Friday, August 31, 2007

A Home Run for CRM

It seems like we're always harping on CRM failures. That's why it was so refreshing to read about how the Seattle Mariners are capitalizing on CRM methods and technology to improve each visit to Safeco Field.

This article from Destination CRM, "CRM Hits One Out of the Ballpark", talks about how Hilary Harding, the database marketing manager for the Mariners, has implemented a CRM system, with excellent success.

"According to Harding, the Mariners demonstrate perhaps the most comprehensive use of a CRM system of any team in Major League Baseball. "Every sports venue has to manage ticket sales, seat relocation, site maintenance, event planning, marketing, and concessions," she says. "We did all those things well before...but the difference is that, today, we do them better and much more efficiently."

Tracking customer transactions is enhancing the fan experience and it is also positively impacting the Mariners' bottom line. Their CRM system has allowed the Mariners to enhance and improve their direct marketing programs, through superior data mining and matching the right offer to the right fan. The article cites examples of such programs including the launch of their "All-Star Club" (an elite club where businesses can take advantage of great seats, food/drinks without committing to an entire season purchase).

From the article: "It's really amazing how the data can build up over time," says Harding, who helped spearhead the Mariners' three-month CRM implementation in 2000. "All of a sudden, seven years later, we have a goldmine of information about our fans, and it has really opened up the floodgates for cross-selling opportunities as well as putting together special programs and events tailored to our fans' interests."

But the main reason (in my opinion) why the Mariners are doing CRM right is because they have the right philosophy. CRM can never solely be about realizing efficiencies and making money. For it to work right, it simply has to be about improving the customer experience. And, for the Mariners, it's doing exactly that.

"Despite the obvious benefits of mining accurate customer data, Harding cautioned that CRM is much more than data collection. "CRM is truly about creating the desired customer experience," she said."

My final take on this success--if a ballpark can realize the benefits of CRM, businesses that collect customer information as a natural part of doing business (telecom, financial services, etc) have no excuses for not getting this done correctly.

Enjoy your Labor Day. Go watch a ballgame. Eat a hotdog. Have fun!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who Says Customer Service Excellence Doesn't Pay Off?

TMCNet recently reported that our good friends (and data partners) at TMone have been recognized on Inc Magazine's Inc 5000's esteemed list of important entrepreneurial companies to watch. Not only that, TMone's 28-year-old CEO, Anthony Marlowe, ranked 18th in this year's list of Top 25 Youngest CEO's. Very impressive!

In case you're not familiar with them, TMCNet reports that "TMone functions through two independent divisions — database marketing and contact center services, delivering state-of-the-art services to their respective industries. The database marketing division offers marketing intelligence for direct mail and calling campaigns, providing its clientele, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 giants, marketing lists, databases, phone appends, and data processing services. The company’s contact center division facilitates advanced in-bound and out-bound conversions, offering companies in communications, direct marketing, and financial services sectors, marketing campaigns incorporated with database and ancillary marketing channels for enhanced market penetration."

While the article gives us a viewpoint on why they believe that TMone has been so successful, we have our own opinion based upon the superior data and customer service that we've experienced when working with TMone. We work directly with Travis Wilming, Senior Sales Manager. Travis is as impressive as they come when it comes to flexibility, data and services knowledge, customer-focus, being proactive and possessing a sense of urgency. We love doing business with him and his company . . . and due to that, we try to find clients who can benefit from utilizing TMone's data and services in their direct marketing strategy.

You may ask why we are so passionate about working with TMone? Well, the answer is simple: They treat us like a valued customer. For those of you who operate in our high-stress, need-the-data-today direct marketing world, you know how terribly difficult it is to find a data partner who truly cares -- truly cares -- about your (or your client's) needs. It seems that many of the data vendors that we deal with (and you can count many of the big data compilers here) care only about the process (i.e., paperwork, pricing, how much they can charge to deliver the file, what are they going to have to do to process the file, etc). Oddly enough, at times, we've felt that it's more of a hassle to bring them a sale than it is a benefit to their bottom line. It's just plain strange.

So, we love working with TMone and will continue to bring our business to them whenever possible. We know that by working with them that we'll be happy, and more importantly, we will consistently exceed our client's expectations in terms of data quality, delivery and overall customer service and satisfaction.

Congratulations to TMone for this esteemed honor! And for those of you who have never worked with them before -- consider it. We can guarantee that you'll be pleased with the experience!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Know Thyself

Who knew that the ancient Greeks could give advice on CRM implementation? This article from shows that the Greeks were, indeed, correct about the importance of self-understanding and self-awareness.

Titled "CRM will disappoint without an honest self-assessment," the article discusses the importance of a company truly understanding and articulating what they require from a CRM system before any tool is even contemplated, much less purchased.

From the article: "CRM is doomed to disappoint without a clear focus and self-assessment of a business's needs, according to a recent analyst report (Forrester Research).

History has taught that the "big bang" approach to CRM, massive implementations of technology deployed across sales, service and marketing all at once, has proven to be a failure. Instead, organizations looked to smaller, tactical deployments and are now deploying CRM tactically with an eye to long-term goals."

The article goes on to state that historically CRM purchases were made with a focus on techology, as opposed to developing the understanding that the chosen technology would meet business objectives. I know that we've seen many CRM teams headed by IT, as opposed to sales, marketing, finance or other key users. Now, I have nothing against IT--without them businesses cannot run and, more importantly, :) I can't get my hands on customer data that is so important to my database marketing programs. But, IT should not be the lead decision-maker in a CRM decision.

