Alignment is a critical word in marketing. When things are “aligned,” everything goes more smoothly. And who doesn’t want smoother, easier marketing, right? But how do you achieve alignment? By focusing on two key areas: First, your marketing and sales teams. (Read more about that here.) Second, your inbound and outbound marketing strategy. This post will focus on the latter.
Refresher time! What’s the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is all about attracting people who are already searching for and/or interested in what you’re selling, like a senior living community.
For example, picture an adult child googling “how to choose a senior living community.” Their search suggests that they are indeed on the market for senior living. And it’s a legit keyword phrase, too. People search on it 30+ times a month. Plus, from a keyword-difficulty perspective, there’s not a lot of competition.
So if your marketing team wrote a guide about that topic, then—over time—the landing page for the guide could rank well, meaning you’d stand an excellent chance of capturing those people searching on that topic every month. And the best part? These people have essentially self-identified that they’re good candidates for what you’re selling simply by virtue of what they searched on. That’s inbound marketing in action.
On the flip side, outbound marketing casts a much wider net, and not everyone captured in that net will be interested in senior living.
So, for example, if you have a highway billboard about your community, many eyeballs will see it. But not everyone will care. If you send a direct mailer—even if you send it to a targeted list of, say, women over 65—not everyone on that list will be interested in senior living, either.
You might be thinking, “Why bother with outbound marketing at all then?” That’s a fair question. And while many people will tell you that inbound marketing is the only way to go, the reality is that outbound marketing absolutely still has a place in your overall strategy.
Going back to our billboard example . . . a highway billboard can be an excellent way to build brand awareness. Sure, not everyone driving down the highway will have an immediate need for senior living. But they might six months or a year from now—or they might know someone who does. That means when they finally enter the bucket of “people interested in what you’re selling,” they’ll already have familiarity with your brand. So if they’re doing a google search on “how to choose a senior living community” and an organic listing comes up from your community, that brand recognition might motivate them to click your link first.
What are examples of inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing?
Below is a basic list of inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing.
|Search engine optimization
|Keyword-rich blog posts
|Social media marketing
|Pay-per-click advertising (Google AdWords)
|Email marketing to a purchased list
|Email lead nurturing
|Opt-in in-person events (like a free lunch)
|Content syndication through a third party
Keep in mind that even among marketers, not everyone agrees about what is and isn’t inbound or outbound marketing.
For example, we consider Google AdWords inbound marketing because those ads show up when someone is doing a specific keyword search (which suggests intent and vested interest). However, if you run banner ads through the Google Display Network . . . that’s an example of outbound marketing since the ads are broadcast to a march larger audience.
We make the same distinction with email marketing, too. If you’re sending lead nurturing emails to people who’ve filled out a form on your website, that’s an example of inbound marketing since the person has (hopefully) opted in and essentially self-qualified themselves. However, if you purchase an email list (WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS) and you send an email . . . that’s outbound marketing.
Why do you need to align your inbound and outbound marketing strategy?
Marketing alignment is all about making sure that everything is working in harmony, ideally toward a common goal. When you take a “silo” approach to your marketing, you might have success with a campaign here and a campaign there, but the overall strategy will be disjointed. A disjointed strategy is hard to measure—and often wastes time and budget. But if all your marketing efforts are in alignment, it makes for a much smoother ride.
How do you align inbound and outbound marketing strategies?
Start by thinking about your goals. For example, one goal might be to build brand awareness. So you’ll develop inbound and outbound marketing strategies that support this goal.
You’ll do the same thing at the marketing-campaign level. Let’s go back to that guide: How to Choose a Senior Living Community.
To promote it, you might use a combination of inbound and outbound marketing efforts:
- Website optimization around the keyword phrase (inbound)
- Social media promotion to your existing followers (inbound)
- Running ads on Facebook (outbound)
- Sending a direct mailer with a QR code that people can scan to get the guide (outbound with a dash of inbound [and yes, we know that last bit might cause debate among marketers])
- Adding to an existing email nurturing campaign by offering the guide to prospects who’re in the top of the funnel (inbound)
Bottom line: Don’t get hung up on what’s an inbound method vs what’s an outbound method. Use common sense and think of all the various ways to promote your guide. Make sure all these ways align by having . . .
- Consistent messaging – describe the guide in a consistent manner across all marketing
- Consistent graphics – use the same thumbnail cover across all marketing
- Logical next steps – if someone converts on the direct mailer QR code, what happens next? If someone converts on a Facebook ad, what happens next?
Lather, rinse, repeat for all of your marketing campaigns. That’s how you create alignment between inbound and outbound marketing strategies.
Need help bringing your marketing activities into alignment?
We specialize in helping clients see the big picture so that they can create a winning strategy full of integrated marketing tactics. Get in touch and let’s talk about your specific needs.