June 23, 2024

How to Automate Outbound Lead Generation: A Step-by-Step Guide


Today I’m going to show you how to run outbound lead generation marketing campaigns to increase unicorn qualified leads and deliver high-intent prospects to your sales team.

With an automated outbound marketing strategy, you can avoid a donkey situation that’s common for many businesses: plenty of leads but no way to move them through the customer journey.

It’s easy to get stuck in Donkey Land when none of your sales reps have the capacity to qualify leads or confirm if they’re ready to buy. Since manual lead nurturing takes time, it could be a while before you can realize the full value of your marketing efforts.

But with a lead generation tool like Customers.ai, you can automate outbound tactics—putting you in the fast lane to Unicorn Land. That means you can free up time to focus on the part that matters most: closing the deal.

Curious what you can achieve with automated outbound lead gen? Our customers have already gotten impressive results. In just six months, one captured over $1 million in new customer revenue for a 25x return on investment (ROI).

We’ll show you exactly how to make our outbound lead generation strategy work in the tutorial section of this guide. Here’s your map to Unicorn Land:

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What is outbound lead generation?

Outbound lead generation is the process of connecting with prospects to find out if they’re a good fit for your company’s products and services.

Usually, outbound lead gen involves a few steps. First, you reach out via SMS or email to ask qualifying questions. Then you follow up with high-value resources or a lead magnet.

Along the way, you capture data about your prospects and nurture them through the customer journey. Then you can deliver the qualified leads to your sales team.

But for most businesses, there’s a missing piece in this equation: intent data. Outbound lead generation can be so much more successful when it’s intent-driven.

You can market to prospects much more effectively when you know what they need and how you can help—because your targeted audience is highly correlated to your target customer.

How do you generate outbound leads?

To generate outbound leads, you typically need sales outreach. But more often than not, we find that this critical part of the sales funnel is broken.

Outbound sales often requires time-consuming tasks like cold calling and lead qualification. Sales teams that manage this process manually may never truly have the time to pursue the most promising leads.

That’s why we recommend a unicorn solution for outbound lead gen. Customers.ai automates repetitive tasks like lead nurturing and qualification so you have time to find decision makers and close deals.

Inbound vs. outbound lead generation: What’s the difference?

Inbound lead generation requires prospects to find you. Then you can nurture them with marketing tactics like social media or email marketing.

In fact, we think of inbound marketing like trying to catch fish as they swim by you. Even if you’re a skilled fisherman, there’s a limit to the number of fish you can catch. If only a few swim past, you won’t have many opportunities.

In contrast, outbound lead generation is much more tactical. To extend the fishing metaphor, it’s a little like studying the water and identifying where the fish are. Once you find them, you can use your sales process to go where they are and reel them in.

With outbound marketing, you can also scale your efforts as long as you find the right relevance signals. If you know your target customer well, you’ll have tons of opportunities to fine-tune and leverage those signals.

How to Do Outbound Lead Generation: A Complete Overview

Let’s put outbound marketing to work. Use the tutorial below to automate your B2B lead generation workflow and start filling your sales pipeline.

Outbound Lead Generation Step #1: Know your ideal client

When you seek out potential leads, you want to make sure they’re the right fit for your product or service. Your customer profile is the perfect starting point.

First, define your ideal client. Who uses your company’s products and services? What types of people or organizations get the most value from your offerings?

Then dig into the details. What does your ideal client do? Which problems do they need to solve? What kinds of goals do they want to achieve?

Next, do some competitive research. Your company’s competitors can be a helpful resource for targeting potential customers.

Outbound Lead Generation Step #2: Gather your leads

Tap into a data source where you can connect with your ideal customer. For example, you can use live chat for lead generation. Or you can get leads on Facebook.

Need more ideas? You can use a list of LinkedIn accounts filtered by relevant job titles and groups. Or you can create a list of big (10,000+) Instagram accounts that follow real estate investors.

Not sure how to find these potential leads? Talk to us for a demo of Customers.ai’s roboBDR™ program. We’ll show you how to find the right data source for your outbound lead generation efforts.

Outbound Lead Generation Step #3: Create a lead magnet

We’ve found that outbound lead generation strategies work best when we have something valuable to offer prospects. Lead magnets are great for providing value and building trust.

Your lead magnet could be a complete guide to solving one of your audience’s most pressing problems. Or it could be a webinar that offers your audience insider tips.

For the example outbound lead generation campaign below, we’ll offer a demo of our roboBDR™ program.

Outbound Lead Generation Step #4: Identify qualified leads

Now you have all the basics in place. Start setting up an automated sequence of email and/or text messages to send to your target audience.

In Customers.ai, go to the automation builder and look for the Free E-book/Whitepaper Download Offer. Click the Go button and select Text Messages.

When you see the map to Unicorn Land, click the Let’s go button. The automation builder defaults to creating an SMS keyword input trigger. But in this case, we want to upload a list of prospects.

Click the Add Trigger button and select Manually upload contact list. Double check that you’ve formatted your contacts correctly and mapped the fields to the right attribute.

Now it’s time to qualify those leads. Under the lightning bolt, click the plus sign to add an SMS message to the workflow.

In your first message, start with a super brief introduction and quickly explain why you’re reaching out. Remember to make your message intent-driven.

Use your customer profile as a guide for crafting your message. For example, you might explain that you help busy business coaches scale faster—which you think might be right up their alley.

Then ask leads if they’re interested in your offer. Create a positive response option that prospects can use to proceed through your automation.

To make sure prospects are a good fit, ask about their company, their budget, their deal size, or other deciding factors. It’s also a good idea to find out if they’re ready to buy now.

To add more qualifying questions, click the Add widget button and select Options. Attach an attribute to each response so you can use these answers to automate the qualification process.

Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, close out of the SMS message workflow and configure your Unicorn Detector. Add filters to separate unicorn leads from donkey leads.

For this example, we’ll filter by prospects who are looking to buy now. All other prospects will be considered donkey leads. We can always re-engage with them later, based on the time frame they specified.

Next, set up an SMS message for unicorn leads that includes your offer or lead magnet. For this example, we’ll link to a page that invites leads to book a demo of our roboBDR™ program.

Outbound Lead Generation Step #5: Review, iterate, and test

After running your outbound lead generation campaign, go back and review the analytics. Pay attention to message open rate, response rate, and offer conversion rate.

Did a lot of prospects respond Yes but fail to click through and get your lead magnet or book a call? Iterate on your original message to test new copy, personalization, or calls-to-action.

As you test, continue to monitor analytics and keep your eye on the prize. Remember, the ultimate goal is to increase the number of qualified leads for your sales team.

Start Automating Your Outbound Lead Gen

With this automated outbound lead generation strategy, you can simplify your sales process and amplify your B2B marketing.

Want to deliver more unicorn leads to your sales team? Get your free Customers.ai trial and start automating outreach.

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Important Next Steps

  • Create your own automated sales funnels in Facebook and Instagram with InstaChamp. Get started for free today.
  • 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.


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