Monday, March 31, 2008

Case Study Monday - Another Segmentation Story!

We have lots of experience using segmentation in the direct marketing world. But, we love to see other channels embrace the strategy. Lyris, a provider of e-mail marketing campaign tools has released a white paper that reviews how online marketers are (or should be) embracing segmentation as a great way to boost e-mail campaign results.

From the paper:
"In case you didn’t get the memo, batch-and-blast email marketing is out. Sending out a single email message to every address in your database whenever you wanted is so 20th Century now!"
Ah, we couldn't agree more.

We're happy to share these success stories that illustrate the power of employing a segmentation strategy, directly from the Lyris white paper.

Real-World Examples: and Frederick’s of Hollywood, the leading online retailer of high-end diamond and gemstone jewelry and a Lyris customer, has about a million subscribers in its email-marketing program. With numbers like those, and given the intensely personal and individual relationship its customers have with their jewelry, a single email message sent to the entire database was not going to deliver the results the company needed.

Under its previous vendor, could create only two segments: those who had purchased and those who had not. Using Lyris’ segmentation function, however, the company can create personalized emails based on what each customer tells the company he or she most wants to receive.

By being able to add any kind of variable – product, lifecycle position, whatever! – to any customer record, can create a relevant segment based on that variable and build a targeted campaign around it. Using segmentation and other functions in Lyris ListManager, was able to report a 10% increase in average sale and triple the number and variety of email campaigns – proving once and for all that diamonds really are a girl’s best friend.

Frederick’s of Hollywood taps into women’s other love, for silk and lingerie. Here’s how the lingerie retailer, through its online division, uses segmentation to drive more sales from current customers:

Frederick’s of Hollywood maintains two mailing lists, one for prospects who subscribe to company mailings but haven’t bought yet, and one for customers. The company uses purchase history data to create segments of buyers who are interested in non-lingerie products such as shoes and swimwear.

As long as you have a reliable web analytics program embedded with your list-management software, you can use a similar technique to cross-sell customers who have purchased one kind of product to explore an expanded product line or to upsell them to products of higher quality.

So, there you have it--examples of how to use segmentation both through up-sell and cross-sell strategies. Think about the data that you collect on your customers and prospects. And, consider external data that is available that you might append to your customer list. Opportunities for clever messaging and new offers abound when you embrace the segmentation concept.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Links O' The Week

TGIF! And welcome to our favorite links of the week.

To start off, we've been doing a lot of ranting about the economy of late. And most of the kvetching has been around what's gone on in the mortgage market. Let's face it, most of us aren't happy about this. Today's first link is from the Goodlin Group from my own South Bay neighborhood. Ron Goodlin provides us the take of his CFO on what's going on in the mortgage market, and some of the news is brighter than you may think. It's an interesting viewpoint and I think you'll find this article full of good information on a topic that impacts us all -- direct marketers or not.

Next, and staying on topical issues, Heidi Cohen of ClickZ provides us with Marketing Lessons from the (never-ending) Presidential Primaries. Heidi takes us through twelve campaign tips that marketers can use to assess their online campaigns. From creating a campaign plan to raising sufficient funds, Heidi relates how each of these tips can help you make your online marketing campaigns more successful.

Finally, in a very troubling post, the WiseMarketer reports that Marketing is still struggling to prove it's real value. The reason that this post is so troubling to us is that as marketers, we talk about the value of measurement and tracking, then apparently don't even do it internally to prove the value of what we do on a daily basis. For us, this is just plain crazy. In order to make what we do gain positive attention, we must articulate our success in financial terms. In a sputtering economy, your budget will definitely be cut if you aren't able to effectively prove your value. Yikes!

Finally, finally . . . just for the fun of it visit Diz White's site. My friend, Linda, introduced me to Diz's work, and I've actually been lucky enough to read her newest manuscript, "Life is a Bowl of Cherries." I'm sure that she'll sell the book on her site once it's been published . . . and when she does, quick -- get a copy. The story relates Diz and her husband's journey of finding the perfect cottage in the Cotswolds, a range of beautiful hills in West-Central England, while working as actors in Los Angeles. It's a great tale of the crazy jobs they took to fatten up their bank accounts so that they could afford a cottage in their dream location. Diz is a fabulous writer and as the reader, you get seriously caught up in her journey. What a blast!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tips for Entrepreneurs

I remember when our direct marketing consulting business was solely a dream. A dream that was fueled by conversations between Nancy and I during long flights traveling across this country to and from our clients. We'd complain about our jobs in corporate America, bitch about all the traveling and dream about working for a company that really performed for our clients. One that delivered on its promises, every time. One that had a positive energy and embraced new ideas and new technology.

Hence RRW was born. We took the leap, took absolutely no clients, quit our jobs and lived on savings for a few months. That was four years ago. Exciting and scary times, for sure.

So, every time I find advice to wanna-be entrepreneurs, it resonates with me. This NY Times article hit home: Advice on Taking an Entrepreneurial Leap.

The article focuses on three areas:
  1. How to take the leap into the small business world
  2. How to market your product and, for retail ventures
  3. How to find the best location.
The first area might be the most important. The article (and I couldn't agree more) talks about how important it is to really think through and research your business idea. Do some soul-searching to understand what type of business will be most fulfilling for you. Understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Take the time to write a complete business plan (exhausting, yet so worth it). Research what your competitors are doing. Decide how you're going to legally form your business (corporation, LLC, Partnership) and how you're going to finance it (the article recommends NOT relying on credit cards).

If you've done your research right, it's at this point that the dream becomes a reality. You see it on paper. You have a budget. You start to understand that being self-employed is something that you CAN make happen.

The article goes on to discuss how to market a new business. It gives good advice on building online exposure and using PR techniques to get the word out about what you're up to. The author suggests creating a blog to build credibility (again, we couldn't agree more!).

The article concludes with tips on how to choose the right location (for retailers).

All in all, good stuff! And, just reading it brings me back to those heady early days when RRW was but a dream. I sure never want to go back to Corporate America, and would love to hear more tips from entrepreneurs as to what made your business a success.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Is it Spam or is it Your Direct Marketing Approach??

What is your definition of spam? In a recent article from DM News, Q Interactive and Marketing Sherpa teamed up for a study to find out this definition according to consumers. If you are an e-mail marketer, the results of the study may surprise you. Here's a snapshot of what the articles reports:

  • 31% of respondents said that they consider "e-mails that were once useful but aren't relevant anymore” to be spam.
  • 41% hit the "report spam" button if "the e-mail was not of interest to me,” 25% if "I receive too much e-mail from the sender" and 20% if "I receive too much e-mail from all senders.” (yikes, how am I responsible for all senders?!?)
  • 56% thought that by clicking the button they would "filter all e-mail from that sender" while 21% believe it will notify the sender that the recipient did not find that specific e-mail useful so the sender will "do a better job of mailing me" in the future.
  • 47% of respondents believe by hitting the “report spam” button, they will be unsubscribed from the list.

With all of the uproar around the increasing numbers of junk e-mails, you'd think that consumers would understand e-marketing better and -- at the very minimum -- know how to successfully unsubscribe from unwanted e-marketers lists! I guess we're not as far along as we think when it comes to e-mail. In fact, since this study resulted in the way it did, Q Interactive is urging the industry to better educate consumers on how to opt-out from unwanted e-mail messages.

E-marketing is an interesting conundrum. As a channel, it is such a boon to direct marketers because it is inexpensive and really easy to measure and track campaign success. Yet, I think the success of it is tied to many factors.

