Question 8: What's the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?

That question has two parts. First is the overt question: What's the difference between inbound and outbound marketing? Second is the implied question: Is one approach any better than the other?

In the simplest of terms, outbound marketing is how you actively seek out prospects, and inbound marketing is how you get them to find you.

Outbound marketing:

  • Cold calls
  • Events/conventions, etc.
  • Direct mail (snail mail and cold emails)
  • Print advertising and online advertising (Google, LinkedIn, etc.)

Inbound marketing (also called "content marketing"):

  • Blog posts
  • Articles posted in digital magazines and industry blogs
  • Twitter posts
  • LinkedIn discussions/groups and posted articles
  • Blog comments
  • Videos and slide decks posted online (YouTube, SlideShare, etc.)

Is One Better Than the Other?

The answer is an unequivocal no. They're different, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Inbound marketing advocates would likely tell you that inbound leads are "more qualified" than outbound leads. That isn't necessarily true: Just because they found you online via a Google search or a link in an article on an industry blog doesn't mean they are any more ready to buy than the person who received an email from you out of the blue.

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Sid Smith is lead copywriter and marketing automation specialist for Albertson Performance Group. Sid has written on topics ranging from flex circuits to motherhood, but gets a real kick out of putting together the puzzle pieces of complex marketing automation strategies. Reach him via