brand.
  • It can yield immediate results. With outbound marketing strategies, people interested in your products are more likely to engage with ads and make a purchase.
  • It’s something consumers know. People know where to expect ads, and many of them are more likely to trust them on the radio, TV, etc.

Outbound marketing also has some negatives, including:

  • It’s more generalized. It’s challenging to make outbound marketing appeal to the masses and maintain relevance with a large crowd.
  • It’s easy to ignore. When it comes to direct mail or TV ads, people might throw them out or mute their television.
  • It can be costly. Paying for banner ads, purchasing billboard space, buying air time, traveling to trade shows, etc., can all add up quickly.

Overall, outbound marketing focuses more on sending messages at scale, whereas inbound marketing takes a more targeted approach. However, some types of outbound marketing—like telemarketing—can target specific audiences quite well.

The likelihood of someone making a purchase due to your outbound marketing efforts is high, but it’s also often associated with a high CAC.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: What’s the Difference?

There are a few primary differences when talking about inbound vs. outbound marketing.

For example, outbound marketing focuses on proactively reaching out to prospects to generate interest. By contrast, inbound marketing focuses on creating and distributing various content to draw people to your store or website.

In addition, outbound marketing is typically seen as more aggressive, while inbound marketing is often more subtle.

Inbound marketing typically looks like this:

  • Informative content targeted at a specific audience and their problems
  • Interactive content on social media posts, blogs, webinars, etc.
  • Messaging that’s tailored to a specific group of consumers

Outbound marketing typically looks like this:

  • Non-digital content is designed to gain the attention of consumers to make a sale
  • Passive content, including direct mail, TV and radio ads, billboard advertising, etc.
  • Messaging that must stand out among the millions of other advertisements people see each day

Taking a Multi-Channel Approach to Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

As you already know, the multi-channel approach has created quite the buzz in recent years, prompting some marketers to eschew what they perceive as outdated marketing methods. In some cases, that includes telemarketing. However, experience shows that telemarketing remains the most proactive channel for reaching out to clients.

Telemarketing offers the human touch that other channels cant, which is why it’s so effective in making the kind of contact that actually builds relationships. Telemarketing allows you to reach large audiences and bring in those leads that are of higher value. Furthermore, telemarketing is the right tool for you to use to segment audiences.

While there is often debate regarding inbound vs. outbound marketing, B2B marketers know that both methods offer quality results. However, you should not limit yourself to one or the other. It is important to partner with a telemarketing agency that offers you everything you need for a seamless, highly visible campaign. You should choose only those agencies that offer the communication that you desire, the reporting you need to see deep into your campaign, and the ability to be flexible and improve the campaign strategy as needed.

AUDIENCE written on a white board
“AUDIENCE” wrote on a whiteboard

Combining Inbound and Outbound Marketing

The inbound vs. outbound marketing dilemma presents a false choice, however. What your business actually needs is a plan to merge the two strategies. It isn’t an either-or equation. Instead, the combined forces of inbound AND outbound strategies can enhance the effectiveness of both strategies and leave you with better, measurable results.

For instance, when leads visit your inbound locations, you might ask them to leave a skeleton of personal information: gender, age, and areas of business concern. Then, use that data to inform your outbound marketing efforts. Now your channels are supporting one another toward a common goal.

Outbound efforts, too, can support your inbound channels. For example, use telemarketing to make personal contact with customers whose orders have lessened over time. Tell them you are interested in why and ask them what you could do to regain more of their business. Even customers whose orders remain steady will appreciate occasional thank you calls and check-in on their level of customer satisfaction.

For a while, inbound marketing was like the new kid in class. Everyone forgot outbound marketing in favor of the new kid’s allure. Time has shown that businesses fail to see the best return on investment when they abandon one channel in favor of another. Your marketing efforts will have the greatest impact when you use both channels in tandem.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: Settling the Score

Proponents of inbound marketing often state that outbound marketing is disruptive, interruptive, and non-permissive. However, what these inbound marketing supporters fail to see is that more than half of marketers see outbound as their number one source of acquiring leads. The inbound vs. outbound marketing debate will likely continue, but we offer a few reasons why the two methods, working in concert, can be an effective strategy for B2B marketing.

When a customer is not educated on what you’re selling, they’re either going to walk away from something that could potentially make their organization more successful, or they may make a purchase that is not a good match for them. When inbound and outbound efforts are taken on with consistency, you can more fully inform your audience.

Related: The Power of Outbound Campaigns

You need to consider the right combination of each marketing method. For instance, if your inbound marketing techniques are hitting the target through well-optimized home pages (or landing pages), and if you are putting out the most practical educational content resources, you can shore up the effort with outbound techniques, such as using print advertising and/or offline events.

Utilizing a proactive channel that offers the human touch can dramatically improve the rate at which you build out a complete lead list. It will also lead to more clients entering the buying cycle and returning, due in part to the excellent service they receive through the communicators working at your third-party telemarketing company.
Ready to take your inbound and outbound marketing to the next level with telemarketing? Get in touch with us at Blue Valley Marketing—Start generating more leads and making more conversions today.

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Ronen Ben-Dror

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