In the competitive world of business-to-business demand generation, small- to mid-size enterprises face increasing difficulty in gaining return from marketing activities. According to the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) 2006 Response Rate Trend Report, the average marketer recorded a 1.27% return on direct mail, 2.45% response rate from email and a 2.6% response rate on tele-prospecting activities. There are several key factors leading to the downturn in marketing response rates, among them increased competition and the emergence of new channels for lead generation. Given these market conditions, marketers need to deploy true multi-touch, multichannel marketing campaigns to help lift response and achieve ROI requirements.


Successful multichannel campaigns deliver consistent and regular messaging to target prospects and to engage qualified candidates in the sales process. To achieve success, marketers must first determine program objectives, define the metrics and then work backward to select appropriate program components. Marketers should ask themselves the following questions to help focus this effort:


  • What companies constitute your target market?
  • Who is your target contact (c-level, vice president, director, etc)?
  • What is the average sale price of the solution being offered?
  • What is the call-to-action?
  • What cost per lead can I tolerate?


Once the target cost per lead has been established, marketers should select tactics based on response rates and associated costs. Programs targeting larger companies ($500mm annual revenue or higher), higher level contacts (c-level, vice president) and/or positioning solutions valued at more than $100,000 generally require additional touches leading to a higher cost per lead. Programs of this caliber are most effective when combining alternate interactive formats, three-dimensional direct mail pieces or other unusual or viral tactics with permission e-mail and tele-prospecting in a consistent and repeated process. When positioning less expensive solutions in b-to-b marketing, the cost per lead for direct mail may not be well suited. In these circumstances, a series of email messages may prove to be more effective.


While well executed direct mail and email campaigns can uncover opportunities, most prospects unfortunately will not be fully qualified or sales ready, and it's a mistake to hand off such leads to the sales department until they actually are qualified. Deploying a tele-prospecting program to the same target accounts will help close this gap and nurture the prospects until they appear to indicate or have expressed sales readiness. At that time, a telephone conversation or sales visit should be deployed to articulate fully the value proposition and set the next steps for sales activity. If the tele-prospecting does not result in an immediate opportunity, the prospect should be further nurtured with additional low cost touches. Effective use of this model can produce a robust pipeline that exceeds ROI projections.


Craig Weiss is manager, project management, market intelligence, Harte-Hanks, Inc. (NYSE:HHS), San Antonio, TX, is a worldwide, direct and targeted marketing company that provides direct marketing services and shopper advertising opportunities to a wide range of local, regional, national and international consumer and business-to-business marketers. Contact Weiss at (858) 535-6752 or via e-mail at


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