New scripts yield better ending

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After a series of acquisitions broadened its offerings and price points, information management solutions provider EMC Corp. turned to direct marketing to reach out to a new group of prospects.

EMC's offerings were perceived as too expensive except by large enterprises, said Mark Herrick, EMC database marketing manager. But once its products and prices came into the range of midsize commercial firms, EMC needed a way to get the message to this lucrative market. EMC defines this market as companies with 250 to 2,500 employees doing annual sales of $25 million to $500 million.

"An IT person can wear many hats within a commercial firm as opposed to enterprise organizations, which have well-defined corporate structures," Mr. Herrick said.

Part of the challenge was determining how to reach this market and the right contacts within such companies, he said.

To penetrate this market, EMC licensed Harte-Hanks' Ci Technology Database last year. The database tracks technology installations, business demographics, IT decision makers and planned purchases in 600,000 sites worldwide.

EMC, Hopkinton, MA, began weekly e-mails to thousands of prospects to drive them to www.emc.com and started telemarketing using product-centric scripts. Though the company was pleased with the results, it worked with Harte-Hanks (www.harte-hanks.com), San Antonio, to make a few changes to the campaign this year that have raised conversion rates.

EMC wanted fewer telemarketing scripts and a new focus. The firm devised scripts that focus on one of four topics in IT management in order to let the call center personnel have a conversation with prospects. The goal of the conversation is for call center personnel to gather enough information to pass on to sales to determine what product the prospect needs.

"It's more about hitting a personal note, that you have a business challenge and we can help you," Mr. Herrick said. The new strategy also helps ensure that the follow-up call from a sales person leads to an appointment, he said.

The other change was to reduce the quantity of weekly e-mails, to ensure that each is followed up by a telemarketing call. Last year, EMC sent e-mails to all addresses available each week, or about 5,000. The telemarketers couldn't handle this volume, so many e-mail recipients got no follow-up call. This year, the company cut the e-mails to 3,000 per week.

Conversion rates have risen 10 percent since making these changes, with the number of quality leads up 3 percent to 5 percent. EMC plans to continue the program with new content.

"This is the primary marketing outreach prospecting effort for the commercial market right now," Mr. Herrick said.

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