I was having a discussion with a colleague, Barbara Perdome of Grapevine Communications, and she really drove the point home. She shared with me that while many firms have been trying to cut down on direct mail expenditures because of rising costs of postage, printing, etc., many of those that she works with have pushed their DM campaigns to e-mail, and lessened the amount of direct mail campaigns. And, her opinion is that you can only do this if those who receive the e-marketing messages are going to be open to reading them. Let's face it, some segments of the population just aren't going to read e-mail messages.

And it takes just 1/2 of a second to hit the delete button.

On the other hand, most of us walk to our mailboxes each day and take the time to go through the mail that we receive through snail mail. We may still throw the marketing messages away, but Barbara thinks (and I agree with her) that more care is taken to look over each piece of mail prior to tossing it in the round file.

Another colleague, Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing, advises business consultants to send their marketing messages many ways, and when it comes to online, you've got to send multiple e-mail messages along with advertising it in your online e-zine and on your website. Why? Because people simply don't read every e-mail message that they receive. Even those who have opted-in on his e-mail marketing list and want to attend his seminars and workshops don't always read his message until he's sent out several versions of it. People are stretched for time -- and then there's the argument that everyone gets so many e-mail messages each day, it's impossible to (a) read them all or (b) really pay attention to what each one is saying/offering/selling.

You could argue that it is the same with direct mail -- and with telemarketing. I remember in my telecom sales days when we would do a dialing-for-dollars telemarketing sales day, we would have to call 20 customers in order to get one appointment. Sometimes, it was more like 30 or 40!

I guess the point is that you need to be delivering relevant information to people who are interested in your particular products or services. The only way to accomplish this is through a direct marketing approach where you examine the customers who buy from you today, and determine what they look like from a demographic, lifestyle and financial perspective. Then, you can target your e-mail, direct mail or telemarketing campaigns to your customers with messages that will most likely be of interest to them.

Of course, having the right creative is important, too. Your message has to be on target and your offer must be compelling. All of the pieces of planning a direct marketing campaign are very important.

However, if you aren't targeting the right people, your efforts may not have the payoff that you desire -- in spite of all of the other DM components that you've carefully crafted. Our advice is as simple as this: Use an intelligent approach for all of your direct marketing efforts to better hone in on a target group of customers or prospects. If you do this, those who you target will be less likely to hit delete, hang up, or throw your message into the trash can!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Recession Responsible for Marketing Innovation

Hopefully you didn't miss Nancy's rant last week on how we direct marketers can deal with a slowing economy. Her thoughts are backed up by this article from "Advertising Age": Recession Can Be a Marketer's Friend.

While our blog post focussed on how marketers can use Direct Marketing tricks, like measurement, ROI creation and advanced testing strategies to justify each dollar spent on marketing, this article highlights the many innovations that occurred in slow economic times and recessions.

From the article:
"Previous recessions have provided big opportunities -- spawning the brand-management system, soap operas, modern cable networks, airline loyalty programs, the IBM personal computer, the iPod, Crest Whitestrips, Axe body spray and -- for better or worse -- fast-food value menus."
Other innovations cited in the article were CNN and MTV, both created in the midst of a recession (early '80s). Apple introduced its PC in that same early 80s recession. And, in 2001, during another slowdown, Wikipedia was launched.

All of these are excellent examples of innovative launches. Who would have thought that all were born in tough economic times?

Hmmm. What a great way to look at these times. They're an opportunity for the innovative, the people with big ideas, the people who aren't afraid to try out new things, even if they're worried about where their next paycheck will come from.

So, I guess here's our challenge--let's focus our time during these tougher times on being open-minded to new things. Let's stop worrying about the next dollar and start worrying about that next big idea! And, to jump-start the process, take a look at these tips, quoted directly from the article:
  • Don't cut that budget: Recessions offer what may be unprecedented opportunities to market in an environment of relatively less noise as others cut back. And, particularly in industries with high ad-to-sales ratios, such as package goods, analysts have become fairly adept at flagging earnings gains that stem from marketing cuts, which can portend slower sales and earnings growth later.
  • Maintain or increase strong launches: Even in the deepest recessions, things that truly appeal to consumers, be they soap operas, CNN or disposable training pants, still flourished.
  • Beware that discounting can be addictive: Unless the price reduction is truly strategic -- e.g., a discount retailer or brokerage or a one-time event to drive traffic -- you could live to regret it.
  • Go with the flow: Some of the most successful recession-era launches were natural offshoots of the conditions created by or causing the crisis, i.e. high gas prices spawning fuel-efficient cars, interest-bearing checking accounts that sprang from high interest rates in the 1970s and '80s, or declining gas prices and gas-guzzling SUVs.
  • You can't go wrong with diversion: Media, entertainment and other forms of cheap frivolity can be the bread-and-circus salve for hard times -- from the soap operas of the 1930s to MTV in the 1980s to the iPod and Axe body spray in 2002.
I can't wait to see what innovations this recession will spawn!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Case Study Monday: Using Basic Offline Direct Marketing Principles for On-line Marketing

Welcome to another edition of Case Study Monday. Today's post comes from Marketing Scoop, and it is jam packed with info on how utilizing regular direct marketing principles definitely do apply when you are planning your e-marketing campaigns. This case study looks at how several different companies have approached their e-marketing strategy and the thought that goes into making each campaign more effective. We think you'll get tons of great ideas from this one -- I know we did! Enjoy!

Even with the Advent of Technology, Existing Direct Marketing Principles Stand the Test of Time

The website Astrology.Net wanted to entice people to sign up for its daily horoscopes via e-mail. Between and its online agency Acxiom/Direct Media, they came up with seven letters to test - from short form to long form, from "inside astrologer" to more straightforward.

"At 9 a.m. we sent the seven," says Acxiom's Reggie Brady. "By noon, two were doing well. At 2 p.m. we sent the two winners and a brand new one created from the other two. The sign-up rate for the new letter was 43% (some of the others were as low as 17%). The next morning we rolled out."

Clearly, that's the main difference between testing in the postal world and testing in cyberspace: the speed.

But as more and more direct marketers test e-mail, they are finding many similarities too. And more importantly, they're beginning to learn a thing or two about the practice - about what works and what doesn't.

"We're seeing people be much more aggressive in the things they're doing than at the beginning," says Deb Goldstein, president of IDG Communications List Services in Boston. "But it is still so new that every time someone goes out there it's an adventure."

Experts say there is one basic rule of thumb: Everything you test in postal mail, you should test in e-mail.(That includes e-mail lists, of course)

The bottom line: Don't forget your DM basics just because you're doing e-mail. "The biggest lesson is to remember the things that got you your biggest success offline," says Goldstein. "And then look at the differences in terms of what the medium offers. Some of the basics still hold. An offer is an offer. A letter is a letter."

Here's an example: Auction site Onsale Inc., working with e-mail services firm Digital Impact, San Mateo, CA, spent a month doing A/B testing of formatting, trying different subject lines, arrangement of paragraphs, HTML vs. text-only, all of which helped lift response.

For the second phase, which began last December and ended in March, it used self-identified information and also its collaborative filtering software - which predicts the auctions people would be most interested in - to personalize the offers. (Each day, Onsale mails to a third of the 750,000 subscribers to its "Steals and Deals" newsletter.)

Jack Herndon, director of installed base marketing at Onsale, says the most important elements have been HTML and collaborative filtering to help make the right offers. He adds that, with the second phase, approaches that did well in the tests increased response 20% to 30% over the control, and brought in 10% more revenue.