And, the lack of a focus on business needs when making CRM decisions is evidenced by the high failure rate experienced. "Forrester surveyed 94 business and IT executives responsible for CRM and found that less than 50% were fully satisfied that the benefits met expectations. That's usually due to a lack of focus on specific business capabilities, according to the firm."

So, the lesson learned: Take the time to perform a proper needs assessment. And, by the way, sometimes an outside perspective on this will ultimately save you time and money. An outside firm will have no pre-conceived notions of how the new CRM system 'should' work. They won't bias the process.

What does a CRM needs assessment include? Here are some important steps:

Interview key system users. Listen carefully to what they say. Understand how they perform their day-to-day functions. Understand what would be 'utopia' IF they had the right technology. Document what you learned.

And very important--understand where your leaders are coming from. Get on senior managements' calendars. Talk to your CEO/CMO/CFO about short- and long-term goals. Make sure that any recommended technology addresses these goals and then articulate how the CRM investment is going to take the business closer to meeting objectives. Get management to 'buy-in' to your system, even before you know what the system will look like.

The third component is to get your arms around existing technology and data structures that you'll have to integrate the new system with. Again, documentation is key here. Another benefit--if you have a clear understanding of the systems and data architecture, it will be much easier for your selected vendor(s) to provide you with an accurate view of how their tool will work--within YOUR environment. And, it will help them present an accurate price quote, too.

Finally, once you have developed an understanding of users needs, determined how the system will complement corporate goals and have a feeling how the new system can integrate with existing data and systems, NOW (and only now) is the time to research and interview vendors. We've seen the vendor selection process proceed the above three steps. That's a bad decision. You will be amazed at how much more focussed the decisionning process will be once you have a clear handle on today's environment and future goals.

So, yes, the Greeks were right. A company definitely must "Know Thyself" prior to making the significant investment in CRM technology.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Linking Together Sales and Marketing

You've heard our rants before on the importance of the integrated efforts of your sales and marketing teams. And, we've all seen companies where this isn't the case -- and how that negatively impacts everyone's results. You can probably imagine how happy we were to see this article on one of our favorite subjects, then! Especially one that starts out like this:

"As Benjamin Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Neither marketing nor sales can succeed on their own. But together, working in unison, they create a powerful — almost irresistible — force."

We don't think that this can be said too much. Why? Because we are still talking to companies' sales and marketing divisions that continue to be intent on blaming one another for each other's less-than-stellar results. It may not be easy to accomplish this integration between sales and marketing -- but it is imperative to your success.

This very compelling article comes to us from the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly. As author, Paul Herbig, states, "Integrated marketing or collaborative selling is where all aspects of the organization — marketing, sales, support, customer service — are found within one umbrella organization, and all facets — databases, personnel, etc. — are integrated to optimize previously discrete business departments. The objective is to link all of the business processes among all these common elements into a smooth-flowing cooperative endeavor. If successful, the end result will be the creation of a customer-centric organization."

I repeat -- this may not be easy, but it is so very important.
As direct marketers, we hate to hear the grousing about how the leads that we carefully provide to the sales team are not resulting into closed sales. And, as sales people, we are tired of getting beat up for not meeting sales revenues due to our perception of "crappy" leads. Hence, the blaming begins. The only way to solve this conundrum is to fully embrace the concept of integrated marketing and selling. Herbig states, "Integration continues to gain ground, but it’s slow and painful. Necessity, not corporate vision, will continue to drive the process of improved marketing and sales integration. Silo-based management of sales and marketing resources promotes waste and thwarts results measurement. It also creates a procedural barrier to ensuring that organizational actions align with organizational goals related to sales and customer retention."

It may be a lot of work but it is definitely worth the effort. Try to begin with the desired end state in mind -- again, from the article, creating that powerful -- almost irresistible -- force. Then, start with baby steps. Create a team that bridges across both divisions and begin with consistent communication, feeding back to each whole team. Talk about what you are each measured on -- then try to determine how you can correlate those results metrics. Set goals that are common for both divisions. It is easier to work together when you are working to obtain the same end result. The systems stuff is definitely trickier -- and more cost sensitive -- but think about what you can accomplish by just communicating and collaborating across the two divisions. If nothing else, better understanding of each group's challenges will result. That alone can create a better working environment between sales and marketing.

If you have any success stories on how your company has been able to bridge this gap and work towards sales and marketing integration, please share! Or, if you have any horror stories on what has happened when this integration has not taken place . . . share that, too. We'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Build Your Own Brand

Customization has long been a hallmark of direct marketing. For example, direct marketers have figured out a way to personalize almost every inch of a direct mail piece or e-mail creative. We've all received those mail pieces with our names slapped all over them. Studies repeatedly show that personalization improves open and response rates.

Other studies have proven that if we present a group of product offerings (i.e.: create a customized catalog version) tailored to a specific audience segment, we'll get more sales.

Well, this article made me think about customization in a whole new way. From The Economic Times (of India Times), the article discusses product customization "to enhance the terms of endearment with their consumers". It cites examples of brands that are introducing products that are easily and quickly customizable. One example:

"Wrangler Jeans has come out with its ‘Build Your Jeans’ kit last year that provides consumers to design the fit and accessorise jeans. “It made us differentiate from other jeans brands. Those who did not buy Wrangler, they also started purchasing one,” says Janani Subramaniam, business head of Wrangler. For the denim marketer, this move saw sales skyrocket by 30%."

Other examples from the article include travel agencies who offer customizable trip packages and auto manufacturers who are giving buyers more and more choices to make their car their own.

