microphone-icon-image"I have an admission to make," HubSpot's Dan Sally says coyly as he kicks off the INBOUND 2013 conference in Boston a couple months back. "I'm a recovering outbound marketer."        

Laughter erupts across the orange sea of 5,300 HubSpot devotees. A very funny HubSpot-produced video that mocks traditional marketing lights up the Hynes Convention Center Arena to further drive home the point. Outbound is out. Inbound is, well, in.

Now, as a veteran marketer who works for a traditional "outbound" media company, my skin crawled. And my fingers went rogue ... instantly tweeting to complain about the perceived injustice of bashing marketing strategies and tactics that have built my clients' brands and businesses for years.

But with time comes reflection. And with input from my HubSpot friends (who encouraged me to write this post) I have an admission of my own to make. Inbound makes outbound better. Way better.

It's the Genius of the "And"

Jim Collins' business classic "Built to Last" gave us this insight and it certainly fits the discussion around inbound vs. outbound. Because it really shouldn't be an either/or consideration.

When used in combination, outbound and inbound strategies and tactics have the potential to grow brands and businesses faster than using either discipline alone.

I should know. As a HubSpot customer for the past year, my traditional media company has developed and executed dozens of programs (dare I say "campaigns," HubSpot?) that have delivered superior ROI compared to anything we've done in the past.

Of course, we may have some differences in the way we define ROI, so let's make sure we're on the same page before getting to the meat of this post.

The Three Rs of ROI

I've been doing marketing longer than most HubSpotters have been alive. Seriously. I'm quite certain that after spending three days with this smart, ambitious group that I'm at least 20 years older than the average HubSpot employee. So I hope they and you will indulge my long-in-the-tooth marketing world view which, over the years, I've boiled down to the "Three R's." As in, recall, response, and retention.

Let's focus on recall for just a minute as I believe this marketing outcome has gotten overshadowed by response in the digital age. You see, there isn't a needs analysis meeting I'm in where the answer is "no" to the following question: "Do you want your brand or business to be the most recalled in its category?"

"Duh, of course," goes every answer.

And that, my friends, is why outbound will never cease to exist. Because recall is outbound's sweet spot.  And I remain convinced that despite all of the digital and social media revolutions, broadcast media can scale recall faster than anything else for a brand or business.

As for response and retention? Hello HubSpot. We use the HubSpot platform every day to drive "databases with insights and actions" for our clients, most of whom are too busy running their businesses to focus on the really powerful part of lead generation: segmenting and nurturing. Before the internet, my company's business development mantra was "control the creative, control the client." Now, with HubSpot, we can also add "control the leads, control the client." How cool is that?

Unlocking the Power of Outbound and Inbound

We have a lot of clients who have had a lot of success over the years with our "outbound" company. And, the fact is, many are unaware, or skeptical, about inbound. So after a year of diving deep in this outbound/inbound space, our approach has been honed to sharing three "no-duh" insights and then draw assignments from there. (I promise you will literally see light bulbs go off in clients’ heads as you rattle these off.)

  1. Consumers go early and often to the web before they buy, especially after seeing or hearing a commercial that interests them.
  2. Not all quality leads are sales-ready. But you can invite someone to take a small action with you if you simply point the way.
  3. Therefore, broadcast advertising calls-to-action (CTAs) need to be much more carefully considered. Actually they need to be obsessed over.

The Best Outbound and Inbound Campaigns So Far

Our best case studies are the ones where our clients followed our advice and used a broadcast CTA that lead to an online landing page.

This is something that our friend Matt Sunshine, EVP at The Center for Sales Strategy has been preaching for years. “The best results will come from the combination of mass media’s wide reach and ability to initiate interest in an advertiser’s product combined with the effective use of digital tools and content resources that allow consumers to learn more. The sweet spot is to pay attention to people and meet them everywhere they are interested in learning about your product, on-air and online!"

Outbound and Inbound Working Together

Example 1: The Car Pool Giveaway Campaign

We recently developed a promotional campaign that tied together a car dealer and pool builder in a unique promotion called The Car Pool Giveaway (www.carpoolgiveaway.com), where consumers could choose what they wanted to win -- a new car, or a new pool.

