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B2B Breakdown Series – Episode III

B2B outreach is often a strange hybrid of sales and networking. It’s an open secret that you’re reaching out to people to do business with them… but you’re also putting your best face forward. Indeed, your cold outreach will have your face attached, so it’s important to leverage that shared humanity.

In this episode of B2B Breakdown, we’re going to look at some outreach that was performed via LinkedIn automation tools. As you’ll see, it’s easy to look like a bot if you’re not careful. Here’s how to maintain that humanity in your prospecting — even if computers are sending your message.

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First Message

Review of Initial Outreach

I received a message from “John Doe, Director of Sales at SEOBlog.” This was a true cold message as I was not connected with him on LinkedIn. Moreover, the message is labeled as a Sales Navigator automated mail. This is not uncommon, but right off the bat, I notice a couple of problems.

First, the message addresses me as “Trish” — which is not my name. This is clearly an automation error, and it should serve as an important reminder to always test, test, test your systems! 

I can overlook the wrong name, but the initial subject line seems disconnected from my experience as well. It reads “Sponsorship Opportunity for Boston SEO Keyword.” I’m not sure what’s being pitched. Is this a paid search agency? Someone wanting me to pay them for sponsored content? Is someone offering to sponsor me to use Boston SEO services?

This, combined with the incorrect name, makes me wonder if I was even meant to receive this message. Was I mistargeted? Which part of my profile made me a prospect to SEOBlog?

The headline is also fairly dry; it doesn’t tie into my position or propose any sort of solution. If you use a subject line in your cold outreach, always try to make it actionable. Unlike email marketing, you don’t have to entice someone to open the message — that the job of your name and title. The subject line doesn’t have to be packed with keywords like a meta description. Keep it concise and compelling.

After a standard pleasant greeting, John immediately launches into his pitch. He lists the benefits and features for SEOblog.com, asks me to advertise with them or contribute content to their site, then concludes by asking me to schedule a call with his team.

There are a couple of problems here. First, the pitch is too abrupt. No foundation has been laid. This is like someone offering me all the toppings for a sundae without finding out what flavor of ice cream I’d like. I’m already wondered why I’ve been targeted; now I’m being asked to do business with SEOBlog. 

The message is essentially a huge ask: it’s requesting my time, energy, and money, but I’m not sure what problem I have that John is trying to solve. He’s telling me how amazing SEOBlog is, even comparing it to its competitors. The issue is, I don’t know what SEOBlog could do for me in the first place. 

Ideally, your B2B outreach starts by establishing a connection. Just like getting to know someone on a date, you ask about their interests and start figuring out a possible collaboration. You speak to their pain points, just as you would in B2C marketing.

John’s message was the equivalent of a proposal on the first date. Perhaps I was incorrectly messaged, and I am simply missing a lot of context for this pitch. But even then, every first message should lay a solid foundation for future discussions. This message dives straight into a hard sell. 

John finishes his message by attaching a screenshot proving that SEOBlog ranks #1 for “Boston SEO Firms.” This is the best part of the message because it’s clear proof rather than fluffy claims. But overall, the message is dry and generic. It’s very obviously a mass email, and those errors in their automation don’t exactly instill confidence.

Still, let’s move on to John’s profile. 

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John’s LinkedIn

Review of LinkedIn Profile

John’s profile is a decent example of an optimized LinkedIn profile. His profile picture is clear with a nice white background, and it’s easy to see who he is and where he works. John has even taken the time to customize his URL to ‘linkedin.com/in/johndoefromrockville/’. This is a good tip if you have a common name. You should always customize your profile URL, but adding your location is great — especially if your name alone might not help people find you. 

Unfortunately, the rest of the profile doesn’t have a lot of content that would indicate why I should work with him. His “About” section is in the form of a short letter signed with his name, which is a good tactic, but the content itself doesn’t seem like he’s writing to anyone. Like his outreach message, it skips any personal details or proposed solutions and instead focuses on repeating the company line.

The About section comprises two short paragraphs, each of which is a business description (first for SEOBlog, then for a different enterprise called Rize). I better understand what SEOBlog does now, but there’s just not enough humanity in this About section.

When crafting your About section, imagine that you’re introducing yourself at a networking event — because you basically are. You wouldn’t approach someone and just start talking about your company. You would talk about what you do at that company and why getting to know you is a good idea.

In short, always think about the ways your About section can bridge the gap between you and a prospect. You want to come across as a friendly guide — not a bot.

This brings me to my final point about John Doe. He has quite a few followers — more than 1,300— yet no recent activity for the past 90 days. He doesn’t appear to be very active on LinkedIn, which tells me that this profile is being used for Sales Navigator and not much else. If you’re doing B2B outreach via LinkedIn, spend some time on the network itself, even it’s just liking and commenting on other people’s posts. It shows that you’re a real person interested in forging connections. 

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SEOBlog’s Profile

Review of LinkedIn Company Page

I’m still curious about SEOBlog offers and why I may benefit from them. It isn’t until I get to their official company page that I understand more about what the company is. According to their headline, it has “all the latest SEO news and information in one place, so you can create quality content to succeed.”

Now, I have more clues, but John’s message is a bit more confusing. What solution was he trying to offer me? If the site is devoted to educational content, what is the sales opportunity? He did mention an option for guest posts, which makes sense. 

What we can learn here is that your company page should match any and all outreach messages you send. No matter whom you’re prospecting and what for, they should all have a consistent experience when they visit your company profile. For SEOBlog, it seemed like the opposite: the cold message was a bit of a “kitchen-sink” pitch with all sorts of options for me, but the page is focused on the educational content. Even their recent posts are mostly links to recent blogs.

That said, SEOBlog has a nice company profile. Their visual assets are consistent and compelling, and while small, they clearly have a physical presence with real employees. So, let’s head on over to their website to learn more.

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SEOBlog’s Website

Review of Website

The SEOBlog website is great: above the gold, there are two big, bold CTAs with clean, concise copy. The dual CTA matches two clear user intents: “Discover” SEO tips or “Grow” your SEO company. There is clear value being offered, and now I can begin to see why working with this company might be beneficial.

The overall design is optimized for conversion, with a vivid, engaging UX and understandable copy. They make great use of large images, white space, and highly legible fonts. Scrolling down, I see the company’s three-point value proposition: a blog, an SEO directory, and agency listings. This is the one-stop-shop for 

And now I understand why I was being targeted: SEOBlog doesn’t just publish SEO tips. They help people find SEO companies as well, so I can see there is a benefit to advertising with them. 

What the website does well is that it speaks immediately to its audience’s needs? Want to learn about SEO? Need SEO services? Eager to promote your business? No problem — just click on the appropriate button. Even though the copy is sparse, the value is clear. I feel like they understand my needs. And that’s what the cold outreach message was lacking. 

Wrapping Up

John Doe did a lot of things right. His profile picture and headline were clearly identifiable, and he was able to direct me to a company that could provide me some value. However, the message itself was a bit too “catch-all” and generic. Combined with John’s sparse profile, it just felt like a bot was reaching out to me. I had to venture out on my own to see what SEOBlog could do for me.

Remember, B2B outreach is much more than promoting your offering. You’re building a valuable conversation that forms the groundwork for effective selling. On LinkedIn especially, your face is being attached to every single pitch. In fact, that human connection is what nurtures your prospects. So, make sure you keep things relatable!

We get it. It can be hard to read a long article like this, retain all the information, and then apply it to your business. If you find yourself in this situation, click here to hop on a call with us. We’ll be able to talk about the details of your business and give you some advice on where to take your content and more.

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