To Outbound or to Inbound …

… That is the uninformed question. Both Outbound marketing and Inbound marketing have their advantages and pitfalls. As a marketer, mastering the elements of both strategies allows you to mix and match to create the most beneficial marketing plans for your clients. If you’re not too sure where to draw the line between Outbound and Inbound, no sweat, it’s not black and white. Methods like email marketing, for example, blur the line between Outbound and Inbound marketing.

The Difference Between Outbound Marketing and Inbound Marketing

Outbound marketing refers to traditional methods of marketing like telemarketing, mail, ads, email marketing, events and anything generally sent outward to the public. Just like casting a fishing line in a monstrous ocean, Outbound Marketing is the act of inserting your business into the world of potential customers without permission. Outbound can be a turnoff because it’s fundamentally guilty of “Me, Myself and I” Marketing, or the habit of marketers blasting customers with all the reasons A,B and Co. is so awesome-rad-spectacular.

Inbound marketing paved its path to mainstream popularity with the voices of frustrated consumers who were fed up with interruptive Outbound methods, like this one:


“Hi, this is Sabrina with A,B & Co. and I want to tell YOU about our amazing offer… ” Click.

No one likes cold calls. People want to know how you can help them by giving them valuable information (i.e. content) in an entertaining manner, on their schedule. Cue Inbound Marketing.

Inbound Marketing, coined by Hubspot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan, has enjoyed a steady ascent to  top market tactic since its introduction in 2005. Leads gathered from Inbound marketing have reached an average conversion rate of 14.6% and 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep so far in 2017. Here’s a pretty awesome infographic from Hubspot that explains the differences further.

While the term Inbound Marketing was introduced just over a decade ago, the concepts that make it so powerful have been around since the 1850s. Cyrus Hall McCormick, inventor of the mechanical harvester, generated interest around his innovative technology with primitive Inbound marketing strategies and market research. McCormick intuited that people wouldn’t buy into what they don’t understand.


Ideally, marketing should result in a customer who is ready to buy. All that should be needed then is to make the product or service available; i.e., logistics rather than salesmanship, and statistical distribution rather than promotion.” – Drucker, 1974


According to Peter F. Drucker — a marketing patriarch in the mid-20th Century — Inbound offers a more evolved approach to marketing where market research and customer orientation are at the core. In other words, Inbound Marketing leads potential customers down an entertaining and informative road toward becoming a loyal customer. The key is the customer giving you, the marketer, permission to lead them down in it. Seth Godin coined this permission marketing, or the less aggressive approach to marketing where marketers ask permission to send content, promotions, etc.


Intertwining Outbound and Inbound Marketing

You can and should use a strategic blend of all of these in your marketing, with respect to your audience’s usual “hangouts”. This is called cross promoting


    1. Inbound leads to Outbound Closes. Inbound exists to create and grow a community around your brand so you can then employ Outbound tactics. As you grow and maintain this community, you can use outbound tactics to close a sale. The key is establishing trust so your sales don’t come off as scammy. In other words, Inbound sets the stage for Outbound.
    2. Inbound and Outbound can be used to cross-promote. An optimized blog is an Inbound marketing tactic. If a loyal client or employee recommends that blog to a friend, that’s Outbound marketing. This is a simple example of how Inbound and Outbound marketing can be used for cross-promotion.
    3. Advertising doesn’t choose a side. Advertising works to promote both Inbound and Outbound Marketing. If you use an advertisement to promote content or products, that is an integration of Inbound and Outbound Marketing.




Both Inbound and Outbound Marketing are essential for the growth of your brand’s community … if you have a marketable brand. If your brand is looking shabby or nonexistent, grab a beer with Bareknuckle and we’ll see how we can help.