Hey there Lead Engineers!
One of the most common questions I get from new and expert email marketers alike is "How should my inbound and outbound marketing systems be connected? Should they be integrated or separate?"
I've set up a lot of outbound marketing systems in my time and I can tell you the best way for me and most of my clients is to keep them almost totally seperate.
First, let's talk about the difference between inbound and outbound - then I can dive into how these systems should be seperated while still working together like a well oiled machine.
Inbound sales and marketing refers to any sales and marketing activity that is initiated by an action from the prospect. Things like signing up for your site after reading a blog article, people calling you directly after looking at your site, and email lists to subscribers all count as inbound marketing - they are marketing actions that were initiated by something your prospect did.
Outbound marketing is initiated by the seller. When you cold call or cold email someone, that's outbound marketing.
And while most people think of these systems as being seperate they are usually very much intertwined. It's fairly common for outbound marketing to identify ideal prospects and redirect them to effective inbound systems - for example you might email a cold lead a super-relevant and high converting blog article with the goal of getting them to sign up for your free trial. Then they'd start getting your inbound marketing emails and advertisements.
Because inbound marketing is initiated by something your customer does, you don't need a direct integration that tells your inbound system when your outbound system has generated a lead. Your outbound system doesn't have to tell your CRM that a customer has signed up because that should be happening already as part of your inbound marketing. The same is true if they book a time to talk through your scheduling link or any other inbound action.
That being said, once a prospect signs up and enters your inbound system, they should be removed from your cold outreach - but that's easy enough to do with a zap so I won't go into it too much here.
Generally speaking, leads should flow through your marketing systems from coldest to warmest. This is somewhat intuitive - if someone is already using your product you don't want to send them a cold email and if someone is already a paying customer you don't want to offer them a free trial. In my experience, the best way to do this is to keep the systems totally seperate - there's a few reasons for this but the big one is that mixing warm and cold leads is going to lead to more headaches than it's worth.
Here's how I have things set up at Lead Engines.
Outbound Data Sourcing (Lead Engines):
This is where it all begins. The first step in outbound marketing is building an effective lead list and then adding it to your cold outreach campaigns.
Outbound Campaigns (Reply, Lemlist, Wavo, Mailshake, Woodpecker, etc):
Outbound data should flow into your campaigns. You want your outbound campaigns to handle everything from the first outreach to the first warm response from a customer. Some cold outreach systems such as Lemlist and Reply are also designed to help you track customers who reply with questions but don't commit to a trial, meeting, phone call etc. Lead Engines integrates with every tool in this class because it's designed to push fresh outbound data into your outbound campaigns.
CRM for warm leads (Pipedrive, hubspot, zoho):
You want to keep your warm leads in a dedicated CRM. If you don't have a CRM already I can't possibly recommend one enough. Most B2B services have a customer LTV of at least several thousand dollars and you can get a CRM for $30/month or less which means it'll pay for itsef if it helps close even one deal. I use Pipedrive which starts at only $18/month and I keep all of my warm leads in it (and none of my totally cold leads). Most of the tools that are specifically geared for outbound campaigns will have integrations with CRM's because they want you to move your warm leads out of the cold outbound system and into your CRM.
Inbound marketing automation (Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Aweber, GoHighLevel):
Inbound marketing automation systems are designed for converting warm leads into paying customers. They typically have native integrations with CRMs from #3 to make it easy to add new warm leads to your inbound marketing campaigns.
So, how much lead data should be in each system?
Lead Engines has millions of businesses and hundreds of millions of decision makers in our databases. You can search for the exact leads you want and export them directly to your cold outreach campaigns. Since you probably aren't marketing to every single person on earth, there will be a lot of data in Lead Engines that you don't want - so don't add leads you don't want to your cold outreach campaigns!
Your Cold outreach campaigns could contain the entirety of your total addressable market. If there were 1000 businesses you could potentially sell to with several decision makers at each company that might be interested, you could have thousands of leads in your cold outreach system. If you can target a larger TAM than that it could end up being tens or even hundreds of thousands.
Your CRM should only contain leads that have shown an interest in your product. Most of the time this will be the people in your cold outreach campaigns who responded or otherwise expressed an interest in your product or service in addition to people who signed up through your content marketing, social media marketing, referrals, etc. This is where it all comes together and you don't want your sales team who is trying to work this CRM to waste their time on cold leads that shouldn't be in it.
Your inbound campaigns should have just as many people as are in your CRM unless you have a solid reason not to market to them (you have disqualified them for whatever reason).
It should look like a funnel with each next step containing fewer leads - but if you set up your system like this you can clearly see how you would be able to
- Identify all of the prospects in your total addressable market
- Reach out to them
- Track all of the leads who have expressed interest and
- Continue to market to them until you eventually close a deal!
The best part is that if you do this correctly it can be totally automated. Lead Engines can upload new leads to your cold outreach campaigns every day that encourage people to book a meeting on your calendar or signup for a free trial on your site. Then you can automatically begin marketing to anyone who makes their way into your CRM. The trick is to remember the 4 pieces of the funnel and focus on pushing your leads through them!