Content creation has become a main B2B marketing focus over the last few years. Until fairly recently, however, many marketers have leveraged their content for inbound marketing strategies alone, while neglecting all the possible impact content could have via outbound marketing strategies. But that’s all changing, and for good reason.
Imagine your business is a brick-and-mortar cheese shop, and your marketing strategy is limited to the free samples you offer pedestrians as they pass by your door. Think about all the customers who shop at the grocery store around the corner, but never appear on your doorstep because they don’t know you exist. Think about the foot traffic you’d miss, and the potential new customers that would never even show up on your radar.
Believe it or not, many businesses rely on this approach when marketing online.
Why inbound alone isn’t enough
Inbound marketing has become the darling of the digital marketing world in recent years, partially because it’s a seemingly less-obtrusive approach to customer acquisition. But when you implement an inbound-only strategy, your business is limited to customers who find you by chance – through search, social media, or otherwise. This means you’re very likely missing the opportunity to engage with prospects who don’t already shop (or search) in your virtual neighborhood.
In this sense, inbound marketing creates a very finite funnel. Your content will eventually tap out, having recruited all the interested prospects that already have a presence in your corner of the internet. You’ll get the occasional nibble, but your leads will taper and your demand generation ROI will diminish along with it.
This inbound-marketing tunnel vision is also highly inefficient. When you depend entirely on inbound traffic to generate new contacts, you have to pump out a constant stream of new, engaging content with the hope that a high ratio of your traffic will convert to pipeline opportunities.
This content will inevitably lose steam after an initial traffic spike, which forces you to dial up the pace just to maintain your lead volume. This is inefficient and bad for team morale.
Creating new, valuable content for your audience is always a good idea. But it’s also smart to ensure that content has the biggest impact possible. Supplementing your inbound efforts with a strong outbound strategy puts your high-performing content in front of new audiences to efficiently scale your business.
Outbound marketing with a facelift
At one time, outbound marketing had a bad reputation for taking an intrusive broadcast approach to lead generation. But marketers have since adapted the permission-based tactics of inbound to target persona- and account-based audiences with valuable, educational content.
Remember your cheese shop? Imagine you start offering your free samples at boutique grocery stores in the area, along with a recipe card stamped with your store address. You’ll probably find plenty of new customers who are already interested in specialty cheeses, but didn’t realize there was a shop in the next town over. Some of these new customers will take a trip to your store, and others may tell a friend about the delicious cheese they sampled at the grocery store. This is outbound marketing in action.
One of the most effective ways to take this approach involves content syndication: working with media partners to build outreach campaigns and put your content in front of new, proven audiences with relevant interests. Instead of collecting leads as they appear on your doorstep, you can proactively generate new contacts and pad your sales pipeline by seeking out qualified prospects who would otherwise be unaware of your business.
Why outbound marketing can seem like too much
Despite the effectiveness of outbound tactics like content syndication, this approach can become overwhelming as it scales. For one, the orchestration of outbound tactics and demand marketing campaigns is pretty labor-intensive. It can take hours, days, or even weeks to develop and test a new campaign, go live with the content, set up tracking systems to collect metrics, and address logistical issues that arise. And you have to do this for each campaign, with each media partner.
Lead management and analytics create additional headaches – especially when each of your media partners delivers your information in a different format, and with different parameters for qualification. Combined with the sheer volume of leads you can generate through content syndication, these issues make it difficult to engage and convert before they decay, which eats into your ROI.
Top-funnel demand automation to the rescue
Traditional outbound tactics were difficult to automate and measure, making it difficult to stand up against the gratification of inbound. But marketers have created smarter ways to make outbound more like inbound, so you can tackle demand marketing holistically, and in a scalable environment.
Top-funnel marketing automation platforms allow you to manage multiple data sources, marketing channels and media partners from one dashboard, so every campaign is integrated and streamlined according to overarching strategic goals. This makes it easier to boost your content’s impact, ensure the integrity of your database and avoid lead decay. You can also maximize resources and measure all program elements holistically – like data providers, media partners, assets, and tactics – for better optimization.
It’s time to add outbound marketing to your your demand generation efforts. You'll quickly see results as your content reaches new audiences.