Calling All Small Businesses
As customers go through a settling-in period, and then migrate into a long-term relationship with BellSouth, they also can expect to receive a reward-oriented package, featuring savings designed just for them, such as a Key Customer Program that can save them 20 percent on their monthly local service charges. Following the first two touches, the design of the program scales back the use of the blue, but retains the recognizable BellSouth brand design elements and colors.
The Data Connection
Well-crafted creative and customer support is only one part of the story, however. The backbone of BellSouth's direct marketing strategy is the database analysis and modeling that helps the marketer tailor the right offer, message and budget to fit the needs of each small business customer.
A small business customer is defined as 50 employees or less. These businesses then are segmented into two groups: the size of the customer, typically defined by the number of lines; and their propensity to buy more, and increasingly complex, products/services. Propensity modeling is at the heart of BellSouth's ability to effectively target the appropriate offers to those ready to buy.
Barnes describes, "We basically can take the people who have already purchased a product, profile those people compared to the base and identify people who have similar traits that would buy that product."
As many as 60 variables are used in every model. However, Barnes says five of those are key to identifying customers who are likely to buy: location (either by ZIP code or by Metropolitan Statistical Area); the customer's industry; customer size; customer tenure with BellSouth; and their credit score.
"Customers who score high propensity are typically approximately two-and-a-half times more likely to buy a product than the average customer," says Barnes.
Modeling is used not only in the direct mail programs, but also to provide the sales channel with actionable information, such as better targeting who to call and what a customer is likely to buy. Armed with this knowledge, BellSouth also can maximize limited resources and minimize waste by mailing more targeted direct mail to those customers likely to respond to a particular offer. It also has saved money for the company by identifying "inert" customers, those long-established small businesses that are not likely to change their service or buy new products. These folks primarily are sent direct mail thanking them for their continued business, but not promotional offers for additional services.