The Truth About Outbound Marketing and Where it Fits into Your Overall Strategy

May 23, 2018 | by Lara S. Triozzi

Outbound Marketing ML

Everyone’s doing inbound. You know all about marketing automation, SEO and writing engaging content. Yet you have a sneaking suspicion that your inbound marketing strategy isn’t enough.

Sure, inbound brings in leads. But those are only the people that are finding you. You need more leads to reach your growth goals, and inbound won’t cut it alone.

What’s the solution? It’s time to add an outbound marketing strategy to your marketing toolbox. More businesses are using outbound marketing to proactively find a larger audience and nurture potential buyers into sales ready leads.

What Do We Mean by an Outbound Marketing Strategy?

Outbound gets a bit of a bad rap, but we’re not talking about aimless cold-calling and mass emailing. A well-planned outbound marketing strategy is about strategic outreach that lets you get in front of potential buyers, and then nurture them through the sales pipeline.

An outbound marketing strategy lets you do two things. First, it helps you identify your total addressable market, meaning all those companies and decision makers who would be interested in your product or service. Second, it improves your lead nurturing process by making sure you are talking to leads at the right time, with personalized messaging, that moves them further down funnel.

At a high-level, an outbound marketing strategy works like this. It starts with audience development to define and identify a company’s ideal audience. Through market research, outbound uncovers the decision makers who need your product or service, building out a list of ideal contacts. With this list in hand, the next stage of outbound kicks off with personalized phone and email outreach.

 

Ml outbound pilllar chart

 

By talking directly to decision makers, outbound quickly makes it clear whether a lead is the right fit for a company’s service or product. If they are, they can be added into ongoing marketing campaigns (think inbound lead nurturing).

If a lead continues to react to a company’s content and messaging, it’s time for outbound to step in again to move them deeper down funnel. Conducting personalized follow up with these reactors continues to build relationships with prospects and makes it clear when they’re ready to talk to sales.

The secret to a successful outbound marketing strategy is that it incorporates a human touch. Today, it’s your buyers who are in control of the sales process. To convert leads to a sales meeting takes consistent contact, which we call touchpoints, and it requires more outreach than most sales and marketing teams realize.

Here’s a stat that surprised us. It takes more than nine touchpoints for a web lead to convert to a sales meeting. Yes, that’s significant. Even when a C-level decision maker fills out a form on your website, it still takes those nine touchpoints to get to a booked meeting.

Marketing brings in leads like these, but they often end up neglected, as sales people focus most of their attention on prospects that are ready to convert. Research shows that the average sales person only makes two attempts to reach prospects generated from inbound leads. That’s a far cry from the 9 touchpoints required to close a meeting.

Outbound lets you find the right decision makers, learn about them, and then use that knowledge to build personalized outreach that addresses their specific needs and pain points. Solely pushing out content through email lacks the personalization that truly drives results. With outbound, you build relationships and generate enough touchpoints to develop qualified leads that drive serious return on investment for both marketing and sales.

Outbound Marketing Sweet Spots

Outbound marketing works best when applied at two specific points in your lead funnel: top of funnel and mid funnel. At the top of the lead funnel, an outbound marketing strategy helps companies proactively find and learn about their ideal buyers. Outbound at mid funnel builds engagement that moves leads farther down the sales funnel, faster.

Outbound at the Top of the Lead Funnel

Outbound marketing happens at the very, very top of the lead funnel with audience development. Audience development is about finding the right decision makers at a company so you can begin targeted, customized outreach. Outbound at the top of the lead funnel is critical, because it’s how you build a list of targeted prospects to begin engaging.

Say you start with a prospect list of 3,000 contacts from your database. Through outbound calling, you begin to make contact with this list to verify that these contacts are who you want to be talking to. You don’t want to spend time on people who don’t have conversion potential.

By reaching out to people directly, you begin to filter your list to only those people right for your message. Often, marketers reach out to a contact because they have a certain job title, for example. But job title alone isn’t always the best indicator of the true decision makers at a company. A person’s role and purchasing power at one company could be drastically different than at another, even if they are in the same position.

Outbound gets people on the phone, letting you talk directly to those within an organization. If that contact isn’t the right fit, you can ask who you should be talking to instead. Through personal contact, outbound marketing lets companies glean information about the leads they are targeting — information that can’t be reliably gathered any other way — to find the right decision makers. There’s so much noise in the marketplace that relying on inbound alone means important information gets lost.

Going straight to the source through outbound marketing is also important because, as we know, turnover happens. On average, 20% of any list of executive-level contacts at mid-to-enterprise-sized companies is likely to be inaccurate within a year. Your audience development list has to be refreshed regularly to keep contact information current.

Talking to real people at a company helps you identify new names and roles in the organization. With this knowledge, you can build relationships with decision makers and create a personalized message that makes all the difference in converting to sales.

