As popular as inbound marketing has become, outbound is still a vital component to a strong marketing strategy and organizational growth. 74% of all B2B companies (and 71% of B2C) report increasing the number of contacts and leads as a top priority, according the 2015 State of Inbound Report.
But marketers know that inbound alone isn’t enough to reach rising customer acquisition and revenue goals. They have to turn to outbound channels to reach new audiences and fill their databases with more prospects.
Despite the fact that so many companies rely on outbound marketing tactics to meet mandates, inbound marketing techniques often deliver stronger ROI. This could mean that outbound simply isn’t as successful as its more organic counterpart. It’s more likely a natural consequence of the reality that most marketing teams still execute paid marketing campaigns within silos.
It’s surprising how many marketing departments are still organized by channels. They have a digital team executing paid search and display through programmatic platforms. While some gal is sitting in a back room running old school SEO tactics. There’s a content team churning out blogs and whitepapers that may or may not get optimized for a few keywords here and there but they’re in no way connected with the previously mentioned paid search or an overall SEO strategy.
If the company is lucky, they’ve got an email marketer setting up nurturing campaigns using all the great content that the content team developed and there might even be someone responsible for sending that content off to third-party partners who are using it to drive leads. But none of them are talking to each other. The email folks don’t use the blog analytics to inform their nurturing strategy. And certainly no one’s sharing content insights with the external partners so lead gen programs are always a shot in the dark.
Marketing Can’t Thrive in a Vacuum
Programs must be integrated in order to maximize impact and ROI. They need to be planned holistically, connecting all touchpoints under major themes – and these themes need to be organized around issues that are important to the customers they seek to serve.
This is really a radical shift for a lot of marketing teams and sometimes it can be hard to know where to begin. But there are some basic steps you can follow if you’re ready to tear down the silos and implement an integrated marketing strategy.
1. Remember What You Keep Forgetting
Sometimes old habits die hard. If you’re “heads down” focused on hitting your lead goals for the month, and you’re used to publishing that new piece of marketing content as soon as it’s approved – you may not remember to take a step back and identify how the new eBook connects with your search strategy or if nurture tracks have been built in order to continue engagement with the new contacts you reach.
Creating a marketing program template can be super helpful in remembering all the touchpoints you may not be accustomed to handling. This is a simple as developing a checklist of all the factors you need to remember before launching a marketing program. You can build one easily in most project management tools or even in Excel. Here are some of the elements you may want to include in your campaign template:
- Target Audience
- Content Assets
- Design Assets
- Social Strategy
- Search Strategy
- Content Syndication Strategy
- Nurture and Follow-Up Strategy
The template we recently developed at Integrate drills down into each of these categories in more detail. It’s helped us implement an integrated marketing strategy, change the way our marketing team works together and stop forgetting important aspects of our campaigns.
2. Start with the Obvious
Even with a checklist, it can still be challenging to pull all of your touchpoints together. If you feel overwhelmed by moving to an integrated marketing strategy all at once (or you’re having a hard time convincing executives that integrated marketing is the way to go), there are a few basic inbound/outbound recipes that may yield some quick wins.
- SEM & SEO
The degree that separates our paid search and organic search activities should only be a matter of a few pixels. More often than not though, they’re executed by different teams using completely separate platforms, inhibiting performance of both programs. For a step-by-step process on connecting your SEM and SEO into an integrated search strategy, head on over to Moz for this practical guide.
- Earned Social & Paid Social
With organic social reach on the decline and social media platforms introducing new paid marketing options, brands continue to expand social media budgets. Marketers often have a lot of data from their organic programs (because they’ve been running them longer) that can help focus their investments. Adobe provides some great tips for balancing both sides of your social media strategy.
- Content Marketing & Content Syndication
If you’re publishing content through your blog and landing pages, chances are you have analytics about which content is converting contacts at the highest rate. You may even be sending some of the best performing assets to third-party media partners who are using it in lead generation campaigns. But the likelihood that you’re sharing internal content performance metrics with external content syndication partners is slim. Some innovative marketing teams are driving great results by connecting paid marketing programs with internal marketing systems.
3. Pull It All Together
Successful integrated marketing continues beyond planning and execution. In order to drive the most ROI from inbound and outbound efforts, marketing needs a unified view of program performance. Some marketing automation platforms make it easy to track the success of your programs. You can define goals, connect related blog posts, landing pages, nurture emails, social posts, SEO, paid search and other sources in one place.
If you don’t have already have a solution in place for this, roll up your sleeves and build a program reporting dashboard in excel. It’s an essential tool for your marketing team to clearly measure the total impact of integrated programs.