Survey says B2B marketers should avoid trendy inbound-only approach

Rather than singularly focusing on inbound marketing, B2B marketers should evenly balance inbound and outbound tactics to be most effective, according to a new report from Act-On Software and Demand Metric.

"While inbound marketing generates buzz, combining inbound and outbound marketing produce real business results," said Kevin Bobowski, CMO of Act-On Software. "And as more marketers adopt account-based marketing and the outbound tactics that support it, it will be time to rethink the role of inbound marketing."

The "Inbound Marketing Effectiveness Report" report, which surveyed 130 B2B marketers from mostly emerging and midmarket companies, found 84 percent of B2B marketers agreed that inbound and outbound tactics together drive business, debunking “the notion that marketers perceive inbound as more important and strategically valuable than outbound.”

Indeed, the report said outbound marketing generates 43 percent of a B2B company’s annual revenue, while inbound produces 41 percent.

However, larger companies are more likely to merge inbound and outbound tactics. “Smaller companies may not believe they have the bandwidth to drive their businesses using both kinds of tactics,” the report said.

Social (82 percent), SEO (82 percent), blogging (60 percent), PPC (41 percent) and third-party reviews (20 percent) are the most popular inbound tactics generally for B2B marketers, while email (90 percent), tradeshow/conferences (62 percent), press releases/media relations (61 percent), webinars/virtual events (52 percent) and direct mail (33 percent) are the top five outbound methods.

The report said the approach a company takes – whether inbound, outbound or both – doesn’t affect which tactics are used, just the degree to which they are used.

B2B marketers spend slightly more on outbound, which represents 48 percent of the annual budget compared with 44 percent to inbound. However, more than half of the study’s participants said they will increase their investment in inbound tactics over the next 12 months, while just over one-third plan to boost their investment in outbound.

“An advantage that inbound has enjoyed over outbound is the lower, relative cost. Relatively equal spending, therefore, doesn’t translate into equal amounts of marketing occurring in each category,” the report said.