What do you do when your company makes a complete about face on services offered?
Forrester Research B.V. (the European arm of the US research company), had been telling their marketplace very firmly for five years that they absolutely did not offer consulting services. "The audience had it drilled into them that Forrester only wrote syndicated research," notes European Direct & Web Marketing Manager Claire I. Powell.
Then in February 2003, the word came down from above. HQ had decreed they'd be offering consulting services after all.
It was marketing's job both to re-educate the marketplace and to generate solid leads for sales to land $50,000-average consulting accounts from. CAMPAIGN
The marketing team decided to test two very different tactics -- a traditional direct postal mail campaign and Forrester's very first paid search campaign. -> Test A: Traditional DM campaign
Powell's team put everything they knew from prior experience about direct postal mail to high-level European executives into action. The campaign was dimensional (a package rather than a letter), mailed in three parts over five months, and extremely personalized. Due to costs (about 10 Euros per recipient) they decided to stick with Forrester's current research client list, rather than testing outside contacts.
First in June 2003, each customer was sent a white box containing an elegant executive memo-pad holder along with a 50-sheet memo pad with their own name printed in the corner of each sheet. (Link to sample below.) Every fifth sheet contained a different printed note about Forrester's new consulting services.
"My DM agency advised to do less, one every ten pages," admits Powell. "I said no. I think 10 messages per 50-pack is reasonable. Any more would be overkill. We need to get the message across - I don't think five in a pack would have been strong enough to hit home.
"They have a quick look at it and throw it away to move on to the next sheet."
The team copywrote the messages to be able to stand alone, but also tell a progressively detailed story. (Link to sample copy below.) "There's a lot of stuff to say. We now do consulting; these are the types of engagements we've done; these are the industries we're consulting in; etc."
Aside from the holder and personalized pad, the package also included a polite letter from Forrester's Managing Director and a fax-back form to request a phone call or related Case Studies. The form was helpfully pre-filled out with the recipient's name and company. All the recipient had to do was fill in their preferred phone line (if requesting a call), initial, and fax back.
Although a US marketer would have been tempted to send a follow-up campaign within 30-60 days, Powell held back until mid-September when she was sure that prospects had returned from their summer vacations. "Europeans generally take longer holidays and we wouldn't want to be at the bottom of a big pile of letters and boxes when they come back."
Her two follow-up mailings in September and October both consisted of a fresh pack of personalized, 50-sheet, memo paper, a letter, and fax-back form.
Because the goal of the campaign was both to raise awareness and generate leads, Powell didn't want to rely solely on faxed responses to track its success. Therefore she invested in a quick awareness-tracking telephone survey, during the third week in December.
A temporary staffer called a list of 350-randomly selected executives who'd been included in the mailing, making 7-10 attempts per name before ceasing. He reached a total of 59-executives. Powell notes, "I wouldn't advise any less than that [for reliable results]."
Each person was asked four questions:
o Do you remember the three mailings?
o Have you kept the memo pad on your desk?
o Are you aware that Forrester now offers consulting?
o Are you interested in using our consulting services? -> Test B: Paid search campaign
On September 19th, Forrester also launched a three-month test of paid search advertising via Google Western Europe and Google Benelux. (Note: yes, we know Benelux is part of Western Europe, but that's the way Google defines its regions.)
Powell's team tested hundreds of search terms, grouped into 30 specific campaigns. The offers ranged from research papers priced under US$1000, to free articles requiring registration, and consulting enquiry forms.
Results were monitored both on clicks per group, cost per group's click, and the estimated value of the resulting traffic.
As you may have guessed, the multi-part DM campaign was an outstanding success while the Google campaign was a disappointment for consulting services.
Powell says, "The target audience we were aiming for, for consulting services, were probably not the kind of people who go online to find consultants. For consulting at the end of the day it boils down to relationships. We're milking our current client base, working closely with them to solve their issues. Using keyword sponsorships for consulting is really not the way to go."
She adds, however, that the Google campaign was a moderate success for driving traffic to purchase specific reports, and they'll continue testing it for this in 2004.
More specific results data:
- 1.5% of recipients faxed back one of the reply forms, most from the first and second wave mailings. The majority requested sample case studies that related to their own industries. Powell was happily surprised at how very high-level these prospects were in their organizations.
- Survey results revealed the campaign had raised significant awareness of Forrester's new offering:
86% of respondents remembered getting the three mailings;
80% of these had kept the memo holder and pads on their desk;
51% of total respondents were consciously aware that Forrester now offered consulting;
14% of total respondents said they were interesting in using these consulting services.
Powell says triumphantly, "If you ever doubted the power if direct mail in the Internet age -- this is the moment to stop!"
- In general, Powell notes that fax-back forms work quite well in Europe. "France responds much better to fax-back than email; Germans are good at faxing; Italians are really into email at the moment; and, the UK are into a bit of both."
Please note: Powell asked us to remind you that she herself is *not* a Forrester analyst or researcher. "This is the marketing department and we have nothing to do with the research department." Useful links related to this article:
Photo of memo-pad, copy from pages & fax-back form: