E-mail ‘clown’-ing nets response from HR

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Zoom Information is a Web-based service using a business information search engine to find information on industries, companies, people, products and services. About 70% of ZoomInfo's customers are recruiters that want to tap into the search engine's profiles on nearly 36 million people and 3.8 million companies, said Russell Glass, VP-products and marketing at ZoomInfo.

However, the company faces challenges with human resources departments and organizations that aren't used to taking advantage of the latest Internet-based talent sourcing solutions. "Although we have proven to many that our products and services deliver very high ROI and high-quality candidates, if a recruiting organization isn't used to actively sourcing candidates, it can be a big shift in mind-set that is difficult to overcome," Glass said.

For the last several quarters, ZoomInfo has focused on convincing recruiters to request a demo and free trial of PowerSearch, the company's primary search engine. "Once they try the product, they're very likely to become customers," said Camille Roberts, director of interactive marketing. "Our marketing messages to recruiters emphasize how ZoomInfo PowerSearch can help them find candidates that their own networks might not include and in less time."

Roberts said that a lot of recruiters resist using such technologies as PowerSearch because they believe their networks are their lifeblood. "So our marketing messaging also communicates examples of how we can supplement their network, not supplant it," she said.

"In recent campaigns, ZoomInfo has spent a lot of time educating buyers and leading them through the stages of the buying cycle to the ultimate close," Glass said. ZoomInfo created a lot of content—such as webinars, e-newsletters, white papers, case studies and customer testimonials—that was promoted through e-mail and direct mail with a central theme of how it can help recruiters hire better candidates quickly and less expensively than by using traditional methods, he said.

"We worked to overcome that inherent resistance to change by giving them enough content to make them feel comfortable with us," Roberts said. "By the time they request a demo and free trial, they're ready to focus specifically on the product and how to use it within their recruiting process."

Roberts said that e-mail has proven to work as the best marketing medium for ZoomInfo. "It's cost-effective, there are some really great lists available and we can measure response rates dynamically," she said. "Direct mail is tougher because it's hard to get people to make the jump from paper to typing a URL in a browser; in e-mail, all they have to do is click. Online ads overcome this problem, but today people are pretty good at ignoring them."

Case in point: ZoomInfo's "Clowns" e-mail and online campaign—featuring simple cartoon images and the direct message of "Too many clowns wasting your time?"—netted a 68% ROI based on first-year revenue from new customers. However, the more clever direct mail "Ransom Note" wound up with a -56% ROI because the note was expensive to print, crumple, stuff and mail, Roberts said.

Better results, more leads

Overall, ZoomInfo's credence to online and e-mail marketing has allowed the company to maximize its effectiveness in reaching and winning business with HR departments and recruiters. "Taking that into account, the marketing team's lead nurturing efforts account for about 25% of ZoomInfo's new business," Glass said. "Last year, because of their multiple campaigns across various points of contact, the marketing team distributed some 23,000 leads to the sales team, more than three times the number distributed in 2005. Also, using the campaign ROI and response metrics to optimize media buying, we were able to achieve a 155% increase in year-over-year marketing revenue while actually decreasing the net media cost last year."

Glass said that ZoomInfo's marketing successes can be attributed to its use of technology and testing, as well as attention to numbers. "We track everything and, based on our scientific approach to marketing, we are able to segment our audience so we can send specific messages and content based on who they are and where they are in the buying cycle," Glass said. "We have made a few mistakes on messages and collateral, as well as media, but overall we find it is tough to make a big mistake when the approach is to test first and then blow out the campaign when you know it works."

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