Another area of agreement concerns when to mail. Marketers say that, for business-to-business offers, the middle of the week (especially Tuesday) is best; people have too much mail to wade through on Monday, and by Friday they have other things on their mind. For consumers at home, weekends are best; some send on Thursday or Friday, knowing it won't be read till the weekend.

The first thing an e-mail recipient reads (other than, possibly, the return address, which should always have the company's identifiable name) is the subject line. In e-mail, the subject line is the digital version of envelope teaser copy. Subject lines are being tested like mad. Some marketers prefer personalization; others think offers work best in getting recipients to click open the mail.

But the results from testing subject lines can be surprising. E-mail marketing tools provider Media Synergy Inc., Toronto, did a test with and without "win" in the subject line, and those without did better. "Our theory is that Internet users are more skeptical," says Media Synergy account manager Jonathan Coulman.

Stephanie Healy, interactive sales manager for Omaha Steaks, said a "buy one, get one free" subject line beat out one about "grilling perfect steaks."

On the other hand, last Memorial Day she tested a subject line about getting free franks or burgers with a purchase against one about big savings for the holiday, and the latter was beating out the former.

The subject line is great for personalization. Onsale found that when it used first and last name in a subject line it had a 10% increase in the number of people who opened the mail and a single-digit increase in click-throughs.

"Personalization is the best cheap trick around," says's chairman and CEO Steve Markowitz. "We know it from postal mail in the '60s and '70s. Everything we send is personalized. We've done tests with and without it and the lift is several points." (My Points personalizes in the salutation but not in the subject line because it has a standard format that emphasizes the offer.)

Yet, according to a March study by Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA, most companies marketing through e-mail are using very little personalization (even so, it found the average click-through rate in e-mail was 18%). "People haven't made the mental connection that all the things you can do in postal mail you can do in e-mail," says Markowitz.

One truism of DM is that longer copy pulls better than shorter. Not so in the digital age.

"In some ways the comparison between postal and e-mail seems good, but really it's closer to a TV news story where you have to capture them immediately or they're gone," says Media Synergy's Coulman.

Coach Leatherware sent out a mailing but by accident forgot to put in the copy and left only the headlines. It got the biggest pull ever. On the other hand, Geo. W. Park Seed Co. Inc., Greenwood, SC, a seed and flower company, does better with long copy of gardening tips and a subtle offer, according to Jim Williams of MarketHome Inc., Berkeley, CA, the e-mail service house for both Coach and Park Seed.

Finally, as any student in Direct Marketing 101 knows, one of the most important elements of a direct mail letter is the postscript. But postscripts don't make much sense in e-mail, and that space at the bottom is usually reserved for the "opt-out" information.

Marketers are testing the number and order of the offers, as well as their position in the copy. Generally, three to five work best, these experts say.

Keith Wardell, president of, Fairfax, VA, which sends catalogs via e-mail, says he has used two variables in one test - number of offers and frequency of mailing - with some interesting results. He sent out e-mail catalogs with 10, 20 and 30 offers, varying with once a week or twice a month.

"The ironic result was that when we sent more frequently they were more likely to buy from the 10-product catalog," he says. "And when we sent twice a month they bought from the 30-product one."

Brady, Acxiom's business unit leader for interactive services, says you should always include multiple links. She recommends three marketing links and the opt-out and to lead with the strongest offer - because the first one always gets the most click-throughs. (She says Acxiom's own CatalogLink site once placed the opt-out as the first link and that's when its opt-out got a lot of click-throughs.)

"I see e-mails come in with just one hotlink and I can't believe people do that," says Jason Fruchtman, list manager at VentureDirect Worldwide, New York. "I recommend having at least three hotlinks in an e-mail. With one, you don't even see it when you open the mail. The more options you give, the better it is."

Placement of the links is crucial. Links can be bunched together or spread out with more text and space near each one.

E-mail experts agree that at least one marketing link (as opposed to the opt-out link) should be "above the fold" - within the first screen that the recipient sees. Brady says she recently came across an e-mail from a car company in which the first screen talked about the new model but the link to the Web site was below the fold. "That's a disaster," she says.

Healy of Omaha Steaks says that when she uses a link to the company's home page it does better than the links to individual products; she's now moved the home-page connection to the bottom of the message so the recipients "go right to the products."

Another issue in e-mail marketing is whether it's best to use a hard or soft offer.

"Our experience shows us that soft offers work orders of magnitude better than hard offers," says's Markowitz. One exception, he adds, might be in using a "curriculum approach" to a hard offer - using a series of e-mails to introduce the product, lead the consumer to a Web site, then to try to make a sale.

Jason Fruchtman of Venture agrees: "You see a lot of hard offers - 'buy now' with a phone number. I don't think anybody's buying directly from an e-mail. They want to see a hotlink that takes them to a Web page."

Yet, Rosalind Resnick of e-mail firm NetCreations Inc., New York, notes that, now part of Cybershop, has made hard offers work.

"Up until a year ago," she says, we were telling everyone to go with soft offers. "But I was amazed when Deal came to us and said they wanted to send out hard offers. They went ahead and did it and did really well."

Another approach is to test content combined with an offer.

Ray Kaupp, Digital Impact's vice president of marketing, says that for one client (that he can't name), an informational newsletter in which the offer was secondary was tested against a straight product pitch. Both pulled about the same but the product pitch "was felt to be much more crassly commercial. The other was felt to be better at insuring loyalty and the client went with that approach."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Interesting Marketing Links

Wow, another Friday is upon us. Hope you all have great plans for the weekend!

We'll start off this week's list of links we enjoyed with this post by Michael Fassnacht, apparently a self-proclaimed Marketing Geek. He discusses how many firms are moving their offerings from a transaction-based model to a subscription model (think the difference between Blockbuster retail and Netflix). Good food for thought, and it made me start to brainstorm about ways to offer a series of consulting services, instead of one-off projects. After all, it's nice to enjoy an assured revenue stream.

For those of you who think that print/snail mail is dead, take a look at this post from Jim Novo's Marketing Productivity blog. He cites a Wharton School study that found that snail mail engages its recipients higher than the e-mail equivalent. From the study: “It seems like a person sending a written note vs. a person sending email is investing more of himself or herself in that communication. It takes more effort to write a letter, and people often equate effort with how much a person cares.” Our take: in most cases it makes sense to employ a multi-channel strategy to take advantage of the benefits of several channels.

This Marketing Shift post got me thinking. It talks about the impact of credit cards on our economy, and how this will/should impact card marketing. "New rules regarding the marketing of credit cards and regulations in credit policies could be reality in the near future." Post goes on to say (perhaps brainstorming about what some of these rules may be): "If we want to avoid future credit crunches, credit card addicts should be cut off from their "dealers" more quickly. A maximum interest rate -- say 20 percent -- would go further in avoiding bankruptcies and foreclosure than the rules that are being changed regarding sub prime mortgages." Credit Card Marketers could certainly be the next industry under scrutiny.

Finally, for all of our readers who also write (wait, don't we all do that???), check out this post from CopyBlogger. It provides some neat tips to use when you're out of ideas, have writer's block and just can't think of anything good to write. I know that I will keep this post handy.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Is it me or is there some bad karma out there economically? I know -- it's all over the news, and worse, corporate giants are falling daily. But still . . . I think we, as positive direct marketers, need to inject some good karma into the economy.

