Inbound vs Outbound Lead Generation (A Comparison of their Differences)

inbound leads vs outbound leads

There are two main ways to generate leads for your business: inbound and outbound. In this post, we’ll compare the two methods and discuss the pros and cons of each. By understanding the differences between inbound vs outbound lead generation, you can choose the method that is best suited for your business. Let’s get started!

The way businesses and lead gen experts used to generate leads a decade ago has become obsolete now. Since consumers are becoming more critical of their purchase decision, the way you need to approach them has gone through significant evolutionary changes.

Customers now conduct most of their product research and brand selection online and on their own. Your prospects are no longer being manipulated by catchy advertisements, spam emails, and cold calls to make a final decision. It comes amidst a downfall in the impact of mainstream outbound lead generation practices.

The mainstream practices to engage prospects are replaced by inbound lead generation strategies that have been introduced to align better with customers’ behavior and produce promising outcomes.

What is inbound lead generation?

inbound lead generation

Inbound lead generation strategy involves the production and optimization of content or campaigns that attract prospects to the business website and nurture them.

By incorporating brand awareness strategies like improved ranking in search engine results and dominating presence on social media, you start attracting prospects. The lead generation process starts by offering informative and compelling content to engage prospects in information exchange. The most essential information about your prospects is their contact information to begin a lead nurturing process.

Inbound lead generation enables prospects to control the duration and medium of the engagement. It also allows prospects to decide whether to exchange their information or not. You provide valuable content like eBooks, testimonials, newsletters, etc to the prospects in exchange for their information. By offering informative content you ensure a trustworthy relationship with the prospect and start nurturing them to make them sales-ready.

Inbound lead gen strategies are geared towards helping the prospects, not selling. The sales objective is indirectly acquired by converting prospects into customers.

Consider inbound marketing as different types of content modules that keep nurturing prospects and leading them to the bottom of the lead generation sales funnel.

Businesses that serve customers in discovering, evaluating, and solving problems to make rational purchase decisions, are more likely to engage potential customers earlier than competitors. To ensure trust and credibility is mandatory to drive engagement with more prospects.

Inbound lead gen strategies heavily rely on search engines & social media platforms like Facebook lead ads and Instagram (mostly for B2C businesses) and LinkedIn lead generation for B2B Businesses.

What are inbound leads?

The inbound lead includes the prospect who’s been attracted to your lead magnet and converts as a result of your brand awareness or inbound lead gen campaign. Your prospects would be considered inbound leads if they interact with your business or website by:

  1. Downloading an eBook, case study or purchase guide, etc.
  2. Call your sales representative after going through your pillar pages
  3. Register for a consultation or demo after attending a webinar session
  4. Fills in subscription from

Types of inbound marketing activities

There are several impactful practices that fuel the purpose of Inbound lead generation, such as:

  1. Content marketing for lead generation
  2. Search Engine Optimization
  3. Lead nurture campaigns
  4. Webinar sessions

According to a study content marketing can generate 3x the more leads than outbound strategies. And if you want the similar results check out our lead generation services to generate results at a half the cost.

What is outbound lead generation?

outbound lead generation

Outbound lead generation activities involve sending a series of emails or making cold calls to a particular audience in your niche, irrespective of whether they are interested in receiving such engagements or not. In such a setup, it’s a marketer, not the prospect, who decides the time and medium of the interaction. That’s why the term interruption marketing is devised for outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing practices focus on direct selling or offering your products to prospects. A totally different and blunt approach compared to its inbound counterpart.

What are outbound leads?

Outbound leads are the prospects (mostly B2B) that have been approached by your sales team via any outbound medium like email or cold call and agree to communicate with your sales representative.

Types of outbound marketing activities

Depending on their particular purpose, most of the outbound marketing practices are considered practical in B2B lead generation, such as:

  1. Email outreach
  2. Cold calling
  3. Mainstream advertisement (via billboards or print media)

Inbound vs Outbound Lead Generation – Differences & Conflicts

outbound vs inbound lead generation

Apart from different marketing tactics and methodologies that differentiate Inbound vs. Outbound marketing, some other notable differences include:

1. Driver of engagement – Outbound vs inbound lead generation

As we’ve already discussed some basic differentiating factors between the inbound vs outbound lead generation such as the person in control of the timing and medium of engagement throughout the buyer’s journey.

In an inbound lead generation strategy, the lead gen experts enable potential customers to choose the medium and time of engagement. They allow the audience to decide the right time and medium of engagement to consume valuable content and information. The reason for inbound marketing is to drive sales by knowledge sharing and a customer-centric approach.

Outbound lead generation, on the other hand, limits the prospects from deciding the time or medium of advertisements, direct calls, or email outreaches. It offers almost no value, knowledge, or care for the prospects or their privacy.

2. Long-time value generation – Which is better inbound vs outbound

Inbound marketing also offers a long-term value compared to outbound strategies. For instance, by creating an evergreen lead magnet such as an eBook, you can attract and convert leads long after it was first published. It offers a significant boost in ROI for each marketing campaign. The same rule applies to blog posts, podcasts, or purchase guides.

Outbound campaigns are generally finite due to their significant burden on the overall marketing budget. Once the campaign ends, most of the mediums you’ve created for engagement become void.

3. Burden of Budget – Inbound vs outbound lead generation

As we have discussed above, inbound lead generation activities generally possess lower costs and produce fruitful results for a prolonged duration. By attracting high-value prospects, you are basically earning the traffic not buying. So there’s no significant expenditure in generating leads.

The cost of an average outbound lead generation campaign is higher because of the relatively expensive marketing mediums such as advertising or cold calling. Additionally, the higher probability of risk comes amidst an additional responsibility of risk management. Obviously, no one wants to invest in a devastating outbound lead generation campaign.

This is not the case with inbound lead generation, as the cost per lead continues to reduce as your brand grows organically and attracts more prospects with the passage of time. Whereas, the cost per lead of an outbound lead generation campaign remains the same. Sometimes, you end up expending even more if you start making irrational decisions.


When we compare inbound versus outbound lead generation strategies, it seems like the outbound lead generation strategy is a rotten tomato. But that’s not the case. Outbound lead generation practices still have a notable potential for B2B marketing and sales campaigns. But the better ROI and more organic growth make inbound lead generation an eye-candy for most of the B2B and B2C businesses.

You can use a combo of both inbound and outbound lead generation strategies to strengthen the top and bottom of your B2B sales funnel.

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