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Jorge Pacheco
October 25, 2022

The Key Differences Between Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

notebook with writing and drawings: inbound marketing plus magnet drawing to the left; outbound marketing with drawing of megaphone to the right.

For anyone interested in developing an effective marketing strategy for their company or business, inbound and outbound marketing are two crucial concepts to understand. There is a significant difference in cost, effectiveness, and the number of audiences reached between both forms of advertising, and knowing the unique aspects of each type can help you decide what is best for your business –whether that’s investing in a show-stopping billboard advertisement or devoting yourself to building up a highly-targeted blog. Learn all the key differences between inbound marketing and outbound marketing, plus what method of advertising is most effective for converting clients, by reading on.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is an incredibly valuable marketing approach focused on assisting customers in fulfilling a direct need or solving a challenge. By providing valuable content that is relevant to a customer’s immediate concerns, companies are able to build long-term customer relationships. Inbound marketing relies on three primary strategies: attracting, engaging, and delighting. Knowing what works best for your audience is essential to creating effective inbound marketing content.

KK10166_Inbound_Marketing_HubSpot_FlywheelAs inbound marketing prioritizes assisting a customer with their specific questions or problems through engaging and educating content, instead of directly advertising and interrupting a customer’s routines, customers are generally more likely to view the company favorably. 

Some inbound marketing tactics that might be most relevant to your company and customers include content writing to build your brand, using SEO in order to increase your content’s visibility, and establishing a social media presence for your niche markets. There are also various marketing tools you can use when inbound marketing, such as educational videos, guidebooks, and forms.

Download this cheat sheet to get your inbound marketing program started.

What is outbound marketing

On the other hand, outbound marketing is a marketing approach that attempts to reach a wider potential audience by broadly marketing a product or service, rather than providing relevant content addressing a customer issue or need. Outbound marketing is a more traditional method of marketing that can interrupt a viewer’s daily life. The intention is to reach a larger number of people and hope that the message resonates with enough potential customers. 

When it comes to outbound marketing tactics, traditional forms of advertisement, such as cold calling and digital advertising, are the aim. Within that, television, radio, print, display ads, and plenty of other mediums can be used as outbound marketing tools. However, while these forms of marketing might have once been more effective, modern audiences are more likely to ignore these tactics and tools as they are looking for what is relevant for them.

Download this cheat sheet to get your inbound marketing program started.

What are the differences between inbound and outbound marketing?

There are countless differences between inbound marketing and outbound marketing. The first key difference comes from how the two types of marketing methods reach out to potential customers.

  • How potential customers are reached:
    • With inbound marketing, content is customized to a specific niche and guides viewers along their purchasing journey.
    • On the other hand, outbound marketing isn’t as focused and many people reached by the advertising might not even be aware of the product or service being marketed.
  • Relevancy:
    • Inbound marketing actively recruits viewers and is tailored to solve a problem
    • While outbound marketing passively shows a message and tries to sell a product.

In short, inbound marketing provides targeted content to a subset of potential customers while outbound marketing sends a more general message to a wider audience. 

Why is inbound marketing better than outbound marketing?

When it comes to comparing inbound marketing and outbound marketing, there’s a clear winner between the two–and that’s inbound marketing. For a whole host of reasons, inbound marketing is a much more effective form of marketing that produces genuine results.

  • By providing content that your target market sincerely values, it’s far easier to show your company’s value and demonstrate your use to potential customers, as well as guide them smoothly through the purchasing journey.
  • Comparatively, outbound marketing doesn't actively speak to your customers’ immediate needs or questions.
  • Oftentimes, outbound marketing can disrupt their daily routine, such as an ad on the radio when they want to listen to music or a commercial on TV when they’d rather get back to the show, and isn’t at all tailored to their direct interests or situation. 

While inbound marketing takes a bit more effort to create a cohesive campaign across channels and develop consistent content that can prove your company’s value to interested customers, the results that it can provide are more than worthwhile.


While both inbound marketing and outbound marketing can spread awareness about your services or products, as well as convert viewers into clients, there are key differences between the two types of advertising. Overall, the benefits provided by consistent inbound marketing can offer better results for your company compared to outbound marketing, despite the effort required. All businesses, by committing to a comprehensive inbound marketing digital strategy, can experience increased success and expand their company to new heights.

Now that you’ve gotten to know about the key differences between inbound marketing and outbound marketing, be sure to read our next article on the role that digital marketing plays in the modern world of advertising.


Get our Inbound Marketing Cheat Sheet and learn how to get your inbound marketing program started.

Download this cheat sheet to get your inbound marketing program started.

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