- Outbound lead generation means reaching out to potential customers before they express interest in your products or services
- Outbound tactics can help you generate brand awareness and quickly boost your lead generation over a short period of time
- Modern outbound lead generation strategies favor targeted messages catered to a specific audience
Outbound marketing is a time-tested strategy for attracting customers and making a brand well known. While it may have gotten a bad rap from disruptive cold calls and spammy cold emails, it can be a valuable part of your lead generation efforts.
Here’s what you need to know about turning outbound lead generation into a key part of your sales process, including what it is, when to use it, and how to make it work for you.
What is outbound lead generation?
Outbound lead generation is a marketing strategy that involves putting promotional messages in front of potential customers before they’re aware of or have expressed interest in your brand.
Think about the ads you see on TV or coupons you receive in the mail. You didn’t ask for that content, and oftentimes, you’re learning about a product or service for the first time. However, if it’s relevant to your needs, you may start actively interacting with that brand.
Successful outbound lead generation campaigns get potential customers interested in your products or services. Once new leads express interest, you can continue nurturing their interest to drive them through your sales pipeline toward a purchase.
Inbound vs. outbound lead generation
Inbound lead generation focuses on attracting leads with valuable content and experiences. When you leverage inbound marketing tactics correctly, your sales leads will find your brand without you reaching out to them directly.
It’s all about giving your target market the answers they need. For example, when a potential lead uses a search engine to find carpet cleaning solutions, they could come across a blog post from a carpet cleaning company that offers DIY tips as well as signs they need to hire a pro. Once the customer realizes their situation needs a professional cleaning service, they may naturally want to enter their contact information on the business’s website to learn more or get a quote.
The outbound lead generation process, on the other hand, is initiated by your team. For example, a cold email you send out may result in a lead agreeing to a discovery phone call. These outbound leads are people who actively show interest in your brand after viewing a message you put in front of them.
Inbound tactics tend to drive more high-quality leads to your business, like people who are ready to make a purchase—but you’ll have to wait for leads to come in on their own. Outbound tactics give you more control over who you’re reaching, and they drive higher volumes of leads.
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When to choose outbound lead generation
Outbound marketing campaigns can feel more disruptive than inbound ones, but that doesn’t mean you should leave them out of your sales strategy. Here are a few situations in which outbound campaigns can be ideal for your brand.
You want to generate brand awareness
Outbound lead gen strategies can quickly boost your visibility within your target market. It puts your brand in front of a larger audience in a short period of time. Outbound marketing is a proactive approach that can speed up lead generation, rather than waiting for people to discover your brand with inbound marketing efforts. This can make it a useful strategy for lesser known brands, especially in a crowded market.
You want to enter a new market
When you’re entering a new local market—for instance, by opening a store in a new city or targeting professionals in a new industry—outbound is one of the marketing strategies that will produce results or information you can use to your advantage right off the bat. Since outbound lead generation is fast paced, it lets you get more immediate feedback about what’s working and what’s not. On the other hand, inbound strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) can take months to fully produce results.
You have a short sales cycle
One of the main reasons marketers prefer inbound lead generation is because it helps brands develop trust. This is ideal for businesses with longer sales cycles—like real estate companies and software-as-a-service (SaaS) brands.
However, if most of your leads become customers fairly quickly, perhaps within days rather than weeks, outbound lead generation can be just as effective. This can be the case if your brand offers products or services that are fairly affordable, low-risk, and straightforward. For instance, if people see an ad for a restaurant, they might develop a craving and check it out the same day—even if they’ve never tried it before.
4 modern outbound lead generation strategies
With these four outbound lead generation strategies, you can modernize your outbound marketing while getting great leads.
1. Online ads
Digital advertising helps your brand get noticed on the platforms your ideal customers are already using. Online ads make your marketing messages far more visible for your target audience, such as social media ads that appear in users’ feeds.
Unlike traditional outbound ads, online ads can be a highly cost-effective lead generation tool. Plus, you can track your ad’s effectiveness by measuring the amount of clicks and impressions it receives. With this information, you can experiment with messaging and visual style to appeal to more potential customers.
