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Monday, October 31, 2011

Are you wondering about what tactics to use for lead generation?

According to this infographic from some clever marketing types called "Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing" you should put all your money into inbound marketing.

Here's the reality check:

OK, let's put on one side the fact that this is developed by a digital agency with a heavy bias towards inbound marketing. And, let's not read too much into the fact that it's probbaly more specific to B2C rather than B2B.

And, hmmm, let's not criticise the fact that the inbound marketers are all smiles, lollipops and sunshine while the the poor outbound marketer is a pawn of Satan, losing money due to his outdated marketing tactics.

All that bias I can forgive as the usual spin on any statistics used to support an argument.

But, to me, there are a few glaring things wrong with this.

Firstly, the graphic conveniently ignores email marketing.

Because email's an outbound channel and a digital one,  it doesn't really fit with the old guard/new guard story. Cost per lead for email campaigns are very low so how can you square that with the "outbound marketing costs more" theme.

I'd also question how you can refer to trade shows as "Outbound". To me it's the same dynamic as Inbound since, as far as I know, people aren't hauled off the street kicking and screaming to attend them.

So, omit a huge outbound marketing tactic that doesn't fit your theory and then simply assign the "highest cost per lead" tactic as Outbound just so that it helps support your argument.

I'd guess that if email was included then the correct graphic would be less polarised and a much more boring "horses for courses" picture would emerge.

Also, simply looking at cost per lead is a narrow view of things.

Conversion ratios, volume of leads and average sales value should always be looked at.

Let's take trade shows as an example.

According to these guys, trade shows... ooh, trade shows are bad. Really expensive cost per lead, you'd be mad to spend any money on them.

But if they give you access to the right level of decision maker, help you close larger deal values or generate a significant number of high quality leads then should you do them? Hell, yes!

Take the other extreme - blogs.

According to the infographic, 55% per companies who blog reported leads from this channel were "below average" in cost. I would challenge how many companies distinguish leads coming from their blog compared to SEO (or even PPC for that matter) - yes, I know that you can do this but I bet very few marketers really do know the numbers.

Anyway, apart from that, the crucial bit for me is what quality are the leads and how many can that tactic generate.

If the number of leads is less than you need (or too low in quality) to hit your revenue numbers then it doesn't matter how low cost they are. A trickle of cheap leads won't plug a big hole in your next quarter's sales target.

The truth is, "Inbound" marketing is just marketing. And whilst for one company trade shows may be a high-cost way of generating leads for another they may be the only way. Or maybe not.

If something doesn't make sense in terms of marketing ROI then it gets dropped.

But don't write it off forever.

DM has started to pick up in terms of high-value B2B campaigns.

Equally, social media may be the next best thing or maybe it'll reach saturation point too.

I know it doesn't make for a big headline or flashy graphics but lead generation is about getting the mix right for your business, trying out different things to see what works and then sticking with what works until it doesn't.
Posted by: David Regler @ 2:05 pm |   | Links to this post  

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