What is Outbound Lead Generation? Everything You Need to Know

75% of marketers worldwide consider brand visibility as their topmost priority. And there are two methods of establishing a business as a market leader – inbound and outbound lead generation. 

Although the former (inbound lead generation) marketing strategy got a lot of good press (just Google once) in recent years, outbound lead generation strategies can prove to be the secret ingredient (combined with inbound lead generation strategies) to your success. 

In this blog post we’ll discuss everything about outbound lead generation. Today we’’ discuss about: 

  • What is an Outbound Lead? 
  • What is Outbound Lead Generation? 
  • Benefits of Targeted Outbound lead Generation for Businesses
  • Inbound Vs. Outbound
  • Why Outbound Lead Generation Efforts Fail? 4 Points to Know
  • Most Important Outbound Lead Generation Strategies

Let’s get started. 

What is an Outbound Lead? 

An outbound lead is a B2B prospect that has been approached by a business via outbound channels (cold calls, cold email, SMS, etc.), and agreed to bring forth the discussion with the sales team. 

What is Outbound Lead Generation?

Outbound lead generation is the process of reaching out or sending messages through various communication channels to a target audience, regardless of their query or interest. 

As in this scenario, a sales rep or a marketer decides the time and channel of communication, it is also called interruption marketing. 

Here are the major tactics used in B2B outbound lead generation: 

  • Cold emailing
  • Cold calling
  • Campaign marketing
  • Display ads
  • Social media campaigns

Unlike inbound lead generation tactics, outbound tactics depend on paid delivery mediums (communication channels), increasing the cost of operation. This, in a way, makes outbound lead generation focus on selling rather than educating or helping the audience. 

Benefits of Targeted Outbound Lead Generation for Businesses

Outbound lead generation can be as effective as inbound lead generation if the strategies are implemented properly. Here’s how outbound lead generation can benefit businesses: 

1. Shortens Sales Cycle

Outbound lead generation is a method of hyper-targeting leads that are about to make a purchase or in the final stage of their sales funnel. This way you can clearly articulate your organization’s value proposition. And most importantly, you can prepare for the obstacles that are about to come and stay prepared for them. 

2. Builds Brand Awareness

Businesses can reach out to both a wide and narrow target audience through various outbound lead generation channels such as LinkedIn Outreach, SMS, cold email outreach, and cold calling. 

This way businesses can quickly boost brand visibility and increase brand awareness. For example, mass emails or bulk emails are suitable for a wider target audience and cold calling is for highly targeted leads. 

3. Market Research and Testing

Outbound lead generation is a great way of researching and testing untapped markets. 

Your internal sales reps might be calling 100s of prospects every day, getting a very clear understanding of what is (and isn’t) working.

Also, the live feedback can help you refine your strategies and value proposition methods of the product or service you are offering to strengthen your outreach efforts. 

Inbound Vs. Outbound – 3 Key Differences You Should Know

1. The Authority Over Engagement

The primary difference between inbound lead generation and outbound lead generation is the control over engagement. It depends upon who controls the medium and time of engagement – from content consumption and information exchange to closing a deal. 

In an inbound lead generation method, a prospect chooses the time and method of communication (how to engage). 

On the other hand, outbound campaigns mostly depend on you, not your prospects. In that case, you get to decide when and how to reach out to a potential customer through cold calling, cold emailing, adverts, etc. 

2. Value Addition: Longevity of Marketing Assets

Inbound lead gen strategies have a longer lifespan than outbound lead gen and generate long term ROI for businesses. For example, content published on a business’s website can generate leads long after its completion. 

However, the value of marketing assets for outbound lead generation is short lived. Once you stop reaching out to your potential customers, it stops generating leads as well. 

3. Cost of Campaigns

Inbound lead generation costs way less than outbound lead gen methods and are relevant for a longer timeframe (such as content marketing). That’s why both SMBs and large corporations go for (or can afford to go for) inbound lead generation strategies. 

