Target top b-to-b sales leads
Target top b-to-b sales leads
The Internet and emerging technologies are having a dramatic effect on business-to-business direct marketing, but one thing that hasn't changed in the b-to-b space is the focus on sales lead generation, rather than on driving brand awareness or reputation. In their searches for qualified leads, b-to-b direct marketers are turning to the consumer space for campaign tools and strategies.
“When you look at b-to-b, you're really targeting consumers who are at work,” says VentureDirect CEO Richard Baumer. He adds that search engines such as Google are often the first place executives go when beginning to research a workplace purchasing decision.
Loren McDonald, VP of industry relations at e-mail marketing solutions provider Silverpop, adds, “For marketers at many companies — particularly those in the technology space — search can be 25% to 50% of their budget. Most of these b-to-b people put most of those dollars in Google, followed to a lesser extent by Yahoo and MSN.”
McDonald says that, like consumers, executives are growing more comfortable providing information through opt-in programs — as long as they feel they're getting value in return. “You're seeing dollars shift to sponsored e-mail campaigns where a marketer teams up with a trusted news source to offer up content in exchange for signing up,” he explains.
A role remains for traditional mailers in b-to-b direct marketing. Mobium Creative Group uses a mix of offline and online channels to reach executives, says partner Bob Goranson. However, he adds that because they deliver better targeting, many clients prefer online channels.
“The online business media are becoming more sophisticated and can provide detailed lists and programs that enable you to serve up messages, for example, only to people with specific job titles,” he says.
Baumer agrees: “In the past, finding really targeted b-to-b traffic was like finding a needle in a haystack,” he says. “But the Internet enables you to reach the right audience.”
He also points out that technology is allowing more “pull” rather than “push” direct marketing that serves to alert the marketer of just the right moment to connect with a prospect. For example, VentureDirect recently launched Search4Vendor.com, a site where business professionals looking for vendors in niche industries can type in a request.
“It is a very straightforward lead-generation application,” Baumer explains. “We're finding that people are comfortable looking for these types of solutions if they have a specific need.”
Gary Slack, chairman/CEO of Chicago-based b-to-b agency Slack Barshinger, suggests this consumer-like b-to-b marketing is likely to expand, especially as marketers begin to exploit business-themed social media sites such as LinkedIn. “From a data-harvesting standpoint, LinkedIn is already a great tool, because it will let you discover, very quickly, people who fit your customer profile,” Slack says.
All this doesn't mean that offline b-to-b is dead, Slack stresses, adding that old-school tactics are still playing an important role in reaching the top-level decision makers.
“Proven channels for reaching the C-suite are high-level events, publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and telemarketing by people [who can get] executives to talk about issues that keep them up at night,” Slack says.
McDonald agrees that “the dialing for dollars industry still exists.” However, he points out that “there's a focus on using other direct marketing to better secure the target. It has evolved from a cold-call mentality to a warm- or hot-call.”
VentureDirect Lead-generation Web site
Taking a page from consumer financial sites that pit multiple companies against each other to bid on providing mortgages for home purchases, New York-based VentureDirect recently launched Search4Vendor.com to enable b-to-b vendors to better connect with prospects. Traffic to the site is driven by a combination of search, Web banners, affiliate deals with other sites and partnerships with business magazines — with the goal of delivering qualified prospects to vendors who can then follow up and negotiate directly.
Underwriters Laboratories Multichannel campaign
Chicago-based Slack Barshinger launched this multichannel campaign on behalf of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to educate manufacturers on new legislation from the European Union limiting hazardous chemicals in products. The campaign combined Web-based ads, search marketing, brochures/whitepapers and a healthy dose of PR to inform executives of UL's new certification program that ensures compliance with the new rules. It generated more than 8,000 qualified leads in 12 months at a rate of less than $25 per lead.
Pitney Bowes C-suite campaign
Mobium helped Pitney Bowes' MapInfo division successfully introduce location intelligence, a new business software analysis category, with a multichannel campaign that combined traditional print advertising with direct mailers with a heavy emphasis on banner ads, e-mail blasts and e-newsletter sponsorships. The campaign aimed at C-suite executives delivered 27,704 landing page impressions, 4,000 whitepaper downloads and 1,747 opt-ins that, combined, directly led to $800,000 in subsequent sales.