A debate is raging within B2B marketing organizations about which approach is best: inbound marketing or outbound marketing.

A debate is raging within B2B marketing organizations about which approach is best: inbound marketing or outbound marketing.

Those who favor inbound approaches (let’s call them “Innies”) claim that outbound is dead or dying, and is so misaligned with how buyers buy that it actually does more damage than good. Most Innies deeply understand and appreciate buyer behaviors and preferences, and want to facilitate the buying process with value-added offers positioned where buyers already go, using tactics like search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) and social media. We are strong advocates of inbound, and we have data that shows it is producing more high-quality leads at a lower cost than outbound for many companies.

So Innies win, right? Not so fast . . .

Those who favor outbound approaches (let’s call them “Outies”) claim that, while inbound may have a small place in the mix (it’s hard to argue that SEO doesn’t matter), it is far too passive to produce real and timely results. Outies tend to be very focused on immediate lead volume and revenue targets that can’t wait for longer-term inbound strategies to take effect. We agree that marketers shouldn’t just set up inbound tactics, cross their fingers and hope responses will start pouring in. We have data that shows that outbound tactics can be highly effective at creating significant spikes in response activity in short periods of time.

So who wins? The answer is that when rigid ideology guides marketing strategy, nobody wins. SiriusDecisions data shows that when the two approaches are integrated in cohesive programs, the programs outperform pure inbound or outbound programs.

This conclusion may seem obvious, but pause and ask yourself if you truly integrate inbound and outbound. Unfortunately, most marketers keep inbound strategies and tactics siloed and separate from serialized outbound programs. I strongly encourage you to begin integrating the two approaches by considering how SEO, PPC, related landing pages, social media, content syndication and influencer relations can be adjusted and used to enhance your campaigns and programs.

A great way to start is by tagging your inquiries (initial responses that will be further qualified to become leads) as having come in via inbound or outbound channels. I suggest tagging everything as inbound that isn’t a response from a direct outbound tactic (e.g. email, direct mail, phone). By tagging inquiries, you can begin to understand the relative volume of leads from each source, and if the tags persist and can be tracked through the lead qualification process, you can track the relative performance of leads from each source.

Stay tuned for more details on integrating inbound and outbound.