Tag Archives: direct marketing best practices

Direct mail’s death by email

The latest reports on direct mail show that it’s doomed, eternally doomed.

What’s to blame for direct mail’s sad demise? Email and online coupons.

“The kudzu-like creep of the Internet is about to claim its third analog victim,” according to the latest research report from research firm Borrell Associates.

“Direct mail has begun spiraling into what we believe is a precipitous decline from which it will never fully recover,” Borrell predicts. More specifically, it is projecting a 39% decline for direct mail over the next five years, from $49.7 billion in annual ad spending in 2008 to $29.8 billion by the end of 2013. (MediaPost)

If Borrell’s predictions pan out, direct mail will no longer be the top placeholder for ad revenue and will fall to the fourth spot. The leaders will then be the Web, broadcast TV and newspapers.

“Email advertising is indeed skyrocketing while its traditional counterpart plummets,” Borrell notes. “In fact, last year, email advertising quietly moved to the No. 1 online ad category spot, surpassing all other forms of interactive advertising.” Last year, advertisers spent $12.1 billion on email marketing, more than they spent on display/banner advertising or search advertising.

The firm is also forecasting that most of the growth in email marketing will be local. Borrell expects local email advertising to grow from $848 million in 2008, to an estimated $2 billion in 2013.

However, the report also warns against jumping into email marketing without being prepared for potential risks.

“Managing large e-mail marketing campaigns require database marketing expertise, a savvy sales force, adequate e-mail management software, familiarity with the rules and regulations and a lot of patience.”

Taking direct marketing back to the future

While many marketers continue their search for the next-best, latest-and-greatest media tactic to get the word out about their product or service, others are holding their ground and staying true to traditional methods.

Direct marketing is making a comeback and now considered the “new black” in the marketing world, despite the opportunity new marketing methods like social media may bring to the table.

In a recent column at BtoB Magazine, Scott Hornstein, president of marketing, Hornstein Associates, and CMO, Wired Assets Data Corp., shares his expert insight as to why you should be putting what’s left of your budget into direct marketing.

“These are the times that try marketers’ souls. On the other hand, this is not the time to hide or be timid. It is the time to be effective, and to redeploy the majority of what’s left of your marketing budget into direct marketing for one very good reason: The strategy is, at its core, measurable and ROI-driven.”

He says there are six critical factors that will lead to direct marketing success:

  1. Integrating direct marketing into your overall media mix. Your customers don’t all hang out in the same place, so reinforce your message across a variety of media tools.
  2. Integrating a healthy dose of customer care. “Our carefully crafted brands can be blown up in three minutes of poor customer care.”
  3. Invest in database quality. The success of your marketing is only as good as your list.
  4. Account for everything, but report only key metrics. Pay attention to what matters most.
  5. Measure performance and set aggressive standards. “Each direct marketing effort should achieve at least a 10% response rate.”
  6. Measure the expense to revenue ratio. If it’s over 25% you’re spending too much, go back and fix your process.

What do you think? Should we take another look at the tried-and-true marketing methods like direct marketing because they are so measurable and ROI-driven? Are economic tough times forcing your organization to trend this way?

Please leave a comment and let us know.

Stop wasting marketing dollars and start getting creative

To get a clear picture of how much money marketers waste each week all most people have to do is simply take out the trash.

Every week marketers send out thousands upon thousands of pieces of direct mail. If they’re lucky, some will get a quick second look by their recipients before they end up in the garbage or recycling bin. Along with the money, marketers time and effort are also being taken out with the trash.

When most people find direct mail in their inboxes, the immediately classify it as “junk” and quickly dispose of it. To really catch your audience’s attention, you have to find a creative way to get noticed and make people take a second look.

Because we all receive multiple pieces of junk mail daily, it takes a truly creative approach to stand out from the crowd. Will V. at The Better Response Blog recently tacked the issue and shared some ingenious examples of direct marketing that isn’t a waste of money.

Two dollar bill DM campaign, The Better Response Blog

Two dollar bill DM campaign, The Better Response Blog

The first example is of a piece by the Seattle Art Museum to promote the Life Liberty and Pusuit of Happiness exhibit. The marketing piece took the form of a two dollar bill, something most people don’t see everyday. Will admitted he’d likely read it before throwing it away. At least it’s a step up from landing directly in the trash, without so much as a slight glance.

“The point I am trying to make is we should always try to create a piece that no one else is creating. Part of marketing is to stand out and not be typical. Being typical will not catch any attention and is a waste of money. This may be a thought that is always in the back of our minds, but we don’t always factor it into our marketing initiatives,” Will says.

Will showed another good example of a direct mail campaign that not only stood out from the crowd, but was “highly personalized.” As part of a sensory-based direct mail campaign, Proximity London crafted a letter made entirely out of chocolate. Yes, real chocolate.

I don’t know about you, but receiving a chocolate letter in the mail would catch my attention close to 100% of the time. Before I devoured it, you could bet that I would also be spreading the message and showing the piece to everyone in the office.

We’re not expecting you to go out and print your next direct mail piece on chocolate, but if you do just make sure I’m on the mailing list. What we’re saying is that it’s time to start getting really creative with your marketing.

“Do not send out postcards because your competitors are sending out postcards. Send out something you know your competitors will not be sending out. Remember, you are not just competing with your competitors’ pieces, but with the 50 gazillion other pieces who are not even from the same industry,” Will adds.

Ask yourself truthfully if you would stop and read what your company is mailing out. If you think it’s going to land in the trash, it’s time to rethink your idea. Stop wasting your marketing dollars and start grabbing people’s attention.

What creative techniques have you used recently in your marketing to grab your audience’s attention? Or, have you been the recipient of a cool piece of direct marketing? Let us know about it …

Proof content is king, even in a bad economy

HRmarketer recently (and thankfully) shared their results and method behind an impressive direct email marketing campaign they recently launched for one of their members.

