Avectra's nurturing approach

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Melissa Davies, Mac McIntosh
Melissa Davies, Mac McIntosh

DMNews speaks with Avectra's director of marketing, Melissa Davies, and Mac McIntosh, a b-to-b specialist who consults on lead gen for the association management software provider

Q: How has lead generation changed in recent years?

Melissa Davies: We're doing more segmentation, which means we don't give leads to the sales department until we know they are ready. We have key indicators — behavioral activity, demographic info — that tells us when that is. If a CIO or CTO visits the price comparison page on our website, for example, I'm pretty sure they are ready to engage in the sales process.

Mac was in my office last week, and we were talking about how lead generation has become like online dating. You go to these big dating sites, and start off with hundreds of matches. Then you narrow it down by looking at their profiles and deciding who's a good fit. Then you may date for awhile — you're not just walking into a bar and asking everyone to marry you.

Mac McIntosh: You also used to see a lot of one-shot kind of things. Now it's multi-touch, multimedia campaigns.

There's much more “if, and, or,” kind of behavior — if they did this, then offer them that. We try to map the marketing messages, offers and call-to-actions depending on where they are in the buying cycle. If they attended a webinar, they are probably further along than somebody who just asked for a white paper. If they did ask for the webinar, we figure out what's a related piece we can offer to help reengage and move them forward in the process.

Q: How does Avectra generate leads?

Davies: We do a lot of different things like these great cookie campaigns. I send people I've never been able to engage in my database—collected from the click of an e-mail, attending a webinar or downloading a white paper—cookies from Cheryl & Co. and just say, ‘Hey, I hope you're having a good day'. It's an old school tactic, but it has a 70% response rate. I also follow that up with e-mail afterwards, and it's a trigger for my account reps to call.

Q: What other ways are you using incentives to generate leads?

Davies: We do use a lot of incentives, including a $50 Amazon gift card to get people to take a 30-minute demo. It increases our response rate dramatically, and more importantly, the demo completion rates.

McIntosh: Typically 100 people say they want to take a demo but 90 never get around to it. With the incentive offer, three times as many people get around to doing it.

Q: How do you manage these lead generation campaigns on a relatively tight budget?

Davies: Without marketing automation, I couldn't do an eighth of what I am doing now. It helps in my biggest battle — identifying my best and second-best customers, and targeting them. Ultimately, however, my customer is the sales department. A lot of companies have lost sight of that. It has always been sales against marketing: ‘Why aren't you closing more sales? Because marketing isn't giving us more leads'; ‘Why are your costs per opportunity so high? Because sales isn't doing their job.'

MM: You work closely with them to execute these programs — and get buy-in. You don't treat the sales department as an adversary.

Q: What role does direct mail play?

Davies: Direct mail is still effective because nobody is doing it anymore! One of my biggest wins has been the combination of e-mail and direct mail. I send out an e-mail saying, ‘I've sent you this direct mail package; please let me know when you get it.' Direct mail is still one of the best converters, but it's also one of the most expensive. I'm an e-mailer from way back, so a lot of direct mailers used to say e-mail will never work, and now e-mailers are saying direct mail doesn't work. But combined, I've generated a 2.5% response rate on a cold blast. When I've already engaged with someone and the interaction is more personalized, I've reached response rates of 25% and beyond.

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