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For companies trying to perfect their marketing strategies, it shouldn't be a question of inbound vs. outbound marketing, said customer relationship management expert Brent Leary in a SearchCRM podcast (click here or at the link at the bottom of the page). Instead, companies should choose a hybrid approach.
First, let's define these approaches. Outbound marketing, the more traditional approach to marketing, involves calling and emailing customers and prospects -- often without knowing whether they have any interest in what you're promoting or selling. Some refer to it as a "spray and pray" approach, because companies often spend ample dollars to reach a broad swatch of potential customers, but with little insight into the preferences and profiles of those customers.
Inbound marketing, a term coined by HubSpot, a marketing and sales software provider, is often touted as the more modern approach. By cultivating customer relationships, companies drive interest and traffic to their sites through a variety of means. They may author articles about a product or service, send out messages on social platforms and email customers and prospects promotional information with links back to the site. Companies often employ inbound marketing in concert with customer analytics strategies so they can understand the demographic profiles and preferences of customers and target messaging to them, often segmenting messages based on their profiles and the like. Inbound marketing is seen as a way to create scientific, targeted communication with customers.
Leary said that while inbound marketing has become much more of a focus, companies need to think about combining these strategies. "It's not 100% one versus 0% the other," Leary said. "It's the mix you need. It could be 80/20 or 60/40."
Hybrid inbound and outbound strategies
Leary said that understanding the more complex nuances of the customer lifecycle is also critical. Companies need to understand how to communicate differently with customers who are prospects, researching or ready to buy and reach them effectively at every phase.
"There may be instances where [customers] may not be ready to buy, and hopefully, by feeding them that information, you give them enough information that over time they will reach out," Leary said. "And on the flipside, you may be able to use that information to see sentiment, to see what they're nibbling at, and you can provide them more information, and that would be a hybrid inbound, outbound approach."
Leary also discussed the importance of developing a mobile marketing program built for a mobile-first world. According to Leary, companies are stuck in traditional modes of customer interaction. Although they may have added cosmetic changes to make their marketing mobile-friendly, they haven't changed their fundamental approach.
"Mobile marketing is still disconnected from the overall digital marketing strategy," Leary said. "Companies are basically making messages look nice on devices that are the same traditional messaging, so it’s not taking full advantage of what these mobile devices can offer, and particularly what mobile apps can offer and the engagement opportunities they provide."
For more on inbound vs. outbound marketing, check out the podcast below.