Outbound Lead Generation
And the path to growth with least resistance
To succeed, businesses need to acquire new customers in a consistent, replicable way. And the cost of client acquisition must be low enough to ensure the company earns a healthy margin on it’s product or service.
Yeah, not exactly news.
But what’s the best way to get B2B clients? What actually works in the real world?
Most companies benefit from using a combination of inbound and outbound marketing channels. The two methods don’t exist in independent silos. Rather they complement one another. And the best marketers find ways to use their skill at outbound marketing to accelerate inbound marketing results.
So in this article we’ll look at two things:
First, we’ll explore 3 proven ways companies use outbound lead generation to quickly get customers and sales.
And second, we’ll see how outbound marketing can accelerate inbound marketing efforts by 10,000% (or more).
Let’s get started!
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What Is Outbound Lead Generation?
As a quick refresher, outbound lead generation refers to marketing tactics that emphasize putting your message in front of a target buyer. For example, cold calls or direct mail are both outbound marketing.
Conversely, inbound marketing generally relies on searchers finding your company’s content on the internet. They then ‘opt in’ to a conversation based on the value they experience. For example, a searcher might be looking for information on recent tax code changes. And then reach out to the accounting agency that provides expert information on that topic.
How to Succeed With Outbound Lead Generation
Successful B2B marketers know the secret to effective outbound marketing.
In fact, it’s shockingly simple.
Ultimately, outbound marketing is a numbers game. A SMALL numbers game, that is.
Yup, you want to make your target audience SMALL. Your aim is to put your message in view of as FEW decision makers as possible. Which is the opposite of how many marketers approach outbound lead generation.
You’ve probably already guessed why niche targeting works. The fewer people you contact, the more relevant your message will be for your prospects. Put another way, a message that applies equally well to 10,000 people has no value to any of them.
“A message that applies equally well to 10,000 people has no value to any of them”
Niche targeting also dramatically lowers your cost per lead by improving conversion rates.
Inbound marketing is powerful because it uses thought leadership to prove topic expertise. To be effective, outbound lead generation tactics MUST place the same emphasis on value creation. Which is a nice way to say you need to understand the needs of your prospects.
In other words, forget about who YOU want to connect with. Instead, ask who wants to speak with you; and why do they need your help?
Why Is Outbound Lead Generation So Popular?
It feels like every B2B company is getting the same marketing advice. They should write crazy good articles for their company blog. And over time their articles will become so popular that business success is all but assured.
If only it were that easy!
In a world where 4.9 MILLION blog posts are published every day, the odds that you will dominate in Google is worth considering. In fact, Ahrefs’ research shows that more than 90% of pages get ZERO search traffic. Yeah, nothing, zip, nada, bupkis.
But that’s ok. While you’re waiting for content marketing to work, you can use outbound lead generation strategies to bring in customers.
Here are 5 reasons outbound lead generation is so popular with marketers.
Outbound Strategies = Control
The big advantage of outbound tactics is that you enjoy a very high level of control.
Consider how much effort it takes to create valuable content for your blog or social channels. It’s a lot of work! This article is over 3000 words and took several hours to write. But, after it’s published there’s no guarantee anyone will see it. Google may decide other content is a better fit for this topic. And if that happens then we’ll be just another one of the 90% of pages that don’t get any visitors (BTW: THANK YOU FOR READING!!).
With outbound lead generation there’s nothing between you and your prospect. If you send a decision maker an email they’ll read it and then decide how they want to proceed. That’s it. It’s a linear process that you control fully.
Lead Generation Must Be Predictable
For your business to achieve consistent revenue, marketing tactics have to be predictable. That happens when a defined input has a very high likelihood of creating a known output.
Let’s say a Linkedin advertisement costs you $4 per click. And it takes 15 clicks to generate a qualified lead. In this example, you know your cost per qualified lead is around $60. Furthermore, if you know it takes 5 qualified leads to earn a new client then your cost of client acquisition is around $300.
Provided these parameters remain fixed, you can scale revenues in a predictable manner. If you increase your Linkedin ad budget from $300 per month to $600 per month then you can expect to double your monthly sales.
The same principle holds true for other type of outbound campaigns. Once you know what inputs result in a qualified lead, then there’s no mystery about what’s required to increase revenue.
Target Audience Focused
One of the best things about outbound lead generation campaigns is that you choose who to contact. There’s no ambiguity about whether a lead is qualified or not. After all, you contacted them!
For example, if you are selling flooring solutions then contact Facilities Managers. They are the people who will get the most value from your solution. And ultimately decide whether you make a sale.
Inbound marketing tactics are effective at capturing demand you didn’t know existed. The flip side of this is you have no control over the quality of lead. Leads that originate from social media or content marketing may not fit your internal qualifying criteria.
With outbound lead generation, all your leads are high quality. You decided in advance which decision makers best match your ideal client profile. So there are no surprises.
