The mix of outbound and inbound marketing: how streetwise are you?


Here is a definition of streetwise: "Practical knowledge, as opposed to ivory tower or book knowledge, knowledge on how to succeed through life, or generally how to avoid the pitfalls". As a marketer it's very important to be streetwise. Furthermore, in order to become it, you need to go out on the proverbial street: listening to people, understanding their needs and acting upon them. However, as a marketer you also want to attract their attention and be prepared when they come to you.

I remember how Gerry McGovern, among others, author of "Killer Web Content", once compared the "traditional" ways of marketing and advertising as waving and shouting at someone in a street. Once you have the attention of that person, it's important you stop shouting and waving. If you would continue, they'd walk away very fast. 

Conversion optimization: when people stand in front of you

Gerry used the image from a website conversion optimization viewpoint. And, indeed, once people arrive on your website and the many other online properties, such as blogs and, more importantly, landing pages, you do not want to scare them off by shouting. In the end, a large proportion of your visitors comes to you with a purpose.

In a simplified way, we could say that waving at someone is outbound marketing. Shouting can be as well, although it often is really simply intrusive marketing. However, you need it now and then. If you don't have a voice, it's hard to be heard. The difference between good and bad outbound marketing probably is about who you are waving or shouting at and how loud you do it. If you just stand there in the middle of the street and shout your head off, chance is you will be noticed but few people will come to you. If you wave or gently shout at someone who might be interested in what you have to say, it will work if done properly. Yes, I am talking about targeting, segmentation and personalization or, in other words, about context.

Despite the rise of inbound marketing techniques, waving is still important in many cases. You just have to know when to stop.

After outbound and inbound marketing mix: where conversion marketing starts

There are other ways to attract people's attention in the street called the "market". This can include the way you distinguish yourself, for instance, by what you are wearing (the brand dimension) or how you are behaving in the crowd (interacting, etc.). However, it's important to turn the image upside down: look at what people are doing and where they are heading. In other words: get attention but also pay attention and earn attention.

Can you offer them any help? If you have this big sign that says "I'm here to show you the way," probably some will come. But when people in the street KNOW you help them in their journey, they will certainly come. Yet you need to be there. Yes, I am talking about inbound marketing now.

It's important to have a smart mix between inbound and outbound. Between being noticed/found, paying attention, deserving attention and attracting attention. However, looking at where people are going to, how they behave and what they do and say is what marketers increasingly should do. You don't want to waste the time of people. You want to enable them to get where and what they want fast. In order to know that, you need no ivory tower and book knowledge, you need to be streetwise.

And once people stand in front of you, all that matters is that you listen to what they say, ask what they want (the single most important task of every marketer) and next provide them relevant answers and paths to where they want to be. 

That's exactly where conversion marketing starts, regardless of where people come from. From that moment on, once you know what they want and you have that connection, there is one goal left: shorten their journey so they are less tired, and you can focus on the buy instead of the sell by putting their needs first in every step of the conversion process.

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