Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Case Study: Sweepstakes and Mobile Marketing

Publishers Clearing House (PCH) is one of the longest lasting direct marketers around. I don't think there's an American out there who hasn't wished and dreamed that Ed McMahan and team would show up on their doorstep with a giant check for millions of dollars. This visibility and recognition is a true testimony to Publishers Clearing House's longevity and marketing ability.

Whether you're a fan of sweepstakes or not, I don't think that anyone can argue that this direct marketing expert, PCH, has used sweepstakes successfully over the years. What's more, they've been able to expand beyond direct mail (and they were darn good at getting consumers to open their mail and interact with their piece); PCH has embraced a true multi-channel strategy.

Well, now they're jumping into Mobile Marketing, and with a vengeance. My opinion: when PCH decides to use a new channel, it's probably time for all direct marketers to take note and learn some things.

Take a look at this article from Mobile Marketer: Publishers Clearing House outlines 2009 mobile strategy
Publishers Clearing House, a longstanding sweepstakes giant using the direct mail and TV channels, is targeting a younger demographic with online and mobile initiatives.

“We are the premier sweepstakes company in the U.S., so people know who we are, but the challenge is maintaining relevance for the changing population that is using Internet and mobile applications more and more,” Alex Betancur, vice president/general manager of the PCH Online Network, Port Washingon, NY.
The article outlines PCH's strategy in developing mobile marketing apps with a focus on entertainment. It also briefly discusses their social marketing tactics. For anyone considering incorporating Mobile Marketing into their direct response mix, this article provides some nice detail.
“It will be interesting to see how it (mobile and social marketing programs) takes, because it’s a different demo, different customers that we’re targeting,” he said. “We are direct response marketers, so we test the waters, and once we get the formula right, we push advertising to make it successful.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Coupons Work in this Economy

A weak economy presents challenges to all marketers. How do we do more with less? How do we sell things to people, or companies, who can’t afford them?

But sometimes, this type of economic environment presents unique opportunities for direct marketers. After all, our results are measurable. Marketing costs can be justified by clear, countable results.

This point is highlighted pretty nicely in this recent NY Times article: This Season’s Must-Have: The Humble Coupon

From the article:
The faltering economy could mean renewed interest in coupons as shoppers refocus
on the cost of the products they buy — that is, if they do actually buy anything
these days.

Coupons that offer cents off — or percents off — the price of things like groceries, clothing and restaurant meals are particularly popular when consumers need to stretch their dollars. So word that a recession began last December could bring an increase in the number of coupons offered by marketers, as well as redemption rates by consumers.

“Thrift is the new normal,” said Lance Saunders, executive vice president and head of account planning at Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis, an agency owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies.

“There’s no stigma to getting anything on discount,” Mr. Saunders said. “Instead, there’s a sense of pride.”

The article goes on to discuss unique couponning strategies, from some unusual suspects (high end Lucky Jeans, for example) and more usual suspects (P&G).

It also discusses the use of new marketing channels such as mobile marketing.
New technologies are also helping to renew interest in coupons, especially
for younger consumers. There are scores of Web sites where coupons can be
obtained by clicking rather than clipping; among them are coupons.com,
couponcabin.com, couponcode.com, couponmom.com, 8coupons.com, fatwallet.com and shortcuts.com. Many also deliver coupons by e-mail messages.

And coupons are increasingly available on cellphones and other mobile
devices from companies like Cellfire and Outalot. Among the marketers offering
mobile coupons are Arby’s, Caribou Coffee and GameStop.

An advantage of coupons delivered through new technologies is that they can
be customized and personalized, which could help make them more effective
and efficient for the sponsors.
Ah, trackable, customized and personalized—music to this direct marketer’s ears!

Another lesson learned: even if your marketing strategy has never included couponning, simply because it didn’t seem to be the right fit for your products and/or your customer-base, you may want to rethink that strategy in this economy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Should the USPS Change its Delivery Schedule?

I thoroughly enjoyed this article from DM News. It’s all about cost savings ideas for the US Postal Service, with the ultimate goal of keeping postage steady for direct marketers. The article cites two postal mail industry experts who have provided their comments on cost savings efforts.
Specifically, each expert discusses ramifications of the USPS cutting a day of mail service—cutting delivery from 6 times each week, to only 5.

Expert 1: C. Hamilton Davison, Executive director, American Cataloger Mailers' Association

Primary point
: Thinks that other options should be considered first—prior to cutting a day of mail delivery. For example, he suggests that the USPS look at closing some branches. He provides an interesting comparison of USPS facilities to McDonalds.

“Do you think McDonald's is everywhere? Well, McDonald's has 21,000 restaurants
worldwide; the USPS has 37,000 retail locations in the US alone. Isn't it
possible that we have too many post offices?”
Bottom Line: Mr. Davison recommends exploring any and all cost savings options if it means keeping the USPS competitive.

Expert 2: William Burrus, President, American Postal Workers Union

Primary point
: Mr. Burrus is adamantly opposed to a reduction of mail delivery days.
“If such a reduction leads to an increase in Priority, Registered, Certified,
FedEx, or UPS deliveries, customer costs would increase, and productivity
would decline.”
Bottom Line: He suggests that this change is too radical because it would delay mail significantly, especially in holiday schedules.
“This change would begin the process of dismantling the United States Postal
Service, which is the primary objective of those who advance this terrible

My take: I believe that the USPS needs to explore any cost-saving idea it can come up with. In this economy, every single business is exploring ways to save. The USPS shouldn’t be any different.

And, the solution clearly isn’t significant postage increases. I hate to see the direct marketing industry (which is a huge cash cow for the USPS) continually hit by rate increases that seem overwhelming and unfair. Further, taking away a day of mail delivery would not be the end of the world to most consumers who no longer rely on postal mail to receive important personal and business communication.

So, if a day must be cut to keep postal mail flowing, so be it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Search Engine Optimization - Free Webinar!

SEO continues to be more of an art than a science, don't you agree? When you find a search expert who delivers measurable results, consider yourself lucky.

That's how we felt when RRW found Daryl Clark of Internet Search Marketing. He not only helped RRW rank higher with Google and the others, but he's the one who encouraged us to start this blog. Now, when you search for Direct Marketing Blog, our tiny firm consistently ranks in the top 5. Pretty cool!

Daryl is doing some amazing work with large and small firms. And, even better, he's offering a free webinar next week to share some of his SEO expertise. Check out his blog for more details.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Case Study: Social Networking

Today's case study comes to us from Chief Marketer. It's an interesting discussion about how the Broadway musical, First Wives Club is using social networking to build a fan base, and an audience for the musical. What I learned? For the right target market, making the effort to build and manage a social network absolutely makes sense.

Below is the case study in its entirety.

First Wives Club Engages in Social Networking

When you're going through a tough time, you need friends more than ever. And if they an identify with your experiences, even better. FirstWivesWorld.com recently debuted social networking features to help divorced and soon-to-be-single-again women do just that—and have laugh or two in the process..

The venture began when Jonas Neilson and his partner Paul Lambert acquired the rights to produce a Broadway musical based on the 1996 film "First Wives Club."

In the process of reinterpreting the movie for the stage, the duo ran a series of focus groups with divorced women. Unlike typical focus groups, champagne was served.

"It was really kind of interesting, because they were more like cocktail parties," says Neilson, it wasn't long into each session before the ladies were laughing, crying and exchanging business cards. "There was an unspoken bond between the women. They had a commonality which immediately created a sense of belonging to the group."

