Having a huge customer base is usually a marketer’s dream. But for Tracy Bramlet, Sr. Marketing Program Manager, Sterling Commerce, the company’s 30-year track record of providing secure file transfer infrastructure for the banking industry wasn’t much help in her efforts to market their newer application products.
“When we looked at our database to see who we always talk to, it was always the IT department and always the manager level or lower,” Bramlet says. “So now I have this quandary: I have an audience and a market that’s familiar with me, but their image of me is in a very niche area. And when I go inside those organizations and to progressively higher and higher individuals, our awareness is lower and lower.”
Bramlet needed to raise the awareness of their application products, but she couldn’t just target the typical IT department contacts -- she had to make an impact on the line-of-business managers who typically sign off on large enterprise application projects. CAMPAIGN
Bramlet and her team approached the situation by developing two campaigns. The first, at the end of 2006, combined direct mail and email with online media to raise awareness of the company’s high-end application products for the financial services industry. It used a microsite/white paper offer that was mailed to all appropriate contacts in their database to capture leads.
The second campaign, conducted in spring 2007, took a similar microsite/educational materials approach but segmented the same database according to IT or management job functions. They also tested different messages for the two different audiences. Here’s the process Bramlet followed:
-> Step #1. Filter customer and prospect database
Both campaigns were aimed at the financial services market, a sector in which Sterling had more than 800 customers. Bramlet’s team started by looking for customers and prospects within their database:
- For the first campaign, Bramlet filtered the database based on company size and revenues ($10 billion or more in assets or revenues of $500 million or higher). They added every contact name from those organizations to the campaign distribution list.
- The second campaign applied the same filter to Sterling’s customer and prospect database but then segmented the contact names based on three factors:
o IT contact
o Line-of-business contact (Managers, Directors of Compliance, Operations, Security, etc.)
o Unknown (assigned to the IT group, since the company’s typical contacts in the banking industry were technical staff)
Bramlet’s team supplemented the campaigns with rented email lists:
- The first included rented lists from sources with a primarily technical audience, such as Bank Technology News.
- The second added lists from sources whose demographics included higher-level and senior management contacts, such as American Banker and U.S. Banker.
-> Step #2. Postal mail package with incentive
Next, Bramlet’s team created microsites built around the key themes of both campaigns, requiring customers and prospects to register to access white papers, case studies and other resources designed to educate them about Sterling’s applications. Then, the team promoted the microsites through direct mail packages.
The first campaign was built around what Bramlet called an “intrigue message,” not intended to push a particular product or outline specific features and functionality, but to highlight the company’s application expertise. The tagline was, “Where you see walls, we see opportunities.”
The package was mailed in a white envelope and included a brochure, a book light and a letter that invited recipients to register on the microsite to access a white paper about B-to-B file transfer technology. It also offered a $25 American Express gift card for those who registered.
The second, segmented campaign used different messages for the IT and line-of-business audiences. Both messages focused on a common concern for industry executives -- the risk of security breaches -- but used language that reflected the different ways those two audiences perceive security risk:
- For the IT audience, the letter touched on a sense of urgency and personal responsibility for protecting a company from security breaches.
- For the line-of-business contacts, the letter highlighted big picture institutional concerns, such as the impact a breach has on a company’s finances and reputation.
The second package was sent in a transparent envelope with the headline, “It’s what you can’t see that can cost you” -- with the word “risk” partially obscured below. It included a brochure and a branded calculator, along with the letter inviting recipients to register on a different microsite and download a new white paper from an analyst group or watch an on-demand Webcast. In exchange, Bramlet’s team offered a $25 Amazon gift card.
-> Step #3. Email support
For both campaigns, Bramlet’s team sent email messages in conjunction with the postal mail packages.
In the first campaign, an email was sent 10 days after packages were delivered that repeated the offer to register for the white paper and get the $25 gift card. A second email was sent one week after that and reiterated the initial offer again.
In the second campaign, Bramlet’s team sent three emails, which were segmented according to IT or line-of-business contacts:
- The first email was sent to line-of-business contacts before the direct mail package and invited those recipients to attend the live webcast that was subsequently archived on the microsite.
- The second email went out to both IT and line-of-business contacts and included a newspaper article from the Denver Post about a local corporate security breach. Although the content of the email was the same for both audiences, Bramlet’s team used different subject lines.
o For IT contacts, the subject line read, “In the news now, FTP security breach”
o For line-of-business contacts, the subject line read, “Denver Post article I thought you’d like to see”
- The third email featured new analyst research.
-> Step #4. Telemarketing follow-up
Every person who registered at one of the microsites received a telemarketing follow-up call. But for registrants from the second campaign, the telemarketing team used different scripts depending on whether the contact came from the IT list or the line-of-business list:
- Conversations with IT contacts focused on technical issues and application performance and features.
- Conversations with line-of-business contacts focused on broader business issues surrounding financial data transfer applications and security risk.
The telephone interviews helped determine whether a prospect was ready to be passed along to the sales staff or whether the marketing team needed to follow up with another informational asset, such as a case study or a podcast.
Bramlet’s efforts to break through to key decision makers paid off, while segmenting the messages based on audience is having a big impact.
The first postal mail/email campaign delivered a 1.25% response rate for registrations at the microsite, which Bramlet calls “not bad, but not great.” Still, her team converted 42% of those leads to opportunities, beating the industry average of 33%.
However, in the second, segmented campaign, they saw a 5% response rate, and the lead-to-opportunity conversion rate was 52%. “Just looking at the marketing we were doing this time last year, it’s like night a day. What made the difference has been the fact that everything we do when we talk to the line-of-business audience is focused on line-of-business concerns -- reputation risk for the company and the bottom line. It’s the same thing with the IT audience.”
Segmenting the email messages according to audience and providing timelier, targeted information also worked. In the first campaign, Bramlet’s team typically saw 3%-5% open rates for follow-up emails. But the email featuring the news article about security risk in the second campaign achieved a 13% open rate among line-of-business contacts and a 14% open rate among IT contacts.
“When you position the message according to people’s interest, they respond in much higher numbers. The key is to keep it focused on what’s important to them.” Useful links related to this article
Creative samples from Sterling Commerce's campaigns: