Every marketing team is chasing more leads. And if you’re in marketing, understanding the best ways to acquire new leads is one of the tried-and-true ways to keep growing.
But not all strategies have equal outcomes. Today, sales and marketing can’t remain separate departments with little or no collaboration. Successful brands know they need the two teams to work together to hit sales and lead goals.
If you’re a marketer under pressure to start generating more leads, check out the strategies we offer below. They just might be what you’re looking for to turn your results around.
Put simply, inbound is about bringing leads in as they discover you. Meanwhile, outbound means you’re making an effort to reach the leads yourself.
For example, inbound would attract leads through content about the prospect’s interest, like blog content or reports. An outbound strategy might involve sending emails to connect with decision-makers at key companies.
Inbound is a much newer strategy that has grown mostly in the digital marketing field. Inbound marketers typically have less direct content with prospects than those running outbound marketing.
An inbound approach gets a potential customer to come to you.
Here are some of the most effective ways to get inbound to work for you and start generating high-quality leads.
Content marketing is creating media assets to attract or educate leads.
Different types of content work at different stages in the lead generation funnel. For example, marketers believe blog posts are most effective at the top of the funnel, while white papers or ebooks work best at the bottom of the funnel.
There are a few ways to generate leads through inbound marketing content. One of the most popular is SEO. Content optimized for search engines and your readers can rank well on Google and bring traffic to your most important pages.
When a prospect searches for an answer to a problem, they’ll come across your content. HubSpot is one of the most successful brands at this inbound marketing strategy, with millions of monthly visitors coming in through Google or other search engines.
Inbound marketing assets other than blogs may include:
- Personalized quizzes or assessments. You may remember the days of taking Buzzfeed quizzes to find out which house you’d belong to in Hogwarts. Some B2B brands applied this formula to their content and have been able to lower their cost per lead by as much as 25%.
- Infographics. It’s becoming increasingly common to repackage blog content into neatly designed infographics that capture the readers’ attention and also act as backlink magnets. Here is a simple-to-use infographic maker so you can get started repurposing your written content.
- Video marketing. Speaking of repackaging, your blogs can also be repackaged in video form if you have the proper equipment and expertise. A staggering 68% of consumers prefer watching videos to learn more about a product or service.
- Surveys. One of the best ways to gather original data from your audience and repackage it into lead gen content is by running an online survey. Just be sure you ask the right questions to extract the right insight your audience would actually care about.
If your content marketing speaks to your audience, you can build a following of readers who eagerly read the content you publish, referred to as brand advocates. An engaged reader one day may become an inbound lead the next.
An expert at this type of engagement content is Buffer, with their “Open” culture blog. While Buffer’s content certainly attracts search engine traffic, much of its audience is made up of loyal readers.
To improve the effectiveness of content marketing, include great in-line calls to actions that get readers to move to the next step in your funnel as they read. You may need to tap your copywriters for this.
You likely won’t get a reader to buy your product or service while reading an article. But you can get them to agree to keep getting information about your brand—for example, through your email newsletter.
Email is a powerful inbound strategy and one of the most effective at keeping prospects engaged. In fact, 89% of marketers list email as their primary channel for lead generation. You can use the power of email to build hype and generate demand.
One benefit is that email can be more personalized than content, meaning you can nurture and build relationships in ways that aren’t possible with articles or whitepapers.
For example, this invitation email from Dropbox is designed to convert a subscriber to a user of DropboxPaper.
Emails like this can be deceptively simple. A basic “Get Started” button can be all it takes to turn a passive email subscriber into a warm lead eager to talk to a sales rep.
PPC blends ideas from outbound and inbound tactics but falls on the inbound side.
Like an outbound strategy, PPC ads on search engines like Google use paid advertising to reach prospects. But there’s a big difference—PPC reaches customers in a channel they’re already familiar with, as they search for the type of solutions you’re offering.
Search ads are a great way to get directly in front of your ideal customer profile (ICP) on Google. PPC is also a faster way to reach your target audience than building up organic reach with SEO.
You can also use social media ads on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. By creating ads with the type of content your ICP is looking for, you can attract them to engage even more with your brand.
As you build out additional inbound sales strategies, it’s a good idea to keep them connected.
Larger businesses are far more likely than medium-size businesses to coordinate inbound marketing across different channels. Meanwhile, medium-sized businesses tend to use a variety of separate lead generation tactics.
Another type of paid advertisement that can be considered inbound is retargeted ads.
Retargeting ads, like email marketing, can be a great way to continue the relationship with a prospect, even when they might forget about you otherwise.
Through their previous behavior around the web, a prospect has let you know they’re interested. You can continue with a retargeted marketing campaign designed to generate more inbound sales by continuing the messaging.
While the inbound methodology attracts customers by reaching them where they are, outbound lead generation comes from more traditional marketing—truly generating demand from prospects who weren’t already investigating the problem.
An outbound marketer will engage with prospects directly.
Account-based marketing, or ABM, is based on a simple sales strategy. Instead of focusing on prospects by interest or demographic profile, what if you targeted potential leads based on whether their company was a good fit?
