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Case Study: How a Technology Firm Upped Webinar Attendance, Improved Lead Nurturing

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Company: Objectivity, Inc.
Contact: Kimberley Roberts, Manager of Direct and Internet Marketing
Location: Sunnyvale, Calif.
Industry: Software, B2B
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 50

Quick Read:

Objectivity, Inc. is a San Francisco-area technology firm that provides data management systems for government, science, and engineering organizations. Its four-person marketing department is responsible for lead generation and lead nurturing. Twice a quarter, the department holds lead-generating webinars, a key component of the marketing program.

The marketing staff is judged not only by how many potential customers attend these webinars but also by how well they identify registrants who are most likely to be responsive to Objectivity's products, which makes the follow-up process more efficient for the firm's outside-sales force.

By hiring an outside expert in lead optimization for marketers and using its full range of data, Objectivity increased turnout for webinars an average of 10%. The quality of the leads is high as well: More than 30% of the leads typically score high enough to be handed off to sales.


The Challenge:

Kimberley Roberts, Objectivity's manager of direct and Internet marketing, leads the company's four-person marketing department, which also includes a public relations expert, a webmaster and a part-time CMO. There is no budget for expansion.

To focus on integration between marketing and sales, the marketing staff is paid on the number of prospects that get through each stage of the firm's marketing funnel.

"The top of the funnel is visitors coming to the Web site," explained Roberts. "Second are those who fill out the forms on our site, third there are suspects who download assets from our site and then there are those who click through emails. Lastly there are leads, which are prospects that the sales person looks at and says this person is worth my time. It is up to marketing to nurture them at each stage until they are field ready."

So Roberts and her team have a monetary incentive to get high-quality visitors to come to Objectivity's Web site and engage with it as much as possible.

Another main goal for Roberts is to entice people to register and attend her twice-a-quarter lead-generating webinars. Although the number of people who attend is important, that isn't enough to ensure success; she must also qualify all registrants as part of her lead-nurturing duties. So, overall, Roberts needed a low-cost resource to help her attract a high-quality audience to the company's webinars and Web site.

The Campaign:

Roberts hired Bulldog Solutions, Inc., a provider of lead-marketing optimization for B2B marketers. Bulldog's methodologies allow companies like Objectivity to manage a lead throughout its lifecycle, score each lead to find the most likely sales conversions, and improve product interest among those leads that have been scored low by continuing to communicate benefits in well-timed email solicitations and courtesy calls.

Roberts set a goal of 200 registrants for her first major webinar, which was produced by Bulldog Solutions. The company recommended which vendors to use, planned media use for promoting the event, and assisted in the negotiation and purchase of media.

Perhaps most helpful was real-time access to data via Bulldog's "campaign management center portal." The setup allowed Roberts to observe which vendors were drawing the most registrants.

When she grew concerned about the low productivity of some media, she contacted them; with data to back up her claims, she got what she wanted: "I was able to figure what was the real-time ROI on our media spending related to the webinars. If we weren't meeting our goals, I asked for additional advertising at no extra cost," Roberts said.

Also, real-time insight into conversion data allowed Roberts to recognize early on which Internet-based messages generated interest but not registrations. She was therefore able to ask for changes in the online copy and have those changes implemented quickly so that she could observe the results.

The Results:

Roberts said the ability to make adjustments during the promotion was critical to her success. She exceeded her attendance goal by 13.5%, attracting 227 participants. And, perhaps more importantly, Objectivity was impressed with the quality of the leads generated: About 66% of the leads from the media plan scored high enough to be handed over to sales, and 76% of the leads that resulted from the free advertising scored high enough to be handed off to sales.

Other webinars have produced similar results for attendance, while the quality of the leads handed off to sales have ranged from 30% to 35%

Roberts has also seen improvements in reaching her department's annual goals: "I'm proud to say that six months into our fiscal year (which began July 1, 2007) we have exceeded our numbers for three of the five categories—visitors, registrants and sale leads."

"We are still shy on 'suspects,' which represents repeated engagement. But overall we are becoming smarter on lead nurturing—we have put process and tools in place that are working," Roberts said.

Lessons Learned:

  • When nurturing leads, find the tools necessary to understand your leads. Try to develop an understanding of where your leads are coming from and their concerns. "Find the tools to do that, whether it using a particular software or service or listening in on interviews with potential customers," said Roberts.
  • Find vendors you can trust; and when you do, don't be afraid to ask for more. Roberts was happy working with Bulldog Solutions and most of her other webinar vendors. When some of the media advertising didn't get the result she expected, she asked for free ads and received them. "Don't assume the answer will be no if think you deserve more," she said.

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