Inbound vs. Outbound Lead Generation, The Differences and Similarities

What are inbound and outbound lead generation? How do they differ and in what ways are they
the same?

Although you may feel that the marketing world is entirely focused on inbound right now, there is a place for both inbound and outbound lead generation in your marketing mix.

The first step to determining which approach is right for you is understanding them. So, here is an introduction to both inbound and outbound lead generation with specific attention paid to how they differ and how they are similar.

What is outbound lead generation?

Outbound, or interruption, lead generation, refers to the scenario where you send a message, or messages, directly to your prospects. It is you, not your prospects, that determines the type and timing of each interaction, hence the term interruption.

Outbound lead generation is the older, therefore more traditional, marketing strategy and is considered by some to be outdated and ineffective. Some of the tools synonymous with outbound lead generation, such as email, have indeed had their image tarnished by abuse. But outbound lead generation can still perform.

If you have a good, detailed understanding of all the factors affecting outbound lead generation including audience, response and incentive, you can still utilise outbound lead generation with excellent results.

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What is inbound lead generation?

Inbound is the reverse of outbound. Instead of reaching out to prospects, you lay out a trail of information and incentives (content) that your prospects can follow in towards your company. It is the individual prospect who chooses the type and timing of the interaction.

Inbound is popular and successful because it reflects the way in which we have all evolved to tune out sales and marketing efforts, preferring to research products, services and solutions ourselves before contacting sales representatives.

Inbound leverages search engines and social media networks to put prospects in contact with your content. One of the main challenges is the rate a which the content trail ages. The most effective content is recent and social sign posts to such content typically disappear from your prospects’ screens in a matter of seconds.

Differences between inbound and outbound lead generation

There are a multitude of differences between inbound and outbound lead generation campaigns. Some of the fundamental differences are listed here:

Differences Outbound Inbound Timing of interaction You choose Your prospect chooses Medium of interaction You choose Your prospect chooses Duration of campaign Finite Indefinite Cost profile Short term, higher cost Long term, lower cost Key mediums Direct mail, email, telephone & web Web, email, social media & search engines Marketing skills needed Planning, copywriting, graphic design & web All of those for outbound, plus internet marketing, PR, social media & SEO

Similarities between inbound and outbound lead generation

Despite having fundamental differences, there are things that inbound and outbound lead generation have in common. Here are some of them:

Similarities Inbound and outbound Objectives Both methods seek to generate leads for the business to sell to Importance of audience Understanding your audience well is key to successful lead generation by either method Need for incentives Both call for incentives to motivate the greatest response from your target audience. Leads nurturing Leads generated by either strategy require nurturing and, ultimately, converting into sales.

Which is right for you?

The answer depends very much upon your audience and your business needs. While there is no industry that is completely out of reach to inbound techniques, there are certainly occasions where outbound tactics feel like a better fit.

In reality, both outbound and inbound lead generation strategies can probably produce results for your business and, if you can afford it, we recommend utilising both. Inbound lead generation is long term play that has the potential to bring in leads at lower cost per lead. Meanwhile, outbound lead generation, if planned correctly, can produce a welcome spike in opportunities.

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