Think about it. Outbound involves calling enterprise size organizations with a vast range of business titles. These can be pricing people, sales people, or IT professionals. In some companies there can be 100s of contacts, but there aren’t 100s of potential buyers. Outbound lets you navigate through an organization in a really effective and efficient way to find the right people and shape the right message for their role.

Your message will be different if you’re trying to reach someone in IT versus an investment or risk officer, for example. They may both have interest in what your company has to offer, but for different reasons based on the job they do every day. IT will be interested in learning how your solution can keep company data more secure, while a risk officer will be concerned about how it fulfills their compliance needs. When you know who you’re talking to, you can touch on their specific pain points and explain how your product or service is the best solution for their challenges.

Outbound lets you take charge, bring new buyers into your audience and introduce them to your message. Instead of playing the waiting game, you’re actively drumming up business. Top of funnel outbound is a continuous process that makes sure you’re talking to the right people to bring in more qualified leads.

Outbound at Mid Funnel

Good news. You’ve started your top of funnel outbound marketing strategy and the leads are coming in. You’ve started sending people to your content and they’re becoming familiar with who you are and what your company has to offer.

What now? Mid funnel is another place where outbound marketing shines.

Outbound at mid funnel moves leads down the sales pipeline faster because these people are already engaging with and have consumed your content and message, which means they know who you are and they have some idea of what you’re about. And if you’re executing inbound successfully, the majority of these people are in your target market. You’re not cold calling. These are educated buyers who are much more likely to convert.

Here’s an example of how outbound marketing adds another layer of engagement and exposure. A client we worked with for years began to see a significant decline in response rates and booked sales meetings. Challenge accepted. What could we do to reverse this trend? Our strategy was to move away from cold calling and instead use our client’s existing content strategy to increase touchpoints and build engagement.

Consistent content outreach turned cold leads into warm leads, educated buyers ready to hear from our team. At this point, we began outbound calling to get a dialogue going and incorporate the human factor.

Outbound marketing to warm leads brought significant results. We more than tripled the previous number of sales opportunities for our client — 70% of leads advanced to the sales funnel versus 40% previously.

Direct outreach at mid funnel also improves your outbound marketing strategy because it gives you another opportunity to gain market intelligence. As you move a lead through the funnel, all the intel you’re gathering allows for further nurturing that’s relevant and personalized.

Getting to a lead too early in the pipeline won’t deliver the results you need. By using outbound to engage mid funnel prospects who have already reacted to your content, you’ll be well on your way to realizing the full value of your marketing efforts.

An Outbound Marketing Example Story

At MarketLauncher, being able to solve our clients biggest challenges is what motivates us every day. Our team used to take outbound for granted. It’s just what we do. But as people become more educated about outbound, it’s something companies are actively looking for to find and convert more leads.

We helped one of our clients develop an outbound marketing strategy to reach their ideal audience and book more sales meetings. Our client had an idea of what their ideal customer looked like, but we found that the contacts in their database didn’t match up to that ideal customer. We were reaching out to people who didn’t meet their target customer profile, and were seeing less sales meetings because of it.

Through outbound marketing, we gathered market intelligence to help identify the right decision makers at the companies we should be talking to. As we talked with prospects directly, we found that while many of them were interested in our client’s product, they didn’t have the minimum number of users required to make the solution worthwhile. We could talk to them all we wanted, but even the best marketing and sales pitches would never be able to convert them.

As we continued to talk with leads through outbound, we found that budget was a good indicator of whether a company would be interested in our client’s solution. We then filtered our contact list based on annual revenue so we would only be putting outreach efforts into those companies that met our new audience requirements.

Being strategic and targeted in our approach led to more leads moving down the sales pipeline. Outbound marketing gave us the market intelligence we needed to find the right contacts for our client and then gave us the tools to actively go after the right decision makers.

How You Can Get Started with an Outbound Marketing Strategy

A lot of companies lack the resources they need to develop an outbound marketing strategy. It’s a lengthy, time-consuming process. Internal marketing and sales teams often don’t have the bandwidth to take on the focused work that outbound requires. And to be honest, outbound isn’t the best use of your sales team’s time. They should be focused on closing deals.

We’ve been helping companies grow efficiently and close more sales deals for years. To us, it’s all about strategy. Starting at the top with audience development, we research your total addressable market to find the decision makers who are right for you. We develop prospect lists and continually update contact information through targeted outbound.

Then we move those mid funnel leads forward in the sales pipeline with our appointment setting services. Our team conducts direct phone and email follow up to reach prospects who are already familiar with your message. Our sales development specialists collect intel and pre-qualify leads based on specific criteria. The end result? More booked sales meeting with leads that are most likely to close.

Want your company to grow and close more sales deals? Convinced outbound marketing has a place in your overall strategy? Let’s set up a time to chat if you’re interested in learning more.

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