Outbound VS Inbound Lead Generation: Know the Difference

outbound vs inbound led generation
outbound vs inbound led generation

To lead or not to lead? This is every marketing expert’s inner thoughts when deciding which leads to acquire and nurture, and more importantly, how to do it.

At the beginning of every lead generation initiative, it’s important to understand the difference between inbound and outbound lead generation.

The concepts behind each require very different approaches. What you might spend time and money on to generate outbound leads wouldn’t make a difference using the inbound strategy.

It’s important to understand the logic behind each when you’re making B2B lead generation decisions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Outbound lead generation might be “old school” but with new tools and technologies the modern take on this strategy can be an effective asset.
  • Inbound lead generation puts the power in the hands of the people. This strategy can produce evergreen content that will keep on generating leads, long after the initial effort is made.
  • Decide which strategy will work best for your marketing initiatives. (Hint: there isn’t a one size fits all answer.)

Here’s a quick guide to inbound and outbound lead generation, and what each approach can bring to the table.

Outbound Lead Generation

Outbound Lead Generation, also called “interruption lead generation,” is basically when you as the marketer are doing all the work.

Using this approach, you would initiate the first interaction by sending out a message of some kind to potential leads. The best examples of outbound lead generation are direct emails and phone calls.

In today’s highly connected world, there has been some debate about the effectiveness and relevance of outbound lead generation techniques.

While it’s the more “old school” approach, the outbound lead generation method can still work if spruced up with some of today’s modern tactics and technologies

With lead generation tools like email generation platforms and automated lead qualification programs, a lot of the hard work can be taken off your plate. The less time and money spent on generating the lead, the better, right?

There are a few strategies to employ to help you optimize your outbound lead generation efforts:

Establish your ideal customer profile

Your ideal customer profile (ICP) can narrow your sight, so sales teams can focus on prospective leads that have real potential. When you focus on high quality leads based on your target audience, you’re more likely to close the deal.

Focus on what your company can do for a prospective customer. What does that customer look like? What is their position within a company? What industry might they work in? These all give more insight into who you should be targeting.

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Optimize your outreach message

Whether you’re cold calling prospective customers or emailing them, perfecting your message is crucial to your success. Test out different methods and CTAs through good old A/B testing.

Let your efforts build upon each other, too. Cold outreach – calls or emails – take multiple efforts before engagement. Studies show sending 4-7 emails in a lead generation series can triple your engagement compared to only 1-3.

Check your work with data

Don’t let your sales team burn out sending emails and making calls that lead nowhere. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Even if your new outbound strategy seems to be working, getting too comfortable may be the kiss of death.

Customer pain points, communication methods and industry trends are always changing, so keeping up with tracking your results is important.

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound Lead Generation is just the opposite. This is when you allow your prospect to come to you through SEO practices and the provision of valuable content.

Unlike outbound lead generation, it’s the prospect who decides when and how they will reach you. The best example of inbound lead generation is content marketing, which is where you publish relevant content with the intent of attracting your target audience to your brand’s website.

This method gives you the chance to create evergreen content that will continue to attract leads and drive traffic to your website.

One of the main challenges of inbound lead generation is standing out from the crowd. Even if you provide compelling content and utilize paid ads, it can still be difficult to remain visible amidst the competition.

You can help combat this challenge by prioritizing organic traffic. Building a strong content marketing strategy is key:

Write to your customers pain points

It’s 2022 – no one cares about something unless it applies to them, especially on the internet! Create content that your customer will want to read because they’ll see themselves in it. This goes back to knowing your ideal customer profile and utilizing the information it provides to improve your message.

Optimize your content for SEO

And no, I don’t mean keyword stuffing or writing for a graded algorithm. SEO strategy is complicated but doing keyword research and understanding how SERPs work puts your team at an advantage.

Not only do you climb in the rankings, but you develop ownership of your content in a way that advertising just can’t. This makes your inbound lead generation even more evergreen. That’s the gift that keeps on giving!

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Make sure your team can walk the walk

Or write the write…? What I really mean is make sure you have a strong team to support your content marketing efforts. Whether this means hiring the right CMO or outsourcing your content team, choosing the right option for your business is the first step towards success. Your entire content marketing effort can’t rely on Brian the marketing intern (no matter how great he is).

Which is better?

Inbound and outbound lead generation are like two Girl Scouts selling cookies. Despite being called “interruptive”, the outbound lead generation is the more traditional Girl Scout who goes from one house to the next, politely inquiring if people want to buy some cookies.

Inbound lead generation is more like the creative Girl Scout, who makes posters and flyers, and even leverages the power of trending news in social media to tell a vast pool of potential customers she’s offering 10 percent off to the first 100 customers.

While both Girl Scouts have equal chances of selling cookies, it seems that the second Girl Scout was able to cast a wider net.

This infographic helps explain the nuances between the two even more than selling thin mints and samoas will;

Inbound Outbound Infographic

There’s no right or wrong approach

Despite their differences, inbound, and outbound lead generation approaches share the same goal. The desired outcome is always to generate leads.

They also both function best when you have a clear and specific target audience, knowledge of where your audience is and how you can reach them.

Both approaches understand the need for incentive and, regardless of which method you use, every initiative requires some form of lead nurturing. It’s your job to decide how your company can best utilize each approach.

Outbound lead generation can produce results quickly when done right. Inbound lead generation usually takes a longer time to implement but can potentially lead to more opportunities over a longer period.

The most efficient lead generation strategies utilize a combination of both approaches, but the key is to understand your target audience so you can leverage the most cost-effective practices to reach them.

Optimize Your Inbound Lead Generation

Content marketing is one of the most valuable forms of inbound lead generation, and one of the most quickly growing. If your website doesn’t have a blog in 2022, what are you waiting for?

That’s not to say it’s an easy endeavor to conquer. From creating the perfect blog post to just coming up with content ideas, it can be frustrating. Content marketers job growth is exponential; the field requires a very specific knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

Luckily, you’ve landed yourself on a website filled with content marketing tips and tricks! If you’re looking to grow your content marketing efforts and optimize your blog, without the huge workload, check out our SEO Blog Writing Services or schedule a free consultation to learn more.

Giana is the Director of Content for Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency. Connect with her on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on all things MIG.