2. LinkedIn outreach
If you own a business-to-business (B2B) company, you or your sales reps need to be contacting the decision-makers at each company you want to sell to. LinkedIn allows you to research who you’re selling to so you can target decision-makers more effectively. And since LinkedIn is a social media platform, it’s geared toward relationship-building and allows you to initiate one-on-one interactions.
Your LinkedIn messages can be simple. Once you find the person you want to reach out to, send a brief message introducing yourself and the value of your product or service and invite them to meet with you.
While it’s best to personalize messages instead of relying on automation tools, you can speed up your workflow by creating templates you can copy, paste, and customize to improve your B2B lead generation efforts.
3. Referral marketing
A referral program that rewards current customers for providing you with new leads can help you gain more qualified leads. Creating a referral program can be as simple as offering your clients an incentive, like a gift card or a discounted product or service, in exchange for every successful referral.
Once you promote your program—via email, social media, and other channels—your current customers might spread the word about your company on your behalf. When they pass on the contact information of friends and family members, all you’ll need to do is follow up.
Referral marketing is an excellent way to reduce the disruptiveness of outbound marketing. By building on a mutual relationship, you can build trust with potential leads quickly.
4. Direct mail
Direct mail may not be a new digital marketing tactic, but it still has a place in a modern marketing strategy. Physical ads continue to make products and services appear more desirable and memorable. When your ad lands in your ideal customer’s mailbox, you can increase the chances they’ll engage with it. Direct mail also lets you target specific neighborhoods so you can make your content as relevant as possible to local areas.
To use direct mail for outbound lead generation, make sure to write a clear call to action (CTA) in your ad, like “schedule a consultation by calling [phone number].”
How to make your outbound marketing more effective
Outbound lead generation efforts can be positive customer experiences. Here are three tips that can help you, your marketing team, or your sales team win leads who love your brand.
Cater to a specific target audience
Effective outbound marketing is highly relevant to its audience. You can win more leads when each of your campaigns is targeted to a specific audience and their unique needs.
To improve your targeting, build out a few buyer personas, which are profiles that represent different segments of your target audience. These ideal customer profiles can help you cater your messaging to each market segment. Make sure to outline the pain points, demographics (like age and income), and other characteristics of every persona to create the most authentic profiles.
Pair outbound and inbound lead generation strategies
Outbound marketing can help you drive a lot of interest, but it doesn’t always convince potential customers to provide their contact information right away. If you want to start generating leads faster, consider pairing your outbound tactics with valuable inbound marketing content.
For example, you can use social media ads to promote a lead magnet, like discounted pricing or a downloadable infographic. While you’ll still be pushing out your marketing message, your ad will feel more helpful than salesy.
Also make it easier for customers to find you when they’re actively searching on platforms like Yelp, in need of the types of services or products you offer. When you invest in Yelp Ads, your business will appear in key places on the site and app, such as above relevant search results and on competitor pages. You’ll only pay when someone clicks on your ad, and can set your parameters to only target customers your business can actually serve. Plus, you can set your own budget for every campaign and pause your ad anytime.
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Track metrics and iterate
To make sure your lead generation efforts are getting the right people into your outbound sales funnel, track key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are metrics that indicate your progress on business goals. For instance, you can track your customer conversion rate—the percentage of outbound leads who make a purchase—if you want to learn more about how your strategies and messaging are driving sales.
You can use KPIs to evaluate your progress. Plus, you can continue making changes to your outbound lead generation strategy as you learn more about what works.
Capture more outbound leads
Whether you’re a B2B company or sell directly to consumers, outbound lead generation can be a modern part of your marketing and sales process—one that helps you win new leads fast. With well-targeted campaigns, like direct mail and online ads catered to specific market segments, you can get the right people interested in your products or services.
As you refine your lead generation strategy and gain more prospects, learn how you can improve your lead nurturing process to convert more leads into sales.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.