What's the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation?

inbound marketing lead generation

Inbound lead generation is the creation of content and campaigns that bring in website visitors and converts them into leads. It makes your brand more discoverable online, mostly in search engines and social media platforms. It also uses valuable content to engage visitors in an information exchange so that ongoing communication can be achieved.



The main point for this type of lead generation is giving emphasis on allowing buyers to control the time and place of the engagement and the exchange of information. It uses content in building trust, gain attention, and establish a relationship.

Inbound lead generation campaigns focus on helping rather than selling because brands help buyers to define, research, solve problems, and make better purchase decisions. Reaching out to buyers earlier in the decision-making process can build trust and create the ability to positively influence purchase processes.


What is outbound lead generation?

Outbound lead generation is sending or pushing of messages out at a target audience, regardless of whether they asked for it or even expressed interest in the content. It is you who chooses the time and place of the interaction, coining the term ‘interruption marketing’.

The strategies used for outbound lead generation include mass email, cold calling, display advertising, and direct email. These are usually used in B2B marketing. Most outbound tactics also require a paid delivery mechanism which adds to the cost of running any campaign. It adds to the risk which results in influencing the campaign towards selling rather than helping or educating.


What’s the difference?

The main difference between the inbound and outbound approaches to lead generation is the person who controls the timing and place of all activity, from consumption of content through to exchange of information.

For inbound lead generation, you allow prospects to discover you when the timing is right for them, and by the means they prefer. However, for outbound lead generation, it is you, and not the prospect gets to decide when they see adverts, receive calls and emails, with no knowledge of or care for the prospect’s readiness.

When it comes to the campaigns, inbound lead generation has a longer lifetime than outbound lead generation. This is because outbound campaigns are typically finite and short in length due to higher cost profile and risk levels. Costs are high in terms of advertising, post or telephone work, and managing the risk of failure is a must. Outbound campaigns are meant to be running in a short time to reduce the chances of being unsuccessful. For inbound lead generation, it is slower because traffic is usually earned rather than bought and typically have lower costs and are spread over a longer timeframe.

The choice is yours in determining which method is right for your business. You need to be able to see all the advantages and disadvantages of the two lead generation tactics so you can plan out how you would want potential customers would see you out there.



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Daniela Belevan

Written by Daniela Belevan

Daniela Belevan is the Marketing Director at DecoGraphic, managing and implementing inbound marketing strategies. When she’s not at Deco uploading blogs or optimizing client’s websites, you can find her lifting (or attempting to lift) heavy at CrossFit.


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