I’ve been thinking a great deal about the balance between inbound and outbound marketing. I’m not a big fan of the term “inbound marketing” as it is largely a rehash of things that most online marketers discovered over the last 8-10 years. Accountable and analytic marketers understand that:
- Most of the mass media and “push” techniques just aren’t as effective as they used to be a decade or two ago.
- People don’t like to be harassed by telemarketers.
- Shoppers are increasingly using the Web (including blogs and social media) to learn about your product or service.
- Prospects who engage with your business online are typically further along the purchasing process and are more likely to buy.
These are all things that most of us have discovered empirically.
In my opinion, the real challenge is figuring out if you can get enough from your online channels to fill the funnel and support your sales goals. In many markets, a large percentage of people still use “old media” to learn about things. For example, while over 10 million people still watch the nightly network news shows in the US, the more popular online TV shows have at best thousands of viewers. I know, I know we can talk about audience targeting and specificity but differential is meaningful.
While all trends are toward online media, most of us will exhaust our productive online opportunities and will need some “old media”push in our marketing mix. To use an expression popular in the state of Maine, “you can’t get there from here.” We have businesses to run and sometimes we still need the sheer mass of eyeballs you can only get from “old media”.
I know that change is upon us as print media and radio suffer through their painful corrections but they still have big, relevant audiences that we need to keep that in mind. These channels are also not going away anytime soon. My suggestion is to watch the numbers and be ruthless as you make media decisions understanding that most businesses need more than just online marketing (even if the customer acquisition costs are much higher offline). At the end of the day, results matter more than channels.
How much are you moving to online media? Can you reach your goals this year with online alone?