Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing: What’s The Difference?

If you run a business, then you know how important marketing is in spreading the word about your company’s products and services. If you don’t market your company, then you won’t get any customers. This means that your company’s success relies heavily on your marketing campaign. While traditionally, the use of outbound marketing was the most common strategy, this has quickly changed in the last few years. These days, many companies have turned towards inbound marketing strategies for their marketing tactics. If you are unsure of what the differences are between outbound vs inbound marketing, read on. Understanding the pros and cons of both will allow you to create a better marketing strategy to fit the needs of your company.


Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is a strategy in which a business advertises its products and services by presenting information to consumers even if they are not looking for those products or services. Because of this, outbound marketing has been commonly referred to as “interruptive marketing”. Companies do this via the use of television, print ads, direct mailers, radio and more.

This is how traditional advertising worked, but unfortunately, such methods are not only interruptive and poorly timed, they can be quite expensive. If you are a small business owner, then you could be paying an arm and a leg for one of these forms of advertising without any promise of success. However, larger companies that can afford such marketing will benefit, as this strategy can help to bring awareness about one’s product and services to a national audience.


Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a more affordable marketing strategy, which is a reason why so many small

inbound marketing vs outbound marketing infographic

business owners make use of it. The idea of inbound marketing is that you target a core audience by providing useful and quality content to entice them into finding out more about your products or services. So, in essence, you give them something in order to get them to come to you.

This is an effective strategy for a number of reasons. First of all, you’ll be targeting consumers who are actually looking for products and services that you provide, instead of trying to advertise to every consumer out there, no matter what their needs are. There are several ways to conduct a successful inbound marketing strategy, all of which require an online presence.

For further information, be sure to check out our previous post that included our inbound marketing infographic.


  • Creating Content: Using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can post helpful articles and videos that are related to your products or services. This content should not be advertising your company, but instead, it should be providing useful content to consumers. Create original content using SEO (search engine optimization) and post it to your social network pages. Not only are you enticing consumers to stick with you, you are giving them the chance to share your content, which will eventually lead back to your webpage.
  • Offering Incentives: Give followers incentives for following you, such as by providing free eBooks or special deals on your products or services. One strategy is to create a landing page that you link to using your social network pages. On this landing page, you can offer consumers free goods or content in exchange for signing up for your newsletter.
  • Communication: Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing allows you to have direct communication with the consumer. Using your social media presence, you can ask your followers for their input regarding your products and services. This shows them that you care about your customers, and gives you the chance to improve your business.


Deciding between outbound vs inbound marketing will depend a lot on the resources of your company. All companies, no matter how big or small should use inbound marketing techniques. However, companies with larger resources shouldn’t ignore the benefits of reaching a wider audience using outbound marketing. If you still need some advice on what the best tactics are for your company, give us a call! We’d love to help you with your options.


This post was originally published on August 13, 2016 and updated on July 8, 2019. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


  • […] new age of inbound marketing, or providing useful and quality content to entice your core audience into finding out more about […]

  • Shaun Buck says:

    Great article! I think it’s important that business owners understand the difference between inbound and outbound marketing and explore options of what each can do for their business.

    Inbound marketing offers a lot of opportunity for companies to grow, attract attention, develop a strong audience following, and produce excellent content they can be proud of.


  • G-talks says:

    Thanks for the useful article. Please enlighten me though about the difference between content marketing versus social media marketing vs inbound marketing. Thanks so much

    • mm Theresa Goodwin says:

      Thanks for the comment! Though others may describe what I’m about to say a bit differently, here’s my take:

      Inbound marketing: it’s about attracting and bringing people to your website. This is like the umbrella of online marketing. This will use various tactics such as social media marketing, content marketing, blogging, calls to actions, etc…

      Content marketing: a very important part of inbound marketing that is about creating and publishing content. You can’t have an inbound marketing plan without great content. However, content marketing will also play a vital role in outbound marketing too. Again, it’s all about creating content and messaging that attracts prospects.

      Social media marketing: a tactic of marketing that uses social media to promote your brand.

      I hope this helps!

  • Sadeem says:

    I don’t exactly understand the concept of Inbound marketing, That is like the same as outbound marketing, where we advertise to the people even they are not interested, In inbound marketing when we create a page of Facebook for business and our target audience is the specific city of a country. We have to advertise to all the people of the country because as i am from Pakistan and Facebook doesn’t allow us to target a specific city. How come we say it an inbound marketing. Even other than the Facebook there is no other channel that allows us to advertise to a very specific target audience. I believe we are on the same channel with some innovations in it.

  • […] information to consumers even if they are not looking for those products or services” ( This is also referred to as traditional marketing, which includes techniques such as, television […]

  • […] Automatic lead selection or lead steering is also intended to improve inefficiencies, both for inbound and outbound campaigns, whereby inbound calls are intended to quickly land with the appropriate agent to handle the task, […]

  • oldman says:

    There is no real difference. Inbound is promoting a product using tools that were not available just a few years ago. The blog vs. the advertorial or news release, social media vs television commercials, direct contact vs. mass mailing. The new tools may be more effective, but it is still a method of attracting customers to buy a product or service. Both methods will, if wise, do a market analysis, poll or other device to determine the desirability of such a project. The inbound marketing, if the sales are to grow will turn into outbound marketing. In this day and age, we tend to put new names and try to create niches or categories for what we do.
    The old rule of keep it simple still applies.

