There is so much advice and so many opinions out there when it comes to outbound marketing.
Tactics are copied. You have to constantly iterate. Test and learn new ideas before the masses adopt the same playbooks.
In this blog, I will be covering a number of things I don’t believe about outbound marketing for B2B SaaS.
And I’ll be sharing what tactics you should focus on in 2022 and beyond.
Why is outbound marketing important?
Outbound is the holy grail for lead generation as it promises to fast-grow your startup or scale up, although often it does fail to live up to expectations.
With this in mind, I’ll be looking at how to improve your outbound marketing strategy and campaigns.
I’ll also be challenging and rethinking current approaches, and showing you why, if you get this right, it does continue to be a highly effective growth lever alongside investments in your full stack marketing machine.
The key challenge
Before we get into the ‘how to’, let’s begin with the key challenge you face, whether you’re a BDM or an entire marketing team.
What are your conversion rates?
In general, you’re probably looking at conversion rates of between 1% and 2%.
Considering all the effort you put in, and everything you will be doing to build this outbound marketing machine, only getting a 1% or 2% conversion seems nonsensical. It’s a very very low conversion rate for the effort involved.
If this is you, then you must reconsider your strategy.
There has to be other growth leavers and you should, potentially, divert away from doing pure outbound marketing.
Wouldn’t you love to achieve conversion rates of up to 30%
With that in mind, this article will be covering 7 things I currently do not believe about outbound marketing.
The strategy will help you get more in the range of an 8 to 10% conversion rate, potentially 20% and maybe even between 20 and 30%.
Imagine what would happen for you if you could increase the response rate and conversion rate to between 20 and 30%.
It will lead to the exponential growth of your pipeline.
7 things I don’t believe about outbound marketing
I believe the below are all myths.
Myth: It’s all about automation
A trend has been developing over the last few years in marketing and sales development teams. It involves plugging in an automated bot tool to drive your outbound efforts.
These tools, similar to email marketing, allow you to plug in connection requests and outbound email sequences.
This supposedly makes a huge difference as it means you don’t have to do the manual work anymore - instead you can simply plug into the automation tool and everything will be done for you.
The myth is that you won’t have to do any work to reach more contacts and have more conversions. Everything will be very successful.
But this is completely wrong.
There are situations when it’s a great idea to use automation. Use it to raise brand awareness, for example in custom audience retargeting.
But you shouldn’t use it as your direct acquisition method because nowadays people tend to be very very aware of generic messages as often they don’t create a good user experience.
So all in all it’s important to think about how you can use automation in the right way.
In summation, use it to create awareness and top cover but don’t use it as your whole GTM strategy. Use automation in the same context of retargeting and brand familiarisation to sit above your outbound efforts.
Myth: You must be adding value
The second thing I don’t believe about outbound marketing is you must be adding value.
Contrary to what you may think, adding value is not that interesting to a prospect.
Yes it’s a positive thing to do and it will be appreciated. It’s a good approach to nurturing. But adding value does not increase conversion rates in outbound marketing.
All you’re really doing is making someone believe you’re a good person, which again is not bad. It just doesn’t directly help with your outbound marketing progress.
What does help is implementing tactics that help prospects rethink their approach as well as building their curiosity and enlightening them with different ways of looking at a problem.
This might seem strange, but you also need to be somewhat confrontational. It’s important to build friction in some way to make sure prospects’ beliefs are challenged enough that they might want to engage with you.
This is a completely different premise to adding value.
Adding value is just sending someone a blog post or a piece of content. What you want to do is focus on helping prospects rethink enlightenment curiosity, building friction in a positive way. A good way to do this is to focus on niche challenges of the persona. Deliver “actually” useful content the individual can share with his team. Playbooks and frameworks are perfect for this type of thing.
You also want to make sure they engage with you and you want to be thinking about what the value exchange you’re creating with the conversation is.
Myth: You need to be direct with the ask
What I mean by this is the myth, in my view, around what you say at the end of your message. In other words, the ‘how about we have a meeting next week’ and ‘here are some times I’m available to talk’ messages.
A better approach would be to stimulate and engage the next steps by building a conversation.
Build a conversation like you would with anyone you’re trying to build rapport with.
Think about how you use WhatsApp - the quick five-minute messages back and forth to each other, which incrementally builds next-step layers and allows you to get to the point of what is wanted.
So don’t be too direct with a ‘let’s jump in a meeting’ in your first email with your prospect. Instead try to think about how you can build the conversation. Once you build the rapport, then you’ve got the perfect opportunity to organise a discussion with them and share ideas.
