In today’s inbound world, it’s easy to forget there’s still a place for outbound marketing activities. Search, social media and content marketing, three of the primary drivers of inbound marketing, have become the primary means to achieve brand awareness and lead generation goals for many savvy marketers. That shift was driven by consumer behavior.
But now the services we use are making it harder to flourish with inbound marketing alone.
Content shock is a serious concern among inbound marketers, and many of the channels we relied on for “free” marketing, like social media, are becoming pay-to-play arenas. Even our content needs promotion these days.
That doesn’t mean that inbound needs to be outbound. Just the opposite. As we are forced to adjust our approach to many of the channels we rely on, we should focus on making all outbound activities a little more inbound.
Old Outbound Vs. New Outbound
As inbound marketing grew in popularity and effectiveness, outbound marketing activities became defined by one thing: ineffective interruption. Not only was the interruption annoying to consumers, but those consumers also learned to ignore many of the 5,000 marketing messages they receive every day.
But it wasn’t just the interruption that made outbound, outbound. Those marketing activities were often defined by the notion that people would look at a print advertisement or a billboard or an email blast and be ready to buy. Outbound was product-centric, not people-centric, going straight to the final pitch before throwing out the first ball.
The new outbound needs to take into consideration the full lifecycle, giving buyers a chance to opt-in to the sales process at every stage.
How Not to Do Outbound
With that in mind, how do you keep outbound from being too outbound? The marketing platform you’re using is key. You need to be able to easily integrate all of your marketing activities, whether inbound or outbound, under one umbrella. With all the data in one place, you can determine which activities are producing measurable results. This way if your outbound channel isn’t producing the results you’d want it to, compared to inbound channels, you can adjust the content for better results.
There are a few other consideration you have to take when doing outbound as well:
- Are you educating or selling? If you’re not educating, you’re outbound won’t bring people in.
- Are you automating or personalizing? If you’re not focusing on the individual with outbound, you’re making it more difficult for buyers.
- Are you mass marketing or are you targeting? If you’re audience is too broad, you’re wasting money.
Outbound marketing is more sophisticated than it used to be. And the smarter you can make your outbound activities with the right software and the right content, the more likely a buyer is to opt-in for additional marketing.
Doing Outbound the Inbound Way
So what are some examples of outbound activities that can be done the inbound way? Realistically, any outbound activity can be altered to become a little more inbound, but here are some simple solutions to get started right now:
Many inbound marketers rely on routinely engaging their in-house email list with content and promotions. However, that doesn’t produce new leads. When it comes to lead generating emails, you can use traditional bulk emails available from most trade publications to promote educational content offers. You’ll generate many more leads this way than if you simply put out an email for a sale or demo request.
Tip: Don’t settle for a non-segmented email. A trade publication with a list of 200,000 raw contacts isn’t nearly as powerful as one with a list of 10,000 highly segmented contacts.
No matter how sophisticated your marketing automation platform is, it’s not worth the money you’re spending on it if you’re only using it for drip email campaigns and email lead nurturing. Email marketing needs to be combined with on-page lead nurturing to create a personalized web experience. This way, if a buyer visits your website before that email is sent out, he or she has the opportunity to convert fast. Or, if the buyer doesn’t convert when they see it on the website, your email can be more effective because they’ve already seen the offer before.
Tip: If you have a drip campaign or automation event, mimic the event on your website using personalized on-page content.
With paid media, whether it was a banner, print or search ad, the offers promoted generally drove people directly to the final step on the buyer’s journey: the sale. Today, that budget needs to also be used to promote Facebook pages, LinkedIn updates and other pieces of awareness-stage content in your marketing arsenal. You can also promote content via banners, print and search. Either way, it’s more important to get people to take the first step on the journey with you than to hope those ads convert on the last step.
The problem with direct mail isn’t that you can’t target personas. In fact, direct mail has had sophisticated segmentation since the 1990s. No, it’s that most people don’t think of direct mail as a place to promote your content. Simply not true. A small section of any direct mail piece should always be reserved to promote an educational content offer. This gives the people who aren’t ready to buy a chance to convert, even if they don’t want to enter to win your contest or request a demo. When these offers are connected to your marketing software, you can determine which ones work best and use that information to better segment your offers in the future.
Tip: You can track direct mail conversions just like any other channel. Just remember to use a tracking URL and a dedicated landing page for your content for easy tracking.
Even your media relations activities can be a little more inbound. Rather than encouraging people to publish stories about your product or service, pitch lead generating content, like your eBooks or guides, or exceptional blog posts to trade media outlets. With the right software, you can focus your pitches by seeing which publications are already sending referral traffic to your website.
Tip: Don’t limit your pitches to content you’ve already created. An offer to create an exclusive piece of content for a key publication can increase your chances to get your brand published.
So there you have it. Some simple ways to make your outbound marketing a little more inbound. Are you already combining inbound and outbound? Let me know what you’re doing in the comments below.
photo credit: Someecards