TELEMARKETING: Telemarketing still important in the digital age B2B Marketing Magazine
Telemarketing remains a key weapon for B2B brands, particularly as a means of nurturing prospects, although measurement and ROI remain far from universal. Joel Harrison reports:
Despite the advances in social and digital media, telemarketing remains a critical part of the B2B marketing mix, according to a new survey from B2B Marketing, with 60 per cent describing it as either ‘critical’ or ‘very important’. The survey was conducted in association with The Telemarketing Company, by email in December 2011.
Correspondingly, investment in telemarketing appears to be increasing, with 45 per cent of respondents indicating that spend on this channel is higher this year than 12 months ago, compared with only 12 per cent who said their use of the channel had decreased. The impact of recent economic uncertainty on telemarketing investment appears overwhelmingly positive, with 75 per cent of companies saying the economic climate had actually resulted in them increasing their spend.
Just over half of respondents spend less than 25 per cent of their budget on telemarketing, while only five per cent allocate more than 50 per cent of their budget to this channel. Nineteen per cent of respondents don’t have a formal budget for telemarketing, a figure that has fallen by a third since B2B Marketing last conducted this survey in 2010.
Flowing to the funnel
In terms of the objectives that telemarketing is used to achieve, the most popular was: ‘Prospecting/generating new leads’ which was selected by 75 per cent of companies; ‘booking sales appointments’, which was selected by 68 per cent; and ‘DM follow-up’ selected by 64 per cent. These responses and others confirm that telemarketing’s primary role is part of the lead nurturing or funnel management process. When asked which was their primary objective, responses were pretty similar, with DM follow-up leading the field on 50 per cent, followed by ‘prospecting’ and ‘booking sales appointments’.
The nature of the target audience was the primary factor influencing selection of telemarketing as a route to market, identified by almost 50 per cent of respondents. This is unsurprising given the sometimes controversial nature of telemarketing, particularly in the consumer space where cold calling has significantly damaged the image of the industry, and the role of so-called ‘gatekeepers’ in large organisations to shield decision-makers from prospectors on the phone. Respondents felt that telemarketing was generally more effective at reaching buyers and decision makers in large organisations than those in SMEs.
Measure for measure
When it comes to measurement, the primary metric used by respondents was ‘number of appointments set’, identified by almost 70 per cent of respondents, compared with ‘number of sales made’ which came second with just over half that number (38 per cent). This suggests that B2B organisations are more focused, in terms of their measurement, on the value of the pipeline created by telemarketing, rather than the value of the business ultimately converted.
However, only 31 per cent of respondents said that they could ‘always’ measure ROI on telemarketing activity, which is surprising given that this channel is often prized for its transparency and obvious effectiveness. The majority of companies (just over 50 per cent) said they could ‘sometimes’ measure ROI, while only 10 per cent could never measure ROI. This latter statistic might also be seen as surprisingly high.
The survey also confirmed the important role that telemarketing plays as part of the increasing popular ‘drip’ approach to marketing, with a constant flow of marketing rather than it being focused around specific, seasonal campaigns. Forty three per cent of respondents run telemarketing constantly, while only 19 per cent use it occasionally to support specific campaigns.
Despite this, more respondents regard telemarketing as a predominantly tactical resource than those who see it as mostly strategic.
Looking ahead, the prospects for telemarketing continuing to be a key weapon the B2B marketers’ armoury appear strong, with 31 per cent of respondents expecting to increase their spend on it during 2012, compared with only 16 per cent who expect investment to shrink.
Sponsor’s comment by Niall Habba, managing director, The Telemarketing Company
"The results are a fascinating annual update because it’s a survey of client-side marketers – the people who are tasked with delivering results for their organisations and who measure real-world ROI every day.
Ten years or so after the death of the cold call was first mooted, telemarketing remains a key tool in the modern B2B marketer’s kit. The survey shows nearly half of the respondents have increased their use of telemarketing over the last 12 months, against only 12 per cent who have used less. It’s clear that telemarketing is still a channel that delivers ROI and stacks up as part of the marketing mix.
This kind of indicator correlates directly with our own experience. The Telemarketing Company delivers the full spectrum of outbound B2B telemarketing services. Across the board, the last 18 months have seen rapidly growing demand for high quality B2B telemarketing.
What’s particularly interesting is that there’s growth in every area. There’s an increasing amount of ‘telemarketing 2.0’ – integrated with social media, multiple digital touch points and all the clever stuff that we’re all told to do more of. However, there is also growth in well executed, classic, cold calling, in the B2B space, at least.
Telemarketing is intrinsically the most disruptive marketing channel in existence (in every sense of the word). However, execution is all. We know that bad telemarketing can be atrocious – but when it’s good, telemarketing can unlock and nurture opportunities that other channels never will and its future looks assured."