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What is Inbound & Outbound Marketing? With Examples


Zack Olivas

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is a proactive approach to marketing where sales and marketing teams are tasked with connecting with prospects who are unaware or have not yet shown interest in their product or service. Outbound marketing is generally the biggest driver of revenue for early stage companies because you can get started immediately while inbound marketing relies on organic traffic which takes time to develop.


Cold Emails (Our go-to revenue driver)

Cold emailing generally follows the below steps:

  1. Identify prospects who may need your service.
  2. Generate & verify email addresses via services like LeadLoft.
  3. Contact the prospect via email, often done through a CRM or cold emailing software.

Cold emailing is one of the most effective methods for driving new interest in a startup. In fact, here at LeadLoft we used our own cold email software to drive an interest rate of 30% for every lead contacted since our creation. If you're interested in learning how we do it, speak with our team.

Cold Calls

You are undoubtedly very aware of the dreaded cold call. Although cold calls are despised by most sales teams, it is still one of the most effective tools in generating interest for a product or service. The reason cold calling is so powerful is it's an underused direct channel to your buyer. Leaving a message or having a conversation is a powerful tool and when paired with ads and cold emails, that "cold" call will begin to feel warm. Nowadays you'll commonly hear cold calling teams refer to their approach as ABM or account based marketing.

Media Buying

Media buying is exactly what it sounds like, the buying of ad space. This can refer to digital ads, tv commercials, billboards, it could even refer to branded space on a urinal cake. But unless you're at a large corporation or consumer focused company, you'll generally hear marketers use "media buying" to describe the act of buying digital ad space via facebook, google, and other online ad platforms.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is the act of connecting with prospects who are actively interested in your product or service. According to HubSpot, who built a unicorn on inbound marketing, a healthy inbound funnel will attract, engage, and delight its customers.


Content Marketing

Inbound marketing requires your website to attract users via organic traffic. To do this, most successful tech startups develop content to attract users their site. This can be ebooks, newsletters, or blog content. The ultimate goal is to provide value to the reader so they keep returning to view content, develop appreciation for the help, and subsequently remember the brand. If you provide valuable content, Google and other search engines will realize this and begin feeding it to more of their users. Once you have hundreds of helpful articles that readers love, google will begin directing tons of traffic to your site and this "free" traffic is why content marketing is so valuable.

Drips Campaigns/ Newsletters

Drip campaigns can be amazingly valuable and if you're fortunate enough to have a great content marketing strategy already in place, drip campaigns will come easy to you. In most cases, users are unaware of all the amazing content your team churns out each week, drip campaigns are your chance to make them aware of it! But these campaigns are a multi dimensional tool that can do far more than keep you in the minds of a potential customer: onboarding, reminders, feature releases, discounts, and more.


Support can be summed up in two words: user retention. That is what customer support is all about. If customers love your product, they will come back again and again. So make sure they using it correctly and effectively! According to Invesp, acquiring new users is 5x more expensive than retaining current customers. If that sounds high to you, try thinking about all the costs that go into acquiring new customers: salaries, commission, lead generation, to name a few. Imagine how much cheaper it is to offer great support and retain them for another month, year, or even decade!

Where to Focus: Inbound or Outbound Marketing?

While both have pros and cons, they are the Yin and Yang of your marketing efforts, without one the other loses balance. However, depending on the stage of your company you may want to prioritize one over the other.

Short Term

Who is this for? Any startup with a small team still working to develop steady revenue.

Outbound marketing will give early stage teams the tools they need to stay alive and raise a first or second round of funding. We recommend implementing the inbound marketing bare minimum before launching your outbound efforts: a support system, help materials, and a email re-marking funnel. Next, begin focusing on outbound marketing and generating revenue. If you don't have millions of VC dollars, this will keep your company alive and well. Once you have a steady funnel with predictable revenue, begin taking the first steps towards developing a mature inbound funnel: publishing blog articles and new web pages.

Long Term

Who is this for? Companies with more than 5+ employees who are well funded and have a well developed outbound funnel.

By now your company should have a steady flow of organic traffic and it's time to double down on those free leads. After you've found some success with inbound marketing, it's time to increase content output: hire a blog writer, dabble with ebooks, and run re-marketing content ads to interested prospects to stay in the mind of your potential customers. Next, it's time to focus on maximizing user retention by perfecting your support team. We recommend continuing general support and implementing customer performance tracking so you can proactively engage struggling users who aren't taking full advantage of your offering.


At the end of the day, no one approach to marketing will achieve all of your goals. It's best to use a broad approach and prioritize short term goals while developing a foundation for the long term. If all goes well and you make it to unicorn status, you will likely have both a strong inbound and outbound funnel driving your growth.