Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing: What Will Work Best for Your Business

By Tyler Pigott on January 02, 2018

There are a few faces that you may have already given to inbound and outbound marketing efforts.

First, we have the business savvy CEO. Eloquent, mature, and informed.

Outbound marketing is perceived by many as classic and timeless advertising. Tested and true. The marketing standard.

But then we’ve got the new kid on the block. Maybe the bad boy we love to hate, the cute cheerleader, the musician, or the creative.

Inbound marketing has taken marketers and business owners for a ride and has many connotations already tied to it. Both positive and negative.

Both "persons" are valuable and essential to a flourishing business. At times you’ll need structure and steady power, and at other times you’ll need a fresh outlook or new vibrant flare.

For example, the structure and strategy that is often associated with classic outbound marketing tactics is actually an essential piece of inbound marketing efforts. Just in a different way. While the creativity and cutting-edge ideas that are often tied to inbound marketing tactics should absolutely be part of a successful outbound marketing practice.

The point is that both are viable solutions for businesses. But for you, what it really boils down to is which method will work best for you? Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing.

So What Exactly Is The Difference?


Outbound marketing is considered the traditional form of marketing. Otherwise known as interruption marketing.

When you watch TV or listen to the radio or Pandora or anything like that and you're blasted with the same ad over and over again, this is an example of outbound marketing. How about receiving “junk mail”, paper pamphlets on your front door, ads in your local newspaper, or billboards you pass while driving? Yes, yes, yes, and yes, these are all forms of outbound marketing.

It's a tedious and expensive process, not to mention (sometimes) aggressive. However, it does work, but only for some demographics.

Outbound marketing is typically a set-it-up-and-wait campaign. You won’t be proactively choosing who sees your ad in the paper, or who hears your message on the radio. You will just have to wait and monitor the yield of results.


This is what everyone seems to want to know more about. It's been around for the better part of two decades, but it's still being tested and perfected.

Inbound marketing is your website. It's email marketing. It's using social media to get your message out there. (Take a quick peek at this infographic to get our advice on budgeting and which tactics we suggest first!)

Inbound marketing not only requires you to be well educated on who is buying your product (ie: buyer personas) but also where they hang out online. Knowing who they are won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to get yourself in front of an audience who you know will benefit from your product or service.

It's also a two-way street, making it a double-edged sword…

Do it the right way and you can win huge. Do it the wrong way (like slacking on developing an effective brand strategy) and you'll lose prospects and never get them back.

Keys to Success: Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing


  1. Brainstorm and discover what your ideal customer is interested in and build your inbound marketing campaign based on these desires and interests.Start with the beginning of your funnel.
  2. Focus on generating more qualified leads, and let your business grow based on a solid foundation. Having more qualified leads will inevitably result in more happy customers.
  3. Delight your leads through content-based marketing: give before asking. With a content-based approach, you will have more happy customers who not only view you as an expert in your space but will want their friends to benefit from your expertise as well!


  1. Millennials typically don't respond as well to outbound marketing. They're cutting the cable and listen to Spotify. They don't want the ads to come to them. If your target audience is early 30’s and below, traditional outbound methods may not be the best use of your marketing budget.
  2. Take elements of inbound marketing into your strategy. Being mindful of where you are placing paper or signage ads will attract better more qualified leads.
  3. TRACKING, TRACKING, TRACKING. One of the biggest mistakes made with outbound marketing campaign is that marketers and business owners can fail to get a good idea of what marketing methods are actually profitable. If you drop a couple grand on a billboard but never produce any evidence that you received any leads from it, renewal time can be a risky game. Don’t be afraid to ask customers where they heard about you. This quick questions can make or save your hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

So Tell Me About the ROI...

This is what it's all about, isn't it? The dollar. The profit.

Drumroll please: If your execution is on point, email marketing has the potential to have the greatest ROI. In fact, 67% of businesses claim it's their best marketing investment.

Every business is different of course, as is every marketing strategy, but overall, inbound marketing is cheaper.

Why? Social sites won't cost you a dime. Email marketing is cheap. And a Wordpress site only costs a few dollars a month. There’s also plenty of free resources to help you get started.

What Will You Decide?

The inbound marketing vs outbound marketing battle continues to rage on. And it will continue to do so until marketers can find a happy middle ground.

If you're a new or small business, go with inbound until you can afford a larger marketing budget. If you're a mid-sized or large company, try out both and don’t be afraid drop what isn’t working. Take heart by the fact that no one gets it right on their first try.

Lone Fir is a team of digital and inbound marketing experts. When you need help, we've got you covered. Give us a shout today to find out how!

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Tyler Pigott
Tyler Pigott
Marketing Strategist. Growth Hacker. Brand Builder. Visionary Entrepreneur. Tyler likes to develop strategy for people's vision and work hard to get them to where they want to go.

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