There’s been a problem with digital marketing for the past decade, the same problem that hit so many other parts of the media and creative industries. It was the idea that everything on the internet is free. Not just free, but ad-free even. And let’s face it, that’s our fault. We didn’t have the means to make the internet worth paying for except when it came to access. Today, however, we live in a world where you do have to pay to watch new shows online and news websites can survive behind the paywall.
For marketers, too much attention was given to how much money the internet can save their companies, rather than how much the internet can help their companies with the right amount of capital investment. You need to spend money on digital marketing in order to be successful. That’s a given. But the real success comes when you stop putting social media, search, email and blogs in the digital ghetto and start making it a serious part of the broader marketing strategy.
Outbound As Part of Inbound
I love inbound marketing. When it started it too was mostly about bringing people to your website in an organic manner with the only limit to success being your brainpower. Today, that definition is woefully inadequate. Inbound marketing is much more about creating a marketing experience that presents the right content to the right people at the right stage in the buying cycle. You still need brainpower, but you also need outbound practices.
To think of it in technology terms, the content you create for your inbound marketing is the master while the outbound is the slave. Your outbound marketing is no longer there to just promote your products, but in full inbound style, it’s there to boost the helpful, educational content.
Making Outbound More Inbound
- Paid Email Marketing: Most trade magazines or major trade websites offer email marketing packages. Rather than sending out an email featuring a demo offer or worse “Win a Free ___,” send an email promoting a popular top of the funnel white paper to generate news leads.
- Print Advertising: You’re probably not going to get away with not advertising your product in a print ad, but there’s no reason you can’t also include a spot on that ad for a lead generating piece of content with a URL for tracking that conversion back to the print source.
- PPC Advertising: Using targeted display advertising services like Bizo or DemandBase get you in front of target buyers rather than just people who visit your website once. This is especially helpful when promoting content targeted at specific buyer personas.
And while we’re at it, you can move a few of marketing practices over to the sales team:
- Direct Mail: Rather than sending mass mailings to a large list of unqualified buyers, you can use services like Cloud2You or MarketSync to directly connect with sales prospects and decision makers. These services integrate with your CRM so sales can select a lead who needs direct mail info and then automatically ship a package with just a few clicks.
- Tradeshows: Instead of sending all those tradeshow leads to your sales team or gathering those leads from sales, prep lead nurturing campaign ahead of time with educational information. Make one for sales to drop leads into themselves from your CRM and then make another for general leads that you pick up but need to qualify.
Everything Old is New Again
Marketing hasn’t changed that much at all, but technology has. For a decade, however, there was this notion that link building was better than relationship building, that search engine optimization was better than brand development, that PPC was better than print advertising, that automated email marketing was better than a phone call. But the only reason any of these tactics was considered better, really, was because they were said to cost less.
Now, we’ve come full circle and you get what you pay for. Marketing is back to marketing. Public relations back to PR. Advertising back to advertising. The only difference is the way all of these once separate practices are now integrated. (Just try to imagine the Old Spice Guy without all three working together.) And inbound marketing bridges the online and offline tactics of these combined disciplines.