March 18, 2009
Case Study

Optimize a Lead Nurturing Campaign: 5 Steps to Boost Conversions and Warm a Cold List

SUMMARY: The key to a good lead-nurturing program is finding the right combination of relevant content and messaging frequency to keep your brand top-of-mind.

Read how an outsourced software product-engineering team revived a cold prospect list with a lead nurturing strategy. They tested elements, such as collateral offers, email message copy, subject lines and landing pages, to generate triple-digit increases in key metrics over the course of four email sends.
Aaron Dun, VP North America Marketing, Ness Technologies needed to foster ongoing communications with prospects, so that the company could stay competitive in the crowded outsourced IT services market. In particular, they hadn’t done a good job staying in touch with prospects for their software product engineering services.

“This list was very cold,” says Dun. “We had acquired the list over time, but we didn’t have a really focused mechanism for touching it and nurturing it frequently.”

Dun and his team wanted to begin warming that list with a lead-nurturing campaign that reintroduced prospects to the company’s software product-engineering services. But they also saw an opportunity to test tactics and a messaging approach that would form the basis of a new marketing strategy.

The team embarked on a lead nurturing process that used email messages to offer prospects educational content related to the outsourced software product-engineering process. During the course of two campaigns, they tested email message copy, subject lines, and landing page to optimize their approach.

Here are five steps they took to discover the best way to engage prospects and articulate the company’s services expertise and brand position:

Step #1. Choose third-party analyst reports as marketing collateral

Because they were working off a cold list, the team needed a compelling piece of content to serve as the first touch in a nurturing campaign. Their goal was to provide information that would associate the company with important trends in outsourced software-product engineering. They also wanted to begin explaining how the company’s services differ from those of its competitors.

The team considered a white paper, email newsletter or other branding assets. But in the interest of launching the campaign quickly, they settled on licensing third-party analyst reports related to their industry:

- One report covered high-level strategies for offshore software-product engineering.

- A second report provided a deeper analysis of a specific software product engineering methodology, known as Agile development.

Step #2. Send email offer with brand-focused message

For the first campaign, the team sent an email to prospects offering a free download of the broader, offshore software product-development report.

- Subject line: “Analysis: Why outsourced product development projects often fall short – but yours won’t”.

- The email header highlighted Ness’s brand positioning as a valued partner in software product development. They used:
o An image of a rowing team
o The headline, “Together in synch: just like working with a Ness software product development team”

- The call-to-action for the analyst report download was placed prominently toward the top of the message. They placed download links:
o Just below the headline
o To the right of the first paragraph of body copy
o Embedded in the second paragraph of the message copy

- Body copy highlighted the company's branding message, with bullet points outlining the company's capabilities.

- The team tested two versions of a landing page:
o Half of the list received a personalized URL that pre-filled fields for name, title, company, email address and phone number
o Half received a standard landing page that used the same fields, but did not pre-fill information

Step #3. Resend offer to non-responders

Seven days after sending the first email, the team resent the offer to prospects that hadn’t opened or clicked the first message.

However, they tweaked some aspects of the original message.

- Subject line was changed to emphasize the offer: “Research Report: Best Practices for Outsourced Product Development”.

- They used PURLs for all recipients.

- New copy was added below the headline that emphasized the contents of the report. The company's branding message was moved to the second half of the body copy.

Step #4. Send second campaign with offer-focused message

The team sent a new offer to the same list 11 weeks later. This campaign used the second analyst report, which was focused on a specific aspect of the software product-development process that the team knew was a hot topic for their audience.

The team also continued tweaking email copy to downplay company brand messages. Instead, they highlighted the offer and its benefits to prospects.

- Subject line: “New Report brings Agile Best Practices to Light”.

- The headline and header image were stylistically similar to the first campaign, but they reflected the theme of report’s content. They used:
o An image of a cycling team in motion around a track
o The headline, “Speed your software to market. A new report sheds light on Agile best practices”

- Brand positioning copy was kept to the second half of the email message.

- An additional call-to-action was placed at the bottom of the message.

- All prospects received a PURL.

Step #5. Resend offer to non-responders

As with the first campaign, the team sent a second email one week later to prospects that hadn’t opened or clicked.

The team achieved significant improvements in key metrics with each test and tweak they performed over the two campaigns.

Most significantly, they saw the response rate jump in the second campaign when they downplayed their branding message and highlighted the report offer and benefits for the prospect:
o Clickthrough rate increased 248.7% for the second campaign
o Registration rate increased 352%

“As we got into testing and results, there was a level of excitement there. You are seeing some difference,” says Dun. “You’re also starting to build a platform of raw data that we can measure against and build from.”

Other key metrics from the tests:

- Open rates remained relatively consistent throughout the campaigns.
- Landing-page conversion rate increased 94.4% when using PURLs in the first campaign. The team now uses PURLs for all its campaigns.

- Resending offers to non-responders made a significant contribution to overall registration rates:
o The second send delivered 28% of total registrations during the first campaign
o The second send delivered 35% of total registrations during the second campaign

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from Ness Technologies’ Lead Nurturing Campaigns

White Rhino provided creative and strategic services:

Ness Technologies

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