ANALYSIS: Telemarketing turns up the volume
by Joel Harrison, B2B Marketing, January 4th 2011
The recession has failed to dampen B2B marketers' enthusiasm for telemarketing, with budgets set to grow in the next 12 months, according to new research analysed by Joel Harrison
Telemarketing remains an increasingly important part of the marketing mix, according to a new survey conducted by B2B Marketing, in association with The Telemarketing Company. However, key challenges remain for the channel, particularly in terms of budgets and measurability.
Over 200 respondents completed the online survey, with 70 per cent of respondents regarding telemarketing as either 'critical' or 'very important'. Just under half of respondents (45 per cent) said their use of telemarketing has increased during the last 12 months, compared with less than 10 per cent who said their use of it has decreased. Forty three per cent reported no change.
Conversely, the recession has had little impact on the use of telemarketing, with three quarters of respondents claiming no change as a direct consequence. However, of the 21 per cent who did change their telemarketing activity, the majority said it increased their use of the channel, which reflects its immediacy and transparency compared to other forms of marketing.
Budget commitments found wanting
Despite the importance of telemarketing as a channel, only one third of companies allocate a formal budget for it, with the remainder allocating funds on a tactical or campaign basis. This suggests that telemarketing activity is closely integrated into 'push' campaign activity. It may also suggest that organisations are failing to leverage the benefits of direct one-to-one interaction that telemarketing can provide.
On a more positive note, while just under half of respondents (47 per cent) suggest investment in telemarketing will remain constant, 40 per cent say it will increase, 10 times the proportion who suggest it will decrease. Clearly, telemarketing has a secure future within the marketing mix.
The most popular objective for telemarketing, according to the research, is 'generating new leads', selected by 76 per cent of respondents, followed closely by 'booking sales appointments', selected by 72 per cent. 'Lead qualification' was third most popular, cited by 67 per cent. These findings confirm that the primary role of telemarketing is in the so-called demand generation arena.
This was strongly reiterated by the response to the next question, which focused on budget allocation for telemarketing objectives, with 'lead generation' the most popular objective for almost half respondents, and 'booking sales appointments' most popular for a quarter.
Measure for measure
The focus of telemarketing on demand generation-type activities was reiterated by the response to the question on measurement, with the most popular metric being 'number of appointments/ meetings set', as cited by 40 per cent of respondents. 'Number of sales made' and 'number of DMC's were second and third most popular respectively, with each nominated by approximately 25 per cent of respondents.
While the ability to measure telemarketing is clearly a key part of the appeal for B2B brands, the ability to demonstrate ROI is less clear cut, according to the survey. Only 36 per cent said they can 'always' accurately measure ROI on telemarketing activity, while 51 per cent said they can 'sometimes' measure it. Although this is certainly better than for some marketing channels, it does suggest that marketers are missing opportunities to ensure maximum measurability and ensure total clarity on activity and spend.
However, the overwhelming picture painted of the use of telemarketing by responses to this survey was positive with levels of investment set to rise.