Marketing | 10 minute read

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing ...According to ChatGPT

inbound outbound marketing
Posted by Adam Statti on February 16, 2023

Are You In or Out?

In the beginning (and still today), there was outbound marketing.  The idea was about pushing as much information about your company and product out to potential customers as possible.  Many wouldn't respond to these advertisements, but some would.  Those people became your customers.

In the last 20 years, a new type of marketing has caught fire.  Inbound marketing is all about drawing customers in by creating content that is valuable and worthwhile to them.

inbound outbound image

If I was writing this blog as an opinion piece about which was better, it would be a first round TKO for inbound.  Why?  Because at RevPartners we see the amazing difference HubSpot can make for companies as they grow and scale.  

boxing meme

But that’s not what this blog is.

Instead, based on various prompts, let’s see what ChatGPT thinks.  Is ChatGPT a fan of old school outbound or is it partial to inbound, the new kid on the block?

Let’s get ready to rumble!

Step 1:  Some Basic Questions

basic gif

Prompt:  “If someone is brand new to marketing, what’s the best analogy to describe inbound and outbound marketing?”

Before getting into any pros or cons or what’s “better”, let’s see if ChatGPT seems to give a more favorable impression of either style of marketing based on a request for an analogy. 

Result:

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT is apparently pretty high on this fishing analogy (I tried about 5 more times and it was always fishing).  If I knew nothing about either type of marketing approach, inbound marketing would seem like a much more attractive option based on the language and imagery ChatGPT used.

Inbound marketing is matched with terms such as “valuable and relevant content” and “compelling environment” while outbound marketing is paired with “interruptive methods” and “aggressively pursue(s)”.  

I’d give the first round to inbound.

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Prompt:  “What are the pros and cons of outbound marketing?”

Ok no more analogies, let’s get down to brass tacks…why does ChatGPT think outbound marketing can be beneficial and why does it think it can be detrimental?

Result:

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT response

To me, it’s never a good sign when more cons than pros are listed (happened with both answers).  Also, one of the pros, “cost-effective” was offset by the disclaimer of “IF” you do x, y, and z then it can be cost effective, and then also in the second answer “high cost” was actually listed as a con.

I’m not feeling the love from ChatGPT for outbound marketing strategies…at least not yet.

Prompt:  “What are the pros and cons of inbound marketing?”

Same question, but for inbound this time.

Result:

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT response

Three small, but noteworthy differences from the results of the previous prompt:

  • Same number of pros and cons listed each time, as opposed to more cons.
  • In each result, there was a direct comparison to outbound marketing and how inbound is more cost-effective.
  • For inbound marketing, words such as “trust” and (customer)“relationships” are used, whereas they are absent for outbound marketing.  These are hot buzzwords in the marketing world today, and they are not paired with outbound marketing in the results.

Again, with no prior information on either type, I would feel ChatGPT leaning towards inbound.

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Prompt:  “Which is more widely used:  outbound marketing or inbound marketing?  Why?”

This isn’t a direct question about which is better, but you can sometimes get different answers when you ask questions in a more roundabout way.  I’m interested to see if there is a scenario in which ChatGPT appears to favor outbound....because I haven’t seen it yet.

Result:

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT response

I asked this question because I had anticipated ChatGPT stating that outbound was more popular even though inbound was gaining.  So I asked this because I wanted to see how positive ChatGPT could potentially be regarding outbound.  

That did not happen.  ChatGPT claimed inbound was more widely used, although it did temper this claim slightly in the second answer.

ChatGPT didn’t have a lot of good to say about outbound marketing, except that it could reach a lot of people.  Whereas for inbound it said it can inform and empower users, attract and retain customers, and is less intrusive.

If we stopped after asking just basic questions, it’s clear that ChatGPT overwhelmingly favors inbound marketing to outbound.

not close gif

Step 2:  Questions That Dig Deeper

Prompt:  “What is the most important metric where inbound marketing outperforms outbound marketing?”

ChatGPT has definitely been partial to inbound so far, but let’s see where it really thinks that inbound is a difference maker for a company.

