The VPM Blog

What is the right mix of Outbound and Inbound Marketing?

Posted by Don Crow on Oct 6, 2016 9:02:00 AM

Some of you hardcore VPM Blog readers may look at this and think, “Has @DonCrow lost his mind? What is this about Outbound Marketing?” Then again, some of you may look at the image below and think something else.....

The answer (for both) is, “not yet.” Admittedly, six years ago and as recently as two years ago, I never would have put my name next to any endorsement for outbound marketing. Once I left the world of call centers and direct mail fulfillment shops at AOL, I thought I would be done forever.

You should never say, “never.”what is the right mix of outbound and inbound marketing

Today, I see some of our clients plowing ahead with not one, but several print magazines to alumni annually. I see direct mail solicitations and campaigns rolling off the presses like a wallpaper factory. My mailbox is full of barely warm emails, and, yes, the local landscape adds another billboard (although digital) almost weekly. As recently as yesterday someone asked me if we could do “robo calls”, because they are “the cheapest way to get in front of a mass of people”.

Clearly, someone in the outbound marketing world hasn’t heard yet that they are dead and buried.

My goal is to give you two, yes two, steps to improving your blended model and give you the right mix of Outbound and Inbound Marketing.

It all starts with your Buyer Persona.

One of the most active audiences we see on Facebook pages is the over 45 crowd. They Like, Comment and Share updates from their school or college as if it’s required on their mid-term exams. And guess what? They also still like to see a print magazine at least once per year – if not more. Are you curious about what your alumni want? Use social media platforms as the delivery method for a magazine readership survey.

They also have become increasingly interested in events on campus or even virtual events via Facebook Live. How did we generate the interest? Through highly targeted Facebook Ads to fans who have expressed interest (another way to apply Inbound to Outbound models).

But how did we know what content to create for Facebook, what articles to suggest for the magazine and when and where to promote offline events?

Because the research we did to build an Inbound Marketing Buyer Persona told us to! In fact, that research led us to create the right mix of Outbound and Inbound Marketing that then converts those alumni into more donations, event involvement and even brand advocacy on behalf of their Alma Mater.

Quality over Quantity counts across all platforms and channels (online and offline).

Years ago, experts were obsessed with growing your following, Likes and fans. It’s not hard to understand why – the outbound world had hung on through the 2000’s in no small part due to doing things in mass. The larger the mail and call lists, the better chance you had at converting the numbers you needed to make your outbound channel profitable (and keep your job).

So, when social media marketing took over, many of those “experts” were merely repurposing what they’d built a career upon which was to hammer consumers with messages until they either begged their way out, or relented and made a purchase.

Today, we hope you know and understand that it’s better to have 100 Facebook Likes who are actively engaged with your brand than 1,000 who don’t. Guess what? Outbound channels have learned that their messaging, offers and content overall has to be better. More and more people are turning to social media for their news and more, and so the competition has been good for Outbound.

Likewise, cold emails to purchased lists have been improved because readers want less quantity and more quality in their inbox. Inbound has helped revive emails in my opinion because the channel is now, “opt in.”
Use the analytics from your social media posts to determine what stories your fans are most interested in. That way you can create longer form content for your magazines and mailers with a nice loop back to social platforms for readers to watch behind the scenes videos or get direct quotes from the subject matter experts which don’t “fit” into a print piece. Similarly, the interest your social media generates will help you hone in on the quality messaging that your phone-a-thon or other offline channels need to improve response rates.

To wrap up this right mix of Outbound and Inbound Marketing, keep it simple! When you go all in on Inbound Marketing it is still a tough and strategic marketing acquisition model and blending with Outbound only increases the complexity.

You can create a scalable marketing strategy by basing your budget on your Buyer Personas and by doubling down your internal and agency efforts on quality content. Don’t over commit on outbound channel spends and leave yourself little to no budget for social retargeting ads and marketing automation software.

There is a wide open world out there for the marketers who can blend the best of mass with outbound and the targeted personalization of inbound. You’ve just got to get the right mix for your school, college or organization by going back to who your ideal customers are and what will capture and convert their attention.

Are you looking to implement your first Inbound Marketing campaign? You will want to check out our FREE checklist by clicking the button below.

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photo credit: Didriks Vodka Bottle Pour via photopin (license)

Topics: Inbound Marketing

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