By Eyal A Katz
Should I use inbound or outbound marketing? Where do you find that balance between outbound and inbound marketing to maximize and grow the flow of leads? What should you consider when concocting a synergic marketing mix to include both? To answer all these questions, let's start by understanding each of the marketing techniques, its strengths and weaknesses.
What is Outbound Marketing?
Outbound marketing can be simply described as a straightforward business exchange proposition. "Hey there, want to buy my thing?" is your basic message and approach of outbound marketing. It's the oldest and most fundamental part of any marketing strategy, and is also what non-marketers assume marketing is all about.
Examples of outbound marketing include telemarketing ("cold calls"), paid mailings (both electronic and "snail mail"), advertising (banner ads, radio ads, billboards, etc.) and even door-to-door sales. It's all about reaching out and pulling the prospect in.
Strengths of Outbound Marketing
Not only is it the older and better polished set of techniques, outbound marketing generates sales leads almost immediately. It goes beyond saying that it's no magic wand, but when it comes to "sealing the deal", your go-to tools are those in your outbound toolbelt.
Weaknesses of Outbound Marketing
Many businesses and brands love outbound marketing for its quick and easily measured results. However, they equally hate the cost and too often the reaction of the target audience, which can easily manufacture a negative sentiment toward the brand.
What is Inbound Marketing?
In short, the idea of inbound marketing is to create a pull effect to bring in pre-qualified leads instead of pushing intrusive messages.
Inbound marketing activities include opt-in email marketing, content production and promotion, social media, and search engine optimization efforts (SEO), among other things.
Using this method, a type of funnel is created with leads coming in at the top of the funnel (TOFU) and being "nurtured" down the funnel with marketing messages tailored to the stage that the lead is in until they are "ready" to be approached with a message directed to start the purchasing process.
Strengths of Inbound Marketing
Though it existed long before social media and even online sales, the inbound methodology has taken over digital advertising by storm in the past decade. With growing banner blindness, do-not-call lists and the rising cost of users' attention, it's no wonder so many brands and businesses include inbound marketing in their strategies.
Weaknesses of Inbound Marketing
For B2B marketers, it's often hard to explain the value of inbound marketing to executives who just want to see those leads flowing in and converting. It's no longer a new approach and methodology, and yet there are reasons brands sometimes hesitate to prioritize inbound marketing activities.
Brewing Your Marketing Mix
Let's go back to the question we started with: which should you be using - inbound or outbound? Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each, you can see why both are necessary ingredients in your marketing mix. But how much of each, and when?
A number of variables affect the inbound to outbound ratio of every brand, product, campaign, and even specific transaction. The impact of some might be less than of others, depending on your unique business and product.
The Marketing Mix and Match
Combining inbound methodologies and outbound marketing techniques in your marketing mix is not always easy, but is usually worth it. By defining the correct balance between the pull techniques of inbound and the push techniques of outbound, you can combine both to create an optimized lead nurturing and conversion process. It all depends on how well you know your target audience, and how willing you are to make the effort to cater to their needs along the journey down the funnel.