The debate between inbound marketing strategy and outbound marketing strategy has been raging for years, and don’t expect the discussion to come to end here and now.
But, the good news for you is that you don’t have to choose just one strategy between inbound marketing strategy and outbound marketing strategy to achieve your target. The line between both strategies is slowly blurring away. And the line is blurring away because of some of the most fundamental shift in the marketing ecosystem. The action of major platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc, has led us to the content-ification of almost everything. Now, most of the online advertising has shifted to what we know as native ads. A paid facebook post, an Instagram sponsored video, a LinkedIn promoted article is native to the platform, it copycats the same appearance and feeling as of a post from family or friends. It means that marketers eventually end up executing inbound marketing using content, but at the same time spends a lot of their time, money, and resources on outbound marketing to promote and improve their inbound marketing efforts. Finally, marketers end up doing both marketing strategy to get the most out of their efforts and stay relevant on these platforms these days.
What’s more is that in order to execute inbound marketing successfully, Marketers needs outbound marketing as in the current marketing ecosystem none of these two marketing strategies is absolute. As a result, marketers now know that paid promotion (part of outbound marketing) of inbound marketing efforts is the key to their success. And the key to successful lead generation strategy is a mix of the both as well. This mix includes both, inbound marketing strategy as well as outbound marketing strategy.
Another very important factor is that the inbound marketing strategy performs well for broad lead generation approach, but outbound marketing strategy works very well to boost inbound marketing efforts and to precisely target specific opportunities. And most of the time, an outbound marketing strategy can have the “wow” factor that can make you stand out as outbound marketing enables you to be highly targeted in your targeting approach with a clear call-to-action (CTA). And outbound marketing strategies are highly effective in moving the leads in the sales funnel at a much faster rate.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is an online marketing strategy to organically attract targeted prospects and customers to your website and blog through relevant and useful content.
It is a method of attracting engaging and providing better experiences to your targeted prospects and customers to grow business by providing value and creating trust. It is all about creating valuable free education to attract targeted prospects and customers to your website. It requires you to understand your targeted prospects and customers enough to create resources and experiences that can engage them at every step of their journey.
Examples of inbound marketing;
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Website content
- White papers
- Research and survey
- Video content
- Social media posts
Let’s say that the sales director of a company that sells HR management software decided that its time to get a new customer relationship management (CRM) for their entire sales team. So, the first step towards buying a new CRM is to does online research to better understand his available options and searched for “best HR management software” on a search engine (most popular search engines are Google and Bing). The search engine shows many results that are relevant to his search keyword, and finds a blog titled “20 Best HR Software Solutions of 2019”.He then clicks on this result and gets redirected to the blog website and reads the blog and find a CRM that is highly suitable for his needs. So, he goes to that CRM website (either by clicking on the link on the blog or directly by entering the website address). Now, he starts to explore his website to know more about the product, their team, customer testimonials, pricing, features, etc. And finally tries to access a recorded webinar by proving his email address. Now, he is a lead for that CRM Company and his data enters their system. So, now the CRM Company can send more content and messages to this lead to move him further down their sales funnel. Even if the sales director leaves the website of that CRM Company without providing his/her email address, that CRM Company can send more content and messages to this lead through remarketing strategy using cookie data on their website(if the website collects cookie data) to move him further down their sales funnel.
Useful facts about inbound marketing:
A savvy marketer leverages buying behavior in their inbound marketing strategy to attract, engage, convert, close, and provide better customer experience. Inbound marketing enhances the buying journey, and the following stats prove it;
• More than 68% of B2B customers prefer doing independent online research; it means the race to reach B2B customers are mostly online.
• More than 90% of customers don’t make up their minds before beginning their search online.
• Just 29% of customers want to learn more about the product or service by talking to a sales representative, while more than 62% prefers using a search engine for the same.
• More than 47% of customers consume at least three to five pieces of content before talking to a sales representative.
• More than 87% of customers believe more in content that has been shared by an industry influencer.
•More than 79% of B2B email marketers say email as the most effective channel for distribution of demand generation efforts.
• More than 81% of customers have closed their browser or closed a webpage after seeing a pop-up ad
• Successful B2B marketers spend more than 40% of their marketing budget on their content marketing efforts.
So, now you know that B2B customers buy into inbound marketing. But, Are the B2B Marketers true believers of inbound marketing? See it yourself by the following stats;
• More than 55% of marketers say creating blog content is their priority for their content marketing strategy.
• 18% of marketers say outbound marketing strategy provides the top quality leads for sales.
Benefits of inbound marketing:
The core benefit of inbound marketing is that you can build a valuable relationship with your prospects and customers for a longer period of time. Inbound marketing enables you to reach new prospects and at the same time diversify your reach using a different type of campaign.
As the inbound marketing strategy is content driven, it enables you to create content that can build your credibility within the industry as well as among your prospects and customers. And by doing so, your prospects and customers perceive you as someone who is experienced and can help them.
By offering answers, tips, and valuable insights into your content, you can create opportunities to be recognized as an expert and trusted authority in your industry. You can build a profitable relationship and when they decide to buy you will be the first they reach out to.
