Especially in recent years, inbound marketing has been one of the most talked-about jargon in the digital marketing world. Yet, inbound marketing actually has been around since the early 2000s, and ever since then, it’s always compared to traditional marketing -now often called ‘outbound marketing’ to contrast the inbound marketing term-.
However, although inbound marketing is certainly effective, as shown by many successful companies, it cannot work alone, as we will discuss in this guide below.
Here, we will learn how outbound marketing is not totally obsolete, but rather, can work together with inbound marketing to form a complete, performance-driven marketing strategy. We will also discuss how to actually combine the two contrasting concept, and the proper ratio between the two.
Let us begin by discussing the WHY. Why you still need outbound marketing to complement the highly effective inbound marketing.
Why We Still Need Outbound Marketing
While we have mentioned how inbound marketing is certainly effective, and will need no further proof for its effectiveness, it has one major flaw.
The core of inbound marketing is to publish valuable, relevant content pieces regularly, and promoting them through various marketing channels, mainly through SEO (link).
The thing is, you will need to publish a significant amount of content pieces regularly before both the human audience and search engines recognize your credibility. Also, SEO by itself is a long-term game, and you generally need to invest 6 to 12 months of resources and time before you can see any significant results. In short, with inbound marketing, you don’t have the luxury of time.
Imagine, then, if you are a startup company with limited capital, where you need to generate revenue just to stay afloat. Can you rely on inbound marketing in this case? In fact, we can argue that ALL businesses would want a quick revenue gain.
Outbound marketing, on the other hand, virtually guarantee short-term results, as long as you have the budget to do it.
So, the comparison between inbound and outbound marketing is actually the case of time VS cost: inbound marketing is more affordable, but will require more time. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, needs less time but will require more money. So, the key for a performing marketing strategy is to find that delicate balance between the two, generating both short-term and long-term revenue sources in the process.
The New Outbound Marketing
However, we should also keep in mind that outbound marketing has also evolved from its ‘traditional’ form. Let us now discuss the key changes you should consider:
- Email marketing has greatly evolved from its original form: it used to be a simple email blasts targeting mass audiences. Nowadays, personalization is key to effective email marketing, and we should also consider how GDRP affects email marketing. Nowadays, automated email marketing campaign, or drip campaign (link) is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.
- Online advertising has also evolved dramatically, mainly due to the increase of resistance from customers. Nowadays, online advertising is only effective when you consider newer methods like remarketing (link) and programmatic advertising. Again, heavy targeting and personalization is the key to success here.
- Telemarketing has been one of the most important marketing methods for decades if not centuries. Yet, it has also changed significantly with the emphasis to digital marketing. Telemarketing is also affected by GDPR, and so we can expect more changes in the years to come.
- Direct Mailing, contrary to popular beliefs, is still a very effective email method with 4.4% response rate. Yet, we will need to combine to various digital marketing methods to increase its effectiveness. Personalization can also improve success in direct mail, although it can be very expensive.
In short, outbound marketing is now heavily affected by the needs for personalization and audience segmentation: without proper targeting, outbound marketing is simply too expensive. Yet, without personalization, outbound marketing won’t reach its maximum effectiveness.
For example, a modern email marketing campaign can keep track of prospects/customers who have done certain actions. Let’s say a specific customer have bought a pair of sneakers from your ecommerce store. In this case, you can send an email notifying them on a new release for sneakers products, probably along with a 20%-off coupon.
These kind of changes will affect how you should plan your outbound marketing, and combining it with your inbound marketing campaign.
Effective Combinations of Outbound-Inbound Marketing
SEO+Paid Search Advertising
Arguably, this combination has been around even before inbound marketing rose in popularity, and will properly illustrate how an inbound marketing channel can properly complement an outbound channel.
Among other inbound marketing activities, SEO is one of the channels most affected by time-constraints: you will need to invest at least 6 to 12-month of SEO activities before you see any significant result and especially increase of traffic.
This is where paid search display ads -or often known as PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads- can play its part. During a Google search, for example, the paid search ads will be placed above the #1 spot of organic results. So, we can get traffic effectively in a fairly short term. In this way, paid search will counter the time issue of SEO.
PPC ads are ‘bought’ through a process similar to auction: you and your competitors ‘bid’ on the target keywords. So, obviously with a popular keyword, it can be very expensive as you keep outbidding each other.
So, these two properly illustrates the dilemma between inbound and outbound channels: the issue of time vs cost. To achieve the best results in search engines, SEO and PPC ads should work together. Yet, how can we define the balance between the two?
The answer lies in analyzing the keyword difficulty, which will determine the CPC cost. You can use keyword analytic tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs to easily check these numbers. If the CPC is too high, and yet the keyword is extremely valuable for your business, you can be more aggressive with PPC ads. If the keyword is not too important, you can rely more on organic SEO.
Lead Qualification + Direct Mail
While we have mentioned how direct mail is still effective even in this increasingly digital age, it can be very costly to send it to all your audience. This is where improving the cost-efficiency, and thus maximizing ROI through proper targeting can be very important, and we can do it through proper lead qualification. (link)
Lead qualification allows you to properly assess the prospect’s fit to your business, and their current position in your marketing funnel. This way, you can properly determine the list of prospects you’d want to target with direct mail.
With lead qualification, you can also properly analyze the demographic data, which will further allow you to segment your audience and send a personalized direct mail. A unique promotional product tailored for the certain audience’s needs and behaviors will help in building better relationships, and thus increase your chance of conversions.
Account-Based Marketing + Content Marketing
Besides time constraint, inbound marketing also have an issue when you are a new brand in the B2B environment: people still won’t trust you even when your content is good and is ranking on the first page of Google search. In short, new B2B businesses will need even more time with inbound marketing.
This is where account-based marketing can help by targeting specific targets intensively. The downside of account-based marketing is that it can be intrusive and interruptive, and these issues will be tackled with content marketing to address their specific needs and problems.
On the other hand, we can tackle the time-constraint issue of content marketing by actively pushing the content to the target accounts.
With this combination, we can heavily personalize our marketing approach, building relationships and trusts intensively.
Telemarketing+Automated Inbound Campaigns
This is also a common combination of inbound and outbound marketing: using automated campaigns to generate and qualify le lads, and telemarketing will support the campaign to nurture the prospects and close the deals.
This way, we can tackle the targeting issue of cold calling, saving your time and resources. On the other hand, we can tackle the personalization and human-touch issues of automated marketing campaign.
Email Marketing+Offline Events
Attending and hosting offline events can be a great source of generating leads amidst this marketplace with too much emphasis on the digital activities. Yet, offline events can be time-consuming and expensive, and here email marketing can help to simplify and optimize the process.
With email marketing, we can properly communicate our events, as well as engaging your audience before and after the events.
On the other hand, events can be a great way to collect contact information and especially email addresses. Growing your email database can be tough, and here you virtually have a goldmine of valid email addresses that have shown interest to your brand or at least, niche.
Your email campaign purpose here should remain fairly simple: driving people to your event or exhibit. So, keep your message simple and straightforward: informing them the name of your brand (for new prospects), what you are offering, and where they can find you (booth number, etc). If necessary, you can offer incentives to encourage them.
After the event, sending a simple thank you message would suffice, as well as providing additional promotion or information for those who didn’t stop by.
By combining these two very effective activities, you can double the rate of lead generation, as well as maximizing your lead nurturing potential.
End Words: Your New Outbound-Inbound Strategy
Both outbound and inbound marketing strategies have the same primary goal: attracting more prospects, with the hope that in turn, we can convert them into actual customers.
While inbound marketing is certainly very effective nowadays, as shown by many success stories, it will work better if combined with optimized outbound marketing activities, as we have discussed on the examples above.
The key here is to avoid intrusive outbound marketing activities, and instead aim for a seamless, non-disruptive outbound tactics. Determine your prospect’s needs for the next steps in the buyer’s journey, and use the outbound tactic to answer this expectation.