The article states: "Brands are banking on this concept to add value and build customer loyalty." I tend to agree with them. The concept of ultimate customization builds on a few key marketing premises:

1. Listen to your customers and give them what they want. What better way to serve your customers than to let them essentially build your product? You're changing the paradigm from one where you (as the seller) are pushing generic products out to your buyer to one where your buyer is purchasing exactly what he/she wants.

2. Engage your customers. An engaged customer is much more likely to purchase from you. And, what better method of engagement than to let a customer customize what they're purchasing? Once they've invested time with you (deciding on options, etc), they're much more likely to complete the purchase.

3. Grow value for each sale. The article discusses how customized products come at a premium price (the winning number seems to be 20-30% higher than off-the-shelf). Adding customizable options may allow you to increase your price, hence grow overall profit.

It may be time to review your product and positioning strategy, with an eye towards customization.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Importance of Master Data Management

CRM has been a buzzword for years. As direct marketers, we've all heard it and know that it means a whole bunch of things to any given person or company. It seems to be customizable to the client problem. The bottom line is that it's all about managing your customer relationships (hence the name, right?), and doing it in a way that increases profitability while also increasing customer satisfaction.

Now there is a relatively new acronym out there -- MDM. In a recent article from TMCNet, Master Data Management is defined as "a strategic business driver as it enables organizations to unify and consolidate data about their customers, products and organizations; data that is often fragmented across different systems. By creating a centralized master data hub, organizations can deliver the most reliable, complete views of key business data within their existing business processes, and more importantly, leverage these data assets within operational business processes to remain in compliance, adhere to various privacy requirements and simplify reporting." Hmmm . . . sounds a lot like a description of CRM, doesn't it?

The difference with MDM is that it focuses on the data specifically, as opposed to the customer relationship. One could argue that these (CRM and MDM) are one and the same, however, the article's key point is about how the Pharma and Life Sciences industries are using MDM to mainly manage regulatory compliance (as opposed to customer relationships).

Why is this so important? MDM has become imperative "as hundreds of millions of dollars of penalties are faced by market-leading pharmaceutical companies related to kickbacks to physicians." And, these penalties "may signal the start of stricter enforcement of what had once been considered trivial legislation." The article argues that all of this could have been avoided if only these industries had put MDM practices into place earlier.

When it comes right down to it, any industry should practice good MDM. As privacy legislation continues to grow, managing your customer data is more important than ever. Not only that, we've always argued that the only way to effectively market to your customers is to effectively manage your customer relationships. It does increase profitability and customer satisfaction. However, it isn't always that easy to accomplish -- particularly as you bring in the technology vendors and they unveil their complex solutions and technologies to solve your business problem. As a matter of fact, it can be downright overwhelming.

This is a pet peeve of ours because we've lived through some of the presentations and the resulting implementations. Here's our advice: when looking for an effective way to manage your data, take a careful look at exactly what you are trying to accomplish first -- then make (force, cajole) the technology partner that you bring in address only those needs. Too often we see that companies are romanced into spending tons of dollars on technology that just isn't needed. Worse still, we see that technology sit there and gather dust as time goes on because it's so complex that nobody can ever figure out how to use it.

So, embrace MDM, CRM . . . whatever you want to label it. If you're embarking on a search to update your technology, read our white paper on Data Management Solutions first. It'll help you avoid some common pitfalls and make your data management initiative more successful.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kudos to the Direct Marketing Association!

This week, Forbes reports that the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), has spent $350,000 for lobbying in just the first half of 2007. The DMA has been lobbying on "legislation involving consumer privacy and protection, the postal system, and a bill to make the moratorium on Internet access taxes permanent, according to a form posted online Aug. 6 by the Senate's public records office. Besides Congress, the association lobbied the Treasury Department, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission and the Commerce Department." Phew! Well, now we know where our membership dues go, right?

It's nice to know that the organization that serves direct marketers is so fully involved with our lawmakers to ensure that we can continue to do the good work that we do -- while at the same time protecting the rights of consumers and businesses. The DMA has done an excellent job of balancing the need of the direct marketing industry to market effectively and the need of the public at large to be marketed to in an appropriate way.

As direct marketers, we are under fire more often than not. Even when we explain what we do for a living to relatives, we often get the snide remarks alluding to the fact that we are responsible for all of the unwanted mail and phone calls that they get. I know -- makes for uncomfortable dinner conversation. However, the legislation that has been put into place over the last few years in particular has given consumers the ability to be left alone if they prefer it (i.e., Do-Not-Solicit, Do-Not-Call, CAN SPAM Act, etc.). So, Uncle Herman, put that in your pipe and smoke it! : )

A lot of the reason for the negative press around direct marketing is that there are still those unscrupulous souls who don't pay any attention to the above-mentioned legislation. However, because of the hefty fines associated with all of these laws, the unscrupulous ones have definitely been on the decline (or have had to resort to being more sneaky, thus more easy to spot). So, the legislation has definitely worked to benefit the consumer (and that means all of us -- direct marketers or not).

Luckily, the DMA stays in tune with all of the legislative bodies to ensure that they don't go overboard in their protective stances. This is important -- we need to ensure that there is balance, otherwise, we will become unable to effectively market. Marketing is good -- not bad. But it needs to be done in a way that takes into consideration the desires of those to whom we market. As we work with our clients to create more profitable customer relationships, we need to keep this in mind. Let's face it, without marketing there is no commerce. As direct marketers, it is essential to ensure that we market correctly -- and it's imperative that our industry association -- the DMA -- continues to ensure that we are allowed to continue to do so.

