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Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: Which Is Right For Your B2B?

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: Which Is Right For Your B2B?

The phrase “Inbound Marketing” entered the business lexicon less than a decade ago, but its guiding principals have already had a profound impact on the way businesses promote themselves and attract new customers. The term, credited to HubSpot’s Brian Halligan, has gained traction and prominence as the Internet and social media have become a bigger and bigger part of our daily lives.

Conversely, more established, “outbound” marketing tactics have begun to fall out of favor with a prominent sector of marketing professionals.  Traditional marketing tactics such as television advertising, cold calling, and direct mailing have all been cited as less effective, and more costly, means of customer acquisition.  Some have gone so far as to derisively describe techniques such as these as “spray and pay” marketing.  In fact, one study found that “inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing.”

The B2B sphere, in particular, is tailored towards taking advantage of the opportunities provided through inbound marketing.  Marketing materials such as landing pages, a company blog, and whitepapers are all relatively inexpensive to implement and develop.  For startups and businesses with lean marketing budgets, they can be a low-risk, high-reward endeavor, especially when compared to purchasing print, billboard, or other more conventional advertising.

While statistics and reactions such as these may be surprising, especially since outbound marketing is what many professionals built their careers on, they do not mean that outbound is without value.  If your company has had past success with outbound methods and they are still generating new customers, there is no reason to stop.

However, I do believe that ignoring current inbound trends, such as blogging or social media activity, will prove to be shortsighted.  A recent survey of business buyers found that 81% begin addressing business challenges and purchases through a general web search. While it is possible you may hit the lottery and get a buyer to pick up the phone for your cold call, or read your mass-mailed brochure, these are not the baskets modern marketers should be putting the majority of their eggs in.


What do you think? Is outbound marketing becoming obsolete, or is there still value in the B2B space for more traditional techniques? Is your marketing ROI considerably stronger after transitioning towards inbound?

3 Responses

  1. We are currently in a transition phase at the Palmer Advertising agency and applying a much more aggressive inbound marketing strategy. However, we have found that with some of our target markets, traditional outbound marketing practices still work best. I think it’s key to asses your buyer personas and know how to best balance inbound and outbound marketing practices.

  2. Its actually about a balanced mix based on your market position and the product or service you offer.

  3. There should be a balance between inbound and outbound marketing. It is not enough that businesses focus on one strategy only. Both need each other to get the most out of your marketing campaign.

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