04 June 2015 Category: How to Guides
Whichever term you subscribe to – cross channel, multi channel, omni channel – it is well understood that the overall effectiveness of your marketing efforts improves when activities are integrated across channels. Whilst the arrival of digital and social media has had a major impact, traditional marketing channels are still very effective. The SMART approach is to take advantage of the attributes of each within an integrated multi-channel approach utilising the media, which best supports your goals and objectives.
Whilst telemarketing can be used effectively as a standalone activity, it can integrate equally well with other channels and bring human interaction to almost any stage of a marketing campaign. Human engagement is still a key factor in driving most B2B sales opportunities, initiating and developing genuine relationships that support longer term commercial opportunities. When used within an integrated approach, the highly measureable, data-led nature of telemarketing helps underpin other activities and align sales and marketing effort.
Here are 10 areas where telemarketing can add value to an integrated marketing approach:
1. Campaign planning
The deeper levels of customer, market and competitor insight gained through phone contact can help inform an overall marketing strategy, providing an in-depth understanding of the target audience and how best to reach them. A sales and marketing strategy built on solid intelligence has an increased chance of success and clear priorities help align and focus sales and marketing efforts, and support an integrated approach. Aside from pre- and post-sales research, ongoing phone dialogue in the course of a campaign provides continuous feedback so that offers, propositions and overall strategy can be tested and refined over time.
Whether you have your own list or source externally, a clean, accurately targeted and relevant list is a critical factor in the success of any marketing campaign. Telephone research can help prepare and cleanse data, identify correct contact information, and append key data elements such as decision maker titles. A good quality list can then be profiled and segmented improving targeting and relevance, which support the success of the campaign, particularly for data-dependent channels such as direct mail and email. Finding good quality, opted-in emails is particularly difficult, and the ability of telephone research to populate and validate email information, secure opt-in and prepare email data is critical to the success of those campaigns.
Some of our most successful campaigns involve a staged approach where we cleanse and enhance existing data, or build a bespoke database from scratch, supply it back to the customer to undertake an email or direct mail campaign, and then use that data as the basis for telemarketing effort. To increase return on investment, targeting can be applied at each stage, with perhaps only higher value contacts or those who have opened an email or clicked an offer receiving the telemarketing call.
3. Driving Response
Data and relevance are critical in driving response and ensuring communications reach the right audience with the right message. Whilst email and direct mail can get a targeted message to a wide audience, they are more easily ignored and response rates are lower than a more invasive channel such as telemarketing. In addition, a personal one-to-one approach can build the trust and rapport required to generate higher value B2B outcomes such as appointments or paid event attendance.
There are different schools of thought on how response is impacted by combining email and direct mail with telemarketing. Our experience has shown a particularly high impact, email or direct mail, when combined with telemarketing, has the potential to dramatically increase response. An attention grabbing email or direct mailer can stimulate interest and bring a proposition to a customer’s attention, paving the way for a follow up call. Similarly, a more disruptive channel such as the phone can get immediate attention and quickly build understanding of the customer’s interest, so they are more receptive to a follow-up email or direct mail piece, tailored based on information gleaned over the phone.
4. Qualifying and Prioritising
Whilst very effective at initiating response, telemarketing is also a powerful mechanism to qualify and nurture warm leads generated through other channels, bridging the gap between marketing qualified and sales qualified leads. Email campaigns can generate high volume leads, but quality will vary. Phone follow up can establish which prospects should be prioritised, using qualification criteria and lead scoring to ensure sales time is spent on the best opportunities.
In addition, qualified prospects that may not be at the right stage of the sales cycle can be nurtured and developed into longer term opportunities.
5. Social Media and Content Marketing
Social media, combined with content marketing, can identify prospects and nurture relationships over time. In a B2B scenario, however, a more personalised approach may help build the level of trust and establish the credibility needed to take the prospect though to a higher value sale. Real conversations support deeper levels of engagement and a more persuasive interaction, which can convert leads from web and social media campaigns more quickly. By the same token, new digital and social media can make telemarketing even more powerful, providing a rich source of contact intelligence, which the telemarketer can tap into prior to any call and which can also support any data build or cleanse exercise to prepare a list for other marketing activity.
