Inbound and Outbound: The Zen of Balanced Marketing

Demand and Lead Generation

In recent years you’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about “inbound” marketing ‒ promotional activities designed to attract a prospect to your destination, offer, or experience. Over the last decade, marketers have enthusiastically embraced inbound marketing practices and reaped its benefits.

The recent popularity of the buzzword inbound marketing may lead some to conclude that more traditional “outbound” marketing ‒ where an organization reaches into the market to engage with prospects who may not know about the company ‒ is not as effective.

Marketers, whose resources are often challenged by where to best invest their budgets, need to know how much time and how many resources they should be devoting to each type of marketing … or if outbound marketing is even worth pursuing in at all.

So, are inbound marketing tactics alone enough to grow a business? Act-On conducted a study to find out.

The short version of our conclusion: nope.

Turns out, to attract new customers and keep them happy, you need to use a combination of inbound and outbound tactics across the entire buyer’s journey. Brand gurus, demand generation experts, and customer marketers alike are using both strategies to win business and create an engaging customer experience.

A balanced approach of both kinds of marketing activities is what drives revenue. Outbound marketing is to inbound marketing as yin is to yang, as laces are to sneakers, as Garfunkel is to Simon, as an arrow is to a bow, as cheese is to macaroni, as pickles are to peanut butter. (Or am I the only one who enjoys that last combination?)

Act-On’s 2016 Inbound Marketing Effectiveness Report shows that marketing, like many pursuits, requires balance, harmony, and diversity to reach its optimal performance. Here are some key – and interesting – takeaways from our study:

  • The study tested agreement with statements about the effectiveness of both types of marketing. The highest level of agreement, at 84 percent, was with the statement that “inbound and outbound tactics together” drive the business.
  • For this study’s participants, inbound and outbound tactics are generating almost equal amounts of leads.
  • The importance of the revenue from and the marketing budget allocations for inbound and outbound tactics were virtually equal.
  • Curiously, despite the responses that both tactics drive almost equal leads and both tactics together drive the business, over half of the study’s participants say they will increase their investment in inbound tactics over the next 12 months. But just over one-third plan to increase their outbound tactics investment over the same period.

It seems clear that finding the complementary mixture of inbound and outbound activities will put you on a path toward becoming a Zen Master of Marketing. Take a look at our interactive infographic to learn some tactics that will help you create a balanced strategy.