Inbound vs Outbound: What Works Best for B2B Marketing?
When evaluating an overall B2B marketing strategy, it’s critical to include activities and campaigns that will enable you to meet your goals and objectives. A common question we hear is: Inbound vs. Outbound campaigns – which work best for generating leads?
Although there are several exceptions, in our experience working with a variety of B2B companies, inbound marketing efforts work best for producing qualified leads that are near the conversion/closing stage. Let’s take a look at why this is (and why outbound marketing is also valuable).
Inbound Leads: Intent
Leads generated through inbound B2B marketing efforts often have demonstrated buying intent. In other words, they are looking for the products or services the company is selling or offering. Particularly in the case of inbound organic leads, where the user performed a search around a set of high-intent terms, the user is in the market for the goods or services they are searching for online. When a prospect is searching for what your company offers, you want to be sure you make it easy for them to find you and get to your website.
Inbound Leads: Effort
In terms of online research, evaluation, and browsing, you may not think it takes much effort for a prospect to get in touch with your firm. However, it does. Think about all the distractions, duties, projects, emails, presentations, webinars, and phone calls you have to deal with or manage on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. It’s kind of a miracle that professionals are able to seek out and find new vendors at all. There is so much virtual noise.
An inbound lead, whether it came via organic search, an email newsletter, or a retargeting ad, has made an effort to click on your B2B marketing campaign and navigate back to your website. Right there, they have put out an effort. If they go through the process of finding and completing a form = more effort! The inbound lead has invested effort into contacting your company, which means they are a valuable lead and ready to talk to your sales team.
Inbound Leads: It’s Their Idea
It’s human nature. We want it to be our idea. Think about it, when is the last time you accepted a cold call from a potential vendor looking to sell you something, even if it was something you were interested in? It’s likely been a while. However, when you need something, your first inclination is to do some research. Even if the company that cold-called you is a possible vendor, you likely search out the alternatives. Right?
Inbound B2B marketing enables you to put your company’s products and services in front of the right audience, but also makes it the prospect’s choice to get in touch. As I mentioned before, to actually make contact, they need to show intent and put out effort, so it’s their idea.
Outbound Marketing: Still Relevant & Complementary
While we are champions for inbound campaigns for B2B marketing strategies, we don’t think outbound marketing campaigns are dead. In fact, outbound efforts have some great applications.
Direct mail is a great way to reach a highly-targeted list of potential prospects in a target market. Cold calling can start to build interest in a new product launch or service offering, although the lead conversion metrics will typically be low. Advertisements in industry magazines are a great way to build up brand awareness and establish credibility.
Overall, outbound marketing for B2B companies can be a great way to build brand awareness and fill the top of the sales funnel. The leads will likely be lukewarm and may take longer to convert, especially if they are locked in a vendor contract or need to procure a budget allocation.
Conclusion: Focus on Inbound
Rather than sound wishy-washy, we are taking a firm stand that inbound B2B marketing provides results in terms of generating qualified leads. If your company has limited resources, budget, or focus, inbound marketing is the best strategy. It takes time to implement and start garnering results, but the results it drives are often worth the wait.