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Quick Guide To Outbound Lead Generation

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Outbound Lead Generation

If you are a B2B technology or software company, Online Lead Generation (aka Inbound Lead Generation) should be a key element in your sales and marketing activity.

But there are times when Online Lead Gen isn’t enough – that’s when you also need to use Outbound Lead Generation.

Quick Recap – why Online Lead Generation is important

Online lead generation is really important because today when anyone starts searching for a product or solution, they look online.  According to a DemandBase report from 2011, 4 of the top 5 sources of leads are online.  According to a Savo Group research study, 58% to 70% of the B2B buying process is completed before a buyer speaks to a vendor. And in a 2012 DemandGen report, 25% of B2B companies said they only initiated contact after they had already established a preferred list of vendors.

So for all these reasons, you need to make sure your prospective customers find you online or they’ll find your competitors. And when they do find you, you need to capture their contact details – that’s online lead generation.

When Do You Need Outbound Lead Generation?

If your product category is mature then potential customers will be searching for it online. For example, CRM is a mature category. People who want a CRM solution will search online for relevant terms.  There will be a lot of search traffic.  So CRM vendors should concentrate on inbound marketing for online lead generation.

But if your product category is new, or you operate in a highly vertical/niche market then potential buyers may not be aware of or searching for your type of product. There will be a low volume of search traffic looking for terms related to your product and  you won’t be able to generate enough leads online.

In that case you will have to reach out to prospective customers in a targeted, efficient and cost effective process – Outbound Lead Generation.

And sometimes Outbound Lead Generation can  produce faster results for early stage technology companies who are only beginning to establish a presence online.

How Does Outbound Lead Generation Work?

Outbound Lead Generation involves a set of clear phases, managed through a well defined process and supported by automation.

The main steps are:

Motarme Outbound Lead Generation process

1. Define Target Customer Profile

Clarify who your ideal target customers are. This definition should be clear and focused – type of companies, roles at those companies, territories, sectors etc.. Looking at your best existing customers helps with this definition.  The output of this step should be enough for an intern to use as a guide when searching for prospect names and contact details.

2. Value Proposition for Campaign

Clarify what your pitch will be for this campaign. This step helps when preparing the draft emails in step 3.  You can start with some bulletpoints covering what value your product provides, how quickly do customers obtain that value, why it’s better than alternatives, why it’s better than doing nothing.

3. Build Targeted List

This is the second most important step after defining your ideal customer.  The more effort you put into producing a good list the higher the likelihood your campaign will produce results.  You should try to sell high, so it’s important to get C-level / Director level names on your list.  Confirm that every name and every company on your list is genuinely relevant – they meet your target profile and you have good reason to expect they will be interested in your proposition.

4. Draft Emails 1, 2, 3 and 4

Draft the text for your outbound emails.  There should be a first email, then a second, third and fourth for follow-ups. This is because quite often you only make contact on the third or fourth attempt.  The emails should be simple, direct and text based, and should look like they come from a specific named individual at your company, not the marketing department.

5. Prepare Follow-up Material(s)

When prospects respond they may not be ready to engage, or they may want some information to assess whether your proposition is relevant to them.  You can send follow-up materials to prospects as a way to maintain their interest.  Example materials include presentations, case studies, white papers and industry news or analysis.  The goal is to have 4 to 5 items of content that you are sure will be of interest to your target customers.

6.  Send the Emails

Send emails to blocks of your prospect lists.  About 50 to 80 per day, 3 days per week for each sales person.  The goal is to generate 5 to 10 responses per day. Sales people won’t be able to deal effectively with more than that number of new responses per day (as each week progresses, the total number of prospects to manage quickly increases).

7.  Manage Responders

As a percentage of prospects respond, handle those responses consistently and record what’s happening. Typically the first interaction will be by email (the prospect emails you back). In some cases the prospect will call you – make sure you can access their details and know who you’re speaking with if they do call.

8.  Schedule Call

If the first response is by email then your next goal is to schedule a call.  You are not trying to sell on this call. The purpose of the first call will allow you to gauge whether the prospect is genuinely a good fit.  Are they interested?  Are they the right person to talk to at their firm? Are they ready to take a next step? The key point is to focus on their business to ensure you have a clear understanding of how they view the world.  Then your objective is to (a) get agreement to have another call or demo or (b) get introduced to the right person to talk to.

