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.

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.

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!

Kasim Aslam

Kasim Aslam

Kasim Aslam is the founder and CEO of Solutions 8, one of the world’s top ranked Google Ads agencies. Recipient of the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association’s 2017 TIM Award for Person of the Year, Kasim was also named one of the Top 50 Digital Marketing Thought Leaders in the United States by The University of Missouri in 2020. Kasim was hand-selected as the Traffic Coach for’s ELITE coaching program by their executive team. He is also the co-host of the long-running podcast, Perpetual Traffic. His book, The 7 Critical Principles of Effective Digital Marketing, was featured as one of the Top 100 Digital Marketing Books of All Time by Book Authority. Kasim helped launch the National Association of Child Helplines (NAACH) and worked with the United States Army, Intel, as well as a Gates Foundation-funded nonprofit, a 54,000 member PPO, the largest privately owned bank in the United States, and an Academy Award-contending documentary. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife and two sons.

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