However, outbound lead gen campaigns cost way more than inbound campaigns and have a very high cost of operation and are only relevant for a specific timeframe. 

Why Outbound Lead Generation Efforts Fail? 4 Points to Know

1. Non Identification of Ideal Customer Profile

In order to make your sales prospecting successful, you need to have a clear understanding of your ideal customers. Be it outbound or inbound, creating buyers personas are very important for lead gen campaigns. 

But jumping into outbound lead generation campaigns without identifying qualified leads more likely don’t end in a sale. 

You can use LinkedIn and Google to accurately target your potential leads with detailed understanding of your potential customers’ demographics and behaviors. 

2. Not Using the Right Outbound Lead Gen Tool (Or, using them Wrong) 

Well, it is hard to choose the right outbound lead generation tool. There are hundreds of platforms that claim they can streamline your marketing and sales process and enhance productivity. 

Lead generation tools should help you automate the entire process. So, here are a few things you should check while looking for a lead generation tool: 

  • Ease of Operation: It should have a user-friendly and intuitive interface that allows you to get your outreach campaigns up and running easily. 
  • Integrations: It should be able to integrate other marketing tools for easy operation. 
  • Pricing: Check if the tool’s affordable for your organization. However, don’t just fall for the price, check if it’s adding value to your outbound lead generation campaigns. 
  • Features: Is it fulfilling your requirements (or, enhancing productivity) for your lead generation campaigns? For example, check if the tool is helping your sales team make more cold calls in a day. 

Speaking of phone calls, Smartlead.ai offers an integrated master inbox with a 360 view of all customer messages. It also helps you automate your entire sales flow with custom conditional email sending triggers, automated follow-ups, and AI-personalization. 

Smartlead Homepage

Not only that, it also has an in-built CRM to manage all your outbound and inbound lead generation efforts within one user-friendly and intuitive dashboard. 

Smartlead Stay Out of Spam

3. Misaligned Sales and Marketing Teams

A Misaligned marketing and sales team can be fatal for outbound lead generation (and inbound lead generation as well). 

For instance, if your marketing team fails to generate qualified leads, the sales team won’t be able to make any sale. That’s why it is very important for sales and marketing teams to work in coherence with each other to make lead generation campaigns a success. 

We use Smartlead to integrate our sales and marketing teams with the built-in CRM platform to stay aligned and generate more sales.

4. Lack of a proper Demand Strategy (Only Focusing on the Outbound Strategy)

This is specifically applicable for B2B and SaaS businesses, if you are selling pizza, c=you can skip this point. 

One of the biggest mistakes B2B and SaaS businesses make is thinking that outbound lead generation is the only way to grow their audience base and generate more customers. Sadly, they are wrong. 

As these industries sell more complicated products/services, focusing on other lead generation methods is very important as outbound lead generation gets costlier with time. 

Also, once you stop the campaigns, the lead generation stops as well. So, it is best if you pair your outbound lead generation strategies with an inbound demand strategy for effective lead generation. 

Pro Tip: Focus on a foolproof demand strategy to educate your audience (The market to be specific). Run nurture campaigns so that your prospective clientele have a better understanding of your product/service and even if you stop your campaigns, leads keep flowing in. 

Most Important Outbound Lead Generation Strategies

1. Cold Emails

Did you think cold emailing was dead (in the era of social media)? 

Well, even in the era of social media, B2B and B2C audiences prefer email as a communication channel for business. 

Mailmunch data shows that the average click-through rate for email marketing is 3.57%, while Facebook and Twitter have 0.07% and 0.03% respectively. It means email marketing campaigns see more conversions than social media platforms combined. 

That is why cold email is the most effective outbound lead generation channel for the B2B industry. Cold emailing is cost-effective and leaves room for personalization. 

B2B companies use cold emailing as their primary lead generation source with sales automation software. Smartlead.ai offers you unlimited email addresses to diversify your outreach. It also guarantees you 30,000 active leads and allows you to send 1,50,000 emails per month. 

