Effective marketing has always been multi-channel, and in my experience events, email and telemarketing are the dream team for business-to-business marketing. There’s also research to support my experience.
The research comes from a survey I did in 2012 that compared the effectiveness of marketing channels with their popularity in generating sales leads. 200 marketing executives took part in the study, and the results are in the chart below.
What is most noticeable is that effectiveness is not always matched by popularity. Events and email are equally as effective as they are popular, but telemarketing is not. While the marketing managers I surveyed agreed it was effective (ranked 2nd), it is not very popular (ranked 6th).
Now let’s analyse each element of the dream team individually.
It is true that response to emails has been falling for some years, but it is still possible to get an average 10% open rate and 10% click rate. It’s also true the cost of sending emails has remained low.
This channel is great for generating cold leads and moving warm leads further along the suspect to sale process. It is also very good for long-term sales that require nurturing. Nurturing sales leads is the technique of staying in touch with buyers during a lengthy decision-making process.
But, beware of unsubscribe rates. After 24 months, just a 1% monthly unsubscribe rate means you could lose contact with 18.9% of your customers. If you get a 2% unsubscribe rate on a monthly email programme you will lose touch with 35.8% of your audience by the end of 2 years.
Email marketing also lacks Human Interaction (HI) – and HI is important in the digital age. My research shows that almost 70% of B2B sales involve HI. This is where events and telemarketing score.
HI is something that comes in spades at events – you are literally face-to-face with your clients and prospective customers. If you choose the right event, the relevance is also high. This is where you can generate plenty of warm and hot leads through having one-to-one conversations with relevant individuals, including individuals you have invited via an email campaign. It is absolutely possible to convert prospective customers at events and win new business.
However, if you are at an exhibition, the position of your stand is crucial. It can have a dramatic impact on the success of the event. Also, recognise that you have little control over the audience at an exhibition – that is dictated by the exhibition organisers and can change from year to year.
Finally, ensure your staff at the event are enthusiastic and able to sell. We have all attended exhibitions where the staff seem more interested in their mobile phones than engaging with customers. It is sometimes wise to also give the team a refresher course in how to sell, and perhaps even a little role play on objection handling or how to attract attention.
If you agree that HI is defined as a two-way, ‘live’ conversation, then telemarketing also has HI. It is considered one of the best channels for lead generation as a good telemarketer can handle all the objections that are bound to be raised in any sales process.
Cold and warm leads, plus nurturing, are where telemarketing works best. Nurturing is frequently used in complex, high-value sales where you need to get approval from a buying team (often at C-level). Telemarketing enables you to dig a little deeper, ask questions about the buyers changing needs, understand new objections and ultimately close the sale.
However, regular rejection can affect staff morale, and just because someone is ‘chatty’ does not make them a great telemarketer – so a quality training programme is key.
My experience (and some evidence) is that events, email and telemarketing are the dream team in B2B marketing. Email is a low-cost tool to identify those that display buying behaviour. Events introduce human interaction and telemarketing nurtures sales leads over a period of time. Do you agree? Let me have your thoughts.
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