It’s no secret that outbound marketing is no longer an efficient way to advertise your business. The rise of the internet and the omnipresence of social media means that customers are now more savvy than ever, and are able to make informed choices about which products and services they want to buy. Instead being easily swayed by adverts and commercials, many customers now compare prices, read reviews and get recommendations before even thinking about making a commitment to a particular product or brand. This means that the older techniques of cold calling and direct advertising are obsolete. Think about it from the consumer’s point of view – do you still open those countless direct mail messages that appear in your inbox or come through your letterbox every day, and would whatever they have to say make an impact on your consumer choices? Do posters and billboards really have that much of an effect on your purchasing habits? Do television adverts have the same authority and weight that they used to? The answer to all of these questions should be ‘no’, and that’s why outbound marketing is now considered outdated and ineffective.
As the techniques associated with outbound marketing become more obsolete with every passing day, many organisations are quite rightly switching to an inbound marketing strategy. This places less emphasis on selling to your customers, and places more emphasis on allowing them to buy. Inbound marketing works by attracting and generating leads through social media, blog and website content, which are then converted to sales by landing pages and good customer relationship management. Once they have purchased your product or service, they then contribute to your marketing campaign by posting about your brand on social media – and the process continues. It is all about building a brand and providing good customer experience over time to close sales, which then feeds directly back into your marketing scheme.
With the rise of social media and savvier customers, inbound marketing has taken over from outbound marketing and become the primary way that many organisations drive sales and strengthen their brand – but does the rise of inbound marketing mean that we should forget everything that outbound marketing taught us? Probably not. In fact, there are a number of things that tech savvy inbound marketers can learn from outbound marketing and its old techniques. To help you develop and optimise your inbound marketing strategy, we’ve pulled together a list of three major lessons inbound marketers can learn from outbound marketing techniques, from developing a strong, immediately recognisable brand to making your website, social media and blog content more flexible. Let’s start by looking at something some inbound marketers may overlook – identifying and targeting your audience.
1. Attracting and targeting the right audience for your products
Outbound marketing was all about targeting the right audience for your product or service. Market researchers would gather and analyse data to make sure that their organisation’s television advert or billboard was able to attract the right customers at the right time to optimise future sales – particularly if that organisation was buying costly television advert slots or expensive billboard or poster space – and this technique can still be of great use to inbound marketers today.
If you’re a small business, you may have limited monetary resources with which to get your content out there. Whilst social media is an easy and relatively cheap way to distribute your content, many organisations believe that just posting is enough, and that using data to inform your social media marketing decisions won’t have an impact on its effectiveness – but this is not true. You need to develop a clear social media strategy to ensure that your content is seen by the right people at the right time, and targeting your audience properly is a key element of this process.
First, you need to define and identify your targeted audience. You can then use Facebook’s inbuilt data and metrics systems to target your posts to your audiences. Let’s face it, if you’re a dog food company, you don’t want to be advertising your products to cat owners, but it does go deeper, including gender, age, interests and likes. You can specify all of this information to ensure that your intended audience see your content, which will only lead to more sales over time. This might seem extremely simple, and it is, but it is a part of the process that so many inbound marketers overlook. Although inbound marketing has moved on from most of the techniques of its predecessor, you still need to make sure that you identify and target your audiences properly. In the long run, it will serve to generate leads and drive sales.
2. Brand development
Outbound marketing also placed great emphasis on brand development, and more specifically developing a brand that it is instantly recognisable and will be remembered. It did this largely through graphic design, but also through creating unique content in the form of recognisable or quirky television adverts and billboards. Whilst not all of this may be applicable to inbound marketing strategies today, we can learn something from outbound marketing’s commitment to brand development.
Many organisations feel that brand development should come second to content creation where inbound marketing is concerned, but this is not true. Even though many of your leads will come from content you have created yourself, you can’t underestimate the importance of developing a strong, recognisable brand. With so many organisations competing online, you need to make sure that your brand is the only one they remember. You can do this by using interesting colour schemes, unique fonts, and by developing a recognisable, stand out logo for your brand. This will then feed back into your inbound marketing strategy by drawing repeat customers and generating new leads through customer created content like social media posts about your products, with your recognisable brand standing out from the rest. Outbound marketing taught us the importance of the brand, and combining that with a slick inbound marketing strategy could work wonders for your business.
3. Crafting great, flexible content
Like inbound marketing, outbound marketing was all about content, although in a different way. The content of direct mail messages, posters, billboards and media advertisements was designed and written to grab the audience, draw them in, and convert them to sales. Whilst the content creation techniques of outbound marketing are now very much obsolete, there is still one thing we can learn from it – flexibility.
All good inbound marketers will know that multi channel marketing strategies require a constant stream of new, exciting, optimised content to generate leads and keep the inbound marketing process ticking over. Creating original content every day, however, can drain both time and resources. It requires a whole team of people to research, create, design and implement the content, as well as managers to oversee this process. The pressure on organisations to publish new, exciting content everyday can mean that standards can slip, compromising your whole inbound marketing strategy. This is where outbound marketing and its emphasis on flexibility can be useful. Why not try creating great, original content that could be re-purposed easily for other uses? Outbound marketing campaigns re-purposed content wherever they could – re-using tagline and slogans across direct mail, branding and posters – so who says you can’t do the same for inbound marketing?
Creating flexible content allows you to relieve some of the pressure on your organisation, and save money and time while you’re at it. Keep in mind, though, that creating flexible content doesn’t mean you can allow your standards to slip. Inbound marketing lives or dies by the quality of its content, so if you are re-purposing it, make sure it is tailored specifically for your audience, is gripping and exciting, and is optimised to generate leads and convert them to sales. A good example is re-posting blogs or news pieces to capitalise on current events and trends. Re-purposing or adding to your content to keep it up to date will takes less time than writing a new piece all together, and so will save you time and money and allow you to piggyback on to the trend before it peaks.
There we have it – three lessons that we can learn from the bygone days of outbound marketing. Although the lessons learned here could significantly improve your inbound marketing strategy, it is important to stress that if you’re organisation is still replying on outbound marketing techniques, then you need to review them as soon as possible. In our digital age inbound marketing really is the only way to generate quality leads, drive sales and develop your brand efficiently and effectively – without it, your business could fail.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: 3 Things Inbound Marketers Can Learn From Outbound Marketing
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