Inbound marketing has more transparent and effective methods of measuring its success. It enables you to easily identify areas for improvement to be more cost effective and get better results on your investment.
What is outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing is the marketing strategy of getting your messages to your targeted prospects and customers through direct emails, advertising, cold calling, etc. It is a more traditional approach to marketing. Outbound marketing is all about actively advertising to targeted prospects and customers by bringing the information about your product or service directly to them.
Outbound marketing is all about reaching your targeted prospects and customers through general media advertising and in-person contact. And based on the venue, outbound marketing approach can be highly broad, like advertisements on TV, through in-person face-to-face meetings, cold calling, or direct emails.
The primary goal of the outbound marketing strategy is to generate new leads. Outbound marketing is very important assets to those companies that are trying to get more customers. The companies that are trying their best to get on the map, outbound marketing strategy is the best approach for them to reach the widest audience in a short time. And there’s not a single company that doesn’t want to reach and get more new customers.
Some marketers misunderstand the outbound marketing strategy that is being used today with the outbound marketing of a few years ago, which is clearly not true. For example, email marketing has advanced so much in recent years. Earlier, email marketing was being used primarily to send large scale email blasts at once. But, now email marketing has advanced a lot and even technologies have advanced where you can hyper-target specific individuals, businesses, small subsets, etc, with personalized targeted content designed to the recipient’s interest.
Now, smart email marketing can be easily woven into a bigger marketing strategy. For example, someone signs up for your email subscriber list and you start to track them using software to scan their social media profiles and get information about your subscriber’s gender, age, job title, geographic location, etc. Now, by comparing these data of your subscriber with your buyer persona, you can clearly identify whether he/she is in the targeted audience of your company. And in the case when the subscriber falls within your company targeted audience, you can easily personalize your message to that subscriber and at the same time, the messages can be adapted to the subscriber’s action.
Examples of outbound marketing;
• Cold emails
• Cold calling
• General advertisements
• Online advertisements
• Press release
Benefits of outbound marketing:
The approach to send more relevant, personalized and value-driven messages gets the most positive response and creates better engagement. With outbound marketing strategy you can be very specific in your targeting approach.
Another very important benefit of outbound marketing is the comfort all customers have with the method, and the medium never gets in the way which is quite common among the inbound marketing channels.
Scaling is much simple and effective in outbound marketing for the following reasons;
• The time period is brief as the campaigns of outbound marketing are faster. You can easily get an instant response and can also optimize in no time, like change the subject line, talk about some other pain points, etc.
• You are in total control of the entire process. Not the platform like on Google, Facebook, etc., or your audience.
• During one-on-one conversations, you can easily ask for feedback and get it instantly.
• You can add one more sales development representative (SDR) and effectively double your efforts to target your prospects in terms of volume and effectiveness.
For a new company, outbound marketing can quickly deliver results. It can be very helpful in getting your company recognized and find your first customers. For the Companies who have their branding as a key driver to their success. The proof is that despite having unclear ROI, TV ads, billboards, direct mails, etc, are still being used widely. Apart from these benefits, outbound marketing has several other benefits like the following;
Usually, in inbound marketing it is quite unclear when your audience is converting to sales. Many companies are driving traffic to their social media pages, blogs, etc., but do these converts to sales is quite hard and sometimes even impossible to track. On the other hand, outbound marketing has the ability to nurture leads and convert them as successful sale, instead of just trying to attract leads. Inbound marketing almost never produces results instantly and hence should not be considered in the context.
Understand your customers better:
Outbound marketing has the ability to improve messaging as you are in regular communication with your prospects and customers and learning a lot about them about several aspects. It helps you greatly in building empathy to understand more about their pain points and provide them with a solution to resolve them and at the same time learn more about how to effectively pitch your product or service to them. And this acts like a regular feedback loop for testing your different messaging having measurable response rate (like A/B testing) allows you to build an effective outreach program that resonates with your prospects and customers. When you are on a path regular messaging that resonates to what your prospects and customers care about, you don’t just build trust but also know more about them.
Quick reach to your market:
Inbound marketing takes time to scale and build significant reach. It takes more time to rank your content on the top position of a search engine results or even to get your content rank in the top 10 positions. And when you successfully rank on the first page of Google search engine result page (SERP), then you have to constantly work on it to maintain its position. There’s no doubt that inbound marketing can be a strong asset for your company, but the problem is that it takes more time to develop and then more time to just maintain it. On the other hand, outbound marketing lets you reach your market the moment you have developed a campaign.
When you are deciding to choose between inbound marketing and outbound marketing for your company, thoroughly evaluate all the factors explained above. And if your company has never tried outbound marketing (which is quite rare) it may be exactly what your company was missing. And you can try outbound marketing to improve your inbound marketing efforts in order to see quick scaling. Inbound marketing is never enough as you have to wait for your prospects and customers to come to you. But, by developing highly targeted and persona-based email marketing campaigns, you enable yourself to can easily move your leads in the sales funnel quickly. And leveraging outbound marketing is the best strategy to improve your inbound marketing results and its effectiveness.