    • mm Theresa Goodwin says:

      Hi there!

      Thank you for your comment! We appreciate all views on inbound marketing and outbound marketing. Just to give a little more insight to the distinct difference: while both inbound and outbound marketing are both promoting a product with the hopes of attracting customers, inbound marketing attracts customers to your website when they are searching for products and services at that very moment. They are coming to you because they are seeking what you have to offer, making them a pretty good prospect.

      Outbound marketing is interruptive. Tactics such as mass mailings, television commercials, radio, etc… are targeting customers when they are not searching for your products or services. Instead, you are interrupting them with messages while they are in their car, watching TV, etc… People are less likely to pay attention to these tactics because it interrupts their day. When you use outbound marketing, you are targeting a large mass of potential customers who probably aren’t ready to buy because they aren’t looking for what you have to offer.

      Does outbound marketing work? Absolutely. But it does take a larger budget because people have to consistently hear your message over and over again before it starts to resonate with them. It’s also harder to prove ROI for clients. With inbound marketing, it’s a bit easier to prove ROI because of the data that is available to analyze how someone got to a website, keywords they searched, location, how long they spent on each page, company name, etc…

      inbound = they are looking for you
      outbound = you are looking for them

      I hope that helps clear up this post!

  • Tracy Mitchell Griggs says:

    I am thinking that outbound marketing these days might be put into the category of public relations and media relations – such things as consumer trade shows, speaker opportunities at trade or consumer shows, self produced or third party live events or internet based events like pod casts (which are in turn promoted through inbound social media channels), creating content via guest or newspaper or online content sites etc

  • […] 1.) Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing: What’s the Difference? […]

  • Manish Verma says:

    Greta Article, It really helps me a lot.

  • […] purpose of this particular content strategy is to ensure the quality of leads for the success of outbound and inbound marketing Lead scoring specifically helps to increase conversion sales and strengthen the bond between: […]

  • Leonardo Neves says:

    Good stuff, thanks!

    Could you elaborate a bit more, perhaps with a specific example, on why is it still important for resourceful companies to invest in Outbound? And do you think this is going to change overtime, why?

  • Gustavo Montealegre says:

    Great article, easy to read and digest. Thank you very much.

  • […] concept of dividing marketing into inbound and outbound is a relatively new one, springing up only in the last five or ten years. It’s an interesting […]

  • Adam Rowles says:

    I agree with your view too Theresa.

    Here in Australia times are becoming tough. No long are there traditional marketing techniques resulting in new customers.

    I agree inbound marketing has the best ROI. There is a place for outbound marketing, however it’s usually for the bigger enterprise businesses, who don’t know any better.

    I recently wrote a similar article and I’d like to hear your thoughts.

    Keep up the good work and I’d be interested to read more of the posts.

    Cheers Theresa

  • […] that’s taken care of, begin creating good content that your customers would find useful. This often takes the form of blogging and developing […]

  • Jack White says:

    I feel like it would be better to do outbound. I think that is gets people to get their attention towards you a lot more. I don’t know about other people but I tend to block out advertisements unless they get me engaged in it in some way.

  • pushpanjali says:

    good article. I totally understand outbound and inbound marketing. Thank you.

  • JC says:

    So, by HubSpot’s definition, “Inbound” marketing is purely SEO. If you’re attracting people to your website “at the very moment” they’re looking for you, then the assumption is that they’re using a search engine and discovering your content on a search engine results page. “Outbound” or “push” encompasses everything else. “Content” marketing supports both efforts.

  • eunicemadeline says:

    Thanks for your clear and easy to understand information about inbound and outbound marketing. It has been lot more useful and helpful for many business marketing firm like ours.

  • Babita says:

    Thanks for this information about inbound and outbound marketing. Going to share it on my Twitter account.

  • Abhishek Suneri says:

    Hi Theresa,
    Inbound Marketing is the norm of the day. The main advantage of inbound marketing lies in its cost effectiveness. Only Big Business can afford the expensive outbound marketing techniques to bring awareness and market their product and services. It doesn’t mean that outbound marketing is ineffective or bad. It depends on its objective and budget. Business Situation is the ultimate guide to decide, whether marketers should choose inbound or outbound marketing techniques.

  • […] is often a question that surfaces in marketing discussions. And most of the time, inbound marketing emerges as the winner. In this digital age, inbound marketing is said to be more effective and […]

  • Akhilesh Mishra says:

    Great ! in simple we can say..
    Inbound Marketing is pull marketing and Outbound marketing is push marketing.

  • Foamy Media says:

    this is a great article which gives simple overview of the differences between in bound and out bound marketing thanks for sharing with the team!

  • Amol Ingle says:

    Great article!!!!!

  • […] like to practice what we preach, and a couple of years ago we put out a blog post on Inbound vs. Outbound marketing tactics that were very popular and is still our top blog post to date. So we decided to […]

  • […] new age of inbound marketing, or providing useful and quality content to entice your core audience into finding out more about […]

  • nadish says:


  • […] new age of inbound marketing, or providing useful and quality content to entice your core audience into finding out more about […]

  • Roopam Chandraker says:

    Your Article helps me a lot .. keep writing!

    Please follow my blog also –

  • […] el contrario, el Outbound Marketing es el conjunto de técnicas de marketing como anuncios de televisión, radio o buzoneo que no son […]