6. Inbound Marketing
It is good news when outbound activities generate high volume leads or content marketing drives customers to your enquiries hotline, but managing fluctuations or sudden increases in response with finite in-house resource can be an issue. In a worst case scenario lack of resource means hot leads go stale and marketing investment is wasted. Telemarketing can help manage response as part of an integrated campaign where prospects proactively contact you in response to an email outreach or other lead generation activity. When outsourced, this channel is flexible in handling varying response levels; activity can be ramped up or down so that leads are handled in a timely way and do not age. Working to a clear brief, telemarketers can provide a consistent, engaging message, tailoring benefits to customer interests and prioritising and scoring leads according to agreed criteria. This ensures a continuous flow of well qualified leads, which can be comfortably managed and more easily converted by the sales team.
7. Account Based Marketing (ABM)
ABM focuses on accounts with the highest potential value and aims to build an in-depth understanding to support a targeted ‘one to one’ approach, providing a sustainable approach to increase growth and profitability.
The underlying principles of ABM align well to marketing best practice encompassing data and insight, profiling and segmentation, targeting and personalisation, all of which marry well with a data-led approach such as telemarketing. As it is easily targeted, telemarketing has been used traditionally to focus on high value contacts and accounts, often in the context of an 80/20 Pareto model. The Pareto rule suggests 20% of a customer base supplies 80% of revenue and therefore warrants special attention based on potential lifetime value. Campaign data can be profiled and segmented so that the telemarketing efforts are focused only where they will bring the best return on investment.
8. Branding and Awareness
Well briefed telemarketing agents can communicate brand values and personality during each call. It is easier to build rapport over the phone and articulate the value of your brand and proposition, and this can reinforce the same message sent out through other channels. When your communications are aligned with a consistent message and brand experience for the customer, the overall impact is enhanced.
In addition, the level of feedback gained through two-way verbal communication, where emotion is also more clearly conveyed, can help identify issues and address customer dissatisfaction, avoiding negative impact on customer retention and brand loyalty. Customer, market and competitor intelligence gathered through a sizeable volume of calls can provide valuable input into an overall brand strategy.
9. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation software aims to automate manual tasks and help integrate multiple channels including email, social media, and websites. It has become a bit of a buzz-word and there is some misconception that it provides all you need to take leads from the start of the funnel through to sale. However, if you have a poor quality list at the start of the process, however intelligent the automation, it is unlikely to produce good quality opportunities or sales. In many cases, clients engage us either to clean the data which feeds their marketing automation system or further qualify or nurture leads which have been automatically generated from that data via email or other routes. On other occasions, we call higher quality leads, which have been generated and scored by the system, in order to develop or convert opportunities. Whether the process is automated or not, telemarketing works at every stage of the funnel adding value through human engagement and a compelling proposition, which an automated system cannot replicate.
10. Customer Retention
As we have seen, phone research can inform a campaign strategy before marketing takes place and phone interaction can help build the trust and rapport that leads prospects to sale. However, the relationships that are built to support the B2B sales funnel should not be forgotten once the sale is closed. Phone research can be used post-sale to measure the satisfaction of your existing clients and glean valuable insight that will allow you to adapt your product/service/proposition in line with evolving customer interests. A post-sale dialogue helps maintain and develop long term sustainable relationships that capitalise on your initial sales and marketing investment and allow your sales team to focus on developing new opportunities.
Consumer experience is driving higher customer expectations in the B2B environment so that integrating media to deliver the right message, at the right time, via the right channel is increasingly important. Irrespective of channel, data and insight are the foundation of marketing success, with knowledge and intelligence supporting relevant messaging, which drives response and campaign ROI. Digital and social media have increased the levels of insight and data available and a data-led channel such as telemarketing can take advantage of this, un-tapping the potential of other digital and social media channels.