Creating the right marketing strategy early on in your business can make a world of difference to your success.

A useful approach to marketing is to leverage inbound and outbound marketing. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’ve already encountered these two marketing approaches.

If you’ve viewed an ad, read a blog post, or watched an online video, then you’ve engaged in some kind of inbound or outbound marketing technique.

These two approaches are strikingly different enough that if you don’t use them well, you’ll impact how well your business does.

In this post, we’ll cover the critical differences between inbound and outbound marketing. And with this knowledge, you’ll be able to choose the approach that is right for you or create a mix that’s a winning strategy.

The differences between inbound and outbound marketing

The most fundamental difference between inbound and outbound marketing is how customers find your content.

With outbound marketing, content is thrust upon them. For example, ads on TV, magazine ads, and the billboards we see as we travel are simply present whether we wish to view them or not. Here, your marketing messages are pushed on to customers.

In inbound marketing, you pull or draw in customers of their own volition. A common example is when you find a blog post that helps you solve a problem. And you then go on to explore the website the post is on and even buy from the site later.

Here are other key differences that will shed light on the impact these approaches have on your marketing success.

Providing value before Vs after

An important distinction between inbound and outbound marketing is the stage at which value is provided to customers.

In outbound marketing, the goal is typically to ask your customers to buy from you right away. The focus is on providing value after they make a purchase.

And it’s the opposite case in inbound marketing; you provide value to customers before they even consider making a purchase. For example, your audience reads your blog posts, watches videos, and engages with content to get value from these experiences. They may later purchase your product. But at first, they get value from you without having to pay for anything.

Disruption versus permission marketing

Outbound marketing is typically a disruptive experience. Your audience has not invited your content into their awareness. Whenever you go past a billboard, see an ad at the cinema, or scroll past a promoted post on social media, you are experiencing disruptive marketing.

In contrast, people inadvertently seek out inbound marketing content. For example, someone who asks ‘How to set up an online store’ on Google will look for a helpful and detailed video or blog post. They may then learn more about your brand and buy your product or service further down the line.

When you see the outcomes

You typically see the results or outcomes of outbound marketing quickly when compared to inbound marketing techniques.

In outbound marketing, your ad appears to users and if it interests them, they’ll take action by clicking on it. Then based on your landing page, discounts offered, or some other factor, your audience may sign up for your email list or buy right away. It’s worth noting that conversion rates are not high when you drive in traffic from such content. You’ll reach a lot of people, convert a small number, and will keep having to invest more and more to get sales.

When it comes to inbound marketing, you can see results trickle in slowly over years. An evergreen blog post will help you convert users years after the post is published. In effect, the return on your investment in inbound marketing compounds over time.

Time taken to create content

From conception to realization, outbound marketing generally needs less time to happen. You create an ad copy, post it, and it brings results quickly.

But inbound marketing content like instructional videos, how-to posts, and online courses take more time, resources, and effort. When you want to put out quality content, it’s inevitable for you to need more time to do it. But the results you get from such work are often worth it.

The lifespan of your content

As you’ve guessed by now, another difference between these two marketing approaches is how long they last.

Outbound ads run for a few days or months depending on your budget. While free online courses, YouTube videos, and blog posts can last for years or as long as the platform they’re on exists. While inbound marketing tactics can take time to bring in traffic and engagement, over the years, they are less expensive and offer greater results when done well.


Each content and marketing approach has advantages and disadvantages. Avoid relying on any single approach completely to attract customers to your business.

The best approach is to create a mix of inbound and outbound marketing strategies. For example, use ads to get traffic but then have visitors visit your blog or stay on your site with the help of a well-designed landing page.

Being aware of the differences between inbound and outbound marketing will help you build your business for the short and long term and create the best chance of success.

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