There was a real need there that wasn't being met online, says Neilson, for women to connect with other people who were going through the same experience.

Over time, the site morphed into a destination for divorced women to find networking, resources and entertainment, such as "Hot Flashes," a fictional blog by Mimi Schmir, a writer who has written for "Grey's Anatomy," that take a humorous look at failed marriages.

While some might think a site devoted to divorce would be maudlin, Neilson says with First Wives World that is most certainly not the case. He says most divorced women he's talked to say they were miserable in the marriage, and the divorce became a shot at a new life.

Neilson says he thinks that the next frontier for successful online communities is taking those relationships offline, into the "real" world.

As for the musical, it will premiere at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego in July 2009, with a goal of hitting Broadway in 2010. Getting the word out via the site is a natural fit since the profile of many users—women who are 40+—dovetails what who buys the majority of theater tickets.

The portal is generating about 100,000 page views per month. Right now, Neilson says FirstWivesWorld.com is concentrating on building an audience, rather than measuring a hard ROI.

"We want to keep the network 'sacred' for women" who are gathering information on how to deal with their divorce, Neilson notes. "We don't want to inundate them with banners. We want them to feel this is their space."

Of course, he notes, that doesn't mean that the site isn't looking for unique ways for sponsors to integrate their marketing messages into the site. It's a good demographic, Neilson says, because at this point in their lives, these women are very open to changing things like brand loyalties.

Ultimately, Neilson says the site will help fund the musical. "Instead of creating the product and then trying to find an audience, we're building the audience first."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today, it's all about coffee

So, what's a direct marketing blog doing talking about coffee? Well, it was on my mind today and the more I browsed around, the more coffee news I came up with, and felt the compulsion to share with you.

You've probably all heard about Starbucks' offer to give everyone who votes today a cup of joe. For free. Without requiring any proof of voting. I love that! We've been faced with so much depressing economic news (and don't get me started about the overkill on the election coverage...), that news about getting anything for free, especially one of my favorite things, puts a grin on my face. Kudos for Starbucks for being good to their customers and encouraging us all to vote. Oh, and kudos to them for garnering all of this good press and building customer good-will at the same time.

While I'm on the topic of Starbucks, check out this DM News article about their launch of a new loyalty program. If you spend more than $5/week at Starbucks, you will definitely find value in this card, even though it's not free. You know my take on this, as a database marketer--I'm drooling over the opportunities to mine the customer data and figure out new ways to sell more things and grow customer loyalty.

Here's an overview of the program, straight from the article:
The new Gold program, which goes into wide release on November 4, offers a 10% discount on most in-store purchases. Gold membership costs $25 annually and offers its own card, which users are encouraged to register for additional benefits such as complimentary beverages on their birthdays. Starbucks Card Rewards, the program that launched earlier this year, provides members with free drink customizations and WiFi hours with the use of a pre-loaded Starbucks card.
And, if that wasn't enough coffee news, take a look at this item (also from DM News) that talks about Caribou Coffee's launch of a mobile marketing campaign. I can see how this channel could be ideal for retailers like Caribou--catch your demographic (in this case, they wanted to boost sales to 18-34 year olds) when they're out and about and shoot them a valuable coupon ($1 off a large drink). Nice application of mobile marketing, wouldn't you agree?

So, there you have it, an update on direct marketing of coffee--with some loyalty ideas thrown in at no extra charge!

Gotta go--need to drink my Venti!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Case Study: Using Analytics to Identify Business Opportunities

Today's case study comes to us from Sigma Marketing Group, a full-service database marketing firm. They've highlighted work they've done for their client, Greater Rochester Enterprise (GRE) helping them with regional economic development programs. I like this one because it incorporates analytics and cleverly uses data to generate a successful program.

The Challenge
GRE is a regional economic development organization supported by a team of private and public sector leaders dedicated to improving economic performance in the Rochester, New York Finger Lakes region. Its primary goals are to:
  • retain and expand existing business;
  • professionally market the region as a competitive, vibrant, and high-profile place for business location and growth;
  • support business attraction, expansion, entrepreneurship, and innovation by collaborating with local businesses, universities, not-for-profit organizations, and government leaders.
Because of Rochester’s rich history of thriving high-tech companies, GRE determined that the region was best suited to attract three types of industries:
  • Fuel Cell
  • Biotechnology
  • Optics
To that end, they approached SIGMA Marketing Group with the following challenge:
Focusing on these three industries, help us identify companies across the country that are likely to:
  • Expand operations
  • Consider Rochester as a potential site for expansion
The Breakthrough
SIGMA developed an analytic-based direct marketing program with the following methodology:
  • The Lists: Build search criteria, customize lists from a variety of sources, then target decision-makers in the three industries across the country.
  • The Mailer: Create a cost-effective, compelling direct mail piece that includes specific information on why the company should consider Rochester for its expansion needs. Specifically, SIGMA created bi-fold brochures that were customized for each industry.
  • The Data: Include an attractive offer in the piece that would entice the recipient to:
    • Log onto a new GRE Web page
    • Provide self-reported data via a simple online questionnaire
  • The Offer: For those recipients willing to go to the site, GRE provided them with:
    • A free S.W.O.T. analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) written by a leader in the recipient’s industry.
    • A link to a website that allowed recipients to choose amongst several business-related gifts or charitable contributions.
  • The Analytical Model: SIGMA then created a model that analyzed the results into three categories:
    • Alert: These are highly qualified prospects who should be called immediately.
    • Semi-Alert: These are qualified prospects who should be called within 30 days.
    • Future Contact: These prospects are not qualified for immediate follow-up, but should be contacted on an as-needed basis.
The Win
“SIGMA designed an effective direct mail campaign that yielded double our projected response. In addition, the self-reported data incorporated in this campaign delivered insightful quantitative research that has helped us further refine our marketing efforts.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

Direct Marketing Links


As always, I'm happy to bring you some of the articles that I found interesting this week.

How to Win the Social Marketing War
OK, I'm not sure I would categorize social marketing as a 'war', but author Pete Kulenek posts a nice summary of how businesses can/should include social activities such as Facebook and My Space in their marketing mix to help build traffic to your website. Learning: The key is to adopt this simple “5 H’s” approach:
  1. Humor
  2. Honesty
  3. Have fun
  4. Help people
Works for me!

Being Multichannel
Speaking of channels, take a look at this thought-provoking post from Kevin Hillstrom. He talks about how difficult it can be for marketers who practice in a variety of channels to truly dominate any one given channel. His advice (paraphrased by me, of course): focus on the customer and deliver the content and useful information that the customer needs. Make it easy for the customer to find you and figure out ways to 'pull' the customer to you as opposed to pushing tons of messages to her.

What went wrong with the market...
As a businessperson who's worked with the mortgage industry (yikes!) throughout all of my years of marketing, this post by Sandeep Giri hit a tad too close to home. He's provided a tongue in cheek explanation of today's current economic woes. Check it out for a laugh (and maybe some cries, too).

Now Be a Ninja!
For those of you out there who religiously measure your blog with Google Analytics, you'll appreciate this information from Avinash Kaushik. He explains some new releases from Google, including their advanced segmentation. I'll definitely take the time to explore these new features.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mobile Marketing Advice

I continue to struggle with ideas on how to incorporate mobile marketing into my direct marketing tool-box. Specifically, I’m having a hard time getting my arms around practical applications, and thinking of real-life ideas that will benefit my clients. Yet, this is an industry that is huge and growing. Mobile marketing is a channel to be reckoned with and maximized for the right opportunity.

