Inbound marketing has become the darling of the industry over the past 12-plus months. A blog post on Hubspot recently claimed 93% of companies using inbound marketing have seen an increase in their lead generation, while sales conversion rates increased by 50%. These are impressive figures in an industry where numbers are increasingly important and put most RoI stats for email marketing to shame.
The appeal of inbound marketing is also heavily driven by the perception that very little effort is actually needed; that one simply needs to wait for contact from prospects and then trigger automated campaigns, to harness engagement. But how do you magically get these prospects, in big enough numbers, aware of and interested in your proposition? Further, how do you nurture their interest and transform them, over time, into loyal repeat customers?
The truth is that creating quality inbound content that is compelling and engaging enough to reach a large enough audience to generate a return is very difficult. We therefore shouldn’t forget outbound marketing – still pretty useful for pulling in prospects who might not have shown any signs of engagement with your firm in the past. Moreover, when combined with marketing automation, outbound activities enable us to push that content back out if those all-important prospects showed signs of engagement in what we think is relevant.
For example: you are a travel brand and have produced a list of top travel destinations. If you stick that content on social channels now, it may not be relevant to a prospect. They may have seen it but not engaged with it. However, a couple of weeks later you then send them an email centred around travel. The prospect engages with this and shows engagement on those top travel destinations without actually viewing the original article. In this instance, using the outbound channel to re-target them with that same piece is very relevant.
This is marketing automation at its best but sadly most organisations are failing to do anything more sophisticated than basic trigger activity: ie “you’ve been to our website therefore we send you an email”. There’s no understanding about what the user was hoping to achieve with their visit and no attempt to match what should be pushed out to them. Firms are struggling to source the content to push back out because the inbound channels are reserved and don’t cross over with the outbound.
This is wrong. There needs to be a cross-over and repurposing of the articles to power re-engagement and further outbound strategies. Organisations also need to analyse all inbound material, segment the data and understand who should find that content relevant, before pushing it out. Be more intelligent about the outbound channel, too. Study those metrics to discover which content is more engaging and it will empower the inbound.
Many organisations are in-sourcing marketing automation at the moment, but they lack the skills in-house to do it effectively – in the way we’ve outlined above. That’s why outsourcing to a dedicated team which lives and breathes the discipline is the best choice for most firms today.