This blog doesn’t answer this question…simply because it’s the wrong question to be asking in the first place.
Let’s just be clear from the start. We LOVE inbound marketing, we are passionate about it, we preach it, we teach it, we blog about it, we write about it…oh yes, and we execute inbound marketing campaigns for our clients for many hours every single day.
So why aren’t we raging against outbound marketing as old fashioned, outmoded and expensive?
Because outbound marketing works like a dream – when used correctly at the right stage of the buying cycle; namely, when your buyers know you, they have told you they are interested in you and they are seeking a solution.
In short, you have earned the right to send your marketing material TO them. Tacitly, they have agreed to be interupted from going about their day to day business by your content because they want to know what you have to say. They are ripe.
Of course this is the antithesis of top-of-funnel, awareness and engagement style marketing, where you have absolutely no right to market to the buyer.
In the early stages of their buying journey, your target buyers are researching, reading, educating themselves, understanding and dimensioning the size of the problem and engaging with their peers. In this environment outbound marketing is a disaster.
Instead, B2B Marketers should use their well planned, carefully researched and engagingly written content. They must make this content available to their target buyer in a way that’s easy to find and access. Typically and increasingly, this involves using carefully chosen social media as a channel of distribution for your content.
The industry’s understanding of what works is evolving, and I would argue that inbound and outbound marketing are inexorably linked and intertwined.
The trick for B2B Marketers is to string together these approaches in a way that consistently drives high quality traffic, contacts and leads for your sales team.
Here is a simple graphic that illustrates how marketers can string together the elements of B2B Marketing into an holistic lead generation machine that we call “smarter marketing”.
Is Outbound or Inbound Marketing Best for B2B Marketers?
So let’s look at each of these steps and illustrate how inbound and outbound marketing are intertwined to form a lead generation machine.
Step1: Developing offers for buyers
This step isn’t restricted to “inbound”, but the way the offer is communicated is what makes or breaks the campaign – and when it comes down to it, inbound marketers are much more focused on what the buyer wants to hear, versus what you want to say about your product.
Step 2: Develop compelling content
Again, this step isn’t “inbound” per se, except that to do this succesfully marketers must think like their buyers in everything they do, and this IS a characteristic more associated with inbounders rather than outbounders who are typically all about “look at me!” – unattractive, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Step 3: Get found online
This sits fairly and squarely in the inbound-ers camp. The tactics required to do this well are keyword selection, search engine optimisation, blogging and social media engagement to name a few. Also, your prospects will trust organic results much more than paid ad space. This is why a whole industry has emerged around increasing your search engine rank.
Step 4: Convert visitors to leads
This also inbound marketing centric as it requires generating compelling calls to action, landing pages and forms on your site, all of which require good digital marketing skills. It involves getting into your buyers’ heads and figuring out what areas of your site they will be most interested in, helping them to navigate between your web pages.
Step 5: Promote your offer
However once we have converted a visitor to a lead and we know a little bit about them we can start to promote our offer to our leads in a more outbound mode. Whilst we would advocate continuing to use social media, lead nurturing via email remains the most effective tactic at this stage. Marketing automation platforms really come into their own here and allow increasing levels of personalisation as we get to know more and more about the lead. Webinars, events, demos and free trials are excellent bridging tactics to take a lead to the point they are ready to engage with sales.
Step 6: Measure, analyse and improve
Finally and vitally comes measure, analyse and improve. This is perhaps one of the biggest assets that the smarter marketing methodology has going for it. Being able to measure our marketing activity is potentially very valuable. However until you build a real change process in your marketing team to analyse, change and retest, little will genuinely change.
But if you do it right your cost per lead can fall by over 60%.
Equally challenging to stringing all of these elements together is finding, educating and keeping a solid marketing team whose skill sets straddle all the elements required to pull this off. Its a challenge and why many firms look to agencies for help.
If you woud like to find out more about smarter marketing why not download our free eBook
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