Smartlead helps you scale your business (8x more leads) with its affordable pricing plans. You get: 

  • Centralized master inbox
  • Dynamic sequences
  • Custom CRM
  • Unlimited email warm up

While we are still talking about cold emails, are you using a professional email signature? Try our free email signature generator to give your email a professional look and stay compliant with internet laws. 

2. Cold Calling 

We know that many B2B marketers have the question, is cold calling still relevant in 2023? 

Well, cold calling has been there for ages and still thriving, simply because it works. 

We’d agree that it is not the most effective outbound lead generation strategy, but the advantages it offers makes it indispensable for both B2B and B2C companies. 

Cold calling offers personalization and direct communication with a  prospect. You can understand a lot about your target customer base from cold calling. So, besides lead generation, cold calling is excellent for researching your prospects and creating ideal buyer persona. 

3. Social Selling 

Social selling is a part of the sales process to increase brand awareness and visibility in B2B marketing. Marketers or sales reps usually communicate with prospective leads through social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. 

When it comes to B2B social selling, LinkedIn is the market leader as most B2B buyers turn to LinkedIn for resources while making a purchase decision. 

LinkedIn data shows that B2B businesses that prioritize social selling as part of their outbound lead generation strategy are 51% more likely to reach their sales target

As per LinkedIn, the four pillars of social selling are: 

  • Creating a Professional Brand: Establishing a professional brand in LinedIn increases the visibility of the company and it shows the prospects that the brand is an ‘authority’ in the field. It results in increased interactions with prospective clients and brand awareness. 
  • Focusing on the Right Prospects: It is easier to find and target the right prospects (based on job roles, location, industries, etc.) with social selling. LinkedIn Sales Navigator helps businesses establish meaningful connections that are more likely to convert. 
  • Engaging with Relevant Insights: Through social selling, businesses can share news alerts, big changes in the industry, data, reports, and relevant content to establish themselves as market leaders. 
  • Building Trusted (Long-Term) Connections: Social media platforms are excellent for communicating on a personal level. It  builds trust among prospects and helps cater to their needs before selling to build trusted relationships. 

4. Pay-Per-Click Campaign (PPC) 

PPC advertising campaigns (and affiliate ads) are great for generating outbound traffic to your business. Almost 79% of businesses agree that PPC marketing is a huge driver of sales for their businesses, according to Hanapin Marketing data

PPC campaigns target audiences who aren’t aware of your brand. As the name suggests, businesses pay the medium (Google, Bing, etc.) everytime a prospect clicks on the ad.

This outbound lead generation model can be expensive for SMBs but a very good lead generation method for big organizations.

Web browsers/ISPs reward highly-targeted PPC campaigns. On that note, PPC outbound lead generation proves to be beneficial for local businesses.

5. Referrals

Referral marketing or referral lead generation tactic means incentivizing already existing customers to introduce/promote your business to friends and family. 

This way, you can turn your customers into brand advocates, providing that you are offering incentives for promoting your brand. 

Speaking of referral marketing, it can be done in two ways – inbound referrals and outbound referrals. 

Inbound referrals is when a prospect comes to your business after hearing about your brand from someone else. These leads are more likely to convert to customers. 

On the other hand, outbound referral is when you are given the contact info of potential customers and you make the move to connect with them. Naturally, these leads are not as qualified as the former, but outbound referrals are a great way of expanding brand outreach. 

Summing Up: Which Lead Gen Method is Best for Your Business? 

Although it's said that outbound lead gen is dead, it is still used in B2B sectors combined with inbound strategies. 

We’d recommend using inbound lead gen strategies (as they are relatively cheaper and generate leads for a longer timespan) paired with outbound lead gen strategies. Cold emailing, social selling, and referrals can be excellent strategies to get maximum out of your marketing efforts and establish a strong brand image.

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