Beat outbound telemarketers to the punch

In recent years, online marketing budgets have shifted toward the fast-growing medium of lead generation referrals. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, lead generation represents 8 percent of all online media spend. Online advertisers spent $1.3 billion in 2006 obtaining leads — a growth rate of 74 percent from 2005.


While media spending and advertiser demand for this medium is growing, lead conversion rates have struggled to improve.


Due to the heated environment in lead aggregation, speed of response is critical to success.


First-mover status is the focus of many insurance and mortgage advertisers, with some triggering outbound call-center efforts within 15 seconds of obtaining the lead.


So how does the old-school direct marketer compete against this wave of technology-enabled outbound telemarketers? We suggest an integrated approach using e-mail and other direct response vehicles to provide umbrella support for outbound telemarketing (OBTM) in an effort to equalize the speed of the “tech” call centers and increase the likelihood of conversion.


The following are five best practice areas to focus on to effectively leverage e-mail in your lead-conversion efforts:


Lead quality Suppress non-actionable leads by applying on demand data verification to the lead generation data. This will improve the quality of your lead, deliverability of the e-mail, and your cost per conversion. Considering that the non-actionable lead rate can range anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent, the $35/M cost for this service is a small price to pay for the efficiencies of securing a more qualified lead file.


E-mail deliverability Consider licensing an ASP solution instead of in-house distribution of e-mail. ASP providers can help increase the deliverability as well as consistency and regulatory compliance of your e-mails.


Conversion optimization Send a custom auto-response e-mail within seconds of lead data receipt that includes personalized dynamic content based on triggers included in the lead form such as geography, loan amount (e.g.; mortgage industry), etc. Make sure the e-mail is substantive and effectively describes the next steps in the process.


Frequency Frequent communication plays a significant role in taking a prospect from awareness to action. We suggest formulating a cohesive communication strategy in the form of a series of e-mails to optimize lead conversion. Typically, a string of six e-mails over a two-to-three week period with cohesive messaging reinforces your desire for their business without appearing intrusive. You may also test an “increasing” offer strategy in subsequent e-mails.


Ongoing lead cultivation Enact detailed tracking to evaluate opens and clicks so you can use the data to improve your call center contact strategy. The idea is to treat e-mail responders who have not converted as a greater priority within your predictive dialing model for more aggressive ongoing communication.


In summary, direct marketers need to apply an integrated approach to maximize conversion from their lead-generation referrals.


When used effectively, e-mail is a medium that can deliver the direct conversion, but also provide support to OBTM and other conversion channels.


Don’t let your leads slip into the hands of you competitors — beat them to the phones with an effective e-mail strategy.


Clay Gillespie is EVP of client services and Timothy Daly is SVP of interactive services at UnReal Marketing. They can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected].

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