Outbound marketing is a term that refers to the practices used by a company to reach out to its customers proactively. Outbound marketing is opposed to inbound marketing, which aims to let customers come to you. The two techniques are complementary in terms of sales strategy. They are integrated into the company’s marketing strategy and its marketing mix.
In this article, we start by defining what outbound marketing is, detail the 8 variants, and look at the effects of digitalization. We conclude by examining the effectiveness of outbound marketing.
- What is outbound marketing (Vs. inbound marketing)?
- The 8 different approaches to outbound marketing
- Outbound marketing in the digital age: why the bad reputation?
- Effectiveness of outbound marketing
What is outbound marketing? (Vs inbound marketing)
Outbound marketing is the oldest existing marketing method when you think about it. If we go back in time, marketers had to get the attention of potential consumers by shouting louder and being more aggressive than their competitors. More recently, and with the emergence of mass media such as radio, newspapers, television, computers, and smartphones, companies compete through advertising or other more subtle methods.
From a more technical point of view, outbound marketing, or interruption marketing, is a methodology companies use to disseminate communication to a large audience that may or may not be looking for their products. In short, it is a form of one-way communication that assumes that by disseminating content to the masses, you will find someone who will be attracted to your product. The main channels used by companies are illustrated in the chart below.
Considering that humans are now inundated with at least 2,000 outbound marketing interruptions a day, it’s safe to assume that outbound marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach potential customers. The awareness phase is indeed the beginning of the customer experience. How do you sell to customers who have never heard of your company or don’t even know that your company can solve their problem?
The 8 different approaches to outbound marketing
Below we detail 8 approaches that fall under the heading of outbound marketing. This list can be improved, but it will give you a good overview of the techniques to adopt.
TV and radio: “one to many”
Television and radio are mass media par excellence. They allow reaching large populations with the same message. This is called “one to many.” This approach tends to evolve towards more personalization thanks to targeted advertising.
Radio and television promotion can take many forms: advertising and product placement. News coverage is also an excellent way to talk about companies and make them known to the general public.
Advertising signs on the streets are no longer only presented in the form of the famous 4 by 3 posters (4 meters wide, 3 meters high). Many variations adapt to their location, from the 2m² in bus shelters to advertising tarpaulins and specific formats in supermarkets or airport toilets. Advertisers have no limits when it comes to capturing the attention of potential consumers.
The press may seem like an outdated communication channel, but it’s not. The digitization of newspapers has led to a renewed interest in this medium, which allows you to reach homogeneous audiences. To use this medium, you can buy space (advertising, advertorial, and any other form of promotion). Your advertisement can also take more subtle forms. A journalist may cover a news story and talk about your company. The journalist’s endorsement adds an element of credibility that simplifies consumer acceptance (see example above). This type of promotion is precious.
Outbound marketing extends into the digital sphere, of course. The variations of digital advertising are endless. The targeting possibilities offered by social networks are advantageous to increase the efficiency of your advertising efforts and find better leads. However, this requires that you have defined your customers’ personas beforehand (which can be done with qualitative and quantitative market research techniques)
This is probably the least well-known technique in outbound marketing. Everyone has suffered from this practice, which consists of calling people (consumers or companies) to present them with a product/service and sell it to them. Cold calling is particularly widespread in sectors with solid competition (telephony, internet, energy). This practice is so debated and annoying that the legislator had to take the lead. It is now possible to subscribe to lists to indicate that you do not wish to be approached.
Trade shows are a fascinating place to meet your target audience. Unlike street advertising, radio, or television, trade shows attract an audience with an identified need. We are, therefore, further down the customer experience. Consequently, there is less “waste,” and the marketing effort is theoretically more effective.
Fairs as an outbound marketing technique work as well in B2B as in B2C. We refer you to our articles on the SIAL, a significant trade show for food professionals, to convince you of this.
Whether physical (paper mailing) or digital (emailing), Mailing techniques are among the most common practices in outbound marketing. This technique remains popular, inexpensive, and can deliver very satisfactory results. The GDPR has made it more challenging to send unsolicited emails. Building a mailing list should be a priority for every company.
Displaying your brand on specific media can also be of interest. Brand supports can be multiple and are not limited to the sphere of physical objects. Virtual universes are also coveted by brands to display themselves. In this respect, the metaverse is a new Eldorado for outbound marketing. It will soon be possible to buy places in virtual worlds to communicate about your brand. Facebook has understood this potential and wants to couple marketing stimuli with the collection of biometric data via sensors integrated into virtual reality headsets.
Outbound marketing in the digital age: why the bad reputation?
Outbound marketing has gained a bad reputation in recent years, mainly because of its persistent overselling stereotype. At one time or another, we’ve all been bothered by an overenthusiastic telemarketer or spam from another country proposing services or products we don’t want. Outbound marketing suffers from its lack of personalization, intrusiveness, and “old-fashioned” methods.
This reputation has even led the marketing community to suggest that it is terrible or unethical to present an offer to unsolicited potential customers. But let’s be honest, there’s nothing wrong with promoting your product or service through outbound marketing, as long as it delivers on your promises!
Effectiveness of outbound Vs inbound marketing
By nature, outbound marketing is opposed to inbound marketing. The latter aims to organically attract customers by increasing visibility on “low impact channels” such as the Internet and social media. Inbound marketing is much more web-based and allows the company to be easily found on the Internet, attracting customers as they search rather than proactively finding them.
While many large companies claim that inbound marketing is more effective, you should consider the following. If people don’t know or trust your company, your inbound marketing will have a limited impact. Think of inbound marketing as the continuous development of a relationship with the prospect that is the condition for a successful lead nurturing strategy.
Put outbound marketing back into the customer experience
Reposition it in the customer experience. You cannot initiate the relationship without an initial meeting. Outbound marketing dramatically increases the probability of this “first contact” so that a business relationship can develop afterward.
More expensive than inbound marketing?
Marketers also claim that inbound marketing is cheaper, which is essentially true. The average cost of an outbound marketing lead is about $332, compared to $134 for a lead that comes from inbound marketing. The difference is significant.
Choose the channel that best suits your activity
But it would be best to keep in mind what is essential when developing a marketing strategy: the method used should only be judged by the results obtained. If outbound marketing works for your company because you target an audience that responds to TV or radio ads, you should continue to do so. For example, some B2B companies are getting surprising results when they contact prospects directly via LinkedIn: 79% of B2B marketers consider LinkedIn an excellent source of “leads,” with a response rate eleven times higher than traditional email.
Focus on digital technology to increase your efficiency
Let’s also not forget that outbound marketing has evolved with the digital age and become more personalized. Today, companies can use online data to know their target audience better, creating more compelling content, such as personalized emails and phone calls or even sending personalized mailings to potential customers. With this data, companies can also refine their advertising campaigns – for example, advertising their products in niche publications to reach their target audience.