You’ve likely heard the terms “outbound marketing” and “inbound marketing” many times but never gave them much thought and therefore, I find many business owners often confuse the terms when establishing their marketing methods for a web 3 world. What do they really imply? Who do they target? What strategies do they consist of, and which gets the best ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)?
What Is Outbound Marketing?
Outbound marketing is what most people think of when it pertains to marketing. It consists of the traditional and conventional means including outdoor billboards and transit ads, radio and television commercials, print ads, direct mail, and telemarketing. In the digital realm, it consists of banner and display ads, pop-ups, and cold email marketing,
Simply put, outbound marketing consists of those methods that PUSH information to a COLD audience. A COLDaudience is those consumers who haven’t actively asked for any information about your product or service. Because of over-saturation, issues such as email routing and ad blockers have made this methodology more difficult, inefficient an expensive.
Nevertheless, it’s not going anywhere and ad spending is still expected to increase significantly over the next few years with some estimating it could increase as much as 40% by 2026.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
To consider inbound marketing to be a newer tactic isn’t totally true. Old-fashioned public relations as defined by the “Father of Modern Public Relations,” Edward Bernays, is the cornerstone of content marketing.
“The total person or institution needs to be brought into a better relationship or adjustment with the environment upon which he or it depends. Modern public relations proceeds from an understanding of individuals, institutions, and social groups and their interrelationships”
~ Edward Bernays, Author “Public Relations”, 1953 ~
However, some still consider inbound marketing to be a newer marketing concept due to the evolution and growth of the internet.
For many, early inbound methods consisted primarily of paid search and native advertising. But rather than just pushing ads and messages out, today’s inbound marketing is designed to stimulate interest and engagement, and PULL in consumers using content marketing as its primary tactic.
As social media platforms grew and evolved, content marketing today includes articles,, infographics, whitepapers, email newsletters, ebooks and guides, online quizzes and polls, webinars, and more.
Using brand oriented content, successful marketers pull potential customers into marketing funnels that direct potential customers through a journey from brand awareness, to interest, desire and ultimately action.
What Is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?
Outbound marketing depends on purchasing ads, printing flyers, obtaining 3rd-party email lists and crafting messages that, when sent to COLD audiences, the direct exposure to that message gets individuals to react in a desired manner.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is far more customer-centric. It focuses on drawing audiences in with terrific material that aligns with their interests, constructing awareness and engagement, and supporting the audience to know, like and trust either the organization or the individual providing that information until such time that they take action.
Rather than marketing blindly and disrupting a large audience who may not have an interest in your item or be responsive to your messages, incoming marketing brings clients to you due to the fact that your target market is interested in, or actively looking for, your products or services.
Another big distinction between inbound vs outbound is that while outgoing marketing uses both online and offline tactics, incoming focuses mostly on the online realm. Because of the tools available online, it is far easier to track engagement and generate valuable metrics to fine tune marketing campaigns and increase your ROAS.
What’s More Reliable, Inbound or Outbound Marketing?
Increasingly, brand names are using an omnichannel strategy to reach target audiences in order to have top-of-mind awareness wherever they are – whether it be online or in store. It’s also useful for building general brand name awareness to broad audiences.
Outbound marketing is a crucial element in omnichannel marketing, and is still an effective tactic for high-end and big box brands. Consider the value of Super Bowl ads, or the yearly IKEA brochure that’s still in print! It’s one way to catch attention when an individual is not glued to their screens. It’s also an important strategy for reaching those market segments that are less online oriented.
However, the primary drawback of outbound marketing is also a result of being far less targeted. As a result, it can be costly and difficult to track results. That’s the biggest advantage of inbound marketing.
Inbound leads tend to cost around 60% less than outbound leads. Because of greater targeting, it is much easier to find prospective customers, instead of simply marketing to whoever will listen. Due to it being online, leads are generally more valuable because of the ability to collect information about audience habits and campaign effectiveness. Because 80% of buyers report they prefer to learn about a brand through a series of posts, rather than ads, this also results in higher conversion rates.
Determining the Right Marketing Mix
Often, the determination of whether or not to include outbound marketing in your business is ultimately driven by your market and your budget.
If your customers are local or regional, outbound can be beneficial and effective. If your audience is national or global, then it’s significantly more cost effective and wise to limit your expense in outbound and invest more in inbound.
If you are a startup or a small business, your budget will drive many of your decisions. Outbound tactics might be limited to trade shows and industry periodicals because your potential reach will be far better when focusing on inbound tactics.
Regardless, in the new decentralized Web 3.0 economy, building trust can only be achieved through regular interaction with prospective and existing customers.
As adtech becomes more advanced, even with more privacy restrictions in place, building relationships and acquiring zero-party data is the best means of long-term success for any business.
With the right approaches and brand new ways of targeting and retargeting audiences, as well as tracking engagement you’ll get much better outcomes.