The marketing industry has gone through some serious changes over the past few years. New technology has emerged, consumer interests have changed, and new competition has arisen—all of which has led marketers to completely change their game plans.
In particular, the last five years have given rise to the permission-based marketing strategy called inbound marketing. The popularity of this marketing method is made evident by the fact that three out of four marketers now use an inbound approach to marketing. And Hubspot’s “New State of Inbound 2015” report shows that in 2015, inbound marketing campaigns achieved a higher ROI that outbound ones.
These stats and reports leave us with two important questions: First, is it possible to run an inbound marketing plan without print media, direct mail, and other outbound marketing tactics? And on the flip side, is it still possible to run an entire marketing plan the outbound way in the era of millennials?
The answer to both the questions? Not really.
Traditional marketers have long achieved great results from outbound marketing. And on the other hand, digital marketers have found a sustainable way to generate great ROIs in the form of inbound marketing. And for a vast majority of businesses, it’s important to balance these two marketing strategies. Let’s see why.
Outbound marketing, which has become the bad boy of the marketing world, is basically non-permissive marketing. Television advertisements, radio ads, direct mail, and cold calling are all examples of this kind of disruptive marketing.
On the other hand, inbound marketing, the new marketing darling, is permission-based and promises high-quality content and organic engagement.
Inbound marketing has become successful for generating leads—HubSpot reports that inbound marketing efforts generate 54 percent more leads than outbound marketing methods. And it is also inexpensive. Econsultancy.com has reported that the average cost to generate a lead via inbound marketing ($143) is about half the average cost of outbound marketing ($373).
But does that makes inbound marketing the be-all and end-all strategy? Has outbound marketing become ineffective? And have TV commercials, newspaper ads, banners become worthless?
The answer to all three questions is no. Outbound marketing is still big in conservative industries, niches, and regions. And it’s still the best way to quickly attract customers.
Can inbound and outbound marketing co-exist?
Combining outbound and inbound marketing can be an effective strategy. An article by the Content Marketing Institute cites VentureBeat when it says that offline events are, and will remain, an effective way for online and digital marketers to generate leads, win new customers, and keep their customer bases satisfied.
Online, smart marketers are now wrapping their digital content assets in outbound marketing tactics to give their leads a message of read, watch, download, and buy. For example, many marketers are creating Facebook ads for a free ebook to highly targeted users who have shown interest in a particular niche.
Offline, professionals are using outbound network mining techniques along with digital content to turn what would have been a cold call into an effective action call.
The inbound approach to outbound marketing
By now it should be clear that neither style marketing style should stand alone. But integrating the two isn’t as easy as it sounds. To balance the two, create a marketing strategy that follows the principle of “integrate, not isolate.” Choose a mostly inbound strategy that doesn’t ignore outbound techniques.
The way you balance the two marketing strategies depends on where you are with your customers. Outbound efforts are better than inbound ones for raising brand awareness, which creates your customers’ initial interactions with your product or service. Inbound strategies bring in qualified leads, retain customers, and create a good ROI. If you combine the two, you won’t waste your outbound efforts when you implementing your outbound initiatives.
Over time, the results of your inbound efforts will start to color the strategic framework of your outbound marketing strategies. This will give you a unified strategy that will help you achieve your long-term goals with sustainable results.
Putting it all together
Inbound marketing is key to digital marketing and it’s a no-brainer for companies trying to achieve long-term goals. But don’t let go of outbound marketing, which can serve as a ladder for consumers to reach your brand in the first place.
A marketing strategy that includes both inbound and outbound will make your business successful. Blend the two concepts to build brand awareness, develop relationships, and nurture engagements with old, new, and future customers.
Understanding when to use which strategy is a matter of working hard work and tracking your results.
So to answer the question at the top of this article—can inbound and outbound marketing co-exist?
Yes, and they can do it in a healthy, harmonious, and complementary way.