Three uncommon but highly successful hypergrowth strategies are:
1. Combine Inbound and Outbound Marketing Funnels.
Why it’s uncommon: “Inbound is new/cool and outbound is old/uncool.” Today’s marketers often don’t realize how effective outbound marketing can be.
2. Build Revenue Teams, Not Siloed Sales and Marketing Teams.
Why it’s uncommon: Marketing and sales teams have traditionally worked separately. It’s habitual.
3. Measure Marketing on Pipeline and Revenue, the Goals That Matter Most.
Why it’s uncommon: It’s a new practice for marketing to put itself on a lead commit or pipeline quota.
The ideas in this article are based on the book: “From Impossible to Inevitable.”
1. When Inbound and Outbound Marketing Join Forces
The beautiful thing about inbound marketing is—when it’s working— you have all kinds of leads beating down your website’s door. But it’s been around long enough to see its Dark Side. Beware of “inbound dependency,” since inbound is unpredictable by nature. We often see examples of companies that are “too successful at inbound.” When their inbound lead flow plateaus—as it always does someday—their reactive marketing and sales cultures struggle to adapt.
Focus solely on inbound and you’re waiting for most of the market to “discover you.” Why wait? With outbound marketing, you can proactively reach out to your market. Yet outbound marketing is largely dismissed, misunderstood, or mislabeled. If you look at hypergrowth companies that last, they leverage both inbound and outbound marketing to their full potential, understanding the pros and cons of each. Let’s slow down and consider what each term means.
Simply put, inbound marketing a “pull” strategy. It attracts customers to you. Outbound marketing is a “push” strategy and pushes your messages out to customers.
- Inbound is the reactive funnel, outbound is the proactive funnel.
- With inbound, customers come to you. With outbound, you seek out customers.
- The inbound funnel is broad. The outbound funnel is targeted.
- Inbound builds on existing assets, awareness, and demand. Outbound generates new awareness and demand that inbound doesn’t reach.
- Yes, there are gray areas, those of you who love to argue, don’t overanalyze the edges and miss the big picture!
The Inbound Challenge
In the early days of SEO, you could simply write short, easy-to-consume snippets embedded with keywords and that was the recipe for success. Fast forward to 2019, where we face a cluttered marketplace, content saturation, and struggles to rank.
Your inbound strategy needs to change with the times.
Today, content needs to be longer, more in-depth, specialized, and add new value. We are seeing more and more detailed how-to guides, white papers, case studies, and ebooks. Instead of producing an endless amount of short, simple content pieces, success is had with a smaller number of lengthy expert pieces with unique insights. All the while, striking a balance of evergreen content that will last for years to come and timely, one-off content that is important now.
Another key factor that marketers regularly miss is the fact that inbound is “bound” to plateau. Most organizations in their early years hit a point at which their inbound leads slow down or decline. Maybe it’s at $1 million–$2 million in revenue, maybe at $10 million. But they’re generally ill-prepared when the “inbound leads party” plateaus, so they panic and make mistakes. They hire too fast, build/change new sales teams incorrectly or push people with inbound skills to perform outbound roles. The problem is when “it’s only once they’ve plateaued” that they take outbound marketing seriously, six months too late.
The Outbound Opportunity
How many businesses exist out there who’d benefit from your service, but they don’t know that you exist or to even look for you? This is the opportunity for marketing to be more proactive with new outbound marketing channels. However, when it comes to outbound, marketers normally react with disdain:
“Isn’t print dead?”
“Who still watches TV?”
“Outbound is too intrusive and the efforts are futile”
Inbound is seen as the new(er) way and outbound marketing is seen as the old way. Marketers don’t realize how effective outbound marketing can be. Success can come from surprising sources; the right direct mail piece with the right message to the right prospect can be highly effective. It’s every CMOs job to determine which channels will garner growth whether it’s inbound channels or outbound marketing channels.
Warning: You must be patient with outbound marketing. Inbound gains momentum early (though it can still take six or more months to do that) and plateaus for the 99% of us who aren’t Dropbox, whereas outbound marketing can take longer to build momentum, but continue to grow consistently over time.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a popular example today of outbound marketing. You choose the companies you want to target, and based on the tier (usually determined by deal size), you are building one-to-one, one-to-a-few, or one-to-many outreach strategies. The greater the deal size, the greater the personalization, the longer the cycle, and the smaller the target list.
Many marketers are already doing outbound marketing but not attributing revenue credit to it. Pay-per-click (PPC) is regularly referred to as an inbound function, but is it? Only when re-marketing to an existing subscriber/visitor database does PPC count as an inbound function. All other forms of digital advertising fall under the outbound marketing umbrella. From Google AdWords to social advertising, you can create campaigns to proactively reach audiences that are not already aware of your business or your offering: This is outbound.
Inbound and Outbound Working Together
When you are firing on all cylinders, with inbound and outbound marketing working side by side, you will see prospects moving seamlessly between the two funnels. A new segment that you first reached out to via digital advertising will start to follow your content, subscribe, and eventually become a customer through your inbound funnel. On the other hand, if old inbound prospects have gone cold, you can make them active again through outreach and eventually close through the outbound funnel. These are ideal journeys of push and pull working together.
