I’m in San Diego this week with Barbara Burlington, our Director of Marketing Communications, for the Online Marketing Summit. Yesterday was the first full day of the conference, and I was impressed with the number of high quality sessions going on. The highlight of the morning for me was the session on named account marketing by Lauren Goldstein of Babcock & Jenkins in Portland.

Lauren’s group worked with Nuance Communications, a call center software firm, to reposition the company and pull together a concise list of highly targeted prospects. So the presentation was basically a case study (you can find the official version here) on how they tailored demand generation strategies based on customer-centric approaches to uncover and reach out to the companies and individuals most likely to be interested in the product.

Lauren pointed out that today 75% of the sales process happens without the input of a sales person. Because buyers are now largely self-guided, the idea of producing a big pile of content and hoping your prospects will find what they need isn’t effective. You need to work to make sure that the right content gets presented to the right prospect. This means you need content optimized for each step in the sales process, and you need to ensure that the most relevant content you have gets presented at the right time.

In the Nuance Communications case, they put together a tailored selection of content on a microsite (not a landing page!) customized for each prospect based on their job responsibility and vertical industry. Then they nurtured each individual prospect through multiple channels. The initial trial was based on two levels of versioning: vertical (12 industries) and job level (c-level, and director/VP). So there were 24 specific microsite iterations, each of which was personalized for a couple hundred prospects.

The content strategy was all about making the content offering unique to each individual, and easily sharable so that each of these influencers could readily leverage the content to advocate for Nuance within the target organization. The team was working with a deep library of content – hundreds of pieces of internal collateral and creative along with some 3rd party pieces, notably a Forrester paper that functioned as something of a feature thought leadership piece.  Each prospect was nurtured through multiple channels, and the reported results were pretty amazing:

  • Engagement rose with each touch of the campaign, with the final email getting 21% engagement.
  • Overall response rate was 38%, with  $6 to $10 million in new pipeline revenue.

Leveraging microsites in this way obviously takes a lot more effort than creating landing pages for a general audience. But for enterprise solution selling, this sounds like a darn effective approach. More on the afternoon sessions soon.