This article from DM News provides some interesting insight. The article presents four different viewpoints and tips on how to make mobile marketing work—how to incorporate this channel into your marketing mix.

The first tip is from David Spear, EVP of sales and marketing, mobile technologies, LSN Inc.

Takeaway: With mobile Web campaigns, it's best to keep the design elements simple
“Whether a campaign is designed to drive brand awareness, deliver knowledge or influence direct response, it must be easy for the subscriber to understand, engage and extract value from it. Make sure you consider all elements when reviewing a campaign for simplicity. If the campaign is designed to be simple and straightforward, then traction will follow and viral will grow organically and successfully. If the campaign is overly complicated, it will disappoint in almost every aspect.”

The next tip, recommending Short Message Service (SMS), also known as text messaging comes from Steve Siegel, VP of brand solutions, HipCricket. His reasons for SMS are pretty compelling:
  • The reach of SMS—everyone uses text messaging.
  • The ability to measure results (you know I love this benefit!)
  • SMS allows for remarketing opportunities
  • SMS can be used to gather important data points from consumers (another benefit I love!).
Next, Bryan Morrison, President, Ipsh, brings us great information about mobile marketing’s ability to exploit proximity strategies. He says: “Proximity is the concept that makes mobile special.”
“While the Internet forced marketers to learn interactivity, mobile layers context on top, making your location the most important benefit the medium can offer. Understanding proximity allows brands to provide consumers genuine utility in their day-to-day lives.”
Just consider the possibilities—retailers can offer you coupons or special offers, at the point in time that you’re entering the mall! Timely, and valuable to consumers.

Finally, Michael Chang, CEO and co-founder of Greystripe, offers insight into the benefits of in-game mobile marketing—essentially embedding your advertising within a game people play on their mobile device (phone). More info on this concept, from the article:
“In-game ads are primarily priced on a CPM basis, reflecting the strong branding opportunities available from full-screen ads and rich data-gathering features. Pricing is also impacted by targeting. As with WAP banners, regional targeting is almost always available, and some providers offer more refined targeting such as by carriers, types of handset, or based on user demographics.”

“Advertising in mobile games provides bigger and richer ads than SMS or WAP banners, as well as a positive brand association for the advertiser. In-game advertising offers unique features, a great user experience and allows advertisers to benefit from a positive association with fun mobile content.”

Hopefully, these four unique perspectives have shed some light on practical applications of mobile marketing. I know that they’ve given me some great food for thought!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Case Study: Alltel, Acxiom & A Marketing Database

It's Monday, and that means it's time for a direct marketing case study. This one comes to us jointly from Acxiom and Alltel Wireless. (Check out this link for a podcast on same topic, plus the opportunity to sign up for the full case study).

Customer Lifecycle Management

When Alltel Wireless engaged Acxiom to improve the precision, relevance and sophistication of its direct marketing communications, the company’s siloed sources of customer data and limited prospecting data were restricting their abilities to engage with customers and prospects. Acxiom worked closely with the Alltel Wireless team to deliver a set of solutions that anchored the entire campaign process. Acxiom combined its data products and customer intelligence with Alltel Wireless customer data and prospect list for targeted segmentation based on actual customer behavior and real household composites.

The Opportunity
Alltel Wireless wanted to increase customer acquisitions, improve retention and grow customer revenue with more targeted, relevant communications.

The Solution
Acxiom’s marketing database solution assisted in driving two top objectives:
  • New customer growth
  • Reduction in customer churn
The Results
265% increase in incremental customer postpaid additions tied to direct marketing efforts. “My Circle” campaign gross take rates exceeded 6% from existing customers. Direct customer communications have increased 285%.

Wow--pretty great results! Truly illustrates the power of a database.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

DMA Recap

Home from Vegas. Phew! Good to be home, for sure.

I thought I would wrap up my commentary on the annual Direct Marketing Association's conference by sharing some of the highlights.

1. DMA's self-reported biggest accomplishment this year: the creation of a Do Not Mail plan. See the following from an article on DMA's website:
Rappaport (Donn, outgoing chairman of DMA's board of directors), who is chairman/chief executive officer of the American List Counsel, Inc. (ALC), began by highlighting the Board’s efforts to combat proposed state Do Not Mail legislation. “This year, the DMA Board marshaled all our collective talent, energy, and experience to forge a Do Not Mail action plan to tell our story to Congress, to the media, and for the first time ever, directly to the consumer."
2. Direct marketer of the year: Ebay. Last year Microsoft got this honor.

3. From John Greco's (DMA's President and CEO) opening keynote address, where he speaks about the state of the industry:
Here’s DMA’s estimate of the size of the entire direct marketing pie — well over two trillion dollars worth of sales this year, driven by direct marketing offers across all the addressable, interactive, direct response channels.

Sales driven by Internet and email marketing will exceed $500 billion this year. That number has grown very quickly over the past year. At the same time, a total of more than $702 billion of sales is being driven by the mail channel — including nearly $155 billion in catalog sales. Telephone marketing accounts for another $364 billion in additional sales, and direct response advertising in newspapers, television and other media drive $451 billion more in sales this year.
He goes on to discuss direct marketing accomplishments such as a focus on recycling. The entire transcript of his speech can be found here.

4. Theme of the DMA: "r u Connected?" Personally, I find this kinda juvenile--but that's just me...

5. Expected number of attendees: 12,000 (not sure that this many actually made it).

6. Best party: OK, I only attended two this year... But, I'll give the award to Experian and their nightclub experience at Pure in Caesars Palace. You have to agree that the projection of their name on the side of the casino was pretty cool.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Update from DMA!

It's Day 2 of DMA and I still have most (well, some) of my brain cells.

Arrived in Las Vegas yesterday. Cold and dry weather. Lots of traffic and people. Too much walking (but, that casino 3 miles away looks so close...). I dropped $10 in video poker, but won it all back. I'm such a high roller :)

Attended the opening exhibit hall session yesterday afternoon. My immediate impressions were: the show was quiet and MUCH smaller than years past. I'd say a good 1/3 fewer exhibitors. And, the big firms didn't have the same level of ostentation--you know the huge, crazy booth spaces. Of course, we can't blame anyone for scaling back in this economy. The other odd thing, I didn't hear of a single party held last night (Sunday). Did I miss something good?

There were some positives, though.
  • Good vibe. People were actually stopping to talk to exhibitors. I saw a lot of conversations going on.
  • New vendors. I've already met some new providers to the direct marketing industry, and I'm looking forward to meeting more.
So far, I've made my way through about 3 of the approx. 12 aisles of vendors. Some interesting companies I spoke to: Boingnet (offers personalized URLs on the cheap) and Jigsaw (they compile business information from business cards, allowing marketers to hone in on those hard-to-target industries and titles).

As always, I enjoyed my time at the Acxiom booth watching their famous magician (they've had this guy for over 10 years, and he's simply amazing--nice, too).

Well, I'm off for more DMA action. I'll be meeting many more firms today and I'd love to hear comments from others here at DMA with their discoveries, too.

As a bonus, check in tomorrow for an update on the two big parties: Experian and Acxiom!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Direct Marketing Links

Another Friday is upon us, and that means it's time for me to share some of the interesting articles I found this week.

Why People Buy - Online
Let's start out with a new blog I was happy to find this week: Direct Dispatch from Haggin Marketing. This article talks about what consumers value must when they're shopping online. It's surprisingly different than what we value when we shop in a physical store. The article also presents a list of the 50 retailers who are doing it right, online. It's no surprise that Amazon tops that list.

