Segmentation focus strong in b-to-b

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Segmentation focus strong in b-to-b
Segmentation focus strong in b-to-b

Business-to-business marketers are ahead of the curve when it comes to segmentation. After all, b-to-b marketing revolves around targeting specific groups of customers looking for particular solutions to problems. Marketers have to be precise with data when marketing to these groups in order to reach the correct decision-maker with an offer. Across verticals, b-to-b marketers employ sophisticated segmentation techniques that constantly are refined by rigorous testing programs.

"Everyone is fairly crazy about how they segment their list," says Chip Terry, VP and GM of enterprise solutions at Zoominfo, a provider of business contact information for marketers. "The key for us is getting them segments that maybe aren't tied directly to a normal SIC [standard industrial classification] code or other standard ways to segment a list."

Buying third-party lists is still one effective way b-to-b marketers build databases, but not all marketers use this approach.

"We will buy prospect lists, but very infrequently," says Chris Hewitt, senior director of marketing operations at Lumension, which sells IT security software. "There's just not a lot of relevance in that, and our audience has very specific needs."

Lumension employs a multichannel sales funnel strategy based on e-mail. Its goal, Hewitt says, is to closely track the path taken by each completed sale to optimize how future leads of similar demographics are nurtured.

"It can take six to 12 months [to get] a new account, so we can watch that progression over time," Hewitt explains. "We can see, for example, if we tied together e-mail marketing, webinars, a promotional trial and social media."

USA Financial, which works with independent financial advisors, has found success with third-party lists. The company brings in lists that have been segmented at a high level by the broker or manager, says Rae Thompson, VP of marketing at USA Financial. From there, she uses surveys to learn more about prospects. However, she says, there's a science to getting that information.

"Sales always wants a more qualified lead, no matter what," she says. "However, when I tested asking for more information into the survey process, I noticed that my conversion rate went dramatically down."

That hasn't dissuaded Thompson from always refining the data she collects. She hopes to implement a progressive profiling program that will provide fresh questions each time for prospects who visit the USA Financial site more than once.

"There are other things I'm looking to add in the future, like recency, meaning how often they're visiting our site," she says.

case studies

Acquisition: SK&A

SK&A, which provides information on healthcare practitioners, found that the traditional sources of data were not working well to reach its core audiences: pharmaceutical and life science companies, healthcare advertising agencies, direct mail and list brokers, medical device and equipment companies and continuing medical education venues.

"There's no SIC code for continuing medical education. There's no SIC code for list broker," says Jack Schember, director of marketing at SK&A, a Cegedim company. "We needed to build a list using keywords that got us a lot closer to our target than that."

SK&A began working with Zoominfo, which allows companies to search for prospects by keyword and produce a file that's segmented in a more logical way for the marketer.

"I gave [Zoominfo] the categories, and 10 to 12 keywords within those categories," Schember says. "The list came back with company name, contact name, job title, address, phone, fax and e-mail; it was very complete data."

This was important for SK&A, which executes both e-mail and postal mail campaigns and uses the latter channel to follow up on the former.

"[SK&A] was running campaigns across media," says Chip Terry, VP and GM of enterprise solutions at Zoominfo. "They did e-mail and direct mail and phone calls, so they needed to get all that information together."

The company runs 12 to 18 e-mail campaigns per month, Schember says. Its goal is to reach 100,000 potential buyers of its data per month. These targets are finely segmented, he continues, and messages are tested to see which resonate with which type of information buyer.

"We have several different pieces of creative that we use," Schember explains. "We change the subject line more often than we change the content. We want the content to be appealing to all those audiences."

The e-mails that have been sent to the Zoominfo database will be followed in the second quarter of 2010 by the "apple" print mailer (above), he says.

Acquisition and Retention: Lumension

Lumension sells IT security software to clients in the legal, financial, healthcare, government, education and retail sectors. Each of these segments operates within a different legal framework, says Chris Hewitt, senior director of marketing operations at Lumension, and thus responds to different kinds of messaging.

"Generally, across business organizations, securing your IP, employee and customer records is critical. Those specific areas, however, have differences around compliance and government regulation," he explains. "We can tailor our messaging to them. For example, someone in healthcare is very concerned about HIPAA [The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996], and someone in retail is concerned about personal credit information."

Lumension collaborates with e-mail vendor on its e-mail marketing, which is central to its multi-touch lead generation and nurturing campaigns. Other components include webinars, promotional offers and free trials.

"We can't slap a 'buy-now' button on an e-mail," Hewitt says. "We really have to nurture through multiple tactics."

E-mails are segmented beyond industry type. The specific decision-maker to whom the message is addressed receives content that is relevant to his interests.

"It could be someone in IT, but it could also be someone in marketing or legal without a technical background," he says. "An administrator who is working in the application has questions about how it connects to the various systems, what is the hardware, what are the Web services. As we work into an organization — especially a larger one — we find the strategic decision-maker is probably more interested in our video content, which is more of a dialogue about securing your business, or security trends for 2010."

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