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Advantages and limitations of inbound and outbound lead generation methods

  • #B2B
  • #Customer Success
  • #Sales

As you know, lead generation is an essential part of the selling process. It includes different marketing practices that engage customers in product or service. There are two common approaches in lead generation: inbound and outbound which contain certain methods.

These methods are well known, each and every successful company uses at least some of them. In this article we analyzed advantages and disadvantages of all common lead generation methods.

Inbound lead generation approach

Inbound lead generation is a method of attracting customers that have somehow shown interest in your product or service. The main concept of inbound marketing is permission or customers’ interest. You do not interrupt the audience with your content, instead, they are searching for it.

More about these approaches you can find in our article about Inbound and Outbound marketing methods in lead generation.

Now let’s talk about the methods of inbound lead generation.

Content marketing

Content marketing is a technique of creating and distributing relevant content to attract a clearly defined audience. When we are talking about content marketing, SEO and SMM are always nearby, as these marketing strategies have a closed tight. Content marketing includes blogs, videos, and various guides that keep the audience engaged.


As you publish good reliable content, your audience is drawn in and engaged. If done right, marketing can present you as a trustworthy expert. The better your content is, the more people will turn to your resources as they need a piece of advice.


Even if it is cheaper than other methods, you need a lot of time to do proper content marketing. The creation of valuable content demands a huge amount of time. You need to find out the pains of your audience, collect data on your topic and then analyze it, and finally present well-organized, easy-read content.

Moreover, without proper analysis and management, it can be difficult to attribute results to your content marketing campaign. Especially if you are using some other marketing methods.

Not only is content marketing hard to manage, but it also demands a specific way of thinking. To come up with catchy content, you should have great skills in analyzing and telling stories.


SEO or search engine optimization is a process of improving your website’s rankings in search engines such as Google, Bing, and the others.


As SEO is a method of an inbound approach, it aims to pull in an interested audience from search engines. SEO helps to engage your specific people who are more likely to buy your product or use your service. Over time, search engines may generate leads without significant spending, so it makes each next lead cheaper.


SEO is not free. There are a lot of cheap SEO services, but you shouldn’t be tricked by the “affordable” SEO services, because a  good SEO will never be cheap. And for a competitive niche, SEO can require more money than you can afford.

Results will take a lot of time. It can take up months or even a year to see the results of your efforts. As it takes time to generate SEO results, it will take time to achieve a good return of investments. Such things can be deadly for small businesses, as they need quick revenue to fund their operations.

Last but not least, SEO can take time and money, but still not give you any results. This method does not give you any guarantees. Even if you did everything right and gained good rankings, your positions are not stable at all. You can lose your rank after algorithms change.


SMM or Social Media Marketing is a technique of using social networks to promote your product or service. The goal of SMM is to expand brand awareness and engage customers.


As social media are free platforms, there is no need for huge budgets. You can start interacting with the customer on a basic level. According to up-to-date information, there are 4.48 billion active social media users. Facebook is still on top, with 2.853 billion users. A good SMM campaign helps you take all the benefits from social networks.

Account on social media makes your business more personalized. SMM uses one-to-one communication, which also helps to build a personal connection and gain trust.

Furthermore, your content has great chances to become viral. If you create powerful, quality content that people will share with each other, it will automatically increase brand recognition. And as a result, makes more profit.


As many other inbound methods, SMM requires a great amount of time. Be ready to spend at least a few hours a day for SMM to produce great engaging content. As a Social Media Examiner study found out, time that you devote to an SMM correlates directly with sales success. The more time you put into your social networks, the higher sales you get.

You place a brand in public, it means anyone can leave a comment to make a response that will harm your online reputation. Your company also is pretty vulnerable to the accounts that are created by people whose aim is to taint your brand reputation.

44% of businesses are not able to measure the ROI of their social media marketing. It is so hard to do because the profit from social media accounts can be mixed with profit from the other channels.


Opt-in is the email marketing opposite for cold emails. As an opt-in is an inbound method, it means the customers allow the company to send them emails. Opt-in emails usually contain newsletters, promotional information, product information, or special offer deals.

Opt-in is divided into two parts: the Single Opt-in and the Double Opt-in. Single Opt-in does not require users to confirm their email addresses, unlike Double Opt-in, which sends a confirmation link to the email to be added to the email list.


The main advantage of this method is that users are waiting for your newsletters to appear. And for Double Opt-in they not just filled in the email address, but also confirmed it. That shows their interest in your product or service and helps you to build a more accurate email list.


Single Opt-in has low deliverability rates and high hard bounce rates, and your newsletters are more likely to be marked as spam. There is also a chance that users enter fake email addresses just to gain access to your premium content.

