In an earlier post, I argued that persistence is critical for effective lead generation in today's B2B marketing environment. Business buyers now have access to a wealth of online information, and they can easily perform research and gather information about products or services on their own. As a result, they are less likely to respond to lead generation campaigns, and this means you usually need to touch prospects multiple times to entice them to respond.
An article in the May issue of Deliver magazine ("Box of Cheer") provides a great example of the power of persistence in B2B lead generation. The article describes a very successful lead generation campaign run by Nuance Communications, a provider of customer service automation products. The target audience for the campaign was 1,416 directors and vice presidents who manage contact (call) centers at 497 US companies. The objective of the campaign was to secure sales meetings with new prospects.
The campaign began with a dimensional mailer that contained several items, including a large printed piece in the form of a "foam finger" (like those seen at sporting events), a customized letter, and three printed magnets. These materials featured a PURL that would take responders to a robust microsite that contained multiple content resources such as articles, reports, and webcasts.
About two weeks after the mailer arrived, Nuance launched a series of four follow-up e-mails featuring an offer of an additional content resource that could be accessed by visiting the microsite. After these four e-mails, Nuance sent the target audience a second personalized letter and a book that included a customer case study. A final e-mail was sent two weeks after this personalized letter.
The campaign produced an overall response rate of 21.7% and generated 48 sales meetings.
The Nuance campaign illustrates the importance of persistence in B2B lead generation. The campaign was designed to include seven coordinated outbound touches over a period of about three months. While the Deliver article did not provide a breakdown showing the response rates for the individual campaign components, it's clear that Nuance believes that all of the touches were critical. The article quoted Marcie Lascher, Nuance's director of enterprise marketing, on this specific point: "There were many top-tier targets who didn't respond until the fifth or sixth touch that we sent them, so you could make the argument if we had just sent them one or two things, we never would have realized that benefit."
The Nuance campaign provides an outstanding model for B2B lead generation marketing. This kind of multitouch campaign is both necessary and appropriate for companies that (a) need to reach management- or executive-level buyers, and (b) sell more expensive products or services.
As I wrote in my earlier post, there are several ways to bolster the effectiveness of outbound B2B lead generation marketing, and you'll certainly want to apply those principles to your lead generation programs. However, for many B2B companies, nothing contributes more to effective lead generation than persistence.