Inbound vs. Outbound Lead Generation Techniques

January 30, 2014 / by Vicky Zancanella

lead generation techniquesSo we have had people ask, “What’s that Inbound Marketing thing you are doing?” and, “What’s the difference between inbound marketing and traditional marketing lead generation techniques?”

Well, let’s start at the very beginning. Start with thinking about what the general goal is for using sales lead generation techniques. The goal is basically to reach the person who has the authority to make a purchase from your company with the information necessary to make that purchase.

Traditionally it takes 6 to 8 “touches” with a contact to make a sale. For some industries this number may be lower and for others it is higher. Depending on the industry, the lead nurturing process can be very quick or it can take a long time to build up to the actual sale. But basically, most businesses need multiple points of contact with a lead before they commit to making a purchase or signing a contract.

For small businesses these are important factors to keep in mind and depending on your industry, your lead generation techniques may vary a bit, but at the core you really have two categories of lead generation techniques: outbound marketing techniques and inbound marketing techniques.

Outbound techniques are those in your company’s marketing strategy that are based on reaching OUT and getting people's attention whether they are looking for your company or not. Sometimes this is also called interruptive marketing.

Inbound techniques are those that are based on drawing IN people who are looking for you (or what you provide, the solutions your company has, the products you sell, etc.)

Some people may look at Outbound Marketing as “traditional marketing” and Inbound Marketing as “internet marketing.” Although, this is not a definitive comparison maybe it will help you distinguish between the two. Keep in mind that there are many outbound marketing techniques being used on the internet so it is not a clear cut division. Here are a few examples of techniques used in each category.

Traditional Outbound Lead Generation Techniques:

lead generationCold calling-outbound calls

Print advertising

Mass mailings

Broadcast media

Trade Shows


Door to Door

Word of mouth


Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Techniques:

Internet marketing: website, blog, landing pages, calls-to-action

Search Engine Optimization

Online Events: webinars, podcasts

Social Media

Email Nurturing

Receiving inbound phone calls/website form submissions

Content Creation- eBooks, blog articles, whitepapers


Gone are the days of using mass marketing and gone are the days of your sales team holding all the product information and doling it out to leads trying to persuade them to do business with you. Gone are the days of a seller’s market.

We are now in the days of the buyer’s market. Your leads are coming already having done their research. They are searching for answers on their own and finding them. If your business doesn’t have an active online presence, they are probably not finding their answers from your company. Odds are they are finding their answers from your competitor who has a strong online presence. Your competitor is not only answering their questions, but they are also suggesting their brand’s solution (some are doing this without ever meeting the lead face to face!)

Here are the days of capturing your leads' attention when they are actively seeking solutions. Here are the days when your company can be seen as the expert. And not just the expert, but a company that is focused on how to help their customers and provide the best possible solutions and meet their needs.

By using Inbound Marketing lead generation techniques, you are:

    • positioning your company to be found
    • capturing interested leads
    • providing relevant content when you are found
    • nurturing relationships
    • giving away expert information and advice
    • providing free content, education and information
    • sharing solutions to leads’ questions or problems
    • allowing leads to learn more about your company and who you are


This is not to say that traditional lead generation techniques can’t or don’t do these same things. The personal touch and building relationships are at the core of inbound marketing and there is a place for traditional marketing campaigns, but the time and money that is needed to get the same results as inbound marketing are much greater. Scroll through these inbound marketing stats if you like that sort of thing.

What lead generation techniques have you found to be effective in your industry? What outbound marketing are you currently doing? What types of inbound marketing are you currently doing? We would love to hear your comments on this topic.

Want to know more about Inbound Marketing and lead generation techniques?  Check out other articles or contact us. We love sharing about what we have learned!


Related Articles:

Internet Marketing Tips: Can Inbound Marketing Be a Mentality?

An Intern’s Perspective on the Differences Between Outbound and Inbound Marketing

Internet Marketing Tips | Tricks and Treats for Your Inbound Strategy

Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing

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