by Mike Schultz and Michelle Davidson on June 2, 2010

When it comes to cost per sales lead, inbound marketing channels continue to deliver dramatically lower costs over outbound channels. In fact, organizations that primarily use inbound channels experience a 60% lower cost per lead than those that mainly use outbound channels, according to HubSpot’s The State of Inbound Marketing 2010.

Indeed, three out of the four inbound channels analyzed have lower costs than any outbound channel, the report finds. Topping the list is social media and blogs, with 63% of the 231 marketing professionals surveyed saying those channels had below-average costs. Twenty-seven percent said they had near-average costs. That’s followed by organic search engine optimization (SEO) with 43% saying it had below-average costs.

Firms save money using inbound marketing channels to acquire leads by:

  • Spending less to produce such content;
  • Generating leads long after the content is published;
  • Improving their online visibility as they build a reputation within social media networks and in the eyes of search engines.

That doesn’t mean, however, that firms should abandon all outbound marketing tactics (direct mail, email, etc.). They might cost more, but they can be incredibly effective. Some prospects and clients respond better to those and don’t even have social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook on their radar.

The best approach is to apply a mix of both. Continue to use your preferred outbound, or push, tactics—tactics that have traditionally performed well for you—but also make sure you have a strong website with quality content that is optimized for search engines.

The key is to measurably test different tactics, analyze the results, and determine which work best for you.

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