With the economy deteriorating over the past year, it’s no surprise that marketers are changing the way they use specific tactics, such as B2B telemarketing. A new report from TeleNet Marketing Solutions offers a snapshot of how marketers are adapting their telemarketing strategies to deal with economic conditions.
The survey asked several questions about the role of telemarketing in B2B lead generation, and compared marketers’ responses to last year’s results. The report further breaks out responses from a select group labeled “best-in-class” marketers. These are marketers who can directly tie revenue to their telemarketing campaigns and said they were satisfied with their overall telemarketing approach.
By comparing responses from these best-in-class marketers to responses from the remainder of the survey respondents, you can see emerging trends in telemarketing usage, and factors that are driving the success of those programs. Here are five insights from the survey results: Insight #1. Marketers see growing importance for telemarketing
B2B marketers said that the telemarketing has become more important to their lead generation strategies this year.
The survey asked marketers to rank telemarketing’s importance on a 10-point scale, with 10 being “critical”:
- Best-in-class marketers gave telemarketing an overall rank of 9.9 -- with 90% of that group ranking it a 10. By comparison, best-in-class marketers ranked telemarketing 8.76 last year.
- Other marketers gave telemarketing a rank of 8.06, compared to a rank of 7.41 last year.
At first glance, that result may seem surprising. With the recession putting pressure on marketing budgets, many marketers are increasing their use of lower-cost tactics, such as email marketing.
But an investment in a well-executed telemarketing strategy can play an important role in the overall ROI of your marketing spend:
- Marketers are experiencing longer sales cycles as result of the recession, according to MarketingSherpa data. In this environment, the human element provided by telemarketing calls are vital component of a lead nurturing strategy, says Kathy Rizzo, VP marketing, TeleNet Marketing Solutions.
- Telemarketing can help you maximize the impact of other marketing campaigns. For example, marketers can use telemarketing calls to verify that contacts in their database are still employed by the company, or are still performing the same job functions, before investing in a direct-mail campaign. Insight #2. More marketers are using telemarketing for lead nurturing and data hygiene campaigns
The impact of the recession can be seen in the growing use of telemarketing for two marketing goals: lead nurturing and contact discovery/data hygiene (i.e., confirming whether the contact is still with the company, or determining whom to contact for marketing communications).
As mentioned above, both nurturing and contact discover campaigns can be used to maximize the ROI of other marketing efforts, and were among the tactics that saw the biggest growth this year.
- Best-in-class marketers reported:
o 127% increase in the use of telemarketing for lead nurturing
o 83% increase in the use of telemarketing for contact discovery/data hygiene
- Other marketers reported:
o 99% increase in the use of telemarketing for lead nurturing
o 30% increase in the use of telemarketing for contact discovery/data hygiene Insight #3. Appointment-setting campaigns increase as marketers focus on generating revenue
Using telemarketing to set qualified appointments for salespeople is another tactic that’s become more prominent this year:
- Use of appointment-setting campaigns grew 65% among best-in-class marketers.
- Use of appointment-setting campaigns grew 32% among other marketers.
One potential reason for the growth of that telemarketing tactic: The sluggish economy has marketers and salespeople more focused than ever on generating revenues. Helping create face-to-face or telephone meetings between salespeople and prospects is one way marketers can move leads toward a closed deal. Insight #4. Multichannel integration is essential for satisfactory telemarketing results
Telemarketing campaigns -- especially those for lead nurturing -- are most successful when integrated into a multichannel strategy. For example, telemarketing calls can be used to follow up on events and webinars. Likewise, email and direct mail can deliver relevant, targeted information based on a conversation with a prospect during a telemarketing call.
Most marketers seem to understand this, as best-in-class and other marketers reported relatively even levels of multimedia integration with their telemarketing campaigns. However, the report broke out a subset of marketers who claimed they were dissatisfied with the results of their telemarketing programs.
It turns out this dissatisfied cohort reported significantly lower levels of multimedia integration: Here’s a side-by-side comparison between this group and the survey’s best-in-class marketers:
- Email integration:
o Best-in-class marketers = 100%
o Dissatisfied marketers = 77%
- Direct Mail integration:
o Best-in-class = 50%
o Dissatisfied = 22%
- Online content integration:
o Best-in-class = 70%
o Dissatisfied = 33% Insight #5. Agent training and product/market alignment are critical factors for telemarketing campaigns
The success of a telemarketing program also depends on steps taken long before the first call is made. Campaign planning and operations are two critical areas that marketers must focus on to ensure success, according to the survey results.
Marketers were asked to select one of five factors as the most important element for telemarketing success. Best-in-class marketers awarded a tie to the following two factors:
o Agent skills and training
o Alignment of product and target market
Well-trained telephone representatives are needed to have the kind of in-depth, relevant conversations with business prospects. But Rizzo says that agent training is more than just a one-time event. Instead, marketers should think of telemarketing personnel, whether outsourced or in-house, as an extension of their own team:
- Conduct training at least quarterly, to update telephone representatives on new product information, market trends, or campaign strategies
- Include feedback from the sales team on the quality of telemarketing-generated leads
- Listen to recordings of telemarketing calls to find areas to improve calls or develop new conversation approaches
With more marketers using telemarketing campaigns for lead nurturing, it’s essential to align those campaigns to the target audience. The need to have relevant conversations is causing more marketers to move from horizontal telemarketing campaigns to specific vertical or industry-focused campaigns, says Rizzo.
Consider creating telemarketing plans that allow for customized scripts based on factors, such as:
o Prospect title or job description
o Installed technology base Useful links related to this article:
Charts from the TeleNet Marketing Solutions 2009 “Best in Class Telemarketing Practices” report:
Past Sherpa article: New Data on Best Telemarketing Tactics: 5 Tips to Improve Your Lead Gen Calls
TeleNet Marketing Solutions