Marketing Professor Adopts Radiohead Business Model for Textbook
You know I'm a sucker for interesting price plans. And, like most people out there, the word Free is one four letter word I LOVE to hear. That's why I got a kick reading this article about a professor who is letting his students pay what they will for his book, the required course reading.
And, he's letting them set the price AFTER the course is complete. Love this concept, and hope to hear results of this pricing experiment.

Social Media/Networking a Marketing Flop
I couldn't agree more with one of my very favorite people, Lewis Green. On his blog that focuses on how to grow business while keeping people first (love the concept, don't you?), he tackles the issue of social marketing and discusses how failures in this area can often be due to companies not aligning their social media efforts with the overall corporate marketing strategy. Just makes good sense.

When you go the extra mile
Customer service is so darned important. And, it can be the one differentiator you may have. Good service can help keep your company strong (or at least keep you stronger than your competition) in bad economic times. This post from Andy Sernovitz's Damn! I wish I'd Thought of That! blog brings this point home. Good read.

The Future of Debates vs. Dialogs
From the Note to CMO Blog, this post got me thinking. The author makes a valid point that there is so much content out there, and asks the question: are people really reading and discussing, anymore? He contends that "there is a growing shortage of conversation, with only massive parallel monologues taking place." Excellent food for thought.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Eliminating the Pain from CRM Implementation

I can't tell you how many articles I've read throughout the years that provide advice on how to make CRM technology implementation less painful. I've posted on this topic a few times myself, right here on this Direct Marketing Blog. It begs the question: why can't some smart firm come up with a solution here?

Regardless, since CRM implementation (and the pain associated with it) remains a 'hot' topic, I thought I would share some tips from this Inside CRM article titled: 10 Ways IT Managers Can Make CRM Implementation Painless.

I've listed each of the tips below, but you can read the full article for more detailed explanations and suggestions.
  1. Watch your alignment. In other words, start at the top and make sure your CRM efforts match your business goals.
  2. Spread the word. To hook CRM applications into a company's core products and services, IT managers will likely have to beat multiple drums in order to be heard.
  3. Sell it to the sales department. While end users across an organization must commit to diligently using and updating CRM systems, success may well depend on the acceptance level of the sales force.
  4. Root for the home team. End users are not the only ones who will likely be in need of constant CRM coaxing. To best lead a staff to CRM victory, IT managers must constantly champion attainable corporate goals.
  5. Stay ahead of the curve. Along with keeping the team happy, the most effective IT manager will work constantly to keep up with an industry known to change at warp speed.
  6. Change from the inside out. External factors are not the only change agents at work. IT leaders will also want to ponder the internal impact of a new CRM system.
  7. Raise the bar. Regulatory matters and other factors up the ante. Thus, IT managers must make sure that major decisions surrounding CRM initiatives are not relegated to those toiling in the trenches.
  8. Visualize results and use carrots instead of sticks. The most capable CRM managers are high-level leaders, who are hyper-aware of CRM’s ability to shape an organization.
  9. Take it on the run. In order for the sales staff or other departments to use CRM to get to know customers better, users will likely need a way to tap CRM applications remotely.
  10. Pick your battles. Without question, a CRM initiative is laden with snags that can challenge even the best IT manager. Hence, a significant number of organizations chose to pass the lion's share of the chore to outsourcers.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Direct Marketing Employment Projections

You know I hate to add to the economic doom and gloom news... But, I guess it's no surprise that the most recent Bernhart and Associates survey reports: Direct Marketing Industry Cutting Back Sharply On Hiring Plans.
Direct marketers are coping with the slumping economy by making deep cuts in their hiring plans for the remainder of 2008, according to the latest Bernhart Associates employment survey. "Every one of our major employment indicators showed significant declines compared with summer and now stand at their lowest levels since the survey began 8 years ago," said Jerry Bernhart, owner of Bernhart Associates Executive Search.
There is a slight bright side to this story, however.
"Despite the gloomy outlook, nearly one-third of survey participants are still hiring and most don't have a hiring freeze," Bernhart added. "Certain job categories are holding up much better than others." When asked what positions employers intend to fill during the coming fourth quarter, Bernhart said sales and analytics dominated the list.
Marketing is always hit hard when the economy softens. Typically direct marketers are a tad safer than other disciplines that aren't able to justify their activities with hard facts--numbers and results. Yet, this news is disturbing.

It will be interesting to gauge the mood at the DMA conference next week (that is, if anyone shows up...). Look for live reports from DMA on this blog!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Case Study: Contact Management

First of all, some personal business! Our wedding was perfect--very romantic and beautiful. It was so nice to spend time with family and see old friends. Maui was pretty awesome, too.

But, believe it or not, I missed posting to this blog and it's good to get back into the swing of things. It's Monday and time for a direct marketing case study. I thought I would build on the concept of B2B lead management practices that I reported on last month. Today's case study comes to us from Direct Alliance, a firm that provide business process outsourcing (BPO) competencies in sales and marketing. It highlights how important analytics can be in understanding and impacting customer behavior (a concept that I firmly believe in).

Customer analytics results score big with client and drives improved targeting and increased sales.

Business Challenge
The Client is a world leader in developing, manufacturing, and supplying printing solutions. Faced with increasing direct competition, the Client needed a cost-effective customer management strategy that would enable them to better understand and anticipate customer decision-making and buying behavior. Specifically, they wanted to understand the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, determine their market position by type of business–such as small-medium and large enterprise–, know which products contributed most to their bottom-line financials, and reduce their cost of sales.

Direct Alliance developed a customer database analytical modeling program to review customer monthly, quarterly and annual purchasing patterns over a three-year period. From this, Direct Alliance developed scoring model to identify customers with a high-propensity to purchase within a specific quarter. The second part of the solution was the development of personalized product offerings to accommodate the customer’s quarterly buying cycle that were supported by personalized electronic direct marketing and call campaigns. Weekly pipeline reviews were conducted to continually evaluate the progress and success of customer contact and sales efforts.

The Direct Alliance scoring model predicted customer buying patterns with 90% accuracy and customer touch improved to 100% from an average of 30%. Improved accuracy and effectiveness led to a 98% increase in first quarter revenues vs. only 69% in prior quarter, and buying accounts increased 42% percent year-over-year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Love, Wedding and Maui!

It's been a year of changes. Probably the biggest change, and the one that I most look forward to is right around the corner, for me.

I'm getting married next Saturday! To my best friend and love of my life. I'm a happy girl. We travel to California for the wedding and then we're off to Maui.

You can only imagine that it'll be a bit tough to keep up on my blog. Rest assured, though, that I'll be back in action early October with more direct marketing updates.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Case Study: ASPCA and DR Television

For the right marketer, direct response television can be an excellent channel for lead and sales generation. Or, in this case donation-generation (is that even a correct term?).

Take a look at this DM News article: DRTV shows off new tricks. The article goes into nice detail about short-form verses long-form and articulates the challenges of measuring a multi-channel strategy. I've summarized their program by quoting bits and pieces of the article below.

Television footage featuring adorable dogs, cats and other household pets elic­its an emotional response from nearly everyone. So it's no surprise that direct response television (DRTV) has come to play a major role in the marketing strategy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which relies on one-time and monthly donations to fund programs related to animal-assisted therapy, animal poison control, animal cruelty, humane education, legislative services and shelter outreach.

Multi-Channel Challenges
“There's not just one mode of response [any­more],” says Loreen Babcock, CEO of agency Unit 7, which handles a wide variety of DRTV programs. Dealing with multiple call to action options can be challenging, she adds: “We have a pretty good feel for the benefit of having more than one type of communication, but not neces­sarily the frequency and the timing.”

