If you sell to busy decision-makers, you understand how difficult it is to get time on their calendar along with their undivided attention.
In fact, this is becoming more common, with more than 8,000 martech tools available today. B2B marketing has become extremely competitive and getting mind-space and real estate on search engines is more difficult.
But that doesn’t mean B2B marketing is ineffective. The solution is shifting your approach. If your current inbound marketing campaigns aren’t delivering enough leads to your sales team and helping them hit their numbers, you could benefit from incorporating outbound marketing.
Not Satisfied with Your Inbound Leads? Here's What to Do
If your entire lead generation strategy is built around inbound marketing, it’s time to reconsider outbound strategies. Outbound and inbound aren’t meant to compete—instead, they complement each other.
With outbound, you’ll be able to gain better control of who you’re reaching out to, and that control directly transfers to more leads in your pipeline and faster results.
Outbound also gives you data. You can quickly test broad markets and generate new insights into buyer personas and value propositions that will help your sales team. They’ll also prove invaluable if you choose to outsource any manual tasks.
The better your marketing intelligence is, the faster you can qualify, segment, and convert leads. In short, the one-on-one contact that outbound offers might be the solution to speed up your inbound sales cycle and better target your prospects.
What’s the Difference Between Inbound vs. Outbound?
Outbound marketing focuses on reaching out to prospects to generate leads. In comparison, inbound marketing sets up a system designed to bring prospects to you.
Outbound typically involves contacting a prospect who’s unfamiliar with your solution while inbound works to build a relationship with that prospect before going for the sale.
Inbound and outbound lead generation strategies can work on their own, but they’re most powerful when you combine them.
Here’s how to integrate outbound strategies to strengthen your inbound marketing.
How to Improve Your B2B Marketing with Outbound
Let’s break down eight ways you can integrate outbound into your B2B marketing strategy:
1. Personalized cold emails
Cold email is one of the most important techniques in outbound marketing, but not every email marketing campaign is effective.
One of the most common problems is sending the same email to all your prospects. Duplicate messages can cause their mail servers to mark your message as spam. The fix? Add personalization.
Direct your outbound email campaigns to specific people. Look for a personal email (not “info@” or “sales@”), and address your prospect by name in the email. A spam filter is much less likely to flag your email if it’s written directly to the recipient. Below is an example of what a successful cold email consists of:
It’s also a good idea to do your research beforehand and make sure you’re messaging the right stakeholder or decision-maker in the organization. This research also ensures you’re reaching out to an existing email address instead of an archived account that could hurt your sender’s reputation.
If you choose to buy, rent, or scrape data for your campaigns, make sure you clean the data first. A company name that’s misspelled, written in all caps, or has a suffix like “LLC” or “Inc.” immediately flags you as a spammer.
Cold email isn’t easy, but it’s one of the most proven methods to generate leads.
2. Cold calling
Cold calling on the phone can have the same pitfalls as cold emailing for B2B leads—a lack of personalization.
If you only rely on a fixed script, you won’t make much progress. The solution is to only reach out to qualified prospects and vet them for relevance before dialing the number.
A live phone call can also help your entire marketing strategy since you’ll build initial rapport and discover pain points and areas you can help. But remember, be direct and make your reason for contacting this person known within the first thirty seconds, this is one of the key cold calling tips to keep your prospects from rushing you off the phone.
3. LinkedIn automation
One of the biggest shifts in outbound lead generation in the last few years has been the growth of social networks, most importantly LinkedIn.
You can expand your pool of relevant prospects by joining and participating in LinkedIn groups, using LinkedIn’s search function, and exploring common interests and mutual connections.
Doing all of this work is time-consuming, though, and marketing automation can handle several processes for you. Look into apps that visit related prospects, send personalized InMail messages, and more.
4. Unified business communications
Gone are the days when you could close a sale with a few phone calls. Today, a sales process happens across many channels like phone, email, web chat, content marketing, and more.
Successful outbound strategies rely on multiple modes of contact—and sharing valuable content. If your outbound calls are only about setting appointments, you won’t see the kind of results you’re looking for.
Instead, share helpful content across different touchpoints. It gives you a stronger sales foundation and helps you reach your prospect through their preferred mode of communication.
The secret to connecting those channels? A Unified Communications platform that allows you to centralize communication like video, voice, chat, email, and surveys in a single space. Unified Communications as a Service, or UCaaS, benefits both your sales and customer support teams.
5. Social media
Decision-makers might not spend much time browsing Instagram, but they’re almost always reachable through a social media profile.
Using social media as a lead generation tool involves using platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with prospects more informally and start relationship building before turning them into leads.
