Like chefs, marketers regularly combine a variety of "ingredients" to achieve a desirable result. Unfortunately, two of those ingredients—inbound and outbound marketing—are routinely set up as competitors even though they're actually complementary, like salt and pepper.
The difference between inbound and outbound marketing lies in where you direct your efforts:
- With inbound, prospects tell you that they're interested: The volume of leads is related to the amount of effort you put into making your message accessible across multiple channels.
- With outbound, you ask prospects whether they're interested: You reach out to a larger volume of potential prospects through one or two channels.
So, how do they work together? Consider email. An outbound marketing email will point people toward your brand, but without inbound marketing, such as website content relevant to what you're offering, you risk recipients' leaving your message to die in the inbox.
Neither inbound nor inbound can flourish alone.
Corresponding Marketing Efforts
Inbound marketing is generally seen as the gold standard for the demand generation. Because intent plays a huge part when converting leads to sales, marketers use both intent and behavioral information from assets deployed across marketing channels to help prospects find their solution. After all, 85% of consumers research purchases online before buying.
Although most B2B organizations use it, outbound marketing often gets a shady reputation. Outbound marketers use ideal customer profiles, firmographics, and other cold prospect data to cast a wide net for potential buyers. Most platforms have responded to the lockdown on consumer data by blocking access to users that haven't shown intent, thus reinforcing the inbound method and creating a vacuum for outbound resources.
But an outbound campaign doesn't have to feel invasive. After all, it's a familiar way of learning about brands and merchandise; we're all comfortable with billboards and TV ads. Outbound efforts such as emails and cold calls point people to solutions they might never have been exposed to. Outbound gets your funnel started and turns on a constant flow of incoming traffic without requiring high overhead costs.
Inbound and outbound are really two sides of the same coin. Both are powerful lead generation tools that guide prospects toward resources they might find helpful. As marketers, we can pair those channels together to create a strategy that's stronger than either one when used alone.
How to Use a Combined Strategy
Ready to put both inbound and outbound marketing to work? Take the following four steps.
1. Adopt a push-pull approach
Again: outbound marketing pushes out information to potential customers, whereas inbound marketing pulls in interested customers. Make use of both forces by using one to improve the other.
For example, you might create a compelling outbound campaign to potential customers to get them interested in your company or products. Some of those people will then go directly to your site, and others will conduct an online search about your company. That's when all the great content you've created for inbound marketing will kick in, leading searchers to specific webpages that match their interests. Your outbound effort has just helped your inbound-focused content to pull people in.
Once they're on your site, you might give them the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter or download a whitepaper. You now have permission to contact them in the future and potentially make a sale.
2. Embrace email
Email is still alive and well. Per 2019 HubSpot research, more than three-quarters of marketers said their email engagement had boomed during the previous year.
Of course, you shouldn't just send off mass emails without consideration. For more precise outcomes, segment your outbound emails to get open rates up to 14.31% higher than those of bulk email. By tactically tailoring your messaging according to persona, you can better focus outbound emails.
3. Boost branding
Your website, social pages, and other digital collateral may be top-notch, but people may not organically discover your brand without an outbound nudge (refer to Step 1). Why be patient when you don't have to be? Turning your company into a household name involves using a variety of outbound efforts, including ads, phone calls, and cold emails.
Once you capture your target audience through outbound, you can ramp up your efforts by inviting visitors to become part of your "family."
4. Track and tweak your efforts
Like all marketing strategies, inbound and outbound efforts should be tracked so that you know whether your specific efforts are paying off. Classic Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters work universally well for doing so, especially when you rely on Google Analytics for real-time feedback.
In that vein, your outbound marketing to evaluate how it affects inbound, and vice versa. For instance, does a whitepaper advertised via outbound work better than a blog post showcasing the same offer? Or do prospects seem equally motivated by both options—or neither?
When you find the right inbound-outbound balance, you can turn campaigns off or on, depending on your lead generation desires.
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Ultimately, your secret recipe for unparalleled marketing success requires dashes of both inbound and outbound ingredients. Together, they ramp up the quality of your marketing, solve customer pain points, and reflect your company's excellent messaging.
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- The Attention Economy—How Time Affects Your B2B Marketing Efforts: Doug Binder on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]