Inbound vs Outbound B2B Marketing Strategies

The inbound vs outbound marketing conversation yields varying opinions for different individuals, businesses and industries. Historically, outbound marketing is considered the more traditional approach to marketing, and conversely, inbound is recognised as more modern. Each pillar is home to all of the marketing strategies and executions that B2B businesses leverage, with some combining strategies from both and others focusing on either inbound or outbound. 

Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is the process of attracting the attention of prospects, via content creation, before they are even ready to buy – Lead G2.

Inbound marketing is recognised as the more modern approach to B2B selling, particularly given the current business environment. According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017, 71% of companies globally reported that they’re primarily focused on inbound. With marketers shifting their efforts toward digital marketing platforms, businesses have been investing more into inbound marketing activities. Beyond the current environment, inbound marketing offers a more targeted approach to reaching audiences and focuses on reaching individuals rather than the mass market. It focuses on addressing customer problems and offering relevant solutions through a variety of different means. The primary executions that fall under the inbound marketing umbrella are:

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is very topical at the moment, with B2B businesses focusing their efforts on developing and promoting relevant and engaging material. This can include case studies, newsletters, blogs, articles, whitepapers and infographics. Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads per dollar than traditional marketing, so it comes as no surprise that B2B businesses around the globe are prioritising this.

Companies who blog receive 97 per-cent more leads to their websites than companies that don’t. – SevenAtoms

Your customer should be the core of all of your content. Ensure you are focusing on identifying common customer problems and outlining the ways that your business can solve them. Content marketing increases web traffic, improves your Google ranking, builds brand awareness and credibility of your brand. 

2. Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is becoming an increasingly essential component of B2B marketing. Your SEO strategy should underpin all communications and content your business is putting out. This includes your website, landing pages and all content marketing. This is because keywords are a vital part of SEO and should be used in all content for the site. By identifying the keywords relevant to your business that you want to compete for, you can increase your chances of target audiences finding that information.

3. Opt-In Emails & Segmentation

Email marketing is one of the more successful marketing activities for B2B lead generation. However, with the influx of emails that individuals receive in their inboxes, how can you ensure your content is being read? By building up your contacts organically through inbound content marketing, you can develop an ‘opt-in’ list which will ensure higher engagement and clicks. 

Once you have built an impressive list of contacts, take the time to segment your lists based on client status, industry, business size and product area of interest. Segmentation allows you to provide your customers with targeted content to increase engagement, clicks which in turn, increase leads.

4. Social Media

B2B social media marketing gives your business the opportunity to be where your audience is. By implementing extensive targeting metrics, you have a greater chance of providing targeted and relevant content to your desired audiences. Social media can also be an inexpensive marketing venture, and therefore, a great platform to promote your business’ content to build credibility and brand awareness.

5. Pay-per-Click (PPC)

An effective PPC campaign puts your website in front of more people and complements your organic marketing efforts. This is particularly vital when your business is still building your organic audiences and ensures that prospects can find your page easily and quickly. The top 3 PPC ads get 46% of the clicks on a search results page, so you want to ensure your business is seen in these spots.

Outbound Marketing 

Outbound marketing refers to any kind of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience – WordStream

Outbound marketing strategies are more focused on reaching as many people as possible, whether they are active buyers or not. It is less targeted than inbound marketing activities and recognised as a more ‘traditional’ approach to marketing. Many B2B businesses still leverage outbound marketing strategies, particularly when their goals are to build brand awareness. However, many businesses cannot justify the cost of outbound marketing strategies given that inbound activities are, on average, 62% less expensive. Further, outbound marketing traditionally offers less opportunity for detailed reporting metrics. The most common outbound strategies include:

1. TV and Radio ads

TV and radio advertising boast large audiences and therefore, high impact. Unsurprisingly, there are less opportunities to target your desired audiences through TV and Radio, however, they can be successful channels for brand awareness initiatives. Depending on your business goals, TV and radio may be in alignment with your desired outcomes and B2B marketing strategy.

2. Print Advertising

While many are of the opinion that print advertising is dead, others are of the belief that print remains a powerful force and deserves a spot under a B2B marketing strategy. With each publication having a clearer defined readership, there is some opportunity for businesses to find their niche. Ensuring your advertisement has a clear and concise call-to-action is imperative, as generating leads through print can be difficult.

3. Billboards

Billboard advertising is the definition of high impact brand awareness. But, to secure a spot with high traffic, your business better be prepared to dig deep into its pockets, as these don’t come cheap. Often this form of marketing is generally owned by larger corporations with bigger budgets. 

4. Telemarketing

Telemarketing is a commonly adopted strategy in the B2B world. It gives the caller direct contact with potential customers and gives them the opportunity to establish immediate rapport and address any questions or problems quickly. However, it can also work against your business if you are not targeting the right people. 

So, does inbound or outbound marketing better suit your businesses? Ultimately, this depends on your brand, target audience and future goals. Many big businesses incorporate both into their annual marketing strategies, whereas smaller B2B companies primarily focus on inbound strategies due to budget restraints. At the least, your business should consider an inbound marketing strategy to complement your outbound marketing efforts.

For more information on inbound and outbound marketing, reach out to The Lead Agency.