Oct 23, 2000
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Exactis, a division of 24/7 Media, is an email service provider, sending close to 20 million messages a day on behalf of clients. Like most vendors, the company's business development team requires a steady stream of highly qualified sales leads to grow the business. Greg Scheider, SVP Marketing & Business Development told us about the direct mail campaign he's developed to feed
Schneider's top prospects were marketers with big
budgets who were ready to make a change, "Very good targets
are people who've been doing the email in-house and are having problems with scale. They've realized some of the challenges and they're ready to outsource to a solution provider." Few (if any) opt-in email lists are targeted this closely now, but luckily Schneider was able to find some great snail mail lists, so he created a direct mail campaign.
The package -- a white #10 (business-sized) envelope with a
one page letter, buck slip and two-color reply card -- was
very simple and plain compared to others typically seen in
this marketplace. Schneider explains the creative decision,
"Our experience is that this business audience are pretty
savvy marketers, and they toss promotional mail. We didn't
want ours to get lost in the clutter of all these flashy
direct mail pieces. I get a ton and most go right in the
trashcan. This package was also designed to promote a
professional image in our communication."
About a month after the first package dropped, Schneider sent
another, very similar-looking one, to the same lists. He
says, "The second letter was slightly different, it said 'If
you're not interested maybe you have a colleague who is.' It
was designed for pass-along." Both packages offered a free
report, "e-Precision: a Guide to Next Generation Permission-
Based Email Marketing methods." Recipients could reply by
mail or go to a Web site.
Next the business development team took over, converting these
prospects to buyers. Schneider says, "The sales cycle can be
4-5 months on average. It's all about talking to marketing
people. They're the ones who initiate the search for email
service bureau partners. As we get deeper into it the sales
guy will pull in a sales engineer to talk to their tech
people. Sometimes they'll even come out here and inspect our
facilities. But usually on the client side there's more than
one person involved in making the decision. It's a team of
people involved in the process and the key decision maker is a
high level marketer."
Schneider first dropped this two-step campaign in
the Fall of '99 and it was so successful he did it again in
Late Spring of 2000. Both times it generated about a 7% total
response rate. The first step was responsible for 4-5%, the
second for an additional 2-3%. About 1/3 of respondents used
the Web site instead of snail mailing back the BRC (business
reply card.) Schneider noted this percentage has definitely
grown over time.
Exactis' sales team has already converted five of the
prospects generated this year into new clients. An additional
five-ten prospects are still in the sales cycle and may become
COST: The entire campaign this year cost about $1.30 per
piece. This includes creative, postage and printing. About
$10k of this total cost was for creation and fulfillment of
the premium white paper.
NOTES: In addition to direct mail, Schneider also runs print
ads, some online ads and has had an aggressive speaking
schedule at trade shows. He says, "We did about 20 speaking
opportunities in the first six months of the year. Some
generated 50 to 60-plus leads. So it's extremely successful."