21 December 2009 Category: Blog

Insight and comment from B2B Magazine's Telemarketing Survey, sponsored by The Telemarketing Company.

RESEARCH: Hang on, don't hang up





 Joel Harrison


Telemarketing is a 'traditional' B2B marketing technique that appears to have survived the digital revolution relatively unscathed. Joel Harrison looks at its enduring appeal

Telemarketing remains a key part of the marketing mix for most B2B brands, although less than half have a specific budget for telemarketing activity and only 56 per cent can accurately measure all ROI. This is according to a new survey of B2B telemarketing activity, conducted by B2B Marketing Online and The Telemarketing Company, designed to uncover trends and preferences amongst brands using the phone as a marketing channel.

The survey reinforced the continued importance of telemarketing in the B2B marketing mix, despite the increasing focus on digital channels, with sixty per cent of respondents describing telemarketing as either a 'critical' or 'very important' route to market. A further 24 per cent describe telemarketing as 'important' whilst only two per cent don't use telemarketing at all.

Furthermore, almost forty per cent of respondents claim their use of telemarketing has increased in the last 12 months, in comparison with 26 per cent for whom telemarketing activity has declined. Thirty three per cent of respondents said their use of this channel remains unchanged.

Keep complex functions close

As regards to how and when telemarketing is used, respondents demonstrated a wide variety of commitment to this channel, with 46 per cent running activity constantly whilst a further 27 per cent integrating it with tactical campaigns on a regular basis.

The nature of how telemarketing is handled was also underlined by the results of this survey, with only 15 per cent relying entirely on external agencies for telemarketing, whilst a further 25 per cent use telemarketing agencies to work alongside internal call centre functions. The largest portion of respondents have an internal telemarketing team. When asked why telemarketing was retained internally, the most popular answer was because 'the complexity of products and services makes outsourcing difficult'.

Sales and marketing integration

The most common objective for telemarketing by B2B companies, according to the results, was 'qualifying leads', cited by 68 per cent of respondents, which reflects the results-orientated nature of the channel. This was closely followed by 'booking sales appointments', 'cleansing marketing data' and 'prospecting'. Customer research and feedback were the least popular objective, only cited by 27 and 28 per cent respectively.

However, in terms of budget invested in telemarketing activity, 'booking sales appointments' was the most popular objective, cited by 25 per cent of respondents, and reflecting the close alignment of telemarketing with sales in the B2B arena. 'Prospecting' and 'qualifying leads' also scored strongly on this question.

Measure for measure

Although telemarketing is widely touted as being the most measurable of mediums, a surprising 26 per cent of respondents claimed they were unable to measure ROI, whilst an additional 18 per cent said they were 'not sure'. The principle reason for this inability to track effectiveness was because brands felt 'it was impossible to distinguish telemarketing ROI from the rest of the mix', whilst other respondents blamed the lack of effective technology.

However, when compared with other marketing channels and techniques in terms of ROI, telemarketing fared extremely well, with 80 per cent of respondents claiming it performed better than direct mail, 74 per cent better than email and 65 per cent better than SEO.

Strategic and integrated

The survey suggests that telemarketing has a bright future as a B2B marketing channel, with more marketers regarding it as a strategic discipline than those who view it as tactical (38 per cent versus 32 per cent).

Similarly, when asked 'how has your telemarketing evolved in the last 12 months?' the largest group (36 per cent) said it had become 'better integrated' and 21 per cent said it was becoming a 'core discipline'. Whilst telemarketing is not without its challenges, it seems that it remains a key marketing tool and technique for a great many B2B brands.

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