Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

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I get asked a lot what the pros and cons are of both inbound and outbound marketing and which is best suited for their business. And my answer is almost always the same.

“Why on earth would you do one without the other?”

What you see happening in marketing today is groups with special interests in either inbound marketing or outbound begin to praise one or the other as a silver bullet for digital marketing. But those people are wrong. Yup . . . there you have it. I’m not sugarcoating this at all. If you claim that all you need is inbound marketing or outbound marketing, then you’re dead wrong.

Let’s Figure This Out

Before we get too far into the discussion, let’s first define both inbound marketing and outbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get a prospect’s attention.

Outbound Marketing is the opposite of inbound marketing, where the customers find you, mostly through various pad and natural search engine marketing efforts.

Making beautiful music

The truth of the matter is that both types of marketing are critical for the other to survive. They have a symbiotic relationship, wherein neither can achieve its full potential without the help of the other. So, we should stop viewing them as two sides in a conflict and rather as two members of the same team.

You see, outbound marketing is the process of promoting your message to your target audience. This can include programmatic buying, social media promotion, PPC, native advertising, and a dozen other methods. The goal is to get a direct response from your customers.

In the past, outbound marketing was viewed as a bottom-of-the-funnel solution. When a customer is looking to buy, they find your ad and then they buy your product. But if that’s the only way you’re using outbound marketing

To illustrate this, I’ll use our own outbound marketing efforts to explain how you should utilize outbound marketing.

Instead of always asking for the sale with your outbound messaging, instead use it to help drive traffic to your inbound message. Your inbound marketing will include your blog, content library, and other piece of content scattered about your site. So, begin linking to those sections with your outbound messaging.

We utilize remarketing campaigns in our outbound marketing. It’s one of the most effective means of driving return traffic to your site and it often costs a fraction of other outbound marketing strategies. The ads we use in our remarketing have calls to action like these:

  • Find out how this enterprise company increased its leads by 900% in just 6 months
  • Get the latest news and insights on B2B marketing
  • Be sure to attend the free upcoming webinar on demand generation

Notice how we’re not asking them to buy our services? Instead, we’re driving them to our content to help them. When you start worrying about how to help your customers instead of selling them, that’s when you’ll notice they are more receptive to your message.

Now, this isn’t to say we don’t eventually ask for them to purchase our services – we do. However, we wait until we’ve developed a relationship with them first. Then they’re much more receptive to our request.

If you build it . . . They won’t come

Remember the scene in Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner hears the voice whispering to him over the cornfield? For some reason, this scene seems to be the basis of most inbound marketers. They have a set-it-and-forget-it mentality to their content. But in truth, they’re missing out on some huge opportunities.

With Facebook’s organic reach continuing to plummet it’s more important than ever for inbound marketers to supplement their inbound activities with a strong outbound message. If you want your customers to see your content, you need to promote it to them.

Our favorite method of doing this is through social promotion. These are paid campaigns to very targeted audiences on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. With these campaigns, we ensure that our content is exposed to our target audience and we drive targeted traffic to our site.

Once that traffic has reached our site we then capture them through remarketing cookie injection or email capture. Once we capture the visitors, we continue to utilize remarketing, marketing automation, and other techniques to continually bring them back to our site for more content consumption and eventually a sales conversation.

Stop Fighting Already

So you see, it’s not a discussion about which works better, inbound marketing or outbound marketing. But rather it should be a conversation on how to utilize them in harmony to produce the best results possible.

We’ve seen hundreds of campaigns that only use one or the other. And time and time again we see that the campaigns with the best results are the ones that use both inbound and outbound in synergy.

Much success,

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