Friday, February 5, 2010

B2B -- Adding Social?

In B2B lead generation for health insurance, my current go-to formula is a first touch with a #10 envelope package (usually letter, buck slip and a reply card either attached or detached from letter), followed by either a postcard or e-mail (depending on whether or not we have an e-mail address). The offer has traditionally been a "special report" of some type, which can be downloaded at a microsite. All three response channels -- microsite, 800 phone number and BRC -- feature the opportunity to receive a quote on health plans. Therefore, it's a two-touch campaign with three response channels featuring a primary offer of a report, and a secondary offer of a free quote. To balance the "coldness" of the special report responses, all leads are telequalified and scored before forwarding the qualified leads to sales.

Over the past year, a few dramatic changes to response have lead to modifications: B2B response by BRC has nearly gone to zero, just like that, primarily as a result of using microsites as response channels; and the use of PURLs (personalized URLs, such as further increases primary response through the microsite and diminished response by phone as well as BRC. As a result, in my current campaigns, I have dropped the BRC altogether, and am including PURLs in all campaigns. Will let you know of the resulting changes in costs per lead and conversion.

Other changes to make this year will include integration of other internet-based media into the campaigns. Webcasts and website banners are expected to give strong lift and provide new sources of prospects, and we want to add social media, but the fairly immature state of business-social has us at the research stage of the game. Certainly, LinkedIn may be a good opportunity, through which we should be able to identify prospects by geo, industry type and position/responsibility, and provide them an opt-in offer that is more direct in nature (i.e., consultating with a broker). Other than that, we're left with the interesting task of finding out how people are beginning (or not) to congregate through other social forums in professional segments -- by job type, by industry, or by particular social aspects of business, such as woman-owned or minority-owned businesses?

As quickly as the reply card went from primary response channel to virtually zero (if microsite is being used) for B2B, I'm confident that we'll see equally strong shift in DM strategy resulting from business-social media growth and campaign integration. Is the #10 package next to go? Or the follow-up postcard? What's most exciting to me at the moment, is that I can't currently see much more than that. The fun is in the exploration and testing.

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