Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing: What's the difference?

Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing: What's the difference?

Updated 9 November 2022

A simple way of understanding the difference between inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing is to look at it as a new way vs. the traditional way.

Inbound marketing unlike traditional marketing (outbound) is a method of marketing which draws the potential customer in through interest. Whereas traditional marketing is the old method of disrupting the customers consumption of other material.

Outbound typically does not add value to the potential customer, but rather annoyingly interrupts them. Today most people ignore the traditional method of disruption marketing. The other thing is, it doesn’t really achieve a demonstrated ROI. Whereas inbound marketing has very strong ROI measurements. There is no doubt that outbound marketing still plays a role in the marketing mix but as the digital age continues to grow it becomes less relevant.

Honest Fox is here to empower businesses to move toward the inbound marketing methodology. The reality is that many of you reading this may already be adapting some of the strategies. The problem, in this case, is most of the time it is a scattered approach with a lack of focus and strategy.

Examples of inbound marketing and outbound marketing:

Why Inbound Marketing works?

The truth is that, inbound is so much more effective than outbound. With some estimating that it creates 54% greater lead opportunities than outbound. Here are three solid reasons why inbound marketing works better than outbound.

1. Inbound marketing is earned attention. It aligns with today's customers and their interactions with technology.

The marketing landscape has dramatically changed over the past 20 years. The evolution of technology has empowered individuals to be in control of what they do and don’t see. This has restricted the ‘effectiveness’ of traditional marketing techniques and the way people sell their product or services. Here are some stats to back that up:

  • 44% of people do not open direct mail (Mashable)

  • 86% of people skip or ignore outbound ads (Hubspot)

  • Outbound style tactics on websites such as interruptive ads cause people to leave the site. 84% exit aged 25 to 34.

While the future looks grim for outbound marketers, the good news is by adopting the inbound methodology you can take advantage of this situation. As part of the inbound process we create potential customer personas. Based on these you can create content and tools which help alleviate the issues they are currently facing. This information will resonate with them and draw attention to your product or service.

Driving value to potential customers will ultimately build brand authority and customers them a reason to choose you over your competition. Earn trust by delivering information that drives earned attention and creates trust in the end-user.

2. Inbound is relevant content to individuals rather than the mass market.

Outbound marketing quite frankly is annoying. There’s nothing worse than random messages being shouted at you without relevance. Unlike inbound marketing tactics which are focussed on delivering relevant information to particular people.

As mentioned in the previous section, the attention is earned. Rather than someone shouting at you about the latest thing you probably don't need. Inbound marketing helps the curious customer to find you by researching a problem they currently have.

A great example of this would be someone who is planning a holiday. They’ll most likely search something: “best holiday locations for families”. You guessed it! Someone has created content to help people with their research.

Ask yourself what do you think would work better? A random television advertisement about random holiday locations for everyone. Or a well-created post delivering specific information based on someone's internet search?

3. Inbound marketing helps to align marketing and sales teams.

There is an old paradigm within business. It goes something like this. Sales complain that marketing is providing them with poor quality leads. Marketing complain that sales are not acting on leads appropriately. This is very common in many organisations.

So how would inbound marketing help alleviate this problem? This is where the power of marketing automation can drive effective and qualified leads to the sales team. This cycle will close the loop in the process between sales and marketing teams.

What does the process look like?

  • Setting up service level agreements (SLA) between teams. As part of the inbound marketing process both teams will come up with the precise responsibilities of team members. This will allow them to have a clear definition of what a good lead looks like.

  • Only qualified leads will be sent to the sales team (SQL). Through marketing automation, the process of lead nurturing can occur. This allows the prospective customer to be taken down the sales funnel and be educated. In the end, they will end up needing to speak to a sales team member. At this point, the lead will transition to an SQL. This will drive greater effectiveness in the sales team.

  • Data availability. The sales and marketing alignment leads to a greater amount of data being made available. This leads to a greater understanding of the lead's history with your company. Driving greater conversations with potential customers.

  • Sales insights, improve marketing efforts. On the flip side, sales can feedback information about the current process. This will allow for continuous improvement in marketing efforts.

  • Return on investment (ROI) can be measured easier. If inbound marketing efforts are being tracked effectively. This means that all sales can be recorded against the correct lead source. This will then have an end to end attribution. Allowing for ROI measure to be recorded and optimisations to occur.

Still not sold on Inbound Marketing? Here are 10 facts about inbound marketing to blow your mind

  1. Inbound leads are more cost-effective than outbound leads. They cost on average 60% less than outbound.

  2. Inbound marketing tactics drive 54% more leads than traditional paid marketing (Hubspot)

  3. Generating 16+ blog posts per month will see 3.5x traffic compared to those that publish between 0-14. (Hubspot).

  4. Organic leads through SEO efforts have 12x the conversion rate over traditional media such as direct mail or print advertising. SEO 14.66% vs Traditional 1.7% closing rate. (Search Engine Journal)

  5. 43% of sales teams report having only basic details (unqualified) before making contact, making it terribly inefficient.

  6. 62% of people prefer to use search engines rather than talking to a salesperson.

  7. 47% of customers will consume between 3 – 5 pieces of relevant content before making an enquiry.

  8. Businesses that focus on inbound marketing will save more than $14 per customer acquisition cost.

  9. In just 5 months on average, those that concentrate on inbound marketing see their cost per lead drop by 80%.

  10. Organic traffic is still king. Effective SEO ultimately drives the most qualified leads. With 94% of clicks going to organic not paid.

It’s time to take action and focus your efforts on inbound marketing!

Are you communicating with your audience effectively?

After reading the above, you’re probably wondering whether you’re communicating with your audience effectively. If you’re wondering, then chances are you’re not. You can read more about how inbound marketing works in our supreme guide to inbound marketing.

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Want to level up or implement an Inbound Marketing strategy in your business? We're here to help, drop us a line!

Written by

Jay Clair

Head of Marketing

Jay is a full stack marketer with a passion for business transformation through digital strategy. Understanding current frameworks and creating a better way forward is Jay's jam.