Inbound vs. Outbound Lead Generation in 2022: Which Is Better?

Every business wants more leads. 

More clients. 

More revenue.

But what is the best way to do this for your business?

Should you focus on inbound or outbound sales strategies?

What’s the difference? Which one is the right approach?

After reading this, you’ll have a clearer picture of the benefits and drawbacks of inbound vs. outbound lead generation strategies.

What is Outbound Lead Generation?

Outbound lead gen is a technique where messages are pushed to a target audience that has not yet expressed an interest in your product or service. You, rather than the prospect, choose the timing and method of interaction. 

Common channels used for outbound lead generation are email, cold calling, social media, and direct mail.

The idea behind this type of prospecting is to use mass media to convey messages to the general public. If done strategically and supported by quality data analysis, it is more effective than inbound in many ways. Outbound is more predictable, whereas inbound leads tend to come in waves.

To make sure your intended audience sees your message, you need to understand where they hang out. For example, if you are targeting a B2B audience, it makes more sense to use LinkedIn than to do outreach on Facebook.

Outbound has developed a bad reputation in recent years. With the rise of automated prospecting tools and AI “personalization,” your prospects’ inboxes are more crowded than ever. Even so, outbound isn’t going anywhere. It’s one of the most effective ways to get in front of your ideal audience. 

When done correctly, outbound can help you penetrate new markets and connect with decision-makers at ideal prospect companies. 

Not only do outbound leads tend to close faster than inbound leads, once you’ve established predictable outbound prospecting it’s easy to scale and hit any volume of opportunities needed to meet quarterly or yearly sales goals.

Outbound lead generation can be targeted to the areas of the market where you get the highest annual contract value (ACV) and shortest sales cycle. It’s a scalable strategy that can generate qualified leads and prevent your sales team from spending time disqualifying bad-fit prospects who may just be window shopping.

What is Inbound Lead Generation?

Inbound lead generation is a more recent strategy. Less push, more pull. 

Building and educating an audience with high-quality content is the core of inbound strategy. 

Thanks to the internet and accelerated by the pandemic, B2B buyer behavior has radically changed in the past 20+ years. So instead of pushing advertisements at customers, inbound lead generation aims to pique their interest, drawing them in.

Blog posts, social media, infographics, white papers, email newsletters, e-guides, quizzes, polls, podcasts, and video content are all examples of inbound lead gen content.

Paid search and other forms of advertising also fall under this umbrella. The benefit of a paid campaign is that it works fairly quickly and can be scaled up or down as needed. On the other hand, as soon as you cut your ad budget, your lead flow dries up.

What is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation?

Outbound lead gen involves finding the people you’re targeting and getting your message in front of them. This may happen in their inbox via cold email campaigns, or picking up the phone to book a meeting with a prospect.

Inbound lead generation, on the other hand, focuses on attracting audiences with relevant content. Increasing awareness and engagement, and nurturing the audience until they convert.

Instead of reaching out to a large audience that may or may not be interested in your product or receptive to your messages, inbound attracts customers by attracting prospects who are interested in or actively looking for, your products.

Here’s what Dorothy Huynh from Lavender says about the difference between inbound and outbound lead gen:


Part of the process with outbound lead generation (when done correctly) is to determine whether or not a prospect has a need and budget. Often they do, but you may need to follow up a few months in the future depending on budget cycles and purchasing processes.

Which is More Effective: Inbound or Outbound Lead Generation?

Despite its reputation, outbound lead generation is highly effective. You can get your brand in front of prospects who may not even be aware the problem you solve is something they can fix.

Employing an omnichannel strategy – that is, putting your message in front of prospects on different channels – is an effective way to build awareness and drive sales. 

There are some drawbacks to outbound lead generation. It can be time-consuming to build prospect lists, and many companies don’t have in-house resources to handle this. If your targeting is off or your messaging isn’t effective, you may be disappointed with the results. 

Partnering with a vendor who specializes in outbound lead generation is often the most cost-effective approach.

Outbound is a great strategy to break into new markets, or accelerate adoption after a product launch. If you are a new business looking to raise awareness, leveraging outbound lead generation should be part of your revenue plan.

When used correctly, outbound lead gen can be a reliable source of leads to build your pipeline. 

Understanding the pain points of your target audience is critical. Focus on benefits instead of features. Try to personalize your approach based on a clear understanding of your audience.

Which Approach is Best For Your Business?

It depends on your business. Anyone who claims one approach is always superior is likely biased. There are many variables to consider. 

Outbound tends to work best for high-ticket sales. If you’re selling a SaaS product with a $10 monthly subscription fee, inbound is going to generate better ROI. 

Your business model should drive the decision here. Understanding your specific business, audience, and revenue objectives will help you determine which approach is best.

A combination of inbound and outbound lead generation is often ideal. Using both approaches at once can accelerate results. While inbound is effective, most experts advise supplementing it with outbound strategies to drive revenue.

Outbound piques curiosity and interest, prompting prospective customers to research your company. The inbound lead generation content you’ve created will help educate them, then a few months later they may respond to an outbound prospecting email and agree to a demo. 

Remember that audiences and markets change, so analyze your data on a regular basis. 

What worked well last year may not work well this year.

Your tactics will almost certainly change over time. Especially as technology advances and new ways of targeting audiences emerge.

The most important aspect of any campaign is to measure, optimize, and repeat

Keep doing what’s working, ditch anything that’s not producing results. It’s an ongoing process of refining your approach. 

No matter which method you’re using, make these three steps a priority. You’ll see better results.

MarketJoy is Here to Help

If you’re new to outbound lead generation and unsure if it’s a fit for you, MarketJoy can help guide you through the process. Why not get in touch

Already sure that you’re ready to build a pipeline with outbound lead generation? Let us know!

One of our Sales Strategists will work with you to understand your goals, and you’ll get a free sample prospect list as a bonus.

Book a free strategic consultation today.