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Outbound versus Inbound Marketing: Why Not Both?

The marketing landscape has evolved dramatically over the last few years. With over 198 million Internet users using ad blockers and 84% of viewers skipping ads on TV, the notion of a captive audience is a thing of the past. People have changed how they consume media and engage with brands in whole new ways. They have grown accustomed to ignoring invasive, irrelevant marketing messages and look to interact with content that entertains and educates. 

In response to this shift in consumer behavior, many marketers are rapidly moving their dollars away from traditional outbound tactics like display media, print advertising and direct mail. But before you completely abandon outbound marketing in favor of an exclusively inbound strategy, consider how the two can work in tandem for a more potent marketing mix. 


Image Source: Moz

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing depends on attracting organic interest instead of purchasing media to broadcast one-sided promotional messages. This can include a variety of tactics such as content marketing, social media engagement and SEO.

When it comes to executing a successful inbound marketing strategy, the key steps are to:

  1. Attract website visitors – through blog articles, content marketing, social media marketing and SEO
  2. Turn visitors to leads – with premium offers, call-to-actions, landing pages and forms
  3. Convert leads into sales – using email workflows, lead scoring and CRM integration
  4. Transform customers into advocates – by delighting them with smart CTAs, social callouts and nurture emails


To see our inbound marketing methodology in full detail, check out The CEO's Guide to Using Inbound Marketing for B2B Lead Generation.

Why inbound marketing is so effective

Companies spend millions of dollars every year to promote their products to the biggest audiences they can afford. In turn, the modern consumer is inundated with thousands of ads and marketing interruptions on a daily basis. The result is an influx of disruptive noise that, at best, goes ignored. At worst, this level of intrusion can turn a potential customer away from a brand altogether. 

Inbound marketing offers a cost-effective way to connect with primed and attentive audiences who come to you ready to engage. Just a quick glance at some of the stats shows that:

  • Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional marketing (Kapost)
  • Inbound leads cost 62% less on than outbound leads (Mashable)
  • 68% of online buyers will spend considerable time reading content published by a brand they are interested in (CMA)
  • 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement (SocialMediaToday)
  • 84% of people 25- to 35-years-old have left a website because of an "irrelevant or intrusive ad" (CMO)



So why even bother with outbound marketing?

While the effectiveness of inbound marketing may make everything else seem outdated and pointless, paid media should still play a vital role in your overarching marketing strategy. After all, the average consumer doesn’t think in terms of outbound versus inbound. They’re looking to interact with entertaining content and searching for relevant information to help them make their purchase decisions.

Here are just a few ways to leverage outbound marketing tactics to drive more qualified traffic and speed up ROI for your inbound marketing efforts.

Power your content strategy with paid media

The greatest content in the world is useless if nobody sees it, and people won’t come across your content by mistake. Even with the best SEO strategy in place, it can take a while before your content appears in organic search results. Paid placements in channels that are relevant to your business and frequented by your customer base can give your content a stronger chance at being discovered, shared and picked up by the right audiences.

Extend your social strategy with promoted posts

83% of marketers say that social media is important for their business. However, unless your organization has a huge global footprint and an even larger social following, sharing across your owned channels can only go so far. Promoted posts give you the power to make use of each social media platform’s individual targeting capabilities. On popular platforms like Facebook and Linkedin, you can extend your reach to specific groups of users based on their related activities and interests.

Follow up with email marketing

Many might lump email into the outbound bucket. But when people opt-in to receive your email communications, they want to hear from you. In fact, 69% of consumers prefer to hear from brands via email. Using data captured by CRM, you can tailor emails to the needs and interests of your mailing list. Bringing personalized nurture emails, drips or newsletters into your inbound marketing strategy will allow you to follow up with leads and add an element of delight to drive customer retention.

What’s the big takeaway?

With all this talk predicting the death of traditional marketing, it is the imaginary line between outbound and inbound that is destined to fade into obscurity. Consumers don’t care about this arbitrary distinction. They ignore marketing that doesn’t pertain to them and seek out engaging content that adds value to their lives.

Regardless of how and where you connect with your potential customers, relevance will always be the most important factor. Successful marketing strategies – outbound or inbound – serve a purpose to fulfill the needs of the consumer. Savvy marketers know that outbound and inbound marketing tactics can work together to successfully influence purchase decisions and create lifelong brand advocates.

About the Author: Samantha Anderson

Samantha Anderson

Samantha is the COO and co-founder of 41 Orange, inc, a marketing agency. She is also currently a member of the Board of Directors for San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Balboa Park’s resident classical ballet school since 1945. Hailing from the agency world, Sam has worked with Fortune 500 tech, financial, and consumer brands, including Intel, Petco and LPL Financial, to shape their online presence and reach their target audiences more effectively through social media and beyond. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, emphasis in public relations from San Diego State University.