HubSpot Beginner's Guide - Part Two: Inbound v. Outbound with HubSpot

5 Minutes Read

The great debate of inbound versus outbound marketing has been present in almost every conversation we have with clients, including the lack of understanding around what each actually is. Often, HubSpot users think that using outbound efforts are the best way to find new prospects and try to use their HubSpot platform to drive outbound marketing. We wanted to start the second part of our Beginner's Guide to HubSpot by talking about this challenge. Inbound or outbound? And if you are using outbound methodologies, what are the best ways to use your HubSpot platform to drive outbound efforts?

We'll cover that, and more, as we take you through the second part of our Beginner's Guide. If you're not a beginner - don't think this topic isn't applicable to you! All marketers can benefit from taking a step back from advanced practices to be reminded of best practices for foundational go-to-market strategy. 

What is Inbound Marketing?

HubSpot defines inbound marketing as, "... a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them." Examples of inbound marketing assets are blogs, videos, web design, opted-in email campaigns, self-service tools, or conversational marketing tools (like chat bots). Common inbound practices revolve around a 3-pillar methodology: Attract, Engage, Delight. HubSpot has created a Flywheel (shown below) that demonstrates how inbound marketing efforts play a role in ideal customer conversions. 

HubSpot Fly Wheel

<<< Flywheel Image Credit: Totally HubSpot' - cool, isn't it? <<<

Inbound marketing typically doesn't interrupt your ideal customer's experience, either. What we mean by that is that it's not an unexpected punch-ask to the face, because they're ready for the solution you're offering. It's rather an avenue that provides prospects with exactly what they need to solve an existing problem they know they have. Inbound marketing helps companies earn the trust of prospects and existing customers by leveraging a tailored experience that makes them feel like what you're offering was made for them and what they need. 

What is Outbound Marketing? 

Short answer: more expensive. *Gasp* - say it isn't so, right? Well, according to statistics, inbound marketing practices actually reduces the cost of acquired leads by 61%. Which is why properly using an inbound marketing platform like HubSpot is worth the cost of implementing a strategy and putting in the elbow grease to get it moving. For those of you looking for the definition of outbound marketing, it's simply traditional marketing methods, like trade shows, seminar series, and cold emailing or cold calling. It's very expensive and the ROI is much less compared to inbound efforts because you're assuming they need what you have.

Are you infected with the "Pick and Pull" Virus?

If you're like many clients we work with, you may be infected with what we call the "Pick and Pull" virus. This sickness is often promoted by third-party data providers and easy-to use email platforms. It all starts with a slight revenue fever (you need money, fast) and then suddenly you have the uncontrollable urge to lay thousands of dollars on the line in hopes that you can make more by picking and pulling names out of their database.

Then your fingers start moving and boom - email blasts about something that you think people want to hear about are sent. You probably haven't warmed up your IP, but you're struggling to see straight because the virus has its hold - especially when 1 out of the 7,324 emails you sent that have no idea who you are responds to you with interest in a widget that you're selling - which if sold, would equal what you paid for the data you purchased. 

winning meme


If this is you, please do me a favor and go to the marketing doctor right away. Your business will find itself in the ICU sooner than it realizes. In fact, we often find our clients after they've done this or have been burned by a vendor who improperly conducts outbound marketing for an exorbitant amount of money, and the impact leaves scarring for life.

Now, this doesn't mean that outbound marketing doesn't work. It 100% does. The catch is that outbound marketing is NOT inbound marketing and is much more expensive. Often, companies find themselves also applying the same ROI expectations for both methods and come back empty handed every time. Inbound and outbound marketing play well together but must be evaluated differently. Outbound marketing efforts are effective but must be implemented correctly and be supported by an inbound marketing strategy.

And the same can be said for inbound marketing. Can you build a solid, single strategy that just encompasses inbound or outbound marketing by themselves? Of course. Is it most effective? No. And most importantly, you cannot use inbound marketing tools for outbound marketing efforts. 

Can HubSpot support outbound marketing efforts?

Yes - support being the key word here. HubSpot is an inbound marketing platform. So, if you're trying to import and engage with a list of cold contacts from a third-party data provider to engage in outbound activities, you are actually in violation of HubSpot's code of conduct and can be removed as a customer.

eyore meme contacts

When importing contacts to engage with for your CRM or CMS, they must be an opted-in contact who wants to hear from you. Feel like that rule rains on your marketing parade? Not sure if HubSpot is worth it anymore? Stop right there. Remember what we said earlier - inbound and outbound are most effective together, not separately. 

Putting a proper strategy together to have inbound and outbound efforts work together as separate but unified strategies is the key to driving serious ROI on your marketing investment. And we're going to tell you to talk with a marketing strategist or fractional CMO to help you get that plan put together. Outbound is an extremely valuable strategy and we recommend many partners that specialize in helping companies tie expert lead generation practices with outbound marketing efforts - including cold outreach. We can't wait for that email from a cold call salesperson telling us how wrong this article is. Cold call guy or gal - we hear you! And completely endorse outbound efforts but are advising anyone using HubSpot to not even think about it. 

Is HubSpot worth it if we don't do inbound marketing?

Well, is eating healthy good for you if you've only ever lived on a diet of soda and gas station donuts? The obvious answer is "yes". Because you need to start doing inbound marketing if you're not - for the health of your business. Here are a few key, data-driven reasons from our user research friends at why you should be conducting inbound marketing efforts at your organization:

  • 81% of companies that blog see a positive ROI from their efforts
  • 41% of marketers see easily measurable ROI from inbound practices (the other 59% need to call us, stat)
  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to receive information in a series of articles than an advertisement
  • 10x is typically the rate of return companies receive when they implement inbound marketing correctly
  • 80% is how much the average costs of leads drop after 5 months of inbound marketing efforts
  • 62% is the cost savings when you actively engage in content marketing - you also will triple your lead count

We could go on but will stop there.

If you don't see how effective inbound marketing is, then it's time for you to ask yourself if you need a new desk calculator. And don't forget, HubSpot's CRM is also a beast of a solution that helps sales teams best understand, with an active HubSpot marketing engine moving, how to attract and retain customers. There's money all over the reasons why you should be using HubSpot and data for days to prove it. 

So, if you're unsure of how to truly leverage HubSpot's full capabilities, connect with us. And yes, this is a plug - we know how to help you and will quickly support your team to help them understand how properly leverage this amazing tool. For new users or companies looking at HubSpot, we also waive your onboarding costs for you - which saves you nearly $3,000 and provide an initial consultation for free, ta boot. 

Schedule a discovery with us and receive 100% all natural, hormone-free, grass-fed, organic, custom-tailored advice from our team of HubSpot experts. We've even won some street cred recently for how we help clients implement and optimize their HubSpot platform. 

Picture of Elizabeth Krohn

Elizabeth Krohn

Elizabeth "Beth" Krohn is the founder and CEO of Krohn Marketing Inc.