Today I’m going to show you how a commitment to crafting the perfect cold outreach campaign has landed me $200 million in value—including $30 million in venture capital over the last decade alone.
Have growth marketing experts tried to tell you that cold outreach is spam or that it isn’t worth the effort? They’re giving you donkey advice.
If you do it right, you’ll find that cold outreach is a unicorn marketing channel—with tons of potential for connecting with decision makers and growing your business.
So what’s the right way to build an outreach campaign? Follow me to Unicorn Land and I’ll share some tactics I’ve picked up along the way:
- What is an outreach campaign?
- What can you achieve with a cold outreach strategy?
- Top channels for outreach campaigns
- Expert advice: Cold outreach dos and don’ts
- How to build an automated outreach campaign (step-by-step tutorial)
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What is an outreach campaign?
An outreach campaign is an effort to contact prospects—typically by email or phone—in an attempt to pitch your product or service.
But there’s a lot more to cold outreach than endless prospect lists and generic sales pitches.
Let’s start with the name. Targeted outbound outreach is a much more accurate term.
After all, the most successful campaigns are designed to connect with specific segments. They’re tailored to prospects’ needs, goals, and challenges—and they pitch solutions that decision makers actually want.
What can you achieve with a cold outreach strategy?
My outreach campaigns allowed me to book meetings with tons of influential investors—ultimately leading to $200 million in value. That didn’t happen overnight, though.
And I definitely didn’t magically launch a unicorn campaign on my very first attempt. Targeted outbound outreach requires relentless testing and optimization.
In fact, I recommend scaling up your testing as much as possible. Ideally, you’ll test hundreds of offers through a combination of inbound and outbound campaigns. Then you can go bananas with the winning offers.
Top Channels for Targeted Outbound Outreach
My most successful cold outreach campaigns have focused on two channels: email and SMS.
Email outreach is great for making initial connections and providing value. You can use email to build credibility, share resources, and show your target audience that you have the solutions they need.
SMS is an underutilized cold outreach superpower that’s ideal for follow-ups further along in the customer journey. Because you typically text with people who are close to you, I think of SMS as a trusted space.
So if you’re a sales rep who’s texting with a prospect, you’re essentially already having a meeting. It’s up to you to assess the intent, leverage the access, and close the deal.
Expert Advice: Cold Outreach Dos and Don’ts
I’ve sent a lot of cold emails. Some of them have worked, and some of them have totally flopped. Here’s what I’ve learned firsthand.
Do Use Trusted Data Sources
Getting your hands on decision makers’ email addresses isn’t always easy. You might assume your only options are trying to track them down yourself or buying an email list from a reseller.
Both of these are bad ideas. They’ll cause you to waste a bunch of time or invest in a spammy list that won’t get you anywhere.
Instead, use a trusted data source for contact details. Customers.ai’s RoboBDR platform connects you with reputable data—in fact, we test the email addresses ourselves.
Don’t Hesitate to Send Ego Bait
Sending generic pitches that don’t provide any unique or valuable insights won’t get you very far. Instead, they’ll probably go right to the spam folder.
To get prospects’ attention, send what I call ego bait. Use your knowledge of prospects’ company names, recent events, and interests—turning it into a personalized email that’s about them.
With Customers.ai, you can add a lot of personal details to your email marketing templates. That way you can tailor your emails while still using automation to save time.
Do Breed Your Unicorns
The first outbound offer you create probably won’t be a hit. Neither will the second.
In reality, you need to test hundreds of offers to see what works. As you gather data, pinpoint what’s working—from the offer to the sequence to the angle.
Then take the offers with the highest open and click rates and fuse them to create the ultimate unicorn campaign. In other words, breed your unicorns.
Don’t Give Up on Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing typically has a high signal-to-noise ratio. With inbound, you might build a huge email list or social media following.
But your inbound audience is probably going to include a lot of donkeys. That’s one of the reasons I’m such a big proponent of outbound tactics.
