Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

4 years ago

At Aira a large proportion of my role is client facing. Meaning I spend a large amount of my time talking and working with the great clients we have. 

These conversations vary all the time from ‘how’s your golf game?’ (not very good is the answer) to wider marketing or business strategy and how to attract, engage and ultimately convert more leads. When these conversations start most, if not all clients start to think about generating top-of-the-funnel sales leads. 

To progress the conversation, we begin to talk about how to generate these leads, and clients often suggest outbound marketing activities. 

However at Aira, along with many successful and innovative businesses we are embracing the art of inbound marketing. The aim of this post is to explain everything you need to know when it comes to inbound marketing vs outbound marketing. 

Let’s start by looking at outbound marketing strategies:

What is outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing is a traditional method of marketing seeking to interrupt potential customers. Outbound marketing includes activities such as batch-and-blast emails, trade shows, cold calling and leafleting. It is costly and very difficult to track and attribute ROI, especially when compared to inbound marketing.

It is my belief that there is still scope for an outbound marketing strategy in 2020 and beyond, but, this has to be paired with considered, tailored inbound marketing activity. That being said, I think outbound marketing techniques are becoming less impactful as time goes on. 

Brain Halligan, co-founder of HubSpot, cites two main reasons for this, which I have tweaked slightly to closer align with my interpretations:

  1. The average person is hit with over 2,000 outbound marketing interruptions per day, and as technology becomes more mobile and media consumption moves to an ‘on-demand’ mentality, it’s becoming easier to block out these interruptions.
  2. Frictionless access to information. The cost (both time and actual cost) of researching a new product or service is far lower now, as a result of on-tap internet access. 


The second point can be best explained by looking at the buyer’s journey. Traditionally, if you were looking to buy a new car, you would spend weekend after weekend trawling the local car dealerships looking for the best possible deal, gaining information from a salesperson directly. 

Now, in 2020 if you’re in the market for a new car, you will jump online and look at reviews, videos or even enlist the services of buying comparison tools such as carwow. This is frictionless access to the information you need.

Transition from outbound to inbound 

At Aira we promote an inbound marketing strategy that takes the emphasis away from interruption and puts the emphasis on ensuring you are found by the people who are already searching or shopping for your product or service. This is the essence of inbound marketing.

To ensure you are found by the people who matter, you will need to ensure you are producing content that suits their needs. This will be done by organising your website into a cluster of information for a topic within your industry or the industry itself. 

This is exactly what we are doing at Aira. If you run a Google site search for Aira Inbound Marketing ( "inbound"), you will see how we are building up our content offering on the subject, as we aim to be found by potential customers who are researching inbound marketing.

aira inbound marketing site searchThere is no right answer for the split between inbound and outbound, but I would advise focusing the majority of your efforts on inbound marketing. 

What do you need to know?

To finish this post I want to highlight the key differences between inbound and outbound marketing: 

  1. Outbound marketing looks to interrupt people, whereas inbound marketing is used to ensure you are found when customers are looking for you 
  2. Due to the nature of outbound marketing, it is difficult to attribute ROI or any measurement to a campaign. Inbound marketing, combined with a CRM system like Hubspot or Salesforce, means you are able to track a customer from first click to conversion
  3. Inbound marketing allows you to quickly qualify prospects. Time and resource is required to do this when generating loosely qualified outbound leads 


If you have any questions on how to structure your site to best promote the inbound methodology, I would be more than happy to chat on LinkedIn or Twitter. Likewise if you'd like to discuss creating content topic clusters - though for that you can also check out the resource below.

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