The virtual marketplace is saturated with products and services of different kinds. They all fight for the attention of 1.8 billion online shoppers worldwide. To succeed in ecommerce, it’s not enough that you have something of interest and quality to offer your target market. Unfortunately, the adage “if you build it, they will come” does not apply.
The industry is quite competitive, and you must be ready with winning gameplay in the guise of a well-thought-out marketing plan. That’s the only way that you can reach your audience. There are multiple approaches at your disposal.
Here we’ll discuss inbound and outbound marketing and how they can be utilized in tandem for a robust marketing strategy. First, let’s differentiate between these terminologies.
The marketing efforts you pursue on or through your website fall under inbound marketing. Here, your goal is to entice willing visitors. These visitors become leads, and from leads, you convert them to customers.
The target audience for inbound marketing efforts is usually limited. However small in number as they are, they often result in a reliably high conversion rate. That means zeroing in on this small market segment will yield sure sales. Inbound marketing requires minimum investment but maximum dedication. ROI takes a while to manifest, but once it happens, it’s worth the wait.
With inbound marketing, you pretty much know who you’re trying to influence. Your efforts are guided by what you know about your target market.
When doing inbound marketing, you must know how to read the marketing funnel. It is divided into three levels: top, middle, and bottom. The lower in the funnel your audience is, the closer they are to becoming a customer. The strategies you put in place should be tailored to the part of the sales funnel you’re trying to address.
Examples of inbound marketing include social media marketing, blogging and keyword targeting, content marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO). Online reviews and testimonials lean toward inbound marketing as well.
Meanwhile, with outbound marketing, it’s like you’re throwing a huge net out into the open sea in the hopes of catching as many different types of fish as you can. The advantage of this method is how you might accidentally tap a market segment that you were not initially interested in. That, on top of your existing customers, will increase your sales.
The downside is how you pretty much invest serious money in marketing efforts that are not targeted per se. Expect lower conversion rates from traditional outbound marketing like TV and radio spots, billboard and print ads, and other marketing collaterals like direct mail pieces, brochures, and pamphlets.
However, you can take comfort knowing that you are getting your product and services out there via these methods. You are seen by many, which equates to an increase in brand awareness, a key priority for businesses, especially those just starting out.
The best of both worlds
In a survey of B2B organizations, 84% of respondents agreed on the effectiveness of combining inbound and outbound marketing. This tactic’s not difficult to pull off either. Here’s what you must do.
- Buff up your online presence. Invest in content that’s relevant to your offered products or services. Make sure your content adds value to any conversation. It won’t hurt if they have what it takes to go viral, too. Your goal is to ensure that your target audience is engaged. Meanwhile, the non-targeted audience who finds you must discover something worth exploring.
- Attend a symposium and give a talk that ends with a call-to-action that foregrounds your brand. Buy a page in a newsletter with a wide circulation. Produce a radio spot that’s difficult to forget. Here, your goal is to drum up as much interest in your business as possible.
- The ideal outcome is for those reached by your outbound marketing efforts to be interested enough to find you online. This is where your inbound marketing efforts will finally work in tandem with your outbound investment.
- The opposite route is also possible. The audience for your online content might get too invested in your brand that they’d seek you out in real life. They might attend an event (outbound marketing) you’re hosting to get to know your business up close and personal.
Ideally, you allocate 10% of your annual revenue to marketing. However, that figure’s more of a recommendation than a definitive rule. Much still depends on what industry you’re in. For example, you might need to spend more on marketing if you’re selling prepackaged consumer goods compared to a business in the energy sector.
Regardless of how much you’re capable and willing to spend, the key is to diversify. Do not rely on just one marketing method. Mix and match and see what combinations work best. Do not limit the opportunities that you exhaust. If something fails, look elsewhere. If something works, keep at it.