The freaking reality is that we are in an economic downturn. However, I fear that this downturn will only be lengthened by our words and actions -- or lack thereof. Over the past couple of months, more folks than ever are wailing about how bad the economy is . . . and, trust me, our phones aren't exactly ringing off the wall either. And we really hate that.

Here's the thing . . . we can change this! All it takes is us convincing our clients and business partners that they need to spend their marketing budgets much more wisely. Let's face it -- business has not ground to a halt. Consumers and businesses alike are still responding to marketing campaigns.

True . . . budgets have been cut and resources have been laid off. However, now is the time to take stock of what you have been doing with your marketing budgets and measuring the success of each component. Examine your last few campaigns . . . can you measure each campaign's individual success and specifically tie it to your corporate profitability? If you can't, you need to re-group and figure out how to squeeze every single decimal-point increase in response or conversion out of every campaign. If you don't have the metrics in place to do it today, go get the tools that you need now.

Here's what this will do . . . as the economy clicks back up (and it will -- it's a cyclical thing I swear!), you'll be armed and dangerous to your competition to go out and direct market with all of your guns blazing. In the interim, you can prove to your leadership that you are putting the proper measures and tools into place to ensure that every single marketing dollar is being spent optimally -- both today and going forward. And, as you put these measures into place, you can back this up with statistics. This makes you look like a forward-thinking individual who is making a positive impact on the business. These types of people are the ones who get the raises, the better jobs and are most successful for the long-term.

Finally, any time anyone around you starts belly-aching about how the economy will be the death of us, punch them in the nose. Or, if this is not a politically correct thing to do at your company, politely tell them to keep their bad karma to themselves. Surround yourself with positive people. Success begets success -- and trust me, you'll feel better.

Enough of my rant. I need to get back to work to make my business as successful as it can possibly be. And, I'm hoping (you valued clients, you) that you'll turn to us to help you create success in your own business. You can count of a positive outlook from Suzanne and I!

Rock On!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

B2B Database Marketing

We came across this article from BtoB Online that mirrors our opinions on the value of database marketing: No better time to try data mining

It focuses on B2B and makes the case for why mining customer data is so important, and how it adds value to your business.

It also provides three straightforward tips to help B2B marketers embrace database marketing and effectively use their customer data:
"1) Set clear marketing objectives. Data mining techniques are useless if you don’t know what you want to achieve. You don’t want to do data mining for its own sake. You want to make sure that you produce knowledge that is actionable. You need to be focused in your data mining so that you are producing results that can be implemented into tactical initiatives that help you achieve your marketing objectives. It’s all in the planning. It’s about putting together a roadmap of analysis that is needed to help drive and meet marketing objectives.

2) Conduct a data audit. How current and reliable are your customer data? To find this, assess the information based on its origins. Did the information come from the customer directly, during the point of sale or from a third-party source? Look to your marketing objectives to determine what information is required.

Make sure you are able to track all transactional history back to the customer mapping. A common issue is the use of different versions of a company name in your database.

3) Clean up your data. Data hygiene involves looking for potential errors, undefined fields or duplication. The follow through from the data audit is to make sure you capture all the information you can on a customer and making sure you can match those transactions."
Since so many B2B companies are organized around a traditional sales model (i.e.: outside or inside sales reps are responsible for sales and much of the customer marketing), these database marketing tips are especially important.

There's really no reason NOT to learn more about your customers, consumer or business. And, in this economy, it's imperative that firms do more with less. Maximizing the value within your own database will reap rewards. Two immediate benefits that come to mind.
  1. If you understand who your best, most profitable customers are, you can find more just like them. It just so happens that RRW has just introduced an entry-level customer profiling solution (under our Analyze Your Customers division). For a very low fee, we'll profile your business or consumer customers and show you how they are different from the universe at large. With this insight, you can then go after prospects that look just like good customers. Pretty nifty!
  2. If you understand the products that an individual customer is most likely to need, you'll be able to intelligently offer them the next best product. This type of intelligence will boost your cross-sell and up-sell programs immensely. Plus, it should help with customer retention, since the more products a customer has with you, the less likely they are to defect. See this article that reviews our analytical approach in understanding the next best product to offer.
These are just two examples of how database marketing can positively impact your marketing strategy and your bottom line.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution

As readers of our blog, I know that you will love this Facebook group. It was started and is managed by our buddy, Robert Rosenthal of the Mothers of Invention fame (he also writes a great blog called Freaking Marketing). The group has recently grown to the 700 member mark -- pretty outstanding for such a young group. If you haven't yet joined the group, you may want to take a look -- I'll bet you'll love the exchange of information between direct marketers from all over the world.

I'm featuring it in today's post because of a really compelling discussion thread that's been going on for the last couple of months. Robert sent out the following idea for the consideration of all group members:

Knocking Down Organizational and Cultural Barriers

Organizational and cultural barriers are often among the biggest obstacles marketers face. Common issues include:

- Bosses who embrace command-and-control techniques
- Staffers who operate under counterproductive agendas
- Managers who act as protectors of the status quo
- Senior managers who fail to budget for innovation
- Environments that discourage bold experimentation

Yet some marketers find ways to do groundbreaking work – even in organizations not known for innovation. What techniques have you used to break through organizational and cultural barriers?

Well, did he ever evoke some great reactions on this topic!
The first replies started out by talking about the simple fact that companies need to be able to communicate better. It's true -- we've all been there. Marketing doing things in secret and hiding what they are doing from IT because their view is that IT will most assuredly stop all forward progress. Sales seeking out their own better-qualified leads as opposed to using those that Marketing supplies them -- because in their view, Marketing simply doesn't "get" who the customer is, therefore, they feed them lousy leads. Leadership cuts Marketing budgets because they view Marketing only as a cost center and refuses to take the time to review strategy with Marketing prior to cutting. In fact, I've been in environments where all three of these have occurred in the same company. What a mess!

By the way, if any of these groups sat down and actually listened to each other, perhaps there would be some forward progress, better understanding . . . all of which would all result in better decisions that would benefit the entire business.

But I digress . . back to the Direct Marketing Revolution! So, after everyone determined that communication is definitely key to barrier-busting, then there were those responses that got into the nuances of communicating effectively. One responder talked to how it is sometimes difficult to get your opinions and viewpoints listened to because there are often those opinion-leaders who almost always prevail in every meeting. Yep, been there, too!

How do you effectively get your opinion stated in a room full of opinionated and passionate people? It's tricky -- for communication, you do need an open forum, and you need to allow everyone to state their views. The trick is to manage through it effectively so that what you don't end up with is endless meetings that accomplish nothing.

As one reader said, "I have seen all types of people and many times the most eccentric, unusual and difficult people to work with are the most creative of the bunch. It takes a really solid leader to know how to get that creative energy out of some individuals and to keep office drama to a minimum."

These are just a few snippets from this topic. This is a great discussion thread -- and only one of many at What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution. I encourage you to check out the group and get involved in the conversation. It's empowering to discuss issues that we face every day as business owners of wherever we work. My bet is that you'll pick up some great ideas that you can incorporate into your business from this group. In return, I'll bet that you'll contribute some excellent ideas to the group, too.

This is, simply stated, social marketing at it's finest.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Direct Marketing Disciplines - In Action!

It's Monday and that means it's time for another Case Study!

