If you're becoming more and more skeptical about outbound lead generation, this guide is for you. Outbound lead generation is the more traditional approach to B2B lead generation; the process of actively reaching out to new prospects through targeted campaigns, with the aim of eventually selling to them.
Some industry influencers claim that outbound lead generation is declining, as inbound marketing strategies grow in popularity, due to an industry shift towards prioritizing demand generation. However, when done well, outbound lead generation is still vitally important – and should play a part in all B2B marketing strategies.
The trick to doing outbound lead generation well, without annoying your potential customers (we've all been on the receiving end of nuisance cold calls and emails), is to leverage data to deliver what your customers already want.
Read on for all things outbound lead generation, including:
- An outbound lead generation definition.
- Key outbound lead generation strategies
- Outbound lead generation best practices.
- The key differences between outbound vs inbound lead generation.
What Is Outbound Lead Generation?
B2B outbound lead generation is any method of B2B lead generation that reaches out to prospects directly, actively contacting them with the aim of bringing them into your marketing funnel.
That's opposed to inbound lead generation, where your marketing tactics have a longer-term focus of letting leads come to you.
Examples of Outbound Lead Generation Include:
Think of it in fishing terms. Inbound lead generation is like angling: casting your rod with juicy bait attached, and waiting for prospects to bite.
Whereas effective outbound lead generation is more like standing in the water with a spear in your hand, looking for fish to target.
Outbound Lead Generation Process
Here's how the process for B2B outbound lead generation usually works.
Step One: Finding Your Leads
The major part of any outbound lead generation process is finding new leads in the first place. And there's only so much of that you can do on your own.
For example, once you've grown your following on social media, attended relevant trade shows, and scoured industry journals for new businesses to reach out to, where can you look next?
The answer is usually outbound lead generation companies, who can reach a much wider network of decision-makers to eventually convert into sales.
The most effective methods of lead generation, we find, are content-based, and for a lead generation company that means content syndication.
For example, the classic outbound lead generation service for B2B SaaS is content syndication. Outbound lead generation companies will share your valuable content with their technology audiences to find leads who are aware of, and actively interested in, your business. But more on that later.
Step Two: First Contact
First contact is crucial with B2B outbound lead generation. That's really what it's all about; how you contact your prospects for the first time and pull them into your marketing funnel.
Traditional outbound lead generation techniques rely on cold calling or cold emailing – contacting a lead out of the blue. And the B2B marketing industry is notorious for 'spamming' potential customers, thanks to often more relaxed data regulations than the B2C industry.
But with modern data now in abundance, you don't have to rely on cold outreach anymore as a marketer, or salesperson. You can use your content for generating outbound leads so that when you contact your new prospects, they're already aware of your business and they have a need for services like yours.
Step Three: Lead Nurturing
Follow-up is usually done via email. Over 70% of people now prefer businesses to contact them via email: it's a non-intrusive way to get their attention.
There are other ways of nurturing your leads, though. For example, you might choose to run a longer content syndication campaign with your lead generation specialist. One way of generating more nurtured outbound leads is to run a Nurture Track campaign, which hosts more of your content and lets your lead generation supplier nurture your new leads for you; educating and warming them up so they're more aware of your products and services before they even reach your CRM.
Outbound Lead Generation Strategies
So that's the basic low-down on how to generate outbound leads. Next, let's look at some of the most effective outbound lead generation strategies.
Strategy One: Content Syndication
As mentioned earlier, content syndication is a great B2B outbound lead generation service because it ensures you receive leads who are open to hearing from you.
It actually counts as a method of inbound lead generation, too. It's the best of both worlds, ensuring you end up with a nice full list of leads to contact, but leads who have already engaged with your content on their own terms.
Your lead generation supplier syndicates your content – your eBooks, case studies, reports, whitepapers, etc. to their own content library websites.
The content library your content is hosted on is used by decision-makers who are looking for valuable resources they can use within their job, usually to help solve a challenge they're experiencing.
To download your useful resource, readers have to give their business content details in return. By downloading your content, the reader will qualify as a lead, which your outbound lead generation company will validate before delivering the data back to you.
There's more about how the process works in our ultimate guide to content syndication.
Strategy Two: Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is an outbound lead generation strategy with the huge benefit of knowing in advance which leads you're trying to capture.
ABM is the process of making a list of businesses you want to target, and then going after them with a very personalized approach. That means lots of research into their business needs, and time and effort spent on creating content and messaging that will resonate with them.
That's the key to effective outbound lead generation in the age of internet research: spend time finding out who actually wants to hear from you.
Here's everything you need to know about ABM lead generation.
Strategy Three: Outbound Lead Generation with Intent Data
Not only do you need to know who wants to hear from you, but it also helps to know when they want to hear from you.
That's what intent data targeting gives you within B2B outbound lead generation: additional context, so you know what your leads are looking for and when they're ready to buy.
At Headley Media, for example, we tag each of our readers across our content libraries so we know which pieces of content they've downloaded, building a bigger picture of what they're looking for. We also cross-reference our 1st party intent data with trusted 3rd party sources for a 360-degree view of their behavior across the web.
Inbound vs Outbound Lead Generation
What’s the difference between inbound lead generation and outbound lead generation?
Outbound sales lead generation focuses on marketing tactics that reach out to prospective new customers directly, generating campaign data, such as the number of new leads you've generated or the number of impressions and clicks your campaign received, depending on what marketing tactics you deploy.
In comparison, inbound lead gen is an increasingly popular known as demand generation strategy, designed to bring in potential new cusomters organically overtime.
Outbound lead generation strategies include focusing on content marketing and SEO and a shift towards brand building and educating, rather than generating leads straight away.
At Headley Media, we're advocates of both outbound and inbound lead generation and believe each strategy should have its place within your B2B marketing plan.
In fact, inbound and outbound lead generation are most effective when they are aligned and work together, as we explore in this blog about demand generation vs. lead generation.
Outbound Lead Generation Services
Once you've planned out your outbound lead generation strategy, it's time to find a reputable and transparent supplier.
However, finding an outbound lead generation supplier is one of the trickiest parts of the process.
Good outbound lead generation companies will be able to combine your outbound lead generation efforts with inbound lead generation strategies, too.
That's what content syndication does: it's technically outbound, but with the principles of inbound marketing – like using the prospects' thirst for research – to ensure the leads generated are engaged with your brand before you contact them.
The best sign of a good outbound lead generation agency is complete transparency: they should be able to show you exactly where your leads come from.
They'll give you the full picture of the reader's journey, from the first time they download a piece of content onwards. They'll also exercise rigorous quality control, authenticating each lead before delivering the data to you.
Use our Quality Lead Generation Checklist when evaluating your outbound lead generation services.
Ready to get started with outbound lead generation? Talk to us today!