What is Outside-In Marketing?

It used to be so easy to be a marketer, but with Outside-in marketing that’s no longer true! Now marketers face a revolution on two fronts...

It used to be so easy to be a marketer, but with Outside-in marketing that’s no longer true! Now marketers face a revolution on two fronts the very fronts that should be marketing allies. One battlefront is the consumers, the audience a marketer wants to learn from, engage with, and influence. On the other battlefront are the executives in the marketer’s own organization. Multiple research reports show that 50 percent to 80 percent of executives don’t trust their own marketers.

what is outside in marketing


The days of only a few channels has passed. There are more than 40 online and offline channels, and each channel is full of marketing messages.1 People are overwhelmed with marketing messages.

In all of this, people have taken control of their own buyer’s journey. They can choose which channels they travel on in their journey, they can choose the time that’s best for them, and they can search for the specific information they need. Whether your organization is B2B, B2C, government, or nonprofit, it doesn’t matter. Your customers are in control. Marketers no longer control the gates to information.

Although these two motivators make it easy for an organization to create content, content alone typically fails to satisfy or influence the buyer. Content architecture is oriented to match the organization’s structure, not the buyer’s needs. Product or service terms are technical rather than solution-oriented. All buyers are considered to be at the same stage in the decision journey, and the channels that messages go through are the ones the organization is comfortable with, not the channels the buyer prefers. With all that, it’s amazing that buyers put up with it.

In fact, informed buyers don’t put up with it. What informed buyers do is either stick with what they have or switch to an organization that connects and engages with them.

To engage and be relevant to our customers, we as marketers must engage them in both content and context. The content must be relevant to their specific needs and at the correct point in the buyer’s journey. The context must be relevant to their physical location and the type of device they use. If your content and context aren’t relevant to your audience, you will lose them to a competitor who can do that.

Most marketers are aware that content must match the visitor segment and the visitor’s stage in the Customer Life Cycle. However, not all marketers have thought about the more recent addition of “context.” Context is the “how and where” of the marketing message.

Organizations in Stage 1, Initiate, have websites that show static content and are perhaps using a mass email newsletter to an undifferentiated audience. These marketers use static content with formatting designed for standard desktop screens. Their email newsletter is primarily organization-centric, sending the same message to all audiences with information that is more important to the organization than to the individual needs of customers. In effect, marketers published with a take-it or leave-it attitude. In this post we see how to make sure that the content in even a Stage 1 website fits the needs of the audience.

This post also helps you move to Stage 2, Radiate. In Radiate marketers adapt to the “how and where” of the visitor’s context. If the marketers want their message to “radiate” outward they must use the channels customers prefer, create content that adapts to the visitor’s buying situation and physical location, and content that adapts to the technical capabilities of the customer’s device. These requirements make moving up to Stage 2, Radiate, sound like a complex task, but the processes in this post show you how to keep it in control.

As you think about moving into Stage 2, Radiate, it may be easiest to consider the four primary ways of radiating to customers. Remember that not all of these ways are worth doing for all organizations. The four primary ways of radiating to consider are,

Web
  • Responsive web design that adapts to small screens in portrait or landscape orientation
  • Touch responsive screens rather than keyboard and mouse
  • Optimized images that adapt to small screens and lower bandwidth
  • Concise content that doesn’t have a high word count
Email
  • Email lists segmented and contextualized to the needs of visitor segments
  • Responsive email design that adapts to the visitor’s device
Social media
  • Messaging that fits the social community it targets
  • Messaging that fits within small screen and message limits
  • Social marketing programs that use the social network to spread the organization’s message
Apps and device capabilities
  • Downloadable apps that take advantage of capabilities built-in to mobile devices such as coupons that appear when GeoIP detects you are near a store.
How you choose to radiate out and the priorities you set depend on your business model and customer needs. In general, email has the highest impact. For most organizations one of the most impactful first steps they can take in radiating is to find the needs of their customers and begin with consistent email focused on solving the problems of specific customer segments. This does not take a heavy time and resource involvement and can lead into more automated programs,  Stage 5, Nurture. However, when you create your marketing and customer experience plan consider the cost of buying a system that has email segmentation and automation built-in compared to the cost of having to convert data and possibly lose subscribers if you move from a basic system to a connected one you will need next year.

After establishing email campaign capabilities most organizations add basic social capabilities using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or one of the other myriad of social networks that are most used by customers. The social marketing is needed to support your brand and to monitor your customer’s thoughts and opinions.
The high growth of smartphone usage has created equivalent high growth in mobile Internet use and smartphone apps. What we see in our consulting with organizations worldwide is organizations moving up from their Stage 1 or Stage 2 “one size fits all” designs to designs that are mobile responsive so they can take immediate advantage of the growth in mobile internet access.

