Is Outbound Marketing Truly Dead?

You shouldn’t always trust the Internet—and especially not when it comes to certain ‘obituaries’! Just last week, the Great Barrier Reef was pronounced dead in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek obituary that spread like wildfire on social media sites, much to the horror of scientists. Apparently, 22 percent of the Reef has been wiped out due to a massive bleaching event, but not the whole of it.

So when social media gurus and so-called ‘influencers’ declare outbound marketing dead in the water, it should be taken with a pinch of salt. Just because inbound marketing is gaining consequential steam doesn’t mean outbound should be stuffed six feet under. Both can happily coexist in today’s marketing environment.

Outbound marketing in a nutshell

According to a white paper furnished by Thomson Reuters, outbound marketing is traditionally defined as “pushing messages out to the masses via multiple channels with the idea that a percentage will stick and generate sales.” It’s a marketer-centric approach to advertising. Examples of outbound marketing tactics include cold calling, interruptive ads, and cold emails – now widely considered as spam.

But like everything else on the Internet, outbound marketing has evolved to fit the times and the types of consumer being targeted. The same Reuters paper gives an updated definition of outbound marketing, which is, “reaching out to clients and prospects with relevant messages by sending the right message to the right person at the right time.”

In other words, outbound marketing has been reborn into targeted, data-driven marketing.

Inbound on the rise, outbound on the decline

Based on its woeful numbers, it’s easy to declare outbound marketing dead. According to an article from Artillery Marketing, 86% of the current population skips TV ads. In terms of email, 91% have already unsubscribed from email lists, while 44 % of direct mail marketing were left unopened. As many as 200 million phone numbers have been classified under the Do Not Call list. It also doesn’t help that plenty of consumers are dodging marketing messages through caller IDs, Do Not Mail lists, pop-up ad blockers, and RSS readers.

The exact opposite is happening for inbound marketing. A Google Trends report on inbound marketing showed that interest in this type of marketing has been growing steadily over time, from a measly 5% in January 2004 to a whopping 98% by October 2016.

Furthermore, HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report reveals that companies that are increasing their budget on inbound marketing are enjoying a lower cost per lead, shortening their sales cycles and increasing their sales close rates. As a result, marketers are moving their budgets from outbound marketing to inbound marketing.

However: Outbound marketing works well with inbound marketing

Despite the opposite trends, it is important to understand that inbound and outbound marketing tactics are not an either-or situation. In fact, many marketers prefer to create an integrated marketing plan to reach a larger audience through multiple points of contact. While inbound marketing gets consumers interested in your product or service, it is outbound marketing that speeds up conversion by driving your customers to your online marketing channels, thereby enhancing and strengthening your inbound efforts.

In fact, outbound marketing is still effective in driving leads and sales. According to a survey by DiscoverOrg among 1,000 top IT executives, 75% said they decided to attend an event or appointment after having received an email or cold call.

The main question is, how can you combine inbound and outbound marketing strategies to effectively sell to your target consumers? Here are three steps to consider:

  1. Attract your target customer. You can use inbound marketing to figure out who your target audience is. The right marketing platform can help you get insights about your audience’s goals, needs, and challenges. This will also help you fine-tune your outbound campaigns to encourage maximum engagement. Some inbound marketing techniques to attract your ideal customer include blogging, SEO optimization, and social media marketing.
  2. Convert interested customers to buyers. Outbound marketing can be alienating and intrusive for people who are not interested in what you’re selling in the first place. But once you have piqued their interest through inbound marketing tactics, you can start employing outbound marketing strategies. Inbound marketing attracts them, but outbound marketing nourishes the relationship you’ve formed with your prospects. Design an outbound marketing campaign of phone calls, site ads, direct mail, and emails to encourage your prospect to take action.
  3. Keep a consistent tone. Whatever marketing tactic you’re using, make sure your brand’s tone and voice continue to support your goals and strategies. This will encourage your customers to keep coming back for more.

Just like the Great Barrier Reef, a huge portion of outbound marketing is still alive and well. While it can’t be used to attract buyers at the top of the sales funnel, the magic of outbound marketing works for prospects who are ready and willing. Instead of completely shunning it, marketers should use the strengths of outbound marketing to complement their inbound marketing campaign.

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