Outbound Marketing Vs. Inbound Marketing: Pros And Cons

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 28 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Marketing is an essential business function that contributes to the growth of a company by helping increase the customer base. Most businesses apply two prominent marketing strategies, namely, inbound marketing and outbound marketing. Learning about these approaches can help you understand their importance and use them effectively. In this article, we discuss the differences between outbound marketing vs. inbound marketing, explain their pros and cons and share examples of both types of marketing techniques.

Definition of outbound marketing vs. inbound marketing

Knowing the differences between outbound marketing vs. inbound marketing can help you understand why they are crucial for business growth. Outbound marketing seeks to interact with potential customers, regardless of whether they are interested in the brand's product or service. Outbound marketing has direct contact with potential customers. In addition to strategies such as cold calling or emailing, demonstrations, presentations and outdoor marketing, outbound marketing also includes traditional forms of display advertisements, events, print and in-person marketing.

Inbound marketing is a non-intrusive strategy where companies create campaigns across platforms that help spread awareness about the brand or product and attract potential customers. In this form of marketing, the customer approaches the company first by expressing interest in purchasing a product and eventually makes a purchase. Unlike outbound marketing, a prospective customer is more focused and personalised as per customer profiles.

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Differences between outbound marketing vs. inbound marketing

Here are some differences between outbound and inbound marketing:

Active vs. passive

Outbound marketing has active engagement, where companies directly contact the customers. It is usually interruptive and demands time or attention from the audience. Inbound marketing is more passive in nature, where businesses wait for lead generation through content and social media. It is not commonly intrusive to the customers.


Outbound marketing aims to establish one-on-one direct contact with prospective buyers through a phone call, email or personal conversation. It usually follows a set process and has a unidirectional approach. Inbound marketing strategies get customised to reach segmented audiences using general content such as blogs or social media content. Inbound marketing offers more interactivity and fluidity.


Outbound marketing can start delivering results in a short span. With the support of the right tools and approach, outbound marketing campaigns usually have short-term goals. The customer response is immediate, and so is the decision to pursue it. Inbound marketing can take a longer time to show results. This is because it takes time to build an audience and attract customers using content or social media marketing.

Return on investment

It can be hard to measure the return on investment in both forms of marketing. Both types require time, resources and effort to attract leads. Between the two, it can be relatively easier to measure the return of outbound marketing as the cost and assets tend to be more definitive and fixed. In inbound marketing, it can be tough to ascertain the value of each marketing asset as it continues to attract prospective customers passively.

Customer feedback

Feedback is instant in outbound marketing as the company directly interacts with the customer. This real-time communication can help the business understand how to improve its approach or sales pitch. In contrast, inbound marketing does not offer immediate feedback as the nature of the interaction is passive. Feedback about blogs or social media posts can take time to register.

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Pros and cons of outbound marketing

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of outbound marketing:

Pros of outbound marketing

Outbound marketing can help businesses grow in the following ways:

  • Direct interaction: Outbound marketing helps companies directly connect to customers and convert leads quickly.

  • Control: It allows you to choose your prospect and manage how to approach them effectively. You have control over the target audience you want to engage and the medium you choose.

  • Speed: Outbound marketing techniques generally have a fast turnaround time and can lead to rapid growth in the company's customer base.

  • Scalability: Outbound strategies can help companies scale quickly. It allows companies to get to the market as soon as the campaign is ready.

  • Product improvement: By directly interacting with customers, companies can gather accurate feedback and better understand customer challenges. This can help companies create better solutions for their customers and make effective product improvements.

Cons of outbound marketing

Outbound marketing has the following limitations:

  • High saturation: Traditional outbound marketing techniques such as cold calling or display advertisements have a high degree of saturation, and it can be challenging to differentiate your pitch from the competition.

  • Cost: Outbound marketing is relatively more expensive. Hiring professionals for cold calling or creating physical marketing assets like banners and billboards can cost a lot.

  • Measurement: The effectiveness of outbound marketing strategies, like billboards, is difficult to measure. This makes the impact of physical marketing campaigns challenging to ascertain.

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Pros and cons of inbound marketing

Here are some prominent benefits and drawbacks of inbound marketing:

Pros of Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing can help businesses in the following ways:

  • Relevance: Inbound strategies allow companies to engage with qualified audiences in a targeted manner that increases the chances of converting them into paying customers.

  • Informative: Inbound marketing usually uses informative content that helps in solving customer problems.

  • Interactivity: Inbound content like social media posts, reports and blogs is usually more interactive. This enables to customise the marketing message for specific customers.

  • Measurement: It can be relatively easier to measure the scope and impact of the campaign using tracking and analytical tools. Measuring the reach, engagement and impression on the audience is also easier in inbound marketing campaigns.

  • Non-invasive: Inbound marketing can be less aggressive than other forms of physical marketing. It is non-invasive where prospective customers can read blog posts or watch informative videos when they have time.

Cons of Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing has the following drawbacks:

  • Time: Inbound marketing usually takes a longer time to deliver results. These campaigns typically extend for a minimum of six to eight months.

  • Resources: These campaigns require a lot of time and effort to develop and test different content to attract customers.

  • Integrations: Inbound marketing usually takes place across different platforms, which makes it necessary to purchase, implement and integrate tools across channel campaigns.

  • Scalability: Inbound marketing can be difficult to scale for companies, as it would require building expertise in niche functions like content generation or social media marketing.

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Example of outbound marketing

A company selling B2B software solutions wants to increase its customer base in a new market. The company can implement different outbound marketing techniques to achieve this goal. For example, they can set up a team of call centre professionals and create a database of their target audience. The company representatives can call prospects, gather leads and offer free trials or discounts to engage potential customers.

Similarly, the company can run a focused email marketing campaign and focus on businesses from certain industries they want to target. They can set up automated email chains that send follow-up reminders and schedule meetings with interested prospects. In both these approaches, the company uses a strategy that requires them to approach potential customers, engage them and nurture the relationship.

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Example of inbound marketing

Consider the same company providing B2B software solutions. Suppose the company chooses to implement an inbound marketing campaign instead of calling customers directly. In that case, it can publish an informative research study or white paper about a specific issue concerning the target audience. Alternatively, the company can also start writing blogs on their website with targeted keywords to improve their search engine rankings.

When prospective customers look for a query online, they might come across a white paper or blog published by the company. Once they get an answer to their question, they may explore other knowledge resources or learn more about the company. This can help improve brand recognition and portray the company as an industry leader. If the company is offering a direct solution to the customer's challenge, they may even contact and express interest in the same. In these cases, the business created a passive marketing asset that helped attract potential customers to the company.

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