Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing [Infographic]

The Web has empowered consumers in many ways, giving them new methods for finding, researching, and buying products. What's the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?Marketing communication as a two-way dialogue emerged in response to these changes in behavior. People no longer rely solely on TV/newspaper/magazine ads, billboards, direct mail, email, banner ads, and other traditional outbound marketing channels to learn about new products. These methods are now viewed as too intrusive, especially among younger consumers who regularly tune out the tactics. So what’s the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, anyway?

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing focuses on consumers finding you. This approach  is attractive to marketers because it zeros in on people who are already actively searching for a product or service and generates more qualified leads. The components of this method are fairly simple: Create fresh, relevant, targeted content specifically designed to reach a distinct audience. Online research is now routine for consumers, who have embraced daily pre-purchase analysis in huge way. Inbound marketing is significantly less expensive than outbound marketing. Strategies include:

  • Social media marketing
  • Blogging and content marketing
  • Podcasts
  • White papers
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Pay per click (PPC) advertising

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing focuses on paying to broadcast your message to find consumers who will listen to you. It’s a shotgun-blast approach to promotion — the campaign is broad-based and distributed as widely as possible to a large and diverse audience in hopes of generating the greatest number of sales. It’s a value-driven numbers game: The more billboard ads or banner ads you pay for = the more people see your product = the more sales you’ll make. Outbound marketing strategies include:

  • Print ads
  • TV ads
  • Banner ads
  • Trade shows
  • Telemarketing
  • Cold calling
  • Press releases
  • Trade shows
  • Email marketing
  • Direct mail

This infographic highlights the differences between inbound and outbound marketing

This infographic from Voltier Digital pits inbound marketing against outbound marketing — can you guess which one is winning?

Some interesting stats:

  • 44% of direct mail is never opened, so it’s a waste of time, postage, and trees.
  • 86% of people skip through television commercials.
  • 91% of email users have opted out of company email that they had previously subscribed to.
  • 84% of 25-to-34 year olds have left a favorite website because of an “irrelevant or intrusive ad”.
  • The cost per lead in outbound marketing is 62% more than for inbound marketing.

Check out the image below and let me know what you think…

The difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing

  • Todd

    Very helpful!!

    Thank you.

  • Ryu_Ken

    Marketers who discount outbound marketing are doing themselves a disservice. Don’t discount outbound tactics just because the majority of the marketplace has decided to go all in with inbound. I have used direct Mail 3 times this year (4 months in) with clients and it was cheaper to produce leads in this manner than it was to develop content.

    Remember, content develop takes time and time is money, especially if you’re a billable resource developing the content. To develop an infographic and a white paper, it took 120 hours. At an average billing rate of $200/hour that’s $24,000.

    The direct mail campaign (300 mailers) which brought in 20 leads and out of 20 leads 3 turned into business.

    We still have that white paper and infographic out there and are sharing it and discussing it heavily. THere are plenty of downloads but a download doesn’t denote a lead. Our landing page asks for information and if they are interested in a low barrier for entry trial and none has turned into business.

    I’m not discount inbound, it critical to marketing success. But in this case we can see that outbound still works and in some cases better than inbound.

    Don’t discount something just because the stats say so. Find ways to make your tactics work despite the trend.

  • Jon

    Statistics suggest that inbound marketing, wildly popular
    among marketers, are not producing new sales revenue as successfully as traditional
    outbound marketing such as direct mail. Could this shift in marketing
    investment dollars to the cluttered electronic media formats be a contributing
    factor for the slow economic recovery? Will the trend need to be reversed to
    increase sales transactions?

  • Cool infographic Pam :-)

  • Excellent post! Great info graphic and you’ve mentioned an excellent layout of
    tools and Social Media Channels on Inbound and Outbound Marketing and the strategy
    that might go with it. Thanks for sharing the great Info-Graphic – It made for
    a great reading experience.  Thanks for sharing and once again – Excellent

    • Glad you find it helpful, Anton. I think there’s a lot of confusion about inbound vs. outbound and I wanted to help clear some of it up. Thanks for reading!

  • Totally agree that inbound marketing is the wave of today.  It’s constituent-centric, and we all appreciate being heard.  In fact, the need to be heard is one of the strongest drivers we human beings have.

  • this is neatly explained…always believed Inbound marketing which explores SMM and SEO is anytime a better option then Outbound marketing efforts

  • At this point in technology, understanding the various social platforms is key to having a successful campaign; however, there is still no replacement for “top of mind” awareness.  So, having a multiple channel message will still enhance your presence.  I say find a happy medium between the technology and delivery of both the old and new.

  • Michael Decker

    Very nice “explainer”  differentiating Push from Pull Marketing.  No need to dis push marketing, though, because the fact is the most successful marketing campaign holistically implement both at the same time.  Push marketing can be highly effective and cost efficient if the content is great and relevant to the intended audience.  THAT is what truly differentiates effective marketing from consumer annoyance and rejection.

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  • kempto

    Good comment from Dave. This is push/pull marketing versus inbound outbound. Inbound market represents the marketing organization gathing information about the target market – the marketing organization learning process. This inbound is really outbound pull marketing.

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  • Jonathan Blackwell

    Companies need to have a plan for both inbound and outbound marketing channels. A business on a tight budget can stretch their efforts further by focusing on inbound / content marketing, but even they need to understand the power of direct response / outbound marketing for their landing pages and to maximize email campaigns and PPC spend.

  • girish_16

    Excellent Infographic ! Keep up the good work !