Best Practices of Outbound Lead Generation for B2B SaaS Using Cold Emails – 2024 Update

What is outbound lead generation?

Lead generation can be inbound and outbound. Inbound online lead generation attracts potential customers to your website, where the target action happens. It can be a trial or demo request, whitepaper or case study download, or something else — the key here is that visitors themselves have the intent for actions. Outbound lead generation is the opposite; this tactic identifies and reaches out to potential customers or leads who have not yet expressed interest in your SaaS product. In contrast to inbound lead generation, which focuses on attracting prospects through content marketing, SEO, pay-per-click advertising, and other methods where leads come to you, outbound lead generation involves proactively seeking out and initiating contact with potential customers. According to Statista’s March 2021 survey of U.S. marketing decision makers, 40.6% highlighted that effective one-to-one outreach significantly contributed to successful qualified lead generation for their B2B businesses. Additionally, 37% of marketers identified addressing buyer challenges directly as a key factor in their success. This data underscores the efficiency of personalized outbound lead generation and targeted problem-solving in B2B digital marketing strategies.

Essential five methods of outbound lead generation typically include:

1. Cold Calling

Contacting potential customers via phone without any prior interaction. Sales representatives or telemarketers contact prospects to introduce their SaaS product and gauge their interest. In 2024 I rarely hear about B2B SaaS companies attracting prospects through the phone, probably because it is hard to demonstrate the product to them and subsequently propose a trial. 

2. Cold Emailing 

Sending cold emails to a list of potential leads. These emails usually contain information about the customer pain points, product functionality that solves them, and an invitation to further actions down the sales funnel, including downloading the use case whitepaper or a demo proposal.

3. Direct Mail 

Sending physical mail, such as brochures, catalogs, or promotional materials, to potential leads through postal services. Sometimes such an approach could work, especially if sending an upscale proposal to your customer base. Targeted and personal direct mail might have higher delivery and open rates when decision-makers mailboxes are bombarded with email proposals. 

4. Social Media Cold Outreach

Engaging actively with prospects on social media platforms like LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), or others through direct messages or public interactions in groups or tweet threads. This activity is usually complementary to cold emailing and helps improve the reply rate. 

5. Networking Events and Trade Shows

Attending industry-specific technology events, conferences, or trade shows to connect with potential customers and generate leads through in-person interactions.

The main challenge of outbound lead generation for B2B SaaS

The most problematic KPI in outbound lead generation is response rate, which depends on correct targeting. If you are only starting to build the outbound leadgen channel, it is easy to get zero responses and get frustrated. Some market segments are too large, and finding the «sweet spot» prospects and their contact details is difficult. Even if there is such information from various sales prospecting tools, response rates can still be low. According to the 2021 report published by the B2B Institute, 95% of business buyers are not actively seeking to purchase at any given time. There is a high probability that your outbound effort will reach those 95%. 

The main question is: «How do we focus our outbound lead generation efforts on prospects actively looking for your product or a similar one?» 

If we talk about huge companies, the second question is: «How can I make sure I am talking to the right person in the company who is interested in my product?» 

In the current martech environment there is an answer to this question — B2B website visitor tracking software, such as ZoomInfo, DealFront (formerly called LeadFeeder), or similar tools. These tools allow marketers or sales teams to understand in what companies are their website visitors working. It uses an IP-matching technology and works only in markets where company offices have dedicated IP addresses. From my experience, this technology works in Western and Eastern Europe, the Americas, and Australia. These are the regions where I could identify the company names precisely. 

Case study for B2B SaaS using cold email

Company data discovery with DealFront

I will describe the process of the outbound lead generation service I provided for one of my clients, Cipherpoint, an IT security software company.

Here is what we see in DealFront, which this client used to perform outbound lead generation — all the companies that visited Cipherpoint’s website during the selected period. I created several custom feeds according to our target personas:

The main feed is called «Latest HQ enterprise leads». We are looking at enterprise clients with a minimum of 201 employees (seats) with high quality contact data; those who visited the website for more than several seconds and did not go into the «Investor relations» section (this company is public, listed on ASX and investors are not our target audience). Additionally, several other feeds break down this generic one by geography: APAC, Benelux and France, DACH, and others. This allows our sales team members to navigate quickly between target regions. While we chose companies to follow up purely based on their website activity, there are strategies for segmenting outreach on a larger scale. Various criteria for segmenting include industry, company size, and geographical location. Using this data from DealFront or a similar tool, one can identify and prioritize segments most likely to convert.