So, a heartfelt thanks to the DMA -- keep up the good work!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

4 Keys to CRM Success

I thought that this keynote from Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point and Blink, contained some interesting ideas--ideas that direct marketers can embrace and bring to our senior management as we bring CRM technologies to our organizations. Gladwell outlined four key areas to address in order to realize a successful CRM implementation. I agree with him that these four elements are key.

From the article that recaps the keynote: "In his morning keynote speech at the opening of the destinationCRM2007 Conference here today, Malcolm Gladwell described four core elements innovative leaders need to understand in order to win over the public: time, framing, connectivity and simplicity."

I'll summarize his thoughts on these 4 elements (and add my 2 cents):

1. Time: It's very important that technology is brought to market as speedily as possible. We all expect things to happen quickly. It's no longer good enough to promise a multi-month/year implementation. We need to be able to solve problems quickly and show results of the technology quickly. If we miss the boat on speed, there will be a whole new set of business issues that the original technology will not be able to address. Hence, yet another example of CRM technology failure, simply because we couldn't implement quickly enough to solve the problems that the technology was originally purchased for. Learning here: make sure that your technology investment comes with a timeframe that works within your organization. Make sure that the vendors deliver on-time (through rigorous project management). And, finally, make sure that you communicate early successes to management to prove that their investment is starting to pay off, and paying off sooner rather than later.

2. Framing: Gladwell used an example from early radio to illustrate this point. He described the first live sporting event ever broadcast (a 10-minute boxing match). Prior to this live event, radio had been used only for newscasts (which you could read in newspapers) and to broadcast music. Broadcasting a live event to the public for the first time "drove the widespread adoption of the radio."

This is an example of framing, or "putting the product or service in the best frame of mind to serve them, not you. In other words, when assessing a business endeavor, Gladwell encouraged leaders to answer the question "Why am I doing this?" with "Because it makes the customer's life easier," instead of "Because it saves me money." He explained that consumers "need to frame their experience to make sense of it," and that the most compelling viewpoint when encountering a new product is usually self-serving."

Serving up live sports on the radio served consumers at large, but ultimately benefitted radio as a new medium.

3. Connectivity: Gladwell emphasized the importance of social connections. "Unfortunately, "we don't respond to people unless we have a connection to them," Gladwell said--emphasizing precisely the importance of managing, maintaining, and nurturing relationships. People, institutions, and technologies that allow consumers to connect with their world are in "high demand," he said; in fact, that connection "fulfills a psychological need." Consequently, companies need to ask, "Am I feeding into social isolation, or combating it? Am I seen by my customers as linking and connecting them in a real way?"

If your CRM technology can facilitate connections (building, maintaining and nurturing relationships), then it's much more likely to succeed.

4. Simplicity: This one is almost a no-brainer. If the technology is too complex, it will not be used. "Gladwell appealed to the crowd that it was encumbent upon them "to create a mechanism to simplify the complexity" of their technologies, and that society as a whole needed to tackle "task persistence" in overcoming past missteps in deployments of CRM and other technologies."

If we take these four elements to heart and really think about how our CRM or other marketing technology investments are touching on all/some of these parts, success will be closer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Using Your Direct Marketing Expertise in Mobile Marketing Campaigns

As direct marketers, we know that the proper mix of data, careful analysis and measurement, and the correct channels can mean campaign success that can be proven and improved upon over time. This approach leads to better profitability for our companies, more satisfied customers, and more money in our pockets -- all very happy endings for everyone concerned.

We can use this expertise when looking to expand our campaigns to new channels, too. According to a recent article in DM News, parlaying basics of DM knowledge to mobile marketing can increase your reach and response rates. In the article, Crystal King of iAnywhere states, "Currently, only a handful of mobile Internet services are able to provide messages that are more detailed. That’s where direct marketing can really be a boon to savvy marketers who are looking to take advantage of the emerging mobile market. Direct mail, permission marketing and CRM specific campaigns are all excellent candidates for integration into a larger mobile marketing strategy."

King goes on to talk about the differences in response rates between online and mobile marketing -- and it's pretty astounding stuff! "Online and direct marketing often mix nicely. The ability of their messages to point to online resources and Web sites give advertisers the ability to track some level of response rates. However, the 0.2 percent online marketing response rates currently don’t hold a candle to the 2-3 percent of mobile marketing’s response rates, which direct marketers need to find a way to harness." I can't think of one client who would turn down a 2-3 percent response rate -- wow!

As you're designing your marketing strategy for 2008 and beyond, begin thinking about how you can harness the power of mobile marketing to improve your campaign results and integrate it into your marketing tactics. King advises that "driving people to a mobile Web site through traditional advertising is a great way to service current customers as well as to introduce offerings to new customers. " Not only are you reaching more diverse groups of potential customers but you are embracing the technology that all generations of customers are becoming increasingly tied to -- the mobile phone. Using your own knowledge of direct marketing to guide you in this process will ensure your success! If you're interested in this topic, please take a look at our idea paper on Multi-Channel Marketing Best practices.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Why Do You Blog?

The Wall Street Journal published a fairly comprehensive article on reasons why small businesses have taken to blogging: Blog It and They May Come.

The article goes into very nice detail with specific case studies from a variety of industries. For example, the article provides detail about a marketing/copywriting firm that quickly grew its blog readership to more than 150,000 unique visitors a month (from only 100 prior to the blog). Their challenge, then, was to convert visitors to clients, which, by the way, did eventually happen.