Identify which users you want to target, then start messaging them on their preferred social media platforms. For example, if you see a prospect is more active on Twitter than on LinkedIn, that’s probably a good first place to start.
Another mistake to avoid is posting at the wrong time. Every platform has a best and worst time to post, so make sure your schedule is in sync with your prospects.
The key to properly executing a social media campaign is to start with one or two platforms, post consistently, engage with your followers, and send personalized messages.
6. Online communities
Success in online communities comes down to providing value first. Instead of jumping in to share your ideas, spend some time observing the community. When someone posts about a problem you can help with, share valuable content and advice.
Similar to our social selling strategy in the previous point, you can take these conversations in direct messages and start building a deeper connection. By leading with value, you can build trust and relationships, which are the heart of sales.
7. Networking events
Networking events might not be scalable, but they’re one of the best ways to connect with highly qualified leads face-to-face.
A common problem is to assume that bigger networking events will result in more leads, but the opposite is often true. The smaller and more niche-focused an event is, the more you can target your message and the better you can attract qualified leads.
Almost all potential customers for a B2B business check with their peers before making a purchase. In fact, 92% of customers place trust in peer recommendations. That’s where your satisfied customers and the customer experience come into play.
Word-of-mouth can be even more effective if you offer your happy customers referral opportunities. Not only do those incentives create better results, but they also give you the ability to measure the reach of your customers.
Whether you’re looking to raise awareness about good customer service, spotlight satisfied customers, or introduce new products, word-of-mouth can be a great outbound strategy for your business.
How to Improve Your Existing Outbound Campaigns
Every marketer, no matter how advanced, eventually gets to the point where their outbound campaigns aren’t as effective as they used to be.
The solution isn’t necessarily to try again with a new strategy; instead, start by taking the right steps to improve the campaign you already have in place. Here are six ways to boost the effectiveness of existing outbound campaigns:
1. Create ideal customer profile and buyer personas
No matter how many lead generation campaigns you’re running, each one can only target a certain type of customer. This target audience should only include a few buyer personas, and by refining those ideas, you can get better ROI from every campaign you run.
Look at what your most successful customers have in common. Are they in the same industry, have similarly sized teams, or use the same technology? Which decision-makers convert the most frequently?
In addition to the “who,” you can also look at “why.” Why do your best customers do business with you? What are their needs? What are they looking to gain from the purchase?
2. Search and reach out to prospects
Sometimes, you need to move a step beyond buyer personas and target specific firms. Such targeting is known as account-based marketing, or ABM for short. Below is a difference between ABM and inbound marketing, for reference:
Once you know the target account you’d like to close, open a search engine and learn everything you can about the prospect. Send personalized outreach and work to close on an individual level instead of in bulk.
3. Follow up with prospects
When it comes to low-hanging fruit that can improve your outbound campaigns, few strategies work as well as lead nurturing.
Instead of leaving a prospect after the first or second message, keep communicating. In fact, it’s recommended to follow up six times before letting the prospect go cold.
What’s important here is to lead with value. Don’t spam or pester them, but keep communication lines open and share content they’ll find interesting or useful.
4. Improve your marketing intelligence
The faster your B2B company can qualify leads, the faster your pipeline will fill up, and the more effective your sales force will become.
One of the most overlooked ways to improve your lead qualification is by using marketing intelligence. Study the information you’ll later use to engage and convert leads, and verify that data in realtime using outbound channels earlier in the funnel.
You might see a reduction in qualified leads as your business intelligence improves, but that’s a good thing—it means you’re focusing on the best prospects that are more likely to convert and become a customer.
5. Get more personal
It’s easy to rely on automation and templates too much. The solution is to have your sales team put more effort into true personalization instead of focusing only on volumes or how many cold calls they can make in a day.
A few ways to create a more personal experience for your prospects are to reference details about their company, work history, and even connections they share with your sales rep.
The good news is that while this personalization makes it feel like the prospect isn’t just another number, much of this data is easy to come by thanks to networks like LinkedIn.
6. Distribute relevant content to the right audience
Content marketing is usually associated with inbound strategies, but it can be just as effective in an outbound context when used in the right way.
The secret is to leverage your content assets for outbound by sharing them with the right decision-makers at the right time.
Effective content is a powerful strategy to cut through the noise. While other sales teams are pushing to close, you can set yourself apart by focusing on education and relationship building.
Marketing Sales Solutions with Outbound
If you’re looking to fix an inbound funnel that just isn’t growing, the solution might not be more marketing strategies. Instead, the answer you’re looking for could be a shift toward outbound strategies that complement your inbound processes.
There are plenty of unique and effective outbound techniques that can provide faster results and more control than your existing inbound methods.
The first step is to pick one or two, try them, and see what works for you.