Inbound strategies have come to dominate the marketing landscape over the last couple of years. With a customer-centric focus, the benefits are as obvious as they are numerous. Inbound marketing can result in savings of 13% per lead and delivers up to 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing, for example. The current consensus appears to be that inbound marketing is inherently superior to outbound marketing and that the two shouldn’t really be combined. However, while customers are appreciative of the choice and benefits that inbound marketing offers, outbound marketing can still be a very effective tool. In fact, some of the best marketing campaigns use a combination of both strategies.

Combining inbound and outbound marketing effectively

In order to maximise the potential of both inbound and outbound marketing, it’s essential to understand the inherent strengths and the weaknesses. Inbound marketing focuses on getting the customer to come to you and your website when they’re looking for information. This will subsequently convince them to buy what you’re selling. It means that having high-quality content available (whether in the form of white papers, blogs or even social media) is essential in getting the customer interested in your product. Inbound marketing is great at understanding and targeting your ideal customers and communicating and nurturing them. Establishing an inbound marketing campaign, however, can also be extremely time-consuming and resource-intensive, since you’ll need to be constantly churning out quality content. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, excels at converting potential leads into buyers through the use of directed communication (such as newsletters or ads). People get annoyed with outbound marketing when it’s considered inappropriate (i.e. spamming your entire customer list with a specific product) but by the same metric, getting in touch with repeat customers using specifically targeted outbound marketing can help maintain your commercial relationship with them.

Simple ways of combining inbound and outbound marketing include advertising your company’s social media profile at a networking event or offering high-quality content to a specifically-targeted email newsletter list. If you’ve got a return customer who has been with you a long time, even traditional outbound methods such as sending small promotional mailings can be an effective way to keep in touch and ensure your company remains fresh in the customer’s mind. Email is great for both inbound and outbound marketing campaigns because it first gives customers an opportunity to opt-in to the service and then allows you to divide your marketing efforts among various target groups by creating content that is carefully aimed at each group. Consider using inbound marketing as the way to get potential customers interested, and then use targeted outbound marketing to convert leads into customers.

An example of effective combination marketing

HubSpot is a well-known proponent of inbound marketing, but their marketing campaigns use outbound strategies as well. It relies heavily on inbound to generate leads with a very slick website, tons of quality content on their blog and good SEO marketing. Customers are asked to take action by signing up for a free trial. However, if the potential lead doesn’t engage with HubSpot beyond the free trial, a salesperson takes note of the lead and any potential needs. The lead is contacted about the trial experience and further options are suggested.

Overall, trends are showing a serious increase in the effectiveness of inbound marketing while outbound marketing hasn’t been seen to increase in effectiveness. However, the correct use of a combination of both outbound and inbound marketing has proven that it has serious potential to be the best form of a cohesive marketing plan. More on the implications of this and how to implement this effectively can be found in part two next week.

In the final analysis, it’s easy to get hung up on the so-called ‘rules’ of inbound marketing and thus avoid outbound marketing altogether. However, while inbound marketing is good at initiating relationships, outbound marketing converts leads into customers and keeps them coming back for more. By understanding the strengths and the weaknesses of each, you can devise a marketing strategy that will result in maximum impact.

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