by Andrea Johnson
SCI Solutions serves 10,000 physician practices and 700 hospitals, health systems and imaging centers in 275 geographic markets across the United States. Provider networks utilize SCI’s service to coordinate patient care transitions, obtain insurance pre-authorization, schedule patients, automate referrals and manage orders.
The company’s decision-making prospects include CIOs, CTOs, CFOs and anyone in an executive role related to finance. Anyone who is directly involved in patient access and revenue cycles, including marketing and business development, influences this decision-making process.
In 1999, SCI became one of the healthcare industry’s first SaaS-based technology providers. But since that time, the marketplace has become very crowded with technology and services that "are basically saying the same thing," Jamie Gier, Chief Marketing Officer, SCI, said. "The market is dominated by a handful of technology vendors that tend to garner most of the share in conversation."
Because SCI is a smaller company, it needed a way to break through that noise. It was obvious to the marketing team that the messaging about the product was not reaching the people who could use it most: patient access managers and hospital CFOs, in addition to patients, many who were relying on handwritten doctors’ instructions to get the specialist services they needed.
Essentially, SCI wasn’t connecting with those who might recognize and embrace a solution that could resolve many of inefficiencies hamstringing health care systems.
The team decided to reach out to their audience directly through lead nurturing — highly targeted, consistent, sequenced and measurable communication. They had a large database to market to, but it wasn’t segmented in a way that allowed them to communicate effectively. So the decision was made to break the database up into personas (a representation of the goals and behaviors of a group of customers and prospects).
Once the database was segmented, the team realized they had to:
- Develop content for each persona at each stage in the sales cycle
- Apply scores to how prospects respond to that content and use those scores to identify where prospects are in the sales process (this is, in essence, lead scoring)
- Identify what score prospects needed to achieve to become a marketing qualified lead, and sent to Sales for follow-up
- Analyze how effectively these messages were in engaging prospects
SCI didn’t want prospects to receive any message or content unless it was completely relevant. Furthermore, it only wanted a sales professional to contact a prospect when they are legitimately interested and ready for a conversation about improving the inefficiencies in their healthcare organization.
Step #1. Analyze and segment the database
Marketing and Sales worked together to agree on what score a prospect would have to achieve based on how they engaged with content, such as downloading a white paper or attending a webinar.
"What this ended up doing was giving Marketing some credibility around the leads that we were handing off and the sales team buying into more of those leads that were coming their way," Gier said. "We knew the buyer had shown some kind of behavior that indicated a high degree of interest around what we have to offer."
She noted that success depends on a high level of cooperation between Sales and Marketing. They needed to determine how to most effectively set up communication with Sales within the Customer Relationship Management system and receive feedback from them. This required understanding what they liked and didn’t like, and then clarifying that.
The team segmented their database into five primary decision-maker personas including CIOs, CTOs and CFOs. This became one of the overarching lists. Two other lists included people who influenced the purchasing decision and those who they simply wanted to engage.
Step #2. Outline the buyer’s journey and content for each stage of it
The team developed a matrix that followed each persona along the buyer’s journey, from awareness to consideration to decision. From there, they could determine which assets they needed for each stage of the buying cycle.
Considering all of the ways prospects could interact with marketing promotions and content, the team applied lead scores
to potential prospect activities. This includes email interactions, webinar registration, form completions, tradeshow attendance, email forward, video watches and more.
They rated each activity and applied it to an overall lead score.
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They developed a behavioral marketing model that allowed them to read the digital body language of prospects and respond appropriately. In every piece of content, however, prospects were allowed to immediately contact Sales with any inquiry.
The marketing automation system would notify Sales of an inferred hot lead and assign Sales warm leads they could use for prospecting.
Step #3. Execute lead-nurturing content campaigns based on each persona
In order to nurture each persona based on their movement through the sales funnel, the team started out by sending a very simple graphic to those on their CFO list who had responded to a survey and a report. (This graphic had initially been sent to influencer and unknown personas, but they noticed executives forwarding the graphic. So they decided to send it to their CFO list.)
Next, SCI sent a webinar conducted with an industry publisher. It featured customers and the CEO of SCI. The company defined the problem in the context of what prospects' bosses cared about, and then provided information — that just happened to mention them — that could help solve the problem. The team followed that up with some entry-level case studies. If someone clicked through to read it, they were placed on a path toward requesting a demo. They also received information every two or three days, and received more enriching content every week.
If they didn’t click through to read, the customers would continue to receive more case studies. The team continually monitored which content was most engaging and adjusted what was being sent out accordingly.
"My intuition would have said that a CFO would not be interested in a highly simplified infographic," Gier said. "We thought that would be more influential with influencers, but found that, in the end, (CFOs) were opening the content a lot and sharing it."
The team also updated their Service Level Agreement with the Sales team as needed.
"We are in the process of revising the Service Level Agreement … we have some new sales leaders in. As part of the learning and adjusting, we’re going back through and understanding what we’ve learned and making modifications to that," Gier said.
Before establishing lead nurturing and scoring, SCI didn’t have insight into what was working for its marketing programs. Now it can see specifically how a prospect engaged, the steps they took that advanced them through the sales process and the content that interested them most.
"Targeting your audience is absolutely critical to building a sustainable (sales) pipeline and getting leads moved through," Gier said. "We didn’t have that. We had a lot of constipation at different points and I think it was because we were not deliberate in the way we were engaging."
Now, the SCI marketing team is far more confident that they’re reaching the right people, and that they’re delivering the quality leads sales expects.
As a result, in the fifth month of deployment, the team:
- Exceeded the 2015 MQL target by 31%
- Exceeded the 2015 nurturing database target by 151%
- Achieved 35% growth in opportunities attributed to electronic marketing programs
- Reduced billable database record by 17% (Most marketing automation systems bill by the number of people in the database. By segmenting and analyzing the database, they’ve been able to reduce the number of records and, consequently, reduce charges.)
- Lead Scoring Example
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— At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, February 22-24Email Marketing: 133% ROI for B2B's first-ever lead nurturing programLead Nurturing: You could be losing as much as 80% of your sales; here’s how you keep them
[From the MarketingSherpa blog]Lead Scoring: How to pick the right ingredients for high ROI
[From the B2B Lead Roundtable blog]Email Marketing: The importance of lead nurturing in the complex B2B sale
[From the MarketingSherpa blog]