Over the past few years, inbound marketing has been touted as the ‘silver bullet’ in many marketing plans, and recognized for its effectiveness in building brand awareness, as well as generating traffic, leads and conversions.
Therefore, it may come as quite a surprise to hear industry heavyweights claiming that it may not be as effective as it used to be. Things are changing, and we can see this in the way that social networks are now favouring posts without URLs and the way Google is referring less outgoing traffic to websites for the first time in its 20-year history.
One of the most important factors in the decline of inbound is that everyone is onboard the inbound marketing train now. Things are getting saturated, and it is hard to find an industry where inbound is not being implemented. There are fewer opportunities for small websites as the big players dominate the share of Google’s top results.
The Merging of Ads and Inbound
Things aren’t all doom and gloom though - all of this just means that marketers have to adapt and switch up their marketing plans. A while back, the people who coined the term inbound marketing - HubSpot - changed their stance on ads, saying, “If you’re not using ads in your marketing mix today, you’re not doing everything you can to provide customers with helpful, relevant content at every stage of the buyer’s journey.”
Of course, none of this means that inbound tactics are no longer effective. Inbound is still highly effective for many companies, and should still form part of the larger marketing strategy. That said, it is no longer feasible to focus all marketing dollars on inbound, as this may cause marketers to miss opportunities to make meaningful connections through modernised, yet traditional tactics.
For example, instead of creating a social media post directed at every single follower, marketers can instead create several different ads and tailor each message to meet the specific needs of various groups, by seeding specific inbound content.
Through a combination of inbound and ads (outbound marketing), marketers can have a great content strategy that generates good leads, provided the information they are leading a person to reflects the right brand messaging.
If you are battling to meet your marketing goals using inbound-only tactics, this year may be the perfect time to incorporate some outbound marketing into your overall strategy. Here is our recommendation on some of the best outbound tactics that still work.
Search and Social Media Ads
Content marketing, SEO, and social media are fantastic tactics for long-term traffic growth. However, for short-term growth (especially for new businesses) a combination of search and social media ads can be a more efficient way to drive traffic to your site, while waiting for content marketing and SEO to start making an impact.
Looking at social media ads first, there are many benefits to paid media campaigns that work hand in hand with inbound, driving people to your website with content you may have already generated. Targeting will also allow you to target users based on their interests, demographics, and pages they have visited, as well as retarget them if they have been to your website.
The stand-out feature with paid social media is that campaign costs can be low, while the ability to tweak campaigns and make changes in real-time means that budgets are utilised effectively. Tweaking and optimising as you go means that marketers can see who is responding to adverts and amend the targeting or turn off the adverts that are not performing.
In terms of pay-per-click and display advertising, you need to ensure to bid on the right keywords in search engines so that PPC ads appear in relevant searches. One must also ensure to make use of location, age and interests to target consumers. Clear and creative copy for text ads is also vital so that the clicks you pay for are from genuinely interested leads.
Smarter Cold Calls and Emails
Sales is all about the human element -it’s about reaching out to people and telling them why your product or service is going to change their lives. Treating a potential lead like a human, rather than just a name on an excel spreadsheet is the only way to ensure a cold call or email works effectively.
Cold calls can actually be effective and an efficient way to generate leads and sales, as long as you have done your research. There are various ways to ensure a cold call doesn’t go sour, some of which include: looking for companies that are similar to your existing customers and using visitor identification software to identify which companies have already visited your website. A follow up phone call (with this info at hand) can go a long way in helping you make a connection and then a potential sale in the future.
When it comes to cold emailing, the key to a successful outreach is taking the time to personalize the message. Email campaigns that are not personalised, but are rather broad and general, are a waste of time. Email marketing has gotten a bad reputation in the past due to broad email blasts.
Consumers want and expect personalisation, and yet 75% of customers in North America say that they are not getting email content that speaks specifically to them. Some of the most important ways to slice your list include segmentation by gender, geography, age, industry, job function and past purchases.
As an example, let's say a consumer signs up for your email list and, through your email software programs, you begin to track them. Your marketing software scans their social media and learns that they are a male, between the ages of 30 and 40, living in South Africa, with fishing listed as a hobby. The software then recognizes that said consumer is the target demographic for a new, affordable fly fishing range. From this point, he gets opted in to a specific email stream with the reels and rods he's most likely to purchase.
Trade Shows and Conferencing
Events, trade shows and live demonstrations with one-on-one interactions allow for real engagements, where people can really get to know and learn what a company has to offer. Trade shows and events have even more impact on B2B marketing, as businesses can connect with companies and establish a personal relationship with the decision-maker before he or she makes a purchase.
To be successful with event marketing, companies need great visual trade show materials like banners and signage which stand out from the crowd, as well as modern, easy ways to generate leads, such as QR codes that open a lead-capture form.
Outbound Marketing Will Never Die
When radio was first introduced in the 20s, the world said that it would replace good old-fashioned newspapers. Fast forward to the 50s and we saw many predicting that the television would replace the radio. Nothing could be further from the truth and marketers know that a good mix of each medium can help to refine marketing strategies.
In the same breath, the notion that inbound marketing might replace outbound marketing is equally unfounded. The best marketing strategies recognise the strengths and weaknesses inherent in both marketing “directions”, and cleverly combine both to formulate a concise message that can be communicated across both inbound and outbound.
If you are struggling to hit your goals with inbound tactics alone, we suggest adopting any one of these outbound techniques into your strategy. Goodman Lantern are experts in helping our clients find the ‘sweet spot’ with a combination of both inbound and outbound marketing strategies, and would love to help you find the perfect marketing mix.