How To Start & Grow Your Business

Inbound and Outbound Marketing: Choose Fusion Over Fission

Ben Tepfer
Jan 13th, 2015
  • Estimated reading time: 3 min read
  • Hummy's

    1Inbound and outbound marketing shouldn't be separated. 2When leads come from outbound, inbound responds. 3In a unified team, "data must be accessible to all."
  • Must login to save

Marketing Misc.


Some things do just nat­u­rally go together: PB&J, socks and shoes, yin and yang. It’s true of inbound and out­bound mar­ket­ing as well. The terms inbound and out­bound dis­tin­guish mes­sages that go out into the world to find consumers—direct mail and web­site ban­ners, for instance—and mar­ket­ing that instead pulls cus­tomers in through meth­ods such as blogs, pod­casts, and social media. Although it’s help­ful to under­stand the dif­fer­ence between inbound and out­bound mar­ket­ing, their dis­tinc­tions are less impor­tant than how they con­nect. Like peanut but­ter and jelly, it’s togeth­er­ness that ele­vates result, some­thing missed in many companies.

Com­pa­nies often sep­a­rate out­bound and inbound mar­ket­ing efforts, using dif­fer­ent teams, tools, and data. That’s a mis­take. Tak­ing the iso­la­tion­ist approach means cus­tomer data isn’t shared across teams. With­out infor­ma­tion, a mar­keter can’t cre­ate great expe­ri­ences for each cus­tomer, and cre­at­ing great expe­ri­ences is vital in today’s clut­tered mar­ket­ing landscape.

Other com­pa­nies, mean­while, turn out­bound and inbound mar­ket­ing into an either/or choice, using one or the other exclu­sively. But that’s like tak­ing all the black pieces off the checker­board. If you want to say, “King me!” you’ve got to first prop­erly set up the game.

Prop­erly set­ting up inbound and out­bound mar­ket­ing means com­mit­ting to both, and then unit­ing them. Sep­a­rate teams should become one. Data must be acces­si­ble to all. Soft­ware should sup­port both inbound and out­bound efforts. With teams, tools, and data brought together, mar­keters can revi­tal­ize goals and tac­tics. Exe­cu­tion gains sophis­ti­ca­tion because bet­ter infor­ma­tion means bet­ter tim­ing, tar­get­ing, and mes­sage rel­e­vance. Inbound and out­bound mar­ket­ing work­ing as one cre­ates oppor­tu­ni­ties to build great rela­tion­ships and experiences.

For instance, out­bound mar­ket­ing can con­nect with poten­tial cus­tomers through email and direct mail. When inter­ested cus­tomers then seek out your brand, inbound mar­ket­ing deliv­ers rel­e­vant con­tent that your new con­nec­tions specif­i­cally want to receive. Giv­ing con­sumers what they want through this outbound–inbound sym­bio­sis ben­e­fits poten­tial cus­tomers and starts a rela­tion­ship that, in time, can mature into sales.

Once cus­tomers are involved with a com­pany through inbound mar­ket­ing, per­haps hap­pily and reg­u­larly read­ing life-enhancing blog posts—say, the best drinks to pair with the best eats—once involved, cus­tomers might appre­ci­ate well-timed and rel­e­vant out­bound mar­ket­ing mes­sages. A Web-based offer on those best drinks, for instance, gives cus­tomers a chance to explore what they’ve read about. Quench­ing a consumer’s thirst to try some­thing new and excit­ing this way cre­ates mean­ing­ful inter­ac­tions and real rela­tion­ships, trust and loy­alty blos­som­ing thanks to the inbound–outbound fusion. Like hydro­gen and oxy­gen, it’s two ele­ments together that make it rain.

This article was written by Ben Tepfer and published on Adobe’s digital marketing blog.

Ben Tepfer is a product marketing manager for Adobe Campaign. In this role, Tepfer spends most of his time in the field talking with industry leaders, customers and prospects to understand their marketing challenges in an effort to build a market-ready product.

Adobe is the global leader in digital marketing and digital media solutions.