People have been arguing for ages about whether one thing is better than another. It’s in our nature to choose sides.
Which is better? Smooth or chunky peanut butter? New York-style pizza or Chicago-style pizza? Coke or Pepsi?
Sales and marketing professionals have also argued the merits of inbound versus outbound lead generation (AKA lead gen). You can use both types as part of your lead gen strategy, but it’s important to know the differences and when it’s best to use them.
Learn about the differences and similarities between inbound and outbound lead gen, as well as their respective benefits. Then you can determine how to deploy lead gen effectively for your organization.
There are many differences between inbound and outbound lead gen. The primary differentiator is that inbound lead gen is pull marketing, while outbound lead gen is push marketing.
Inbound lead gen encourages prospects to reach out to you for more information on your products or services, request a demo, or make a purchase. The strategies and methods you use pull leads to your website.
Outbound lead gen involves reaching out to prospects with advertising, direct mail, phone calls, emails, and other methods. The strategies and methods you use, push your message and brand out to prospects.
Inbound lead gen can sometimes be described as permission marketing. You require the prospect’s permission to interact with them.
Outbound lead gen is sometimes known as interruption marketing. Your efforts interrupt the prospect with your message.
Inbound and outbound lead gen can be compared in the following ways:
Inbound and outbound lead gen vary by philosophy and approach, particularly in the time and place of the interaction. With inbound lead gen, the prospects choose when and where they interact with your message; with outbound lead gen, the marketer chooses the time and place of the interaction.
The following table shows different inbound and outbound lead gen methods:
Inbound lead gen methods involve strategies for pulling prospects to your website and reaching out to your business. Prospects decide when and where they will interact with your brand.
For example, Hubspot publishes a free social media workbook, which includes exercises on developing a social media strategy for your business.
Outbound lead gen methods involve reaching out to prospects to push your sales and marketing messages. You determine when and where prospects will see your message.
For example, if someone did a Google search on automated scheduling software, they might see the following ad at the top of their search results.
You can also break down the differences between inbound and outbound lead gen in terms of effectiveness and cost. There is a lot of research on the topic, so the numbers will vary from study to study, but here are two key statistics that illustrate the difference (source: Demand Metric):
Inbound lead generation produces three times as many leads
Inbound and outbound lead gen have two key characteristics in common:
Both inbound and outbound lead gen are designed to generate leads. They are also more effective when you understand who your leads are, why they would use your product or service, and how you should speak to those leads to generate the most interest.
Both inbound and outbound lead gen have their respective strengths and weaknesses. However, what matters most is they each offer different advantages.
When choosing a specific inbound or outbound lead gen strategy, focus on the benefits it provides and how it supports your organization’s structure and goals.
You don’t need to think of this as inbound versus outbound lead gen. You can combine both methods in your lead gen strategy.
Most companies combine inbound and outbound lead gen tactics in their marketing and lead gen efforts, according to a Demand Metric survey.
If you have the resources and flexibility, you should utilize both inbound and outbound lead gen strategies. However, if you don’t, then let your goals determine which approach is best.
There’s a lot to consider when comparing inbound versus outbound lead gen. Both approaches have their benefits and drawbacks, although they’re both effective for generating leads, particularly when they are used together.