Let’s take one of the companies from the previous screenshot to see what DealFront offers:

DealFront gives us sufficient company information, such as location, website URL, industry, and size. The activity tab demonstrates all the visits from this company to our website, including source, medium, and visited pages, as well as the time spent on them. This information gives us an insight into the prospect’s interests, which can correspond to the visited pages. This solution answers the question I have listed above: «How do we focus the outbound lead generation services on the prospects that are actively looking for our product?» Based on the visited pages and time spent on them, you can make assumptions about the level of interest from this particular prospect and reach out only to those who demonstrate high engagement.

Search for the appropriate point of contact

DealFront allows users to search for the appropriate contact by role. In the case of Cipherpoint our target persona is an IT security analyst, manager, or CISO. DealFront parses information from LinkedIn and several other sources, including job titles, which allows us to filter employees and find the most relevant ones. The picture above demonstrates five relevant employees that DealFront found. It is better to check their LinkedIn profiles to ensure they still work for the prospected company. The icon near the name highlights the email that DealFront collects from various sources.

Personalized cold email template to an outbound lead

We have developed a unique email template to initiate communication. It allows us to maximize open and reply rates while minimizing resources.

Subject: «Looking for the relevant contacts at %company_name% in regards to SharePoint security»

«SharePoint security» can be changed to «data classification» or any other product or service the prospect looked at during the website journey.

Text: Hello, Mr./Ms. %last_name%,

I have noticed you are %job_title% at %company_name% on LinkedIn.

Recently we have detected a high level of interest in the attached white paper from %company_name%; I have seen several of your employees reviewing information regarding our SharePoint security best practices.

I’ve searched LinkedIn and found no person who might be directly responsible for these areas in %company_name%. Can I ask if you have any thoughts about whom I can contact regarding this topic?

We have deep experience assisting companies by helping them find, classify, and protect their most sensitive information, subject to any compliance regulation. Alternatively, I’d be delighted to discuss this with you on a call at your earliest convenience.

Please let me know if you could help me find the right contact. Thank you for reading the message.

It is possible to make this template even better by adding a more customized approach to the prospect. You can check the prospect’s social media or google him to look for any content written by the prospect. Quoting part of this content or providing your opinion could also help to engage and get a reply.

DealFront shows that after sending these messages, users regularly interact with our website:

The more emails we send, the more visits we have. Not only the visits but also the meaningful responses come to our mailbox:

This response fits the expected outcome—it gives us more information about where to look for the relevant people as a next step. Additionally, contacting the next person in the company is easier because the colleague referred the contact.

2024 Update: Using AI to create a customized cold email template

With the recent rise of chatGPT, Google Bard, and other LLMs, drafting an email template became more effortless than ever using advanced prompt engineering. For example, using prompts like: 

“Analyze this LinkedIn profile – {link}. This profile belongs to a lead interested in Cipherpoint’s CP Protect. He downloaded the SharePoint security whitepaper from the Cipherpoint website. This whitepaper is attached for your analysis. Write a three- or four-paragraph follow-up email to him in English. He asked me if Ciprherpoint can protect his on-premise SharePoint server with 100Tb of unstructured personal data. Answer this in the follow-up. Also, try to add a personable element based on his LinkedIn profile and my LinkedIn profile {link}, or mention our shared skills, interests, or education. Introduce one or two “value-add” comments about why CP.Protect would benefit his organization, INFN {link to a website}. Mention that Cipherpoint is especially good at protecting data in physics laboratories because of its ability to deal with unstructured data. Use a professional language style and medium sentence length, and avoid the use of technical jargon.”

