“We have a lot of planned campaign activity that has a relatively long cycle,” says Russell Cartwright, Sales Enablement Manager, BT. “Although they are very much strategic campaigns, what that doesn’t do is give us the agility to respond to changing market conditions.”
Cartwright’s team felt those limitations acutely last summer with the credit crisis emerging in full and rising worldwide oil prices dragging the economy down. They saw a need for new campaigns that positioned the company’s telecommunications products and services in light of customers’ financial concerns.
With most of the marketing budget already set aside for quarterly campaigns, however, any new effort had to be relatively inexpensive and fast to implement.
The team created a series of emails to offer existing customers advice on surviving the recession. Those messages included links to relevant BT products and services that also had a comparatively short sales cycle, to capture immediate revenue.
Here are the five steps they took to plan and implement the campaign:
Step #1. Create five-part email series on cost-cutting tips
The team wanted a unified campaign theme that would reflect the recent economic challenges. But they also wanted to “turn a negative into a positive,” says Cartwright.
They chose to highlight ways that IT and communications services can cut customers’ costs and improve their bottom lines. They called the series the “Credit Crisis Survival Kit” and selected five specific topics within the theme:
o Managing high fuel costs
o Managing total business costs
o Lowering customer-acquisition costs
o Retaining customers in a slow economy
o Improving cash flow
Each email offered links to advice and educational content, such as existing webinars on the BT website. The messages also provided links to BT products and services that could help customers achieve savings. For example:
- The email on managing fuel costs included links to BT Web conferencing services.
- The email on managing total operating costs included links to BT’s bundled networking and telecom offerings.
- The email on improving cash flow included links to BT’s electronic signature service, which helps close deals faster.
“It wasn’t just a solutions push,” says Cartwright.
Step #2. Select a list of existing customers for the campaign
The team wanted to get the program running quickly, so they worked off their house list. They also wanted to provide additional service to existing customers, and position the company as a partner that could assist them in turbulent times.
They selected the top 20,000 business customers to receive the campaign.
Step #3. Send personalized emails
The need for a rapid turnaround also led the team to create a simple email template that was primarily text. The only major graphic element was a header image of a first-aid style toolkit and the “Credit Crisis Survival Kit” title.
They also personalized those emails by sending them from the email address of the customer’s account manager.
The result was a message that looked less like a formal BT marketing promotion, and more like a personal note that leveraged existing relationships between customers and their account reps.
- Text was limited to just a few paragraphs, explaining that the company recognized that businesses were facing tough challenges, and describing which BT resources were available to assist them.
- Each email contained links back to the BT site, where visitors could read more about the topics and products being offered.
- The five emails were sent two to three weeks apart, depending on other scheduled promotions from the marketing team. They didn’t want customers receiving too many messages from BT in the same week.
Step #4. Track response rates and website activity
After each email send, the team tracked several metrics to determine customer engagement and gauge interest areas. They measured:
o Which page a customer initially visited
o Clickstream to other pages after landing on the site
o Time spent on each page
Step #5. Provide reports for sales team follow-up
The team’s email system provided sales representatives immediate feedback on customer response, as well as cumulative reports on customer activity.
- Account managers received an instant message alerting them when a customer had opened an email or clicked a link inside.
- They also could access the email system to get a report detailing which pages of the site the customer had visited and how long they had spent on each page.
- Account managers used that data to plan follow-up contacts with their customers, to answer questions or discuss products in which a customer had shown interest.
Although sales reps could see in real-time which customers had clicked on Web pages, Cartwright’s team cautioned them not to call prospects immediately, so as not to appear “Big Brother-ish.” Sales reps also were free to analyze customer responses on their own and prioritize follow-up calls.
Rapid turnaround and timely advice resulted in quick wins for Cartwright’s team:
- The five-week campaign secured new contracts worth more than £270,000.
- Email open rates for the campaign averaged 24%, compared to a 21% average for BT’s typical marketing emails.
“That was revenue we’d ordinarily have to wait a lot longer to accrue,” says Cartwright. “The immediacy of the campaign meant we could connect with the right customer at the right time and turn them into sales.”
The team also sees potential longer-term benefits in terms of customer loyalty. The email campaign created a way for account managers to reach out to customers during difficult economic times and start a conversation about their current concerns and future needs.
Useful links related to this article
Creative Samples from BT's Credit Crunch Survival Kit Campaign