Inbound or Outbound – When It Really Matters


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I came across this interesting question on a popular forum– “Are webinars an inbound or outbound marketing technique? Or both?” The question and the corresponding responses is what triggered the idea for today’s blog post.

There is a lot of literature available online, including detailed reports that talk about inbound vs. outbound marketing and why the former is a better marketing technique. I don’t dispute that. Au contraire, I’m a huge proponent of the inbound genre, where the marketing focuses on being found by your customer than you going out to find him. Today’s post however is not about why one technique is better than the other, but about how and where content strategy fits in this whole inbound-outbound equation.

For starters, let’s be clear that content goes beyond plain text and website content and includes any artifact (text, image, audio, video) created and propagated both offline or online to market your product or service. As a marketer where you place this content and how you use it is what determines whether you are using it for inbound or outbound marketing. For eg: If you send out an email to your prospect telling him – ‘Hey, there is this webinar you’ll like, please register and attend’, it becomes an outbound technique. On the other hand, you create a search engine friendly landing page, talking about the webinar and your prospect lands on it, via search, and then registers for the webinar; it becomes an inbound marketing technique. So, yeah, my answer for the forum question would be – ‘Yes, a webinar is inbound or outbound based on the vehicle used to market it’. But it’s not just about a webinar, any content resource can be similarly used both for inbound or outbound marketing.

Content is neither Inbound nor Outbound

I could draw an analogy of content being like clay. The clay does not decide what it will be finally shaped into. It is the potter who molds and gives it shape so it can be used for various purposes. Similarly, content in itself is neutral; it is how, why and where a marketer uses and showcases it that makes a difference. So, it’s time to move away from general segregations like webinars are inbound or social media marketing is outbound. Instead it is time to evaluate more closely on which vehicle must be used to get the most effective results from your content resources.

Mapping your content to the lead cycle:

So, how exactly do you decide whether to opt for an outbound or inbound marketing technique when it comes to your content? One way to do this is to determine what you want to use the content for – for lead generation, lead nurturing, brand building and then take it from there:

Lead generation: Both inbound and outbound techniques can be used in abundance when your purpose is lead generation. Sending out an email campaign about your latest product, or talking about it on your social marketing page, creating a landing page highlighting the product features or creating a whitepaper around the technology driving the product, getting your customer to talk about how well the product is doing for them to making a product demo- all these techniques, both inbound and outbound can help in lead generation. The purpose ultimately is to get your prospect to the website, and through his subsequent behavior get valuable intelligence so you can tailor your further communication with him accordingly.

Lead nurturing: When it comes to lead nurturing, outbound marketing techniques make more sense. Once you understand your visitor’s interest, it is a better strategy to make that information available to him readily instead of getting him to come looking for it. Lead nurturing is not just about email marketing, as many would think. For instance, a webinar (given that the visitor has taken time to register and attend, is indicating interest) is another fantastic nurturing tool that helps you showcase your solution to an audience that is already receptive to you.

Brand building: Here again both inbound and outbound techniques must be used, but I would tilt more towards the inbound. When it comes to customers, it should always be about you you (customer) and less about me me (marketer). So, be very careful when you are trying to send him information about your company through an outbound channel. Instead, make that information readily available on your website, so he can easily access it when required.

I have only talked about lead generation, lead nurturing and brand building here. Depending on what ‘purpose’ you want your content to serve, you could similarly determine whether to opt for an outbound and/or inbound marketing technique.

Additionally, deciding on which marketing technique is to be used is also dependent on how quickly you wish to see results. While inbound marketing provides you with higher quality leads (have come looking for you), outbound marketing is no doubt a way to getting more leads quickly. So using both techniques together whenever possible lets you cover more ground and get better results.

Quality content is no longer an option but a requirement for any marketer. But with quality, deciding on the right distribution mechanism to make this content accessible to as many people as possible is also very important. So having a clear cut marketing strategy which not just focuses on content quantity and quality but also on content accessibility and usability is what is needed today.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Teena Gomes
Teena is responsible for the content strategy at LeadFormix. In her career spanning over 10 years, she has worked in the various segments of the Content & Knowledge Management spectrum, right from Knowledge Creation and Delivery to strategic Knowledge Management transformation projects. Before taking over as Content Head at LeadFormix, where she handles various facets of content marketing, she worked for IBM as a Program Manager in the KM space. She has also worked in PR, media and Corporate Communications earlier.


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