By now, all of the digital marketing world has heard of inbound marketing and most have given it a shot in one form or another. And many of them are finding its promises elusive. The premise makes complete sense: Produce great content, optimize it for search, share it strategically, and start generating leads. And there’s no doubt that inbound marketing works.
But it can take a long time. It takes time to create content. It takes time to build an audience. It takes time to create the back links that drive organic search traffic. Sure, you can catch lightning in a bottle with a video or infographic that goes viral. But that’s the exception, not the rule. Plus, as the content marketing noise floor continues to rise, it gets harder and harder to rise above the din.
What if you’re not in a position to wait? What if your business needs more leads sooner? What if your boss insists on seeing a return in 30 days instead of 180? In these cases, the answer may be to combine outbound demand generation tactics with inbound marketing strategies.
Outbound Marketing Tactics
There are several different outbound approaches you can take that will act as tinder for your digital marketing efforts. We’ll cover a few in this article at a high level and then in more detail in subsequent blog articles.
Lead Magnets and Tripwires
Before you start thinking about where to find prospects, you need to figure out what your message will be. The first step in this process is to understand which stage of the sales funnel you’re targeting; top, middle, or bottom. Each stage requires a different message and different offer. Many businesses focus on the bottom of the funnel, because they’re looking for the shortest possible sales cycle. However, this also tends to have the highest cost per conversion.
When focusing on the top and middle of the funnel, you need to have a more sophisticated plan, which typically involves the use of lead magnets and tripwires. A lead magnet is a digital asset that provides real value to your prospects, for which they’re willing to provide their contact information. Once they provide this information, you can follow up with a tripwire offer, which is a very low-cost product or service offering that converts them from a lead into a customer as soon as possible. Once they become a customer, you can shift your focus into maximizing their total lifetime value by up-selling and cross-selling.
So, where can you find these prospects?
If you have the budget, paid advertising can be a great way to generate traffic and leads quickly. We are currently living in a bit of an advertising renaissance, with many sophisticated options available for all budgets and most demographics.
Search engine marketing is probably the first channel that comes to mind. The most common tactic is to bid on search terms on search engines like Google and Bing. You can target prospects with strong intent and filter them geographically. Creating effective campaigns can be difficult and, depending upon the keywords you’re targeting, expensive.
Display advertising uses graphical advertisements to be displayed in context. You can use networks like Google’s Display Network, or work directly with individual websites. These types of campaigns can create large impressions, but typically have very low click-through rates.
Native advertising is the most recent entry to the digital advertising family and arguably offer the greatest return at the moment. There are many social media channels offering the ability to create promoted posts on their sites. Since we’re still relatively early in many of their offerings, there is lots of opportunity. YouTube, for example, is having trouble keeping content producers happy because it has more inventory than it could probably ever sell. That’s very good news for advertisers.
If you have a decent-sized social media audience, then this is another channel you can leverage for demand generation. Whether it’s Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Instagram subscribers, or LinkedIn connections, these are all prospects that can be incorporated into an outbound marketing campaign.
If you have a prospect list that you’ve generated from a trade show or some other means, then an outbound email campaign can also be effective for demand generation. You can also purchase lists, but that’s a very dangerous game to play. Many email provides prohibit the use of such lists, and even if they don’t, high opt-out rates can get your account suspended or removed.
Inbound Marketing Strategies
Traditionally, demand generation tactics had a binary outcome: Either they generated sales or they didn’t. When a prospect didn’t fit the criteria for a near-term sale, you proceeded to the next prospect. Since these campaigns are typically executed by sales people who are compensated on closed business, there’s little incentive to do otherwise.
By combining outbound tactics with inbound strategies, however, there is a third outcome. When a prospect downloads your lead magnet, they are automatically dropped into a lead nurturing workflow. Even if they’re not ready to buy in the near future, you’ve captured their contact information and have the opportunity to continue to engage with them over time. All of these efforts serve to build your audience and contribute to your inbound marketing efforts that will deliver longer term results.
Authentia’s Outbound Campaigns
Here at Authentia, we’ve been working with some clients for years on their inbound marketing campaigns. In one case, we’ve generated more than a thousand leads in just over a year for one of our B2B customers with an extremely successful e-book offering. But when working with new clients, we’re seeing less and less willingness to wait six to twelve months for returns on their inbound marketing efforts.
For that reason, we’ve just formally launched our new SmartFunnel Campaign offering. This was a response to a shift we’re seeing in the market in which companies need to see sooner rather than later. We’ve executed a number of these combined outbound/inbound campaigns over the past six months and seen the benefits. Click here to learn more about how to get a turbo-boost for your inbound marketing efforts.