Marketing campaigns can establish brand image without the prospect sensing a direct touch from the marketer. Sales calls can be insistent enough to irritate. Effective lead nurturing falls somewhere between the two—enough contact to engage, but enough space to respect the demands on a busy prospect.
The trick is to know how to balance both the timing and type of outreach. Mixed media programs that use a combination of quality outbound calls, voicemail messages, email and direct mail, optimally scheduled for greatest effect, are the most effective use of marketing dollars. Every day, a large percentage of leads are abandoned by sales simply because the prospect did not respond to a few, single channel contact attempts. Sales people generally do not have the time or patience to make the multiple touches, which can run from as few as eight to as many as thirty over many months, to identify, qualify and nurture prospects to a point of sales-readiness. Even immediate-need opportunities can take as many as a dozen attempts by sales to become effectively engaged.
A multi-touch strategy also allows the prospect to be contacted in his or her preferred manner. Most busy decision-makers are not willing or able to arbitrarily pre-empt their business day to respond to a telephone sales contact, but can reply to an email or voicemail at their convenience and schedule a time for follow up. Some prefer the anonymity of email; others are more comfortable with the personal appeal of voicemail. A combination, properly timed and executed, opens all channels of communication and thereby opens opportunities.
Throughout the years I have collected data while working with scores of clients on hundreds of direct marketing programs. I've tracked the number, frequency and types of touches performed and corresponding response rates. An analysis revealed that unless you are reaching prospects with at least nine individual touches-including a minimum of two email messages-you are not achieving the results you could.
Why nine? That is generally a sufficient number of touches to deliver during one contact cycle (the length of each cycle defined by the size of company and level of decision-making) via a combination of quality outbound calls, emails, voicemail messages and direct mail. Note that the point of diminishing returns in contact cycles per decision-maker is three-to-five.
You can think of a traditional one-touch campaign as being a single fisherman on a lake with one worm. A multi-touch, multi-media, multi-cycle campaign is like a fishing tournament with many lines and different types of bait luring the prospects in. Such an approach boosts your chances for contact and helps keep your solution top of mind until the timing is right.
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By Dan McDade
Topics: Marketing Strategy