What is Outbound Email?

Kristin Crabb
By Kristin Crabb

When it comes to digital marketing, most companies utilize a combination of inbound and outbound strategies. The former focuses on getting customers to come to you, while the latter requires you to reach out directly to your potential customers. For example, the infamous cold call is a form of outbound marketing that many companies still rely on heavily. Typically, inbound marketing leads are more profitable and effective but that hasn’t stopped some organizations from spending as much as 90% of their budget on outbound marketing campaigns. So what keeps them coming back to this method?

Well, to start, outbound marketing has been around for a while and is the “tried and true” method for a lot of sales people.

The key to getting a lot out of your outbound marketing efforts is to focus on developing a targeted strategy.

Consumers today have the ability to be more selective when choosing the brands and organizations they choose to purchase from so as a result, you have to be more concise when telling them why you are the right choice. Outbound marketing gives you the opportunity to do that. You can provide solutions for your consumers before they even ask for help.

One very effective way to marketing to your audience is via email. Email marketing is the strategy of sending emails to prospects and customers and, when done effectively, it converts prospects into customers, turns one-time buyers into loyal fans, and has a huge impact on your business.

Inbound vs. Outbound Email Marketing

A lot of people mistakenly think that email marketing can only be defined as an outbound marketing tactic. While outbound is the most common category that email marketing falls into, it can also be an inbound initiative. One of the primary ways inbound email marketing differs from outbound email marketing is having contacts who have opted-in to receive your emails. For example, an inbound marketing email may be a newsletter sent to those customers or prospects who have signed up to receive the content. Recipients of inbound marketing emails will also have the ability to make changes to their subscriptions, or opt-out of the inbound campaign. Outbound email marketing, on the other hand, may be sent to those individuals who have not signed up to receive it and they may not have even interacted with your company previously. This type of email, unfortunately, has a negative connotation associated with it but should not be overlooked.

The most successful outbound email marketing campaigns will use many of the same strategies that are successful for inbound marketing emails.

Do not be mistaken, outbound email marketing is still a vital tool you can use to grow your business.

 The Importance of Outbound Email 

Despite the continuing right of social media, email remains the most effective way for many marketing teams to nurture leads and turn them into a customer. However, because unsolicited spam email is now crowding many consumer inboxes and those same consumers are accustomed to being constantly accosted by advertisements, it is important for your emails to stand out amongst the crowd. Three of the most important reasons to increase the effectiveness of your outbound email marketing campaigns include:

  • Email is still the king of communication.  At least 91% of consumers check their email inbox on a daily basis, the highest engagement of any communication channel currently available to consumers.
  • You have control over your list.  When it comes to email lists, no one can take those leads from you which is unlike the volatility of many social media platforms. On external platforms, your account could be compromised at any time, including suspension or deletion, and the list of your fans and connections on those platforms would be lost.
  • It converts.  Those consumers who purchase products marketed through email spend an average of 138% more than those who do not receive email offers. In fact, email marketing can have an ROI of around 3800% – likely due to the low investment needed to create outbound emails. To put this in perspective, the average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media.

Simply put, email is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to make sales online.

The low financial commitment can result in huge payoffs with your customers, but it is still important to be strategic about how you use and compose your emails.

Outbound Email Methods 

There are a number of strategies and methods you can use to create effective outbound email marketing campaigns. You may choose to use a singular method or combine strategies to create a more robust outbound email campaign, but whatever you choose it is important to understand how each works.

Multi-Touch Sequences & Automation

Chances are you will have to send multiple outreach emails to a single contact before you get even one response. Stopping short in this process could leave potential business, and money, on the table. So developing a multi-touch sequence for your outbound email campaigns can add a lot of value. When reaching out manually, many reps will give up contact after only two to three unsuccessful emails. This is why automating the process can make a huge difference and ensures every potential client gets the same number of touchpoints before throwing in the towel. The “perfect” number of emails and touchpoints will vary by industry and individual, but many marketers see increased response rates after the third outreach.

Cadences

A cadence is focused on mastering the frequency of your touchpoints with a prospect. The key here is to balance out how often you are reaching out to a single client so that you do not become a nuisance to them. If you have a more traditional sales cycle that is around 90 days, your cadence might look something like this:

Keep in mind that it might not make sense for you to include phone calls in your cadence and that each email should be different than all the others being sent to this prospect. And as soon as your prospect responds to the cadence, positive or negative, they should be immediately removed. Maintaining persistence and frequency early on can pay off, but patience will win in the long run because outbound email marketing is not a short game.

Calls to Action

Every outbound marketing email should have a single call to action, or CTA, which tells the prospect exactly what you are looking for them to do. In most cases of outbound email, that action is simply a reply to the email. However, you might also prompt your prospect to sign up for a newsletter, subscribe to your blog, or follow you on social media. The choice is yours, just make sure that the ask logically leads to your ultimate conversion whatever that may be.

Real Companies Using Outbound Email Tactics 

Nearly every single company uses outbound email tactics to engage with their customer base. Whether you are business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C), you can find numerous examples of outbound marketing emails that have been successful for others.

Uber

The ride-sharing company frequently emails their users to entice them to re-engage with the app, especially with the recent increase in competition, and they do so with many types of emails include those that highlight new features on the app. For example, when Uber announced their ability to integrate with a user’s calendar, they used an email. The email, as seen below, was simple and concise with a clear CTA inviting users to “sync now.”

HireVue

At first glance, it might seem like bad practice to have automated unsubscribe emails but purging your email lists of those who don’t actually open your content is actually a smart way to maintain, or improve, the deliverability of your emails overall. However, doing so can be awkward unless you take a page out of HireVue’s book. The video interviewing software company uses guilt-free messaging and funny header images to keep things light while still giving the reader a chance to re-engage with their content.

TheSkimm

It’s no surprise that this email newsletter has excellent outbound email campaigns to keep their readers engaged. Automated emails triggered by milestones like birthdays or subscription anniversaries, recognize a subscriber for his or her special moments and don’t require the reader to input any extra data after the initial sign-up. Plus, emails like the anniversary one below, take advantage of asking the subscriber if she’d like to become a loyal Skimm’bassador by sharing the newsletter with ten friends, a unique way to increase word-of-mouth recommendations.

As you can see, there are lots of different ways to approach outbound email marketing and each can be incredibly successful.

The key is to evaluate your business model and the goals of your campaign in order to determine the best strategy for your company.

As long as you don’t overlook outbound email, you have a chance at an effective campaign.

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Kristin is a Content Coordinator at Power Digital. She was born and raised in San Diego but headed down south to attend the University of Alabama. With a degree in Communications and Advertising, she enjoys creating valuable and engaging SEO focused content to drive traffic and boost rankings for her clients. Roll Tide!