It’s easy to get overwhelmed when planning and executing lead generation activities. There seems to be a multitude of choices for just about every facet of a campaign.
You want to be sure you’re making the right decision for each aspect. After all, every little element factors into the all-important conversion rates. But then again, how are you supposed to know if “Get your copy today!” or “Get your copy now!” will be better for your call-to-action button?
So, where do we draw the line? What are the bare-bones essentials that make an outbound campaign work? It all comes down to the 3 C’s: contacts, content, and channel.
It Starts with Data
You need the data to do the job. Even if everything else is perfect, you won’t get the results you want with bad data.
Marketers have a couple of options for sourcing data. The first is a homegrown list. These lists are cultivated organically by collecting form completions through some combination of content downloads, blog subscriptions, webinars, contests, and so on. Home grown lists are ideal, but it takes time to develop and maintain a sizable, active list.
The alternative is purchased lists. The benefit to these lists is that they’re accessible. The scale of the audience is really only limited by your budget. The downside is that if you can buy them, so can everyone else. The key to making these lists work is to do your own research and validation to separate yourself from the others who might be contacting them.
Turning Data into an Audience
Once you have contacts, you need to pare them down to the best of the best. You want to create a segment of contacts that match your ideal criteria – job titles, levels, departments, companies, location, etc. (If you’re having trouble determining these criteria, look for similarities in your current clients.)
The idea is to make sure any contact that converts during the campaign has the potential to be a sales opportunity down the line. For example, if your software only integrates with a certain system, do your research and confirm that all the contacts you’re targeting are at companies that use the system.
Getting into the Contacts’ Shoes
If you’re correctly segmenting your contacts, you should be left with a pretty homogenous group. These commonalities will help you select the perfect content.
Start by thinking about the kind of contacts on that list. Take yourself through a day in their lives. It can help to create a character or persona (e.g. Jan the Marketing Manager) that represents the group.
Ask yourself some questions about these contacts: What are their responsibilities? What’s important to them? What makes them happy? What are their pain points?
Picking an Asset
Now that you have an idea of the things that matter to your customers, pick (or create) an asset based on this information. For example, if there’s a big software update that’s changing things in your contact’s industry, write a guide to managing that change.
Choosing the Channel
With an audience and a relevant asset, your campaign is well on its way. The last major piece is the channel for distribution.
Again, this decision starts with your audience. Is there a channel that your audience uses over others? One that they avoid? Is there a new channel becoming popular? Do you have greater access to your audience in one channel over another?
In most cases, your audience preferences will leave you with a with a few options. Consider which of these channels will best allow your content to thrive. If you’re distributing something visual, like a video, consider a channel that will allow you to put the asset front and center, like an embedded video in LinkedIn or Twitter post.
With the main pieces in place, now we can start to worry about the littler things. Different channels will have different best practices. Bold exclamations might catch attention in display ads, but they could also get you caught in a spam filter in an email message, for example.
When building for a specific channel, start with learnings from your own data and past experiences. Particularly if you ‘re working with a niche audience, your audience will very like behave differently than more generalized audiences.
If you don’t have a bank of past data with this audience, do your research. Look for recommendations for similar audiences and channels. Use your best judgment. If worse comes to worse, you’ll at least have more data points for the future.
Wrapping it Up
Nailing the 3 C’s is the fastest path to a successful outbound campaign. Though lead gen can seem overwhelming, it all boils down to contacts, content, and channel. Good or bad, you’ll be able to trace the results of your campaign back to these three elements.
Let us know what you think:
Which of the 3 C’s do you find most challenging?
Which element is most important for your company?
What other factors come into play in outbound lead gen campaigns?
Matt Leap is a marketer who enjoys wearing many hats at HiP. Among other things, he handles HiP's content marketing efforts and acts as the editor-in-chief of the HiP Blog. Matt is also a regular contributor to the blog.
Matt brings five years of digital marketing and blogging experience to HiP, having worked in both the B2B and B2C sectors. Matt's expertise includes content marketing, content strategy, marketing automation, lead generation, SEO, and SEM.
In his personal time, Matt enjoys sports, movies, technology, reading, and writing.