ABM focuses on identifying accounts that match the ideal customers you’d like to acquire, then targeting key stakeholders with personalized content and messaging. This more personalized approach focuses on individual decision-makers rather than the business as a whole.
ABM is one of the most popular outbound marketing techniques. According to a survey of tech marketers, 57% are more focused on ABM due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While “marketing” is in the name, ABM borrows concepts from outbound sales. Many of the same strategies top salespeople use, such as lead qualification and personalization, will also work with ABM.
The modern incarnation of direct mail sales letters from previous generations, cold email is a great way to get in front of prospects and convince them of what you’re selling.
But while cold email is easy to understand, it’s much harder to master. The problem is that it’s increasingly difficult to gain traction above the noise of newsletters, spam, and even other cold emails. Consider some of the top copywriting tips and best practices to make your cold email outreach stand out from the rest.
All this said, cold email is one of the most effective techniques in outbound marketing to communicate with ideal B2B buyers directly. If you’re still building an email list but sparse for email addresses, consider Voila Norbert for locating new prospects.
Voila Norbert has up to a 98% success rate at locating accurate email addresses you can contact right away. In fact, it was recently named the most accurate email finder by Ahrefs.
Like cold email, cold calling is a time-tested method for generating leads.
While it’s one of the older and more traditional outbound marketing tactics, the direct personal connection you can build with an interested prospect over the phone is powerful. And unlike sending email, making a cold call is a personal interaction that can even lead to closing a sale.
Today, cold calling is even easier with a remote workforce. With a business phone system, employees can make calls more efficiently in the office, at home, or on the go. These systems can even route calls to a virtual phone number separate from your personal line.
Since the explosion of remote work since the pandemic, in-person meetings and conferences may feel like a thing of the past. But they’re still a great opportunity for outbound lead generation. In fact, they’re even more effective than outbound calls.
In-person networking is a great way to manage ABM and build relationships with important leads across all kinds of outbound marketing. Conferences are an especially good way to meet potential buyers if you’re willing to take time to network.
The downside to the in-person method is that it requires a lot of time, effort, and attention. It’s also not virtual, which can be a challenge when prospecting customers across the country or the globe.
If you’re trying to decide which of these is best for your company, it’ll help to compare the two side-by-side. Here are the pros and cons of these two different methods.
An inbound sales strategy has several benefits for your team. They include:
- Brand building. When you run the kind of campaigns common with inbound lead generation, you acquire leads and build brand awareness. Even if they don’t buy from you today, businesses that come to know your brand may purchase down the road.
- Thought-leadership building. Your content isn’t just for acquiring leads. You’re also sharing valuable opinions and perspectives that build up a following.
- Organic, ad-free reach. When you spend ads, the benefits end as soon as the ads stop running. But with a marketing strategy built around evergreen content or email marketing, you can continue reaping the rewards of an existing audience.
But the benefits don’t come without some disadvantages, such as:
- Longer timeframe. A lead who answers a sales call might be ready to buy today. But someone who reads an article might not consider purchasing for months or even years. Inbound sales require patience.
- Attribution challenges. When you combine more than one inbound marketing tactic, it can be difficult to know which is performing best. Was it the PPC ad a prospect clicked on, the article they read, or the email drip campaign that secured the sale? Perhaps all of the above. Consider a campaign management tool for more accurate tracking.
- Less targeted. Inbound methods, by definition, mean attracting leads to you. But often, the leads you attract aren’t your ideal customers. If you’re not careful, inbound can bring you quantity but not quality.
On the other side of the table, outbound tactics provide some benefits you won’t see with a purely inbound strategy:
- Reach ICP quicker. Cold calls, emails, and other outbound methods get in touch with your prospect fast. You can begin talking to outbound leads the day you start.
- Better targeting control. With outbound marketing tactics, you can quickly narrow down your ideal customer profile and reach those leads—while avoiding others. With outbound strategies, you can fill your pipeline with only ideal prospects.
- Easier to close. Generally speaking, a lead who’s moved through your outbound funnel is a high-quality prospect who’s interested in buying. The sales process can be much faster.
But outbound strategy also comes with these disadvantages:
- More time-intensive. Not every outbound marketing technique takes longer, but expect to spend more time in general on outbound than inbound—especially if you’re not able to automate.
- More budget-intensive. Plan on spending more on outbound strategies. That’s because highly targeted campaigns are more expensive, not to mention the fact that you’ll need to pay for the extra hours required.
- Intrusive campaigns. If you’re in charge of cold calls or cold emails, you’ll need thick skin. Prospects often see outbound methods as intrusive and irritating, or worse.
The marketing tactics you decide to use at your business depend on the industry, budget, timeframe, and type of customer you’re looking to attract.
Inbound lead generation is a strong method if you’re looking for prospects who are already interested in what you’re selling and come to you with a high degree of trust. Inbound methods may also be best for businesses with small budgets or long timeframes.
Outbound lead generation is more direct, which makes it a faster way to find leads. It works best with high-ticket prospects since you can target only ideal customers from the outset. If you need a focused group of prospects as soon as possible, outbound is for you.
Ultimately, the methods you choose depend on your business and the factors that matter most to you and your team.