Inbound or Outbound Leads: Your Choice Matters

If you are trying to get more leads for your business, it can be confusing to know the difference between the main strategies that are available to you.

Mainly, how exactly inbound lead generation differs from its outbound counterpart.

Today we will be explaining to you the difference between the two, as well as why inbound marketing is the better choice for most businesses. We will also share some strategies and tools you can use to score more inbound leads for your business .

Inbound lead generation vs. outbound lead generation

Inbound lead generation is the process of getting people to come to your business or website through the use of targeted valuable content. It’s the beginning of a two-way relationship resulting in a sale. This is usually associated with content marketing in that you provide value before trying to sell your product or service.

There are a number of benefits to inbound marketing:

  • You become a credible source. This happens because you are educating your audience with informative content over time.
  • It improves your reach. Through the credibility built up with your content, people start discussing your brand. This naturally raises awareness of your business.
  • Makes sales easier. With inbound marketing you are already dealing with qualified leads more likely to be interested in your product or service. Given enough time, it’s therefore much easier to convince your leads to buy.
  • Saves you money. Inbound marketing is more cost-efficient and sustainable over the long term compared to outbound marketing.

Outbound lead generation is quite different. We can define it as the process of attracting visitors to your business or website by putting your messaging in front of people without them (directly) asking for it. This is usually associated with paid advertisements like Facebook ads or cold calling.

Though we find it less advantageous, outbound marketing can certainly work for a business. Here are some of its benefits.

  • Good for competitive or saturated industries. Sometimes it’s unrealistic to expect your content to rank. Prioritizing outbound would then make sense.
  • Reaches potential customers that aren’t actively searching for your product. If they are very high up in the funnel (unaware they have a problem, for example), outbound ads can push them towards interest and making a purchase. Plus, this article states , social media ads can be quite effective if your core audience is younger.
  • Much quicker than the “slow burn” of inbound marketing. Long-term content creation takes time. In comparison, outbound gives you a much quicker feedback loop on what is working and what isn’t.
  • You don’t have to be as aggressive as you think. For all the negative association that outbound receives, sometimes your strategy for lead generation can be as simple as using chat .

Still, even with these very real benefits of outbound, we prioritize inbound marketing at Userlike . We believe it is the best choice for most businesses for two main reasons.

First, inbound marketing is more likely to gain the trust of your audience over time. While this requires some groundwork of content creation and promotion, it brings one undeniable benefit: inbound leads are much easier to market to. The trust is already there. In comparison, outbound leads don’t know you, and are less likely to be receptive to your marketing.

Second, even if you mostly do outbound marketing for your business, you still need some inbound elements. For example, people will still likely research your website even after opting in to one of your ads.

Regardless, when thinking of inbound vs. outbound, it’s important to examine your own company. You need to think about which one makes more sense for your business and go from there. Of course, a mix is perfectly fine. In our case, even if we prioritize inbound marketing at Userlike, we still have numerous outbound channels running simultaneously.

6 tactics to generate more inbound leads

Prioritize your SEO

Search engine optimization is the secret sauce behind inbound lead generation. Fail here, and your subsequent efforts won’t matter much. While SEO can be a complicated topic, here are the main points you should focus on:

Magnifying glass

  • Use a keyword tool to research keywords and see top ranking posts. For this process we use Ahrefs at Userlike.
  • Determine your audience and what they're searching for, i.e. the other keywords they use in Google.
  • Incorporate these keywords into your content. Pay close attention to your headline, section headers and hyperlink text.

Check out our post on SEO lead generation for more information.

Research your audience to see the language they use

Understanding how your audience speaks isn’t just good for writing copy that resonates with your prospects . It also gives you valuable insight into the problems and concerns they most often mention. These are the topics you should be creating content about.

There are numerous ways to tackle audience research. Popular tactics include reading Amazon reviews and searching for keywords relevant to your business on Reddit to see what your audience is saying. However, for the quickest and most direct approach, why not just ask them directly?

Website chat

This is easily done with website chat . This tool is quicker than extensive research on other platforms, plus is a very low barrier way for your site visitor to give you feedback. In fact, website chat is Userlike’s bread and butter when it comes to audience research. Using the tool (and going over conversation transcripts afterwards) shows us what our audience’s most common questions are, who they are, as well as the kind of topics they request specific guidance on.