Michelle Cardinal, CEO and president of Cmedia, agrees that one call to action just isn't enough anymore — today's DRTV campaigns must also drive to a URL. “You won't survive if you don't understand that it's no longer just about 1-800 numbers,” she says, pointing out that DRTV and the online channel used to be on “different planets.” Now, she explains, “[companies need] to bring them together to see how they complement each other.”

Froehlich has seen this firsthand, as the ASPCA's DRTV program has evolved since its inception. “There's been a lot of crossover and multichannel fundraising going on,” he says. But the length and target audience its DRTV spots have also changed significantly, because of the changing television space, proliferation of channels and shifting viewer habits.

Experts emphasize that companies that have made DRTV a central part of their marketing over the years now need to cover all their bases with a broader spectrum of media that can integrate with the DRTV channel. Froehlich insists that the ASPCA now has a “pretty savvy” Web strat­egy, and that ASPCA's direct mail efforts have improved over the past few years — which he suspects is due to consumers' increased brand awareness from the DRTV program.

“There's that wonderful ‘halo effect,' which is the rub-off that TV brings to aid in the sales of products through other distribution chan­nels,” explains Kirby. “So television educates, informs and creates emotion and impulse, but the consumer may elect to execute the transaction online.” This is why it's critical to link the digital and TV experiences in terms of the messaging and the creative, he continues.

“DRTV is successful when you take a highly complex and emotional problem and offer a simple solution that passionate people can do on their own,” says Steve Froehlich, senior director of direct response at the ASPCA, which has raised more than $40 million since its DRTV program launched in February 2004.

“DRTV still leverages the [dominant] mass medium of our time — television,” Kirby says, pointing out that the channel lends itself to emo­tion and impulse, which are important elements in making a sale, and it is also accountable. “So, while TV media is very fragmented, DRTV can still build awareness for a brand and make cost of advertising self-liquidating when the product is sold directly to the consumer,” he continues.

“The future is about understanding the relation­ship between DRTV and online behavior,” Peter­son adds. “When you can show direct correlations, that's the endgame for anyone in DRTV.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

Direct Marketing Links

As always on a Friday, I'm happy to share some of the interesting articles I've been reading this week. Enjoy!

The future
I'm a sucker for predictions of the future, so I was very pleased to find this video that recaps recent developments in computing, including the rise of social media and changes in e-commerce. It also projects out to 2015 (it predicts the demise of the 4th Estate, the press). This is definitely worth a listen.

Snail Mail Goes Digital

Great news for direct marketers. New technology is coming (to be introduced in May 2009) from the US Postal service that will allow businesses to track the movement and delivery of each piece of mail sent. This means that you'll know exactly when a prospect has received your piece, allowing you to time telemarketing or email follow-up precisely. Conversely, if a customer tells you that the 'check is in the mail', you can track their payment and know exactly when to expect it (or verify that, indeed, the check was sent). This technology will be a boon in measurement and tracking. Good news, indeed.

99 Marketing Tips
Speaking of measurement--the Johnson Direct blog (Marketing That's Measurable) is offering a book on how to make your marketing more measurable. At no charge, this sounds like a worthwhile investment :)

Information Arbitrage
Coined by the Marketing Geek's blog (doncha love that name?), the idea of information as a competitive advantage is intriguing. "Information arbitrage is occurring when a marketer takes advantages for his own brand over other brands due to one of three potential arbitrage situations: More Information, Better understood Information, Better used Information." Good food for thought here.

More on Lead Nurturing
The B2B Lead Generation Blog has an excellent post on lead generation and nurturing. It also happens to be an excellent complement to my post on the same topic.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lead Generation Best Practices

I've spent a LOT of time this week discussing the mechanics and best-practices of lead generation and lead nurturing programs. Some great conversations with some very bright marketers got me thinking that it was time to highlight this topic in my direct marketing blog.

Take a look at this presentation from Marketing Sherpa, titled "B2B Marketing Fast Fixes: How to Generate and Nurture More Qualified Leads." The presentation provides ten excellent tips and best practices. I've highlighted a few here that I found especially helpful, but I urge you to take a look at the entire presentation, if you're involved with--or interested in--lead generation.

This tip blew me away: "Time Telemarketing Follow-up Calls Better." Essentially, the quicker you can follow-up a web-generated lead, the better. Marketing Sherpa presented results that showed that if a follow-up call is made within five minutes of your prospect completing your online form, you are 85% likely to actually connect with that prospect. Contrast this with what happens if you wait even 30 minutes to make that call. At 30 minutes, the likelihood of connecting with the prospect drops dramatically--to about 10%. Lesson learned: initiate a process where a follow-up call is initiated immediately after the person has registered on your site.

As a direct mail advocate, I was pleased to see this tip: "Add Postal Mail to the Lead Nurturing Process." It's easy to discount direct mail as a channel. Who wants to kill more trees? And let's face it, direct mail is costly, especially when compared to email. But, direct mail can be an effective channel. For example, you can get very creative with format. When done right, direct mail will not only get opened, but it will get noticed and make an impact.

Finally, this tip (a bonus tip, no less!) just makes good business sense: "Identify and Schmooze Evangelists." We all know how hard it is to gain a loyal customer. A loyal customer who not only stays with you, but one who shouts your praises is a rare and wonderful thing. I like the idea of taking the time to figure out which of your customers are evangelists and then treat them like royalty.

In addition to the above, Marketing Sherpa presents ideas about using blogs to generate leads, landing speaking gigs as a way to collect highest quality leads and more extremely useful information.

Good stuff!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Case Study: Office Depot Maximizes Multi-Channels

I'm always looking for quantifiable results that prove that a message received through multiple channels beats those received from a single channel. The concept of multi-channel marketing just makes so much sense, but it's oftentimes hard to measure. One has to wonder--would that customer have purchased or responded if they had only heard from us through a single channel? Were the extra costs of a multi-touch strategy justified?

Today's case study comes to us, from of all places, Microsoft. They've cleverly measured the impact of various components of Office Depot's online advertising campaign, quantifying stand-alone results and the impact of multiple customer touches.

Office Depot, Inc. is a global supplier of office products and services that sells to 44 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. With a number of sales being processed online, Office Depot wanted to optimize the effectiveness of their online advertising campaigns.

The Challenge
Office Depot teamed up with Microsoft Advertising to conduct a study focused on understanding the brand lift an Office Depot search or display campaign receives when running together with other online channels. They wanted to determine which combinations of search, display, and content ads best drove Office Depot’s brand metrics.

The Creative Solution
The study was conducted among 120 participants who were evaluated with eye-tracking tests and post-session surveys. The participants were exposed to various combinations of Microsoft display, search, and content advertising methods and evaluated for brand metrics like message recall and purchase intent.

The Results
The study revealed that while search, display, and content ads are effective online channels for driving brand metrics, when combined they generate more powerful results. The following chart is the best illustration, I believe of the power of multi-channel marketing.

Office Depot Search Campaign Study
Adding both display and content ad offerings to the search campaign is more effective than adding only one additional channel offering. Results achieved include:
  • 46.5% incremental lift in ad recall
  • 49.1% incremental lift in brand recall
  • 19.7% incremental lift in message recall
  • 21.6% incremental lift in purchase intent
Office Depot Display Campaign Study
Adding both search and content ad offerings to the display campaign is more effective than adding only one additional channel offering.

