How to Drive Buyers When the Primary Goal of Marketing Is Sourcing Leads for Sales

Marketing Exec Discusses Rebranding of Savvis, Refining of Marketing Automation Platform

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Becky Carr
Becky Carr

In January, telecom company CenturyLink announced a rebranding of Savvis, remaking the acquired brand as CenturyLink Technology Solutions and billing it as a way to offer data-center services to businesses.

To generate awareness and drive demand, CMO Becky Carr partnered with b-to-b agency SteinIAS to create a fully integrated marketing program designed to reach IT buyers.

In the following interview she talks about the rebranding strategy, effective marketing programs and how she's delivering results.

Advertising Age: Why did the Savvis acquisition make sense for CenturyLink?

Ms. Carr: The acquisition was done as an investment in the future growth of CenturyLink. CenturyLink had traditionally been a telecommunications provider. Traditional phone services among consumers have been in decline, so CenturyLink was looking at adjunct services, and data-center services were a natural addition. Acquiring Savvis was a great investment, given their position in the market -- they were one of the first to market in providing global data centers.

Ad Age: What was your rebranding strategy when Savvis become CenturyLink Technology Solutions?

Ms. Carr: In January 2014, the Savvis brand was transitioned to CenturyLink Technology Solutions. It was very expensive to maintain two brands in the market. We were really looking to build up the assets and attributes that Savvis brought to bear. The rebranding reflected our go-to-market strategy -- we serve enterprise businesses globally. Before, we had two separate sales organizations, two companies and two sets of collateral. Now, we can come to a client and present a fully integrated solution [managed hosting, data storage, cloud services, etc].

Ad Age: Are you shifting your focus from consumer to b-to-b?

Ms. Carr: CenturyLink is an over $18 billion company, and over half of that is on the consumer side, building fiber into the home and other services. My focus -- and a huge focus of the business -- is on b-to-b, serving global companies from small businesses to large enterprises with a breadth of data-center services.

Ad Age: What marketing programs have proven most effective for you?

Ms. Carr: We started working with SteinIAS about two years ago. We needed a partner with b-to-b marketing and technology expertise, who could take our marketing automation platform and campaigns to the next level. Last year, we were using the Eloqua [marketing automation] platform basically as a very expensive email distribution system. Stein has helped us build out a very sophisticated marketing automation platform [based on Eloqua] that recognizes where the conversion or lead is in the buyer's journey and builds out content to reach them.

Ad Age: How does it work?

Ms. Carr: We put out thought leadership through syndicated content and drive leads to our website through a digital media buy. We can watch users' behavior and respond with the appropriate asset. There are seven stages in the buyer's journey. Based on what they consume, we move them through the journey and adjust accordingly. For example, if they are in the consideration stage and they engage, we might send them a case study.

Ad Age: What kind of results have you gotten?

Ms. Carr: We've had pretty incredible results. Our No. 1 goal in our marketing organization is to source leads for the sales organization. In July, we sourced 23% of new pipeline (sales opportunities sourced by marketing), with a 12% contribution overall, year to date. We are passing thousands of qualified leads to sales -- 68% of the leads we pass to sales are converting to real opportunities within the first 30 days.

Ad Age: What other types of marketing programs are you doing?

Ms. Carr: Anything I can use in our arsenal. We look across every medium, from events to digital, webinars and videos. Syndicated content has yielded the highest conversion.

Ad Age: Are you doing any paid advertising?

Ms. Carr: We do paid, but not in the traditional sense. We use online and paid social media. We have found paid social to be performing quite well. One year ago, 0% of our website traffic was driving from social channels. Today, that is up to 2%.

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