Both outbound and inbound marketing and sales methodologies ultimately share the same goal: conversions. The inbound and outbound trajectories – attracting prospects, nurturing leads and closing clients – share a lot in common. Inbound and outbound can support each other throughout the buyer’s journey, and this article explores exactly how you can leverage the best of both at each stage.
Selecting a marketing and sales strategy for your business shouldn’t be an either or decision, as many articles make out. We are predominantly an Outbound company, we run email campaigns and generate outbound leads for ourselves and over 200 clients worldwide, so would align with a more traditional, direct approach to selling.
We aren’t pushing a unilateral, one-size-fits-all Outbound solution, though of course we could. The simple reason for this is because outbound and inbound support each other, they make one another stronger.
I previously explored how outbound can support inbound marketing efforts (4 Ways Outbound Can Support Your Inbound Marketing), but in this article will focus more around how the combination of both is a powerful asset throughout the buyer’s journey.
I will be looking at both the inbound buyer’s journey and the sales funnel in detail, then addressing how both inbound and outbound strategies can combine at each stage of the process.
To avoid losing you with jargon and technicalities, let’s just clear up exactly what inbound and outbound are from the get go.
Inbound and Outbound methodologies are marketing & sales methodologies ultimately aiming to generate leads and drive sales.
The clue to the difference between the two is in the name:
Read more about these strategies, and the benefits and limitations of both, in my article – Inbound v Outbound – Which Really Works?
What I want to highlight to you here is that inbound and outbound are not that different. They share a common trajectory and a common goal, which means they are compatible.
Every Inbound marketer will be all too familiar with Hubspot’s Buyer’s Journey – core to their inbound marketing and philosophy. The journey runs through three critical stages that prospects pass through on their path to purchase.
For those of you less familiar, I’ll briefly run through what the inbound buyer’s journey looks like:
Despite the adversity between those who favour inbound and those that favour outbound, the buyer’s journey, which is at the very core of any inbound strategy, is not dissimilar to the traditional and well-beloved sales funnel.
Briefly, the stages of the sales funnel are as follows (this is simplified of course):
This is a simplified version of the funnel meant simply to demonstrate the similarities inbound and outbound share. There, of course, might be additional stages to your sales funnel, such as incentivising customers to become brand advocates and to refer customers.
Content marketing is critical to any inbound strategy – focusing on producing content for each of these three phases to essentially move your prospect through their journey. Content should be created in relation to each of these stages, as I demonstrate below:
The current thinking surrounding the Inbound Buyer’s Journey is of course inbound focused, as the image below demonstrates, attracting prospects and moving them through the buyer’s journey with various pieces of content.
I will now run through each stage and demonstrate how both inbound and outbound can be leveraged to increase the effectiveness of your messaging at each stage, and generate more sales.
Ultimately, the awareness stage is lead generation and sourcing.
Of course inbound and outbound source leads differently, and there is a case to be made about the longevity and compound benefits inbound lead generation attracting prospects, rather than approaching them, means that you know they are definitely interested in an area, they might be experiencing a problem you can help with, and they will be more receptive to your messaging.
To be clear, inbound lead generation would involve prospects giving up their contact details for content they view to be valuable: newsletter subscriptions, ebook or whitepaper downloads, free consultations, webinar registration etc.
Outbound lead generation involves prospecting, either yourself or through companies like Growthonics, such that you can identify people likely to be experiencing a problem or with a use for your solution.
With platforms like Hubspot, you can track and gage the interest level of a lead by what content they download, adjusting your approach to their level of need. This, of course, highlights a key issue with inbound and content marketing in that awareness based content (TOFU), content that attracts a lot of visitors, is often interest-based, not problem-based. As the stages above highlight, a prospect in this stage of the journey may not even be aware they have a problem. They may just be interested.
Outbound lead generation does mean that you are targeting a profile of prospect that is likely to need your solution, however, you may only have one opportunity to approach them. How accurately you are able to prospect will of course vastly affect your campaign results and conversions, but the point remains. As will your approach (outbound marketing is known as interruptive marketing for a reason!)
Search, which is also a pillar of inbound marketing methodology, avoids this issue as keywords enable a much clearer, more accurate profile of a prospect’s interests and problems. If someone has searched “how to generate leads” and clicks on our content, we know that they are in need of lead generation.
With new progressions in technology, the process by which you can profile and attract people has advanced greatly. We are now able to measure intent and interest in new ways, which means you can target a prospect with messaging relevant to their problem BEFORE they stick it into Google search and click on the highest bidder.
Pairing outbound display targeting, sponsored content or email messaging with targeted, “remarkable” content can drive a more interest party onto your site.