Objective: Ariba needed a way to keep customers and prospects from receiving duplicate e-mails from within the organization. It also wanted to increase brand awareness, e-mail open rates and click-through rates, while improving the quality of leads it was sending to its sales force.
Strategy: Ariba created a centralized e-mail database and integrated its e-mail marketing program from ExactTarget with its sales force automation tool, Salesforce.com. In addition, the company chose individuals to coordinate when the company's marketing professionals could send e-mail messages, so no customer or prospect gets too many e-mails at once. Finally, Ariba's marketing team employed list segmentation, sending out tighter, more targeted e-mails.
Results: Click rates are up from 2.5% to between 5% and 9%. Just as important, sales now views marketing as an ally because of the better quality of leads.
Companies large and small often run into the same problem when they have more than one marketing manager or product line: Prospects and customers are bombarded with too many messages, some of which contain information that overlaps or even conflicts.
Only two years ago, spend, invoice and contract management software provider Ariba Inc., which has a 42-person marketing team, was running into a similar problem, said Christelle Flahaux, the company's senior manager-demand generation and field marketing. The company relied heavily on e-mail marketing, and every internal group wanted to send out its own newsletter or product-focused messaging.
“The messaging was confusing and cluttered, and sometimes you'd deliver the wrong message to the wrong audience,” she said. “We wanted to fine-tune everything.”
Ariba's first order of business was to create a centralized database and integrate it with the company's sales force automation tool, Salesforce.com. In addition, the marketing team charged a handful of people with e-mail oversight responsibilities, Flahaux said.
“The CRM database holds all of the customer information now, so we have a holistic view of the customer,” she said. “This allows us to have one or two people responsible to help out whoever wants to send an e-blast out, so we know we're not sending out two e-mails to the same customer in the same week.”
So if a salesperson sends out a personalized e-mail to a customer or prospect, that same person won't be pinged again that week.
Once the database was in place, the marketing team was able to start segmenting the list, which has led to a big jump in open rates, Flahaux said. For example, each year the company sends out the results of a large survey in white paper format. The report includes details and results about all industries. It had an average click-through rate of 2.5%.
This past year, Ariba sliced the report into multiple smaller reports that focused on specific industries. Click-through rates shot up to between 5% and 9%. But even more significant, those people who did open the report were also more receptive to inside sales calls, Flahaux said.
The salespeople appreciate the new e-mail tactics, Flahaux said, and are happy to work hand-in-hand with marketing.
“It used to be "Why aren't you sending me leads?' or "These leads are garbage.' Now, sales tells us that we're sending them great leads and giving them a good view into the pipeline,” she said.
Originally published July 14, 2008