By Chuck Leddy
Naylor Association Solutions, with corporate headquarters in McLean, Virginia, works with trade and professional associations across the nation, including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), and many more, helping them maximize membership engagement and generate more revenues. Naylor’s services and business units include member communication (creating various publications for associations), event management, and association management.
Naylor helps its association members develop various publications, including magazines, newsletters, and member directories. Naylor’s sales team also sells advertising space in these same publications to companies interested in engaging the association’s membership. So, hypothetically speaking, a medical device manufacturer might want to buy advertising space in a newsletter or directory from the American Medical Association. Naylor would develop the publication, working with the association, and then sell ad space to generate revenues.
Naylor seeks to improve lead generation
In late 2014, Naylor brought in Chad Lloyd, currently the company’s Director of Sales and Marketing Operations, to improve how it leveraged technology to generate leads for the business. “Naylor had previously been quite reactive in its outbound marketing and servicing its customers,” explains Lloyd. “We actually weren’t doing much lead generation at all.”
Lloyd undertook the challenge of driving technological transformation to enable Naylor to work smarter, including outlining processes for developing marketing campaigns, lead generation, and lead scoring across the organization.
Blending marketing automation and sales reps
Naylor’s challenge was on the technology side, because its previous outreach efforts to get renewals from existing advertisers, as well as its approach to advertising prospects, involved a high level of manual operations performed by Naylor’s sales reps. “It was basically an outbound telephone sales operation,” explains Lloyd, “and most of our existing customers were simply agreeing to renew on the phone without any upsell. We were paying sales commissions, but getting little ROI” from the sales-reps-on-the-phone approach.
Lloyd and Naylor took an inventory of their existing marketing channels and began making changes. They set up a self-service online portal so existing advertisers could have visibility into what ads they’d bought previously, renew their latest ad purchases online, and potentially purchase even more ad space (i.e., upselling). Lloyd also looked at Naylor’s existing, homegrown email system “from which we’d send fairly boring email messages to our advertisers,” and recognized a need for change.
The solution: email automation via Eloqua
According to a report from Marketing General Incorporated, 77 percent of associations say that email is the most effective marketing channel for renewals. Naylor’s solution was a blended approach where technology was enabled and deployed to do what it does best while sales reps were enabled and deployed to do higher-level activities they do best.
Lloyd and his team, working with Sojourn Solutions and Eloqua, developed an email automation system that helped them run their renewal campaigns. The application took customer data from Naylor’s MIS (management information system) and CRM and put it into the field merges within Naylor’s automated renewal emails in Eloqua. The integrations allowed for the sharing and accuracy of relevant customer data, making the automated emails personalized to the particular advertising customer. The impacts included:
- An enhanced, DIY experience for customers. The automated email solution offered full transparency and personalization about what ads customers had purchased before, asked them to renew, and also suggested more upsell options for purchasing more ad space. The automated solution allowed Naylor to design an entire renewal campaign (with timely follow-ups and reminders) around a series of possible customer actions/contingencies that would trigger automated responses or else re-route the customer to sales reps for follow-up.
Calls per rep increased by 11%, which was attributed to eliminating the extra step in creating an Outlook email from a word template and sending to each individual renewal lead.
Lloyd notes that many of Naylor’s busy, often tough-to-reach customers actually liked the automated, DIY approach as opposed to the initial telephone outreach. “The automated solution offered them an easy, convenient shopping experience, something like buying from Amazon.”
- More efficiency, faster revenue recognition. For Naylor, renewals came in faster via the automated renewal campaigns, generating more revenue without any involvement from the sales reps.
Prior to launching the renewal campaign, 95% of Naylor’s renewals were processed in an average of 87 days. After the launch, Naylor was capturing 95% of its renewal revenue in an average of 24 days (63 days faster).
“We shortened the amount of time to get renewals, and therefore recognized those revenues much faster, which made our finance people very happy” explains Lloyd.
- More flexibility in increasing ad space. Since responses for ad space came in faster via automation, Naylor was better able to gauge the amount of ad space it should make available in association publications. “We could simply increase the ad space once we saw the demand increasing,” says Lloyd, which also boosted potential ad revenues.
- Tracking of customer behavior. A further benefit of the automated renewal email campaign was that it enabled Naylor to track exactly what its customers were doing, what links they clicked and where they navigated, passing on this strategic information to the sales reps for “smarter,” more targeted follow-up.
- Liberating Naylor’s Sales Reps. With sales reps much less involved in sending emails to existing customer lists or working lists via outbound telephone calls, those same reps were freed up to pursue new business. “Our reps are now spending more time either upselling our existing customers or prospecting for new customers,” says Lloyd, and that gives Naylor even more leads that can then be integrated into the efficiency-driving automated email program.
- A success story now being spread across Naylor. Naylor’s CFO recognized the efficiency and increased revenues that Lloyd was driving with the automated email renewal campaigns. Unsurprisingly, the CFO then asked Lloyd to help roll-out the successful automated email solution across the Naylor organization. “We’re bringing this new capability to other parts of the business, and also expanding it to our highest-spend advertisers and new advertisers,” he says.
The takeaway: email automation increased efficiency and supported growth
Naylor’s team of sales reps are now spending less time doing routine, repetitive tasks like “dialing for dollars” or manually sending emails, reminders, and follow-ups to existing customer lists. The automated renewal email solution is a great case study in how marketing automation can enhance the lives and cash flows of sales teams by liberating them to perform higher-value activities that lead to higher commissions.
That’s exactly what happened with Naylor. Performing more value-adding, higher-level outreach, such as upselling and identifying new leads, helped Naylor’s sales team work smarter and grow commissions along with Naylor’s business. Meanwhile, marketing automation was unleashed to do what it does best.
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