Result:

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT response

“Cost per lead” came up in both answers.  The second answer throws in better ROI and higher conversion rates as well.  So basically, according to ChatGPT, when it comes to each of the most important metrics, inbound is better.

Prompt:  “What is the most important metric where outbound marketing outperforms inbound marketing?”

Ok ChatGPT, I’m going to force you to say nice things about outbound marketing whether you want to or not.  I have not seen one instance in which ChatGPT has stated something that outbound does better than inbound, but here we go…

dont be a jerk gif

Result:

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT response

I’m sure this is just a coincidence, but ChatGPT has been answering each of these prompts immediately, but on this one the cursor blinked for about 20 seconds each time before answering, almost as if to say “I guess I have to try to make something up now”.  That’s cold, ChatGPT.

It’s official, ChatGPT hates outbound marketing.  Even when directly instructed to say something nice, it chose the rate and speed of generating leads, it had to temper it each time with the caveat that inbound generated better quality leads

If this was a boxing match, both of outbound’s eyes would be swollen shut.

rocky gif

Prompt:  “Is it better to use only one type of marketing strategy, inbound or outbound, or a combination of both?  Can they complement each other?”

I’ve kind of given up on ChatGPT ever favoring outbound, but let’s see if it can be used in conjunction with inbound.

Result:

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT response

Well, ChatGPT had a chance to say “only use inbound marketing”, but in both answers it favored an approach where the two are combined.   This is the only time ChatGPT has recommended combining the two.

Prompt:  “In what scenarios might a company choose to use inbound marketing?  In what scenarios might a company choose to use outbound marketing?”

So far, ChatGPT has provided a wide array of reasons why/how inbound and outbound marketing are used.  But let’s see if it recommends a certain approach in a specific situation.

Result:

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT response

These answers were much more neutral than some provided by ChatGPT in response to previous prompts.  Instead of a comparison, ChatGPT listed specific reasons why each approach may be used.

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Inbound should be used for:

  • When a target audience is already searching for information related to a company’s product or services
  • When a company wants to establish a relationship with customers over time
  • When companies have a long  sales cycle
  • When companies have a complex product or service

Outbound should be used for:

  • When a company wants to reach a large, broad audience quickly
  • When a target audience is not actively seeking information related to company’s product or services
  • When a company has a new product or service and wants to generate leads quickly

Step 3:  Fun Questions

Prompt:  “Write me a love letter convincing me to use outbound marketing as my company's main strategy”

laughing gif

Because ChatGPT has not been overly enthusiastic about outbound marketing, this seems like a good way to get it out of its comfort zone.

Result:

ChatGPT response

It’s amazing what love can do.  All of a sudden, outbound marketing is “tried and true”, “highly customizable”, “provides a wealth of opportunities”, and “provides a clear advantage”.  Ok, maybe ChatGPT doesn't hate outbound marketing after all.

Prompt:  “Write a diary entry, mimicking the language of a teenager, about why you have a crush on inbound marketing”

teenager gif

Result:

ChatGPT response

If you had no prior knowledge of inbound marketing, this would probably sell you on it.  The concepts of attracting customers instead of bombarding them with ads, telling a story, building relationships, and having a human touch, resonate with people.  It actually sounds like the results you would get on a survey if you asked people how they would want to be sold to.

Prompt:  “Write a dramatic ending to a movie where the main character must choose between inbound marketing and outbound marketing as their partner for life.  Cry a lot if necessary.”

Based on everything so far, my money is on inbound.  Will ChatGPT throw us a curveball?  Will it take the easy way out and somehow choose both?

Result:

ChatGPT response

Inbound marketing it is.

the end gif

The Final Word

Looking at the results of the prompts, ChatGPT clearly favors inbound marketing strategies over outbound marketing ones.  ChatGPT really seemed to favor the idea of building trust and relationships over the possibility of reaching a wider audience and generating leads faster.  Essentially, quality over quantity.

There were a few instances where ChatGPT’s answers were more neutral, which speaks to the value of issuing a variety of prompts when researching a subject.  Even seemingly silly prompts, such as “write a love letter”, can often elicit responses from ChatGPT that you may not get with more straightforward questions.

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