Once we have this information, our customer service team is able to provide spot on content suggestions to us in marketing. Live chat then creates a beneficial cycle for everyone: a natural understanding of your audience, a deeper understanding of their difficulties, and the catalyst of effective content creation to solve them.

Create dynamic content

Content creation is essential for generating inbound leads. But if you want to take your content game to the next level? That’s where dynamic content comes in. This is content that is slightly different depending on the type of visitor who lands on your website.

Examples might include:

  • Shopping suggestions based on the visitor’s search history.
  • Recommended blog posts based on the reader’s habits on your site.
  • Personalized restaurant recommendations based on the visitor’s geographic location.

Dynamic content’s effectiveness in charming inbound leads is all about relevance. With dynamic content, you step away from a “one size fits all” content strategy. Instead, your lead’s experience with the content you offer is personalized and unique to them. This does a much better job at convincing them to become a customer.

My book recommendations
My Amazon recommended reads. Love that email marketing + George Orwell combo.

Check out this useful guide for even more examples of dynamic content in action, or this article for some of the most useful plugins for creating a dynamic website.

Set up interactive lead magnets

Lead magnets are a fundamental part of generating leads through your website . That said, your website visitors are more likely to sign up if you offer something fun and exciting. That’s why we recommend interactive lead magnets.

Interactive lead magnets are those that require the active participation of your site visitor, like on-site calculators or visual tools. They are effective because they personalize the experience of your website visitor. This naturally provides them more value.

Good examples of interactive lead magnets are:

  • A calculator on an investment website showing you how much money you need to save per month to retire on time.
  • A tool on a marketing agency’s home page that measures your website’s SEO health.
  • A personalized meal planner on a health site that calculates your daily calories for different rates of weight loss.
Online meal planner
Everyday Health's meal planner.

If you want a lead magnet your site visitors are sure to love, you might also consider a quiz, which has high conversion rates . A quiz is not only valuable depending on the content you provide your visitor after completion, but it’s also fun to take. Check out Interact if you are looking to make one.

Segment your email audience

"The money is in the list."

Most business owners looking for more inbound leads probably already have an email list. It’s what they do with that list that is the ever important next step.

This next step is all about segmentation. Creating segments is like a miracle drug to your list’s responsiveness because your emails become much more relevant to your audience. In fact, email segmentation is much like dynamic content: personalized, unique to the reader and more likely to be of value to them.

Dart board

This is something we are taking more seriously at Userlike . We don’t just want you to sign up for our email list (although we’d love to have you!). We also want you to tell us what you are most interested in. This makes it easier to only send you the content you care most about.

Check out this excellent article for everything you need to know about email segmentation. As for the email service provider you should use? We prefer MailChimp at Userlike, although most similar tools likely come with segmentation options.

Expand your reach

Implementing the previous five tactics will start to bring in more inbound leads. However, there’s always a limit to the amount you can actually generate. While some of that comes down to simple market size (how many people are actually looking into Handerpants ?), a fair amount is also due to people simply not knowing you exist.

Think about it. Potential customers all have different online habits. They all have different platforms they frequent, as well as different content formats they prefer. If you really want to optimize your number of inbound leads, you have to get the word out.

This all comes down to expanding your reach. It might mean rethinking the type of content you produce, or considering a marketing strategy for a platform your company has never used before. At Userlike, for example, we are progressively putting more and more content onto platforms like Facebook and YouTube . We’ve realized that a lot of our audience is active on these sites, and we are happy to meet them where they spend the most amount of time.

On YouTube, we create content that appeals to other customer service professionals as a relevant way to promote our software.

Podcasts, guest posting, influencer marketing….nothing is off limits as long as you are providing value. And assuming you do, you might be surprised how many new inbound leads you actually capture. For software that will help you do it, be sure to check out our other article on the best lead capture software .

Website chat: your secret to more inbound leads

Userlike is a great way to generate inbound leads. That’s because it builds a connection with potential leads when they are already on your website and more open to any offer you might have for them. Some of the many ways Userlike makes inbound lead generation easier:

  • Collect initial contact information for new site visitors to automatically filter them from the beginning.
  • Use proactive chat to approach visitors after they’ve been on your site for a certain time to answer any questions they may have.
  • Use a chatbot as a final filter for forwarding hot inbound leads to your agents.
Userlike website chat

Not only does Userlike bring you more inbound leads, but setting it up on your website is easy and done in a matter of minutes. After that, you’re off to the races!

Want to experience for yourself how Userlike brings in more inbound leads?

Sign up for a free Userlike trial today!