Marketing offers a rapidly growing body of knowledge today. It can be dizzying to keep up with all the new trendy, emerging marketing technologies. We feel you. To combat the all-too-common feeling that there’s just too much to make sense of, we created a quick and dirty guide to a commonly used, and ultra-powerful concept: Inbound vs. Outbound marketing.

If you’re ready to expand your marketing knowledge arsenal, we’re ready to take you there. 

Separating trendy buzzwords to need-to-know terminology

With all kinds of marketing terms and jargon being hurled around constantly in the digital age, it’s tough not to feel a little weighed down by trying to decipher what’s worth putting time into. Let’s take a step back and break down inbound and outbound marketing. First, inbound and outbound marketing aren’t buzzy or trendy phrases — they are a simple way to explain the difference between traditional marketing and newer techniques.

Inbound vs. outbound marketing: How do they differ?

When people think of marketing in a classic, “Mad Men” type of way, they are thinking of outbound marketing. Anything that “pushes” information about the company out to an audience is outbound marketing — think advertising and cold calling. Outbound doesn’t exclusively use older technology; it includes any marketing where you pay for potential customers to see your brand. Digital ads, social media advertising, and purchased email lists all fall into the “outbound” category.

Inbound is, just as it sounds, the opposite of outbound. Inbound occurs when a company creates or earns content that makes it easier for a customer to find and interact with them. This can also occur in traditional and modern formats. Blog articles, earned social media, online and offline word-of-mouth, sponsored events, search engine marketing (PPC!), and more all fall into the inbound category.

The key difference between inbound and outbound starts with who is seeking out whom. If the advertiser is starting the conversation with the potential customer by paying for their attention, it’s outbound. If the customer seeks information and finds information about the company, it is inbound.

Is outbound or inbound marketing better for me?

The answer is neither is better. You need a balance of both! Putting all your marketing eggs (and dollars) into one basket is rookie move that rarely works out. Smart traditional and modern outbound marketing efforts paired with a strong inbound strategy will give you great results. You’ll get found by more potential customers and stay top-of-mind more easily. Customers encounter too much “noise” from other companies and information that are vying for their attention. It’s too easy for your marketing to get lost or drowned out if you aren’t using a smart combination of marketing tactics.

For inbound, start with helpful, valuable content that’s optimized for search engines to easily find. Add in a solid email marketing and personal selling strategy to make the most of the people who find you through your content. Great modern outbound often includes smart digital advertising that uses a well-informed targeting strategy, plus offline efforts that work for your business and budget.

Take the next step

If you’re interested in going further with inbound and outbound marketing, but you’re not sure where to start or don’t have the bandwidth to pursue your goals, reach out. We can help you get where you want to go!