Email Campaign, AdWords and Telemarketing Propel New Product

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This article begins a new series spotlighting many of the 2016 SIPAward winners. (A list of all the winners appears on the SIPA website.) In addition to the 26 first places, SIPA named 53 runners-up and honorable mentions. Winning a 2016 SIPAward was especially impressive given that there were a record 228 entries, and the judging was conducted by a specially chosen group of industry peers. 

Category: Best Marketing Launch for a New Product
First place 2016 winner: DecisionHealth, a division of UCG

DecisionHealth's president brokered an unprecedented partnership with a key player in the industry, resulting in the creation of a brand new product: the DecisionHealth Coding and Billing Expert (Specialty Illustrated). 

What was the biggest challenge?
There was already a dominant competitor in the field who had been actively promoting their product for months. DecisionHealth's product wouldn't be physically produced for seven months.

What advantage did DecisionHealth have?|
Exclusive content, or more exactly, AMA coding guidelines that they would have unprecedented access to as a result of the new partnership.  

The plan?
"Seed the market with the news that there was a new, powerful tool that would make the dominant competitor's product obsolete," wrote Lindsey Harris, director of marketing. This meant an aggressive, concurrent multi-channel marketing campaign—email, ecommerce advertising, Google AdWords, automated trigger campaigns, catalogs, carrier ads, outsourced telemarketing and print advertising.  

What worked best?
In a five-month email campaign, Updegraff created five new email templates highlighting the key differentiators between the two products and offering a 20% discount. At the same time, using seasonal themes, she created a series of monthly emails centered on specific holidays. Following a late-August "Launch Party," there was a September Fall into Savings, an October Spooky Savings, a November Thanks to Coders, and a December Santa's Sleigh Save on shipping. An outside illustrator created the email imagery, and they synchronized ads on their e-commerce site. In total, this set of 10 emails and five banner ads generated more than 40% of the total product revenue. 

What other mechanism worked well?
DecisionHealth knew that a wide audience needed to be reached. So using Google Adwords, they created a "dynamic ad," targeted to specialty practice coders. In only four months, the ad generated nearly 300,000 impressions and a 4% click-thru rate, and contributed tens of thousands of visitors to the e-commerce site. That alone generated more than 10% of the tracked product revenue.

An automated trigger campaign "used a mix of digital body language and purchase activity to narrowly and instantly identify the hottest prospects for this new product." Prospects were lifted from site visits, conference registrations, related product purchases, product demo attendance, and hotline coupon code usage. They were then taken off the general email list and sent a special, three-email series focused on cross-selling the new Specialty Illustrated product. This resulted in another 10% of the total product revenue. 

Was telemarketing used?
Yes. A call plan and script were given to an outside telemarketing team. Over a six-week span, the campaign generated almost 30% of the total orders, and in more than 75% of the calls, Harris wrote, "we were displacing our competitors' product!" 

That leaves about another 10%.
The remaining sales came via: content in DecisionHealth's product catalog; advertising space in key DecisionHealth products; envelope carrier ads, promotional flyer inserts and editorial ad mentions in newsletter publications; and a presence at DecisionHealth-hosted conferences, including pop-up banners and PowerPoint slide onscreen presentations.

Updegraff's direct-to-sale, multi-channel attack generated nearly 70% of the total product orders. Her marketing-driven orders outnumbered sales-driven orders by 3:1—very impressive.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…