Outbound Vs Inbound Lead Generation – Here’s The Difference

Outbound Vs Inbound Lead Generation – Here’s The Difference

What is the difference between inbound and outbound lead generation? 

That’s what we’re discussing in this article. 

We’ll explain the main differences between inbound and outbound lead generation as well as discuss the pros and cons of each. 

Then we’ll share the top inbound and outbound lead generation strategies available to marketers and entrepreneurs right now, along with some resources to get started. 

To close, we’ll help you find the balance between inbound and outbound lead generation in your own business.

Let’s dive in!

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What’s The Difference Between Inbound & Outbound Lead Generation? 

What’s The Difference Between Inbound & Outbound Lead Generation?

Inbound lead generation is all about attracting strangers and turning them into leads through things like SEO, content marketing, and social media. Once these strangers become leads, you then nurture them until they’re ready to buy from you.

Outbound lead generation is the opposite. It’s about going out and finding people who might be interested in what you have to offer, then reaching out to them and trying to get them to convert into leads or customers.

The main difference between inbound and outbound lead generation is who initiates contact. With inbound lead generation, the stranger initiates contact with you (usually by coming to your website or social media profile through a search engine). With outbound lead generation, you initiate contact with the stranger (usually through things like advertisements, direct mail, or cold emailing). 

Let’s talk about these differences in a little more detail — specifically, about how they impact engagement, cost, and longevity. 

Engagement

Inbound lead generation and outbound lead generation create different levels of engagement.

With inbound lead generation, people are coming to you — and they’re coming to you in a moment where they are looking for whatever it is you’re offering. 

If I type in “best shoes for running” and click on the first organic result, that would be an example of inbound traffic. 

Engagement

Naturally, this type of traffic is more engaged and motivated. 

With outbound lead generation, you’re trying to create interest in people while they’re in the middle of doing something else — Facebook ads are a great example.

As a rule, outbound traffic is less engaged than inbound traffic. 

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use inbound lead generation… but it doesn’t have an impact on how you should use it. And we’ll talk more about the balance you want to strike at the end of this article.

Cost

Inbound lead generation is free. Or, at least, it can be. 

You don’t need to pay for inbound traffic — it comes to you through things like SEO and social media (although there are paid ways to accelerate the process). 

Outbound lead generation usually costs money. You’re buying ads, direct mail lists, or cold email lists. And when you stop paying, the lead stop flowing.

Longevity

Inbound lead generation takes time. 

You’re building an asset (usually a website with SEO juice, a social media profile with many followers, or an email list with lots of subscribers) that will pay dividends for years to come. But upfront, it’s usually pretty slow-going. 

Outbound lead generation is more immediate. 

You can “turn on” your advertisements and generate leads right away. But once you stop paying for the ads, direct mail, or email lists… those leads will dry up pretty quickly.

Pros & Cons of Inbound Lead Generation

Now that we’ve gone over the main differences between inbound and outbound lead generation, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each. 

Let’s start with inbound lead generation.

The Pros of Inbound Lead Generation

  1. Inbound lead generation is usually cheaper than outbound lead generation. 
  2. Inbound lead generation is more sustainable in the long term. 
  3. Inbound lead generation often leads to higher-quality traffic (people who are further down the buyer’s journey and thus more likely to convert).

The Cons of Inbound Lead Generation

  1. Inbound lead generation takes time to get started. 
  2. Inbound lead generation can be difficult to scale. 
  3. You need a lot of traffic for inbound lead generation to work well (although you can use things like conversion rate optimization to make the most of the traffic you do have). 

Pros & Cons of Outbound Lead Generation

Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of outbound lead generation.

The Pros of Outbound Lead Generation

  1. Outbound lead generation can be turned on quickly. 
  2. Outbound lead generation is easier to scale than inbound lead generation. 
  3. Outbound lead generation can work well even with low traffic levels.

