By Contributing Editor Srikumar S RaoCHALLENGE
Many business marketers make a common mistake.
They gather prospects' emails at trade shows from zapping attendee badges or gathering business cards in a fishbowl. Then they dump the names into their main email file and start sending them stuff on a regular basis.
With ire rising against unwanted email, this could get your company blacklisted, or cause you to lose an RFP.
"We don't assume that getting an email address gives us permission to mail them indefinitely," says Margaret Herndon, TruLogica's Field Marketing Director. "We mail them one time and try to get permission to do even that. You can't ram this stuff down anyone's throat."
Coming back from her company booth at a Gartner show, Herndon had a pile of names with some good prospects buried in them. She allowed herself just one follow-up email, so that message would have to work extra-hard.
Stakes were high. TruLogica's average sale is $500,000 to $1 million, so each good lead was gold. Her email campaign could either be the opening to a beautiful relationship ... or ignored.CAMPAIGN
Herndon began with the basics - organize your leads and segment them. Immediately after the show she huddled with the salespersons who manned the booth and put each visitor name they'd gathered into one of three categories:
Category #1) Hot prospects
This was a small percentage of visitors. They had purchasing power or serious influence, plus (and this was critical) they recognized that their organization had a problem that TruLogica's technology could solve.
Some even pro-actively asked to be called by a sales rep when they got back to the office after the show.
Because these leads were already self-educated in the type of problem TruLogica solved, Herndon didn't want to send them the 101 white paper she usually used for direct response offers. She had to find content that would be compelling to more educated prospects.
There wasn't time to create a new white paper in-house, so for under $5,000, Herndon purchased the limited distribution rights for a META Group paper that accomplished the same objective.
"Our company wasn't specifically noted in the white paper," she notes. "It focused on tangible metrics and numbers to measure value from this particular [technology]. It validated our approach. It was a great draw for someone who needed to be taken to the next level on how to measure ROI."
Herndon turned this third party-branding to her advantage in the copywriting in the emailed invitation she sent to hot leads for the paper. (Link to sample below.)
The brief letter notes META's brand name twice and states that "This is NOT a sales brochure" in order to entice more clicks.
Each note featured a personalized first-name salutation, and was sent "from" the personal email account of the sales rep that the prospect had spent the most time with at the show. If the prospect replied, the response would go directly to the rep, instead of a general mailbox.
Next, Herndon used three tactics to make sure her landing page (aka splash page) converted the maximum number of clicks into white paper downloaders (link to sample below):
Tactic #a: The landing page was visually similar to TruLogica's show booth. "Visitors stop by so many booths that it is easy to get them mixed up," explains Herndon. "We wanted them to know where the email was coming from."
Tactic #b: The cleanly-designed page had very little copy, lots of white space, and only three links (one to get the paper PDF, one to get Adobe's PDF reader, and one to go to TruLogica's site Resource Center to sign up for additional emails.)
It's worth noting TruLogica's regular site navigation was not on this landing page -- Herndon didn't want to risk losing the attention of these hot prospects to other links not specifically suited for this stage in the relationship. She focused their eyes on the META paper, and only after that, allowed them to go to the main site.
Tactic #c: Visitors were not required to enter any information whatsoever to access the white paper.
After all, Herndon already had their contact information in her database which tied to email campaign results (link to easy tech that does this below), so she didn't need to put this artificial barrier in front of people to get names. Plus, her sales reps were already calling these hot leads. The campaign goal was to shorten and sweeten the sales cycle, not re-gather leads.
Category #2) Tepid prospects
These names were classic semi-qualified leads.
They might not understand the problem that technology like Trulogica's solves enough to be ready to shop for solutions; or, they might work for the right target company but in the wrong position.
In this case, Herndon's goal was to educate them a bit further and perhaps get permission to continue to email the most interested of the group so that someday they might turn into hot leads. So, her standard 101 white paper was the perfect offer.
The email and landing page they saw were very similar to that of the hot leads, except the paper offered was different.
Category #3) Cold prospects
Thanks to all of the "win a Palm" offers marketers have been running to generate trade show traffic for years now, businesspeople have been trained to stop by every single booth at a show and get their badge zapped to increase their chances of winning something.
Herndon realized most of the names on her list were these auto- zappers - people who stopped at the booth out of habit rather than a genuine interest in or qualification to purchase TruLogica technology. She put these names into the "cold leads" pile.
They too got a personalized email that also thanked them for stopping by the TruLogica booth.
However, she realized they probably wouldn't care about a specific white paper, so instead she sent them her most generalized offer -- a link to the site library which included a wide variety of information such as articles and information on relevant upcoming conferences.
We've never heard of a landing page that converted 100% of clickthroughs into white paper downloaders before, but Trulogica's landing page for the hottest leads broke records to get a 100% download rate from visitors. Plus, some of the visitors forwarded the link to colleagues - so the final download rate was around 125%.
"We kept seeing this individual continually download this paper and we were really concerned the guy was not able to download it," says Herndon.
She was so concerned, that the link wasn't working, that she had the appropriate sales rep send the prospect a polite email asking if everything was ok. Turns out the prospect was perfectly happy with the download -- so much so that he'd forwarded it to about two dozen other people.
Since the campaign went out in June, several of the analyst paper downloaders have become serious sales prospects and at least one has already entered the buying cycle.
- More than 30% of hot prospects visited the download site. 8% of these clickers took two actions -- they got the white paper and also registered to receive more information from TruLogica's library.
- 27% of the tepid prospects visited the download page and, of these, 27% downloaded the 101 paper. This huge difference in conversion rate from click to download shows that lead quality counts, and also that a third party branded white paper offer can be more powerful than an in-house paper.
Also, none of the tepid leads took the next step and registered for the library.
- None of the cold leads clicked on their emailed offer.
These results prove that differences in lead quality, even for attendees of the same niche show, can be profound.
These results also prove that it's worth it to split your campaigns by lead-type for measurement purposes at least (even if you don't do different creative.)
If Herndon had jumbled all the leads together in one lump campaign, she would have never learned that the landing page conversions were so different depending on lead-type.
It might, in fact, have changed her perception of the landing page's overall ROI.
Three useful links relating to this Case Study:
1. Samples of the emails and a landing page that worked for this campaign:
2. Crossover Solutions - the company that created the quick landing pages for Herndon's campaign, along with the back-end database to analyze results: