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Inbound marketing has the wind in its sails. The key to more effective digital marketing is to make the client come to you through the use of targeted content while, on the flip side, outbound marketing techniques consist in going where they can be found. Consequently, we often pit inbound marketing against outbound marketing. But what if inbound marketing and outbound marketing were complementary?

01. Inbound marketing vs Outbound marketing: the big match

Let’s start, if you will, with a particular scenario. You aspire to become a marketing director. At the interview, the recruiter looks you in the eye and asks you this question: “what type of marketer are you?”.
Not fully satisfied with your initial response, they dig deeper: “Yes, but are you more inbound or outbound?”. You find yourself having to choose which camp you sit in. If it were a choice between Manchester United and Liverpool FC, you would know what to say. But inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that aims to bring the client to you by using various tactics and means, with content being the backbone.

Outbound marketing is a more “traditional” marketing strategy that aims to seek out the client, and which can be seen as a more intrusive method.

Let’s examine the make-up of each team:

Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing



Spam SEA


Interstitial pages


Purchased databases

Opt-in databases

TV, radio, print media advertising

White papers and case studies

Billboard advertising

Sponsored events

Throwaway press releases

Press and public relations

Sales calls

Relationships with influencers

Trade Show Booths

Organising conferences

The majority of adverts on social networks

Earned social media

Forums, comments and fake reviews

Word-of-mouth and viral marketing

Banners and display advertising

Content creation

Reviews on paid platforms

Organic App Store Visibility

Video advertising

Video content

So, which one do you choose? Do you recognise yourself in one of the two columns to the exclusion of the other? Of course not. Such a choice is absurd. Your marketing strategy is more likely already a mix of inbound and outbound marketing. Why? Because inbound and outbound marketing are not exclusive. They are complementary. Together, they form a marketing dream team.

02. Inbound marketing to attract, outbound marketing to seal the deal

Do you remember being at school? In the playground, from a distance, you spot a boy (or girl) that you like (your target customer).  You’re shy, and don’t dare speak to them. So:

  • You send them a short love note (direct mail marketing). They blank you completely.
  • So you send them an email (email marketing). The same result.
  • Encouraged by your friends, you find yourself in front of this person and, in the most clumsy way thinkable, ask them: “would you like to go out with me?” (cold call). You crash and burn.

You have used three outbound techniques unsuccessfully. So why did you fail? You attempted to seal the deal straight away without first trying to start a conversation and establishing a relationship. If you had begun with a conversation (content creation) on subjects that really matter to your target (SEO optimisation), with two inbound techniques, you would have considerably increased your chances of sealing the deal (conversion rate) and forged a relationship of trust.

03. Inbound marketing to move towards outbound marketing

Inbound marketing allows you to start a conversation with your target customers in a non-intrusive way. You define your personas and build a content strategy that attracts them to your website. By tactically combining blogging, SEO and social media, you can maximise traffic to your site.

However, generating additional traffic is not an aim in and of itself and does not guarantee a return on investment. Your goal is to convert these new visitors into potential customers of your product or service. To do this, you put calls-to-action in your blogs, redirect visitors to your landing pages and encourage them to enter their information into a form in order to go further. Until now, you have only relied on inbound marketing techniques.

But, let’s look a little further. Once your visitor has sent their information, the next step is to send them a targeted email with marketing actions. You’ve just taken a leap into the outbound marketing camp!

04. Inbound marketing and outbound marketing feed off each other

In the previous paragraph, we saw that inbound marketing relates to the very first stages of the conversion funnel, before leaving room for outbound methods, provided that a purchase is near conclusion. In fact, it may be time to make a sales call following email contact if it proves that the lead generated through the inbound method is mature enough.

Inversely, if the lead hasn’t reached maturity, handling them will involve a long lead-nurturing phase that will vary in length. During this phase, the lead will regularly be fed targeted content, the aim of which is to move then through the conversion funnel. In practice, it’s by email (outbound) that this targeted content (inbound) will be offered to them, through a marketing-automation tool, for example. Within the scope of lead nurturing, it’s therefore clearly an outbound technique that feeds a momentary return to elements of inbound marketing.

05. Paid advertising to better promote your content

Even if you opt for a digital strategy based on web content, you cannot settle for producing content alone, no matter how good it is. If it were enough for a piece of content to be good in order to get read and generate a virtuous conversion cycle, we would know it! In reality, the content battle is also won largely thanks to the way in which it is distributed using advertising messages to reach the maximum number of prospects possible.

Yet, this essential amplification of your content often requires the use of paid advertising. Whether in the form of a banner, paid search campaign, sponsored social media posts or through offline means of communication, the use of outbound techniques, in addition to inbound actions, is an additional catalyst for accelerating and optimising the distribution of content.

At Plezi, we combine both of these in equal measure, which is what enabled us to generate 320 leads in two month during our previous campaign, for example.

In the end, although web-content management now looks to be the way to develop a relationship with your target clients, it is only by intelligently combining inbound and outbound techniques within your marketing budget that you’ll gain traffic and engagement. If you have the resources, we therefore recommend that you opt for a mixed strategy. And what about you? How do you operate? Are you more inbound, outbound or both?

Adeline Lemercier

Adeline Lemercier

Adeline is our Marketing Manager at Plezi. With 4 years of experience at Sage in the acquisition marketing department, her role is to develop the inbound marketing strategy at Plezi.

One Comment

  • Silvan Schmid

    You nailed it, Joelle ! It’s definitely a mixed strategy we’re also advising for our clients.

    The mindset remains “Inbound” based on Seth Godin’s “permissive marketing”, of course, but reaching out to prospects will always be necessary, not only in the bottom funnel when transfering ownership to Sales, but also through SEA or Social Media ads at the very starting point, as a trigger 😉

    What was the trigger you used for the recent campaign that you mention in which you collected 320 leads in 2 months, if any?

    Looking forward to read more of you on the EN version of Plezi !