Inbound v Outbound; is it one or the other?

Inbound v Outbound.

You may have seen recent articles on the subject of Inbound Marketing, comparing it to ‘Outbound Marketing’. Inbound is seen as the new method of attracting visitors to your website and outbound is the old style ‘push’ marketing. Inbound is usually portrayed as the way customers naturally want to engage with your business through ‘finding’ you. Outbound is the process of pushing your messages at your audience through email, direct mail, telemarketing or advertising.


Is it one or the other?

Although there is a lot of truth in the arguments around inbound and outbound, It’s our strong contention, based on our experience of working with customers over the last 5 years that, any marketing strategy for small business needs both. Quite simply there are no hard and fast rules around marketing. Different companies, industries, products, budgets and services all have an impact on the marketing mix.


Why combine both?

So why should you consider both inbound and outbound techniques into a campaign? The primary reason is that outbound can be much quicker than inbound in producing results. If you are starting from scratch then it can be some time before you start seeing visitor numbers rise and therefore it’s always good to ‘prime the pump’ with some outbound.
First, let’s look at a few examples of what are generally considered to be inbound and outbound techniques and those that can work together quite well.

INBOUND METHODS
Social Media
Search Engine Optimisation
Permission email
Blogs
Content Marketing

OUTBOUND METHODS
Trade Shows.
Direct Mail.
Mass Email.
Telemarketing.
Mobile/Web Ads.

What has the biggest impact?

The recent study by Moz showed that customer reviews, search, online articles, traditional advertising, and direct mail have the greatest impact on buying decisions. This finding in itself tells you that you need to have a mix of different tactics to reach, and engage with, your audience. For our clients, who are mostly small to medium-sized in B2B, we tend to focus on a composite programme which is a blend of Inbound and Outbound. The following example shows how these elements all work together to develop real leads.

The following is a typical programme we develop;
Develop some buyer personas and an idea of the buying cycle.
Create new content around key areas of customer concern, interest and challenges.
Use a blend of premium (downloaded) content, infographics and blogs.
Create a timetable of release of this content and map it to the buyer personas and the stage of the buying cycle.
Develop keyword phrases from the content.
A Pay per Click campaign using around 10 key phrases, with multiple landing pages (better to judge which search phrases work and which don’t)
Social Media used to promote content, especially on Linkedin.
Link to attendance at a trade show – use data capture at these events to build a complete ‘outbound’ follow up process that is used to generate leads.

The blend of inbound and outbound methods (primarily Trade Show and telemarketing) means that we are not interrupting anyone. We have permission to email them and good reasons to phone them up.

In one particlar instance this campaign resulted in over 300 qualified leads turning into subscribers, around 20 quality opportunities and 5 sales.

This was not possible unless we use some Outbound marketing techniques to drive Inbound visitors.

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