A Marketing Marvel
Lucent Technologies, Milpitas, Calif.
Corporate networked messaging
Thirty day implementation. System up and running since May 1999.
David Douglass, senior manager, Marketing Services
David Douglass is nothing if not an optimist. As senior manager of electronic marketing for Lucent Technologies' Messaging Solutions Group, he spearheads marketing campaigns designed to put Lucent's high-end integrated voice mail/e-mail/fax systems in large enterprises around the globe. In this position, he sees potential virtually everywhere. "Every lead that comes in will be a good lead eventually," he says.
But don't mistake Douglass' optimism for naivete: he's also enough of a realist to recognize that some of his marketing efforts weren't producing results. In mid 1998, he precisely diagnosed the problem. "We had a Web site that was basically shovelware-we took our marketing materials and put them on the site," he says. Douglass wanted to put the Web to work for his marketing campaigns. He wanted to get away from long campaigns that required multiple phone calls just to get a lead into the database. These typically dragged out over several months and generated a mere 1.5 percent response rate. In short, he wanted "a one-to-one marketing engine."
Unfortunately, Douglass didn't have the in-house tools to create such an engine. To solve this problem, he turned to Annuncio Software, a leading provider of marketing automation solutions. In collaboration with the Annuncio Professional Services group, Douglass and Lucent implemented Annuncio Live software package to assist in the design and management of a new wave of online marketing campaigns.
For the maiden voyage, Douglass decided to create a benchmark for performance by essentially rerunning a campaign he had conducted using direct mail several months earlier, targeting IT professionals with the same pitch and same gift incentive for respondents. The direct mail campaign had pulled in 1.5 percent response, "and we were really thrilled" at the time, he explains.
Two hours after sending a broadcast e-mail to IT professionals on opt-in mailing lists, Douglass checked the project status in the Annuncio software, and was staggered to find that he had already collected a 2 percent response from the target audience. That campaign ultimately topped out with a 10 percent response rate, and Lucent was quite pleased with the results. "We mailed to half the people, got four times the response, and at one-third the cost [of the direct mail campaign]," says Douglass.
In general, Lucent's campaigns start with an introductory e-mail, inviting recipients to click on an HTML link embedded in the mail and register for more information on messaging solution products, with a gift offer thrown in for good measure. "The people we want to reach are people who are e-mail centric," says Reid Cooper, channel manager for Lucent.
Once on the Web site, visitors are asked a short series of qualifying questions (size of company, messaging needs, etc.) and given the chance to receive more information by mail. The leads are then broken down based on the answers into different product groups, and the most likely prospects are contacted again 14 days later with an invitation to peruse more specific information about Lucent's offerings. Finally, the leads are invited to download a total cost of ownership (TCO) tool, which helps them evaluate those offerings.
That download is the linchpin of the operation. Once the potential customer gets the TCO tool, the sales force receives the lead information, with a complete detailed history of demographics and product needs. The information is obtained faster and more accurately than with direct mail, and all before any human contact. "We never had to pick up the phone, and we've already established a relationship with them," says Douglass.
Despite greater selectivity in the qualification process than was possible using direct mail and phone filtering, Lucent is actually generating more leads for the sales force than before. Better yet, the sales force is now armed with advanced knowledge of client needs. Cooper explains, "Their office telephone switch, the size of the opportunity-we sound more intelligent, because we're not just making a blind cold call. We have that information in front of us."
Cooper is doubly pleased because his VAR channel has a better reason to take notice of the leads he distributes. "They know they're going to get a more positive response from the customer," and are more inclined to follow up, he says.
But Douglass says a long-term goal is to start narrowing the field even further and only send the best prospects on to the field. "We used to send every lead out to the field and tell them essentially, `You make the decision," he said. "What happened was we tended to frustrate them."
Douglass is particularly excited that he's essentially getting the luxury of selectivity for free. "Now, we're able to go into the database and say, `These 12 people would really be perfect,' rather than `These 1,200 people would be somewhat close,' for no additional cost."
Making It Happen
Carrie Hamstreet, director of professional services for Annuncio Software, coordinated the team that supported Lucent's efforts. She was very encouraged with the results Lucent saw without putting a slew of their own technical personnel on the project. "Traditionally, I don't think marketing people are used to using a lot of different software products, so it's fun to show them something they can quickly pick up," she said.
Hamstreet characterized the Lucent project as "one of the most successful we've ever done," but it was not without a few growing pains. In particular, accessing the Internet resources from Lucent proved to be an interesting challenge. Although Douglass made a conscious decision to outsource the database and e-mail components of the project, he still ran into a roadblock when it came time to take the campaigns live. Lucent, a very network security-aware firm, was slow to open the necessary network ports in the corporate firewall to allow the remote management tool to function, and the first campaign had to be built from a Lucent partner marketing agency.
Douglass says he didn't go into the project with any specific quantitative goals for the project-he just wanted something that worked. That's changing, however, now that Lucent has a few complete Annuncio campaigns under their belt. "This quarter is for benchmarking," he says, and he'll be taking a particularly close look at lead conversion rates, rather than just response rates.
Lucent isn't telling what they spent on the entire process, they just point out that they're spending less and getting more than they did with conventional methods, even with Annuncio providing ongoing assistance with a staff of six on-call. Annuncio indicates that in general, a full Annuncio Live implementation runs upwards of $100,000.
Success has been sweet for Douglass, but it's also brought greater expectations from management. "What seemed like a phenomenal response rate (10 percent compared to 1.5 percent) now seems ho-hum. They want to see us do better." We should all have such "problems."