Inbound vs Outbound Marketing:
What’s the Difference?


There’s a common misconception amongst business owners that marketing is the same as it’s always been and that if your marketing worked for you in decades past, that you don’t need to do anything differently now. We’re not so sure. Actually, we are sure. We’re Sure that’s not the case. Let us explain.

There was once a time when if your product or the service you were offering was good and worth what you were asking for it, then you could sell it. The market has changed since then. The competition is infinite, the chances of the people who need your service seeing that you exist are thinning and traditional forms of advertising no longer yield the desired results, but why?

According to Ryan Holmes, we are now exposed to “upwards of 5,000 ads per day.” That’s
a lot of adverts. The vast majority of the ads we see now, are online. You might notice these as you scroll through social media. They often punctuate the videos that we actually want to watch with adverts that we don’t. We still see physical forms of advertising, such as posters on public transport or takeaway flyers on your doormat but we see way more electronic ads than physical
ones now. Not good news for the printing industry, we imagine.

According to Hubspot, most people they surveyed dislike online adverts because they were “intrusive and annoying”. That is a prime example of outbound marketing forcing consumers to digest adverts they don’t want to see. People don’t want to care about a company who doesn’t care about them. Inbound marketing is arguably a gentler, yet effective approach to marketing.

But what is the difference between inbound and outbound marketing? According to Hubspot, “Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.” In other words, it’s marketing aimed at improving the life of the customer in some way. If the intention behind your marketing is simply to force as many people as possible to consume your product, services or content whether it’s relevant to them or not, your marketing methodology is likely on the outbound end of the spectrum. Inbound marketing aims to give value to the customer and guide them through the experience you are offering gently and for their benefit.

Most marketing companies now, (ourselves included) employ and recommend an inbound marketing method. Not only is it more likely to result in a happy customer, it strives not to waste time and money forcing people who have no interest in your services to begrudgingly sit through your adverts. Internet analytics are so advanced now, we see no reason that a potential consumer should have to witness an advert that is not intended for them. The inbound method according to the marketing oracle that is Hubspot is a three-step process. The first step is to “Attract”, the second is to “Engage,” the last to “Delight”. Outbound marketing techniques focus so much on the first step, hauling as many witless potential customers to your website by any means, that they forget the last two steps. But landing on your website, usually isn’t enough to get a new customer to commit to a sale without encouragement.


In order to attract a new customer, you need to invest in a few basic commodities. Firstly, you need a killer website that will impress potential clients while expressing who you are as a brand. You also need to be search engine optimised (SEO) to improve your Google ranking. For more information on this, see our SEO post, but essentially, the more keywords you can cram into your website content, the more likely you are to appear when someone searches for that keyword on their search engine. If they can’t find you, you’re not attracting them.


Inbound marketing goes one better though with a technique called the lead-hook. No, not the part of the dog lead you connect to the collar. A lead-hook is a freebie of some kind you can use to start a relationship with a new customer. OK, so on the face of it, it doesn’t seem like a good business move, but let us explain. Say, for example someone is looking for a gardener. They want someone to maintain their garden, they search for “gardeners near me”. If they find your website nice and near the top of their list that’s a good start, but the majority of visitors to your page won’t actually spend any money at first. Enter the lead-hook. They find that they can download a free guide from you on how to keep your frost-sensitive plants alive during the winter months. “Brilliant! How did they know that I have always wanted to know more about that?” they think to themselves. The guide is free. “What a lovely company,” they sigh. That’s a greatstart. If they then download it, giving you their email address in the process, that is a brilliantstart. You now have a customer who has never heard of you before, who now knows you exist, they also trust you because you seem like an honest company who want to help their customers and, bonus you can now add them to your mailing list. Therefore, you are engaging the potential client’s interest by giving something they want to them for free, building trust in the process. Now they are ready to spend actual currency.


Building trust is what inbound marketing is all about, but if your product or service is going to disappoint them, then you cannot complete the circle with the third step. To delight the customer, their experience has to be a positive one. If you believe in what you’re selling, that should be no problem, but we encourage you to make sure your customer has the support they need to enjoy their purchase. Giving them a message, which says that they can contact you if there is a problem so you can fix it (preferably before they post a negative review online) should cover it. Be prepared to work with customers even after their purchase is complete because it’s way more cost effective to keep your current customers than to spend out on adverts to attract new ones.

So, as a handy takeaway, we encourage you to consider the difference between inbound and outbound marketing. Hubspot explains that “outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.” If your marketing methods can achieve that, you are more likely to end up with more new, happy customers, rather than just new customers. Which would you prefer?

Need a hand with your marketing methods? Get in touch, today. Our expert team at Deearo Marketing are here to help your business reach the people who need it.