Is Outbound Marketing Dead — or Still Alive and Kicking?

“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The quote, famously attributed to Mark Twain, could also be linked to outbound marketing tactics.

Outbound marketing strategy uses tactics that get your message to the masses with the goal of introducing your company and ultimately making the sale. Common outbound tactics include email campaigns, social media campaigns, cold calling, direct mail, billboards, and print, television, and radio advertising.

Are all of these tactics dead? Far from it, experts say. In fact, many are still alive and kicking. They all can provide effective, efficient ways to generate brand awareness and leads for business — when done correctly. 

Here are key reasons why rumors of death swirl around these four tried-and-true outbound marketing strategy tactics — and reasons why they’re not just not dead, but still alive and kicking. 

Email Marketing

Why it’s rumored to be dead

Many naysayers point to several reasons for email marketing’s demise, including the growth of social media, the large number of people canceling their email subscriptions and growing number of emails being sent every day.

Why it’s alive and kicking

When marketers were asked which form of marketing delivered the greatest insight into B2B content performance over the last 12 months, 64% cited email, according to the 2021 B2B Content Marketing report. In fact, email engagement was right up there with website engagement (69%) and website traffic (65%). That’s not too bad for a medium that many have declared dead!

Another benefit is that email marketing provides a great deal of flexibility for supporting a variety of communication strategies, including the following:

  • Commercial: This strategy is intended to elicit impulsive behavior when a company announces a new promotion or product.
  • Loyalty: This approach is designed to retain customers and generate sales by promoting their relationship with the brand or company.
  • Informational: This type of campaign is intended to inform clients about any news the company must share, such as future events or product surveys.
  • Location: This strategy is used to inform people about the location of the physical store, so that they can visit the business and become customers.

Television Commercials — Gain More Options than Ever

Why it’s rumored to be dead

Follow the money. Nearly 356 billion U.S. dollars were spent on digital advertising in 2020. This figure is forecast to increase at a rapid pace in the upcoming years. According to the latest projections, digital advertising revenue will amount to 460 billion U.S. dollars by 2024. Meanwhile, it’s expected that TV advertising revenue in the U.S. will grow from 72.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 to 81 billion in 2025.

Why it’s alive and kicking

For an advertiser, broadcast television is still an effective way to reach many people. Audiences are still very much engaged in television programming, and we now have more ways to reach them. In the early days of television, advertisers had only three channels to choose from. Now they have thousands.

Today, 99% of homes have access to broadcast channels. What’s more, viewers are also watching hundreds of cable and satellite stations, along with the newer over-the-top television streaming (OTT streaming). As a result, traditional marketers have more opportunities to target ads to run during specific programs, to certain age groups, and within specific geographic regions. 

Best-use scenarios of the three television options are:

  • Broadcast TV commercials — Brand awareness and retail promotions in local Designated Marketing Areas (DMAs).
  • Cable station ads — Brand awareness campaigns targeted to personas in specific counties or zones.
  • OTT streaming ads — Targeted awareness-focused ads to specific audiences.

Radio Advertising — Aim for Frequency, Reach, Consistency

Why it’s rumored to be dead

The consensus is that long-term radio campaigns are a waste of money compared to the ROI of an internet, SEO, or social media marketing campaign. Further, critics say that digital music services and satellite radio make it easy for listeners to avoid radio advertising. As of December 2019, there were 271 million active Spotify users alone.

Why it’s alive and kicking

Despite all the changes in the last decade in how Americans access music, AM/FM radio is still the most cost-effective advertising medium today, according to Leighton Broadcasting. It’s an inexpensive way to reach your existing and potential customers because production costs are low.

In fact, no medium can reach such a broad cross section of potential customers as radio does. In addition to the audience, there’s the attention factor. Being able to place your company’s marketing message in front of a consumer for 30 or 60 seconds is a potential goldmine. By contrast, compare it to the 54 seconds on average a web browser spends on a single web page.

Radio delivers three main marketing advantages at a reasonable cost — reach, frequency, and consistency:

  • Frequency: This means talking to people a lot. Repetition helps your local radio ad be more effective because it reinforces recognition. You don’t have to reach everyone, so be selective. To achieve frequency, think of it as talking to the same people on a regular basis.
  • Reach: While frequency is talking to people a lot, reach is talking to a lot of people. If your objective is promotion, meaning you want the target audience to take a specific action, you need more reach. 
  • Consistency: Once you find the right audience, frequency rate, and reach, keep going. This is important because, psychologically speaking, the average person needs to hear an ad three times per week for it to be remembered.

Billboard Advertising — Think: Digital Billboards

Why it’s rumored to be dead

One could come up with several reasons to believe billboard marketing no longer works. For example, without data or analytics marketers can’t optimize their billboard ads to target strategically. Another aspect of billboard advertising is the idea that the return on investment is low, considering how many people see the billboard versus those who act on it.

Why it’s alive and kicking

Two words: digital billboards. Known in the industry as “digital out of home advertising” (DOOH), this new form of old marketing is experiencing significant growth — 10% a year between 2018 and 2021, according to a WARC report. Digital technology has revolutionized the DOOH advertising industry so much so that, far from decreasing spending, companies are investing more than ever in billboards and other forms of digital outdoor advertising.

Digital billboards work like traditional static billboards in one respect, fixed position. But the key is in how they function more like online display ads: they can be revised or updated on the fly. This allows you to make strategic changes to your budget and ad schedule in real-time. This flexibility also allows more consistency between billboard messages and other marketing channels you could be utilizing. When used correctly, digital billboards have the potential to increase brand exposure, create familiarity, and boost marketing ROI.

Outbound Marketing Still Matters

The effectiveness of email marketing can be optimized in several ways, including creating a high-quality email list, considering the customer buying cycle, focusing on lead nurturing, segmenting the email list, creating personalized relevant content marketing and irresistible landing pages, sending emails (especially those about products or services) at the right time, and tracking email marketing results

If you’re looking for the best marketing strategies to support your business, resist the urge to count out the traditional marketing tactics that have supported businesses for decades. Rumors of their death have been greatly exaggerated. 

Let us know if you’d like to launch a successful email campaign — we have the expertise, tools, technology, and relationships to do it right.