Other examples include an online toy retailer, a forensic accounting firm and a London tailor. It's all very good, applicable information on how these diverse firms used a blog to grow their business. I know that reading this article validated our decision to get into the blogosphere :)

The article outlined five different reasons why a small business may consider blogging:

1. Boost traffic to their website
2. Boost new sales
3. Boost search-engine rankings
4. Allow for the sharing of information with customers, plus a blog facilitates customer feedback
5. Replaces the website, hence cutting IT/web costs

RRW's primary reason for creating this blog is probably a mixture of 3 and 4, above. We wanted to create more visibility for our direct marketing consulting practice, and we truly wanted our blog to be a forum where we could share thoughts, ideas and news with current and prospective customers.

Are any of the above reasons why you decided to blog? Do you have any other reasons to share?

Friday, August 17, 2007

More Evidence that Multi-Channel Marketing is Key to Your Direct Marketing Success

We've all been talking about multi-channel marketing for years now. As evidenced by the Annual Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Conference, which now hosts a "multi-channel" exhibit hall along-side their regular exhibit hall, it is becoming increasingly important to take advantage of all channels available to reach our valuable clients.

In a recent article from DM News, a newly released DMA study of both postal mail and e-mail list rentals, discusses the findings of increases in volumes in postal mail and in e-mail marketing-- and the results are quite interesting. In the article, postal mail is still increasing steadily. In fact, "list-based postal marketing remains the more prominent channel, with a weighted average 6.8 million postal pieces distributed in 2006, compared with an average 1.9 million pieces circulated through e-mail."

But these volumes only tell part of the story.

“Magnifying the higher percentage of companies increasing their e-mail volumes than postal volumes, is the higher average percentage increase for e-mail these companies report, compared with the average increases they report for postal mail. In fact, average decreases in e-mail marketing are both smaller and are found among a much smaller percentage of survey respondents." Bottom line, folks are beginning to more fully embrace e-mail marketing, and as this article reports, both in campaigns to their current customers as well as with prospective customers.

So, as these volumes continue to steadily increase, the practice of using both postal and e-mail channels will also continue to grow. And, as consumers and businesses continue to express their desires on how they wish to be communicated with, this kind of multi-channel approach will definitely spell success for those direct marketers who plan accordingly. For more ideas on how to implement a Multi-Channel Marketing Strategy, take a look at our idea paper.

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ensuring Mobile Marketing Success: Being a Responsible Direct Marketer

We've been talking a lot about mobile marketing in the last week or so, and for good reason: it's becoming a more important part of our direct marketing toolbox.

Interestingly enough, mobile marketing is going through some of the same challenges and consumer scrutiny as e-mail marketing did a few years ago. There is a lot of focus on how direct marketers are communicating with customers and prospects via the mobile phone. In a recent article from Striata (an electronic messaging specialist), it is reported that there is a very strict code of conduct that must be followed in order to ensure the success of any mobile marketing campaign. In fact, Mia Papanicolaou, e-marketing manager at Striata said: “These are powerful direct digital marketing mediums -- but campaigns not executed within the code of conduct could seriously undermine the overall effectiveness of integrated marketing strategies where SMS and MMS direct digital communications are reinforcing the more conventional methodologies.”

Furthermore, Papanicolaou points to certain "do's and don'ts" for direct marketers to follow as they consider embarking on mobile marketing campaigns. Here are the do's:
  • Ensure there is a reply path so that the recipient can easily unsubscribe at least cost
  • Personalize the message with the recipient's name
  • Start the message with the sender's brand name so that it is identified up front
  • Regularly check replies and honor requests to unsubscribe
  • Clearly communicate how to unsubscribe
  • Use “STOP” as a general default unsubscribe keyword
And, here are the don'ts:
  • Send messages exceeding 160 characters (or it requires two messages)
  • Use sender ID because if the recipient responds the reply will be lost in cyberspace
  • Send messages from a premium rated SMS short code as this prompts reply without revealing the cost
  • Use capital letters unless it is to highlight something critical, or a capitals brand name, or the message's “call-to-action”
  • Use SMS “talk” or “speak” such as phonetical abbreviations – the target market may not appreciate it.
While Striata references the South African market in this particular article, we think these are good points for direct marketers everywhere who are interested in embarking upon a mobile marketing campaign. The bottom line is to not be intrusive to the consumer. While trying to sell our products and services to customers/prospects, use good common sense as a good rule of thumb. This will help to spell success in your mobile marketing efforts!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Yet Another Reason to Hate the DMV...

I truly couldn't believe this news article: Pennsylvania Using Confidential DMV Database for its Own Marketing Purposes.

The article reports that "The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is combing through confidential Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) database records so that it can mail targeted job offers to holders of commercial drivers' licenses."


Talk about a misuse of power, coupled with an invasion of privacy. Consumers expect that their drivers license information will remain confidential. And, why should the DMV have the unfair advantage of using this private data to recruit truck drivers? Private firms don't get to enjoy this privilege of mis-using personal data. And, if they do (through data theft or some other unfair practice), they are definitely penalized for it--they get a big fine or they go to jail.

Let's hope that the DMV stops this practice immediately. Or, at a minimum, that they consider selling their data to the dm industry. I could make a fortune selling Jenny Craig or Weightwatchers a mailing list of overweight people, of course, as identified on their drivers license.... Hmmm, note to self: Make a call to PennDot.

Just kidding, of course :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Making Social Marketing Mobile

I'm always looking for examples of technology enabling and enhancing marketing. That's why I really enjoyed this article from "RCR Wireless News" about how mobile technology is becoming a crucial component of social marketing: Analyst Angle: Social Marketing and Adding Mobile to the Mix.

From the article: "Mobile is a natural complement to social marketing. Cellphones allow the spontaneous capture of images and sounds which allows frequent posts to Web sites keeping the content fresh while also facilitating the viral distribution of content to other cellphones. In the near term, cellphones are likely to complement social networks rather than replace them."

