At this point, nearly 75% of B2B marketing organizations are using a mix of inbound and outbound marketing tactics, according to a study conducted by DiscoverOrg and MarketingProfs.
Outbound marketing tactics are successful for B2B sellers today for a couple of reasons.
First, outbound methods are easy to deploy. As long as a marketing team has access to quality data, it can execute outbound tactics like emails, cold calling and direct mail quickly and generate leads almost immediately. In addition, with outbound, marketers are able to get ahead of prospects who show the most promise and influence them before their minds are made up.
Although outbound tactics such as emailing people from a list buy and cold-calling have gotten a bad rap, the reality is that when these tactics are paired with quality data, B2B organizations can focus their marketing and sales efforts and achieve impressive results.
The rise of intent data
The availability of new data sources has fundamentally shifted the nature of outbound marketing. Instead of reaching out to someone who is completely cold, you can now reach out to people who are actively evaluating solutions in your product category – including those who have never visited your website.
Intent monitoring and predictive marketing analytics solutions are now tracking people’s digital footprints across a significant portion of the web – as people browse sites, download content and talk about business and technology topics and engage with brands on social media. These activities that indicate someone is actively doing research are called intent data.
At this point, several data providers can help you find new targets based on intent signals along with other types of lead qualifying data.
Socedo is one intent data provider that can help you identify new prospects who are showing interest in your product category based on people’s activities on Twitter. For example, you can find prospects who followed your top five competitors in the past two weeks, or those talking about a hot topic in your space.
A New Type of “Cold” Lead
Now that it’s easy to find and contact new prospects who appear to be in-market, the next question top of mind for many marketers is “how do I follow up with these prospects?”
If you are accustomed to the inbound methodology, you may be weary of emailing these “cold” leads who are not familiar with your brand.
In this post, I will discuss how you can follow up with new contacts who have shown intent in your product category but may not be familiar with your brand. I’ll walk through six things you’ll want to keep in mind when designing an outbound email campaign.
1. Get a holistic picture of your prospects with data enrichment
When you do outbound marketing, getting quality data is key.
Before you do reach out to anyone, make sure to enrich each lead profile with additional fields to get a holistic picture. Having additional company-level and lead-level data will help you distinguish the good-fit leads from the bad ones. These additional data attributes will also help you personalize outreach to leads who are good fits.
What sorts of data should you consider appending?
- Technology: Getting an understanding of the technologies installed behind an organization’s firewall or on their website can help you identify who is a good fit for your business.
- Firmographics: understanding the financial/risk profile of a company, their organizational structure, new office openings, new executive hires and other company events can help you determine which organizations to prioritize.
- Growth trends: Knowing that a company is on a hiring spree in a certain department or spending a certain amount of advertising dollars can help you understand which accounts to focus on.
- Online presence: knowing the size of the company’s presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as activities such as number of followers can help you figure out whether an organization is a good target.
- Behavior + Intent: Intent data answers the timing question. Knowing who is reading or talking about key topics in your space can help you zero in on the most sales-ready leads and accounts.
At this point, there are multiple data providers that can enrich the data in your marketing automation and CRM platforms to support targeted outbound efforts. Simply Google “Data Enrichment Solutions” to see your options. Almost all Predictive Marketing Analytics vendors will pull in external data sources mentioned above into their predictive engine to help you identify warm or sales-ready leads and accounts.
2. Start with two or three pieces of lead intelligence to personalize your email
If your business is not targeting the high end of the market (aka if you have more than 1000 accounts in your target market), you will want to put these new contacts into an automated email cadence to nurture leads at scale.
You shouldn’t use all the lead data you have at your disposal. Instead, pick two or three pieces of lead intelligence that matter most to your business to start. Two or three fields will allow you to personalize your emails to increase engagement while avoiding manual effort.
To show you what I mean, I’ll use my own organization as an example.
Socedo sells to data solutions to Marketing Directors and VPs at B2B organizations that use one of our supported Marketing Automation Platforms or CRMs.
I use Clearbit’s data enrichment solution to get technology and firmographic data on each lead’s organization to understand whether someone meets our target criteria. Any lead who is considered a bad fit (i.e. company size is too small, not using one of our supported Marketing Automation/CRM systems, B2C) is filtered out from our marketing efforts.