Outbound lead generation is KING for refining your sales and marketing message. You can use small chunks of data to try different messages until you connect well with your target audience. Here are a few examples:
- With personalized email you can contact 200 people and evaluate your responses. If your results aren’t as strong as you’d hoped, re-evaluate your targeting and your message. You can also A/B split test copy variances to isolate the exact wording the drives the highest response rates.
- Google ads provide detailed reports that show exactly how many people saw your ad, and whether they took action. You can use this information to accelerate your high performing ads. And also eliminate under performing ads. As you iterate, your cost per lead will drop. And you can increase your marketing budget with confidence.
Speed Up Client Acquisition
New companies have two options – get new clients, or face the prospect of closing down. So building a deep sales pipeline quickly is the number one priority for any new company.
Lead generation strategies like publishing articles take months to work in any meaningful way. When you publish new content Google indexes it immediately. But that content may never generate leads. There are simply too many people all trying to rank for similar keywords. And many of your competitors are already well established in Google’s search results.
Conversely, an outbound lead generation campaign can be set up in just a few hours.
For example, it’s very easy to set up an Adwords campaign. And when your prospects search for your solutions, your ad will show at the top of Google’s search results.
Outbound lead programs like personalized emails or cold calling may take longer than a day to set up properly. But like ad campaigns, they can deliver new customers in a quick, repeatable way.
It’s Not Inbound vs Outbound
There’s a tendency for marketers to consider inbound and outbound lead generation as being completely separate things. Like they are somehow independent from one another. You’ll sometimes see marketers boast, “We only use inbound lead generation.” But the thing is, relying on a single approach to marketing is limiting in every sense.
In reality, marketing tactics compliment one another and shouldn’t be used in isolation. Having a deep bank of quality content makes it even more likely that your outbound lead generation strategies will succeed. An opportunity that converted via cold email can be nurtured using social media. Or you can share articles and case studies to establish industry expertise. And so on.
What Works in Outbound Lead Generation
Now that we’ve established why outbound tactics are important, let’s look at what actually gets you in front of decision makers.
One of the easiest, and most affordable ways to get meetings is by using highly personalized, relevant email outreach. There’s NO better way to repeatedly put your message in front of your target customer. If you want to meet the CFO of a Fortune 500 firm it can be literally as easy as reaching out to introduce yourself.
Cold Email Pros: Email itself is almost free so outreach is very affordable. Working with a virtual sales assistant enables you to effortlessly build a campaign for just a couple hundred dollars per month. When done correctly, cold outreach is relevant to the recipient and targeted to their specific needs. It’s also easy to A/B split test different copy and targeting ideas until you get the perfect fit.
Cold Email Cons: The biggest problem with cold email is in the name – it’s cold. If your message isn’t well targeted to the recipient then it can be perceived as spam. That’s why it’s impossible to overstate the importance of working with small niche data. So every message you send is interesting and relevant to the recipient.
Doing Cold Email Right: Four simple words – “work with a professional.” Even though B2B email is ‘simple’ there are a lot of tricks involved to do it well. Professionals know how to structure an email cadence to drive new leads every day.
Interestingly, the cost of using b2b data services is about 15% the cost of doing it in-house. This is because the costs of lead generation tools and staff get shared by multiple firms. Best of all, you won’t need to spend hundreds of hours training staff on how to do outbound lead research.
One of the easiest ways for businesses to connect with their target audience is using Google Ads. Google ads are ‘Pay Per Click’ (PPC) which means you only get charged if someone clicks on your ad to visit your website. Given Google’s position as the world’s biggest search engine, these ads are one of the most scalable forms of outbound lead generation.
Google Ads Pros: The best part about using Google ads is the high level of targeting that’s available to advertisers. Google ads work in two distinct ways.
The first is search marketing. If you’ve ever queried Google then you’ve probably seen a Google ad at the top of the page. As an example, try searching for ‘plumber near me’ and you’ll get plumbing ads at the top of the search results. Search ads are effective for lead generation because you know your prospect is actively searching for your solution.
Google also offers display ads. As an advertiser you can run your ads on websites like magazines and popular B2B blogs. This works really well when you know what sites your target customers frequent. And Google will help you find other, similar sites where you can target an identical audience.
Google Ads Cons: The only downside to Google Ads is cost. Google ads are ‘Pay Per Click’ (PPC). And as the name implies, your costs are independent of whether someone takes action on your website. They may love what they see and register for more information. Or they may quickly navigate off your site; in which case the ad click has little value. With this in mind, you’ll want to optimize your website conversion rates to ensure you get the best value for your marketing budget.
Doing Google Ads Right: Google Ads make it VERY easy to set up a new campaign; but don’t be fooled by the simplicity. It’s also easy to waste money on under-performing ads.
Consider working with an Ads optimization specialist. An optimization professional can help you improve your campaign “Quality Score.” Which will reduce the amount you pay per click. And ensure your cost per lead is as low as possible.
If you’d prefer not to work with a Google Ads consultant, then be sure to study on your own. Google has free training resources that will help make your lead generation spend as low as possible. You can also supplement this training with other, private training programs.
