From the current crop of articles out there, one might get the impression that inbound marketing was set to eliminate outbound in the battle for eyeballs. We don’t think that’s an accurate assessment at all. In fact, if you look closely you’ll see that a growing number of agencies and in-house marketing departments alike are adopting a hybrid approach. They’re taking the best pieces of each methodology and combining their power to improve ROI even more than either could do alone.
The truth of the matter is, marketing is not a zero-sum game. It doesn’t have to be “either-or,” it can be a “yes, and.” Further, this new hybrid, or “integrated” approach has a lot going for it, as inbound and traditional outbound techniques work together quite well, as you’ll soon see.
The integrated marketing model combines the best, most impactful aspects of in- and outbound marketing. It’s a framework through which all aspects of marketing are brought under one umbrella to drive conversions, meet business goals, and increase marketing ROI across campaigns.
There are 4 main areas where we’re seeing this hybrid approach take hold: pay-per-click (PPC), email campaigns, content-based outbound blasts, and tradeshows/special events.
Hybrid Marketing in PPC Campaigns
Despite the rumors, pay-per-click advertising is far from dead. In truth, it provides the ultimate example of these two marketing methods working together synergistically. The very nature of a paid ad is taken straight from the outbound playbook, while the targeting behavior is 100% inbound.
Most modern ad platforms (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads Manager) allow for advanced targeting. These take everything from basic demographic information like age range and location and add to that income range, education level, interests, and more. Then on top of that, they add in the ability to filter by activity on the site (for example, Facebook group memberships). Toss in more standard keyword filtering, and you can see the power of inbound techniques to better target your traditional outbound ad.
Deepening this connection one step further, you can link your PPC ad directly to a landing page for a related special offer or downloadable content piece, increasing conversion rates by driving clicks straight to a data collection form.
Email Campaigns: Outbound Tactic Supported by Inbound Methods
Email marketing walks a similar line between in- and outbound. Most are conducted using standard outbound techniques, such as using a purchased contact list to send sales materials directly to folks who might be interested. However, these people didn’t ask for that information, so it’s hit-or-miss.
Alternatively, inbound email marketing uses prospects who have voluntarily given you their contact information via a form, signup sheet, or by registering for access to gated content. These emails have a much higher success rate since the audience was self-selected and consists only of people you know to be interested in your product.
The combining of methodologies appears when you take inbound best practices and apply them to your outbound campaigns. Since the audience is not the same, self-selected group of people and you don’t know how your email will strike them, it’s key to use some inbound techniques to put them at ease regarding your intentions:
- Be human
- Provide great, useful information in your first email
- Personalize your message; speak to the individual
- Speak directly to their pain points
Following these guidelines will help your new audience get a feel for you and your company by setting the tone as friendly, non-pushy, and ready to supply fantastically informative content in support of your sales activities.
Outbound Blast Your Inbound Content
Your content is working like a charm, slowly increasing your reach and bringing new eyeballs to the website. You’re using social media to publicize each new post, and engaging your audience with your brand voice on several of the top platforms. But you keep wondering, could your content be doing more?
Yes. Because you can apply push tactics to getting the word out. Maybe you bundle several of your best-performing blog posts into an eBook that you blast out to your outbound email lists. Or you develop a regular newsletter for your subscribers, then send a special, trial edition to that same outbound list. Properly applied push techniques can work wonders for spreading your content farther and wider and in the process, gain you new subscribers and followers.
Tradeshows Offer Unique Face-To-Face Opportunities
Industry tradeshows and other events offer a unique chance for your customers to interact directly with representatives of your company. This is especially true in B2B, where you and your clients are often separated by states, international borders, or even entire continents.
While it’s true that technology has progressed quite far in terms of video calls, webinars, and other web-based communications, there will never be a substitute for face-to-face interactions to cement relationships. In fact, a recent survey reports that 46% of B2B marketers rank tradeshows and events as their top source of leads, both SQL and MQL.
Tradeshows offer a fantastic playground to experiment with mixing inbound and outbound techniques. Try using a paper signup sheet to collect interested parties, then add them to your inbound subscriber's list and surprise them with a followup email just for attendees within 24 hours of the close of the event. Or strategically place QR codes in your promotional materials that send people to a landing page for a special, event-themed piece of video content. Both of these use hands-on outbound methods to collect contact information to add to your inbound contacts list.
Events also function as a sort of “in-person inbound marketing” opportunity since the funnel is nearly identical:
- Customers are attracted to your booth by your promotional materials and brand presence.
- Then they get to engage in one-to-one conversations with your marketing staff.
- And finally, your audience is delighted when you reach out within 24 hours to follow up on their experience.
These examples are just a starting point. What we wanted to show you is that inbound and traditional outbound marketing are ideally suited to working in tandem. We encourage you to brainstorm some ways you can put the combined powers of these methods to work for you. The combination of factors can act to boost your marketing ROI and increase conversions over what either can do alone.