We really enjoyed this case study from NetPlus Marketing, an interactive agency, because it demonstrates the importance of two important direct marketing disciplines:
  1. The importance of measurement
  2. Smart use of targeting
The Client: Universal Studios Home Entertainment,
The Project: DVD Launch of Shaun of the Dead

The Results:
  • Click-through rates 3.5 times higher than category benchmarks
  • Interaction rates 4 times higher than category standards
  • Interaction times twice as high as benchmarks, meaning thousands of additional hours of user interaction with the brand and movie titles
The client's challenges to NetPlus: Leverage short-term, online promotions of niche DVD movie release to drive retail sales, primarily through brick-and-mortar stores

Strategy and tactics: A high-impact online marketing and advertising program to increase awareness within a tightly defined target audience. The program included:
  • Online media
  • Rich media creative
  • Tightly focused demographic, behavioral and contextual targeting
  • Ads timed to day of week and hour of day for maximum impact
  • Engaging, interactive user experience
  • Measurable user responses
Notable: The client was already expert in the art of using sound and motion to evoke emotion. NetPlus translated that power into an online experience that generated time spent with the brand, viral messaging and product sales. Among other successes, the NetPlus engagement for Universal produced unprecedented retail sell-through for a niche offering.

Quote - Randy Malinoff, VP Interactive Marketing, Universal Home Entertainment

"NetPlus provided a combination of strategic insight and tactical implementation that returned incredible results for us and began a great partnership. They make it easy to work with them and we know we can count on them for search and online advertising results."
I want to be clear that we've never worked with NetPlus. But, we liked their combination of sound direct marketing techniques and interactive creativity--clearly a winning combo for their client!

On another topic--check out our new Analytical Blog this week for a series on direct marketing testing. Should provide some food for thought!

Happy Monday and Happy St Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fabulous Direct Marketing Links!

Welcome to another edition of the Friday Blog Log! We've got another famous line-up of excellent blog posts for your reading pleasure.

Our first post comes from Gordon Whyte's Blog of the Daily Challenges of the Entrepreneur. HA! And, there are many. This is an interesting read because it in, he presents an article from a leading futurist thinker, Ray Kurzweil. Kurzweil discusses the evolution on mankind from big bang to now and into the future, and how this evolution will impact the way that both entrepreneurs and big business alike manage and conduct business. The most interesting fact to us is that those who continue to be nimble and proactive will survive. Companies will have to "abandon redundant strategic planning techniques and leadership models designed for the industrial age" in order to compete in the present and future global economy.

Next, is a good post for us all to have on hand as we come up with our big ideas and want to get some press. In the DM News post, "Who You Need to Know at DM News," by author Cara Wood, Cara tells you exactly who at DM News that you need to contact to share your expertise, outstanding results, case studies, hiring needs, etc. Since DM News is read by many in our industry, this is a great resource to have on hand to get yourself published in their many publications.

While laden with lots of ads (blogging purists will most likely revolt!), this next post presents some great ideas on How to Defend your Direct Marketing Budget in these leaner economic times. Author Robert Bergquist provides some great ideas on how not to panic, how to take the right actions, looking to outside expertise for assistance in leaner organizations, and the importance of testing and tracking every campaign for success. These are all great ideas with lots of merit. And thinking about them now can pull you through for the short-term, so that you're positioned well for the long-term as our economy bounces back (it's all cyclical, remember?).

Finally, in a witty post, "Wanna Get Away Southwest," blog author and student, Zack's Business Explained in Layman's Terms Blog discusses how his CRM class pondered the recent Southwest situation where they were fined for cracks in their fuselage. This is really not good! Being an avid Southwest supporter and customer (they're just nicer than the others), I'm hoping that they get these problems fixed -- for obvious reasons, the key one being my well being. Zack provides a story board, complete with his ideas on how Southwest can effectively re-assure their customers in their take-off script.

We hope you enjoy these posts as much as we did.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Direct Marketing Data Costs

Just in from Direct Magazine, this report on the price of data and leads. The article cites a Worldata study called "Winter 2008 List Price Index", and it reports on changes in data costs year-over-year.

Very interesting stuff, especially if you need help in budgeting list costs. Here are some highlights of the study:
  • The cost for e-mail lists is decreasing slightly (by $2 per thousand, while consumer e-mail lists dropped by $3 per thousand).
  • But e-mail lists still remain fairly pricey, at an average cost of $287 per thousand for permission-based B2B marketing and $135 per thousand for B2C permission e-mail.
  • The average cost for Donor lists is $85 per thousand.
  • Business Merchandise Buyer lists go for $118 per thousand while Consumer Merchandise Buyers average $103 per thousand.
  • Consumer Magazine Subscriber list costs average $108 per thousand.
And, this quote from the Direct Magazine article should help you understand what to expect when you are buying lead data.
"Cost-per-lead data, which the Boca Raton, FL-based firm began tracking last quarter, had a slight increase in its pricing, due to jumps in B-to-B leads. Cost-per-lead consumer programs averaged $1.30 per lead, a slight decrease over last quarter, while cost-per-lead B-to-B Programs averaged $4.90 per lead, an increase of 7% over last quarter."
Unfortunately, the study does not include average list costs for compiled data (such as consumer lists from Acxiom or Experian, or business lists from InfoUSA or D&B). Compiled data is definitely a less expensive option. And, Occupant lists (you know the direct mail that is not even addressed to a name, simply to "Occupant" or "Resident") are even cheaper.

Still, this study gives great insight into what's going on in the list/data industry and provides you with an educated guess as to data costs if you are budgeting a direct mail or e-mail campaign.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How to Use CRM to Make the Customer King

There is a renewed sense of emphasis on customer satisfaction these days. As business owners, we want to keep and grow the customers that currently do business with us. As our businesses become more complex, it becomes more difficult to accomplish this task. However, if you use a little common sense and ingenuity, you can make your customers feel like royalty.

Consider Fairmont Hotels as an example.

According to Canadian Business Online, Fairmont took customer satisfaction into their own hands seven years ago when they split off from Canadian Pacific. In 2005, they decided to create a central repository of information specifically around their customers -- all of the bits of information that they collected about them -- including what they desired when they visited a Fairmont Hotel. This obviously was not an easy task. They tied together all hotel databases and created one view of each guest, no matter where they stayed.

"For us, it was all about capturing information about our guests to service them better, to deliver customized, personalized experiences for them at the hotel," says Sean Taggart, Fairmont's executive director of marketing services. "But it was also about sharing that information with all of the hotels in our portfolio so that when the guest checks into another Fairmont brand hotel that they may not have been to before, our colleagues there would know them, be able to talk to them, and service them based on what their interests and preferences are."

While this is an exemplary example of what can be done with solid database technology, this type of philosophy -- and commitment to customer service excellence -- is unfortunately far from being the norm. Let's look at an opposite example from my own experience.

I checked into a hotel about a month ago. I had booked the room on my rewards points and had requested 2 Double Beds as I was traveling with my business partner. Now, the fact that I had rewards points means that I've had a long relationship with the hotel chain based upon many years of business travel.

Upon check-in, I was told that my King room was ready. When I indicated that I had asked for Double Beds when I made my reservation, I was told that while there were plenty of Double-Bed-rooms available, the system would not allow the customer service rep to put me in one without charging me for the room again. She asked very sweetly, "Would you like me to change your reservation and charge you twice?" I won't put you through the pain of what me and my colleague suffered to finally get the double beds (is it really too much to ask . . . particularly when they told us that there were plenty available?) . . . but suffice it to say it was quite the horrible customer experience.

