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Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: The Definitive Guide


20 May 2024



For a business to be successful, you need customers, either through inbound or outbound marketing. The difference between inbound and outbound marketing is whether you go to them or they come to you. 

In some cases, you want your customers to find your business online and reach out to you themselves. In other cases, especially when it comes to B2B, you need to proactively reach out to your customers. 

So, which one do you choose? That’s what this guide is here for! To help you choose the perfect strategy, we’ll do an in-depth analysis of the difference between inbound and outbound marketing. We’ll first look at what they are and then see how your strategy should change based on your choice.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Also known as the “pull strategy,” inbound marketing is a strategy for attracting or ” pulling” customers to your business. It has three major steps: attract, engage, and retain. 

The basic principle behind inbound marketing is to make sure that your customers are aware of your brand and how well you can satisfy their needs. Therefore, raising brand awareness is the most important aspect of this. 

Decades ago, when the internet was not even a concept in sci-fi movies, this took the form of mass advertising on TVs, newspapers and magazines. But the internet has redefined marketing. With digital marketing, you can take a proactive approach to nail each stage of the inbound marketing funnel. How? Let’s take a look.

How Inbound Marketing Works


This stage is all about raising brand awareness. Digital marketing is the perfect tool to use in this stage. The secret to success here is an effective content marketing strategy. 

Content marketing works by using the right keywords and engaging language to convince algorithms to display your content more often.

You can do this by optimising your website’s content to appear at the top of search results or creating popular social media posts. The goal is to appear before your customers organically. 
Social media, in particular, is an amazing tool for achieving this. But don’t limit yourself to a single channel. Find the right channels to attract your target audience first and go for a multi-channel approach for the best results.


The second stage will need a bit more elbow grease. Just because your customers know about your brand does not mean that they will make a purchase decision. You’ll need to convince them why they should spend their money on your brand. 

The trick here is to always be on their minds. Create engaging social media content, provide valuable content through blogs or videos, choose any method you want. 

When your customers are ready to make a decision, your brand should be the first name that pops up in their minds. Digital marketing makes this a whole lot easier by reinforcing your messaging across multiple platforms. Everyone who navigates the internet leaves a trail. Use this to find customers who are interested in your products and services, then target them with more focus.


It costs 5 times more to sell to a new customer than to a new customer. That’s why retaining customers is the most cost-effective way to generate sales. 

Before the age of the internet, the best way to retain customers was by providing them with quality products or services and then finishing off with excellent customer service. Fortunately, digital marketing gives you more options. 

Even after a customer has purchased your product or service, you can still provide them with valuable content to keep them engaged with your brand. 

Tell them about new upgrades, tips and other products or services under your banner. You can also provide them with guides and expert advice on how to use your products and services. One effective channel you can use to do this is video marketing. It allows you to do all the actions mentioned above in an engaging manner. 

As you can see, inbound marketing accounts for each stage of the marketing funnel. By pairing it with digital marketing, you can address all the pain points of your customers and keep them engaged with your brand. However, these are not the only reasons to use inbound marketing. Here are the biggest benefits of inbound marketing.

Why Should Your Business Use Inbound Marketing?

  • It is non-interruptive: You can avoid any negative effects of annoying your target audience by interrupting their work or leisure. 

  • Staying power: Inbound marketing efforts, especially when coupled with digital marketing strategies, will stay on the internet for a long period. As long as your content is not taken offline, your customers will come across it in time.

  • It is cost-effective: Unlike mass advertising in traditional marketing, inbound marketing through the Internet is much more cost-effective. SEO, social media marketing and content marketing are virtually free to use as long as you have an in-house marketing team. 

Despite the benefits, inbound marketing does have its limitations. One of the biggest of which is the time it takes to work. SEO alone can take up to six months to show results. That’s where outbound marketing shines. It’s time to take a look at the other side now.

What Is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing, or the “push strategy”, is a marketing strategy where a brand actively “pushes” a particular message to the target audience. Similar to inbound marketing, it works in three stages: targeting, messaging and following up. 

The difference between inbound and outbound marketing is evident in how a brand forces its messaging on prospective customers instead of waiting for them to come to you. 

Digital marketing, again, has redefined how this strategy is used. Before the internet, outbound marketing involved cold calls, mails and showing up in front of your customers’ homes on Sunday mornings. 

With digital marketing, you can still do these but more efficiently. Not to mention, there are many other possible ways to use outbound marketing with the help of the Internet. Let’s take a look at how outbound marketing works to see how digital marketing can help with it.

How Outbound Marketing Works


Outbound marketing is expensive. Both in terms of effort and money. That’s why narrowing down your target audience is the first step of outbound marketing. 

By analysing site visits, search history, and audience behaviour, you can easily determine who is interested in your products or services. This can save your brand immense resources. 

There are many tools to help you not only find the relevant target audience more easily but also engage with them on their preferred platforms, be it search results, social media or emails.


Finding the target audience is the first step. Where your outreach representatives need to put the most effort is convincing prospective leads to buy your product or service. That’s the goal of the second stage in outbound marketing. 

This is another area where digital marketing has changed the playground. With multiple paid advertising options available, you have more ways to throw in your pitch. With digital marketing, your ad copy and creatives can address the target audience’s pain points in an engaging manner. 

From engaging video ads to attention-grabbing graphics, your messaging can appear in front of your target audience in the best way that will convince them.


The final stage of outbound marketing is a delicate stage. Expecting customers to make a purchase decision just after the initial messaging is too optimistic. In many cases, following up on the leads is an essential step to make a sale. 

Here is where digital marketing truly helps your brand. With many analysis tools like Hubspot available, you can launch retargeting campaigns toward leads who have already interacted with your brand. 

Additionally, you can use the following methods for launching retargeting campaigns:

  • Email marketing strategies that ask visitors to revisit the website or continue their shopping experience

  • Direct messaging on social media, like Sponsored Messages on LinkedIn

  • Using the retargeting feature on your PPC ads platform. 

By seeing this, you can understand that outbound marketing is a resource-intensive process. Then why do brands use outbound marketing? Let’s find out.

Why Should Your Business Use Outbound Marketing?

  • It gets results faster: Using effective targeting, you don’t need to wait for your target audience to find your brand. You can get guaranteed results much faster, depending on how much you are willing to spend.

  • It is easier to track: The number of clicks, cost per click, open rate of emails, and other metrics are just a few of the ways you can measure the success of your outbound marketing campaigns.

Just like inbound marketing, outbound marketing also has its limitations. One of those limitations comes from the interruptive nature of outbound marketing. Many people prefer to come across new products or services organically as they do not trust marketers. 

Considering all of these factors, which one should you choose for your brand? The right answer is: why not both?

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Doing It Right

Inbound and outbound marketing may seem like opposites, but they are more complimentary in nature than you think. Limiting yourself to one is ignoring the potential of the other. By combining both marketing strategies, you can benefit from both while avoiding their limitations. 

When you look at the three stages of inbound and outbound marketing, you will see that they complement each other. For example, inbound marketing can attract leads, making targeting more effective. You can also use the content used for inbound marketing for the messaging part of outbound marketing. 

Digital marketing has made the difference between inbound and outbound marketing a source of potential instead of a source of limitations. 

So, why not do marketing the right way? Use digital marketing and 10X the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. Fortunately for you, TargetG is an expert in both. Talk to us today, and we’ll help you combine inbound and outbound marketing to get qualified leads for your company.

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