Combining Inbound and Outbound Marketing

A topic of hot debate these days is whether you should use inbound of outbound marketing for your Lead Generation. For those of us in marketing you know that we love to throw around buzz words. That should not be a surprise from a profession that gets people to buy things based on language. In this case, it is more than jargon. Both are legitimate strategies for Lead Generation. Which should you choose? How about combining Inbound and Outbound marketing to maximize results.

Outbound Marketing

What are Inbound and Outbound marketing anyway? Outbound marketing is what was called “marketing” or “advertising” in the traditional days. It required the marketer to spend money on efforts to reach out to the prospect. This took the form of advertising, such as TV, Radio and Print advertising. It also encompassed event marketing like trade shows. Outbound marketing is disruptive, it takes the prospects attention away from the content that originally attracted them and pulls it to the outbound message. In more digital terms, outbound takes the form of display ads, pop-ups or sliders.

Inbound Marketing

We reached a point where outbound messaging was considered “too intrusive” as well as over-saturated. Enter inbound marketing. The idea of inbound was to “pull the prospect in”, usually to a website or landing page. Once contact was made then content marketing was used to pull the prospect through the funnel. Content takes the form of blog posts, white papers, email newsletters and other content that the prospect wants to engage with.

Inbound marketing is much more indirect. There is usually no clear sales pitch. Inbound marketing prefers to nudge the prospect down the funnel with increased engagement. With inbound, the prospect has control. They read or view what they want. Inbound looks to build the trust and confidence of the consumer and build a relationship. The biggest costs in inbound are the creation of content.

In contrast, Outbound is direct and sometimes “in your face”. Outbound marketers control the pace and timing of interactions with prospects. Most outbound strategies require money to be spent on the delivery mechanism in order to send the message. The expenditures can be substantial. Because of the cost associated with this form of marketing the messages tend to be more sales oriented and less focused on education or orientation.

There are two primary similarities between Inbound and Outbound. The first is obvious, they are both designed to generate leads and sales. The second is that both require an understanding of target audience segmentation.

Use Them Together

In spite of the many differences there are numerous ways to effectively use the two lead generation forms together. Think in terms of push/pull. Use each force to improve the other. A very common combination is pairing paid and organic search. Paid search is great at reaching a person who has shown an initial interest in a product or service. Once introduced to the marketer, organic search continues to bring that prospect back to the website to learn more. An easy addition to this mix is retargeting. Once a prospect has visited a company web page, they are much more likely to return. Retargeting will remind them why they were originally interested and encourage them to return.

Another combination that works well is marketing automation and outbound phone calls. Buy or import lists of prospects and then put them into an email drip campaign. Segment prospects based on their responses and have your outbound sales team make direct contact with the most qualified respondents. They can either try to close the prospect or continue to move them down the funnel. Often times this personal touch is appreciated.

This process can be reversed. Networking and in-person events can generate large numbers of prospects. Put them into an email campaign to nurture their interest before attempting to close. The same concept will work with Direct Mail. Use Direct Mail as the outbound lead generator and email automation as the inbound nurturing tool.

Combining Inbound and Outbound Marketing

For years, the marketing mantra was the media mix. Figuring out how to combine TV, radio, print etc. to reach the target multiple times and move them to a buying decision. In digital advertising it was how to mix Search and Social, or Display with streaming video etc. Much like a cook, experimenting with recipes (A/B testing) deduced the best mix. The same holds true with inbound and outbound marketing.

A successful combination will focus on the target audience and what interests and motivates them most. Understanding the client journey is paramount. Look for places in your inbound campaigns targeted to your prospects’ buying journey where you can include an outbound touch point. Or where your outbound messaging can be reinforced by inbound methods. Measure results from each combination rigorously. Combining inbound and outbound marketing will create a more potent way to reach, nurture and sell your target audience.