Two years ago, Mary Alice LaPoint, president and chief strategist of To the Point Marketing (TTPM), found herself at a crossroads. All of her clients were using emails for marketing communication, but she realized they urgently needed a better way to generate qualified leads.
“More and more, we were piecing together our email service provider (ESP) with temporary workarounds to build client campaigns,” says Mary Alice. “It worked for a while, but it was extremely manual and based on an extremely simple response model of only opens and clicks. It was getting to the point where we couldn’t charge enough to recoup the number of hours it took to run complex campaigns. There was no ROI on our labor rates.”
To continue making clients successful, Mary Alice knew the company “needed to go to the next level” with its software. Her goal: a better solution for planning and executing multifaceted sales and marketing campaigns. The right solution also had to be easy to implement and use, and easy to cost-quantify.
So she began investigating marketing automation.
An award-winning and seasoned marketing executive, Mary Alice is a due diligence pro. “I started by uncovering what we needed and what our clients needed. Next, I spent a lot of time looking at the [marketing automation] companies Forrester rated, from enterprise to entry-level offerings. Then I read a ton of reviews and did a lot of live demos.”
Choosing Act-On came down to two factors.
First was its demonstrated understanding about the realities of marketing (“There is no magic bullet”) and how inbound and outbound tactics must be strategically planned and designed to work in concert.
“I thought Act-On was the most realistic in understanding what people like me – long-time marketers who do this stuff all day long – know: There is no fairy dust, no single piece that will magically bring customers to you,” said Mary Alice. “Yet we heard that promised by other companies and, frankly, it was irksome.”
Second was Act-On’s transparent pricing model, including no hidden fees, which allowed TTPM to quickly figure out what its real-world costs would be.
“With other companies, pricing was like going to a restaurant where the $29.95 filet mignon seems like a good deal, until you realize it’s another 9 bucks for the spinach and 12 bucks for the potato. The ‘a la carte-ness’ was killing me.”
TTPM’s clients include B2B and B2C businesses, whose distinct target audiences require very different marketing approaches. Despite the differences in strategies and business types, each client shares the same fundamental need: attract new and repeat customers for their sales force. “It comes down to lead generation. Leads are the biggest thing for all of our clients,” says Mary Alice.
By adopting Act-On, TTPM has been able to deliver, taking its clients to new levels of success – and TTPM to new levels of profitability – thanks to the power and efficiency of marketing automation.
Here are two examples:
B2B Medical Services Company
• Challenge: Having little marketing experience and only one sales associate, this company wanted to launch a new product with the goal of going national.
• Solution: TTPM used Act-On to build a comprehensive campaign including outbound prospecting via email; inbound marketing via content marketing, SEO and social platforms; customized landing pages; and behavior-based tracking and response mechanisms.
• Results: The campaign was a big success, expanding both the company’s presence and new product to a national audience. It has rewarded TTPM with a new contract: providing full marketing support for an industry conference in Spring of 2014.
B2C Travel Company
• Challenge: This company wanted to more effectively reach the broad range of consumers who travel by offering them relevant promotions that aligned with their individual travel preferences.
• Solution: TTPM used Act-On to create an ongoing series of targeted campaigns, each based on complex decision-tree logic and dynamic delivery of the right message to the right person at the right time. In one example, 12 different cruises (with 12 different hosts and 12 different dates) are promoted using a choreographed mix including tailored inbound and outbound tactics and a multitude of different messages, all of which work together to create a customized and relevant consumer experience.
• Results: By taking advantage of marketing automation, the company has been able to hone its messages, keep the pipeline filled, and deliver value to its customers. And TTPM has been able to keep its client happy, including becoming the company’s agency of record.
Before adopting Act-On, managing a client’s lead-generation program was resource-heavy, with employees spending a majority of their time manually handling all of the moving pieces. When Mary Alice ran the numbers, it became clear their current ESP based model wasn’t compatible with profitability.
With Act-On, the downward slide reversed its direction. “Having Act-On has improved employee efficiency by 80%,” says Mary Alice. “For example, with our travel client, it would have taken two employees 100% of their time to manage the program. But now it takes them only 20% of their time. Act-On has given us new freedom to manage, provision, and share our marketing assets across accounts, which means improved resource allocation and an ability to take on more clients.”
It also means lower employee turnover. “I used to worry about the repetitiveness of what we were doing,” Mary Alice said. “I mean, how many times can you ask highly skilled marketing pros to pick the next picture for a blog and expect them to be satisfied? Bigger clients and top-notch campaigns let employees do what they’re good at, what they enjoy.”
Increased efficiency also gives TTPM some “wiggle room” with budgets, allowing them to deliver additional value to clients without having to charge for it.
Prior to using Act-On, TTPM had three monthly price tiers for its clients: $250, $500, and $1,000; and the $1,000-per-month clients were few and far between. But all that changed with marketing automation.
“We’re now doing a much higher level of work, much more sophisticated work, and attracting a very different kind of clientele. To be honest, we wouldn’t even take on a client for $1,000 per month now.”
In fact, TTPM’s low-end pricing is now 10X what it used to be: $2,500 per month, and they’re able to charge clients a setup fee before the monthly charge kicks in, further broadening the revenue stream and allowing TTPM to reinvest and grow.
“Let me put it this way,” says Mary Alice. “Since working with Act-On, headcount is up 50% and revenue has tripled. Act-On is a great company with a great product. It’s definitely helped us and our clients grow to the next level of success.”