Monday, May 31, 2010

Justifying Adjustments – Saying Hello…Faster

(Guest post from Amber Stevens)

A few weeks ago, @heatherfoeh wrote about the value of a Welcome Program. This past November, the Eloqua marketing team launched our own version of a 3 touch – 30 day Welcome Program designed to engage prospects during the time when they’re known to be most receptive to giving and receiving info (according to MarketingSherpa study). Initial results were amazing with click-through rates reaching over 20% in some instances. But, like any good marketer, we know there is room to optimize. Here’s what we’ve learned along the way.

Unsolicited hello’s make you seem like a crazy person. This might seem obvious, but we got so excited with the initial results of the program that we started convincing ourselves that it made sense to welcome everyone. Conversion rates plummeted. Using the ‘Email Group Overview Grouped by Contact Field’ report (which is great for slicing and dicing email results) to sort on lead source, I combined similar sources and quickly realized that for us, welcoming acquired names through list builds and our sales team prospecting efforts drove the lowest CTR and the highest un-subscribes.

We stopped doing that.

It’s also important to note that when we run online events or promotions with outside vendors, we send one “bridge” email to follow up on the specific event or action they took, and then feed them into the welcome program. We had considered stopping this practice thinking that perhaps only those contacts who directly sought us out (ie came to the website) should be welcomed, but when we looked at the data, we realized we have great conversions from our 3rd party leads.

We’ll keep doing this.

No one cares about “that guy” or your service pitch. Using the report ‘Email Group Overview’ I could see that conversions drop off drastically on both the second and third emails. Turns out, people LOVE the offers in the first email – but the second and third don’t drive a fraction of the conversions. Even when we swapped offers from a customer story (swapping male for female images had no impact) to our money back guarantee service, the second communication still gets paltry results. I think this has something to do with their buying stage – you wouldn’t necessarily care to learn more about services if you’re just window shopping. The third email achieves higher than average click through rates, but is still less than half as effective as the first email.

We’re going to revise the program and make it one touch – leveraging the highest converting offers (our Eloqua demo, fun intro to marketing automation and Best Practice Videos) – and minimizing other content by providing, but not over promoting.

So, as you can see, saying hello can take many different forms. The first step is to just get started – you can always learn and adjust along the way.

Please post your thoughts or questions on lead nurturing – I’m interested to hear what you’ve seen be successful.

Find me on Twitter @AmberSte


Brian Kardon said...

Great post, Amber! I love to see how you are analyzing and changing so fast. Great lesson for all marketers -- try, analyze, change.

Nadia de Villa said...

Agreed, awesome post! Great use of tactics and supporting reports to identify what works and what does not. Simple yet effective knowledge nugget for marketers.

Michelle said...

This is a terrific post. I'd also love to hear about programs around new customer welcome programs, re-engagement programs (specifically for customers, rather than prospects) and renewal campaigns.