Verizon Uses Telemarketing on Least Likely Targets

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Verizon Online is using telemarketing to reach the 40 percent of its database it has identified as least likely to respond to a multichannel campaign for DSL Internet access.


The campaign, which Verizon Online developed with advertising agency Lowe, uses the motto, "More of it." Launched last month, it offers monthly DSL service for $39.95 for consumers who sign up by May 31. Those who sign up may select from a menu of gifts, which include a digital camera, a Web camera, a one-year subscription to online music service MP3.com, and a one-year subscription to Britannica.com along with the Encyclopedia Britannica 2002 Edition on CD-ROM or DVD.


Using computer analysis models, Verizon Online identified the 60 percent of its database that best fits its target profile. The direct response television, direct mail and online portions target these tech-savvy consumers, many of whom already have high-speed Internet access. It tries to convince them to switch by playing up the practical uses of DSL.


The company adopted a different strategy in the telemarketing, which goes after the remainder of its database. The scripts leave out the motto and themes used in other portions of the campaign. Instead, the telemarketing effort uses the low monthly price and free gifts as a hook to grab the attention of consumers who may be using a dial-up connection and previously have not considered switching to high-speed access.


"We test different audiences that are lower on the adoption curve," said Brian Angiolet, group manager of acquisitions at Verizon Online. "If we're selective, and we don't contact them frequently, we have more success."


The outbound calls were conducted by several of Verizon's teleservices agency partners, which Angiolet declined to disclose. Verizon felt telemarketing would be an efficient way to capture consumers who would be interested in DSL service but did not fit the company's profile of a target customer, Angiolet said.


Initial results of the campaign were not available.


Verizon Online reached the tech-savvy users with a two-phase direct mail campaign, DRTV spots and online advertising.


The DRTV spots ran in the 17 markets where the company's infrastructure was most developed and its DSL service most easily available to consumers. Verizon Online is testing two 60-second spots and a 120-second spot.


"In the past, the two-minute spots have worked very well," Angiolet said. "You have more time to tell the story."


Unlike past DRTV campaigns that used a single spokesperson, the "More of it" spots showcase several people enjoying DSL. Verizon Online in the past had trouble finding a spokesperson who appealed to a broad range of consumers, so it decided to take the focus away from a single person character in the DRTV spots and shift it to the benefits of DSL and the free gift offer.


The mail pieces, which were produced by DraftWorldwide, use the same motto and imagery in the DRTV spots. The 6-inch-by-9-inch self-mailers stress the practical benefits of high-speed Internet access, such as easily buying movie tickets online.


Verizon Online developed a standard No. 10 letter to follow the self-mailer. Somewhat like the telemarketing campaign, the letter focused mainly on the offer and gift package.


Though Angiolet would not disclose the number of consumers targeted in the mail campaign, he said the number of mailers dropped was in the "millions." The first round of mailers will be completed at the end of March, and the second phase, sent to the same group of prospects, is scheduled to begin in April.


The company tested an e-mail campaign but pulled it back shortly after launching. Verizon Online now is using e-mail in the campaign only selectively to existing customers, such as those who are using dial-up connections and may wish to upgrade.


"[E-mail] has got to be so over the top to get people's attention," Angiolet said. "That's just not a place we wanted to go."


The Internet service provider also is running an extensive Web advertising campaign, running the gamut from banner advertisements to superstitials. Verizon Online has had the most success advertising on music, gaming and weather sites, Angiolet said.


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