Lead generation over the past few years has been in a period of transition. We seem to be moving away from the outbound (“push“) to inbound (“pull“) in the way we approach lead generation. It may be very tempting to think of outbound as traditional media, such as print ads, television ads, radio ads, direct mail, outdoor ads etc. Inbound is more the non-traditional media, which will be online marketing, that includes advertising, email, search, podcasts, webcasts, mobile advertising, and social media. Also alternative media, such as in-store marketing, buzz marketing and event marketing, but it’s more complicated than that.
Outbound Lead Generation
The outbound lead generation model is where a marketer will “push” out marketing messages to prospective clients. This is done via printed advertising, direct mail, television ads, radio spots, outbound telemarketing, outdoor billboards etc. Also, the use of some electronic media, being online advertising and unsolicited email, may be thought of as outbound.
Inbound Lead Generation
Inbound relies on the use of media to pull prospects to the marketer by using search engines or social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter etc. Content marketing is another way to “pull” the prospect in through the medium of blogs, podcasts, webcasts, articles, reports, eBooks and the like. There is an important viral element to the inbound model because prospects are able to share what they find with others via social media, email or other online message groups when they like something.
With more and more users of online platforms, it’s more evident that the inbound methods are becoming increasingly more effective than the outbound methods. The up to date statistics available suggest that people are more responsive to inbound lead generation and it’s a lot more cost-effective.
Take Notice Of The Facts On Lead Generation
Back in 2012, HubSpot issued a “State of Inbound Marketing” report. In this report they interviewed 972 business professionals. These included marketers, business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives at companies of different sizes. So the report was deemed more effective, they made sure a wide range of industries were represented. Of the people included, 72 percent worked in business-to-business. The findings showed that companies adopting mostly inbound marketing had a 61 percent lower cost per lead than those using outbound techniques. These results were consistent with surveys conducted in the previous 2 years.
Another interesting point of the report was that the companies using inbound lead generation methods found that prospects were more likely to become customers than those generated via outbound methods. Inbound had nearly five times more potential of becoming customers than outbound leads (9% vs. 2%).
Because mobile has increased substantially over the past couple of years, it makes sense that inbound marketing is becoming the “norm”.
Mix Up Your Lead Generation Methods
It may be a mistake to totally abandon outbound marketing though. It’s possible that a small business will benefit by adopting a combination of outbound and inbound, but, the most emphasis needs to be on the inbound method.For example, a B2B marketer may find that online banner ads offering free high-value information can be effective in generating traffic to a website or Facebook page, or that making outbound calls to invite a select group of prospects to a webinar results in higher overall attendance. Notice that these two examples are really an effective
Let’s look at the example of a B2B marketer using online banner ads. These ads may offer free high-value information and be effective in generating traffic to a website or Facebook page. Subsequently, making outbound calls inviting a select group of prospects to a webinar can result in higher attendance. This is an effective way to take advantage of both outbound and inbound techniques.
Find Your Best Lead Generation Marketing Method
Whatever you do, it’s important to find out the best methods for your product or service, which is based on your target audience, offer, and all the creative elements needed. A key part of this whole equation is to understand how your audience absorbs information.
A good system for you could be establishing a solid inbound lead generation program and support it by the selective use of outbound methods too. Make sure that, whatever you do, you test things in order to compare the quality of leads generated from each of the methods. Also, make sure you isolate them so you can accurately get the best results from your testing.
It’s possible that outbound will be more appropriate in certain situations, but with the shift in market conditions is any indication, it’s likely that inbound methods are more cost-effective and productive. I believe in the long term inbound will be the mainstay of your lead generation program.