Benefits to Your Customer

The term customer-centric marketing should be a redundancy, but too often we see websites and digital marketing that are not customer-centric. Instead the website is oriented around the organization’s products and delivery, and the digital marketing outreach is oriented to meet the organization’s marketing silos. This should be sacrilege to marketers who care about their customers and about meeting objectives.

Using the processes described later in this post, you will be able to create experiences that are customer-centric. Your customers will benefit in multiple ways. Following the processes described in this post will ensure that your customers find content with topics that fit their personas or their customer segments and the stage they are at in their decision journey. Customers will move faster through the decision journey if they not only have the right content at the right time and in the preferred channel, but also if you have used calls to action and psychological triggers that help them identify their needs and make a decision.

When customers find what they are looking for and the message is relevant to their needs and stage, then they are much more likely to trust the message. It makes them aware that you understand them.

With customers using so many digital channels, it is important that you connect with your customers through the context that is most relevant to them. You want to connect through the right device, at the right time, and in the right format. Marketing messages should be in the primary channel used by a customer segment or persona.

You can see that a development strategy for Stage 2, Radiate, is not just about sending messages out through multiple channels. Rather, a more integrated strategy is to use all the channels together to build trust and commitment with your audience. With a family entertainment park, for example, managers can use their website to attract visitors and build interest. They can then use email to nurture visitors and inform them of coming events related to their interests. Social channels can be used to give testimonials and endorsements for how good it is and to show pictures of people having fun. And finally, when a visitor arrives smartphone users can find current events, performance information, and reserve tickets. It all works together to create a better customer experience.


outside in marketing

Benefits to Your Organization

Organizations that use the processes described in this post benefit in two primary ways. They know what to focus their limited resources on, and they build marketing processes with more conversions, faster velocity, and higher advocacy.

Almost every marketing organization we’ve spoken with in the past three years has complained about its limited resources. When you have limited resources, you have to focus your work on those areas where you get the greatest leverage and impact. Following the process in this post helps you do that. We have found that Pareto’s rule, 80/20, applies here as well. About 20 percent of the content and 20 percent of your marketing produce 80 percent of the results. This process identifies the 20 percent you need to focus on. When you present your customers with the content they need at the time they need it and you prep their minds with a psychological trigger so they are ready for a specific call to action, then you have created great marketing. Your marketing is more engaging and
more relevant.

So what happens to organizations that engage their customers and that become obsessed with being relevant? Research shows that engaged customers become advocates. As advocates, customers trust your organization and commit to a longer relationship. They gain by making better purchases because they trust the information about your products and services. They don’t waste time or expense. It becomes a virtuous cycle that benefits both customer and organization.

As an organization, you win when your customers become advocates. Research shows that advocates are two to three times more effective than nonadvocates in persuading others to purchase. Other research shows that advocates give you immediate payback by spending twice as much as the average customer as well as sharing their recommendations two to four times more than an average customer.

Process for identifying critical content

The process described below is an excellent process to follow if you are developing a new site. For a new site the process will keep you focused on what is critical to success and help you use your limited resources wisely. If you have an existing site and are either moving it to a new technology or improving it using the same technology, the work you do in the following process will give you and your customers all the benefits described in the previous section.

The process described here builds the foundation for all customer-centric sites and digital marketing. This foundation requires:
  • Customer segmentation or personas
  • Decision journey
  • Digital Relevancy Map (DRM)
  • Content audit
If you aren’t sure your marketing organization has a customercentric orientation, you can be sure that working through this process will change marketing’s frame of reference. In the following process you will:
  • Identify your most important types of customers using either visitor segmentation or personas.
  • Map your customer’s journey discovering key junctions and decision points.
  • Identify the content, needs, customer intent, and call to action for each customer and stage in the customer’s journey.
  • Identify the channel that is best for each customer and stage.

Identifying Your Customers and Visitors

You can’t sell to everyone. That’s a basic truism that every salesperson and marketer should know in his or her heart. Most organizations have three or four principal types of people who are their target customers. Understanding these types is essential to connecting and engaging with them. You must know what are their needs and drivers, their psychological triggers, their intent at each stage in marketing, and how you can identify them. Two ways of identifying your customers are personas and customer segmentation.

You will be using customer segments (or personas, which are different) to identify the unique intent and need of each, the types of content that generate the most engagement, the types of messaging that build trust, and the paths each segment (or persona) takes.

Personas

Personas are miniature personality sketches that help marketers understand and know their customer types. Many large marketing organizations have already created personas to help marketers understand to whom they are marketing.

Personas are meant to convey real awareness of customers’ behavior, not just explicit details that help identify them. Personas often include photos and describe personal attributes about their lifestyles, needs, and aspirations.

Personas and the behaviors they imply are very important to personalization in marketing.

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