Barnes said that inbound marketing is overtaking traditional outbound. However, she added that plenty of thought goes into the outbound efforts that help drive inbound responses. For example, Barnes said, the agency's direct mail campaigns focus on dimensional packages built around custom lists.
“These are very targeted campaigns to smaller lists,” she said. “For these highly targeted people, you need a higher-impact piece. They can be expensive, yes—some run $100 apiece—but you have to break through to drive prospects to an online conversation.”
Another major shift Barnes has seen in the direct marketing world—and one that she said she embraces—is the refocus on becoming a strategic partner with clients.
“This isn't about buying lists,” Barnes said. “For example, we have a huge content practice, and most of our engagements start with a content audit. That goes through the process of knowing prospect segments and personas, and mapping content to the buyer's journey. We'll look for gaps and then fill them.”
Babcock & Jenkins' campaign on behalf of Ciena illustrates the effectiveness of savvy segmentation. Its targeted banner ads delivered precise technical data combined with “the soul of the brand”—highlighting the brand story while providing good content. As a result, page views exceeded the campaign goal by 500%, and 3,000 qualified marketing leads were generated.
To drive interest for Nuance's automated call center technology—an unsettling prospect for companies seeking customer service from a live representative—the agency mapped content to a variety of industries customized to various buying stages. Personalized emails drove recipients to PURLs, resulting in a total campaign response rate of 38% with projected closed business 10 times Nuance's marketing investment.
For Qwest, Babcock & Jenkins developed a direct mail teaser featuring a brownie that was followed by a large tube containing detailed maps of the prospects' networks. A second mailing drove recipients to PURLs that addressed more personalized analyses of their needs.
More than 40% of the targeted companies engaged with Qwest via the microsites or live conversations, which created a gross campaign sales rate of 13% (17 of 128 accounts closed sales). Combined with original sales lead-to-close projections, the campaign registered an overall 9-to-1 return on investment.