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 approach use different execution methods so it’s vital to comprehend the logic behind them before you start out.

Here’s a quick guide to inbound and outbound lead generation, and what each approach can do for your business.

Outbound Lead Generation

Outbound Lead Generation is also called “interruption lead generation”. Using this approach, the marketer initiates the first interaction by sending out a message 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 a more “old school” approach, the outbound lead generation method can still work if spruced up with some of today’s modern tactics and technologies.

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound Lead Generation is when you allow your prospects to come to you through SEO 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. However, 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.

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.

She’s like the brilliant Girl Scout troop who used Leonardo DiCaprio’s recent Oscar history to sell cookies. She doesn’t approach the customers one by one to make her case. Instead, she chooses a stage (communication medium) and makes her pitch.

While both Girl Scouts have equal chances of selling cookies, it seems that the second Girl Scout was able to cast a wider net. To better demonstrate the pros and cons of inbound and outbound lead generation, we’ve created the table below.
Inbound Outbound Infographic

Shared Goals

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.

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.

To better develop your right mix of inbound and outbound lead generation tactics, it is recommended that you have a strong understanding of your customers and prospects. The right data will give you valuable insights for building customer relationships and sales prospecting. It’s all about personalizing the buyer’s journey to enhance the overall customer experience. Download our guide to data-driven marketing to get started.