Outbound vs. inbound marketing

5 differences between Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing

Tabla de contenido

What are the differences between inbound and outbound marketing?

  1. Methodology: outbound marketing hinders, while inbound attracts.
  2. Ability to measure results:  measuring the results achieved is easier with outbound marketing than with inbound.
  3. Speed: Outbound marketing acts fast, while inbound marketing is slow at first.
  4. Return on investment (ROI):  it is low for outbound marketing, while that of inbound marketing is high.
  5. Durability: Outbound marketing works until you spend money on it, while inbound generates profits forever.

We leave you the information organized in the following table:

VariableInbound MarketingOutbound Marketing
Definición (metodología)AtraerInterrumpir
Capacidad para medir resultados en campañasComplicado (al principio) Fácil de monitorear
Velocidad: ¿en cuánto tiempo se ven resultados?Lento (al principio)Rápido
Retorno de la inversión y porcentaje de conversiónAltoMuy bajo
Perdurabilidad Para siempreHasta que dejes de invertir dinero

If you want more in-depth content, in this article we are going to compare the two alternatives based on the 5 variables you saw above:

1) Definition (methodology) : How do they work? What is its essence? What are they based on?

2) Ability to measure results in campaigns : How accurately can you evaluate the performance of each one?

3) Speed ​​– How fast can you get new customers?

4) Return on investment and conversion rate : What is the ROI with one and the other? Out of 100 people, how many will pay attention to what you are offering?

5) Durability : How long will you be able to enjoy the good results of your campaigns?

At the end of the text we will present a conclusion about which is the best option for you, as the case may be.

If you prefer, we leave you this same article in video format:

Difference #1: Methodology

Outbound marketing hinders, while inbound attracts

Metodología de outbound vs. inbound marketing
Outbound Methodology vs. inbound marketing

Outbound marketing , also known as interruption marketing , is based on messages that interrupt what your prospect is doing in their daily routine.

It is pure publicity.

In a few words, outbound is that type of marketing that is experienced by human beings during their day to day.

In the offline world they are:

  • TV commercials.
  • Radio spots.
  • The billboards on the highway.
  • People handing out flyers on the street.
  • Vendors who approach you with an offer in the middle of the mall.
  • Herbalife.

On the Internet they are:

  • Google paid content (ads).
  • Advertising on different social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, among others.

In This is Marketing , Seth Godin says that, for many years, the most efficient way for a company to spread its message was simple: buy advertising.

The ads worked, they were a bargain, and they paid for themselves.

They gave a certain fame to the company that used them and, in addition, they were profitable: money spent equaled new sales.

That strategy, however, is coming to an end: advertising is dead .


Godin says that the Internet was the first mass medium that wasn’t invented to make marketers happy.

Television was invented to host commercials, radio to play jingles, but the web is not built around interruption and the masses.

It is the greatest medium of all, but it provides the user with something invaluable: freedom.

Freedom to come and go wherever you want, freedom to belong or not belong to different communities, freedom to block ads, and freedom to ignore you if you want.

On the other hand, inbound marketing or  attraction marketing is about gaining the user’s attention instead of buying it .

You do not interrupt the human being, but you attract him .

This happens, for example, when a person:

  • Follow a social media account because a friend recommended it to you.
  • He is aware of the contents of a website because he really enjoys the texts and videos that they publish there.
  • He is aware of everything a company does because he fell in love with everything it represents (Apple or Starbucks, for example).

In this context, the brand does not approach the potential consumer, but it is the consumer who approaches the brand.

Rand Fishkin , a more than authorized voice in the marketing world, says that there is no point in bothering people with your messages:

“I’m not going to invest money in showing you something you don’t want to see. Instead, I’m going to do something amazing, amazing, that will make you subscribe, follow me on social media and go to my website to read my articles and check out my products” – Rand Fishkin explaining the gist of Inbound Marketing in Platzi

With inbound you don’t bother with the typical “FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW ME”, but you fall in love.


In the book Inbound Marketing , the fathers of this current, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah , point out that this type of marketing is about building strong relationships .

These relationships are only achieved with interactions between humans, so practices such as buying followers on social networks do not make much sense.

