Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Great Thoughts from a Direct Marketing Thought Leader

International Data Group (IDG) announced last month that List Services President Deb Goldstein is retiring at the end of September. Goldstein has been with IDG for 21 years -- and has certainly seen a lot of changes in our industry over time. She also received many honors in her tenure in the industry, including one in 2005, where the Direct Marketing Association named her List Leader of the Year. In an article in BtoB Magazine, Goldstein spoke about some of the most important issues in the direct marketing industry today, including the ups and downs of the different channels available to us, and how we all are having to be more strategic as we approach the marketplace.

Her input is very interesting. She talks about how direct marketers react to changes in both regulation and in pricing across the different direct marketing channels. For example, with e-mail marketing, she states that while opt-outs are increasing, as long as you use the idea of relevancy in your e-mail campaigns, this channel remains highly responsive and cost effective. She warns that you can't be afraid to use this channel -- and that you must use it wisely.

Regarding, direct mail and postal increases, she has definitely seen a change with the last postal increase. Whereas before, people would just increase mailing prior to the increase, then decrease it for an abbreviated amount of time after the increase, this last time around, companies simply put their direct marketing budgets elsewhere -- most likely with e-mail. She thinks that this trend will continue as marketers hone their skills in effect multi-channel marketing and continue to learn how best to use e-mail marketing. However, as most agree, direct mail will continue to to be one of the main channels for most large direct marketers. As costs continue to grow, we believe that most companies will incorporate analytics into their DM campaigns to mail more intelligently.

The same can be said for the telemarketing channel. Here again, legislation has made it more difficult to flood consumers with marketing messages via the phone. Since the inception of Do-Not-Call (DNC), those firms utilizing telemarketing have had to follow this legislation to the tee or face stiff fines for failure to do so. Regarding this channel, Goldstein argues that "telemarketing is really hot these days because it can lift response by 30% either as a follow-up to e-mail or a follow-up to postal. We hear a lot of success stories about it from people who use it." Again, using this channel wisely can really allow you to enjoy great results -- particularly when you use it in concert with the other channels.

It is nice to have an expert like Goldstein re-confirm what we experience daily in consulting with our clients. There are many channels to use to reach your customers and prospects. By intelligently utilizing all of the DM channels available to you, you will increase your response rates throughout all channels -- and build long-lasting relationships with your customers. For more on our ideas around Multi-Channel Marketing Effectively, take a look at our white paper on the subject.

We wish Deb a happy and healthy retirement and we will certainly miss her pearls of wisdom on the industry!

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