Inbound Vs. Outbound–An Ongoing Debate


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But what do B2B Marketers Really Need for Sales Funnel Optimization?

balanceBALANCE. A simple, one-word answer to the question.

Just like the classic “which came first, the chicken or the egg” question, the debate over “which works better, inbound or outbound marketing” rages on. Now with the chicken and the egg, it really doesn’t matter what answer you choose. In fact, I would say, as long as they are both made of chocolate, who cares? (I’m still “high” on all the chocolate eggs, marshmallow chicks and fudgy bunnies from this past Easter weekend.)

I really have no problem with individuals favouring one form of marketing over the other. After all, whatever works for your organization is what makes sense for you to do. What I do have a problem with is people choosing to place all their eggs—chocolate or not—in one basket. That’s just too risky and cannot be an optimal use of your marketing resources and dollars. It also irks me to see how naive some “experts” can be to label the “Outbound Marketer” as “old” versus the “Inbound Marketer” as “new”. That’s what this Infographic is doing:

Without any effort to distinguish between B2B and B2B marketing, studies and commentaries like the one above offer misleading information such as:

  • “The cost per lead in outbound marketing is more than for inbound marketing”
  • “The cost per lead in inbound marketing is not only less, it delivers greater ROI”
  • “Outbound marketer provides little to no value”
  • “Outbound marketer rarely seeks to entertain or educate”
  • “Outbound marketing communication is one-way”

This is just hogwash!

Recognize that B2B and B2C are Different Worlds with Different Needs

As I’ve said in a recent post, cost per web visit or cost per inquiry is NOT the same as cost per lead. Engagement mechanisms in B2B marketing are unique, conversion engines are different and the sales cycle is longer as well as definitely more complex. When making such sweeping and judgemental statements, commentators overlook the fact that lead qualification in a B2B market is a very different process from what happens in a B2C transaction-based world. From a B2B perspective, we are talking about more structural sales in nature, so you need a strong customer-centric relationship.

Once you recognize these differences, the next step is to devise a sound strategy that incorporates both outbound and inbound marketing; even if you choose to call it a mix of “old” and “new”. I’m a firm believer that “old is gold”. Think about it—as a B2B marketer, would you rather get a new Facebook fan or get a new email subscriber? Which one is closer to being a qualified lead? It is stupid, in my opinion, to just say outbound is the method of the past—it is all about finding the right balance.

You need a combination of inbound and outbound. I would like to see studies and Infographics that review the percentage of inbound Vs. outbound and the resulting impact on ROI in the B2B marketplace.

It’s an undeniable fact that the power of social media (“new” marketing) has changed the rules of interaction between the consumer and the supplier. BUT, it is equally true that we still need outbound due to the clutter factor. Let’s face it; in the B2B space the noise factor is very high, especially in social media. It is no longer a world where we are striving for knowledge. Instead, we are bombarded with so much information that we are desperately seeking wisdom. So you need strategic outbound solutions to engage and convert the clients you want; your ideal clients.

With these factors in mind, ALEA has prepared and is soon releasing the Demand Generation Playbook. Watch my blog for your sneak peek this week!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


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