You can use countless signals to craft the ideal outbound list. When prospects respond, they’re already qualified.
But that doesn’t mean you should give up on inbound. I like using inbound methods to test and iterate offers at scale—and using what works to guide my outbound campaigns.
Do Use Outbound Marketing Tools
Just because the results from your inbound marketing campaigns can inform your outbound offers doesn’t mean you should completely merge the two channels.
Using inbound SMS and email marketing platforms can get your campaign (and your account) shut down quickly. To send cold outreach, you need an outbound platform.
Customers.ai is designed for automated sales outreach. That means it automatically paces send rates and monitors deliverability to keep your campaigns flowing.
Don’t Overdo It With Follow-Ups
Most targeted outreach requires at least one follow-up. But should you keep reaching out to every single prospect exactly a dozen times?
Not necessarily. Use prospects’ behaviors to guide your follow-up strategy.
It might sound counterintuitive, but you probably shouldn’t start sending more follow-ups to prospects who don’t respond to your outreach. A lot of sales reps do this, but I don’t recommend it.
Instead, focus on nurturing prospects who are responsive. Then remove the others from your automation when it’s clear that they’re donkeys.
How to Automate an Outreach Campaign
Now you know what to do and what not to do with your outbound marketing strategy. Let me show you how to turn that knowledge into a cold outreach campaign.
How to Automate an Outreach Campaign Step #1: Build your prospect list
First, you need a list of prospects. Ideally, these should be prospects who fit your ideal customer profile and who are likely to be interested in your offer.
I usually use a couple tools for list building:
Customers.ai’s RoboBDR platform is the ticket to finding creators, influencers, and hard-to-target B2C decision makers. Our database has over 100,000 prospects and uses more than 10,000 signals to help you build the perfect outreach list.
Our Unicorn Xray tool is also handy for identifying prospects who have already shown intent. It can track down email addresses for people who visit your website—who have already shown an interest in your business.
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How to Automate an Outreach Campaign Step #2: Set up an automated sequence
Next, use one of Customers.ai’s automation templates to plan your outreach campaign.
I like the Longest and Most Persistent Follow-Up Funnel Ever. It has more than a dozen email and SMS touchpoints, so it’s great for building relationships and measuring intent over the long term.
For an input trigger, use your outreach list. Then build out your offer. Start with an introductory email that has a catchy subject line, a great opening line, and a simple call-to-action (CTA).
Then use the SMS and email templates to add follow-ups at regular intervals throughout the sequence. You can also shift the conversation to text or alternate email and SMS messages.
Just make sure your messages go light on the links and attachments. It’s okay to link out to a blog post or another high-value piece of content (like a case study)—but avoid packing them with spam triggers.
How to Automate an Outreach Campaign Step #3: Fine-tune your Unicorn Detector
As your automated campaign runs, watch the results closely. Customers.ai shows you how many views your outreach has gotten at each stage of the funnel.
Use your insights to refine your campaign and optimize your results. Is one of your CTAs getting totally bonkers results—but it’s way too late in the funnel?
Breed your unicorns to get the best possible results. And remember to use the Unicorn Detector to shape your funnel.
You can add Unicorn Detectors throughout your automation to segment your audience. With enough testing and optimization, you’ll find unicorns in a sea of donkeys—and you’ll be able to build even better targeted outbound outreach automations.
With a targeted list, a tailored offer, and plenty of testing, you can find unicorns with outreach marketing.
Ready to see how automated sales outreach works for you? Grab your free Customers.ai trial and let’s get started.
Important Next Steps
- See what targeted outbound marketing is all about. Capture and engage your first 50 website visitor leads with Customers.ai Unicorn X-Ray for free.
- Talk and learn about sales outreach automation with other growth enthusiasts. Join Customers.ai Island, our Facebook group of 40K marketers and entrepreneurs who are ready to support you.
- Advance your marketing performance with Sales Outreach School, a free tutorial and training area for sales pros and marketers.