August 17, 2023
min read

In B2B marketing, finding the ultimate strategy to effectively connect with your target audience and drive business success can seem like an elusive goal. There is no “silver bullet” tactic that can be adopted to generate new leads, pipeline, and revenue consistently and predictably. This challenge is especially true in a post-pandemic era where consumers are more likely to change their behaviors. McKinsey & Company reports that 75% of U.S. consumers had tried a new brand, store, or alternative way of shopping during the pandemic.


As the buyers’ needs shift with the times, demand generation marketers must navigate an array of tactics and approaches to attract and keep their attention. Inbound and outbound marketing are two prominent contenders in this arena. This article aims to shed some light on these two marketing tactics to help marketers reach their target audience and meet their goals.

What Is Inbound Marketing Vs. Outbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing attracts potential customers organically by providing value and establishing a genuine connection. It entails creating informative and engaging content that resonates with the audience and inspires trust. On the other hand, outbound marketing takes a more proactive stance by pushing promotional messages to a target audience, irrespective of their prior interest.

What are inbound vs. outbound marketing tactics?

Knowing when to implement inbound marketing vs. when to implement outbound marketing comes down to striking a healthy balance between the two. Your business model, type of product, and target accounts will heavily influence your choice between inbound and outbound. Neither is better or worse than the other; rather, they can work in tandem to achieve measurable results.

Examples of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a customer-centric approach that focuses on drawing potential customers to a brand through relevant and engaging content. Rather than pushing promotional messages, inbound marketing aims to build trust and credibility by providing valuable information that addresses the needs and interests of the target audience. Once the prospects are engaged, a nurture process guides them through the subsequent steps until they are ready to request a demo, start a free trial, or engage a sales representative. Examples include:


●  Content marketing: Inbound content marketing encompasses a variety of high-quality content such as free e-books, case studies, infographics, whitepapers, webinars, and podcasts. These materials are designed to inform consumers about specific subjects with the hope of eventually converting them into customers who appreciate the brand's educational approach. Building the right content is just the first step on the process: the content distribution is equally important, so a great inbound marketer spends a significant amount of time researching potential distribution channels that are able to engage the right audience.

●  Social media posts, videos, and ads: Social media marketing utilizes diverse forms of content creation to facilitate inbound marketing. For instance, influencers promote products, while social media posts and ads deliver valuable content to users based on their specific consumer interests, thereby generating potential leads.

●  Websites: A successful inbound marketing strategy includes helpful content on your business’s landing page and website.

●  Search Ads: Google offers the possibility to target specific keywords and drive traffic to our website based on intent. They are very effective at generating leads and conversions while we work on the SEO plan.

●  Banner ads: Inbound marketing campaigns come to life with ads displayed on the top, bottom, or sides of a website. These ads are primarily used for retargeting people that have visited specific pages on the company’s website.

●  Search engine optimization (SEO), which aims to improve your business's visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs), is another effective form of inbound marketing.

●  Event marketing: Sponsoring conferences relevant to your target audience is another form of inbound marketing. Prospects will stop by your booth, educate themselves on your solution, and potentially turn into sales opportunities. This is an expensive tactic, but extremely effective if you can pick the right conferences and events.

Google Ad Manager

Examples of outbound marketing

Outbound marketing adopts a proactive approach. It involves pushing promotional messages to a target audience, regardless of their current interest in the product or service being promoted. Examples include:


●  Cold calls: Engaging in one of the oldest and most traditional marketing techniques, a sales team initiates cold emails or cold calls to individuals. This outbound tactic, also known as telemarketing, involves reaching out directly to consumers to sell them a product without any prior contact. To streamline or automate this process, some companies now utilize customer relationship management (CRM) software and marketing automation platforms.

●  Cold email sequences: One long-standing outbound tactic is sending targeted email campaigns to a purchased or existing contact list.

●  LinkedIn outreach: Similar to cold emails, with this tactic we are sending pre-drafted messages to a selected audience on LinkedIn. It’s very easy to create a highly-targeted list using LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

●  B2B Direct mail: The traditional outbound tactic involves shipping physical marketing materials, such as brochures, flyers, or branded boxes to selected prospects' mailboxes. B2B direct mail is becoming popular again among demand generation marketers because they are able to break through the noise of emails, ads, LinkedIn messages, and cold calls, while creating a better experience for the recipients.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Outbound vs Inbound Marketing: Which Is Most Effective?

Rather than viewing inbound and outbound marketing as opposing forces, marketing professionals should recognize that both strategies have their merits and can complement each other. Consider the pros and cons of each to find the right blend for your marketing mix.

Pros of inbound marketing

●  Inbound marketing allows businesses to showcase their expertise, establishing them as thought leaders in their industry and building trust with the audience.

●  By providing valuable content, inbound marketing attracts leads who are genuinely interested in the brand's products or services, resulting in a higher chance of conversion.

●  While inbound marketing may require time to gain traction, the benefits are long-lasting, as evergreen content continues to drive traffic and generate leads over time.

