What is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation? [FAQ]

What is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation

If someone visits your website and fills up a sign-up or subscription form, that’s a type of lead generation. If you meet thirty people at a business conference, ask them for their email address, and they all (for some reason) share it with you, that’s another form of lead generation. If you post about a product or service on social media and someone else comments on it, that is also—you guessed it—another variation of lead generation.

Given these examples, lead generation seems so simple, no?

By its most basic definition, yes: lead generation is simple. It’s the act of getting people to give you the information you, as the business owner, need in order to articulate the value of what you’re offering. In order to achieve this, you must be present in the same channels your target market resides in.

However, realistically speaking, lead generation is so much easier said than done. People are understandably very particular about the information they give out—especially when it comes to matters regarding brands, businesses, and sales.

Because, really? No one likes being sold to.

Hence, the challenge; how to achieve successful lead generation for successful sales.

The Two Channels for Lead Generation

What is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation1

There are generally two types of lead generation: inbound lead generation and outbound lead generation. The names alone probably give you a good idea of how they’re different, but it’s important to really know the details of each channel.

Which is why we’ve put together this brief guide to understanding both inbound and outbound lead generation; their similarities, their differences, and how each of them can help you grow your business.

Outbound Lead Generation

Also known as “interruption lead generation,” outbound lead generation is an approach wherein the marketer makes the first interaction. He typically does this by sending a message to any and all potential leads. The most common examples of outbound lead generation are phone calls and direct e-mails.

Now, because we live in such a highly-connected society, many people are debating the relevance and effectiveness of this method. Although some have written it off as a fairly outdated “old school” technique for generating lukewarm (but organic) leads, it is not without its advantages. In fact, if you pair it with modern technology and the right strategies, it could prove to be highly beneficial.

Inbound Lead Generation

As you might have guessed by now, inbound lead generation is the exact opposite of outbound. Rather than reaching out to your prospects for information, they give you their details instead. This is achieved by creating valuable pieces of content that you target audience will presumably want to consume. This content acts as a catalyst to expose them to your products and/or service.

With inbound lead generation, the ball is in the consumer’s court. They decide when and how to interact with your brand (i.e. through social media, emails, etc.).

The reason why inbound lead generation is so successful—especially now, with the digital landscape the way it is—is because it reflects the way we tune out the conventional marketing and sales efforts of brands. We hate being sold to, and prefer instead to do our own research. We’d rather look for solutions, products, and services by ourselves before we decide to call a sales representative.

Which is the Better Lead Generation Strategy?

When it comes to marketing, the term “better” is highly subjective. The better lead generation strategy really depends on your business needs and target audience.

We know; it seems like such a cop-out. But it’s the truth. Although a lot of people consider inbound lead generation to be a more successful, more sustainable strategy that can be applied to all industries, there are occasions where using the outbound method is more ideal.

Both inbound and outbound lead generation tactics can produce great results for your business. If you can afford it, experts suggest you incorporate approaches from both channels at once. If planned correctly, outbound lead generation can offer a major spike in opportunities for your organization. Inbound lead generation, on the other hand, has the potential to bring in leads at a much lower cost.

As always, finding a best-fit solution is not as straightforward as we’d like it to be. It all boils down to what you think is best for your company and the industry you operate in. The key is to know your target audience in order to determine the most cost-effective lead generation practices to use to connect with them.