Driving 23 percent response from direct mail and microsite campaign

The opportunity: A B2B software company wanted to go after a new industry vertical.
The outbound sales team relied primarily on cold-calling to industry lists and needed some way to take the prospects from ice cold to warm.

The solution: Marketing ran a direct mail and microsite campaign to open doors.
The purpose was to get prospects’ attention and give Sales an interesting way to start the conversation.

The results: The campaign achieved a 23 percent response rate – more than 10 times higher than industry averages*.
Twenty percent became warm leads, giving Sales a way to prioritize their cold calls.
* Response rates for direct mail to prospects tend to be in the 1-2 percent range, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2012 Response Rate Report.

The details: Here’s how I managed the campaign.
The company had experienced success with a similar tactic the year before, mailing prospects an unusual item and a handwritten note that directed them to a personalized microsite.

The head of marketing wanted to repeat this tactic with new creative geared toward the new target audience of B2C brand marketers. As the project manager, I handled the day-to-day interactions with the creative agency and laid out the entire process for sending leads to Sales:

  • Along with the head of marketing and the product-marketing manager, I brainstormed ideas for the campaign’s creative concept and wrote microsite content.
  • I conveyed our team’s creative feedback to the agency and worked with my agency counterpart to keep the project on schedule.
  • I supervised the administrative assistant responsible for pulling the list, then worked with the agency on list scrubbing and direct-mail fulfillment.
  • I tested the API call that pushed respondent data into the marketing-automation system and worked with the agency to correct bugs.
  • I wrote marketing-automation rules that notified Sales of responses and built automated email triggers that followed up with prospects.
  • I presented the campaign to Sales and explained how they would get leads.
  • I created a metrics report and shared it with Sales and Marketing.

The mailer consisted of a movie poster in the style of a 1950s B movie, a bag of microwave popcorn, an envelope with a personalized URL (PURL) handwritten on the outside and two old-fashioned movie tickets.
Direct mail creative

When recipients visited their PURLs, they came to the Terror of Error microsite and saw a brief Flash movie that introduced the company’s software offering.
Screenshots of microsite

The PURLs allowed the agency to track which respondents visited the microsite and to classify them as warm or hot depending on which pages they saw. API calls sent warm and hot leads to the marketing-automation system, where automation rules notified the assigned reps and sent follow-up emails.
Direct-mail automation rule

I walked Sales through the campaign creative and wrote up detailed instructions about the lead-notification process.
Instructions for Sales

I reported on metrics for Sales and Marketing management.
Direct mail metrics

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