“Social media is all about being social and building genuine win-win relationships with other people , without the help of automation software” – Halligan and Shah on Inbound Marketing

The era of interruption marketing (outbound marketing) is waning because users are increasingly able to block ads and have complete freedom to choose what they want to consume at any time.

Attraction marketing (inbound marketing) has gained a lot of relevance in recent years because the only way to earn the respect and admiration of people is by offering them valuable content without expecting to close a sale overnight.

Difference #2: Ability to measure results

Measuring the results achieved is easier with outbound marketing than with inbound

Capacidad para medir resultados del outbound vs. inbound marketing
Ability to measure results of outbound vs. inbound marketing

With outbound , largely because it’s paid, you can get some very defined and very specific indicators of how your marketing campaign is doing:

  • What has been the return on investment?
  • How many people has your message reached?
  • How is your target audience responding?

As the big Internet platforms (Google, Facebook or Instagram) are interested in your paying them to advertise there, they in return give you very specific data, with many details.

They explain to you what is happening with the money you invested: where each dollar is going and what it is generating in return .

Rand Fishkin says that because outbound is easy to track, measure, and analyze, many old-school marketers are still betting on it.

They know that if they invest X, they will get Y.

They have seen that the method works and they affirm that this is the way in which they want to spend their money, since it is a very expeditious and safe way.

In inbound , on the other hand, some indicators are difficult to obtain or specify.


Because, at first, it is difficult to calculate how many clients an article you publish on your blog will bring you.

You will be able to know how many have read it and how many people it has reached, but, all of a sudden, in the short term, you will not know what new sales it will bring you.

On Google, articles gain relevance and visibility over time.

And not only that, but getting a sale is the result of the joint effort of various contents.

Outbound is a more direct way (you show your ad and wait to see what happens), but it is less effective in the long run: very few people will pay attention to your need to get new customers.

“Your urge (to sell) is not a license to steal my attention” – Seth Godin on This is Marketing

Difference #3: Speed

Outbound marketing acts fast, while inbound is slow at first

Velocidad del outbound vs. inbound marketing
Outbound speed vs. inbound marketing

Outbound can be more powerful and atomic in the short term : if you have the money, it allows you to stand in front of a very, very large number of people.

Its application works instantly: just activate an online advertisement to see its results.

Your company will go through the number of people you want, depending on the amount of money you have.

Otherwise, inbound is based on effort and not money:

Although it takes time to be a reference in your area, if you are known and respected, it is much more likely that you will make a sale, since you have the trust and support of an entire industry.

As you can see, inbound is about staying calm, trusting the process and accumulating fans of what you do .

“This approach is simple, but it is not easy to adopt, because it requires patience, empathy and respect. The shortcut of using money to buy attention and sell average things to average people is a practice from another time and not from the time we live in now” – Seth Godin on This is Marketing

It is based on building a community that tomorrow will make you ‘free publicity’ by sharing everything you do with your acquaintances.

Let’s see it with an example:

Suppose you want to start a photography company for events.

At first, nobody knows your brand or your service.

But you decide to open a blog, or a YouTube channel, or an Instagram account because you like to talk about your passion, which, of course, is photography.

So, for one reason or another, every day you publish something related to the industry in which your new company is developed.

At first, everything you post on your blog, YouTube channel or Instagram account is only seen by your mom, your grandmother, your aunt, your partner and your friends.

Until one day your aunt tells a friend that you are very good at photography.

And that friend starts following you on Instagram.

¿Cómo funciona el inbound marketing?
How does inbound marketing work?

Over time, that friend tells his co-workers that there is someone out there who knows a lot about photography and they should read his tips for capturing better portraits.

Little by little, you start to have more traffic on your blog, more views on your YouTube channel and more followers on Instagram.

Google knows that you are gaining relevance and starts to put you higher in its results every time someone searches for something related to photography.

Then, you start to gain the respect of the industry and it turns out that after a couple of years, maybe more, you are a reference in the field and receive thousands of visits per month on your website.

In addition, every time you publish a new article, you are invited to radio or television programs, you are republished on other websites and many people comment on everything you do on their social networks.

Therein lies the power of content .