Sadly, 98% of people who visit your website leave without taking any action at all. You never even know who they are. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could bring them back for another look? Who knows, maybe the second or third visit they’ll leave an email address.
Retargeting refers to serving Facebook and Google Display ads to people who visit your website. You’ve probably experienced this yourself when you viewed a product and suddenly there are ads for it everywhere.
Retargeting works by having your website serve a retargeting pixel. Which in turn makes your visitors identifiable to Google and Facebook. As they browse social media and the web, the two ad giants show your ads. And with any luck they’ll click on your ad to revisit your offerings.
Pros of Retargeting: The ROI on retargeting is high. Along with personalized cold email, it will generally produce the lowest cost per lead out of any outbound lead generation tactic.
And you probably already know why this is the case. Your visitors came to your website for a reason. And they probably haven’t yet solved the problem that brought them to your website. A reminder that you can help is sometimes all it takes to capture a lead.
Additionally, B2B buyers may have a long purchase cycle. Reminding buyers to come back over an extended period makes sense. Especially if they see your ad when they’re closer to making a purchase.
Cons of Retargeting: People are pretty used to seeing ads, but if your ad appears too often then it could negatively affect your brand. Your prospects will wonder why you’re stalking them! When using outbound we always need to be cognizant of the end user’s experience.
Doing Retargeting Right: Retargeting is pretty easy to set up. All you’ll need is a Google Ads account and / or a Facebook ads account. Google and Facebook will give you a code snippet to paste into your site. If you aren’t technically inclined then it sounds scary. But it only takes a few minutes to do. Modern CMS like WordPress are designed to make tasks like this easy.
There are different ad types available so develop some custom images to use for your ads. Ads that capture attention generally convert well and drive more sales for your business.
Need More Qualified B2B Leads?
Meet decision makers interested in your solutions
Integrate Your Lead Generation Strategies
Over the last 15 years the popularity of inbound marketing has exploded. And why not? The core message is unfailingly positive. You should blog regularly and publish really strong content. Eventually Google will recognize your brand leadership and you’ll get tons of site visitors.
Sadly, a LOT of inbound adherents are still waiting for that traffic to appear…
In this section we’ll look at 3 simple ways to use outbound marketing to explode your inbound efforts. It’s not an exaggeration to say judicious use of outbound lead tactics can multiply your inbound lead generation results by over 10,000%.
Share Content With Cold Email
If you want to win at inbound lead generation you’ve got to get high quality backlinks to your content from other businesses in your niche. Backlinks tell Google your content is trustworthy and are strongly correlated to higher rankings.
Unfortunately, backlinks are really hard to get. But that’s where cold email steps up for the win!
Here’s how to apply outbound lead generation principles to improve your content distribution.
Share Your Content: You created your content with very specific prospects in mind. Why not find their email address and send them a message? You can share a few salient points about your article and ask whether they’d like to take a look. The choice is up to them, but if you don’t do an outreach campaign, they’re never going to connect with your brand.
Link Outreach: Similar to content sharing, you can ask people in your field if they’d like to review your work. If they like what they see they may share it with their own audience on social media or link to your article in their blog.
Guest Blog: Writing an article for other businesses is one way to make effective use of emails. Just email businesses with customers similar to your own and offer to contribute an article. They get a strong piece of content that may generate leads. And you get exposure to a new audience and a backlink pointing to an article of your own. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Share Content Using PPC
When it comes to sharing content, we immediately think of Linkedin or other social media. But here’s the thing… social media has algorithms that determine how many people see your content. If you get TONS of early engagement you can expect to get lots of views. But what if you don’t?
You still want your target audience to see your content. And an affordable way to make that happen is with PPC. You can use Facebook, Outbrain and Google Display (among others) to put your articles in front of your target audience. As lead generation tactics go it’s very affordable. And it’ll help your content achieve your content goals.
Bring Back Inbound Traffic With Retargeting
The BEST thing about retargeting is it integrates with all your other marketing efforts. It doesn’t matter how your prospects arrived at your website. Retargeting will show ads to them all, regardless.
So what does it matter?
Eventually your blog writing efforts will start sending visitors to your site. But B2B websites don’t tend to get a lot of traffic. So every visitor needs to be treated like potential gold. With retargeting you can maximize the value of those hard won inbound efforts. It’s a perfect blend of inbound and outbound marketing tactics.
Outbound Lead Generation FTW
For new companies, it’s tempting to rely on inbound lead generation. After all, connecting with decision makers without the costs associated with outbound marketing sounds great! But content takes time to work, and sometimes it doesn’t generate leads, ever.
With that in mind, mastering outbound marketing is pretty much key to surviving the first year in business.
Best of all, when you master outbound lead generation, the same skills can be applied to your inbound efforts. Ads aren’t just used to promote products and services. They can be used to promote your content and position your brand as a thought leader.
Similarly, cold email is considered an outbound lead generation tactic. But the best content strategists use email to promote their content to influencers and high value prospects.
So there you have it. If you want to run a successful business, find what outbound lead generation tactics work best for you. Chances are, you’re going to need them.
Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.