The Modern Day Definition and Approach to Outbound Marketing

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is the old style of marketing we should ignore, correct?

That’s what the inbound marketers will say to you!

But that’s far from the truth.

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Mark Schaefer


The reality is that you need both inbound and outbound marketing tactics to grow your business.

Let’s explore!

Outbound marketing definition and difference to inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is like going to a networking event and waiting for people to come over to you.  Outbound is not leaving it to chance.  You research who’s going to be at the event and reach out in advance to book your meetings.

Here’s a typical example of inbound

  • You create valuable content on your website.
  • Someone searches Google and comes across your content.
  • They visit your website
  • They sign up to your email list, webinar or buy your product

If you get the right type of traffic and it converts then you’re going to love inbound!

Here’s a typical example of outbound:

  • You map out what your ideal target audience is
  • You build a list of this audience
  • You reach out with a highly personalized email to each person
  • You get meetings, calls, demos etc

Outbound can be to a new audience or to an existing audience.

For example,  you have a small list of customers and you want to reach out and have a conversation with them as opposed to sending a broadcast email.

Outbound marketing is a more targeted and proactive approach to marketing your business. If it's targeted, personalized and relevant you get the resultsClick To Tweet

The biggest problem with outbound marketing is Marketers using the spray and pray approach!

Outbound Marketing Approach

The more personalized, relevant and value-driven the message is the more likely you are to get a positive response.

Benefits of Outbound Marketing

Here are some of the benefits to outbound marketing:

Very targeted

With Inbound Marketing you might get a lot of traffic but its likely that most won’t be your target audience.  With Outbound Marketing you can be very specific about who you target.

Here’s an example of untargeted traffic.

Hubspot have inbound marketing software.  Some of the keywords they rank highly for are:

  • Motivational quotes searched 450,000 times in the US every month
  • Calligraphy searched 160,000 times in the US every month
  • Testimonial search 27,000 times in the US every month
  • Free fonts searched 17,000 times in the US every month

Of course, they get relevant traffic also but you need to account for the fact that 20% of your blog posts will probably produce 80% of the value.  The other 80% are either ranking for irrelevant terms or not getting any traffic.


If you start off a website and create a blog post it would be 6 months before you get any consistent traffic to it.

With outbound marketing, you can get a response immediately.  Based on responses you know what’s working and not working and tweak accordingly.


You can build a list of potential prospects, reach out and then build another list.

You only run out when you’ve targeted all your potential audience.

What are the stages of Outbound marketing

The starting point is building your ‘prospect’ list.  This is a list of potential prospects.

A prospect is someone that has expressed an interest in what you offer.  But you need to build a list of potential prospects first, do the outreach and then kick off the conversation.  Once you get into a conversation you will get some results.

Stages of Outbound Marketing

Is outbound marketing more relevant to early-stage companies or established companies?

If you’re a startup company and you launch your website, it will take a long time before you’re getting a regular stream of traffic.

Good luck to you if you want to wait around for Google to rank your content on page 1 and then you can convert that traffic!

But that’s not how the real world works.

You start connecting with people, building relationships, promoting your content to get people to know about you.

You still create your content and social media channels but it takes time for these to become useful (this could be more than a year after a launch)!

But what about companies that have been around for longer?

If you invest in inbound and you drive good traffic and you can convert some of this into business.

But if you want to grow aggressively you’ll still need to incorporate outbound marketing.

So, what outbound marketing tactics should you be considering?

Of course, I’m ignoring all the offline tactics so here’s the online ones:

Email outreach

Email outreach is when you outreach by email.

You could be reaching out for the following reasons:

  • Generate leads for your business – Reach out to potential prospects about your products and services
  • Content promotion –  You create a valuable piece of content and you reach out to promote it.  For example, you create a research report and find online sites that have shared details of similar research reports and reach out to them.
  • Guest posting – Reach out to high authority sites to create content on their site.  This is good for brand building, generating links and traffic.
  • Existing customers/partners – You identify a group of customers/partners and send a targeted outreach email to them to generate more sales, activate the partners, etc
  • Journalists – You reach out to generate more PR for your business

The goal of an initial outreach email is to get a response.  Once you get a response you can start a conversation.

For this targeted outreach you want to send highly personalized emails and it’s best to use a purpose build outreach tool such as OutreachPlus.

Native Advertising

According to the Native advertising Institute native ads are:

“Paid advertising where the ad matches the form, feel and function of the content of the media in which it appears”

Here are some examples:

  • Promoted tweets
  • Facebook ads
  • Google ads (PPC/Native instream ads)
  • Content recommendations (e.g. Outbrain)
  • Sponsored content
  • Messaging apps
  • Email ads
  • Remarketing ads

You reach out to a targeted audience and put your ad in front of them in the middle of other valuable content.

Social Media outreach

When you’re talking about social media outreach you’re not broadcasting your message to all your fans/followers.  You are targeting a group of existing fans/followers and new people you may not be connected to.

For example, you do a search on Buzzsumo for influencers sharing similar content to what you have published and you reach out to them about your new content.

Another tactic is to promote their content on social media and then follow up via email.


It’s not a case of inbound versus outbound.

Outbound leads to more inbound, inbound makes it easier to do outbound (e.g. inbound helps to build brand awareness).  Using both in combination is powerful!

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