Multiple exposures through search, display, and content ad channels translate into 2.41 times the amount of user interest (measured in relative fixations and gaze time) over search alone. Results include:
  • 20.8% lift in ad recall
  • 45.0% in brand recall
  • 15.8% in message recall
  • 13.7% in purchase intent

Friday, September 12, 2008

Direct Marketing Links

Another week has gone by. Where the heck do the days go, anyway? As always, here's a round-up of some of the articles that intrigued me this week.

Small Favors, Big Success
Wow! The research on this post from the Neuromarketing blog intrigued me (and surprised me, too). The author explores how someone is more likely to say 'yes' to doing a favor if they've already performed one small favor first. "The message in all this is clear. Making a small initial request of your targets won’t turn them off. Rather, if it is small enough to be granted by almost everyone, it will make them more likely to respond positively to your ultimate request."

The article cites multiple examples and really got me thinking. I will definitely be testing this concept in some future direct marketing campaign!

Build your Business with LinkedIn
Check out this post from Hit Search. It highlights a video about how one marketing expert is using LinkedIn, and specifically its Q&A feature to gain new clients (as in over $250,000 sales to-date!). I know that I really enjoy reading, asking and answering questions at LinkedIn and find it an awesome resource. Good to know that some folks are also benefiting in the way of new contacts and new contracts.

Domain Name Tips
Loved this podcast from Bob Parsons, CEO of GoDaddy.com. He provides tips on how to choose the best domain names. Some of my favorites: Make sure that the domain is easy to spell...And, avoid numbers and hyphens. Hmmm. Good stuff and a fun video to watch. An excellent use of a short video, by the way, AND it fits right in with GoDaddy's business. I guess this guy does know what he's doing...

Building Your Personal Brand
I loved this post from the Brand Dame blog (excellent name, by the way!). The author, Jill Biden provides some handy advice about using email signatures, your blog, website and social networks to build your personal brand. Small things that most of us forget about, but that can enhance your image on a daily basis.

Honoring 9-11
I know I'm a bit late here, but the advice from the Media Orchard blog resonates whenever you read it. The blog lists 9 ways to honor 9-11. My favorite: "Treat people the way you did in the days immediately after the 9/11 attacks." I can well remember how that horrible event caused us to really be grateful for our friends and family; it caused me to appreciate what I have in my life. These are good things to remember and a heck of a great way to commemorate 9-11.

Have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the last of these summer days :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Data Mining for the Wireless Industry

It's not often that you see this Direct Marketing Blog announce new products or services. It's not our 'thing' to try to sell anyone anything (well, at least not here on the blog). But, sometimes, I come across announcements of new marketing solutions that really intrigue me and I feel compelled to share.

And, that's what happened today.

Xtract, a Finland-based firm that provides social advertising intelligence solutions (and also a firm that I'd never even heard of--shame on me) released this announcement just yesterday:
Xtract Social Links™ Now Available in USA, Adds Demographic Prediction.

You know I'm a sucker for data mining! This service offers a new spin on analyzing customer transaction data. Essentially, Xtract's tool combs through wireless carrier network data, and provides insight into each subscribers' personal contacts/phone numbers/people they call often. From the article:
Xtract Social Links turns raw customer data into a vital marketing tool for mobile operators. By analyzing the social networks within large scale mobile communication networks it identifies the underlying social network structures within the subscriber base and the most influential people in the network, which Xtract calls Alpha Users. The result is a completely new layer of customer insight and a tangible tool for increasing the efficiency of targeted marketing and advertising.

The add-on modules combine social network with demographic and behavioral information, providing a Three Dimensional (3D) view of the customers for specific business applications including marketing activities by mobile operators as well as targeting for mobile advertising.
Wow! Any marketer for a wireless carrier should be thrilled to hear about this solution. With the tool, now not only can you analyze your customer-base, but you'll have an understanding of your customers' friends and business colleagues. Think about the opportunities--the opportunity to present targeted offers, the opportunity to expand your customer-base.

And, of course, this insight provides mobile marketers with a wealth of data that can be used to target their ads to the exact right groups of prospects.

The other interesting thing is that the tool can be used to analyze usage of pre-paid customers--formerly customers that the carriers really didn't know much about (since they didn't send them a monthly bill).


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mortgages, Finance, Home Prices--OH MY!

Throughout my career, I've provided direct marketing services to the mortgage and financial services industry. I've had some excellent years and other years where times were tough. I understand the cyclical nature of things and am usually grateful that the accountability of direct marketing programs helps ensure their (and my!) survival.

But, I have to say that this is about the weirdest time I can recall for the financial services industry.
  • Just reported a few hours ago: Consumer borrowing slows to weakest in 7 months.
  • Pending US home sales are down. The AP reports that "The National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes fell 3.2 percent."
  • The government is taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The cynic in me wonders how the government is going to be able to run these agencies efficiently (let me be blunt--it'll never happen!). This new government backing may give us a short boost of consumer confidence and some newly funded mortgages. But, I fear that long-term government involvement will simply lead to higher interest rates for home loans--not good for anyone.
  • The financial services sector is laying people off right and left. Some of my colleagues--highly experienced direct marketers--have been impacted by these layoffs.
Anyone who's read this blog knows that I'm typically an optimist. Yes, I'm the type of person that truly believes that the glass is half full. But continued news and personal experiences tell me that this time the financial services sector isn't gonna recover as quickly as it has in the past.

Tell me, am I being too pessimistic here? Are there lights at the end of the tunnel that I'm missing?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Case Study: Walgreens and Behavioral Targeting

It's pretty tough right now to be a retailer. The economy is limping along. The Walmarts of the world are bringing prices down and changing customer expectations every day.

Smart retailers need to use all of the tools at their disposal to get more customers and sell more stuff. This article about Walgreen's coupon strategies, brought to us by DM News caught my eye: Walgreens' in-store BT strategy hits the mark.

Walgreens is using behavioral tar­geting to engage customers in its stores.

The nation's largest drugstore chain has partnered with Catalina Marketing to print targeted coupons in its 6,000 stores, which are given to customers based on their purchasing behaviors, as they receive their receipts. Catalina runs in-store pro­motions in about 25,000 grocery stores and 14,000 pharmacies nationwide.

Walgreens' overall strategy is to lever­age consumer data more effectively, which Doug Egan, VP of marketing services and research for the company, said has ramped up in the last six months.

“[It's] part of a larger understanding that purchasing behavior can be changed in-store,” he said. “Truly, the trackability of it is great. We can track purchases by store, time of day and even register.”

Walgreens' marketing spend is still dominated by its circular — 60 million per week — and by direct mail.

Egan said that in-store promotions, cur­rently accounting for 10% of Walgreens' marketing spend, are growing, thanks to the success of the Catalina promotions.

“What we've heard from customers is that they are useful,” he said.

Average Walgreens stores see between 800 and 1,000 customers per day and print Catalina coupons for about 10% to 12% of them. About 6% of those printed are redeemed at a future date, said Egan.

The goal of using Catalina coupons or behavior targeting overall is to expand the consumer's shopping basket, said Egan.

“The average purchase, not counting pharmacy, is three to four items per store visit, and two store visits a month. We want to add a trip a month,” he said. “It's great to see data of what a customer is purchasing in real-time. You can then offer related programs. If they purchase two twelve-packs of Pepsi, we can target them with a coupon for a dollar off of three twelve-packs. You can see what customers purchase consistently.”

Interesting case study, no?

Back in June, I blogged about couponning and put forth this challenge to direct marketers: How do you track exactly who is redeeming your coupon, without making this cumbersome to the consumer? In Walgreen's case, they know what products people are purchasing, but I still can't see where they have a handle on the make-up of what buyers look like.

