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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I must admit, most people's view of telemarketing is that it's only ever outbound.

However, strictly speaking, telemarketing comes in two flavours - outbound telemarketing and inbound telemarketing. Before we look at outbound telemarketing, let's quickly cover inbound since that's not what we're dealing with here.

As the name suggests, inbound telemarketing describes calls being received, usually in response to another marketing activity, such as a direct mail campaign or direct response advertisement.

You know, call an 0800 number to get a free catalogue, etc.

Unlike outbound telemarketing, inbound is almost always dealt with by large call centres. This is simply because of the volumes of calls associated with direct response campaigns.

An outbound telemarketing campaign, on the other hand, can be a much smaller direct marketing campaign.

When used alongside other direct marketing tactics, it can add value in a number ways to maximise return-on-investment (ROI) for the overall campaign.

One thing to always consider is whether you use outbound telemarketing as the main campaign tactic, or whether you add outbound telemarketing to support wider campaign objectives.

Here's a couple of examples of how outbound telemarketing can be used effectively within direct marketing campaigns:

Outbound telemarketing as the main campaign approach - a simple standalone outbound telemarketing campaign would involve sourcing a list and calling it. However, by adding additional marketing support to the campaign you can significantly increase it's ROI.

For example, a classic approach is to send a direct mail piece in advance of the outbound telemarketing call. The direct mail piece isn't the the main campaign objective, it's just there to provide a reason for the call, Done correctly, this approach paves the way for a warmer outbound telemarketing call.

Equally, you could plan to send further marketing collateral, by email for example, at the end of the call. As before, this approach is designed to support the outbound telemarketing call and provide a reason to call the prospect back to further qualify their interest.

This style of outbound telemarketing call is the most common approach for appointment setting. The initial letter (or email) is sent to provide a reason for the call and then the collateral sent afterwards supports the campaign objectives by providing another reason to call back.

Without these additional materials, relying only on a cold outbound telemarketing call, you'll convert far fewer leads.

However, used in this way, the overall ROI for the outbound telemarketing campaign can be significantly increased since the additional supporting material costs (for the letter and emails) are far lower that the costs for outbound telemarketing.

Outbound telemarketing to support other marketing campaigns - an alternative approach is to use outbound telemarketing to enhance other marketing efforts, such as email marketing or seminars.

For example, let's say you are running a business-to-business email marketing campaign sending an email to 5000 prospects. Email marketing works best with a call to action that involves a "click-thru" to a website. This could be to register for an event or download a white paper, for example.

Metrics on email marketing campaigns vary depending on how you acquired the email addresses (for example, were they opt-in from your website or did you buy a list) and the strength of the call to action. For our purposes, let's assume you had a 10% open-rate and, from that you had 10% click-thru to download your white-paper.

In this example, you send out 5000 emails, 10% open which is 500, and then a further 10% click through to download your white-paper. This means that you have 50 "leads".

Now, these leads will need following up to further qualify and this is where outbound telemarketing can be an excellent addition to the campaign.

Without adding outbound telemarketing, you might expect that, perhaps, 10% of the prospects who downloaded the white-paper might phone into the office - an inbound call!.

However, that would leave 45 leads that don't do anything.

If, by adding outbound telemarketing, you could convert another 5 out of 45 (not that high a conversion rate) then you've increased your ROI by 100%.

The key thing to note here is that it might only need 2 or 3 days of outbound telemarketing to speak with those 45 leads.

It's all about using different direct marketing tactics, including outbound telemarketing, in an appropriate way to deliver the best ROI for your overall campaign.

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Posted by: David Regler @ 3:24 pm |   | Links to this post  

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