The article provides real-life examples of how mobile augmented a social marketing campaign (such as Toyota's Engines of Change campaign and the marketing of Ashley Tisdale's debut album).

And, just why is mobile so crucial to social marketing? It's all about creating content. "Cellphones are playing an increasingly important role in these campaigns as they are evolving into one of the primary devices used to create content. Higher-quality cameras on cellphones have created new opportunities for cellphone users to capture content (e.g., photos, video) and post it directly to Web sites. According to a consumer survey of cellphone owners conducted by Jupiter, the percentage of cellphone owners posting photos to an online blog or photo-sharing site nearly tripled between the end of 2005 and the end of 2006. It’s still just a few percent today, but interest is growing. This trend is poised to accelerate with young adults citing a high-quality camera as the most important feature they seek in their next handset purchase. Phones with high-quality cameras such as the Nokia N95 or Sony Ericsson’s Cyber-shot series will be an enabler of high-quality photos."

The marriage of cellphone content with social marketing is a good one, one that will last. Self-created content is here to stay--mobile technology is enabling it, and any social marketing program needs to take advantage of it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mobile Marketing: A New Way to Reach your Customers

Interesting read on the power of mobile marketing: Mobile simplifies marketing.

In a nutshell: "Mobile marketing reduces time to market because there is a direct link between the company and the end user through their cellphones." Other key benefits cited in the article:

- Mobile marketing is especially targeted and it offers the ability to segment customers.
- As a new, fresh channel, the author believes that "consumers are far more likely to view the MMS and show it to other people than say a TV advert for example."
- There is 0 waste--"This is because it is possible to verify with the networks whether cellphone numbers have been registered for MMS. All numbers that are not MMS registered can be removed from the campaign."
- Speed to market--the campaign can roll-out in days instead of months (for more traditional media, where the creative needs to be developed, the campaign needs to be implemented, etc.)

What was especially interesting (to me) about this article is that it heralds from South Africa. "Given that there are 36 million active SIM cards in South Africa (more than TV viewers, Radio listeners or Internet users); companies need to begin to thinking about reaching using mobile marketing campaigns to reach out to the largest group of users in the country."

In thinking about how mobile marketing applies to the US, I DO believe that there is an important place for it. But, we marketers need to make sure that we don't abuse this channel, even before it's introduced to the masses. We need to be responsible. We need to only employ this medium to groups that we are pretty darned sure will welcome the message. For example, send a cool announcement, or a great offer to a group of rabid fans. We need to make sure that there is a value to the recipient of each and every message we put out there. We cannot let SPAM take over this channel. We must develop and then follow opt-in rules.

I'd love to bring the power of this targeted marketing vehicle to my clients. But, I'd hate for our industry to abuse the power of mobile marketing even before it's widely used. Thoughts anyone?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to Basics - Direct Marketing Testing

It's been a long week (TGIF, by the way). My tiny, tired brain simply couldn't handle a slew of new ideas today. Instead, I wanted to focus on a standard principle in the world of Direct Marketing, and that is (drum roll, please)--testing. We all know we need to continuously test within our marketing campaigns. Test a new offer, a new list, a new channel, whatever--just make sure that your marketing is not getting in a rut, that you're constantly seeking new ideas and developing new strategies.

Of course, it IS easy to get in a rut--to go about business as usual. I think we've all probably felt that can predict the outcome of a test prior to implementation. And, usually we're right. If you've been doing this long enough, your gut instinct as to whether a campaign will be a success (or not) is usually on target. But, sometimes those pesky customers can surprise you. The time that the offer you thought couldn't be beat IS beat, and by an offer that doesn't seem all that attractive.

Or, when you think that the crazy new channel (like those streaming ads found in big-city elevators) won't be effective, and, lo and behold, you're getting new customers as a result of that media investment.

Just some examples of the real need to continuously test. Sometimes, however, implementing a test seems like just too much work. To spark some new testing ideas you may be interested in this article from today's "DM News": How to do direct marketing testing

It provides some basic (but valid) information on ways to implement dm tests. For example, the author (Arthur Middleton Hughes, long-time database marketing expert) gives a good definition of a control group. He also speaks to some of the measurement challenges and finishes the article with a testing checklist. All good info.

RRW also has spent some time thinking and writing on the subject of testing. Let us know if you'd like our Idea Paper, called RRW's Test and Learn Approach. It may spark some ideas of some new tests that you should implement. Just leave us a comment and we'll be happy to send you the paper.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More Good News on Direct Marketing -- It's a Rosy Future!

It's interesting to be a part of the evolution of direct marketing. Yesterday, we discussed Web 2.0 and its impact on expanding your reach. That's just a piece of what we have at our fingertips today. As marketers, we have more ways than ever to reach our customers with relevant, meaningful messages. The good news is this: our industry is growing at a very nice rate thanks to all of the good work that we do to help our clients build more profitable customer relationships. So, kudos to us!

In a recent post by Mediapost's Marketing Daily, the numbers that are reported are very compelling!

Here's an excerpt:

"Direct marketing spending increased 6.6% to $101.51 billion in 2006, due to double-digit gains in e-mail marketing, an influx of new direct-response advertisers on TV such as insurance companies and reverse mortgages, and modest growth in the largest categories--telemarketing and direct mail. Political advertising also contributed to gains in the direct mail, e-mail marketing and telemarketing categories. Spending on direct mail, the second-largest category, increased 5.7% in 2006 to $32.65 billion."