With an email campaign promoting content, specifically a white paper, they pulled in more than 400 downloads, an email open rate of 7.1% and a click-thru rate of 16.5%, and that was only in the first 24 hours.

Even more impressive, they launched the email campaign on the same day the stock market tanked, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and a collapsed Merrill Lynch was bought up by Bank of America.

Their campaign succeeded because the white paper dealt with hot topics important to top HR executives who still had to report to the office despite recent happenings on Wall Street.

“Why more companies don’t leverage content in their direct marketing campaigns is beyond me. It is the most cost-effective lead generating marketing activity that I am aware of,” said HRMarketer’s Mark Williams.

Direct email campaigns like this are proof that content is still king, even in a bad economy. More than just a good deal, people are searching for quality and valuable content from the companies they trust.

Head on over to HRMarketer for a full run-down of the campaign and other direct email marketing campaigns like this that produced impressive results. Williams also reviews a list of best practices on how to leverage content in marketing and public relations campaigns.

Use content to drive traffic

Use content to drive traffic

New email marketing rules for nonresponders

The folks at Marketing Sherpa have released new evidence warning other marketers to be careful removing “nonresponders” from email distribution lists too quickly, because you may have more time than you think.

Marketing Sherpa conducted an experiment “that every marketer should consider” to find out why customers were not opening their emails. The editorial team picked up the phone and called some of their nonresponders asking: “Why don’t you open anymore? Why don’t you click?”

The most common answer may surprise you, just as it did the Marketing Sherpa team:

“I do. I like your email. Don’t stop sending it. I may not always have time to read it, but I want it.”

The research team took a look at past data showing that more than 40% of online advertising responses may be delayed responses. Responders saw the ad, didn’t click on it, but visited the website or called on their own time, up to 30 days later.

Depending on how busy someone is or if they’re at work, customers don’t have the time to read everything in their in-box. Sometimes it is simply the presence of your brand name and subject line in recipients’ in-boxes that can trigger a customer to make a purchase once their ready. Here’s the latest marketing advice from the Sherpas:

“Given reputation-based filter concerns alone, you should be at least decreasing frequency to nonresponders so you’re not pinging them all the time. You might also want to survey them by email and/or by other methods. And, cross-reference your other customer records with email. Find out which of your “nonresponders” may actually be responding like crazy through other channels than the email links you send them.”

Simply put:

“The new email rule is: Don’t fire nonresponders before asking first. Until you know why, you can’t fix things.”

Online marketers lack connection with offline channels

New research shows that only 55% of online marketers coordinate or integrate offline channels with search marketing efforts, according to the iProspect Search Engine Marketing Integration Study conducted by JupiterResearch.

The study found that almost half (45%) of marketers fail to make a connection between online and offline marketing pieces.

Of those who intentionally integrate online efforts with offline channels:

  • 34% integrate with direct mail
  • 29% integrate with magazine or newspaper advertising
  • 12% integrate with television advertising
  • 12% integrate with radio advertising

Though integration is lacking, past studies have shown that two-thirds (67%) of search engine users are driven to search by an offline channel. Almost 40% of those offline-influenced search users end up making a purchase from the company that prompted their initial search.

The main reason for not integrating online and offline efforts is due to a lack of budget. Other reasons include a lack of human resources, failed to consider, lack of senior management buy-in and a separation between people managing search marketing and offline channels.

Using online and offline marketing tactics together can result in better returns on your marketing investments than if you were to keep them separate. Your goal should be to have all of your marketing efforts working together to promote your business.

How to integrate your offline and online marketing efforts:

  • Include your URL or domain name on every print marketing piece that goes out. Print it on your company letterhead and business cards. Give customers every available opportunity to contact you and possibly make a purchase.
  • Pay attention to where your sending customers. Create campaign-specific landing pages with unique, simple URLs to accompany offline marketing pieces (ex. http://www.company.com/specialoffer). If you’re promoting a certain product, don’t send customers to the homepage, send them to the product page or special landing page.
  • Introduce the print marketers to the online marketers. The reports mentioned above cited a lack of communication between online and offline marketers as one of the reasons for the disconnect. Introduce these people in your company and get them working together to improve overall marketing efforts.
  • Deliver a consistent message. What your telling customers offline should be the same thing you’re telling them online and vice-versa. Using a consistent message and images across all channels, with repetition and reinforcement will help retain a prospect’s attention.

Get the most out of your marketing and advertising campaigns by integrating your efforts. By using offline and online marketing efforts together you’ll create a more effective campaign with higher returns.

Catalog/Internet retailers see slide in online sales

Catalog/Internet retail slide in online sales

Catalog/Internet retail slide in online sales

“For the first time in a decade, catalog/Internet retailers are seeing a slide in Internet sales as a percentage of total direct sales, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2008 State of the Catalog Industry report.” – DMNews.

Internet sales in 2007 were 36% of the year’s total direct sales, coming in lower than the 38% made in 2004.

When postage increased almost 40% last year for catalogers, some reacted by not mailing to Internet customers because of low response rates, according to industry experts. The decision to limit mailings impacted sales numbers more than expected.

The sales decline will be short-lived, as catalogers learn how to better mail to all customers, according to Kevin Hillstrom, president of multichannel retail consultancy MineThatData.

Monica Smith, president and CEO at direct and multichannel marketing firm Marketsmith said marketers need to invest more in prospecting and into creating an engaging online customer experience.

“You’ve got to be in the viral game and you have to be where you’re constituents are.” Smith said in DMNews. “For younger users, this means engaging in blogs, online games and social networking.”

Read the full article, “Where did Internet sales go?” at DMNews.