It would be so much more powerful if you could flesh out purchase behavior with other things known about the consumer, wouldn't it?

Then, you could begin true database marketing and really start to delight your customers--with offers tailored specifically to a customers' specific needs and situation. You'd not only have the knowledge that a specific customer enjoys Pepsi over Coke, but if you knew, for example, that that customer has a large family and likes to go camping, you could customize the Pepsi offer to include a propane tank or other camping gear. Now, we're talking about a much larger shopping cart (more revenue), and a satisfied customer who leaves the store happy that they've gotten a great deal, not only on Pepsi but on gear for an activity they love.

I would love to see retailing move in this direction, wouldn't you?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Segmentation Comes to Mobile Marketing

I'm not typically a huge fan of off-the-shelf segmentation packages. We've all seen them from leading companies such as Claritas, Experian and Acxiom. These data firms each sell their version of a consumer classification scheme that attempts to categorize each consumer/household into one of 50+ clusters.

And, they've come up with excellent names to allow us to visualize the segments (I especially love the Prizm cluster called "Shotguns and Pick-ups"!)

Typically, my take on using these off-the-shelf tools is that a marketer would be much better served developing their own customer segmentation strategy. I find that 50+ segments is simply too many clusters to act on. If you do the data mining exercise to find your own clusters, you'll end up with a manageable and actionable segmentation system--one that's more powerful than the non-customized version. By the way, if you'd like to see a sample segmentation deliverable from RRW, just request it here.

With that said, I was still quite pleased to hear that segmentation is being applied to mobile marketing! Check out this press release:

Nielsen Delivers PRIZM Insight for Mobile Advertisers
Combining Consumer Segments With Mobile Media Targeting Enables Advertisers to Connect More Effectively With Mobile Audiences

Neilsen's idea is to combine mobile usage patterns with Claritas PRIZM clusters to paint a full picture of mobile audiences. Makes sense to me! From the article:
By combining Nielsen Claritas' PRIZM lifestyle segmentation data with Nielsen Mobile's Mobile Media Marketplace, Nielsen is positioned to provide unique insights into consumer media habits.

For example, analysis of one PRIZM segment -- Bohemian Mix (a progressive mix of young singles and couples, students and professionals who are quick to check out the latest movie, nightclub, laptop or microbrew) -- shows that this group leads all other categories in mobile Internet usage, with 27 percent accessing the mobile Internet in the last 30 days (compared to an average 16.7 percent across all other segments).

"Targeted customized analysis of mobile usage patterns for PRIZM's 66 consumer segments allows advertisers to make more informed decisions about where to place mobile advertising," said Kanishka Agarwal, vice president of mobile media at Nielsen Mobile. "Mobile-PRIZM drives a stronger advertising ROI for our clients," he added.
I love to see technology mingling successfully with data (a passion of mine!), so I'm definitely going to learn more about this offering.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More on Marketing for Wineries

I just can't seem to get off of the topic of direct marketing for the wine-making business, can I?

Last week, I shared with you news about Jordan Winery's new loyalty program (as well as some personal information about my love for wine and the genesis of my firm's name, RRW!). Today I thought you might be just as interested in how Stag's Leap is using email to build a customer relationship.

From DM News: Stag's Leap Wine Cellars toast to e-mail. The article goes into some pretty good detail about how this winery is maximizing the channel.

The winery works with e-mail services firm Vertical Response to send 12 e-mail campaigns a year. Six are launched every other month to the house mailing list and the company plans to double that number this year. The others are launched on the opposite months to club members only.

“The strategy is to reach out to our consumers who have requested information about our winery and to hopefully prompt them to visit our Web site to build a long-term relationship with our customers,” said Nancy Burton, Club 23 manager at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, via e-mail.

I agree that email is an excellent channel for Stags Leap.

Email is a tool that, when used the right way, generates sales and boosts visibility. We all receive so much email on a daily basis, however. We know that the only emails that survive the 'delete' button in our own in-boxes are those that we want to receive; those that we're interested in. We all keep personal emails and we all have that short-list of commercial emails that we wouldn't miss, and that we definitely open.

So, what makes an email move to that 'open' short-list? In my opinion, it's as simple as relevance. If the email is coming from a company or an industry that I'm interested in, I'll open it, even if I don't have a long-term relationship with the sender. In my case, for example, I would definitely open an email from Stags Leap (or any other winery). I'm interested in hearing about wine. I like to buy it and I'm already a member of many wine clubs.

The challenge, of course, is to figure out who among your customers and prospects is receptive to hearing from you. This is where tried and true direct marketing disciplines such as testing and segmentation come into play. A strong offer and a clear call to action are critical components of a good email campaign, too.

And, to complete the loop, it's critical to measure success against campaign goals. By success, I think we need to go beyond open and click through rates, and do a much better job of quantifying email campaign results. Your measurement strategy needs to answer these types of questions:
  • How many incremental or new sales did the campaign generate?
  • How many referrals did you make? How many new names can you add to your list?
  • How did the campaign build loyalty (a really tough one to answer, btw)?
The bottom line: We direct marketers already have the knowledge and the tools to build superior email campaigns.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Economic forecast for marketing spend

"Direct's annual survey of e-commerce practices shows continued investment in digital strategies, with additional spending anticipated for 2009."
The above is a quote from the leading paragraph in a Direct Magazine article, titled "What Downturn?". The article reports on results of a recent survey that measured online and other marketing spending trends.

It should be no surprise that in this tough economy companies are looking for a measurable return on their marketing investment.
According to Direct's research, 29% of all marketers have shifted marketing dollars from traditional channels to online media, a figure comparable to last year's study.
Of course, online media is augmented with off-line. Marketers are embracing a multi-channel approach, with a slightly different 'spin' for B2B vs B2C marketers.

Consumer firms indicate direct mail is their key Web site traffic driver, with e-mail a close second. Natural search (as a result of search optimization), paid search listings and word-of-mouth referrals follow.

B-to-B firms rely more on word of mouth — so much so that it's the top-cited channel for generating Web traffic. E-mail and direct mail campaigns are gaining fast, though, while search engine optimization trails, a distant fourth.

Some other interesting findings:

  • Just over half of B-to-B respondents optimize their Web sites in order to boost rankings in search engine queries, compared with more than two-thirds of consumer companies.

  • Consumer marketers are more diligent about collecting and analyzing clickthrough data than B-to-B firms. Better than three out of four consumer respondents do this, vs. 57% of B-to-B DMers.

  • Just over one out of five respondents say staffing in their online marketing departments was up during the last 12 months, while nearly two-thirds note that it stayed the same. As in 2007, only 4% lost employees.

My take: Overall, direct marketing, as an industry, is alive and kicking. We're poised for growth in key areas (analytics is one of them) and a multi-channel approach is important.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Direct Marketing Links

Can you believe that the end of summer is already upon us? Happy Labor Day to all!

As always, since it's Friday I'll share some of the blog reading that I found especially interesting this week. Enjoy!

Tomorrow's Classroom
Chris Brogan started a very interesting conversation with his article on how a typical third grade classroom may be using social media and other technology as part of the education process. Great food for thought here and lots of insightful comments, too. What a fun time to be growing up--now, if only adults can keep up with the kids, in terms of technology adoption...

Campaign Marketing Critiques
Like most American's, I've been super interested in this presidential campaign. I've especially appreciated how Obama is connecting with his voters and maximizing social and mobile marketing techniques. That's why CK's post on the Marketing Prof's Daily Fix blog hit home. She's asked a number of experts to comment on both the Obama and the McCain marketing and branding strategies. Fascinating!