The output for this prompt may be a good start for email customization: 

Dear {name}, I hope this email finds you well. I couldn’t help but notice your expertise in SharePoint systems and other Microsoft collaboration technologies, as showcased on your LinkedIn profile. It’s impressive to see the amount of care you put into ensuring the effective operation of critical IT infrastructure – especially in a dynamic environment like {company name}. In response to your inquiry about Cipherpoint’s compatibility with your on-premise SharePoint server, CP.Protect is indeed a robust solution designed to meet the diverse needs of modern enterprises like {company name}. Our platform boasts comprehensive support for all SharePoint environments, ensuring your server operations remain ultra-secure and resilient.

Moreover, Cipherpoint integrates with dozens of data discovery and classification tools, offering centralized management across your unstructured data. One of the critical value-adds that Cipherpoint brings to the table is its unparalleled flexibility. Whether you’re dealing with complex SharePoint configurations or diverse IT environments, our modular architecture easily adapts to your unique requirements. This flexibility translates into tangible benefits for {company name}, empowering your IT teams to optimize resource utilization and harden security without compromising reliability. Furthermore, I believe Cipherpoint’s commitment to innovation aligns perfectly with {company name} forward-thinking strategy. With features like data deduplication, encryption, and compliance with NIST, Cipherpoint keeps your data protected and accessible at all times, enabling you to do your job confidently. Let’s schedule a Zoom call at your convenience to discuss how we can address your SharePoint security needs comprehensively.

I am looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate and support Unilever’s IT objectives. Warm regards, {name} {position}

I suggest creating content that resonates with different segments. This might involve varying the message, tone, and call-to-action based on what is known about the segment’s preferences and pain points.

Dynamic content in the email template may involve elements that change according to the recipient’s profile or previous interactions with the company’s website. In the above example we have {company name}, but we could customize based on the downloaded asset:

In response to your recent download of Cipherpoint’s SharePoint security whitepaper, CP.Protect is indeed a robust solution to mitigate all the mentioned risks. 

This technique allows marketers to create highly tailored follow-ups for each contact, potentially increasing the reply rate.

I also suggest A/B testing to improve the performance of your outreach campaigns. This involves experimenting with different versions of follow-ups to see which performs better with various segments. Not only can you refine the message text itself, but it is also crucial to experiment with the subject line because it frequently affects the open rate. During A/B testing it’s important to compare metrics such as open rate, click-through rate (CTR) to the website, and conversion rate into reply. These metrics indicate how engaging and effective different email versions are at motivating recipients to take action. Additionally, examining unsubscribe rates (your email should always include an unsubscribe link) provides insights into whether the content resonates negatively, prompting recipients to leave or ignore future communications.

As for the layout, when crafting an email that looks like a regular, non-designed email, keep the format simple and familiar. Stick to a single-column layout with no images or complex formatting to maintain the appearance of a typical, plain-text email that focuses purely on the message.

Conclusion

This method of outbound lead generation using cold emails is beneficial not only for B2B but also for enterprise software companies and SaaS. Tools like DealFront make locating relevant companies for outbound lead generation and finding their pertinent contacts relatively easy and fast. This is one of the hugest benefits of such an approach—it allows you to focus on accounts with a specific interest in your product, thus improving reply rates and overall lead generation efforts.

Andrei Iunisov

Andrei Iunisov is an independent lead generation and SEO expert with 15 years of worldwide experience. Since 2006 Andrei has been involved in digital marketing for the rapidly growing software company Parallels in the USA. In 2009 he co-founded one of the first Google-certified web analytics agencies in CIS. His client list included many well-known technology companies in the region. In 2014 the business was sold to the hugest independent digital marketing group in Russia - iConText Group. Since 2016 Andrei has provided individual digital marketing services to various technology companies worldwide. His deep industry expertise allows to start generating leads immediately with a predicted cost-per-lead without time-consuming experiments and rapidly increases the SEO traffic with minimum budgets.

Clutch recognizes Andrei Iunisov as a digital marketing expert and industry leader.

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Best Practices of Outbound Lead Generation for B2B SaaS Using Cold Emails – 2024 Update Contents1 What is outbound lead generation?2 The main challenge of outbound lead generation for B2B SaaS3 Case study for B2B SaaS using cold email4 2024 Update: Using AI to create a customized cold email template5 Conclusion What is outbound lead generation? Lead generation can be inbound and outbound. Inbound online lead generation attracts potential customers...
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