Before we dive into the differences between inbound vs outbound marketing in today’s digital age, let’s go over the definition of each.

Inbound marketing draws visitors in rather than marketers going out to get prospects. Inbound marketing captures the attention of customers by making the company easy to be found online. Inbound marketing uses interesting content and online engagement to draw in customers.

Outbound marketing is the more traditional strategy that sends a message out to an audience of potential customers. TV commercials, radio commercials and print advertisements as well as tradeshows, direct mail and cold calling are examples of outbound marketing.

When it comes down to inbound vs outbound marketing, which is better? In the digital era, it’s easy to assume inbound marketing would be the better choice, but there’s still a place for outbound marketing in the age of constant connectivity.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing Survey by Moz

In July 2015, online search marketing software company Moz conducted a survey with more than 1,000 participants that asked questions regarding their recent engagement with marketing and advertising media. The survey’s results can lead us to certain assumptions about inbound vs outbound marketing, but aren’t all encompassing.

The survey found that the most positive influence on buying decisions were:

  • Customer reviews
  • Search
  • Online articles
  • Traditional advertising
  • Direct mail

The tactics that are most likely to have a negative influence on buying decisions were:

  • Mobile app ads
  • Display ads
  • Paid search
  • Email marketing

Interestingly enough, while email marketing was cited as one of the tactics that have a negative influence on buying decisions, it was also discussed as one of the best channels for grabbing attention.

Inbound marketing strategies such as content marketing and appearing in search results were cited as the most effective for attracting business. Search, customer reviews and visiting a company’s website were found to be the best methods for self-education.

Outbound marketing attempts in the digital era have a harder time reaching audiences than traditional forms of outbound advertising like TV, radio and print ads. People are less likely to click on website and display ads or mobile app ads than social ads and promotional emails. Traditional forms of advertising like TV commercials are the most likely to grab a potential buyer’s attention.

According to the survey, 88% of people surveyed use online search to find out more information about a company and more than 80% read customer reviews to learn more. Inbound marketing attempts such as search engine optimization to increase rank in search results have a strong effect on winning over potential buyers. Content marketing and blogging help increase the likelihood to show up in search results because Google recognizes regular, quality content and knows this activity means you’re a legitimate business.

When it comes to inbound vs outbound marketing, the survey found that online articles’ positive effect on buying decisions is 56% greater than direct mail. Many survey participants said that appearing in search results is one of the best ways to win their business. Based on these two takeaways, it’s clear to see the connection between writing quality online articles and the ability to appear in search results. Publishing quality content improves your odds of showing up in search results and therefore winning potential customers.

Which is better, inbound vs outbound marketing? Well, it all depends on your market and how you want to spend your marketing budget. Most often, it seems inbound marketing techniques can get you the most impressions and help you win customers online, but outside of the Internet, outbound marketing still has it’s place.