Double Opt-in reduces the chance for your content to be marked as spam. But it requires extra work from your customers, and no one likes to do more than it is needed. Having more steps to subscribe means you will grow your email list much longer, slowing down the whole work process. One more problem


PPC is sometimes considered as an outbound method, but the vast majority of the time it is used as a method of an inbound approach. Pay-per-click advertisement is based on keywords, so it is not you who reaches the client. The client themself is searching for you. That is why with PPC you can reach your desired audience.


The main advantage of PPC is that it starts working almost immediately. As users search the keywords you add into your PPC campaign, they will see your website above anything else that draws attention and leads to clicks.


Pay per click is an expensive strategy, which only gets bigger in course of time. For an average company, it may cost from $1 to $100 per click to advertise on Google. For a month it will be about $9 000 and $10 000 on PPC. This leads to $108 000 to $120 000 per year. This number may look too big for a new company, but for many PPC campaigns, it is nothing. It depends on your industry. For example, cost per click (CPC) in legal, accounting, and real estate, as they are the most competitive ones, can reach 50$ for one click. It automatically raises costs per month to $500 000, and $1M per year.

It makes PPC very expensive, especially when compared with Content marketing and SEO.

Outbound lead generation approach

Outbound lead generation is a way to engage potential customers who might not know about your product or service. It means your actions interrupt customers and break their consumption of information.

Cold calls method

Cold calling is a marketing method of outbound lead generation. You contact a potential customer who has never expressed interest in your product via call.


With a cold call you can get a fast response, sometimes even close the sale during one call. While calling, the salesperson concentrates only on one particular lead, with one-to-one connection improves communication. And if the lead is still “no”, the salesperson can deal with a negative response immediately.


Cold calls interrupt and irritate customers, so usually, they are in no good mood for a pleasant conversation.  And sometimes it does not speak to a wrathful customer in a nice tone. But what is more important, cold calls consume a huge amount of time. Unlike the cold mailing, you can only reach one lead at a time, and with a low conversion rate cost per lead gets extremely expensive. Cold calls have a low conversion rate, for instance, less than 1% of cold calls lead to sales.

Last, but not least, cold calls can harm your reputation. As leads do not expect cold calls, they can become really frustrated, and such negative emotions can damage brand image and even drive to the loss of trust in your niche.

Cold emails

Cold mailing is similar to cold calling, the only difference in the used contact channels.


In comparison with cold calling, cold mailing is cheaper and easy to scale – just add more email addresses to your mailing list. Even more, you can increase the number of leads you reach by cold email automation.


Unlike cold calling, after sending cold emails you will not receive an answer on the nail. You may not even deliver your letter to the recipients. It becomes ineffective to bomb leads with thousands of cold emails like many sales representatives used to. Many email boxes have advanced SPAM filters that probably will leave your letter unread. Even LinkedIn has changed its algorithms, so now intensive texting can also lead you to spam and make your activity less visible.

And even if your prospect successfully received your newsletter, it may never be opened, because of the low cold email open rates.

Display advertisement

Display advertising is a form of paid advertising. Display advertising refers to ads on websites, apps, and social media platforms.


Advertising allows you to reach audiences all across the globe, regardless of their gender, location, and earnings, whenever they are online.


Consumers have become more particular about what they want to see on their screens. According to a Moz survey, about 58% of users install Adblockers to protect themselves from interruption. It means your ad can be simply blocked and will not have a chance to reach the target audience, therefore, to make new leads.

All above leads to a decrease in the click-through rate (CTR) rate. In 2020 CTR decreased by 32% since last quarter and about 41% lower year over year.

What to do with deciding effectiveness of classic lead generation methods?

As you can see, all these methods have significant limitations.  Moreover, now these methods are less effective than before. It happens because they were in use for too long, and in the modern world they probably are out of date. Some experts even presume that not only methods of lead generation are over, but the whole concept of the lead gen.

The conversion rate of marketing qualified leads are now lower than before. And only about 1% of marketing qualified leads actually result in closed deals. The thing is consumer behavior has changed over the last decade. Customers are more often delaying and avoiding filling in contact forms. It has been calculated that more than 70% of the buyer’s journey ends before customers will decide to fill in the registration form. And only the last 30% of the journey is where companies initiate lead nurturing programs. The vast majority of customers study your website silently and leave before you may know about them

To get productive you need to reach your potential leads in advance, even before they opt in to engaging with you. The great way to do it is social selling. Try to explore new methods and find new approaches and tools that work for you in the modern business environment.

  • #B2B
  • #Customer Success
  • #Sales