Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is a traditional method of marketing seeking to obstruct potential customers. The goal of outbound marketing is lead generation, making it critical to those businesses looking to gain customers. For those companies looking to get on the map, outbound marketing is the best way to reach the widest possible audience in the shortest amount of time.

Outbound marketing is the opposite of inbound marketing, where the customers find you when they need you. Outbound marketing is generally harder to track and less profitable than inbound marketing. Ironically, organizations still spend as much as 90% of their marketing budgets on outbound marketing.

Additionally, because certain outbound marketing strategies are no longer “in vogue”— for instance, a display ad in the Yellow Pages, or cold-calling people in the neighborhood—advertising through these means has actually become cheaper. Thus, a local restaurant might have a better return on investment through these means than by creating a social media presence.

Examples of outbound marketing 

Outbound marketing examples include more traditional forms of customer acquisition strategies in marketing and advertising like:

  • TV commercials
  • Radio ads
  • Print advertisements (newspaper ads, magazine ads, flyers, brochures, catalogs, etc.)
  • Trade shows
  • Outbound sales calls (aka internal cold calling) 
  • Email spam
  • Email blasts to purchased lists
  • Outsourced telemarketing

Organizations looking to improve their sales and return on marketing spend would be well advised to re-allocate an increasing percentage of their marketing budget on inbound marketing techniques.

When is outbound marketing effective? 

Outbound marketing typically works when you consider the age of your target customer. Generally speaking: the older the customer, the stronger the chance that outbound marketing will impact them. 

For one, it’s the style of marketing most older customers are used to. They’re comfortable with television and radio ads, and may even make a point of scanning newspaper ads and flyers when they’re ready to buy. Whereas inbound marketing is usually delivered via technologies that older consumers still struggle to understand—and trust—(most of) the media used in outbound marketing feels more familiar and welcoming.

Outbound marketing also proves to be particularly effective in business-to-business marketing, and/or with transactions involving higher-end products. Although businesses may research other companies (inbound marketing), ultimately they seek personal contacts established through face-to-face meetings, or networking at industry events and trade shows.

What's the problem with outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing is when a marketer reaches out to people to see if they're interested in a product. For example, this could include door-to-door sales or cold calling where a sales rep or marketer approaches someone without knowing if he or she is even a qualified lead. 

As the Internet and mobile devices grow in popularity and offer new and creative methods of advertising, outbound marketing has lost some of its longstanding appeal. 

Outbound marketing, though, presents a lot of difficulties, and tradition and past mistakes should never get in the way of adapting to changing marketing trends. 

Problems with outbound marketing include:

  • Difficulty in tracking return on investment (ROI)
  • Increasing blocking techniques (Do not call list, Spam filters, TiVo, etc)
  • High cost, low yield

Outbound marketing constitutes the majority of marketing budgets for many businesses. It's been around for ages and some even consider it a cost of doing business. 

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.