Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Greater Internet and smartphone usage, not to mention ever-increasing social media channels and the proliferation of online reviews, have moved marketing from one-way communication to two-way communication. More and more power has been placed in the hands of customers as they can access a boatload of information via
- search engines
- online review boards and sites
- social media networks
- company websites
- blogs (business and consumer)
- company social media profiles
The evolution of marketing has led to a shift from traditional “interruption” or outbound marketing (cold calls, TV and print advertising, direct mail) to inbound marketing (blogging, company websites, and branded social media channels).
The main difference in the two methods: a desire to engage in a targeted conversation with people who you know are interested in your products or services rather than constantly disseminating information you can only hope falls on interested ears.
A big advantage of inbound marketing lies in its measurability. Because so many of the tactics are online, you can track the efficacy and ROI of your marketing efforts with metrics, such as website traffic, blog views and leads generated through various sources (your site, blog, social media pages, etc.). You can also track the activity of your leads and capture their information through content offers. For example, they might give you their name and email address in exchange for a free ebook, whitepaper or blog subscription. You can track (with inbound marketing software) their page visits, blog articles viewed, emails opened, etc.
But, you ask, what does this mean for sales and marketing?
Because a customer can be tracked from first to last interaction, your sales and marketing teams need to work as a cohesive unit, not disparate parts, to get the most value from inbound marketing. This means agreeing on certain things, such as
- When marketing passes off a lead to sales
- The definition of a marketing-qualified lead
- The definition of sales-qualified lead
- How many leads marketing will give to sales
- How long sales will take to contact an SQL
This might mean having a monthly meeting with both teams to establish service level agreements between the two teams. For more on SLAs and sales and marketing alignment, check out our post, <em>The Executive Playbook to Inbound Marketing and Sales Key Takeaways</em>.
Inbound marketing software allows you to gather a lot of great information on your leads. You want to make sure this information is passed on to sales. As a sales rep, it’d be helpful to know that I’m calling Carla James, the purchasing manager at XYZ Company, and that she’s read several articles from our company blog on project management software for large companies. Integrating your marketing automation and CRM systems allows you do this, setting sales up for a slam dunk.
For marketing teams, inbound marketing gives the opportunity to peg the source of leads and put more effort into those tactics that are working. Maybe they get a ton of leads through the company blog, but not many from social media. They could focus on writing more posts around popular topics.
Integrating your technology systems also allows you to have a closed-loop reporting system. That is, you can track the source of a prospect and their journey all the way down the sales funnel to identify the best places to focus effort and resources.
For example, if marketing knows that we captured Carla’s information when she subscribed to our blog, which she found through organic search, we might create more blog posts revolving around the keywords she used - to attract more leads with similar needs.
More, and Better, Communication
Inbound marketing focuses on achieving a better understanding of your customers and a relationship based on meaningful exchange. Your sales and marketing teams will need this same greater understanding and increased communication to reap the rewards inbound marketing has to offer. To learn more about how to achieve this communication and get results, click below to download our Expert Guide to Aligning Sales and Marketing for Quality Leads.
About Digital Impact Agency
Digital Impact Agency is a creative firm specializing in interactive media and inbound marketing strategies for manufacturing and technology companies, professional service firms (architectural, engineering, construction, legal and consulting), nonprofits and enterprise companies. We are a team of innovative entrepreneurs focused on creating the most strategic and effective communication channels for our clients.