E-MDs' Mail Campaign Gets Second Opinion: Telemarketing

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Medical software developer e-MDs used outbound telemarketing to bolster a disappointing direct mail campaign and was able to inch closer to its target response rate.

E-MDs, Cedar Park, TX, which develops software suites for physicians, dropped 15,000 mail pieces in August to 5,000 value-added resellers, which are software distributors with whom e-MDs wanted to partner to market its products. Through its Premier Partner program, the company enters into revenue-sharing agreements with the resellers.

The resellers received three different pieces, each a 9-inch-by-12-inch glossy that was folded in half horizontally. The inside of the mailer contained the company's text marketing message, including a toll-free phone number and the URL of the e-MDs Web site. The outside of the three mailers each displayed a different image with a gambling theme, including a spinning roulette wheel, lottery balls and horses running on a track.

Many doctors are leery of making wholesale upgrades to their software system and software resellers find marketing high-priced software systems a difficult proposition.

"Selling big-ticket software packages can be a crapshoot -- you never know where your next sale may come from," e-MDs said in the mailer text.

The piece also stated that e-MDs had sales leads that the resellers could use to market the software.

E-MDs used marketing firm Kelly Toombs Design, Austin, TX, to design and ship the mailers. Telemarketing firm MagRabbit, Austin, TX, handled inbound calls. The e-MDs inhouse sales staff of four agents followed up all leads generated by calls to MagRabbit.

However, the mail campaign did not meet expectations, said Doug Ens, vice president of sales for e-MDs. Of the 5,000 resellers who received the mailer from e-MDs only 100 signed up. Ens said that although the results were sufficient, the company had expected a rate of 5 percent. About half the respondents called the toll-free number while the other half used the company's Web site to express interest.

In September e-MDs went to an outbound telemarketing campaign. MagRabbit, whose agents were trained by e-MDs to talk to prospects about its software, made 500 calls to selected resellers from the list of 5,000.

For the telemarketing campaign, e-MDs narrowed its list of prospects for a more targeted effort, Ens said. Resellers were selected to receive calls based on their yearly revenues and medical software experience.

Of the 500 resellers called, approximately 100 have expressed interest in partnering with e-MDs, Ens said. The company's inhouse sales staff is following up on the original outbound campaign in an effort to bring the total number of reseller partners closer to the original goal of 250.

"When somebody sees a direct mail piece, they don't respond because they don't have time, not because they're not interested," Ens said. "When you call them, they say, 'Yeah, it's sitting right here.' "

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