It's hard not to get excited about these kinds of numbers. As direct marketers, we know that what we do works. And when we add in good marketing intelligence behind the data, we can prove it. I know that's what makes us happy. And, again, with all of the relatively new tools that are available to us -- search-engine-optimization, e-marketing, social networking and marketing -- there are more ways than ever to get our message to the right customer or prospect that will cause them to react in a positive way. And that's all good news for our bottom line.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Using Web 2.0 to Expand Reach

Yesterday, we talked about using analytics to your competitive advantage -- whether on your website or within your overall direct marketing strategy. Well, here's another good idea to consider -- use Web 2.0 to expand your reach.

The newspaper industry is having some excellent success using this concept. In a recent article from the Bivings Group, "American Newspapers and the Internet: Threat or Opportunity," Erin Teeling reports that as "the newspaper industry continues to suffer declines in readership and circulation, using the Internet to expand a newspaper's reach is becoming more and more important." In fact, this Group has done a study on just how this industry is now using the internet to make up for lost circulation and readership. Here are some of their key findings on how they are doing it:
  • The use of RSS increased in 2007 by 21 percent (over 2006)
  • Ninety-two percent of America’s top 100 papers now offer video on their websites
  • The number and quality of reporter blogs also improved in 2007
  • One-third of newspapers now allow comments on articles
  • The number of papers requiring registration increased by six percent from last year’s results
More about each of these key findings and links to the entire study are found within the article.

This is interesting stuff! Just think about it, a traditional industry that has found itself in a state of decline because of the internet has put itself back on the map by using the internet. That's just good, old-fashioned business acumen.

Whatever industry you're in, it's tough to ignore Web 2.0 -- so why not embrace it? Whether you're a consultant (like us) or VP of Marketing within a large corporation, we can all expand our reach by doing what the newspaper industry has already figured out. By allowing your important clients to read about you, comment about your products and services, get updates from you on what you're doing from a product perspective, company perspective, etc., . . . allows for the creation of a more solid, long-lasting relationship.

We enjoy blogging every day. And, we get input from people from all over the world who would have not known about us if we didn't have this space for our thoughts and comments. It's fun -- and it creates relationships with more people. In business, that's what its all about, right?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Embracing Analytics

I really only started getting interested in web analytics when we started this blog (in May). Since then Google Analytics has been my friend, one I check with each and every day to see how our site is growing over time.

Of course, analytical techniques have been an important part of our direct marketing tool kit for years. RRW excels at using statistics and modeling to better target our clients' marketing. We build response models, custom segmentation schemes, up-sell and retention models. We score databases and help our customers make best use of their customer and prospect databases.

But, I promise, this post is not a shameless plug for our analytical prowess. Instead, I wanted to share this article about integrating web and other analytics: The next step: Evolving from Web and marketing analytics to customer analytics.

From the article: "Of course the specific challenge with Web analytics is the anonymity of the Internet. Much of the information captured is anonymous session data and statistics. But through the integration of Web analytics with e-mail and database marketing, we can better tie information to specific users, adding session data to customer profiles. Right now, this information is most often stored in the Web analytics tools. But why keep these powerful data segregated from everything else you know about your customer? Why not export and mine them along with your offline data for a more comprehensive analysis? If your marketing team doesn’t have access to all customer data across the enterprise, they can’t have a complete picture of your customer. They can’t help your customer as muxh as your customer expects, and they can’t anticipate what your customer will want next.

Analytics is about competitive advantage—something none of us can afford to ignore. It’s about knowing your customers better than your competition does, and using that knowledge to create long-term value for everyone."

I heartily applaud the thoughts behind this article. Interesting to me--many marketers started with web analytics (heck, the tools are even free, sometimes). They know exactly who's clicking, and what they're clicking on. They've quantified the web experience six ways to Sunday. Now, it's time to apply the same analytical techniques to off-line marketing. Tie web behavior to off-line behavior. Understand what your customer looks like, not just in terms of how they transact on your site, but in terms of their demographics and other available external data.

How old are they? What do they do in their spare time? Where do they live? What kind of car do they drive? Do they have kids? Are they college grads? Do they ski, snowboard, or play tennis? Do they like to buy from catalogs? Are they tech-savvy?

All of this data is readily available from compilers such as Experian, InfoUSA, Acxiom and Equifax. Think about the rich picture you can begin to paint once you tie this type of data to your customers. Think about how you can improve their web experience, presenting offers that will truly resonate with them.

The marketers who learn to tie web analytics with off-line analytics together will truly be on the leading edge. I'd love to hear thoughts, challenges or success stories about experiences when this was done right.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The High Cost of Do-Not-Call

DM News reports on a recent meeting between the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As you probably know, the FTC enlisted the help of AT&T in 2003 to build the Do-Not-Call Database -- a massive effort to allow consumers to register their phone numbers so they could stop the flow of telemarketing sales calls to their home telephones. Once registered, telemarketers who do not have an existing relationship (or aren't politicians or non-profit organizations) can no longer interrupt your dinner hour to ask you to buy their wares.

While many direct marketers argue that this was a good thing due to the fact that those who put their names on the registry were probably not going to buy from you anyway, businesses who primarily used telemarketing to reach their prospects had to find new ways to reach all those folks on the DNC list. After all, a prospect is a prospect, right? We would argue that this might have helped launch more multi-channel marketing strategies with those who were hesitant to try any other channel than telemarketing. There's that silver lining, right?