To increase our success rate when reaching out to these leads, I make sure to use multiple pieces of insights – at both the lead level and the account level – to personalize our messaging.
Let’s say that Socedo has acquired a list of new leads who engaged with one of our competitors recently on Twitter. For each lead, I know the marketing automation platform they use, the industry they’re in, and their job title.
With this data in place, I can now develop a “competitive take-over” email campaign for these leads.
In the first email touch in this campaign, I can talk about how industry influencers and analysts are seeing the intent data market and discuss why Socedo is rated well compared to the competitor the lead engaged with. I can send these leads a market guide or vendor guide featuring Socedo and our competitor that is written by a credible industry analyst firm such as Gartner or Forrester.
In a second email in this campaign, I may share a case study featuring a customer who is in the same industry as the prospect, uses the same marketing automation platform and switched to us from the competitor.
When you reach out to leads who have shown an interest in your product category via email, keep these tactics in mind:
- Make the email plain-text so it looks like it’s coming from a person.
- Reference the intent action – following a competitor on Twitter – in an outreach email in the subject line.
- In the body of the email, state why you’re reaching out and keep it short. Be sure to explain why the content you’re providing is relevant to the person.
- Link to relevant content. You can use existing content you’ve developed for this buyer persona and buying stage. No need to start from scratch.
- Include a call to action, which could be to read a piece of content.
- Make yourself available to answer any further questions.
The most important thing to remember is that you are reaching out to these leads to add value, not to pitch your product.
Keeping these tactics in mind, this is what a series of emails might look like.
Let’s say that your company makes a business intelligence software that works on top of SQL Server database. With Socedo, you’ve identified business intelligence professionals who have shown interest in your space. You’ve found people who recently talked about SQL server on Twitter, joined a SQL community, followed a certain industry influencer, or talked about upcoming events in the SQL space, or talk about a complementary technology such as Microsoft Power BI.
Now that you have these new prospects in your marketing automation system, you can segment them into topics-based campaigns based on the intent keyword they matched on.
For example, for leads who are talking about an upcoming event your company is sponsoring, you can reach out and invite them to your speaker session or booth.
For leads who just talked about a complementary technology on Twitter – let’s say Microsoft PowerBI in this case, you can put them into a campaign that talks about how your solution complements PowerBI.
3. Use third party endorsements in your emails
When you are reaching out to prospects who aren’t familiar with your brand, you’ll want to reference a third-party influencer they trust in your initial communication.
For example, if someone is talking about a hot topic in your space, you can help them further self-educate while exposing them to your brand by sending them a recent guide from an industry analyst firm like Gartner or Forrester that’s written a guide/report to characterize the market you are in.
In the case of this BI software business, they can send anyone who follows @Gartner on Twitter an email that features the latest Gartner “Magic Quadrant on Business Analytics and Intelligence Software” report to introduce them to the company’s offering.
4. Use a human face
When you are sending out a cold email to someone, you can encourage a response by showing a human side of your brand by putting an actual employee’s picture in your email signature.
Here’s an example of an outreach email from LinkedIn that invites the recipient to a live demo with an expert. If anyone was curious about this particular offering, it would be hard to turn down a walkthrough with an expert who could answer any question live.
5. Use copywriting best practices
As with any other marketing material, you should follow copywriting best practices to get the best engagement. There are lots of great resources on email copywriting. Here are a few of our favorite articles:
6. Testing and measuring
The only way to get better at email marketing is through testing. When you are going after cold leads, you’ll want to take a rigorous approach to testing so that you can learn works best for you.
For us at Socedo, testing is done in every email campaign. The marketing team has tried testing different value propositions, calls to actions. We’ve tested different formats (plaintext versus templated emails). We’ve tried sending leads automated emails through Marketing versus sending leads personalized emails coming from our SDR reps set up in Yesware.
We keep a close eye on metrics such as open rates, click through rates, opportunity creation rates for each type of email. Knowing that we’re reaching out to colder leads, we understand that the unsubscribe rate will be higher on this segment versus our inbound leads. We are vigilant about monitoring this number.
Do you have tips to share on crafting emails that generate high response rates? If so, let us know in the comments below.