Performance Marketing Portraits

Lead Generation

The push from the corner office that all media must be measurable isn't lost on companies that operate within the sales channel. In recent months, B2B magazine publishers -- CMP Media, Reed Business Information's DM2 DecisionMaker Group, and International Data Group -- have all introduced "sales lead databases," which use raw list data from millions of subscription, Webinar, and conference data to qualify customers' readiness to buy.

The category itself is not new, but the products -- CMP Buyer Connection, DecisionMaker Lead Generation Service, and IDG Connect -- are an obvious response to companies that say they want programs with clear-cut returns. In addition, publishers see opportunities for garnering much larger slices of the marketing-services pie by owning the process rather than simply renting lists.

Say a client makes a request such as, "Find me IT managers in companies with $50 million-plus sales who are planning to buy networked services within 90 days." Using a qualifying process including e-mail, direct mail, and telephone surveys, or drill-down questions on a Web site registration page, publishers attempt to determine if someone needs a product or plans to buy one, and if so, when.

Digital advertising solutions company ValueClick offers a real-time analytics capability that improves the online lead qualification process. Using what it calls "embedded lead technology," ValueClick takes the registration process one step further by deploying click-through pages to solicit qualifying information. "The more we know about the user, the more targeted we can make the offers," says David Yovanno, general manager of ValueClick Media. 

Word of Mouth

Nowhere is consumer control over media more evident than in word-of-mouth marketing. Increasingly, marketers are offering consumers a platform for encouraging each other to spread the word about their brands through customized community or social networking sites.

For instance, at willyoujoinus.com, sponsored by Chevron, people can create a dialogue on energy issues. "The site is less about brand advocacy and more about influencing policymakers who make decisions," explains Tina Miletich, managing director of interactive for Wunderman, New York.

The issue-oriented site is a good example of how marketers are offering consumers an outlet for their opinions. The site also provides information on subjects such as natural gas, oil consumption, and hydrogen solutions, and jumpstarts the conversation by asking questions such as, "How will successful long-term energy development coexist with a clean and sustainable environment?" Word-of-mouth can also turn ugly, and marketers need to anticipate that.

Chevron monitors the conversation but doesn't measure it. "As a global energy company, Chevron feels it has a social responsibility," Miletich says. A small Chevron logo and an "About Chevron" button sit at the bottom of the screen. People from 136 countries have entered the dialogue on the site.

IM Bots

Finding uncluttered media platforms is a challenge. But with more than 100 million people using instant messaging, IM bots automated programs that target consumers and create a one-to-one dialogue through IM between brands are getting more traction around the media planning table.

"What's interesting to us is to understand how our clients' targets are communicating," says Yvonne Furth, president and CEO of Draft Chicago. "They're communicating through text messaging and instant messaging; they're not even using e-mail anymore. So it's important that we know what's hot with our target audience."

IM bots are scripted to either answer questions or lead visitors to a place where they might find the answers, such as a blog, a Web site, or an e-commerce page, according to Wunderman's Miletich. 

Recruiting

The spotlight on response-driven media has caused a surge in direct marketing recruitment over the last year, but the job requirements look very different from direct marketing jobs of the 1980s and '90s, recruiters say. "Companies are looking for integrated and multichannel experience, even if the current position isn't working on all those channels," says Neysa Bennett, president of Chicago-based direct marketing recruiting firm Bennett Wheelless Group.

"There's an integrated team, and the direct marketer is part of that team. They need to understand the whole approach." On the agency side, Bennett says, "Clients want somebody who understands all metrics and can cross-sell and upsell."

And clients are fussy about what they want. "Eight years ago, the thinking was that if you had really significant DM experience, you could move it over to the online arena," says Victoria James, president of Victoria James Executive Search, Inc. in Norwalk, Conn. "Now they're saying we really want you to have online [experience], as well. If you're working for a cataloger or traditional direct marketing company and you're a good marketer and there's an online expansion, generally some of the talent will come from that pool, because they can trust you. But coming in from the outside, they generally will not take someone who has not already done it."

In the most senior positions, "Companies are looking for candidates who have a solid grounding in DM fundamentals," says Chris Nadherny, who works for the North American direct and interactive marketing practice of Spencer Stuart. "The importance of understanding and being able to build brands is increasingly more requested in the DM searches we're conducting."

Niches

Imagine trying to sell refrigerators to moms. You might think focusing on features and functions would be the way to go. Not true. In fact, with that kind of message, you may only gain the attention of one-third of all new mothers, according to "Parents Y*Report," a recent Yankelovich study.

