For IT firms, the push and pull of inbound vs outbound marketing can be tricky to navigate. Which is best? Should you use a combination of the two? And what’s the key to making them work?
Thankfully, inbound and outbound marketing don’t have to be at loggerheads. By recognising the merits and drawbacks of each method, and by using a few key tactics, you can ensure your marketing campaign is a success.
The difference between inbound and outbound marketing
To understand the differences between the two approaches to marketing, imagine you’re shopping around for a new IT product. To make a buying decision, you’ll use information from online sources including news articles, blog posts and review sites, along with recommendations by word of mouth. During the research process, you’ll also come across information produced by IT firms themselves, and this is inbound marketing content.
Outbound marketing is different, because it goes to the buyers, even if they’re not proactively looking. This could be in the form of pay per click advertising, sponsored social media posts or print media, for example.
Understand your audience
To make your inbound and outbound marketing efforts work, you need to understand the buying habits of your audience. If potential buyers already realise their need for a product or service like yours, you can use inbound marketing to guide them through the buyer’s journey with educational, original content.
If your IT firm is offering something totally new, outbound marketing can be used to bring awareness and build an audience. If would-be buyers are unaware of their need or desire for your product or service, you may need to proactively go to them using advertising and other outbound methods.
Always be relevant
No matter whether you’re focusing on outbound or inbound marketing, your content must be relevant, specific and easy to digest. If you’re paying for adverts, whether that’s via Google, Facebook, Instagram or a combination of different platforms, you’ll need to be highly targeted to get the most from your budget. Your advert must be relevant enough to get noticed, but niche enough to only attract the most promising leads.
Inbound marketing also relies on being relevant. If your blog posts or emails are overly promotional or too general, it’s unlikely they’ll convert interest into custom. Instead, create content that answers a specific question or tackles a particular problem, then promote that content by building a meaningful, lasting relationship with your audience.
Take a different approach in the long and short term
If executed correctly, outbound marketing can bring near-instantaneous results, while inbound marketing is more of a ‘slow burner’. To get the most from both methods, it’s vital to plan your marketing campaign with a timeframe in mind, recognising the role of each approach in the long and short term.
Pay attention to the data
No IT marketing firm can predict the success of particular marketing methods with absolute certainty, so ongoing monitoring is vital. Check the results of your inbound and outbound marketing campaigns on a regular basis to see what’s working, and what isn’t. While you may need to be patient with certain types of content - such as blog posts which tend to bring a return over a longer timeframe - it’s important to keep a track of trends and focus your efforts on the channels that help you reach your business goals.