Inbound Vs. Outbound marketing: Which one Really Works?

inbound vs outbound marketing

According to Forbes, the average person is exposed to 4,000-10,000 advertising messages each day – everything from TV ads and emails to newspapers and digital ads all over the internet. There’s a lot of competition for the prospect’s attention and an effective marketing strategy is essential to survive.

When planning a company’s marketing strategy, one might wonder whether to use an inbound or outbound marketing strategy. Both types of marketing approaches can attract new leads and clients to your business, but they work in totally different ways. As a result, you can expect different conversion rates with inbound and outbound marketing.

Before making a comparison between inbound and outbound marketing tactics, let’s first take a brief look at both of these marketing strategies.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is interruptive: it focuses on pushing your marketing efforts out, instead of waiting for leads to come to you. It involves promoting your business to an audience without their permission and forces prospective clients/customers to view your marketing message.

The basic idea of outbound tactics is that advertisers use mass media tools to push their message and products out to the public. Barring some exceptions, most of these techniques of outbound marketing are untargeted, meaning a large and generalized audience will be exposed to the marketing message.

Common Outbound tactics include:

  • Print Ads
  • Direct Mailings
  • Outbound Call Center
  • TV, Radio advertising
  • Intrusive online ads
  • Press Releases

Benefits of Outbound Marketing

You may discover outbound marketing campaigns are easier to optimize than inbound campaigns. There are many ways to benefit from an organized, automated outbound lead gen campaign. Some are:

  • Gets your message in front of the person of your choice and you control the means by which they interact with that message.
  • Acts as a direct form of market research because you are getting in front of your target audience and getting their reaction firsthand.
  • It is an advantageous way to brand a company or product. Offline advertising like TV, banner campaigns, and social media sponsorship, keep your name and brand in front of people and increase brand awareness.

The Problems with Outbound Marketing

Outbound messaging is inherently obfuscated, and duplicitous  –  Jeff Rosenblum

Outbound marketing, especially in India, is inherently interfering and interruptive with large volumes of advertising being served to individuals. Another issue with outbound marketing is the lack of personalization which is also a big reason why it is less effective.

Numbers to prove traditional marketing isn’t working today:

  • 91% of email users have unsubscribed from an email they previously opted into.
  • 86% of people skip TV ads. With the growing number of online TV streaming services, TV ads can be fast-forwarded.
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened. Referred to as “junk mail”.
  • 84% of 25-34-year-olds have left a website because of intrusive or annoying advertising.

Modern customers are tired of spam email and streaming TV, movies, and music without the ads. As a result, the ROI from all these outbound marketing tactics is dropping.

Inbound Marketing

Hubspot’s official definition of Inbound Marketing:

“Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”

Inbound marketing is a permission-based form of marketing, as the messages are focused on a target audience that has previously given permission to accept communication. It focuses on winning customers’ attention and trust through quality content and engaging them with your company in a manner that is beneficial for both parties involved.

Inbound marketing agencies leverage various digital channels simultaneously and focus on earning a person’s attention, which is mainly done through social media and engaging content, such as blogs, forums, podcasts, etc. to help businesses achieve their goals

Common Inbound tactics include:

  • Content Marketing
  • Blog Marketing
  • SEO
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Viral Marketing
  • Podcasts

Benefits of Inbound Marketing

In its attempt to provide value to potential customers and create lasting connections with

them, Inbound Marketing agencies are building up long-lasting authority and garnering trust and respect within a marketplace, meaning it is quickly becoming an integrative part of the business philosophy.

Here are some of the stats that demonstrate how well inbound marketing works.

  • Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than outbound marketing
  • Content marketing generates 3x as many leads per dollar as traditional marketing
  • 70% of people would rather learn about a company through content versus advertising
  • Per dollar spent, inbound marketing generates 3X as many leads as traditional
  • 79% of companies that have a blog reported a positive ROI.
  • The majority of the brands today in India are opting for an Inbound marketing agency for their inbound marketing processes.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Inbound messaging provides a platform for two-way communication — encouraging prospects to actively engage with your messaging.
  • Inbound marketing has compound returns 
  • Inbound marketing is a constantly evolving practice of aligning your marketing strategy and tactics with the way that modern, buyers make their purchase decisions.

The Problems with Inbound Marketing

Main limitations of inbound marketing:

  • Inbound campaigns require a consistent time investment to produce content of high enough quality.
  • How effective your inbound marketing campaign is can be hard to measure as the process is inherently longer.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Which One Delivers Better Results?

The debate of inbound vs outbound marketing between Inbound marketing agencies and Outbound marketing agencies has been raging for years.

According to Hubspot’s inbound marketing statistics report, inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than outbound marketing, and that difference in spending is projected to further increase in the future as people are getting more and more aware of technologies like ad blockers, spam filters and more – all making it tough for traditional advertising methods to work.

An interesting statistic from Search Engine Journal is: Inbound leads convert at a better rate than outbound marketing leads; the SEO-generated inbound leads have a staggering 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads have a 1.7% close rate. It’s mainly because Inbound leads are coming from people who initiated a call or navigated to a website.

Organizations typically find inbound marketing discouraging initially because of the time it takes to generate leads. Most outbound strategies start drawing in traffic and lead immediately. However, the quality of leads should play a huge factor in determining which strategy would be more conducive to producing long-term returns. Businesses can also expect better results by engaging an inbound marketing agency with extensive experience.

In today’s rapidly evolving marketing space, many businesses have found success in employing a combination of a brilliant inbound strategy and retargeting outbound display ads. They have been able to drive results by leveraging both the expertise of their in-house marketing team as well as by hiring the right inbound and outbound marketing agencies.


Ultimately, the best marketing strategy for your business will be the one that works. A catch-all recommendation of marketing and sales strategy is nothing short of a gimmick.

The sooner you invest in inbound marketing agencies or teams, the better your chances are of catching up and getting the online traction that you deserve.

If you have any questions on either of the two marketing approaches, let us know in the comments section below.

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