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The Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Traffic



The Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Traffic

You’ve probably heard the terms, inbound traffic and outbound traffic. This is an important concept to understand because it applies to everything you do with paid marketing. In our Paid Traffic Mastery course, we teach the core concepts you need to win with paid traffic. And understanding what inbound vs outbound traffic is, is a core concept of paid traffic marketing.

Inbound Traffic Is Traffic That Is Actively Seeking A Solution

Potential customers are considered inbound when they come to your website or the network you’re advertising on. In digital marketing, you can achieve this through great content marketing, search engine optimization, or paid advertising.

The best example of this is Google search. Let’s say somebody goes to Google and says, “I need a new garden hose.” If you sell garden hoses, that’s inbound traffic.

Outbound Traffic Is Traffic You Push Your Message In Front Of

Outbound traffic is interrupter marketing. Potential customers aren’t looking for you. They’re not looking for a solution.

The best example of this is social media ads, or more generally, paid traffic. These ads show up inside the newsfeed or inside the Google display network or wherever you’re advertising.

If you’ve done your research and completed a Customer Avatar Canvas, you know who you can successfully advertise to. You target these potential customers because you think they might be interested in your product. So you push your message in front of them.

Is Inbound Or Outbound Traffic Better?

I could spark a nerd war if I tried to tell you that inbound was better than outbound or vice versa. So, here’s the truth…you need both inbound marketing and outbound marketing. But each tool needs to be used when it’s applicable.


My dad says, “if you’re good with a hammer, you think everything’s a nail.” If you’re really good with inbound marketing, you’ll often find yourself trying to use inbound traffic when you might need to be using outbound traffic, and vice versa.

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When To Use Outbound Traffic

Say you invented a new whiz bang gizmo that nobody’s ever heard about. There’s no inbound traffic for that, right? Nobody is searching for your product because it’s brand new. At this point, you don’t have a list, so email marketing won’t work. What can you do?

In this case, you have to use outbound traffic to raise awareness.

When To Use Inbound Traffic

Now flipping that coin, let’s say you solve a serious problem. Let’s say you’re an emergency plumber. The second my toilet is clogged, I’m going to be desperate to find you. Where do people go when they need something? They head to the search engines, of course. Remember, social media platforms act as search engines, too.

In this case, the incoming traffic from search is extremely valuable. This is the reason you should pay to put yourself and your business out there. As long as the ads can effectively be monetized, you should pay to play.

Deciding Between Inbound vs. Outbound Traffic

Think about where your business could benefit from inbound traffic. Then think about where it could benefit from outbound traffic.

The answer for many businesses is that you probably need a combination of both.

Search Ads Are The Ultimate Inbound Traffic

What’s cool about search ads is you show up above the fold. What does that mean? When you open a web page, the point where the content ends before you have to scroll to see more, is the fold.


Anything that isn’t visible until you scroll is considered “below the fold.” As a rule, “above the fold” content is the most valuable real estate to own.

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The good news is, Google prioritizes ads above everything else.

Before the map listings, structured snippets, or organic rankings, are the search ads. Why does Google prioritize search ads? Because that’s their primary monetization opportunity.

You may hear people say, “well, I don’t click on ads.” The data says otherwise.

The truth is that 95% of all traffic does skip over the ads. They go directly to an organic search result. BUT…67% of high commercial intent searches result in a paid click. High commercial intent means that somebody is ready to buy and will happily click your ad.

What does it tell us if 95% of general searches skip the ads, but two thirds of commercial intent searches click it? It tells us that people use organic traffic to learn. But when they’re ready to buy, paid traffic is the most valuable traffic.

Having a hard time picking between inbound and outbound traffic? The Paid Traffic Mastery course will make you a master at both!


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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter



B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

The B2B customer journey can be a long one, especially when the purchase of expensive software subscriptions is under consideration.

“The average B2B customer journey takes 192 days from anonymous first touch to won,” according to Dreamdata in their 2022 B2B Go-to-Market Benchmarks — a statistic described by co-founder and CMO Steffen Hedebrandt as “alarming.”

But the report also indicates that this journey can be significantly sped up — by as much as 63% — if accounts begin their research at software review sites, gathering information and opinions from their peers. Journeys that originate at a review site often lead to deals of higher value too.

Fragmented data on the customer journey. Dreamdata is a B2B go-to-market platform. In any B2B company, explained Hedebrandt, there are typically 10 or even 20 data silos that contain fragments of the customer journey. Website visits, white paper downloads, social media interactions, webinar or meeting attendance, demos, and of course intent data from review site visits — this data doesn’t typically sit in one place within an organization.

“We built an account-based data model because we believe that there’s such a thing as an account journey and not an individual journey,” said Hedebrandt. “So if there are two, three or five people representing an account, which is typically what you see in B2B, all of these touches get mapped into the same timeline.”

Among those many touches is the intent data sourced from software review site G2. Dreamdata has an integration with G2 and a G2 dashboard allowing visualization of G2-generated intent data. This includes filtering prospects who are early in their journey, who have not yet discovered the customer’s product, or who have discovered it but are still searching. This creates a basis for attributing pipelines, conversions and revenue to the activity.

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“Strategically, our ideal customer profile is a B2B software-as-a-service company,” said Hedenbrandt. “B2B SaaS companies are particularly ripe for understanding this digital customer journey; their main investment is in digital marketing, they have a salesforce that use software tools to do this inside sales model; and they also deliver their product digitally as well.” What’s more, it takes twice as long to close SaaS deal as it does to close deals with B2B commercial and professional services companies.


Read next: A look at the tech review space

The Benchmarks findings. The conclusions of the 2022 Benchmarks report is based on aggregated, anonymized data from more than 400 Dreamdata user accounts. Focusing on first-touch attribution (from their multi-touch model), Dreamdata found that customer journeys where a review site is the first touch are 63% shorter than the average. In contrast, where the first touch channel is social, the journey is much longer than average (217%); it’s the same when paid media is the first touch (155%).

As the Benchmarks report suggests, this may well mean that social is targeting prospects that are just not in-market. It makes sense that activity on a review site is a better predictor of intent.

Hedenbrandt underlines the importance of treating the specific figures with caution. “It’s not complete science what we’ve done,” he admits, “but it’s real data from 400 accounts, so it’s not going to be completely off. You can only spend your time once, and at least from what we can see here it’s better to spend your time collecting reviews than writing another Facebook update.”

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While Dreamdata highlights use of G2, Hedenbrandt readily concedes that competitor software review sites might reasonably be expected to show similar effects. “Definitely I would expect it to be similar.”

Why we care. It’s not news that B2B buyers researching software purchases use review sites and that those sites gather and trade in the intent data generated. Software vendors encourage users to post reviews. There has been a general assumption that a large number of hopefully positive reviews is a good thing to have.

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What Dreamdata’s findings indicate is that the effect of review sites on the buyer journey — especially as the first-touch channel — can be quantified and a value placed on it. “None of us questioned the value of reviews, but during this process you can actually map it into a customer journey where you can see the journey started from G2, then flowed into sales meetings, website visits, ads, etc. Then we can also join the deal value to the intent that started from G2.”

Likely, this is also another example of B2B learning from B2C. People looking at high consideration B2C purchases are now accustomed to seeking advice both from friends and from online reviews. The same goes for SaaS purchases, Hedenbrandt suggests: “More people are turning to sites like G2 to understand whether this is a trustworthy vendor or not. The more expensive it is, the more validation you want to see.”

About The Author


Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

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He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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