Aperture Technologies Changes Marketing Focus for Better Response Rates

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Aperture Technologies Inc., Stamford, CT, a business-to-business software provider, found that a recent series of direct marketing campaigns brought a 0.5 percent response rate -- a 25 percent increase over previous programs -- thanks to better targeting.


Aperture Technologies sells two products, one that helps organizations manage their technology assets and another that helps them manage their space, furniture and personnel infrastructure. The average price for Aperture products is $100,000, said Bill Pisani, director of database marketing.


Aperture has two databases, a customer relationship management-based system and a financial database. Together, the data incorporated in them include mailing and contact information along with sales history, products that customers would be interested in, company size and standard industrial classification code. Aperture's databases combined contain data on about 2,000 businesses of all types.


While the data were robust, in mid-1999 Aperture realized it was lacking some critical analysis that would boost the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns. The company decided it needed to target better and to understand the basic profiling of its customer base better.


"[At the time] there was less organization of the data and less of a focus as to how to market to our own house file, as well as how to prospect in the best way possible," Pisani said. "So we put into place a series of circulation and marketing plans to help us focus on where we most wanted to put our efforts and to get the biggest return on investments."


Pisani said part of the plan involved enlisting the help of MarketPlace Gold, an analytical marketing software product from iMarket Inc., Waltham, MA. IMarket was recently acquired by Dun & Bradstreet.


MarketPlace Gold, which cost Aperture $5,250, helps companies generate reports from their databases that identify trends in the data, such as market penetration and potential by industry, geography and value. These reports turn customer and lead data into a strategic tool that helps companies size markets quickly and accurately and sell more effectively.


"We wanted to understand if there were verticals we could go after or sweet spots in our database," Pisani said. "We knew we had strengths in certain industries, but not until we really got into a report were we able to see the percentage and penetration analysis of our own customers."


The software essentially allowed Aperture to look at the specifics of its customer base and understand what markets it should go after. It identified specific prospect accounts with certain criteria -- such as SIC code, size and location -- and specific contacts within these accounts, such as titles and functions.


Pisani said the system helped Aperture identify that "we had real strength in the areas of telecommunications, finance, banking and real estate. Then, we classified companies in those industries as our top-tier customers."


Basically, "we learned where the money was," Pisani said.


Using MarketPlace Gold, Aperture saw a 30 percent increase in vertical market sales.


These pre-qualified prospect lists were licensed, output and distributed to the Aperture sales force as leads. Aperture also output additional lists to be used for direct mail and telemarketing campaigns.


With this information in hand, Pisani said, Aperture decided to change its marketing, telemarketing and mailing programs. Aperture mails about 20,000 mail pieces per month and makes 1,000 telemarketing calls per month.


"We have a combination of generic messages, which we'll use for monthly mailing programs to keep the flow of leads coming into the organization," he said. "But we'll also do specialized vertical marketing programs to the telecommunications industry, for example, where we'll use a cover letter with references from a customer that we have done business with in that category."


Pisani said the specialization "can make a very big difference to customers. Your company has far more credibility when you have information behind you that says you have worked with major telecommunications companies or whatever it may be."


Pisani said this information allows Aperture to receive better response rates than it has received using rented lists.


"If I rent a list of technology publications, I would get approximately a 0.4 percent response, but when I use iMarket-selected names -- which allow me to tailor the types of corporations I want and gives me more control over who I want to target -- I get a 0.5 percent response."


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