Difference #4: Return on Investment (ROI)

The return on investment of outbound marketing is low, while that of inbound is high

ROI del outbound vs. inbound marketing
ROI of outbound vs. inbound marketing

Outbound marketing is rejected by most users and consumers.

In Google, for example, organic content receives many more clicks than paid content (advertising). The proportion is overwhelming: hardly anyone clicks on the ads.

Fuente: https://sparktoro.com/blog/seo-opportunity-growing-shrinking/
Source: https://sparktoro.com/blog/seo-opportunity-growing-shrinking/

In contrast, inbound marketing has a greater potential for reach.

By the time Fishkin taught his course at Platzi (2016), Google-advertised content only received 18% of clicks, while organic results – those that are not paid – received the other 82%.

In social networks, the numbers are even more illuminating: on Facebook, the advertised content only receives 1% of the clicks.

In addition, it is known that Zuckerberg’s social network recently changed its algorithm to give more importance to what our family, friends and people we follow say and less importance to brands that seek to sell their products.

As we saw in the previous graph, on the Internet it is much more profitable to bet on SEO and to rank with valuable articles than to pay for Google to advertise us.

Difference #5: Durability

Outbound marketing lasts until money is spent on it, while inbound marketing is profitable forever.

Perdurabilidad del outbound vs. inbound marketing
Outbound durability vs. inbound marketing

The great handicap of outbound is that when you stop putting money on the table, the promotional messages disappear.

Your campaign will last until the day you inject money into Google, Instagram or Facebook.

With inbound , as time goes by, your brand and your campaign gain strength.

The more profit you’re reaping from your content marketing efforts , the less time and money you have to invest.

The content you write today will help you sell tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and the day after the day after tomorrow.

If we make an analogy with the world of finance, we could say that each piece you publish will be an asset that will appreciate in value over time.

Remember that getting to the first page of Google takes time , but it is worth the wait, because as the months go by, you will have better positions on the results page.


Which is the best route?


If you are in a hurry, you want results NOW and you have the money, you can bet on outbound, knowing that the day you stop injecting USD, your campaign will stop working.

If you want to create a brand that lasts forever and that the content works for you so that you have more and more free time, inbound should be your choice.

As we said, inbound marketing is about gaining the user’s attention instead of buying it .

It is based more on effort, patience and perseverance, than on an outlay of money from one day to the next.

Time to stop hustling and interrupting.

Time to stop spamming and pretending you’re welcome.

Time to stop begging people to become your clients.

Time to stop looking for shortcuts, and time to start insisting on a long, viable path instead.

– Seth Godin on This is Marketing

It is a slower method, it takes time to start, but once it starts it is unstoppable.

It generates much more fidelity and is durable over time: the content never sleeps, does not get sick and always works.

Frequent questions

How much does an inbound marketing campaign cost?

An inbound marketing campaign to position your website on the first page of Google can cost between 250 USD and 2,500 USD per month .

As we explain in our article on the costs associated with SEO :

On average, to start seeing tangible and satisfactory results in a web positioning campaign, it takes between 4 and 6 months of work.

If you multiply that amount by the above costs, a search engine optimization project would run, at a minimum, between 1,000 USD and 10,000 USD.

According to Incubasoft , if several strategies are combined, an inbound marketing campaign could reach 10,000 USD per month.

What results can you achieve with the inbound methodology?

In our article on SEO (inbound marketing) vs. PPC (outbound marketing) we place the following statistics:

According to Hubspot:

-Between 70-80% of users only focus on organic search engine results. That is, they ignore advertising (MarTech, 2018).

-SEO generates almost 6 times better results than advertising in search engines (New Media Campaigns, 2018).

-Content marketing gets 3 times more prospects than search engine advertising (Content Marketing Institute, 2017).

Inbound Marketing Case Study

Do you want to know how inbound marketing works in real life? You can read this case study and see how we handle social networks .

Why calculate the profitability of my inbound marketing strategy?

The genius Peter Drucker once said that what is measured can be managed and therefore improved. Every inbound effort must be analyzed. How to do it? We leave you an article with measurement tools and another on how to calculate the return on investment of a web positioning campaign .

Inbound marketing training for companies

At Pencil Speech we have helped companies train their work teams to implement inbound strategies. If you would like us to come to your office or hold a special workshop at another location, please contact us .

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