The Biggest Hurdle to Launching the Perfect Outbound Campaign

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Every company wants to do great work, grow their revenue, and celebrate their accomplishments among its peers. I’d argue that nowhere is this truer than with a company’s demand-gen efforts. Inbound or outbound, we all want bragging rights on how fast, or cheap, or elaborate our prospecting is. This, along with a quantum leap in sales tech, has led to an explosion of growth in the space - and demand-gen has never been as accessible as it is now. 

The increased accessibility and ongoing urge to brag has created a “space-race-esq” environment and companies feel the pressure to launch the next big thing. In many ways, this is a great endeavor for companies. More time is being spent on strategy development and audience research. More money is being invested in communication platforms and prospect data. More people are being assigned specialist roles and hyper-specific KPIs. Companies are finally appreciating how to take company growth into their own hands and are willfully running at the opportunity. As with most things though, there are issues with this, especially for outbound. 

Companies feel the pressure to redefine high engagement - with dynamic content synchronized through omnichannel platforms - predicting their prospects whims before they even exist. 

Don’t get me wrong, this is an ideal state to land at. The more thoughtfully and cohesively you can address your audience, the better they will respond. The issue is that this is very difficult to do in one channel, let alone many. 

The enemy of great is good, but the enemy of creation is perfection.

The biggest hurdle to companies launching the perfect outbound campaign is the desire to do too much, too fast, too well. So often companies begin their outbound demand gen journey by buying several sales enablement platforms, hiring dedicated specialists, and agonizing over the content they want to send. This not only makes starting take so much longer, but it also makes perfecting the approach so much more difficult. 

If companies truly want to create a dynamic, thoughtful, high conversion outbound machine they need to start with what they have - and then keep going. The best campaigns are perfected over time, with real feedback and results. The fewer components you start with the easier it will be to tweak them and then move onto more complex processes. 

Here are three tips to keep your team from over-designing their efforts.

1. Start with your audience - your whole audience.

Speaking to your many different buyer personas in their preferred tone and with their priorities as the focus is right, segmentation is key to a great campaign. However, before running forward with your favorite audience, take the time to evaluate your greater audience. Create a grid (literally draw it out) with overlapping role/business challenges and priorities as the focus. Then fill in the available meta-data on your audience (do they use certain tools, do they have certain types of job functions, etc). 

Use this audience visualization to confirm that you are going after cohesive groups. Often, companies over-segment their approaches, which dilutes focus and hinders clear testing. Less is more and keeping the largest feasible groupings of your audience will increase your speed and ability to improve over time.

2. Content is king - but maybe it should be the joker.

Great content can 10x an outbound campaign and terrible content can sink an otherwise attractive offering. The issue is that most people don’t create great or terrible content - they create OK content. The problem is that OK content is much harder to improve over time (which is a whole separate article). This leaves demand-gen teams spending months trying to perfect their “description of value line” when they should be looking for a completely new angle.

Instead, your team should focus on creating several competing versions of content - for every audience you approach (which is why less is more). It’s not enough to change the examples of customer’s you’ve worked with. Change the length, change the focus, try sounding cheeky instead of polished - creating variety will be what get’s you to that 10x result.

3. Know the right numbers to know.

Impressions, opens, clicks, forwards - these are all stats that your team will be tempted to obsess over.  “How many more opens did we get when we moved that comma?!” - it sounds funny but is often where the focus goes when campaigns lack immediate results. Instead, there are basically two things your team needs to pay attention to when launching a new campaign - the warmth of replies and meetings scheduled. 

If your team hasn’t scheduled any meetings yet, then they should be focused on how many warm replies they are getting (which really should be anyone who doesn’t immediately say NO). If studied and responded to, these warm replies will guide you to a campaign that does its most important job - scheduling meetings. From there everyone’s focus should be on converting as many meetings as possible, month over month. 

If companies can focus on these three steps they will launch campaigns faster and see them improve more consistently than by building a finished product before starting. MVPs aren’t just for start-ups - every company needs to first develop their Minimum Viable Prospecting process and then develop it base don real-world feedback and testing. 

It's tempting to pour your resources into a prospecting “moon-lander”, but you have to start with just building a simple rocket first. Otherwise, you’ll never discover your own escape velocity - and you’ll spend your years looking up at the stars wondering what could have been. 

TJ Macke