Client: Tennis Australia
Campaign: Your Corporate Ticket to the World
Agency: Linda Loose Marketing and Communications
Marketing service providers: Acxiom, Digital Logic and Prime Prospects
Corporate hospitality packages for the Australian Open – priority seating plus exclusive dining and entertainment options – have always pretty much sold themselves. Tennis Australia has never had to go far beyond its own intensely loyal customer base to fill corporate seats.
Not so for the Australian Open in 2010. In 2009, corporate budget cutbacks had kicked in and corporate renewals were taking a hit. Without a new prospect pool to fish from, Tennis Australia faced an immediate shortfall and a longer-term sales challenge.
So, for the first time, it embarked on an outreach to drum up new prospects, engaging Linda Loose Marketing and Communications to lead the effort.
Direct response objectives were very specific and quantifiable:
- identify new sources of potential corporate hospitality customers, and
- define ‘best bets’ for the offering and use that info for longer-term targeting and prospecting.
- Produce at least 500 qualified contacts for 2010 and future follow-up.
- Given the available budget and the target reach it supported, this translated to five-plus percent response from cold, compiled outside B2B lists.
And beyond direct response:
Build awareness and consideration of Australian Open hospitality among corporate decision-makers.
The theme for Australian Open 2010 was ‘Your Ticket to the World’, the once-a-year event that focuses the eyes of the world on Melbourne – and offers world-class entertainment to everyone who takes part.
The Corporate Hospitality ‘Your Corporate Ticket to the World’ leveraged that overall theme – translating it into an irresistible one-to-one appeal.
In concert with the cross-media specialist Alan Quin, of Digital Logic, Loose developed the ADMA Award-winning yourticket.comcampaign, a data-personalised, four-month onslaught of highly engaging decision-maker contacts consisting of:
- a three-hit mail/email solicitation series early in the corporate buying cycle, with a money-can’t-buy offer that would drive execs to…
- their own personalised URLs (PURLs), which served as lead qualifier, nurturer and data engine for…
- a comprehensive contact plan, including four progressive waves of updates and calls to action in the lead-up to the event.
The campaign was driven by painstaking data analysis and profiling developed in conjunction with Prime Prospects and Acxiom.
And its execution was made possible by the cross-media digital ‘engine’ developed by Digital Logic – a combination of proprietary software (XMPie) for print and image personalisation, and a custom-built website and analytics solution that provided real-time data collection, response reporting and lead transmittal.
No single aspect of this campaign was a ‘first ever’, but its combination of front-runner tactics set it apart…
Targeting ‘best bets’
Everyone had some idea of what best prospects looked like; no one could put hard numbers to it. So Loose initiated a prospect identification and profiling effort that was a first for this sales-oriented organisation that had never before used its data for precision direct marketing.
- Files were updated, merged and de-duplicated, not without some difficulties. A recent systems changeover at Tennis Australia meant that the data needed was split across a number of disparate systems, and required time-intensive manual manipulation before work could begin.
- Once data was usable, Acxiom provided a comprehensive, comparative Data Profile Analysis of three data segments – full series buyers, session-by-session buyers and enquirers.
- The resulting scoring model was used to select ‘lookalike’ targets from Acxiom files, and top-ranking profile characteristics were used to select additional targets from IncNet files
The final campaign database totalled 10,815 corporate contacts across a range of titles and business categories. Also included were a small sample from Tennis Australia’s own enquirer file for comparison to these ‘cold’ outside lists.
A money-can’t-buy offer
The direct marketer’s dream: an offer with massive appeal at minimal cost. This was that, and double.
- For visiting the PURL and completing a short survey, each responder went into the draw for a chance to spend Australia Day in the ultra-exclusive Australian Open President’s Reserve with CEO Steve Wood and his private guests.
- As a bonus for the first 250 to respond, a free Corporate Ground Pass providing access to private facilities was offered. This kind of ‘fast 50′ offer is a classic DM tactic to drive quick response. It works as well today as ever.
Arresting, data-driven creative
Data drove dramatic digital personalisation of every element of the campaign.
From the first contact on 31 July:
- A personal mailed invitation from CEO Steve Wood accompanied by a company-personalised replica Corporate Gold Pass, dangling from that unmistakeable Australian Open blue lanyard – with the PURL as focal point and call to action.
Through follow-up solicitations to non-responders to boost sign-up further:
- A week later, a personal email from Steve, and a month after that an image-personalised postcard.
To the PURL itself:
- a single-minded landing page funnelling responders through a survey capturing data for lead profiling and prospect insight
- a personalised video clip confirming entry in the competition, and behind that
- a full-on m-site nurturing visitors along to further action, with every page personalised.
And onward through four waves of updates to the database of prospects, as tournament time grew close:
- Text and image-personalised emails, driving execs to an updated PURL and new call to action.
Given that targets came from mostly cold outside lists, in a lukewarm-at-best market, the response was staggering…
- the first 250 (2.3 percent) were gone in three hours
- 22 percent of targets visited their PURL
- 18 percent (84 percent of visitors) completed the survey
- achieved an average 28 percent open, 28 percent click-through on the updates
- 1253 qualified contacts were added to database (2.5 times the objective)
- 16.5 percent of those requested ‘contact me’
- $180,000 in sales were attributed to a $105,000 campaign before telesales follow-up kicked in, and
- final telesales data is not available – but overall sales target for the toughest selling year on record was exceeded by a healthy margin.
Beyond meeting quantitative campaign goals, the campaign provided a wealth of useful information and insights…
Initial data analytics provided the first-ever quantitative picture of customers and prospects, and a baseline for future targeting efforts.
Real-time reporting helped fine-tune the program on the fly. For example, when a wordy, ‘legalese’ opt-out clause on the initial survey form produced high early opt-out, the problem was spotted instantly and the clause rewritten. Opt-out was instantly slashed by 70 percent.
Detailed response analysis showed how target segments, list sources, channels and executions performed comparatively – providing further refinement for prospect targeting and actionable direction for future efforts. A few of the more valuable learnings:
- Mail response was almost as high for outside lists as for in-house enquirers – proving targeted outside databases fertile ground for future sales prospecting.
- Email follow-up produced massive lift to mail response rates: +48 percent for the internal list and +32 percent for the outside list – proving once again that multi-contact, multi-channel is a winner. And, in this case, also disproving the common belief that purchased email lists are a no-go.
Survey answers also provided deeper insight. For example, while Tennis Australia ranked seventh in terms of past corporate hospitality, it ranked third in terms of plans for the coming year – a bit of progress toward that harder-to-measure ‘consideration’ goal.
The response database itself created a repository of pre-qualified targets for future direct communications.
The yourticket.com campaign earned a rare Silver ADMA trophy for Effectiveness in Data Driven Marketing in the 2010 Awards competition.