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Your inbound and outbound marketing questions answered

  • Last Updated : June 12, 2023
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  • 7 minutes Min Read
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In the last couple of decades, "inbound" and "outbound" have gone from being mere ideas to full-fledged methodologies. The terms themselves are well-known in the marketing world—so much so that they can sound like jargon to the average person. If you're just getting started, you might like a little more clarity about these words and what they mean for your business. In this post, we'd like to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about inbound and outbound marketing.

What is inbound and outbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is when you focus on building a rich content database for potential customers to access and learn from.

Outbound marketing is about reaching out to an audience and telling them about your product or service.

Both methodologies generate leads and they have specific purposes in business. Learn more about inbound marketing and outbound marketing, and how they can help you attract and convert leads.

Which is more effective, inbound or outbound marketing?

Both methodologies can give you great results, but it depends on your goals.

Do inbound marketing to redirect existing web traffic to your business. Inbound marketing works well in the long run because it focuses on building brand authority organically. Once you've built that credibility, your audience will help you grow further. Check out our post about the benefits of inbound marketing.

Outbound marketing helps generate demand for your product or service by directly addressing a mass audience. It works well in the short run, especially if you have a bigger budget and want to establish high credibility in a relatively new market. Coupled with a long-term inbound marketing strategy, outbound marketing can help you convey a well-rounded message to your audience. Check out our post about the advantages of outbound marketing.

How long does it take to see results from inbound and outbound marketing?

Inbound marketing involves creating high quality content and regularly updating it to meet the changing demands of your audience. For instance, if you sell handmade jewellery and you're writing a guide about how small businesses like yours can use Twitter, you have to revise your material every time Twitter announces a feature or algorithm update. This means you won't become the first search result as soon as you publish a blog. Search engines look for your website's history before recommending it on the top page, and you need to be a reliable resource that keeps up with updates and changes. Because building this credibility can take at least 6 months, expect to see results from your inbound content marketing about 9 to 12 months after you begin.

Outbound marketing involves outdoor advertisements, sponsorships, and events. These activities give you large-scale brand recognition and almost instant results. You can see registrations and the interest in your business go up within four weeks of your outbound marketing activity. Supermarkets' special catalogues are a good example of outbound marketing. They place printed copies outside their stores and also distribute them through letter boxes or newsstands. These catalogues help supermarkets increase sales within a short period.

Is paid search inbound marketing?

Yes and no.

Paid search is an element of digital marketing where you bid for certain keywords or pay to place ads in different online spaces. This includes search engine results pages (SERP), social media channels, video and streaming sites, and third-party blogs.

For example, you can use Google AdWords to display your advertisement when someone searches a specific word or phrase. How much you pay for the ad depends on which position you're bidding on and how well it performs. Pay Per Click (PPC) is one way of assessing your ad's performance, where you pay for every click on your ad. Nowadays, PPC is also used as a simple umbrella term to refer to paid search advertising. The more technical term for it is Search Engine Marketing or SEM.

For a long time, paid search was considered an outbound marketing activity because it grabs the attention of potential customers, influencing them to land on your page. However, over the years, SEM has evolved along with search engine algorithms that prioritise tailored results. So now, paid search falls under the inbound marketing category because it offers the searcher a solution or response that's directly related to what they were looking up.

Is SEO inbound marketing?

Search Engine Optimisation is an organic, manual effort to improve your ranking on search engine results. Because it doesn't disrupt a potential customer's flow of internet searching, SEO is a part of inbound marketing.

SEO also ties into content marketing, where you create various resources—blogs, social media copy, web pages, webinars, infographics, and more—to inform and educate your audience.

What are some examples of inbound and outbound content?

Inbound content includes:

  • Blog posts, web pages, and ebooks
  • Live and recorded webinars and podcasts
  • Help guides and video tutorials
  • Infographics and social media content
  • Email newsletters
  • Workshops and organised events

Outbound content includes:

  • Posters, flyers, and brochures
  • Billboards and wall advertisements
  • Television and radio ads
  • Sponsored events

What are inbound and outbound links?

You use inbound and outbound links when you create content as part of your inbound marketing strategy. In your blogs and ebooks, you're likely to link to external reference sites to prove your claims. Those are outbound links. If you link back to your own content, then that's an inbound link.

When a third-party website, like a review site or an influencer in your industry, links back to your website or blog, that's also an inbound link. In other words, any link that directs people to your owned media (websites, blogs, social media profiles, ebooks, podcasts) is an inbound link.

Are inbound and outbound links good for SEO?

All links are good to increase your organic traffic. While inbound links add valuable clicks and views to your website, outbound links help boost your website's credibility. When you link to external websites, you're referring to an external website's authority.

It's essential to have a balance of both so that search engines know your content comes from a credible and expert source. Check out this guide from Moz to learn more about SEO and how links can help.

How much does it cost to do inbound and outbound marketing?

Cost of inbound marketing

The exact price varies based on what inbound strategies you do. For example, the simplest and most cost-effective activities are running a blog and managing 2-3 social media handles. To set up a blog, you'll need to register a domain name and get a web hosting provider. That can cost between $40-80 a year. Although social media platforms are free to sign up and use, you might want to invest in a social media management tool like Zoho Social. Social media management tools can be free for smaller businesses and can go up to $1000 a month based on the features you need and how many people will use the tool.

If you have a larger budget, you can run PPC ads that you can customise to a specific daily spend limit.

Cost of outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is inherently expensive. For example, the simplest outbound marketing activity is handing out printed brochures in public places. To do this, you'll have to account the cost of creating, designing, and printing the brochures. Exact prices vary based on the quality of materials you use. You then have to employ people to hand out your brochures, factoring in time, manual effort, and the cost of living and operations in that specific city.

How do you measure inbound and outbound marketing success?

How you define success depends on your goals. In both inbound and outbound marketing, you can measure how effective your activities are by the,

  • Number of purchases
  • Website traffic
  • Social media followers, shares, and engagement
  • Email responses 

The difference is in how you analyse these metrics and when. For instance, if you compare your website traffic before and after you run an outbound campaign, you'll know the exact impact of your activities.

With inbound marketing, though, those numbers won't go up right away. Through the course of a year or so, you'll see a gradual, but steady, increase in your metrics. These might be largely a result of your inbound marketing activities, but could also have other influences in play as well such as economy fluctuations or time of the year.

What are inbound and outbound emails?

Inbound emails or messages refer to any correspondence your business receives from existing or potential customers. It also includes email marketing—content you send to people who have opted to receive it, such as newsletters or discount emails.

Outbound emails are messages you send out to people who have not interacted with your business yet, offering partnerships or promotions and inviting them to try your service.

What are inbound and outbound sales?

The sales process also has classifications for inbound and outbound.

Inbound sales refers to all activities and sales advice you offer to someone who contacts you by their free will. They could have registered on your website, reached out on social media, or directly emailed you for a quote.

Outbound sales covers any processes you undertake to entice possible customers. For example, cold calling a list of people or knocking on their doors to tell them about your offering, are outbound sales activities.

We hope this post clarifies some of your common questions about inbound and outbound marketing concepts. If you have any other questions that we missed, feel free to drop them in the comments and we'll answer them as soon as possible!

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