ZoomInfo's Amanda Halle on Automating Lead Nurturing and Customer Retention
The marketing team saved an entire workday and, since May, has accumulated twice as many qualified leads for the sales team as it did during the whole of 2008. That's the situation Waltham, Mass.-based ZoomInfo finds itself in after implementing an automated lead-nurturing and customer-retention solution.
Amanda Halle, a marketing associate for the online service "that extracts information about people and companies from millions of published resources," says it was time for ZoomInfo to integrate and automate its programs, using the option offered by marketing automation solution provider Eloqua of Vienna, Va. The ZoomInfo marketing team had been manually inputting the information—work that consumed several hours a week.
Target Marketing: Why was automating lead nurturing and customer retention a priority for ZoomInfo?
Amanda Halle: We have over 6 million people visiting our Web site monthly, and we needed to find a way to convert those people into leads for our sales team. And so, lead nurturing became a priority, because we needed to not only talk to these people once, but talk to them multiple times and build a conversation with them, hoping that they might be able to turn into an opportunity. ... Customer retention has been one of our goals for the last couple of years ... So we decided that building an automated e-mail program that included things like tips and tricks and some content offers that were value-add to our customers would help continue to keep our customers engaged and also would benefit the customer, because they were learning new things and new ways to use our product.
TM: What steps are involved in ZoomInfo's customer retention program; which ones couldn't be automated and why?
AH: The customer retention program starts from the day the customer signs on to ZoomInfo. ... The program starts with a welcome e-mail. And this e-mail includes login information, a link to our training, information about client services and also information about the sales rep, just so they have that all in one place. And then it moves on to an onboarding process, where every other week we send a new tip or trick to the customers, showing them different ways they can use the product or maybe a different way to search on something in order to help them be more successful with the tool. And then from there, it moves more into some content offerings. So we do some white papers, some recorded webinars and then we continue to build the story about ZoomInfo as we get closer to renewal. So we start to talk more about how we're working with some of our customers, customer testimonials and … at one point, we actually reach out and ask if they have a story they want to share with us that we might be able to use later on in the program. ... Case studies are big for us, so it's great to have an automated way to ask for that.
TM: Why is e-mail at the core of ZoomInfo's lead-nurturing and customer-retention strategy?
AH: E-mail is just an easy way for us to communicate with our customers and prospects, especially on the customer side. [For] all of our customers, we collect all of their e-mail information as they sign on. And so, it's just easy to communicate to them through e-mail. It's definitely the core. We do do some nurturing on the phone and other types of lead nurturing. ...
TM: During the first four weeks of automated lead nurturing, ZoomInfo saw more than 200 qualified leads—100 more than were gathered during all of 2008. Are results continuing on pace?
AH: Results are coming in still pretty strong. I just looked at the numbers this morning [Nov. 25], and we are at 350 leads in the last five months. ... We had a lead-nurturing program we put in place in August of 2008, and we revamped that in June of 2009. Based on results from Eloqua, we could actually go in and see which e-mails were effective and which e-mails weren't working. So we tweaked that, and now we're seeing really strong results. ...
TM: So ZoomInfo hasn't had to expand or reorganize to handle the increase?
AH: No, not so much. Just because everything's really automated. So we're just continuing to automate processes within the sales area and the marketing area. So we're doing more qualification up front within [the] Eloqua [tool] before sending leads over to the sales team. We've actually seen an increase in our sales-accepted leads over the last few months because of the prequalification that we're doing in Eloqua. ... They're getting less leads but better leads...