5 marketing experts share their thoughts on using inbound & outbound marketing together.
People often talk about the rise of inbound marketing and the death of traditional marketing tactics like cold calling, email and printed direct mail. Inbound and outbound marketing are often played off against each other but what if they could be used together?
First, it’s a good idea to define inbound and outbound marketing.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Let’s define inbound marketing:
Hubspot defines inbound marketing as “an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive.”
To us, inbound marketing says what it does on the tin, generating interest that “comes to you.” Rather than pushing out messages to prospective customers, you create value that attracts them to interact with you.
Is inbound worth investing in? Use our free inbound marketing ROI calculator.
What is Outbound Marketing??
Let’s define outbound marketing:
Wordstream defines outbound marketing as “a business initiating a conversation and sends its message out to an audience”
To us, outbound marketing is sending out marketing messages to potential customers, sometimes referred to as pushing the message out. With the imminent arrival of GDPR, there are a lot of questions to be asked about the future of outbound marketing for B2B businesses.
Let’s jump straight into the thoughts of 5 industry experts:
Oren Greenberg, MD at Kurve
I firmly believe that the comparison of outbound vs inbound marketing should not be treated as picking one camp over the other.
Inbound marketing has risen to fame the past decade as the answer to traditional, “interruption” marketing, but in reality you don’t have to be spammy and interruptive to execute outbound marketing activities too.
In a nutshell, inbound marketing activities are best used in the early stages of the buyer’s journey, where the leads aren’t as qualified and won’t respond well to outbound techniques like cold calling and emailing. In these stages, educating the prospects around your offer is key, while hard-selling will face serious resistance.
With “warmer” leads, outbound activities can be very effective. In this case, prospects are aware of your offer, their profile has been qualified by the marketing and sales teams and an email or a direct call can provide them enough value in order to create a sale. It is important to note that outbound techniques still need to not be spammy and interruptive, but rather deliver value at the target prospect.
All in all, not only a combination of inbound and outbound techniques is ideal, it could also be considered essential for a sales funnel to be fully effective.
Cornelia Klimek, Product Marketing Manager at Voices.com
Today’s customer is aware and wickedly smart – so only choosing one tactic to market to them limits you and your companies at success. Voices.com chooses to blend the best of Inbound and Outbound practices together to ensure we really cover our bases. As we serve two different customer groups (those looking to hire voice actors and the voice talent themselves), it makes sense that our outbound efforts themselves are multi channel too. The internal sales team is enabled to prospect and reach out using tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to grow accounts while marketing utilizes automated email to limit the amount of time (and money) spent on reaching potential prospects. Automation is key to making choosing this approach as cost effective as possible.
Once we get people interested, we need to give them a reason to trust us and earn their business, which is where our content generation team really shines. With timely blog posts and videos that speak to our ideal audience, we ensure that we give them something of value if we’re “invading” their inbox. This content then also aids in our organic SEO ranking, is shared on our social channels, and included in our monthly newsletters.
Realistically, if used together, you can create a fantastic experience for your potential customer – whether you found them or they found you!”
Rob Watson, Digital Marketing Consultant at ClickToSale
Many people have been quick to proclaim the ‘death’ of outbound sales and marketing. Personally, I think that inbound and outbound are both here to stay. The reality is that most companies have a blended approach and it’s just that the focus is steadily shifting towards inbound.
Outbound has its merits though, and I have yet to meet a business that doesn’t still need elements both in order to achieve their objectives. The really intelligent companies can find ways of integrating inbound and outbound together to achieve synergies. From a UK perspective at least, this will be even more important next year when new data protection regulations come in to play.
Outbound contact is still great for getting in to dialogue with customers before they start to define the buying journey they will go through. This means you get their real opinions and insight in to their thought process. If it’s shared internally, this information can really help you refine your inbound content to ensure that it hits the mark.
Another way that inbound and outbound can work together is to use inbound content to breathe a bit of life back into some stale outbound media. For example, if you advertise through online display, press or radio, why not advertise content instead of products? Advertising high-ticket products often feels like proposing marriage on the first date. However, if you drive people to your content instead, this could generate contact details and possible future sales, which has much more chance of being effective.
These are just two examples and there may well be more for many companies. They just need to encourage their sales and marketing teams to work together more closely than ever to integrate their efforts.
Ben Michaelis, Founder at ThinkEngine
In order to create a solid marketing strategy, businesses have in recent years incorporated a more joined up approach by utilising both outbound marketing (a traditional form of sending emails, using banners and face to face networking) and inbound marketing (draws customers to products and services using social media and content marketing for example).
Using both inbound and outbound marketing techniques can deliver better results, however it really does depend on your business and model. Today, more brands are looking to utilise Inbound because of its long-term and organic benefits. Social Media, Content and Search Engine Optimisation marketing are all well and good, but do they give you a genuine ROI? You have to keep asking yourself this question in order to understand if it meets your objectives.
For years, outbound marketing has been used by businesses to generate brand awareness and act as a prompt for prospects to engage. Outbound activities including creating banners, leaflets, billboards and buses etc. are great offline marketing techniques, but how do you measure how successful they actually are? For some brands, Outbound marketing has provided genuine ROI and delivered some outstanding results. But very rarely will you now see an offline marketing campaign not complimented with an online campaign.
I believe that although some feel Outbound is a little ‘old hat’, when used in conjunction with Inbound, can deliver superb results. Technology is playing a big role in the development of Inbound. Due to the exceptionally good analytical tools available across the internet, we can now factually identify how successful a campaign is.
Trying to generate a strong ROI in Marketing is challenging, however, with the right strategy, plan and appropriate use of inbound and outbound marketing activities, you can achieve.
Bonny Parker-Davies, Senior Content Strategist, Ledger Bennett
Inbound and outbound activity need to go hand in hand in order to get the best results. They are complementary but it’s important to think about them in slightly different ways as they talk to different audiences. What is key to making this work is insight.
Since Inbound typically sees the engagement dial move much more quickly than Outbound, we would normally test within Inbound and apply the learnings and insight to Outbound. This might be creative or message preference, potentially even audience segments.
An example of this comes from a Global ABM campaign that I’m currently working on with a major global B2B brand. We are splitting out persona groups (via targeting) and testing message strength of different topics with these different persona groups. It’s fascinating. What we are seeing is proof that regions (and personas) behave in different ways and have their own agendas. This type of insight is then being fed back into outbound nurtures and future asset creation.
I’d warn against using a single tactic. If you operate an inbound-only approach, you risk alienating your existing customer base. Plus, you’re missing out on the opportunity of connecting different nurture streams together. With an outbound-only approach, we all know that a database’s quality decays over time. Using both together is a powerful combination and one not to be ignored.
Using Inbound & Outbound Marketing Together
The marketing sector loves anything shiny.
Content marketing and inbound marketing have been the shiny things for the last few years but as you can see from the opinions of some of those leading the industry (including LeftMedia) there is a shift towards taking a more integrated approach to marketing.
Those using inbound & outbound marketing together are achieve marketing objectives more efficiently and effectively.