To determine whether email marketing is in- or outbound, it is important to know the difference between inbound- and outbound marketing.
Inbound marketing attracts the attention of potential clients by offering useful information in for example blogs. SEO and social media are an important element of inbound marketing. After reading the information, the potential client will be triggered to look for more information about the product or service and eventually even request a quote or buy a product. Another form of inbound is somebody that calls the customer service of a company to adjust ongoing services.
When it comes to outbound marketing a company pushes its message to potential customers via advertising and sales techniques. Examples are telemarketing, radio- and tv commercials.
Email marketing can both be outbound and inbound. If (potential) customers subscribed to your mailing list and you offer them relevant and useful information, email marketing falls under inbound marketing. But if you send your (potential) customers a ‘cold’ e-mail to push your message to your target group, then email marketing can be defined as outbound marketing.