Myth: Conversion is 10 times better with video
Over the last few years, lots of people have focused on using video in the outreach process.
I don't disagree with doing that, but, because video is very hard to produce, I’ve generally noticed people don’t really like doing it.
In my personal view, yes, people watch your video, but I've rarely seen a huge conversion in response to videos.
It’s true that it’s a nicer, arguably more personalised way to connect than a written email. But what do I do when I receive a video? Do I ever watch them for longer than 10 seconds? No.
Have I bought from anyone that's prospected to me in that way? No.
Years ago I agreed with many other gurus that video was the way forward. But I’ve never seen great results from it.
What I would do is start learning and adopting new tactics.
For example, audio files. Experiment with them. You could use voice audio on WhatsApp to communicate with people, for instance. It's very effective. Use voice notes on Linkedin as a key lever to test.
LinkedIn recently launched their ability to send voice memos via email. I’ve seen a lot of really good coaches teaching people how to prospect effectively by leveraging the voice memo approach to get more engagement with their prospects.
So give that a try. It's very simple. And it, in my opinion, can be very effective.
Myth: Everything is about ABM and ABM is the future
Let me be clear, Account Based Marketing (ABM) is not the future.
ABM is just very good personalised B2B marketing and you're probably doing a lot of it at the moment without realising it.
Don’t think of it as the future.
Think of it as simply very good personalised B2B marketing and make sure the marketing and sales teams are aligned and have a clear, integrated strategy that is highly personalised.
Simple: Be clear on which accounts you want to target. Be clear on your ICP. Work together as a group on driving personalised engagement. Marketing, sales and customer success working together with the same goal.
I wrote a full PLAYBOOK on this topic here.
Myth: Using clickbait subject lines is ok
Early on in my career I was taught that using clickbait in subject lines is ok.
And it was fantastic. I got tonnes of open rates and it was great at converting from opening to reading.
But often I got a lot of negative sentiment if your header does not align to the copy.
I think often people obsess over using this really hooky, click-baity subject line because they’re so focused on open rates. They want to be able to report back great open rates to the business.
But how does this help if the conversion rates remain minimal?
Instead you need to come up with a holistic message around a value exchange that sparks curiosity and helps people rethink.
The subject line needs to share the same philosophy with the first line, the second line and the third line. All the content needs to connect together so the prospect has a good experience. Don’t seek vanity metrics for reporting. Seek to actually build messaging frameworks that improve engagement and results (even if the numbers are lower).
Myth: It’s all about tech platforms
Most SDR managers, sales and marketing leads always think of the tech first.
They go out to evaluate a plethora of platforms. Architect the perfect environment for scaling. Waste 3-6 months doing demo’s, implementing tools and more.
It’s a common belief. You have the tech; everything is going to work at scale.
This is not true at all.
My advice in this situation is the core focus needs to be on messaging, buyer experience, email copy and structure of your sequences. It needs to focus on capability building in the SDR’s or those doing outbound. It needs to focus on new innovative ideas that the mass market are not adopting. It’s really that crawl, walk and run mentality. Don’t attempt to bloat the whole approach with the process of building a tech stack.
At the end. You may create an architecture which you think is great. But you launch the campaigns and conversion is poor and results don’t arrive. You ponder but we put all the right tech into place and what to do now.
Rethink your lens on the tech.
Ensure your lens is on the message.
Make sure capability building is first and foremost.
Afterwards, start building out the tech architecture.
90% of your efforts should go towards tailoring the message around the campaign rather than tailoring the tech stack for scaling outbound.
Connecting outbound to the whole marketing machine
Ultimately, I would suggest really thinking about how outbound marketing connects to the whole marketing machine.
Think about your approach as a group and understand where outbound fits into the whole arc.
Then, you need to be brand building alongside outbound marketing. It’s so important.
If you’re doing the right brand building, the right product marketing, the right field marketing the right PR, and the right brand proposition and then you're connecting that to outbound marketing and the processes.
And finally...3 key elements
Firstly you need to get the basics right.
Invest time in the account list; invest time in getting the right data; invest time in writing the right copy and do the research.
Don't worry about scale at the beginning, worry about the right message and solving the right problems.
Worry about helping people to understand and rethink their approach based on the problem they face.
Second, stay connected.
Integrate across Digital and connect everything to the broader plan while still keeping it as simple as possible.
Make sure plans are bedded across the whole marketing machine.
And finally, experiment.
Outbound marketing is never a finished thing.
You can always experiment, optimise and improve. Try new things to test conversion rates. Then embed that philosophy in your team.
In conclusion, if you do all this and take this approach, you’ll be in a very good position to scale outbound in 2022 and beyond.