Inbound vs outbound marketing is the wrong question


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AllboundInbound marketing can be both highly effective and highly inefficient. If you’re relying on inbound marketing and leads only today, you will soon reach a point at which you can no longer effectively scale your business.

Why? Because as wonderful and cost-effective as inbound leads are, you have little control over the qualification of those leads. Yes, you can customize your content, triggers and lead registration assets to focus on a particular, designed customer segment. But the majority of the leads you generate will still likely not be ready for your sales team, be ready to buy, or even be the type of customer you want to sell to.

I recently worked with a company that was quite proud of the 1,000 free trial registrations they were generating per day. But when we did the math to filter on how many of those registrations represented qualified, in-profile customer prospects, the number was five. Only 5 of 1,000 trial registrations were sales-qualified leads.

Not only is that not nearly enough qualified lead volume to hit their sales numbers, but they were spending sales team time following up with all the rest of the leads as well. At best, it was a waste of the sales team’s team. At worst, they were signing up customers that were doomed to be unsuccessful and unhappy, churned customers from the very beginning.

On the other hand, purely outbound marketing doesn’t really scale either. If you’re constantly going after quick-win qualified leads, you’re effectively being charged a high premium on your marketing budget with no end in sight.

To fill your funnel purely with outbound marketing activities is expensive, stressful and more likely to frustrate prospects who simply aren’t ready to actively engage with you (but you and your inside sales team keep trying anyway).

If you start with the math, and understand the volume of qualified leads you need to create monthly or quarterly pipelines of sales opportunities to hit your number, you can then create a combined inbound and outbound marketing strategy that drives immediate pipeline contribution while setting the stage for higher volumes of qualified, inbound leads moving forward.

And of those inbound leads, create and deploy an active lead scoring program to separate out those not yet qualified (or not qualified at all) so that your sales team is focused only on the leads that really matter, that are motivated to learn more, and that are most likely to become happy, successful, long-term customers and evangelists for you.

It’s not inbound vs. outbound. It’s allbound.

The most effective B2B marketing programs in play today actively manage allbound campaigns and regularly balance tactics and execution on both sides, managing and triaging their efforts based on measurable campaign results and pipeline contribution.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


  1. It's not inbound vs. outbound. It's allbound.

    That’s one of the best lines ever. Stop drinking the Hubspot Kool-Aid and stop all that cold calling.

    Matt is right that a combination of inbound and outbound marketing is what really works.

    Jeff Ogden

  2. Thanks, Jeff.

    I’m actually a huge fan of Hubspot, and love that they’re championing inbound marketing so strongly. There’s no doubt it’s a critical part of world-class demand generation programs. It just often isn’t enough. I’m also still a fan of cold calling, as long as you are either responding to a customer pain or trigger event, or calling with some value for the prospect up front.

    But in the end, it’s a healthy mix of both that’s typically required to predictably and confidently fill your pipeline.


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