Thursday, June 28, 2012

Inbound VS. Outbound : Not so Black and White

At this point, most of us are sold on the concept of inbound marketing, coined by Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of Hubspot. We believe that generously pushing content (blogs, whitepapers, YouTube videos) out on to the www will help build brand awareness, show that we produce value for our leads and customers, and ultimately this this will drive traffic back to our own websites, convert visitors to leads, leads to sales, and so on. 

Inbound, at this point, is undeniable, but outbound is not dead.  Traditional channels are still important, especially in selling to larger enterprise companies who may not have the same research behavior as B2C or smaller B2B companies.

When the first photograph was made in 1826, there was buzz that painting was dead. Technology changes the tools that we use for specific jobs, but in the case of photography vs. painting, no longer did a family that wanted to have their portrait captured have to sit for hours and days on end. With photography, they could sit for 10 minutes. (Back then, to get enough light exposure you needed to sit for a very long time.) But, you get my point: 10 minutes is a lot less than 10 days. Photography may have changed the portrait, but it hasn’t changed the value of painting. Painting has taken on a different function in our culture now, not utilitarian, but high art.

Not dead just different. 

Outbound marketing is not dead. We still advertise; we have just changed the emphasis on the mediums where we advertise.  We still send emails; we have just changed how and who we send them to, especially if you have a lead scoring system in place.  Instead of writing off outbound, we should highlight the things that still work and figure out what tools that will nudge our marketing efforts along.

Temporal event data is the key to starting and building business relationships.  No one wants endless solicitations. However, if they receive a personal email congratulating them on their sales win or new promotion, they are much more likely to respond.
Marketing automation has helped manage and quickly respond to business behavior helping with personalized interactions. Adding triggers into this system just makes it that much more personal and that much more timely.  Not just an email sent by a sales rep when someone downloads a whitepaper, but a proactive communication to start a relationship.  This isn’t spamming; this is letting someone know you care about what they do and that you are paying attention.  This takes out the skepticism of emailing. While this approach isn’t simply inbound or simply outbound, it is using technology to discover who and when to communicate to and with what relevant message based on their events and behavior. Big data is doing this all the time in the consumer world.

We should be wary in dismissing outbound approaches and realize that there is always value in different methodologies, even if they aren’t the hot topic; we need to decipher what value can be extracted from what programs and adjust to fit our end goals.

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