Windstream Holdings, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, is a privately held communications and software company that offers managed communications services, including SD-WAN and unified communications as a service (UCaaS), and high-capacity bandwidth and transport services to businesses across the United States. Its fast-growing Kinetic by Windstream division provides premium broadband, entertainment and security services to residential and business customers in 18 states, primarily in rural areas.
Windstream had set the bar high for performance in 2020, including a plan to add 40,000 net-new subscribers and customers. “Any telco will tell you that’s an ambitious goal because it requires a hyper-focus on lowering churn as well as achieving aggressive growth,” said Lorenzo Clark, a vice president of sales at Windstream. “But we wanted to challenge ourselves.”
The opportunity for Windstream not only to reach but also surpass that goal emerged early in the year — and in dramatic fashion. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S., a large swath of the population was suddenly working or learning from home. The demand for fast, reliable internet service skyrocketed, creating pressure on Windstream to install and provide service to customers at a much higher volume than it had anticipated for 2020.
When Clark joined Windstream in 2019, the former NFL player immediately noticed that the marketing and sales organizations weren’t working as a cohesive team. He said marketing didn’t fully understand the sales strategy and processes, and sales didn’t fully comprehend the marketing strategy, customer profiles and messaging in the marketplace.
“Most companies treat marketing and sales as church and state. But we saw an opportunity to change the relationship dramatically. By creating synergies across both functions, we’ve created the right environment for success. We went from greeting one another in passing to becoming joined at the hip,” said Clark.
He added, “Sales and marketing need one another to be successful. Working together, they create more value and have more impact — like Batman and Robin, or peanut butter and jelly.”
Another ambitious goal that Windstream had set for 2020 was to improve its marketing efficacy while also reducing ad spend. Watch this video to learn more and see the results.
Windstream was ready to reach its customers and exceed its goals because of strategic changes and investments it had made prior to the pandemic. That included creating stronger alignment between its marketing and sales functions and adopting Invoca’s AI-powered conversation intelligence platform.
“The Invoca platform has allowed us to unlock a ‘full-funnel’ view of our marketing performance that incorporates both online and offline,” said Pierce. “That’s important for a company like Windstream because 60% of the leads we generate online will pick up the phone and call us.”
He added, “Not having visibility into 60% of your traffic makes it really difficult to manage the media mix and optimize which tactic you’re going to use from week to week and month to month. Now, we can get a read on lead quality because we can see what’s happening on sales calls and also track sales performance on a lead-by-lead basis.”
“Prior to using Invoca, we really had no visibility into which tactics and messages were successful at driving traffic,” said Melinda Russell, director of digital marketing at Windstream. “That made optimizing our campaigns virtually impossible. Now, we utilize Invoca insights to inform our media mix and our spend into high-performing channels.”
With Invoca, Windstream can now tie their marketing to a purchase, and that visibility enables them to optimize marketing spend and campaign performance. “If we find a campaign isn’t meeting expectations, we can shift dollars to higher-performing campaigns and drive higher lead quality,” said Clark.
“We’re a better marketing organization because we have a strong partnership with sales,” said Aaron Pierce, vice president of marketing at Windstream. “Our teams have realized that we make each other better — I think that’s the biggest win. And now, when we have a problem, we can put all the smartest people together in the room to tackle it.”
Windstream’s adoption of Invoca is also supporting the company’s ongoing brand transformation efforts. The company has made significant investments to expand its product portfolio with next-generation technology and services and advanced functionality to support the growing needs of its customers. And Windstream has been investing deeply to enable its internal customers as well, including partnering with technology providers like Five9 and Salesforce to advance the goal of creating an efficient and proficient ecosystem for sales and marketing at the company.
“We’ve incorporated Invoca into the very foundation of our ecosystem,” said Clark. “And now that we’re starting to use conversation intelligence, we’re building customer profiles and gaining deeper insight into how Windstream’s customers want to be treated. That knowledge will allow us to provide our customers with the experience, products, and services they want at a price they can afford, and give them the support they need when they need it. And that can help us position Windstream as the obvious choice across the telco industry.”