What we didn't see coming was the huge cost increases of actually using (like all good direct marketers should) the DNC database. The article reports that since the DNC registry was set up in October 2003, fees that telemarketers have had to pay to use it have increased by an astounding 263%! The DMA is introducing a bill to help control these costs. “The bill creates a more permanent solution so telemarketers can plan ahead, and it eliminates the requirement for the FTC to have to go through fee rule-making every year, as it suggests growth in fees should be based on inflation, with no authorization necessary,” Jerry Cerasale (Sr. VP of Government Affairs at the DMA) told DM News.

The article states that "when the registry was under development in 2002, the Federal Trade Commission proposed to cap the maximum annual fee per telemarketer to obtain access to the entire registry at $3,000. However, by the time the commission made the registry available in 2003, the cost for access was set at $7,375. Less than a year later, the FTC increased fees to $11,000. In 2005, the fees increased to $15,400, and in 2006 to $17,050." Well -- that sounds like a bit more than just inflation, doesn't it?

And, in spite of all of the cost increases, there are many who say the list is less than accurate. Unbelievable!

Luckily for us, the DMA has made this bill a priority and by bringing attention to the accuracy issues, hopefully, the FTC will put data cleansing practices in place that will ensure that direct marketers get a clean list for the dollars that they are spending to ensure that they are in compliance with the Federal Do-Not-Call laws. Here's the thing, if it can cost up to $11,000 per occurance for not complying, than the FTC darn well better make certain that the data is pristinely clean!

Stay tuned -- we'll definitely be keeping our eye out on this one and reporting any updates as they occur.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Reduce your junk mail

As a direct marketer, I cringe when I see articles complaining about "junk" mail. I feel guilty because, yes, I am part of the machine that sends unwanted mail to millions of people. Of course, then I remember why RRW is in business--we help our clients better target their mailings, hence changing them from "junk" to wonderful information that is timely and valuable (yep, each and every time :)

This article appeared in today's Star Telegram out of Dallas: Junk the junk mail

"Junk mail. Piles of it. In your mailbox, every day.

You don't want it. Most of the time, you didn't ask for it. But when it arrives, you have to do something with it: Shred it. Trash it. Recycle it.

You'll probably never eliminate all the mail you don't want. But with a little effort, you can remove your name from enough mailing lists and databases to cut down some of the clutter."

The article then goes into good detail as to how consumers can get their names off mailing lists. As someone who's been in the data industry for many years, I was surprised by the completeness of the list and by the accuracy of the information. So, in a nutshell, this article is a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to reduce your direct mail.

I know that I'm going to keep this info and give it to the next person who complains to me about all the junk mail they're receiving.

But, just remember, it's not junk mail if it's done right. The right offer sent to the right person at the right time is what we strive for.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

TV Shopping in Vogue

It's my guilty secret. I LOVE shopping at home. What better way to relax than to spend money--without leaving your couch, no less!

Was pleased to read today: Vogue to unveil

"Vogue magazine will launch a broadband Internet channel August 21 called

The Condé Nast fashion glossy will run the channel as a companion to its 3-year-old Web site As on that site, users will be able to buy products featured on the site directly online.

The new site will also feature original programming, including “60 Seconds to Chic,” “Behind the Lens,” in which a celebrity launches a new fragrance, and “Trend Watch,” which was previously syndicated."

With Vogue's entry to the home shopping space, the TV shopping addicts (like me) can upgrade from those crazy gizmos that cut onions quicker than you can blink or Suzanne Somers selling glitzy (read: fake) jewelry to genuine high fashion. Wow! Yes, I'll be watching...

I do applaud Vogue for being smart enough to complement its historically successful publication not only with their website, but now with this Internet-based shopping channel.

And, their multi-channel approach seems to already be working in their favor--ad sales in the magazine are up. And, they've just opened up new revenue streams and new ways to reach and build their audience.

We see so many traditional publishers struggling to incorporate the Internet into their mix. Oftentimes they simply try to put a version of their magazine on the web, and that simply doesn't work. It's great to see how Vogue figured out a clever multi-channel mix.

And, yes, I'll be watching. And shopping...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Driving Direct Marketing Success Through Data

It's been a while since we did a "soapbox" post . . . so here we go!

It occurred to us as we were recently finalizing a client proposal that it's been too long since we have discussed the importance of the annual look at your data assets. It's true for most companies. In fact, the client that we're currently assisting has been purchasing data from one of the large compilers for many years, and called us in because his sales team was not getting the information that they needed to effectively sell to their prospects. Does this sound familiar? While the data that they are currently buying is updated frequently, there are "holes" in it. And those "holes" make the difference between either getting the appointment and making the sale or not getting through to talk to anyone at all.

After doing some research, we were able to find some excellent data that not only augments what the company is currently using, but also finally gives the sales force what they need to be successful. With the consistent flow of data compilers, specialty lists and modelers into the marketplace, we found some "aha's" as we were conducting our research. And we do this sort of research all of the time! There are some excellent options out there, no matter what industry you are in, that can really drive marketing and sales success for your company. And if you don't stay on top of it, you can easily trap yourself in using what is familiar and not as effective because it takes some time to do the research.

We argue that the time spent here is well worth it! With a little research, you can determine the right sources of data that will identify exactly the prospect that you are trying to bring on, what they're spending, who they're spending it with, what their propensity is to buy from you and what their exact needs are today. If you don't want to do the research yourself, call a consultant in (like RRW) to do it for you. It just doesn't make financial sense not to do it. In addition, you can become an instant hero to your sales team, your finance team and your leadership team.

It really is this simple to direct market more intelligently -- and the rewards that you will reap will prove it. If you're interested in how to get started in looking at your data assets, you'll be happy to know that we've written a Data Check List on this very subject. Take a look at it -- then get out there and find the data that will make you a Direct Marketing Superhero! You deserve it!