9.  Send Follow-Up Materials

In many cases the prospect is interested but not ready to engage e.g. they are in the middle of some kind of project, or under pressure to complete quarterly or annual reports.  If the time delay is likely to be 6 to 12 weeks then send follow-up materials over that period to maintain contact.

If the time delay is likely to be significantly more than 12 weeks then the lead can be put in a Lead Nurturing track.

10.  Schedule Demo / Meeting

For most technology companies part of the sales process will involve an online or in person demonstration of your product.  If that is the case, then in this step we schedule and then execute that demo. This means an email exchange and, when the date and time is confirmed, immediately putting this in the client’s calendar.  Other steps include confirming the client can take a web demo / Skype video call / Google hangout.  The demo format should include a short intro presentation (‘tell them what you’re going to tell them’); the demo itself (‘tell them’); and a wrap up (‘tell them what you told them’).

For other companies the goal will be to schedule an initial meeting. The format of this meeting will differ, but the key rule when meeting a new prospect is to gain further insight into their needs – “listen before you talk”.

11. Hand Off to the Sales Process

If the demo has proceeded well and we have confirmed genuine interest then the prospect can be added to your sales automation / CRM system as an opportunity and it should be passed to a named sales person.

This handover is very important, so closing this step should only be allowed when the sales person confirms they are happy to accept the new contact as an opportunity. If not, then the reasons why not should be recorded.

Useful Outbound Lead Generation Resources

Aaron Ross has written a great book on Outbound Lead Generation called “Predictable Revenue” – you can find out more at www.predictablerevenue.com.

Brian Carroll, author of ‘Lead Generation for the Complex Sale’ wrote a detailed guide on building an Outbound Lead Generation team for OpenView Partners – you can access it here (registration required) 

And David Skok of Matrix Partners has a good introductory presentation on Outbound Lead Generation here.

How to Automate B2B Lead Generation

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A quick overview of how to automate B2B Lead Generation including:

  • what problems are we trying to solve;
  • how can you generate leads in B2B – inbound and outbound;
  • most effective lead generation methods;
  • why you should automate as much as possible;
  • which tools you can use to automate Inbound Lead Generation;
  • which tools you can use to automate Outbound Lead Generation.

The Care and Feeding of An Adwords Campaign

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Motarme Google Adwords maintenance

Google Adwords should be a good source of leads for B2B technology and industrial firms. But to succeed you need to give your campaigns regular care and attention.  That’s because after your new AdWords campaign runs for a few days you will see things that need to be fixed.

Typically some of the problems with a new campaign include:

  • Some ads are bringing in poor quality visitors who have searched on phrases irrelevant to your business.
  • Your ads are not being shown because your bids are too low.
  • People aren’t clicking on your ads.
  • People start to click but when these visitors arrive on your landing pages they don’t register or convert.

To fix these problems requires that you regularly review and update your campaigns to achieve your desired results – good quality leads registering on your landing pages.

This is how we recommend you do it. Use a systematic, iterative approach – you keep circling through campaigns, then ad groups, then keywords and then ad text, making adjustments in a logical order.

1. Choose a Campaign

Login to your Google Adwords account and choose a time period to review e.g. past 30 days.

Choose a Campaign you want to improve

  • Sort the Ad Groups in that campaign by Click Through Rate (CTR) – to do this click on the column marked CTR and it will sort the table from high to low.
  • Target the lowest CTR Ad Group – this is the first one you will either improve or delete

2. Select Ad Group within Campaign

Choose that Ad Group with the low CTR

  • In the Ad Group, first look at Keywords.
  • Sort the keywords by Clicks to see which keywords are getting most clicks.
  • Sort by CTR to see which keywords perform the best.
  • Look at the search terms that have actually triggered keywords in this ad group using the ‘Details -> Search terms – All’ button as shown:

Google Adwords keyword details

3. Revise Keywords Within the Ad Group

  • Remove any ‘broad match’ keywords – change them to ‘Phrase’ or ‘Exact’.
  • Look for keywords not being displayed due to low bids and either increase the bid, try a different match type, or a closely related phrase.
  • Look for keywords not being displayed because of poor Quality Score. Google thinks these keyword / ad / landing page combinations are not working so think why this might be the case. After 3 to 4 days either change or remove low QS keywords or they will damage the performance of your ad group and campaign. One option here is to separate low QS keywords into their own ad group where you can work on them in isolation e.g. give them special ad text and landing pages.
  • Consider whether more keywords can be added – click on the ‘Add keywords’ option or use the Google Keyword Planner to look for some additional ideas.
  • Check recent searches to see if some keywords should be excluded using ‘negative keywords’ – typical keywords to exclude include “free”, “jobs”, “vacancy”, “vacancies” etc.
  • Check the number of impressions for your keywords overall – are you getting enough impressions in this ad group? If the number of impressions is low then it means not many people are searching on your keyword phrases in your target geography. The choice here is to (a) add keywords or (b) change the campaign settings so your ads run in more geographies / countries.
  • Additional Keywords – do you have enough keywords in this group? Can you add more?
  • Too many keywords / Create New Ad Group – if you have more than 80 or 90 keywords in an ad group then they usually could be separated into 2 or more ad groups.  If that is the case then split some of your keywords into a new ad group.
  • Review the Relevance of your keywords – do you still think they will bring in your target buyers?  Are they too general – could they be bringing in unwanted traffic?  Alternatively, are they too restrictive? Could you be missing out on some potential customers who are looking for related but different terms?

4. Revise Ad Text Within the Ad Group

  • Next, look at your Text Ads for that Ad Group
  • Sort the Ads by Click Through Rate.
  • Ads with a click through rate of less than 0.5% are performing badly. (We look to get to 1.2% or above as quickly as possible).
  • A CTR this low indicates that (a) the ad text is simply not compelling and /or (b) the ads are not clearly connected with the keyword in the mind of a visitor – the visitor who searched on the phrase does not expect to see the ad you show in response so he doesn’t click on it
  • Have you got at least 2 ads running in competition in the ad group? You need at least 2 running in parallel in order to draw conclusions about what does or does not work.
  • Have you selected ‘ad rotation’ at the Campaign level so the ads are being shown evenly over time to enable you to measure one against the other? To use ad rotation, you may have to go to settings and beside the ‘Type’ setting, choose “Search Network only – All features”, rather than “Search Network Only – Standard Features”
  • Have you got more than 4 ads in the ad group?  Generally any more than 4 becomes difficult to analyse and manage, particularly in the context of a larger overall Campaign with many other ad groups.
  • In this ad group, take the lowest performing ads first – is there any obvious problem? Does the ad closely relate to the set of keywords it represents?
  • Is there a compelling offer, statement of value and call to action? Is there some other reason people might not click on it?
  • Can you do comparative searches in a target geography to see what other ads are displayed for your types of keywords? How do those ads compare to yours?
  • Are you using Keyword Insertion on any ads? If you try using keyword insertion, do those ads perform better than other ads?
  • Is the display URL that shows at the bottom of your ad clearly related to the keywords and call to action? E.g. www.mycompany.com/keyword-related-term

5. Revise Landing Pages Within the Ad Group

  • Click on the blue line at the top of each of each of your text ads to open the corresponding landing pages.
  • What is the Conversion Rate on your landing page – how many visitors register per 100?  As a rule of thumb in B2B web marketing, we want a 4% to 8% conversion rate for landing pages when they have been running and tested for a couple of weeks. That means for every 100 clicks through to this page we expect to see 4 to 8 people registering.  You won’t achieve this immediately but if after 2 weeks it is not working you need to reconsider the page and corresponding ads.
  • Is there a clear linkage between keyword -> ad text -> landing page?
  • Does the landing page header text clearly relate back to the ad and the keyword?
  • Does the landing page follow standard best practice e.g. ‘hero shot’ of item or document on offer, encapsulated registration form, directional cues, text on the download button, bulletpoint text, summary of benefits, customer or partner logos and other trust anchors, social proofs such as ‘100,000 customers use product X’ etc.

6. Repeat for all Ad Groups with Campaign

  • Repeat this process for all Ad Groups within your campaign, then move on to the next campaign.

7. Check Campaign Settings

  • Your campaigns settings control the overall budgets, default keyword bids and, perhaps most importantly, target geographies.
  • Periodically look at these settings to confirm they are still valid for your campaign.
  • You usually have to test and change geographies and budgets quite a lot in the first few weeks of a new campaign.

 

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