There is a vicious rumour being spread, that outbound marketing for lead generation is no longer effective. Tactics such as emails to purchased data lists and the traditional channels such as direct mail and telemarketing have been given quite a hard time. There seems to be a common theme in the advent of new marketing disciplines, that the old methods are now redundant. But is it a case of one or the other? Is it inbound versus outbound? Actually, no. It is the integration of strategic outbound and inbound marketing techniques that will prove most successful for B2B lead generation. B2B marketers that can successfully achieve this will reap the benefits.
Let’s take email as an example. Less than a decade ago, to purchase a list of prospect data and blast this entire list with email campaign after email campaign was a regular occurrence. The approach was un-targeted, mass and impersonal, but as the norm it generated some positive results. These days, the common argument is that outbound ‘cold’ email marketing is no longer effective. Perhaps it is not the channel that is the problem. Perhaps, by adapting marketing strategy to account for changes in marketing and a shift towards highly personal, targeted communication, this same approach can be hugely successful at generating leads and ROI.
Firstly, buyer persona research absolutely has to be step one for any marketing plan. Truly understanding your buyers and their pain points is the only way to create valuable and engaging email content that will result in positive response. Secondly, securing reputable, clean and targeted data is no mean feat, but it is vital to outbound marketing success. By purchasing data that specifically contains the right contact information, for the right decision-maker and at the right business, marketers are able to segment and create personalised emails for each of their personas and have a much higher chance of engaging prospects at first touch.
However, it is when you combine this with inbound marketing activity that the magic really happens. You’ve got your personal, targeted, valuable email content that directly addresses your prospects' pain points and holds back on the hard-sell approach. Why not finish your email with a simple link to a relevant piece of downloadable content? As we know, the B2B buying process is long and prospects require nurturing to the point of being sales-ready. A first touch email may not be strong enough to fully engage a prospect enough to get in contact with you. Access to helpful content though, which is followed up using your inbound marketing strategy, can successfully enter them into the sales funnel and drive them to the point of a qualified lead.
The same can be said for direct mail. A generic mass send-out to your entire database is unlikely to result in positive ROI. However, a well-targeted, personalised and innovative piece of direct mail that directs receivers to visit an online resource, whereby you can capture them online and proceed to nurture, has proven to be a very successful marketing strategy.
In this way, it is the integration of both outbound and inbound marketing activity that will most successfully convert cold prospects to qualified leads and generate ROI.
Do you have examples of how inbound and outbound marketing have been successfully integrated? Or do you think outbound is losing its place in B2B lead generation? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!