In recent years, outbound marketing has gotten a bad rap. It’s seen as expensive, time consuming, and it feels like a relic of the past. And the numbers bear this out: in 2017, HubSpot’s State of Inbound report found that 71 percent of businesses worldwide are focused primarily on inbound marketing.
But I’d argue that there is real value in outbound marketing, when it’s done correctly. In fact, you can develop a sort of symbiotic relationship between inbound and outbound marketing tactics in order to create an even stronger overall marketing strategy.
Here, we’ll look at why you need inbound for outbound marketing (and vice versa) and what you can do to strengthen your approach in both arenas.
Tailor Your Inbound Approach Based on Outbound Success
Nowadays, people are trained to tune out most traditional outbound tactics. Television commercials are muted or skipped over entirely, direct mailers are tossed in the trash without a second glance, and radio stations are switched as soon as ads begin playing.
So what information can you glean from an outbound campaign that is successful? If you begin to generate responses to an outbound campaign, you’ll know that you’re onto something. Your messaging was powerful enough to cut through the noise and grab the attention of someone that wasn’t actively seeking out the good or service you offer. And that’s valuable information.
You can then take that knowledge and use it to strengthen your inbound approach. Revamp your call to action on your website to reflect the messaging in your outbound campaign. Create blog posts that are related to the topic you presented in the ads. Adopt a similar tone in your social media posts. Understanding what it was that grabbed a stranger’s attention can allow you to bolster your relationship with those who already interact with your brand or who happen upon it via inbound channels.
Use Outbound to Identify the Strongest Prospects
Tracking responses to outbound marketing can also allow you to gauge who your most promising prospects are. If someone goes out of their way to react to your outbound efforts, it’s likely that they’re very enthusiastic about your business. This is a prospect with a high likelihood of conversion, and if you then open up a dialogue by presenting them with the appropriate inbound tactics, you have a good chance of winning them over.
These are the people you should be reaching out to with targeted offers and discounts. Make sure they’re encountering your paid ads on social media so that your business remains top of mind. Send them a free white paper and ask them to sign up for your bi-weekly newsletter that’s filled with valuable content. You’ll feel confident that you’re getting the greatest return on your inbound investment because you’re going after your most highly engaged prospects.
Catch Customers at Any Stage of the Marketing Hourglass
Outbound and inbound marketing come into play at different stages of the marketing hourglass. Typically, outbound strategies are deployed at the top of the hourglass, where new customers are just getting to know and like your brand. Inbound strategies become useful a bit further down. Because inbound allows you to develop a two-way conversation with prospects, these techniques can be valuable in the trust and try phases of the hourglass. This is where prospects will want to gain a deeper understanding of your brand, and perhaps hear from you or from your clients about what it is that you excel at, and why a prospect should give you a shot.
However, the customer journey is never a straight line, so you have to be prepared for the fact that existing customers will sometimes encounter your outbound marketing efforts and brand new prospects who aren’t familiar with your brand may discover your inbound approach before they ever see one of your ads. This means that you need to be thinking about how to create both inbound and outbound campaigns that are appealing to prospects and clients no matter where they are on their journey.
Your outbound approach should not only be a catchy introduction to your brand, it should also have a voice that aligns with the rest of your marketing, so that your existing customers feel that what they already understand to be true about your brand is just being further confirmed by any outbound efforts they come in contact with. Similarly, your inbound marketing strategy should be accessible enough that a stranger can happen upon any tweet, Instagram post, or paid search item and be able to easily glean what your business does, and what you might be able to offer to them.
Use Inbound and Outbound to Tell Your Story
If you’re only focused on either inbound or outbound marketing, you’re missing out on the opportunity to provide a holistic picture of what your business does, what your value proposition is, and how you stand out from the competition.
Outbound marketing only allows you to present a small sliver of the solutions you can provide to prospective clients. A good outbound campaign can tell a story in a direct mailer or a commercial, but outbound media are by nature brief—you’re limited to a 30 television commercial, one page mailer, or 15 second radio spot—so prospects can’t get the full picture. And you can bet that in today’s digital world, even if you’ve gotten their attention through outbound tactics, they’ll be doing some digging on your business before converting.
That’s why pairing an outbound with an inbound approach is crucial. Your inbound marketing efforts, like social media and curated content on blogs or in white papers, allows you to tell prospects a broader story about who you are and what you do. Your social media accounts should have a clear point of view and should demonstrate your guiding vision and principles for your business. Your content should prove your deep industry knowledge and confirm your status as a thought leader.
Prospects want to trust you, and in order to trust you, they have to feel like they know you. The outbound will put you on their radar screen, but the inbound will open up a dialogue between you and the prospect, helping to prove to them that you’re the best company for the job.
A marketing strategy that focuses only on inbound is missing out on valuable opportunities. Pairing inbound and outbound marketing strategies allows you to create the fullest picture of your brand for prospects and clients alike, and gives you the greatest shot at winning new business and maintaining the trust and loyalty of existing customers.
If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Sales.