Using a combination of radio, audience database marketing, and digital display, this six week campaign generated more than 10,000 page views, 5,000 form completions, and more than 400 warm leads for both the car partner and the pool partner. The HubSpot platform helped us manage leads generated from the form completions, automatically forward the warmest leads to our clients, and  develop and deliver email nurturing campaigns based on where consumers noted they were in the buying cycle. Not only did both clients see an immediate sales lift but both continue to close sales months after the promotion ended. 

The car client deemed it “the most effective radio promotion we have ever done,” and the pool builder client recently thanked our account team for “making my year” while continuing to receive national recognition for the promotion throughout his industry. In fact, both partners have already committed to repeating the promotion again next year.

More and more, offers that help develop our clients’ entire sales funnel are working their way into our broadcast CTAs. While offers might not be an entirely new concept to broadcast media (e.g. "call now for your free DVD"), thanks to our HubSpot partnership we’re now able to develop and manage lead generation programs end-to-end, from concept development, to content strategy to lead generation and nurturing. It’s that kind of “full funnel” impact -- not just direct response, not just branding -- that our SMB and brand sales and marketing clients want and need.

Example 2: Increasing Student Enrollment With www.azautismscholarship.com Campaign

We also recently helped a school that serves children with autism meet its enrollment goals in just two weeks. Radio announcements directed consumers to visit www.azautismscholarship.com to learn about a state program that was awarding scholarships to children with autism. Since this information was hard to find on the web, we positioned the school as the authority on the program and created and offer out of the scholarship application.

In two weeks, we generated more than 1,000 landing page visits and more than 100 leads for the school. Each lead received an email, which was personalized based upon how they wanted to be contacted, with the scholarship application in the form of a PDF link. Of the 100+ form completions, 10 consumers wanted to be called immediately and because the leads were forwarded to the client automatically, the client was able contact each lead virtually in real time.

The client claims that they closed all ten of those calls. Great, they closed the "sales ready" leads. But another 90 consumers wanted to just be contacted by email. Cool, we generated quality leads to be nurtured. And of those, 24 clicked on the link in the email to read reviews about the school, so we have segmented those out as higher scoring leads and are working on a nurturing plan for them. Another successful outbound meets inbound campaign completed.

Can Outbound Actually Convince the Inbound Nay-Sayers?

Of course not every client is ready to do inbound for themselves. Maybe they’ve tried Inbound tactics but lost patience because they didn’t have the staff or the time to create content and drive traffic and generate leads through their own website.

As broadcasters we can use the power of outbound to sell the value of inbound. If you think about it, media companies already have what most businesses lack -- a large audience both on-air and online. And, we’re proving that on-air CTAs can drive better ROI and online results than either alone. So we’re now broaching inbound-shy clients with is this: It takes time build-up your own online audience. It takes time to drive traffic to your website and get audience converting on offers like eBooks or whitepapers. Using an integrated outbound and inbound approach with your trusted broadcast media partner that has an established audience will drive near term results using broadcast CTAs and fill your entire sales funnel ensuring you see ROI for months to come. 

As I write this, for example, we have launched an offer for a mortgage client that we published on our website, www.ktar.com, in the form of a sponsored blog post. The goal of the offer is to leverage our audience both on-air and online to drive traffic to this landing page www.sixstepstoahomeloan.com and to generate top, middle, and bottom of the funnel leads for the client. 

Without radio CTAs, we’ve had about 100 landing page visits, 25 and form fills. Just this week though, we started using Radio CTAs. And my bet is that the radio CTA will accelerate results.

If that turns out to be the case there’s certainly another blog in my future. And the headline practically writes itself: Proving how outbound and Inbound work together to grow recall, response, and retention.

This post was written by Jim Knapp, VP of Business Development for Bonneville Media in Phoenix, owned by Bonneville International, a Broadcast and Digital Media company that  operates  multiple radio stations and websites in Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Los Angles and Seattle. Jim works with Brand Sales and Marketing, SMB and C-Suite marketing decision makers to drive the Three "Rs" of ROI. You can connect with him on www.twitter.com/jim_knapp and www.LinkedIn.com/in/jimknappaz. 

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Originally published Oct 23, 2013 3:00:00 PM, updated January 18 2023