If you tuned in a couple of weeks ago you know that I had a heart-to-heart with my marketers about outbound marketing. I discussed that, while we marketers rely on outbound marketing, it’s not the most cost-effective or ROI producing strategy. As an alien once said, “It’s a trap!” (points for anyone who names that movie!). Don’t fall into the trap of outbound marketing, friends.
While this technique is not efficient on its own, it can be used sparingly in conjunction with another method: inbound marketing. As a recap, outbound marketing can be defined as sending your message (typically company-centric) out, primarily to people who may not be familiar with your company. On the other hand, inbound marketing focuses on getting the right prospects to contact you by outputting engaging, customer-centric information. In fact, the information may have nothing to do with your products or even mention your company. Great inbound marketing should facilitate a learning environment and should be useful information to the reader within the industry.
Take for example the buyers journey. This is recognized throughout the marketing industry as the steps leading up to a purchase. I’m sure this will ring true with how you handle most of your large personal purchases as well. Buyers spend most of their time in the awareness stage, and are looking for objective, strictly educational content. It is here that you have the initial opportunity to get in front of the prospect. They aren’t ready yet for informational pieces about what YOU do, but want education about things pertaining to your industry or trends.
The techniques that we discussed in part one of this series should not take place in the awareness stage. The awareness stage is where inbound marketing takes place. Most likely, outbound marketing will happen frequently in the consideration and decision stages. So let’s take a look at the outbound techniques we discussed in the first installment and how we can use them in conjunction with inbound marketing.
While cold calling has proved to be an ineffective marketing strategy, a similar technique can be used. For example, as a prospect continues down the buyer’s journey and consumes the content you are producing, they may be open to hear about your product or solution. However, unless they fill out a form asking for contact with their initial download; it probably isn’t appropriate to call them as soon as they view introductory content. When they reach the consideration stage of their journey and are looking at white papers, free trials or other explanatory materials they are ready to hear more about what you offer. This is a sure sign that it is appropriate to “warm call” them.
Email marketing in itself is a very successful marketing technique. Just keep in mind that you want to make sure that everyone has opted in to your email marketing. We discussed in part one that sending emails to a bought or rented list can result in your IP address being flagged. No one likes SPAM, you included. So just don’t do it.
Email is a great way to engage your audience so send exclusive offers and free, educational content. Research your industry and learn the appropriate number of emails to send a week. Maybe you work and retail and its standard to send an email out every day, or it could be that once a week is appropriate. Experiment with subject lines, images and time of the day to send to optimize your results.
Direct mail can be successfully used in conjunction with online marketing. Because direct mail can be costly it is best used on a specific target audience and someone farther down the buyer’s journey. Do research ahead of time on your recipient audience, as different groups will respond differently to direct mail. The most important part of making direct mail work, is to treat it like you do email by only sending it to people who opt in. Blindly reaching out to people will not yield the ROI you are looking for. Use this mail opportunity to direct your recipient to a pURL (personalized URL) or your social media pages so they are continually connected.
Direct mail is also useful because of its longer shelf life than an email. In general, emails are viewed once and aren’t tangible due to its electronic nature. In contrast, direct mail is often left on a table and can be physically picked up and viewed later.