Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing: Which Is Most Effective?

inbound vs outbound marketing

Should you focus on inbound marketing?

Or is outbound marketing a better way to acquire new customers?

In this post, we’re going to explore the pros and cons of inbound and outbound marketing. We’re going to examine which is best, and which practices offer the most substantial rewards.

But, before we explore how to maximise ROI from your digital marketing activities, let’s start with the question that’s on everyone’s lips: inbound vs outbound marketing: what is the difference?

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing is an activity driven by you: you approach the customer in the first instance. 

You might reach out via:

  • Cold emailing
  • Social media advertising
  • Cold emailing

You’re reaching out to people who haven’t necessarily shown a prior interest in your services; intending to win them round. 

Hubspot defines Outbound Marketing as:

“Outbound marketing is the traditional method of marketing; seeking to obstruct potential customers. Outbound marketing includes activities such as trade shows, seminar series, and cold calling. It’s costly, and the ROI is much lower than inbound marketing.”

It’s fair to say that Hubspot is a company that focuses on inbound marketing, so perhaps we should take that rather damning indictment of outbound marketing with a tiny, wee pinch of salt. 

Outbound marketing can, indeed, work. Cold calling, cold emailing, etc., can work. 


Is it the optimal approach to engaging with your potential customers?

I don’t think so. Read on to find why.

Improve your ROI with Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is – primarily – the process of people coming to you. This approach involves individuals voluntarily entering your sales funnel

And these types of engagements can be much more effective in providing a decent ROI.

When someone comes to you, you have much more leverage. You have more authority because they want help from you. 

Hubspot’s definition of Inbound Marketing is:

“Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences, tailored to be more relevant to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t want, inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves the problems that they already have.”


When we look at outbound marketing, we can recognise some of the reasons why it can work as a strategy. 

But we shouldn’t throw all of our eggs into the outbound approach. 

That’s a mistake that many marketing departments over the years have made. 

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The Cons of Outbound Marketing

People don’t like being interrupted. 

Think about it: when you click on a YouTube video and an advert runs before it: it’s annoying. Or even worse: it plays halfway through the video that you’ve chosen to watch. 

It’s an unwelcome interruption, and you usually skip past it at the first opportunity. 


You receive a phone call or a text message from a withheld number, and it turns out to be somebody trying to get you to sign up to something. Or they try to get you to tell them about the accident you never actually had. 

Let’s face it – you probably hang up. 

However, when you find out about a service or product from an interesting article or video, and you go on a quest to find out more and to engage with that company for yourself, you’re much more invested in that engagement.

So, it’s fair to say that inbound marketing is a more effective path to engagement because the customer has approached you. 


The challenge is in getting them to come to you first.

The trick is to create engaging content that helps them find out who you are and what you offer. 

Adopt a strategy of Inbound and Outbound marketing

The key is to adapt a strategy of both.

Focussing primarily on inbound methods, with a wonderful sprinkle of outbound.

We always teach the VOC method, which does just that. 

At the top of the funnel, we focus on inbound-styled content but supplement that with the use of paid ads. We then use paid advertising throughout the funnel to nurture leads into sales.

VOC Method Diagram

As businesses, we need to focus on content marketing: creating content that’s valuable to our audience. 

What we really need to do is:

  • Understand who our customer is
  • Create content that solves their problems, answers their questions, and helps the audience with specific things
  • Be informative
  • Be entertaining 

This approach helps us to gather inbound interest in our services. 

We could:

  • Publish blogs to drive traffic to your website, and get them into your sales funnel.
  • Publish vlogs and YouTube videos
  • Create content that’s SEO-friendly so that it gets found in search engines

The Value Ladder

I could buy a list of email addresses and send out cold emails. I can try and head them directly to Yatter

And it might work – email marketing is still a strategy that enjoys an impressive ROI. 


If they haven’t watched our videos and read our blog first, they probably don’t know enough about our services to be interested enough in parting with their money.

Making use of a value ladder – offering free, useful content to entice their attention – encourages the audience to come to us when it comes to purchase decisions. 

We can use inbound marketing tactics to inspire people to come to us. 

Complementing your Inbound Strategies with Outbound Activity

Once we have content that draws an audience towards us and our service, we can use outbound marketing activities, such as Facebook advertising to entice a broader audience. 

We can amplify our content towards people who haven’t necessarily shown a prior, direct interest in our services. 

We can use Facebook’s targeting capabilities to push our content towards people who are likely to be interested in it and, thereby, introducing them into our sales funnel. 


We can run our ads to a specific demographic of people, and some people will be interested and engage. 

And some won’t; which is fine. There’s always going to be people who aren’t interested. But we can focus our continued attentions on those parties who are engaged.

A Perfect Storm 

This is a perfect storm of inbound and outbound strategies that we can use to introduce new people into our funnel. 

And once they’re in the funnel, we can go on to use Facebook retargeting activities to encourage people further in. And, maybe, we move them towards a point at which they’re prepared to become our paying customer. 

So, outbound isn’t dead!

I’m saying, here, that outbound tactics are not dead. Used in conjunction with inbound strategies, outbound can help broaden our audience and create more income by reaching more people.

Rather than relying on Google and YouTube to bring an audience to us, we rely on paid Facebook advertising that can reach an audience with super-specific precision; based on their interests and behaviours as observed by Facebook’s algorithm. 

How do we create the right type of content?

We teach business owners how to build their funnels, how to best run their ads, and how to create the right type of content so that you can combine your inbound and outbound strategies to create a winning formula. This can help increase your leads and your conversion rates consistently and predictably. 

Thanks for reading! Please let us know what you think by adding some comments in the discussion box below. 🙂

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