The Cons of Outbound Lead Generation

  1. Outbound lead generation is usually more expensive than inbound lead generation. 
  2. Outbound lead generation is less sustainable in the long term. 
  3. Outbound lead generation often leads to lower-quality traffic (people who are less engaged and thus less likely to convert).

3 Top Inbound Lead Generation Tactics Right Now

Now that we’ve gone over the pros and cons of inbound and outbound lead generation, let’s take a look at some of the best inbound lead generation tactics you can use right now.

1. SEO

Top Inbound Lead Generation Tactics Right Now, SEO

If you want to generate leads from inbound traffic, one of the best ways to do it is with SEO. 

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” 

In a nutshell, it’s the process of making your website and content more visible in Google’s search results. 

The better you optimize your site for SEO, the higher you’ll rank in the search results… and the more traffic (and leads) you’ll get. 

Learn more about SEO here

2. Content Marketing

Top Inbound Lead Generation Tactics Right Now, Content Marketing

Content marketing is a type of inbound marketing that involves creating useful, informative content (like blog posts, ebooks, and email courses) and then using that content to attract and convert leads. 

This includes things like SEO (which we just talked about), as well as promoting your content on social media, email, and other channels.

Learn more about content marketing here.

3. Social Media Marketing

Top Inbound Lead Generation Tactics Right Now, Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is another form of inbound marketing. 

It involves creating helpful, engaging content and then sharing that content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

This helps you attract traffic and leads from those social media platforms.

Learn more about social media marketing here

3 Top Outbound Lead Generation Tactics Right Now

Now let’s check out some of the best outbound lead generation tactics right now.

1. Google Ads

Top Outbound Lead Generation Tactics Right Now, Google Ads

Google Ads is a form of outbound marketing (with wonderful elements of inbound marketing) that allows you to place ads on Google’s search results pages. 

When someone searches for a keyword that you’re targeting, your ad will show up in the search results.

If they click on your ad, they’ll be taken to your website… and you’ll pay Google a fee for sending them there. 

Learn more about Google Ads over here

2. Facebook Ads

Top Outbound Lead Generation Tactics Right Now, Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads is another form of outbound marketing that allows you to place ads on Facebook. 

Much like Google Ads, you can target people based on things like their interests, demographics, and behavior. 

When someone sees your ad, they can click on it and be taken to your website.

Learn more about Facebook Ads over here

3. LinkedIn Ads

Top Outbound Lead Generation Tactics Right Now, LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn Ads is yet another form of outbound marketing that allows you to place ads on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn Ads is similar to both Google Ads and Facebook Ads, but it’s specifically designed for B2B businesses. 

This means that you can target your ads to people based on things like their job title, company size, and even their specific skills.

Learn more about LinkedIn Ads over here

Finding The Balance Between Inbound Lead Generation & Outbound Lead Generation

So, what’s the best way to generate leads? 

Should you focus on inbound lead generation or outbound lead generation? 

The answer is: that you should focus on both. 

And you don’t have to take our word for it. According to surveys from Demand Metric, marketers believe inbound and outbound tactics work very well together.

Finding The Balance Between Inbound Lead Generation & Outbound Lead Generation, Marketing Tactics Chart

Use outbound lead generation to create lead flow immediately — set your budget and spend the same amount every month to keep growing.

At the same time, while you’re spending money on outbound lead generation methods… work on building inbound lead generation assets that will lift up your business for years to come, but don’t expect immediate results.

In the beginning, you’ll depend more on outbound lead generation. But down the road, if you invest in inbound marketing methods, you’ll be able to depend more on the assets you’ve built (email list, social media followings, SEO, etc.) than the advertisements you run.

Final Thoughts

There you have it: a quick overview of inbound vs outbound lead generation, as well as three top inbound and three top outbound lead generation tactics you can use right now. 

Remember, the best way to generate leads is to focus on both inbound and outbound lead generation methods. 

This will help you create a steady flow of leads now as well as build an asset for longevity and future lead generation. 

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