Rich content and the right ICP – how to drive results with cold outreach

In recent conversations with SDR (Sales Development Representative) leaders, here’s what I’m hearing:

1. For most, SDR email outreach isn’t working at all. GenAI tools, leading to a proliferation of cold emails, and the new Google email limitations, are turning the ICP inbox into an impossible battleground.

2. Email isn’t working, but calls sometimes do. For some of you, sophisticated auto-dialers and other cold call tactics are still getting you live calls and actual Sales Opportunities.

3. For a small minority, SDR outreach is working well. In fact, they’re doubling down on it. 💥

We’ve written before about how SDRs are a mixed-bag in B2B marketing. Hiring folks who are going to spend their time emailing and cold-calling prospective customers can be efficient and cost-effective when done right, but there’s a reason we’ve seen such a small minority of leaders report highly successful SDR outreach

So how do you get to the 💥 point of achieving such high ROI on SDR outreach, that you increase your investment in the channel? Good news – it’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s by using the same principles you should be applying to all your marketing efforts: focus on locking down the right ICP and creating rich, engaging content.

How to know if your cold calls and emails will deliver results

We’ve identified two key factors that determine whether your SDR outreach will succeed in 2024

⭐ 1 – You target an ICP that’s not overwhelmed by cold outreach. See our previous post on how a unique ICP can offer superpowers.

⭐ 2 – You produce extremely high-quality, targeted content that, surprisingly, is not personalized – and is crafted by the marketing team, rather than the SDR team. For some tried and true tips for crafting effective content, check out our crash course, and our posts on upcycling your existing content and where to find your next great content idea (spoiler: you don’t have to look far).

For an example of this type of high-quality content, we turn to Blue Seedling’s newsletter, heralded as “consistently the best content in my inbox,” and serving as an effective demand gen channel for us. I recently had a call with a startup CEO who responded to our last send. He told me:

“I get 800 cold emails a week… but something made me reply to yours.”

When your content is really good (relevant, timely, educational, non-salesy) – it works.

How to tell what stage your SDR outreach is at – and how to get to where you want to be

If we take those two factors above (ICP and Content) and imagine them as dimensions of a matrix, we can visualize exactly that sweet spot you want to be in for effective cold outreach. And if you aren’t there yet, here’s what your current position may mean for your SDR efforts:

Common ICP & Meh content: ❗ Stop email outreach until you upgrade your content. Explore phone calls or other channels in the meantime.

Common ICP & Stellar content: Keep at it but diversify your distribution (via LinkedIn, your website, content syndication). Outstanding content wins and will get you leads, even if not directly through email or SDR outreach. (This is where Blue Seedling is at.)

Unique ICP & Meh content: This might work for now, but be wary. As competition heats up, their superior content will eat your (email outreach) lunch.

Unique ICP & Stellar content: You’ve hit the jackpot 🚀. With this combo, email outreach can deliver the holy grail of massive and sustainable growth.

The bottom line

In 2024, your SDR outreach success hinges on the intersection of your ICP’s uniqueness and the quality of your content. Analyze where you are, what you want to change, and set goals accordingly – including terminating SDR efforts altogether. It’s still possible to win with SDR outreach in 2024. It’s just harder, and requires excellent content.

Further reading

Netta is the founder and CEO of Blue Seedling. She loves third wave coffee, thin crust pizza, and B2B marketing.

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