Lauchlan is close to 300 MDF lead-gen campaigns deep since our founding in 2009. Over the years our team has come up with a lot of ideas—from the big to the small, from the creative to the tactical—to fine tune performance and yield the best results. Here’s 10 of them in no particular order. Hopefully you can use a few in your own lead-gen efforts.
- The brandelope – These eye-catching envelopes allow you to include design elements directly on the outside panels. We’ve used brandelopes as part of multi-touch lead-gen campaigns to send things like a letter from a sales leader, an event invite or a datasheet. They can be a great way to grab attention in the mail stack of the IT decision maker.
- The one-two punch – Follow up a big direct mail drop (particularly one that includes an aggressive CTA like a discovery call) with a text-based email that simply mentions the mail drop and reminds them to take action. It’s a fairly straightforward tactic that we’re now regularly using after seeing significant performance boosts in recent A/B testing.
- The LinkedIn connect CTA – Much of what goes into an MDF lead-gen campaign comes down to lift and drag. IT pros are super busy and often skeptical of marketing. Anything you can do to reduce friction to conversion, even slightly, is a plus. A landing page with a CTA to connect with a sales rep on LinkedIn or to “look for my connection invite on LinkedIn” can be an elegant and more personable alternative to the traditional registration form. This is a calculated sacrifice of data capture in the hope that it will increase conversions.
- The human lead form – A variation on the LinkedIn connect CTA, the human lead form puts the picture of an actual sales rep on the landing page of an MDF lead-gen campaign with a button to connect directly by email. Like the LinkedIn approach above, you are sacrificing data capture for conversion rates. (You can read a case study of this approach here.)
- Video, video and video – It’s become gospel that video is one of the most (maybe the most) effective content format in IT marketing. As IDG noted again in its 2016 Customer Engagement study (summarized here in one info-rich poster), 93% of IT decision makers reported watching a tech-related video in the last 3 months. We’ve seen high engagement and conversions on lead-gen campaigns that lead with one centerpiece video—in an email series, at the top of the fold on the landing page and possibly in a direct mail video brochure, if budget allows. If you’re planning on spending budget towards a content asset, take some time to consider whether it can be delivered through video.
- The arts-and-crafts direct mail piece – Rumors of direct mail’s death have been greatly exaggerated. As the DMA noted in a 2015 report, marketing ROI for direct mail is healthy indeed. For the right campaign—typically one with a highly targeted list of 100 or less prospects—we sometimes like to lead with a very creative, handmade piece that grabs attention while capturing a theme that relates to the solution being offered. For example, in the planning stages of a recent lead-gen campaign focused on an Oracle retail systems upgrade, the client’s subject matter expert told us that most retailers have a shambolic mess of systems “duct taped together” thanks to years of reactive IT planning. We decided to lead with that visual concept in the first direct mail drop. Our creative team handcrafted abstract sculptures composed of a jumbled mix of paper clips, duct tape, rubber bands and other miscellany. The message: Do your retail systems look like this? The image was carried forward to the landing page with a time-lapse animated GIF depicting the creation of one of the sculptures.
- Google video ads – I already mentioned how big video is for IT pros (see number 5 above). One of the most successful channels for video in recent Lauchlan campaigns has been Google video ads. These are the YouTube ads you can skip after a few seconds (surprisingly, IT pros ARE very willing to watch the full video ad if it’s relevant and engaging.) We recommend visually rich, actionable videos that get straight to the point and lead to a longer version of the video and/or a landing page.
- LinkedIn Sponsored Updates – One of the highest-performing paid channels for our lead-gen campaigns, LinkedIn Sponsored Updates are a great way to bypass saturated email inboxes and target prospects in a more content-forward medium. Plus, you can target placement by region, industry, role and even company.
- The multi-touch, multi-channel approach – Developing and deploying 100s of MDF lead-gen campaigns has taught us a few things over the years. Of all the best practices we’ve learned, this one might be the most critical: Campaigns with multiple touches across multiple media channels almost always perform better.
- The long game – The best tactic to master the MDF lead-gen campaign might be to ditch it altogether, or at least to leave behind the traditional quarterly variety. That’s the idea behind our Content Hub framework. It combines content, marketing automation, digital targeting, analytics and continuous optimization to enable a more holistic approach to IT marketing aligned with the buyer’s journey, not the channel’s sales cycle. (OK, commercial over).
Solve for New MDF Lead-Gen Ideas
Looking for new ideas to drive MDF lead-gen success? We think about this stuff every day. Get in touch to start a conversation.
Pete Fuduric is Content Director at Lauchlan. You can email Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org.