●  Inbound marketing excels at nurturing lasting relationships and building brand loyalty.

Cons of inbound marketing

●  Inbound marketing may require a significant amount of time to generate results. Impatient marketers or agency clients may pull the plug on campaigns too soon if they don’t see ROI after a few weeks or months.

●  Inbound marketing puts less control in marketers’ hands, relying on their target audience to find them and engage with them.

●  With frequent updates to Google’s algorithm, marketers need to re-evaluate their SEO strategies regularly or risk falling behind.

Pros of outbound marketing

●  Outbound marketing can yield immediate visibility and help businesses reach a wider audience rapidly, making it well-suited to time-sensitive promotions.

●  Outbound marketing fills sales funnels, and marketers know it; in 2020 alone, marketers sent an average of 306 billion emails daily, as reported by Statista.

●  Businesses can have better control over the specific audience they want to reach, enabling them to target a particular demographic.

●  Predictability is another advantage in favor of outbound marketing: once you understand your conversion rates, if your goals double, you just need to double your activity volume to stay on track. This is not possible with inbound marketing.

Cons of outbound marketing

●  Even the greatest things can become problematic when pushed to the extreme. In response to marketers’ zeal for email marketing, over 20 states have introduced or passed statutes and bills to exert more control over unsolicited digital interactions, safeguarding privacy, curbing spam, and preventing wrongful disclosures. CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR are just two famous examples.

●  Outbound marketing can be perceived as intrusive and annoying by some recipients, leading to negative associations with the brand, unsubscribes from lists, unfollows, and other negative responses.

●  Outbound marketing typically lacks the engagement and interaction that inbound marketing fosters, making it challenging to build lasting relationships with customers.

●  You have to maintain the same level of activity every month, otherwise your lead and opportunity flows will stop.

Adapting to change

Given the pros and cons of inbound vs. outbound marketing, embracing a diverse and integrated marketing mix can help marketers find a balanced approach. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both inbound and outbound marketing allows marketers to launch inbound and outbound campaigns that align with their business goals and resonate with their target audience.

While inbound and outbound marketing have their unique strengths, knowing when to implement each strategy is key to marketing success. The effectiveness of each strategy depends on the context and the specific goals of the marketing campaign.

When to implement inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is ideal for businesses aiming to build brand authority, nurture leads, and cultivate long-term customer relationships. It works best for companies that are willing to invest time and effort into creating valuable content that will engage their target audience over time.


Inbound marketing can also be more cost-effective in the long run as it relies on organic methods such as content creation and social media engagement. However, it may require more upfront investment in time and resources before yielding significant returns. It can easily take more than 1 or 2 years to generate significant results via inbound marketing, so it’s important to set expectations early on with the internal stakeholders. Every inbound marketing plan should be at least 12-month long.

When to implement outbound marketing

Outbound marketing suits short-term campaigns, product launches, or when immediate visibility and response are crucial. Businesses looking to reach a broad audience quickly and have more control over their targeting can benefit from outbound marketing.


While offering immediate visibility, outbound marketing can be more expensive, especially in terms of paid advertising and purchasing lead lists. Its ROI may be lower, particularly if the promotional messages are not well-targeted.


Early-stage companies that are building their inbound marketing strategy can benefit from implementing an effective outbound marketing plan from day 1.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

The Future of B2B Marketing

The marketing landscape is continually evolving, driven by technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI), shifts in consumer behavior, and emerging industry trends. To remain competitive and relevant, marketers must adapt and embrace change while staying true to their core marketing principles.

The future of marketing lies in a diversified and integrated approach that leverages the strengths of both inbound and outbound strategies. By combining elements from both approaches, marketers can create a more comprehensive and effective marketing strategy that caters to diverse audiences and objectives. 

The rise in popularity of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) follows this trend: creating customized campaigns to engage only the top target companies, without spreading the marketing budget across too many segments or opportunities. In this way, demand generation marketers can become more efficient and strategic when allocating budget, and provide better support for the sales team in opening the door with top accounts.

Several key insights and trends are shaping the future of marketing:


●  AI-powered automation technologies are streamlining marketing processes, enabling better personalization and more targeted, faster communication.

●  Customers now expect highly personalized content that caters to their specific needs and interests, prompting marketers to adopt tailored content marketing strategies.

●  Influencer marketing has gained traction, as social media influencers play a significant role in driving brand awareness and trust among their dedicated followers.


Inbound and outbound marketing each bring unique advantages to the table. Rather than seeking the elusive “perfect” strategy, marketers must embrace the diversity of tactics available and recognize that there is no one right marketing approach. The key lies in understanding the target audience, aligning marketing efforts with business objectives, and remaining open to experimentation and adaptation.

By blending the strengths of inbound and outbound marketing and continuously analyzing data, marketers can create a marketing mix that strikes the right chords with their audience, fosters brand loyalty, and drives sustainable business growth. As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, those who embrace diversity and remain agile will undoubtedly thrive in the ever-changing world of modern marketing.

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