The Key Differences between Traditional and Inbound Marketing

Stephanie DoleBy Stephanie Dole

The rise of the Internet has led to a huge shift in the marketing landscape over the last decade. Traditional, or outbound, marketing which consists of channels such as print, TV, radio, and telemarketing, has become largely ineffective. Now more than ever, consumers are spending significantly more time on the Internet and have become less tolerant of irrelevant or interruptive traditional advertising methods. Need proof? Take a look at these stats from Mashable:

  • 86% of people skip television ads
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened
  • 200 million Americans have registered for the “Do Not Call” list

Enter inbound marketing, defined by HubSpot in its 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report as a strategy that “helps brands attract, convert, close and delight visitors, leads and customers through a variety of channels, including social media, blogging, SEO, and email.” Inbound marketing is different from traditional marketing in several key ways, including level of engagement, reach, and cost efficiency.


A key differentiator between inbound and traditional marketing is engagement between the company and consumer. Inbound marketing focuses on attracting customers to the brand through fostering a relationship and engaging in a conversation as opposed to the traditional method of “talking at” the customer.

Word Cloud on InBound Marketing

Customers are interested in engaging with companies, with 82% of consumers reporting that they like reading content from brands if it’s relevant and 80% saying that they would rather learn about a company through a series of articles than an advertisement (Jumplead). The success of inbound marketing is based on the creation of original and value-added content that will attract customers. When done correctly, this content, including blogs, social media, and visual content such as infographics and videos, should be interesting and educational to the customer. Take the Wegman’s blog, for example, which not only

includes posts about new products, but recipes, ideas for entertaining, and answers to questions submitted by customers. The unique and interesting content compels customers to return to the blog as well as engage with the brand through sharing content and commenting. All of these actions create a relationship between the brand and consumer.

Reach & Awareness

Traditional advertising is not reaching customers the way it used to. It is viewed by many as intrusive and customers have the ability now more than ever to tune it out. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, relies on the customer seeking out a connection with a brand. Engaged customers share content via their social networks, leading to an increased visibility for the brand. This is powerful not only for brand awareness but according to the Custom Content Council, 61% of customers say they are more likely to b

uy from a company that delivers custom content, so this increased reach can be very valuable. Furthermore, custom content can improve search rankings as links are shared across the Internet, increasing awareness among potential customers. With 81% of customers searching online before making a purchase decision (RetailingToday), increased reach and visibility online is extremely important.

Cost Efficiency

I fast forward through commercials whenever possible, and based on the statistics above, I’m clearly not alone. Companies spending their advertising budget on traditional channels, including TV,

nt is significantly less costly than traditional marketing and is also more effective in reaching qualified customers. This is compounded by the viral nature of social sharing. Customers are not only engaging in conversations with their favorite brands online through reading and commenting on blogs, following on Twitter, liking on Facebook but are also sharing content with their connections. This is extremely powerful given that 74% of consumers report that they rely on social networks when making purchasing decisions (ExactTarget) and those shares come at no additional cost to the company. Overall, inbound marketing results in more qualified leads and higher conversion all while costing 62% less per lead than traditional marketing, according to HubSpot.are spending significantly more and getting less bang for their buck than if they had invested that same money in inbound marketing. Blogging, posting to Facebook and Twitter, and creating other custom conte

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