This past week I was reading HubSpot's study on the state of inbound marketing, and understandably, with HubSpot being in the inbound marketing business, the study showed that the marketing spend on inbound marketing is rising. It also determines that the price of an inbound generated lead is 3x less than the price of an outbound generated lead, $84 versus $220. (Inbound: SEO, SEM, Blogs. Outbound: Telemarketing, Email, Events).
I accept that, and I truly believe there is a place for inbound marketing in all of our marketing budgets. I do, however, challenge the value of that inbound lead versus the value of the outbound lead, and that was not discussed. What is the equity value of those leads - the lead equity? In simple terms, how far along is each of those generated leads in the pipeline and what is the value of that lead against the amount you have invested in it so far? Even at 3x the cost, it's not apples and oranges.
The question we should ask ourselves is how many $84 leads does it take to get to pipeline, an active sales opportunity, and how many $220 leads does it take to get to pipeline. In my own business, where we do about equal billing on inbound/outbound spending, we have found that the increased quality of the outbound leads justifies the expense. For argument's sake, let's just say it takes 10 inbound leads to get one pipeline opportunity, and 3 outbound leads to do the same. That's $840 for inbound, $660 for outbound. We attribute it to the fact that the outbound work does much of the screening and vetting and sometimes even the first steps of selling, thereby increasing the quality of the lead.
We would never operate without the inbound activity though. The leads are at the highest point in the funnel, but we find opportunities that we would never have found with traditional outbound activity. To top it off, they raised their hand.
This may explain why the Goliath companies are spending more on outbound lead generation. HubSpot's survey, made up of companies of all sizes, shows that in 2008 the average marketing spend from b2b companies on outbound telemarketing efforts to be 12%. SiriusDecisions reports a different number though. Their study covers a much wider spectrum of b2b companies and sizes, and reports 21% invest in similar outbound efforts in 2008. In fact, they expect that in 2009 the spend on inbound efforts to drop while outbound efforts will rise. This being attributed to the focus on pipeline deals versus the top of the funnel.
Will the smaller, mid-sized companies follow this trend? Will David follow Goliath?