A New Marketing Catch Phrase?
"Listening by walking around, or LBWA". That's the phrase coined by Mark Hurst in his Good Experience Blog. He talks about how important it is for executives to understand the customer, and brings up a good point that one way to gain this understanding is to experience the company from the customers' perspective. He recommends that retail executives actually walk around their stores and see what the customers are up to. Of, if your firm is online, sit with a consumer and watch him/her navigate your site. Seems like 'no-brainer' advice, but it's certainly essential, and probably something that most senior execs don't normally make a habit of doing.

Traits of Good Blogs
From the 43 Folders blog (I love that name, by the way!), author Merlin Mann lists what he thinks makes for a good blog. One of my favorites: "Good blogs are weird. Blogs make fart noises and occasionally vex readers with the degree to which the blogger’s obsession will inevitably diverge from the reader’s." Love this!

Labor Day Defined By Seth Godin
Gotta end this list with the master, right? Very interesting post about working smart, working hard and working long. Hmmm. I want to be the one that works only a few hours, is most fulfilled and quickly becomes a billionaire... And, no you still can't post a comment to his blog (a discussion held this week on Robert Rosenthal's Freaking Marketing blog). But Mr. Godin is so darn smart, isn't he?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Loyalty Program for the Wine Industry

Those readers who know me know that I'm a bit of a wino. I love good wine, especially when it's paired with a yummy meal. Or, what about a nice crisp glass of chardonnay on a hot summer day? Nothing beats it.

You may not know that the name of my business, RRW, actually stands for Red Red Wine. The UB40 song was popular when I was in college and when my best friend and I decided that if we ever owned our own business, we'd stay true to our reggae roots and name it RRW. So, RRW Consulting (first called RRW Marketing) was born.

So, what does all this wine talk have to do with this blog's topic of Direct Marketing?

Since RRW's inception, we've been searching for ways to work with wineries--you know validate the name and allow me to really enjoy a fun client--with side benefits. We've developed programs and campaigns targeting wineries, with no bites from the actual potential clients. Well, I'm thinking that this is all going to change! I may finally be able to bring my direct marketing expertise to my favorite industry: winemaking.

Check out today's DM News Article: Jordan Vineyard offers rewards for loyal connoisseurs.

The article discusses the recently introduced loyalty program from one of Sonoma County's leading wine-makers.
"Jordan Vineyard and Winery, a California-based estate that produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, has launched a new loyalty program called “Jordan Estate Rewards.”

The program awards three points per dollar spent on Jordan wines, food, wine tastings and other services and products. As of September, customers can start redeeming points for guest privileges at the winery, including tours, tastings, private dining, fishing excursions and overnight getaways — all rewards targeted to Jordan's core consumer audience of people that enjoy fine wine and culinary experiences."
We can only hope that other wine-makers follow suit and start to reward us wine drinkers for doing what we love to do!

From a direct marketing perspective, I like to see these wineries start to maximize the customer information that they've been collecting when people go wine tasting. Wine lovers love everything about wine and they certainly don't mind receiving email or other communication from their favorite wine maker.

Believe it or not, we've spent quite a bit of time thinking of direct marketing strategies that wineries could use to grow their business--both direct to consumer and retail. I'd be happy to share--just request the white paper called "Loyalty Marketing for Wineries".

And, if any of you in the wine industry would like to help me realize my dream of bringing my expertise (direct marketing) to an industry I love (wine-making!), please give me a call. We may even be able to work out some sort of bartering exchange for my work...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama and Mobile Marketing

If the way that Barack Obama is handling his marketing is any indication of how he'll run the country, he definitely has my vote. I love to see how his campaign is embracing the new. He's harnessed the power of social marketing. He's reaching the Millenial generation (see my recent post on same topic) and hopefully galvanizing young adults to vote. Now, he's pulled off a mobile marketing coup.

See this Washington Post article about the much-touted announcement of Obama's Vice President, done via text messaging.

What a smart move--publicize way ahead of time that you're going to announce your VP choice via a text message to those constituents who've signed up on your website. I can only imagine how many people signed up and relinquished their cell phone numbers, just so that they could be first to hear the big news. Kudos to Barack Obama for his data collection victory!

According to this Fox Business article, Obama, through his use of text messaging, is truly setting the stage to mobilize the vote come November.
"Allison Dale, a University of Michigan graduate student who has studied the impact of text messages on voting, said Obama's campaign was shrewd to give prospective voters a juicy piece of information -- the vice presidential pick -- in exchange for their cell phone number.

Cell phone numbers can't be obtained in a directory, she noted, and the Obama campaign should be able to collect tens of thousands of numbers this way. But she said it was unclear whether the database will be heavy with political junkies or people who would be inclined to vote under any circumstances.

"We're still sort of at the beginning of figuring out what you can do with the text messaging," Dale said."

I think that most marketers can learn a lot from the Obama campaign. So smart to keep an open mind about channels, media and technology. Lessoned learned: maximize all opportunities to reach, connect and sell to your core clients.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Case Study: Corporate Blogging

Some of you out there may still be wondering why so many companies are investing time and energy in blogging. Maybe you're even considering starting your own blog and you're not sure if it's a good idea for your personal business situation. I know that the question of whether or not to blog remains a hot topic on the LinkedIn Q&A area.

To me the answer is pretty clear (It's fun to blog. Plus, the benefits far outweigh the time and effort spent). But, I thought I would focus this Monday Marketing Case Study on a variety of companies who've decided to blog, and the types of results that they've experienced.

From the Washington Post: Marketing Moves to the Blogosphere

The article cites several examples of diverse firms who have incorporated blogging into their corporate communications mix. From Honest Tea, to Dolcezza, a local gelato shop, to Marriott International.
"He's (Chief Executive Bill Marriot) not your typical blogger -- he doesn't use computers. Instead, he dictates entries into a recorder and a staff member transcribes and posts them. The audio is also on the site, which averages about 6,000 visitors per week and has had more than 600,000 total visitors since its inception in January 2007."
And, it's not only traffic that the Marriott is generating from their blog...
"Marriott has made more than $5 million in bookings from people who clicked through to the reservation page from Marriott's blog."
Even if you have a hard time figuring out what your specific ROI might be from maintaining a blog, it's key to factor in benefits that may be difficult to measure.
"Though blogs may not always yield immediate results, they can be part of a "halo effect" that ultimately gives a business a bigger online presence, says Debbie Weil, a corporate blogging consultant and author of "The Corporate Blogging Book." "I think that the really important thing about using a blog as a business strategy is that usually you cannot connect the dots directly from blogs to revenue," Weil said."

RRW has been blogging for about 1-1/2 years. Check out what we said in May after our one-year anniversary, on the topic of what blogging has done for the business. We've met some great new colleagues and have boosted visibility for the firm. Our blog is consistently ranked #1 when you search for "Direct Marketing Blog" on Google or Yahoo. Most importantly, this blog is a creative outlet and one that allows me to keep up with what's going on in my industry. It's fun!

Look at it this way--Technorati claims that there are over 100 million blogs out there. And, guess what, only 5,000 are corporate blogs! Think of the opportunity to get in on almost the ground floor. If you're the first in your industry to start blogging, you'll be in the a great position to own the space. Not a bad place to be, especially if you're not the largest in your industry.

You know, I think that's what I like the best about blogging. You don't have to be big to stake your claim and make a name for your business, on the blogosphere, of course.