While Fairmont definitely spent some money to create the ultimate customer-satisfying CRM solution at their hotels, we believe that it was money well spent. Don't get me wrong -- your technology doesn't make the customer king, your people do. However, as evidenced by these two examples, the technology definitely helps. In fact, in our situation, while our horrible experience was actually blamed on the technology, it was the person at the customer service desk who refused to solve our problem. It may have been due to the inflexibility of the technology, but as the customer, I'm not sure how that becomes my issue. See, I'm still pretty miffed about the whole thing. And, I guess that's the point.

The learning here is that the proper technology can assist your people in creating excellent customer service or, on the other hand, it can potentially hinder it. Additionally, whether you have the budget to spend on technology or not, it's important that your employees are empowered to help the customer in any circumstance. Obviously, all this takes is hiring the right people and giving them the ability to make decisions that will create delighted customers . . . as opposed to unhappy campers.

Kudos to Fairmont for having the intelligence to put effective CRM into their marketing strategy, and hire the right customer-focused employees to take care of their customers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Update on European Direct Marketing

I'm always fascinated with reports on marketing in Europe. The UK, for instance, seems to be the leader in terms of business intelligence and CRM installations. Some of their large financial institutions, for example, seem much further along in realizing one-to-one marketing than similar US firms.

That's why this article from UTalkMarketing really surprised me. From the article:

"The majority of senior European marketers either do ad hoc or carried out no evaluation of their marketing campaigns, new findings from marketing software company Aprimo reveal.

Market research from the company showed 68 per cent of marketers were in the dark over the impact of their campaigns."

Wow! To me not being able to track a campaigns' success just seems like a waste of money.

The article cited a few reasons why companies weren't able to close the loop and implement sound measurement systems. They included:
  1. The inability to integrate systems and processes within an organization
  2. The lack of direct marketing talent (it appears that direct marketing skills are highly desired, and much in-demand in Europe.)
  3. Lower than desired marketing productivity.
And, yet, the future for European direct marketers looks bright! More from the article:
"Only 6% of marketers polled believe that direct marketing is dead. Twice as many marketers gathered in the opposite corner, with 12% stating that direct marketing is now more relevant than ever.

The rest of the attendees believed there is more life in the DM industry yet, but stated that they “recognise the challenges” (48%) or “think it requires a rethink” (34%)."

So, there you have it--direct marketing is alive and kicking in Europe!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Case Study Monday: Boosting ROI With Segmentation

As you probably know by now, we're bullish on taking an analytical approach to your direct marketing strategy. We believe that by using the right data with analytics will give you the best bang for your DM buck. We continually preach this perspective because we still see many companies continuing to direct market using just data with no real intelligence behind it -- just a gut feeling. This sort of stuff just drives us crazy!

Hence, this week's Case Study on utilizing segmentation to increase your ROI. It comes to us from Experian via a DM News webinar. The Case Study looks at a few different firms and how they utilize custom segmentation systems to add to their profitability. We hope you enjoy it!

Correct Household Segmentation Boosts ROI

Choosing the right household segmentation can help increase your return on investment by more than 37 percent.

That was a key finding from a DM News webinar sponsored by Costa Mesa, CA-based Experian, a provider of analytical and information services to organizations and consumers.

"The data at a household level and geo-demographic level [are] very important," said Cindy Eisenhard, vertical segment leader at Experian Marketing Services. "But the most important component is selecting the right segmentation systems."

The webinar offered examples of several Experian case studies that used either fixed or custom segmentation, focusing on demographic information, attitudinal information or purchase behavior.

There are many differences between fixed- and custom-segmentation systems, Ms. Eisenhard said.

"Fixed systems have been proven in the marketplace," she said, "while custom systems are validated based on method and vendor."

She said fixed segmentation systems have more accurate projection to household-level, rich-psychographic and geo-demographic data and a direct link to media-planning tools such as syndicated days. They are most cost-effective, too.

One case study discussed a leading beverage company that needed to improve customer loyalty and marketing ROI. It selected an attitudinal, fixed-household segmentation system built from primary and syndicated research.

The segmentation system was able to identify customer loyalty and profitability, and the company received a 12 percent increase in customer loyalty - "its most valuable customer segmentation performance was even better," said Regina Gray, vice president of analytics at Experian Decision Services, who also participated in the webinar.

The other case study discussed a pre-paid-wireless-phone service provider whose objective was to improve win-back and reduce churn by using a custom attitudinal-household-segmentation system to identify what motivates heavy brand users.

The results? The company saw a reactivation rate of 27 percent. It decreased win-back spend by half, and new customer churn was reduced by 30 percent, Ms. Gray said.

The final case study involved Advil PM. The brand used a custom geo-demographic household segmentation system to help target ads on AOL for its new brand launch online. The target was women of the ages of 35 to 64 who take over-the-counter medication for sleeplessness due to pain.

As a result of the system, Advil PM was successfully launched online using the same insight-driven targeted households.

In closing, Ms. Eisenhard reiterated the importance of choosing the right segmentation system for the brand.

She explained the importance of making sure that the segmentation system chosen is aligned to the primary need of the brand, actionable, clear to use, quick to implement and measurable.

"These are the key criteria to drive a successful segmentation implementation," she said.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Lovely Links

We've been struggling with how to incorporate mobile marketing into our mix, and this post from Jonathan Staret's Text Message Marketing Blog brings the channel into better focus. He talks about Walmart's use of text messaging, both the good (10% of the customers offered, opted in) and the bad (they regularly send 3-4 texts at a time). Interesting read.

And, Jim Berkowitz's CRM Mastery Blog had this excellent entry about the importance of communication between sales and marketing. Interesting, sales folks have a better perception of the relationship than do marketing types. Hmmm. For those of us marketers responsible for lead generation for a salesforce, we may be under-valuing their efforts, and we should probably stop that...

Just in case you've ever wondered if you're more of a revolutionary than a "wait-and-see", you need to read this Experience Curve post. Titled Social Media Biggest Shift in Marketing Strategy Since Television, it provides some excellent stats and commentary on how companies are using and how they're planning to use social media in their marketing mix. And, yes, it's big and getting bigger!

This post from Chris Brown's Branding and Marketing Blog hit home for me today. It's all about re-branding vs. updating and has some good thoughts about change. Nancy and I have spent the last few months focusing on how our business is evolving. We're trying to strategically be one step ahead, while maintaining our current consulting business. Change is hard. Change is stimulating. And, in the end, it's necessary.

Along those lines, we'd love to hear your thoughts about our brand new website: Analyze Your Customers. We've recently invested in some new analytics technology and in the training to use it. With that, we've beefed up our analytical capabilities and have some exciting new products available to marketers of all sizes. We think that this is a service much needed in the direct marketing industry and we'd love to hear if you agree.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Direct Marketing Message

It is very interesting to see how our world is changing in terms of what resonates with the consumers or businesses that receive our marketing messages. In fact, there is a growing school of thought that believes that you can't push out DM messaging very effectively at all anymore. Nope, it's all about customers getting involved with the conversation about your product and providing their feedback to other "would-be" customers. The world of Social Marketing is proving this to be true.

