Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a term that possibly means nothing to you, similarly ‘outbound marketing’ could generate a shrug of your shoulders. To understand inbound marketing you need to understand what it is not – and what inbound marketing is not is traditional marketing using advertising and direct mail.

What exactly is Inbound Marketing?

More than anything it is a ‘two-way’ communication system and is interactive.

It is designed NOT to be intrusive and customers or prospects come to you, via search engines or other routes such as social media. So the emphasis is to ATTRACT customers by offering relevant and interesting content via blogs and podcasts, free offers and by engaging customers in discussions through social media; and by using media like email (which is an outbound marketing tool) but only at the consumer’s request or with the consumer’s permission.

CRM Daily reports, “nearly half of the companies that implement inbound marketing efforts see a 25 percent greater return on investment (ROI) on those programs than companies that do not. The survey found that inbound marketing channels can deliver up to 30 times the campaign conversion rate of traditional outbound direct-mail campaigns.”.

The major advantages for Inbound marketing are:-

  • 100% measureable, therefore easier to track,
  • Has a higher return on investment
  • Lower overall costs than outbound marketing

What is Inbound Marketing?

HubSpot is probably the best known Inbound Marketing package provider and their site clearly explains the “what” and the “how” and Aditerum uses all the same philosophies and methodologies but within a different environment. The infographic below is a version of the HubSpot model and reflects the methodology used by Aditerum.

Inbound Marketing infographic


Instead of the shotgun style of marketing you go for the surgical strike and where ever possible aim for pin point accuracy. The object here is to attract people (strangers) and turn them into delighted customers that actively promote. Finding them is where the work begins:-

  1. Blogging – Inbound marketing normally starts with blogging. A blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create educational content that speaks to them and answers their questions.
  2. Social Media – You must share remarkable content and valuable information on the social web, engage with your prospects, and put a human face on your brand. Interact on the networks where your ideal buyers spend their time.
  3. SEO/Keywords – Your customers begin their buying process online, usually by using a search engine to find something they have questions about. So you need to make sure you’re appearing prominently when they search. To get there, you need to carefully, analytically pick keywords, optimize your pages, create content, and build links around the terms your ideal buyers are searching for.
  4. Pages – You must optimise your website to appeal to and speak with your ideal buyers. Transform your website into a beacon of helpful content to entice the right strangers to visit your pages.


Once you have visitors to your site, your need now is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information. At the very least, you’ll need their email addresses. Contact information is the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer. In order for your visitors to offer up that currency willingly, you need to offer them something in return. That “payment” comes in the form of content, like pdfs, ebooks, white-papers, video help files or any kind of information that will be interesting and valuable to each of your visitors.

  1. Calls-to-Action – Calls-to-action (CTAs) are buttons or links that encourage your visitors to take action, like “Download a Whitepaper” or “Attend a Webinar.” If you don’t have enough calls-to-action or your calls-to-action aren’t enticing enough, you won’t generate any leads.
  2. Landing Pages – When a website visitor clicks on a call-to-action, they should then be sent to a landing page. A landing page is where the offer in the call-to-action is fulfilled, and where the prospect submits information that your sales team can use to begin a conversation with them. When visitors fill out forms on landing pages, they become leads.
  3. Forms – In order for visitors to become leads, they must fill out a form and submit their information.
  4. Contacts – Keep track of the leads you’re converting in a centralised marketing database, typically a CRM such as Salesforce or SugarCRM.


You now need to transform these leads into customers. The toolset will include:

  1. Lead Scoring – Using a numerical representation of the sales-readiness of a lead takes the guesswork out of the process.
  2. Email – Drip feed a series of emails focused on useful, relevant content will build trust with a prospect and help them become more ready to buy.
  3. Marketing Automation – This process involves creating email marketing and lead nurturing tailored to the needs and lifecycle stage of each lead. For example, if a visitor downloaded a whitepaper on a certain topic from you in the past, you might want to send that lead a series of related emails. But if they follow you on Twitter and visited certain pages on your website, you might want to change the messaging to reflect those different interests.
  4. Closed-loop Reporting – How do you know which marketing efforts are bringing in the best leads? Is your sales team effectively closing those best leads into customers? Integration with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system allows you to analyze just how well your marketing and sales teams are playing together.


The Inbound way is all about providing useful content to our users (visitors, leads and existing customers). Inbound marketers continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) up-sell their current customers into promoters of the companies and products they love. Tools used to delight customers include:

  1. Smart Calls-to-Action – These present different users with offers that change based on buyer and lifecycle stage.
  2. Social Media – Using various social platforms gives you the opportunity to provide real-time customer service.
  3. Email and Marketing Automation – Providing your existing customers with valuable content can help them achieve their own goals, as well as introduce new products and features that might be of interest to them.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Well, in simple terms it is what many would call the old way or the traditional way of marketing. Typically this is considered as ‘one-way’ communication and includes:-

  • Advertising: TV, Radio, Print, Cinema, Events, Billboards etc.
  • Direct Mail
  • Telemarketing, Cold Calling

In essence anything that interrupts the consumer or target audience to, hopefully, attract their attention and elicit a response. The shotgun approach that fires out a wide spread of bullets in the hope that some of them hit something.

In many respects this shotgun approach is understood by the consumer and is accepted and most people are familiar and comfortable with it. Most people will take it for granted that they will be subjected to advertising and direct mail on a daily basis. So that is an advantage to the marketer but the disadvantage is that most people have learnt to ignore it or avoid it.

There is plenty of research available now that shows, unsurprisingly, that

  • Over 45% of people never open direct mail
  • Almost 90% of TV audiences skip through ads
  • Over 80% of 25-35 year olds have clicked out of a website because of intrusive advertising.
  • 200 million US phone users have registered on a “Do Not Call” list
  • 89% of email users unsubscribe to previously opted in lists

So these days Outbound Marketing has several key disadvantages:-

  • Difficulty in tracking return on investment (ROI)
  • Increasing blocking techniques (Do not call list, Spam filters, TiVo, etc)
  • High cost, low yield.
Scroll to Top