With both inbound and outbound marketing in place, you minimize lulls, avoid the plateau and capitalize on growth potential. It’s not “which one?” but “both” to reach their potential and avoid the pitfalls of “single funnel dependency.” Inbound can be a fantastic “revenue flywheel” once it’s working. Outbound marketing can add proactive and targeted reach. We’re starting to see a shift, what’s old is becoming new again. For the next 10 years, outbound marketing will be the biggest driver of growth.
“For the next 10 years, outbound marketing will be the biggest driver of growth.”—Meena Sandhu
2. Goodbye Sales versus Marketing, Hello Revenue Team
Every growing business out there wants to grow its customer base and increase revenue, right? So then why is it that sales and marketing, the two key functions driving customer and revenue growth, are constantly in battle with each other?
These teams are structured and measured differently, and each end up with slightly competing objectives, like when marketing is measured on new lead volumes, sales on revenue. Build one, unified revenue department where sales and marketing are functions within one team. Avoid the mistake of marketing working independently from sales. Welcome revenue teams working in unison, and good-bye siloed sales and marketing teams. Rather than marketing or sales success, we see revenue success. Instead of a CMO or a CSO, you have a CRO (Chief Revenue Officer), a title that is more and more common in hypergrowth companies. Marketing is measured at least on qualified leads and pipeline, or perhaps even revenue, just like the CSO.
The entire team becomes an assembly line. The more quality leads that marketing delivers, the more opportunities the inbound SDR can book, the more deals salespeople can close . . . without the finger-pointing and blame-flaming.
Next, let’s remove the thought of “marketing and sales” and instead consider “inbound” and “outbound”—because they are often different motions. Imagine sales and marketing working hand in hand to define and run coordinated inbound and outbound campaigns (also called Account-Based Marketing):
- Outbound example: We have the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or account lists that our outbound SDRs (sales development reps) and salespeople are targeting. Our marketing team runs advertising campaigns targeting that same ICP. And, we build landing pages that echo the SDR’s messaging.
- Inbound example: When we have promotions to ramp inbound leads. The inbound SDR is aware of the promotions so that they can talk to them on their qualifying calls. The inbound SDR is provided with all relevant collateral and content for the promotion. The inbound SDR regularly provides feedback to the marketing team about lead quality. If the quality is poor, we end or change promotions. Good quality? Then triple down. Weekly pipeline meetings involve both sales and marketing, and everyone understands how each contributor’s efforts are supporting one another.
3. How Do You Measure Marketing?
Have you ever heard marketers talk about “eyeballs”? Early in my career, I was confused by the notion of “eyeballs,” also known as impressions. Instead of counting sheep at night, I was counting eyeballs. How is it that my performance as a marketer could be measured based on how many “eyeballs”/impressions I got on a specific campaign? A number that often seemed to be pulled out of thin air, “1 million people might have seen your Ads.” It’s great to know that a campaign received an x number of impressions, but is it really something that should be used as a key performance indicator? The same goes for:
- Number of website visitors
- Number of social media followers
- Open rates
- Number of top of funnel leads
- Cost per lead, and so forth
None of these metrics matter on their own and they are not directly connected to the bottom line. Don’t make the mistake of choosing marketing goals that aren’t tied to sales and the business goals overall. What matters to a business is growing customers and revenue, minimizing churn and increasing LTV (life-time value), and accomplishing these goals in the most efficient way possible.
- You could have lots of website traffic, but is the traffic generating new opportunities?
- You could have a plethora of social media followers, but are they your customers?
- You could have high email open rates, but how are your conversion rates?
- You could have a long list of top of funnel leads, but are they closing?
- You could have a low cost per lead, but are they the right leads, and how much revenue (and profit) is generated per lead?
Mistake: Overfocusing on Per-Lead Cost and Ignoring Quality
We’ve talked about aligning sales and marketing functions and one way to do that is with goals and metrics that make sense for both. Marketing’s biggest function is to provide bottom-of-the-funnel, marketing qualified leads to sales. This is marketing’s direct connection to revenue and customer growth. With a shift in focus from quantity or cost per lead to quality, we are able to leverage conversion rates, linking marketing’s performance closer to sales. By keeping an eye on the conversion rate between each stage of the process you can determine where the bottlenecks are in your company, and then rally your team around strategic objectives to alleviate them.
- What percentage of opportunities (e.g., AWAFs or Additional work authorization forms) for booked by MRRs (monthly recurring revenue reps) and SDRs are making it to the meeting stage with an Account Executive?
- What percentage of marketing qualified leads are converting to customers?
- What percentage of marketing qualified leads are getting sales qualified?
There are numerous options available for measuring the success of marketing initiatives while also being directly relevant to sales and the bottom line for the business. Unified goals lead to unified teams, which leads to Hypergrowth.