So, are our traditional direct marketing efforts a waste of time? Happily for us, the answer is no. However, there are definitely some important factors to consider when creating your message. One author, Clayton Makepeace, thinks that one of the main reasons why this shift is occurring is that the Gen-X generation is one of the largest purchasing audiences today. Gen-Xers are between the ages of 26 and 46 years-old and are, as a group, highly skeptical and cynical. Hence, they are going to be highly skeptical of anything that "smells" salesy. Makepeace recommends taking a look at your messaging -- as well as the marketing strategy around that message. Here are three areas that he thinks this inherent skepticism has on our DM efforts today:

1. One-shot customer-acquisition promotions are going the way of the dinosaurs.

Today, it’s all about the relationship between your company and your customer… and building credibility and friendship over time. While marketers who deliver value, invite involvement, and create a sense of community among prospective customers before expecting a sale are growing by leaps and bounds, those who cling to the old models are losing ground.

2. Bombastic "big promise" headlines are not working as well.

Today’s prospects are more likely to ignore sales communications that look and sound like sales communications. Instead, topical, newsy, and intrigue leads that key on something they are already thinking about often work best.

3. High-octane sales copy is losing its power.

Today, lower-key, value-added advertising copy (advertorials) that reward prospects for reading by delivering valuable, helpful, actionable information is leaving the language of the high-energy carnival barker in the dust.

Very interesting -- Makepeace makes some great points. Old-school DM just isn't cutting it anymore. And, as the economy decides what sort of state it is currently in (recession, slow-down, etc.), this becomes even more important. We've got to create campaigns that best resonate with our audiences. And, we simply have to embrace those channels that our customer segments are insisting that we utilize in order for them to buy from us. By understanding customer preferences, you'll stay ahead of the game. And, now, more than ever before, customers are willing to share with us exactly what they are looking for and how to improve on what you do. It's empowering and scary at the same time. I guess the net-net of this is that you have to be willing to truly listen to customer desires and then react to their feedback to keep them coming back for more!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Measuring Social Marketing

One of the basic elements (and benefits) of any direct marketing campaign is the ability to track and measure results. That's a primary reason why we like this business so much. You get the gratification that the marketing dollars spent resulted in positive results (like new leads acquired, new sales made, etc.).

So I was really pleased to come across this article that seriously attempts to quantify the value of Word-of-Mouth marketing: What's a Conversation Worth?

"LET'S SAY YOUR GREENEST FRIEND recommends the latest hybrid vehicle. Or a dairy-sensitive "foodie" suggests you try some new vanilla flavored soy milk. Or your frugal father-in-law steers you toward a particular variety of charge card. Few would question the power of these types of recommendations. After all, they cut through advertising clutter with relevant advice from trusted sources. This elusive credibility led marketers to spend over $1 billion on word-of-mouth programs last year, despite the fact that nobody seems to agree on how to properly value an unscripted consumer interaction."
The article talks about the challenges of measuring social marketing and how it is so hard to compare to other mass media. Author, Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent, has decided to tackle this issue via a series of white papers, each focusing on a different measurement component. The first topic is CPM. From the article:
"In order to consider whether CPM is an ideal measure, one needs to consider how to calculate what a proper effective CPM might be for a word-of- mouth conversation. We begin with the simple correlation of a dialogue to an impression, and then layer on the additive values of word of mouth, such as premiums for customer targeting, value of a trusted source, length of engagement, and generational impact (or ripples of conversation)."
"The big, scary question looms: What is the proper effective CPM for word of mouth? $30? $300? $3,000?"
The article provides an easy link to their white paper (no registration required) that delves into the calculation of measuring word-of-mouth marketing in terms of CPM. Now, for some reason, they left out most direct marketing channels in their comparisons, but there's still some valuable insight to be found here.

I know that I'll be on the look-out for upcoming articles on this topic of measuring social marketing efforts. Somehow, our pesky clients will only hire us to produce measurable results, so having a framework around how to measure social marketing results is a great way to add more of this to our direct marketing tool-kit.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

E-Marketing More Important than Ever to a Solid Direct Marketing Strategy

There has been a lot of talk about e-mail marketing in the news -- more than ever before. Marketing Sherpa has just completed their e-mail summit in Miami and they've written an article about the key takeaways from the deep dive into e-marketing. It sounds like it was a great event!

Since the article will only be available for a few more days, I'll note all 12 of the key takeaways gathered from summit participants here in their entirety. This is really great food for thought and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Takeaway #1. Become more than a marketer

The days of simply dedicating yourself to designing email or multichannel campaigns and then testing them are over. Marketers now have to learn how to think like their IT people, their financial officers, and their other top execs.

Why should you put on "the hats" of people who have other jobs?

- To pre-empt IT-related gaps in the production pipeline. Many email directors brought IT people with them to get them on the same page.

- It's not only *you* who should understand why your company must invest in certain areas of email. You should also to be able to sell it to your CFO.

How would you think about email if you were a CFO? Ask your CFO as many questions as possible to help yourself. Get to the point where you comprehend his or her email concerns.

- See above for your CEO, too. They have their hands on the purse strings, as well. And is there a better person to have on your side? Get to know your CEO and other execs in terms of how *they* need and want your ideas presented in a crucial meeting.

Takeaway #2. Email marketers get religion on landing pages

It's official: Every marketer is now at least thinking about landing pages.

We spoke to people who wouldn't even consider going into a campaign without significant landing page tests. But a surprising number admitted they were just beginning to dip their toes into these waters.

Many marketers are still sending clickthroughs to the homepage, but they realize that must change soon. Designing separate pages for every campaign is a lot of work, but the fruit of this labor is what builds companies and careers. There was much discussion about people taking their email marketing to the next level.

A key tip: After finalizing the crux of the offer and message, try building your landing pages first and *then* construct the other campaign parts. If you get the landing page done, at least you know that you are going to have one when the campaign does email. This way, there's no skipping it.

Note to vendors: It may be time to revisit your clients with the idea of doing some A/B split testing. In the day-to-day lives of email marketers, they are often putting out brush fires. They may appreciate the "nudge" to take the next step.

Takeaway #3. It's all about the message

People are still coming to grips with how to keep a campaign on message. For instance, the copywriting base camp on Sunday -- where landing pages were critiqued -- showed that people are getting off message in the transfer from subject line to email body to landing page.

It may feel painful at first, but do NOT overpopulate your landing page with various navigation options. They only distract and confuse recipients on what's really important about the offer.

More specifically, do not give in to the temptation to inform them about everything you offer. Stay on message and resist asking yourself this type of question: "But what if they do not realize I offer electronics, too?"

Key tip: Do not use your website navigation on your landing pages. Landing pages should be unique and, once again, targeted to the offer.

Takeaway #4. Deliverability anxiety fades

At last year's Summit, attendees -- and people in the email community at that time -- were deeply worried about deliverability. This year, the number of one-on-one clinics for deliverability was noticeably lower.

"Deliverability hasn't been a big topic," said Bird from "Relevancy is really what is on everyone's minds. ESPs seem to be doing their jobs."

Takeaway #5. Segmentation grows on emailers

With marketers feeling better about getting their emails into in-boxes, it wasn't surprising to hear them talk more about the next steps of executing successful campaigns -- like subject lines, body copy and segmentation.

The issues of segmentation and relevancy were -- by hook or by crook -- party to nearly every discussion heard during the three days. And an increasing number of marketers are splintering their lists into up to 12 or 14 different files.

"The focus has shifted to relevancy and the importance of segmentation," says Jayne Lytel, Executive Director, The Early Intervention Network. "It's almost more important to have a smaller list than to have a huge list that is not performing as well. I plan to go back and clean our lists and segment it better, while not taking the one-size-fits-all approach."

Takeaway #6. Email is not dead

The death of email is premature. Some people think it is stagnating or withering rather than growing, but it seems exactly the opposite.

