I like writing blog articles that come from actual conversations with CEOs at companies. This question in the title is one that comes up fairly frequently, and I think it speaks to how confused many people are today when it comes to marketing.
Do we do an inbound marketing campaign? What about a demand generation campaign? Isn’t that more proactive? How about account-based marketing (ABM)? My buddy runs that for his company. Then, unfortunately, we still meet people who are asking about their old-school outbound calling campaign.
People are confused. It’s a confusing time. So many factors should go into answering this question that it seems like a great topic for our blog.
Consider this a primer on campaign strategy selection. By better understanding each type of campaign, it should be easier to decide which one is right for your company. Keep in mind that sometimes more than one type is also a viable option.
What Does Inbound Actually Mean? Inbound marketing campaigns earn attention with educational content designed to attract target personas to your business who are looking for products and services like yours.
What Goals Should We Be Shooting For? Inbound is used when you want to build your database of first-party contact information and you’re willing to wait as you nurture your new contacts over time.
When Should We Use It? When you want to execute highly efficient marketing, targeted at only those people who are expressly looking for content, products and services like yours.
Does It Use Gated or Ungated Content? Inbound is almost always gated, meaning contact information is required to access content and offers.
What Are Typical Investment Criteria? Inbound campaigns typically require an investment between $7,500 and $15,000 per month for 12 months.
What Are the Typical Timing and Expectations? It usually takes around six months to start to see inbound leads, but these leads are people with an interest in what you do.
Are There Data Considerations? Inbound campaigns are designed to help you collect high-quality first-party data from people opting in to get that data.
What Are the Privacy Considerations? Since inbound campaigns are opt-in by design, there are very few privacy issues.
What Metrics Should We Be Tracking? Website visitors, CTA clicks, MQLs, email open rates, pipeline value and ultimately revenue generated.
What Are the Sales Alignment Considerations? A medium to high level of marketing and sales alignment is needed to follow up with leads generated.
What Does Outbound Actually Mean? Outbound marketing campaigns include pushing your message out directly to people who could be your target persona but have not expressed any interest or need.
What Goals Should We Be Looking For? Outbound is used when you want to get sales appointments immediately.
When Should We Use It? When you have a sales organization, a large, purchased list and an email facility to push out many cold emails supported by cold sales calls.
Does It Use Gated or Ungated Content? Neither. If the outbound campaign is supported with an offer, it’s usually the sales meeting. If content is offered, it’s provided during the call.
What Are the Investment Criteria? Outbound campaigns typically require an investment between $5,000 and $7,500 per rep per month until all the names have been contacted.
What Are the Typical Timing and Expectations? Results are usually quick, but you’re contacting people who have not expressed interest, so very low conversion rates are typical.
What Are the Data Considerations? Most outbound campaigns are run on purchased lists from third-party providers. This is not optimal and often presents challenges, including spam-related issues.
What Are the Privacy Considerations? Any campaign that is using third-party purchased data is going to have issues with privacy, spam and eventually ongoing campaign viability. While it’s possible you won’t run into any of these issues, it’s likely that you will at some point.
What Metrics Should We Be Tracking? Calls and initial meetings, pipeline value and ultimately revenue generated.
What Are the Sales Alignment Considerations? No significant marketing and sales alignment is needed.
What Is Demand Generation? Demand generation campaigns place your message and your educational content in front of people who look like your target persona.
What Goals Support Demand Generation? When you want to build brand awareness and create demand for your product/service and you’re willing to wait for that awareness to create actual leads and/or sales.
When Should We Use It? When you want to take your message and offers to the target market as opposed to waiting for them to find you.
Does It Use Gated or Ungated Content? Ungated, meaning people get access to content without having to provide any contact information.
What Are the Investment Criteria? Demand generation campaigns typically require an investment between $15,000 and $25,000 per month for 12 months.
What Are the Typical Timing and Expectations? It usually takes six months to start to see demand contribute to leads and new revenue.
What Are the Data Considerations? Since most of these campaigns are not designed to collect any data, there are no data-related considerations.
What Are the Privacy Considerations? It’s getting harder and harder to target ads without first-party data to define the targeting criteria. Some of the new privacy regulations are making demand generation campaigns more complicated to execute.
What Metrics Should We Be Tracking? Offer downloads or views, website visitors, page visitors and ad performance metrics.
What Are the Sales Alignment Considerations? A medium level of marketing and sales alignment is needed.
What Is ABM? Account-based marketing campaigns send your message and educational content to specific people at specific companies with whom you want to do business.
What Goals Support ABM? When you want to create revenue from specific contacts at specific companies.
When Should We Use It? When you have a highly accurate list of people at specific companies that you want to do business with and you have a marketing and sales organization that is tightly aligned.
Should We Use Gated or Ungated Content? Ungated because you already have their contact information.
What Are the Investment Criteria? ABM campaigns typically require an investment between $10,000 and $15,000 per month for six months at a minimum.
What Are the Timing and Expectations? Results can be fast since the campaign is highly personal and highly targeted. Sales results will depend on your specific sales cycle.
What Are the Data Considerations? ABM campaigns rely heavily on your first-party data. It has to be accurate, up-to-date and complete.
What Are the Privacy Considerations? With proper campaign sequencing, targeted people are opting in for ongoing communication, limiting any privacy concerns generally.
What Are the Metrics We Should Be Tracking? Contact and engagement rates, sales-qualified leads and sales opportunities, and ultimately revenue generated.
What Are the Sales Alignment Considerations? A high level of marketing and sales alignment is required.
Deciding what type of campaign to execute can be tricky, especially today with tightening privacy regulations and declining performance in specific tactics like email marketing. By reviewing the requirements above, you can make an educated decision about which type of campaign is right for you and your company today.
Remember, not all campaigns – regardless of type – are created equally. Your campaigns should be one-to-one and highly personal. They should be omnichannel, meaning you use all the channels at your disposal. They should be appropriately funded, and expectations should be aligned with the level of investment.
Finally, you might want to run all four types simultaneously. I’m in no way insinuating that you have to select one type over the other. In many cases, we run more than one type of campaign for clients, and you should consider this too.