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Sungard AS Uses Segmentation, New Creative to Boost Lead Conversion Rates by 75%

SunGard SpearSungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) provides disaster recovery, business continuity, and managed IT services. Sungard AS runs a highly successful demand generation program — an integrated mix of both online and offline campaigns — to generate a consistent flow of leads to the company’s sales force. 

As a company that thoroughly tracks and measures the ROI from its various marketing efforts, Sungard AS knew that increasing the revenue contribution from demand generation meant either driving more leads into the top of the funnel, increasing the rate at which those leads convert into sales, or a combination of both. In support of the company’s aggressive growth plans, the marketing team set out to focus energy on increasing the rate at which raw inquiries converted to qualified sales leads, opportunities and deals.

In early 2014, Sungard AS hired B2B demand generation agency Spear Marketing Group to audit their current lead nurturing programs and to recommend improvements, with two main objectives:

  • Increase the rate at which new leads and existing prospects convert to marketing-qualified Leads (MQLs); and
  • Improve deliverability and overall email performance as measured by open and click rates.

Spear conducted a thorough audit of the company’s lead nurturing process, and presented a series of recommendations, focused primarily on segmentation, offer strategy, email cadence, and creative.  “Sungard AS had solid creative in place and a very sophisticated nurturing program,” says Howard Sewell, Spear President.  “Our job was to build on that foundation and identify opportunities for improvement.  We were able to provide new ideas based on our pool of experience and what we knew was working for other companies in the tech space.”

Spear identified incremental changes to make in the company’s creative approach, but focused most of their recommendations on segmenting the existing nurturing effort into a program that was more tailored to where a prospect was in the buying process, and to that individual’s specific role or job function.  In particular, they recommended instituting a structured program of emails designed to respond immediately to new leads, a function that previously was the sole responsibility of Sungard AS’ telemarketing team.

In response to the audit and in line with Spear’s recommendations, the firm was subsequently hired to:

  • Revamp existing email and landing page creative based on e-marketing best practices;
  • Design, build and launch a “welcome” email program designed to improve follow-up and response to new leads;
  • Design, build and launch a nurture campaign targeted to “mid-stage” leads; and
  • Design, build and launch separate email tracks for (4) unique buying personas.

All campaigns were built and launched in Marketo, which Spear is an agency partner with.  “A large part of the power of marketing automation is the ability to tailor your message automatically based on both demographic and behavioral criteria,” said Sewell.  “By introducing email tracks that spoke more directly to people further down the sales cycle, and by adjusting creative and offer strategy for specific job functions, we felt confident that the client’s message would resonate more effectively.”

After six months, Sungard AS was able to report the following:

  • Email open rates increased more than 260%, while click rates more than doubled;
  • Lead to MQL Conversion Rate for all leads across all product lines increased 33%; and
  • Lead to MQL Conversion Rate increased by 75% for “passive” leads (leads from online programs such as content syndication, banner ads, SEM, Webinars and social media).

“The results we’ve seen from the changes that Spear implemented in our email nurture programs have been nothing short of amazing,” commented Julie Brewer, Sungard AS’ Director of Marketing Programs.  “Quite aside from just improving the performance of our outbound campaigns, we know that the leads we generate from all sources are now much more likely to convert to qualified sales opportunities.”