Indeed, Summit attendance -- participants and vendors -- jumped 20% from 2007, showing the continued reliance on and infatuation with email. And many emailers predict that the phenomena of text messaging will eventually be usurped by email as smart phones like the iPhone and BlackBerry continue to grow in sales and get better at rendering HTML.

So, don't believe the hype about email being dead. It's growing in terms of both marketers' awareness levels and sophisticated executions. People care about it more than ever.

Takeaway #7. Be interesting

Multiple presenters said that if you want to get your email opened and read, you need to quit "mailing it in." In short, you have to test the idea of taking chances with subject lines, overall messaging themes, body copy and images. A few great tips:

o Write targeted emails to each segment.
Kimberly Talbot, Relationship Marketing Manager, Adobe Systems, Inc., says that being creative with your segments can be key to a campaign's outcome. For a campaign that saw stellar results to her 'designers' file of targets, she used the provocative subject line, 'Today Everything Can Change.' "It was a time where we could use that without sounding too self-promotional," she said.

o Test headlines that test curiosity.
Jeff Greene, Director of Marketing, Coast Federal Credit Union, talked about how they have greatly succeeded with playfully personalized headlines, such as, "Jeff, Go Fetch!" In this example, the headline was accompanied by an image of a dog leaping in the air to catch a dollar bill.

"You have to grab their attention. It can be a good thing to make them wonder what you are up to."

Takeaway #8. Are we really "post-open"?

No, this is not a "subject lines are dead" takeaway. However, there were a number of presenters who said that while open rates are hugely important in the grand scheme of things, some marketers take their eyes off the prize(s) -- clickthroughs or sales, depending on their niches.

Stephen Wellman, Director of Email Newsletters, CMP Media, talked about the importance of engagement metrics like post-opens data -- after people look at your newsletter or go to a landing page (or Web page).

"This is the real meaty data, as opposed to the typical newsletter obsession with open rates," he said. "I think managing to open rates is antiquated."

Takeaway #9. B-to-B emailers are playing hard at catch-up

On the whole, B-to-C emailers are still ahead of their B-to-B counterparts. But the field is leveling. And it was clear at the Summit that B-to-B marketers are taking their email more serious than ever.

"I saw that trend starting last year," said one rep from a so-called 'soup-to-nuts' B-to-B services provider. "With big companies like IBM, teleservices are being augmented and supported more and more by email."

Better yet: B-to-B marketers appear to be finally getting serious about what superb personalization can do. For instance, Dave Wieneke, Manager for Interactive Marketing, Thomson CompuMark, presented a Case Study on how his company started sending newsletters and service emails to clients that included a photograph of their sales rep and a note from them. Results turned around dramatically.

Furthermore, Wieneke said, many companies tend to go about personalization the wrong way by writing lame copy like, "We here at company strive to provide the best service we can ... blah, blah, blah."

"Any sentence that starts with 'we' isn't really about your customer," Wieneke said.

Takeaway #10. Ask your customers questions

Sherpa's recommendation of using surveys to better target your audience was well-represented in the Case Studies. Some folks are emailing surveys, while others are including them at various points on their websites.

"I survey the living daylights out of our customers," said Tara Zanecki, Director, Online Sales Channel, Workshare, Inc. "Surveys are invaluable in drawing assumptions before a campaign."

Marketers talked about how showing customers that you care what they think is worth doing a survey unto itself. Others pointed to focus groups as excellent places to start before going into a campaign or a series of initiatives.

Takeaway #11. Mobile is 'new deliverability'

There was definitely more talk about mobile email this year. Until the US catches up with Asia and Europe on this front, however, marketers seem like they are still going to be only dipping their toes for a while.

There seems little doubt that the marketer who are paying attention now will be cashing in first. As more people migrate from standard cell phones to the constantly evolving smart phones, the marketplace is going to be there big-time for both B-to-C and B-to-B firms.

"It's kind of like deliverability was two years ago," said Annette Promes, Director, Email Marketing, Expedia Inc. "They were saying, 'Hey, there's this new thing that's going to change everything.' I think you are going to see the same thing with mobile over the next year or so. Mobile is 'the next deliverability.'"

Takeaway #12. Test, test, test

Testing will always be a key to successful email and interactive marketing. The most important reason why: You will never truly understand what each segment of your audience is looking for until you crunch and analyze the numbers. Everything comes down to testing.

"I saw some data here that dramatically contradicted what we have seen," Promes said. "Different businesses perform very differently -- even if they are competing in the same space sometimes. And what it tells you is that research can be informative, but you still have to test."

Again, great stuff! So, take a renewed look at your e-mail marketing campaigns. Are you doing all you can to make them relevant, creative and successful? We'd love to hear what makes your campaigns successful -- if you have a good story, please share with us.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Case Study Monday - Segmentation = Success!

By now, you probably know our stance on segmentation. We believe in it! RRW specializes in building customized segmentation systems for our clients. But, we're happy to report on results of a more off-the-shelf approach, such as this one offered by Claritas. Here's their case study in-full.

Improving Direct Mail Response with Segmentation

Situation Overview
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, a Chicago restaurant company, wanted to implement a direct mail program to help increase patronage at its two restaurant concepts (Tucci Benucch and Twin City Grill) located in the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN. Location had posed a challenge in the past in developing a consistent customer base for the restaurants. Their goal with this direct mail program was to develop a regular, local clientele and improve the frequency of visits.

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises used a Claritas lifestyle segmentation system to study the Minneapolis market in-depth from the point of growth and site selection. They used that in-depth information to decide which specific Claritas lifestyle segments to target for their direct mail campaign, which included a $10-off dinner coupon.

Upon analysis, two target lifestyle segments were chosen which best fit their targeted age demographic of 35-49 years old, and also indexed very high in their propensity to dine out at Causal Italian and Casual Bar & Grill restaurant concepts (indexes ranged from 156 to 214).

To determine the target-market-area coverage for the segments, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises selected the geographic areas by ZIP Code that corresponded to the strongest areas identified via the original site selection information: Bloomington, Eagan, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Savage, Eden Prairie, and Edina. This represented a much wider geographic area than they would normally use in their direct mail campaigns, but the high concentration of target segments within these areas made this a gamble worth taking.

Using Claritas segmentation to help target their mailing list, they were able to get a 6.1% redemption rate on the 27,000-piece mailer. Typical direct mail programs of this quantity have generally resulted in a redemption level at or below 2%. Mark Katz, Director of Advertising & Consumer Research, said, "I believe that the strong redemption rates were driven entirely by the list selection of segments and markets chosen the through the use of Claritas' segmentation system."

The direct mail campaign resulted in a promotional profit in excess of $12,000! Of even more importance, Lettuce Entertain You was able to identify a very targeted group of likely customers, while at the same time, stimulating a great deal of trade for both restaurants.

Based on in-store survey results, they found that first-time visitation was very high, and of the remaining respondents who had been to the restaurants before, their level of visit frequency had been very low. Mark Katz said, "the results seem to validate our original hypothesis that if we identify high-probability prospects using segmentation, in the general geographic area of the Mall of America, we can successfully drive those customers into our restaurants. Given that these respondents are high-probability customers that are geographically favorable, they should translate into regular, local clientele."

What an excellent example of using segmentation to boost campaign results! And, I loved the measurement piece--where they have proven the concept. RRW has recently launched a new website that focuses specifically on our analytical capabilities. The site is pretty new and we welcome your input and comments. Check it out:

And, have a GREAT WEEK!