List-Free B2B E-Mail Acquisition

Modem Media’s Account Director Susan Macy Hayes was asked by a leading telecommunications firm to recommend email lists for the business-to-business (B2B) launch of a new wireless product. She replied, “Can we think about this for a week and get back to you?”

Hayes and her team returned a week later with a decidedly different approach. Even she calls it off the wall. They decided to forgo the expense of buying lists altogether. Instead, they created an innovative, multistep product launch/acquisition campaign that generated (drumroll!) over 100,000 qualified leads.

As Creative Director Alex Hendler put it, “We basically created a carrot to draw prospects through the process.” That process included product education and lead generation.

The Creative and Marketing Challenge

This particular product’s benefit was difficult to articulate. The product enables document sharing, as well as remote calendar and email access, through a wireless phone. Customers first need an application on their company server and on the phone itself to enable connectivity with a network.

This requirement certainly removes the product from the impulse-purchase realm. The agency was faced with explaining the benefits and complexity of a network setup to potential new customers. The campaign’s objective was to identify leads to pass on to the sales force, which in turn had its own challenges in making the enterprise-wide sale.

The Acquisition Solution

The team decided at the outset that traditional online advertising banners wouldn’t suffice to communicate the complex benefit. After projection, Media Director Kamin Macomber decided at $150 CPM, buying lists of businesses with large mobile workforces would yield poor return on investment (ROI). “We knew we needed to try nontraditional ways to collect leads from this target,” she said.

Modem Media instead recommended the following architecture:

  • Teaser ads and site placements in online newsletters and similar media that reached the target audience. The idea was to make a general case for the product by showing the actual customer experience of the wireless phone — to interest heads of mobile sales teams enough that they would make a case for implementation with their IT people.

  • Ads led prospects to a multipart landing page that included an interactive demo of the wireless phone to further educate prospects. The feeling was unless prospects really understood the product, they wouldn’t fill out the requested contact information form. A special offer, which wasn’t specified, was included as a “carrot” to encourage prospects to finish the registration process.
  • Once the data were captured, the special offer was emailed. The e-message included an additional opportunity to have a sales rep call to discuss the prospect’s individual corporate situation.

The Results

Modem Media generated over 100,000 leads, plus more instantaneous benefits: many requests for immediate contact from a sales rep. Additionally, 4 percent requested the company contact them about other wireless products and services, an extra database bonus that contributes to program ROI as it converts to sales over time. This valuable, permission-based prospect database is now used on an ongoing basis for remarketing, seasonal offers, and product launches.

The Modem Media team feels the key to the program’s success can be attributed to three key factors:

  • Researching and targeting the right sites for ad placement and opt-in offers

  • Good negotiating to get the best ad rates on the sites
  • Clearly communicating the real customer experience to decision makers to gain their initial interest and support in championing the product recommendation to IT

As Hayes says, the media buy wasn’t inexpensive, but it was definitely more cost-effective than buying lists, hence worth the extra time and research.

Thanks, Modem Media, for sharing this case study with ClickZ readers. We’re always looking for more. Send your success stories to Karen.

Meet Karen at ClickZ E-Mail Strategies in New York City on May 19 and 20.

Related reading