Of course, none of this is bad. It’s good and smart to blend the two approaches. That’s why we think balanced marketing is the smartest choice. You get to use both sets of marketing tactics, and use them collaboratively. Here are five ways to do that:
1. Inbound marketing attracts; outbound closes
That’s a simplification of the process, of course, but it’s a pattern we see a lot. Here’s why:
Inbound is good for attracting the right audience in the first place. They find you through your content, on social media and via search (which are all inbound tactics). As your relationship with each audience member grows – through regular exposure to your content – they move along through the sales cycle. And as they progress through that sales cycle, outbound tactics start to become necessary.
For example, say you write a blog post (inbound) and get some SEO traffic from it as a result (inbound again). You have a call to action at the close of the blog post, where the prospect can download a gated whitepaper. Once you have their email address, you start to send them email messages (outbound). Even if they don’t download the white paper, you can advertise to them via retargeting (outbound again).
As you get more and more information about them as they interact with your sales system, eventually many of them will qualify as a warm lead. So a salesperson calls them (outbound again). Once the human-to-human interactions start to build, the close becomes more and more likely.
Even through this part of the sales cycle – while they’re talking to your sales rep – you’re still using both inbound and outbound tactics. You’re still sending them email messages, and you’re still showing them retargeting ads (both outbound). Hopefully, they’re still consuming your content (inbound), and they’re still snacking on shorter content via social media.
So while it is a bit of a generalization to say “outbound closes,” inbound tends to play the major role at the beginning of the sales cycle. Then it steps out of the spotlight a bit as outbound tactics become primary toward the close.
Here’s a real-world example of this from James Flannagan, Digital Manager of Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School.
“Now we can reach out to our new and potential students through outbound marketing, rather than relying solely on inbound advertising. We’ve used Facebook and Google to generate more leads, but now, once a potential student fills out a form from that inbound activity, we can put them into an automated program that leads them through the recruiting process.”
Social media is the first, inbound, step of the sales funnel for Blue Mountains. But when prospects click the “Contact Us” button on their Facebook page, the outbound process begins.
Even if someone doesn’t click after visiting the Blue Mountains Facebook page, it’s possible to retarget them with Facebook ads. Then the marketing automation kicks in (an outbound tactic), nurturing prospective students through the sales cycle. When the time is right, they get a call from someone at the school (an outbound tactic again).