The Yankelovich research shows that mothers' attitudes and behaviors segment into three tiers: Lieutenants, Sapphires, and Coaches. "Lieutenants are about setting down rules and keeping a close eye on the family," explains J. Walker Smith, Ph.D., president of Yankelovich Partners, Inc. Sapphires are interested in increasing their ability to give things to their family and to make them more successful, while Coaches are more interested in teaching their children independence and self-reliance. The kind of refrigerator messages that appeal to Lieutenants, Smith says, help take their minds off the appliance so they can focus on other things. For Sapphires, sleek design and state-of-the-art capabilities are all-important. Coaches focus on features like water dispensers and ice makers that empower kids to help themselves. 

CRM

One of the holy grails of customer relationship management (CRM) is understanding who your best customers are so that you can cultivate those relationships to add even more value to the relationship on both sides.

One tool that helps companies achieve those goals is Fred Reichheld's Net Promoter Score. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) helps marketers determine which customers are the most loyal, and thus most responsible for future growth, by asking them what Reichheld calls the "Ultimate Question": "How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?"

The Score is based on a formula that segments customers into three tiers: Promoters, or loyal enthusiasts; Passives, who are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers; and Detractors, unhappy customers trapped in bad relationships.

Answers range from 0 (least likely) to 10 (most likely). Those that fall into the 9-10 category are promoters  your most loyal customers and your best referral sources.

To determine your NPS, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters (%P minus %D = NPS). The resulting number is the benchmark as you work to turn more customers into promoters.

Net Promoter is a registered trademark of Satmetrix Systems Inc., Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld.

Co-Registration

Do your co-registration partners use opt-ins or opt-outs? Do they handle the co-registration process internally or outsource it? Is your offer tied to another company's?

If you're running co-registration programs and don't know the answers to these questions, shame on you, writes Daniel Felter in his must-read blog (olgassociation.org/blog), where he serves up tough love to those involved in co-registration marketing.

Felter, CEO of Opt-Intelligence Inc., and partners Stephan Pretorius, president of Acceleration eMarketing; Chris Redlitz, president of Feedster; and Kitt Collier Odukoya, director of online marketing at Earthlink, formed the Online Lead Generation Association (OLGA) in December 2005 to promote best practices in online lead generation, co-registration, and related online marketing disciplines.

OLGA signed up 26 members in its first six months, including eForce Media, Flatiron Media, Monster, and Moving.com. The group will establish standards and also plans to hold events.

Case Study: Royal Caribbean

You've got e-mail and lots of it, half of which you have no desire to read. But imagine opening a newsletter that within seconds has you mesmerized by streaming video of stingrays swimming in crystal blue water, a lifelike invitation from the cruise director for a private tour of the ship, and a picturesque video of an exotic shoreline. You can hear the calming ocean waves and almost feel the soft skin of the stingray. This is no ordinary e-mail newsletter.

And that's exactly how you're supposed to feel about "Explorer," the interactive newsletter from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. "We target a mindset, not a demographic," says Matt Lindley, executive creative director of The Arnold Agency, Royal's agency of record. "We call them explorers -- people who like to try new things and value new experiences."

RC delivered several million "Explorer" e-mails, which resemble a glossy travel magazine, in February and March to previous customers, Crown & Anchor loyalty program members, travel agents, and people who have contacted the cruise line in the past.

The goal? To increase engagement with the brand. "Cruises are a complex, considered purchase, so we want to take advantage of interactive tools to show what it's like," says Bill Hayden, director of relationship marketing for RC.

Content was dynamically constructed with different offers, links, skins, titles, and content lineups. Content was also targeted based on profile information, such as ports of departure, destinations, and seasons.

Two sets of measurements were tracked. "One is what every company wants: 'How did we move the needle today?'" explains Tony Quin, CEO of IQ Interactive, which designed the newsletter. "And then, to what degree are we engaging our audience? The mission of the piece was not only to make a sale today, but to be sufficiently engaging to build brand preference over time. We were able to measure how much time they spent with each story and what action they took from that point on."

Open and click-through rates for "Explorer" were 66 percent higher than the cruise line's previous HTML e-mails, and the pass-along rate was 7.5 times higher.

RC also distributes a semi-annual print magazine and regularly uses e-mail and direct mail.

"Explorer is definitely going to run again," says Quin. "It reinforced everything we know. It taught us that this kind of stuff really fits with the experiential brand."
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