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You may recall in a previous post, we considered what outbound marketing was and whether it still worked. Outbound, we concluded, is a traditional form of marketing that largely involves cold calls, email blasts, TV, radio and newspaper advertisements. Although the Digital Age has certainly given way to the rise and rise of inbound marketing (i.e. strategies that draw potential buyers in through the effective creation and distribution of content), there is still a place for outbound marketing methods.
And so, this time, we’re going to be looking at some practical methods to combine inbound and outbound marketing, and how to get these separate disciplines working together to drive results. And we’ll do so by focussing on the strengths of each approach.
The number 1 strength of inbound is in its broad appeal. Inbound marketing involves creating large volumes of content that is designed to garner the attention of many, many people online, who will then start to think about your brand and your business and visit your website.
Another core strength of the inbound approach is that it is non-invasive. Indeed, one of the perceived problems with outbound tactics is that they invariably interrupt people in order to slap them around the face with an unsolicited email, cold call, commercial or printed advertisement. Inbound tactics, by contrast, work like marketing magnets. They involve attracting prospects non-intrusively through the distribution of useful content that has value in its own right.
Whereas inbound is about casting the net far and wide, there are certain outbound marketing tactics that take the targeted approach, and this is highly beneficial. Inbound may very well generate lots of traffic and attention, however not all of this will be relevant. By contrast, outbound tactics like PPC (pay-per-click) advertising and pixel-based retargeting methods (such as the Facebook pixel, for instance) can be used to directly target specific content to specific users who are displaying behaviours which indicate that they’re ready to convert.
Furthermore, if you’ve got some new offers that need mass marketing, want to garner contract renewals or win back old customers, then it is toward these types of outbound tactics that you must look.
And finally, the power that outbound methods have to raise brand awareness should also not be sniffed at. Branded, intrusive advertisements that are designed not to be missed will not be missed and deliver the brand lift you’re after. True, many users will not like having your messages forced upon them in such a way – which indeed is why a combination of outbound and inbound is important.
Outbound and inbound marketing tactics both have their strengths, but the true power of them is released when put to work in combination. Indeed, when you get inbound and outbound toiling in tandem you will present a more well-rounded view of your company for your prospects to engage with. So let’s consider a couple of practical ways that you can combine the forces of inbound and outbound to best effect.
As part of your inbound content strategy, you will of course be producing blogs and infographics and eBooks and videos and lots more besides. Some of these inbound content assets will be of more value to your MoFu (middle of the (sales) funnel) prospects than they will be to your broader ToFu (top of funnel) segment.
The trick, then, is ensuring that the MoFu cohort don’t miss these most valuable pieces. So, through the use of outbound tactics – such as banner advertisements, calls from sales reps, or promotional emails – you can target the people who have shown that they are ready to engage, and then deliver an eBook, infographic or link to a specific blog post directly to these people.
Retargeting pixels are of great benefit in this type of scenario. Let’s say you’re in business selling SaaS (software as a service) subscriptions to video editing software. With a retargeting pixel in place on your website, you can retarget anyone who experiments with your software across other channels on the web. I use this example, indeed, because I see it in action myself. I’ve personally experimented with the free version of Shakr – a video making platform. Since I’ve used the service, when I now visit Facebook, the following message is delivered to my news feed encouraging me to download an eBook:
Clearly, Shakr is using the Facebook pixel to complement its outbound marketing tactics and retarget users like me who have experimented with the platform. However, the eBook is also in circulation as part of Shakr’s inbound campaign – thus, providing us with a brilliant example of inbound and outbound tactics being used in conjunction.
Another great way to combine outbound and inbound is to simply reach out with targeted communications to those that have engaged with you inbound content.
For example, those users who fill out a form before downloading an eBook or whitepaper can be contacted directly by a sales rep with a follow-up call or email. This way you know exactly who to target, and that they have already shown considerable interest in what you do and will therefore be more ready to buy.
You can see that inbound and outbound are essentially two sides of the same coin. By utilising the strengths of each you can make them work together to deliver better results. Indeed, a solid marketing strategy will encompass both inbound and outbound tactics and ensure that you’re targeting the right prospects with the right content, whilst simultaneously spreading the net wide with lots of inbound efforts, and creating brand lift through outbound.