The debate over “inbound vs outbound marketing” has been going on for years, and it seems like everyone has their own take on it. There are a great deal of articles and posts out there that deal with the two main marketing tactics, but as the conversation has gone on, a number of misconceptions have become accepted as truth.
This is problematic for marketers looking to develop the best strategy – there’s an overload of information, some of it quite contradictory. Some fantastic opportunities for ROI are being left on the table as a result.
The biggest misconception in the inbound vs outbound marketing debate is that you have to pick just one approach. We’ll come back to that in a bit, though. First, let’s take a look at exactly what we’re talking about with “inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing”.
Inbound Marketing: Glamorous, Effective and Time-Consuming
Inbound marketing is the process of creating high-value content that is of interest to your target audience and drawing them to your company through that content, generally via search engines. You address issues that they’re experiencing or topics that interest them.
In short, you provide value and in turn they become increasingly aware of your company as an expert resource. You build up trust with them before urging them to convert.
Gary Vaynerchuk calls the process “jab, jab, jab, right hook”, referring to direct advertising as “right hooks”. You soften your audience up with a few “jabs”, or valuable content, first to open them up to the “right hook”, the push to conversion, when it comes.
Inbound marketing (or content marketing) is a glamorous marketing tactic, and it works. You get to establish yourself as an authority on a subject, provide value to and engage with potential customers on topics other than how great your products and services are. Some top-notch content marketing types include:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Video content
- Social media
The downside is that it’s a time-consuming process in multiple ways. You need to craft detailed buyer personas to represent your target audience. You need to consistently pump out strong, high-quality content, and that alone requires effort.
Take into account that you need a solid SEO strategy, well-thought-out post cadences, and a social media strategy as well, and you can sink a whole lot of time into inbound.
The buyer’s journey is a long one, and you’re handing out value for free, so you won’t see the same lead generation rate as other tactics. On the other hand, when someone does convert, they’re already warmed up and engaged – the best kind of lead. Inbound marketing means thinking in the long term.
Outbound Marketing: Old Ideas + New Methods = ROI Boost
Outbound marketing gets a bad rap. When you’re trying to develop a marketing strategy and search for information, you’ll see many discussions on the merits of inbound vs outbound. When comparing the two, most articles and posts cite statistics about old-school advertising channels:
- TV ads
- Direct (snail) mail
- Radio ads
- Spam email
- Banner ads
All these and more enter the discussion.
Consider that, though. When was the last time you listened to a radio ad or watched a commercial on TV?
With audio and video streaming platforms such as Spotify and Netflix becoming the new norm, those methods are not only ineffective, they’re outdated. Spam protection is so powerful now that you don’t even think about it, never mind see any spam in your inbox.
These methods worked years or even decades ago, but that’s not what outbound marketing is anymore. People don’t like intrusions and have gotten very good at avoiding them. Outbound is often presented as a “bad” way of marketing, something to be abandoned.
What’s less talked about is that it works. When was the last time you checked your email?
Outbound marketing is a powerful tool that can generate leads at a rate that inbound can’t match. But only if it’s done right.
The core concept of outbound marketing is “reach people who haven’t heard of you and might want what you’re offering.” The key phrase there is “might want” – this is what makes the difference between old-school, intrusive tactics and an extremely valuable strategy that has gotten left behind.
Forget “traditional outbound marketing techniques”. It’s time to adopt a new digital marketing strategy.
They Both Work, But They Work Better Together
You have high-quality leads trickling in from your inbound efforts on the one hand, and you have the potential to generate many more leads with outbound on the other hand. How? We mentioned “doing it right”, and here’s the secret: blend them together.
Borrowing from the philosophy of inbound and applying some of it to your outbound makes all the difference.
Once you’ve gotten rid of the misconception that outbound means intrusive marketing, you can begin to craft campaigns that will hit their mark with a target audience that absolutely wants what you’re offering – they just don’t know it yet.
Inbound means they find you on their own – they’re searching for a topic, you’ve written spectacular content on that topic, they find your company that way. But what about people who would be interested but haven’t thought to search for that topic yet?
Try this: hand them the content they don’t yet know they want. There’s a wealth of prospects out there who will have an “a-ha” moment while reading your content. You just need to find them. To do so, your best bet is to find a reputable data provider and purchase a list of contacts.
Not just any contacts, though. Remember how we said the key phrase was people who “might want what you’re offering”? Knowing who your target audience is is the best tool you have.
Narrow it down to a particular industry that you know can benefit from your offerings, for example. Acquire a list of contacts in that industry from a reputable data provider. Then craft an email campaign that’s more than an ad, and offers real value.
Send a drip campaign that provides them with truly useful and valuable content – those are your jabs – and then finish off with a strong, convincing right hook. Make each of your email campaigns take your prospects on a miniature buyer’s journey.
Not only are you proactively reaching out to an immense number of potential leads – you know that the people you’re sending to have a legitimate potential interest in your product. That’s a different thing than interrupting someone’s dinner with a phone call about insurance.
All the while, your stellar inbound content is bringing in even more leads. The mutual exclusivity of inbound vs outbound marketing is a myth – they can work in tandem to keep your sales funnel filled.
Putting It Into Action
You’ve got the idea, now how do you put it into practice? If you try and run with this process with the same tools you use for your inbound efforts, you’ll hit a roadblock fairly early on – your email sending software. Inbound email tools are simply not built to handle outbound marketing campaigns.
The problem arises when you try to import your brand-new list of targeted contacts. Most email senders won’t let you import large contact lists at all, or send to them. The reason for this is that it would place a lot of risk on their shoulders.
A quick rundown: many email providers share domains across multiple clients. If they did not have controls in place to prevent bulk email sends, they run the risk of customers sending to lists containing bad data or spam traps and getting their domains and IPs blacklisted – which impacts them and other clients as well. So they simply don’t allow it in the first place.
You’ll need a bulk email sending software for that, and there’s no better option than Clickback. It’s especially designed for outbound email campaigns – you have all the features you need to build, run and track your campaign, as well as numerous layers of protection for your domains and IPs.
Not only does it let you upload that list you just bought – it performs rigorous hygiene and verification checks on each contact in it, filtering out any bad data and spam traps.
Plug your brilliant campaign in and send it off to a vast targeted audience that may never have found you on their own. And the only time spent is the time it took you to write that email.
Blend Inbound and Outbound to Bring Your Marketing to a New Level
You don’t need to choose just one, and you don’t need to be wary of outbound. Done properly, the two tactics synergize to create a marketing powerhouse.