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.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Direct Marketing Links

Happy Friday! As always, here's a round-up of some of the blog posts I've enjoyed this week.

B2B Lead Nurturing
I personally believe that lead nurturing is both a science and an art. It's so key to develop an understanding of where your leads are in terms of the sales funnel, and then treat them appropriately so they move to the next step and ultimately become loyal customers. This post from the B2B Lead Generation blog provides a recap of some recent Marketing Sherpa research on this topic as well as some other handy links.

Writer's Block?
Wendy Maynard shares some excellent ideas for bloggers and others who write, on her Kinetic Ideas blog. She lists 7 tips to help you come up with blog content. My favorite is her Tip 7: Share Your Success Stories. I agree that there can be nothing more powerful than hearing about a real-life example of marketing that achieved results. The more exact reporting of results (numbers, revenues, etc), the more powerful the case study (in my opinion, of course).

Social Marketing Case Study
And, while we're on the topic of the power of case studies, take a look at this post from the Advergirl Blog. The author goes into wonderful detail about the social marketing initiatives recently launched by the city of Columbus tourism and convention bureau. I like the honesty and insight of this reporting, and I learned a lot. Thanks, Advergirl!

Client Relationships: Good or Bad?
We're always talking about the importance of building and maintaining long-term client relationships. That's why this opposing viewpoint from the Guerrilla Consultant Blog was especially interesting. It talks about the downside of long-term client relationships. A very interesting perspective and one that hit home with me.

Rebounding from a "No"
This simple, yet oh-so-true post from the Diva Sales Tips Blog is definitely worth a read, especially if you're responsible (like me) for generating sales and new business. It provides practical and sound advice on actions you should take when your prospect or client says 'no' to one of your proposals. I liked this quote: "So even when you get a NO - make sure you act gracious." The article goes on to give you ideas of concrete actions you should then take to set yourself up for the next 'Yes'.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Where do you shop?

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a true data geek. I get excited when I find data that's predictive of customer behavior. You know, for example when you're building a response model and find that gem of a data element that sets responders apart from non-responders? It's even cooler when the data element is something that you least expected to be so predictive.

I remember working with another analytical expert who was almost giddy when he determined that red vs. blue states made a difference in his home equity model. Yes, if you lived in a Democratic state you were less/more (I can't remember) likely to respond to his mortgage offer. Who knew? The data did, I guess!

So, you can't blame me for getting a chuckle about this article that reports a correlation between political leanings and where a consumer shops. But, when you think about it, where someone shops tells you a lot about them.
When asked to “vote” as if the election were held today, Walmart, Kohl’s and JCPenney Shoppers are more likely to vote for McCain; while Macy’s and Target Shoppers say they would cast a ballot for Obama, according to BIGresearch's August Consumer Intentions and Actions (CIA) Survey.
Hmmm. I guess we have another dimension to add to our segmentation and other analytical strategies--shopping habits!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Measuring your online marketing

I found this chart today from Marketing Sherpa. Essentially, it provides some ideas of types of performance to measure throughout each phase of the sales process.

You know, as a long-time direct marketer, one of the key challenges I face on a daily basis is how to make sure that each campaign, each marketing dollar spent can be measured and accounted for. When my clients were only using channels such as direct mail and telemarketing, this task was a tad easier. In the multi-channel environment we live in now, the task can be fairly daunting.

Hopefully, like me, this chart will provide you with some good ideas on what exactly you can start to measure in terms of your online advertising programs. I like it because it makes me think not only about sales, but about clear, measurable events you can track as your prospects progress through the sales funnel.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Case Study: Corporate Social Marketing

Today's case study focuses not on a single company's specific direct marketing success, but instead it explores the trend of businesses leveraging their brands and using social media to shout to the world how much they care, and (the kind part of me says) to get consumers more involved in global concerns such as renewable energy, climate change and poverty.

See this article from the San Francisco Chronicle: Companies tout their social consciences online.

The article provides a range of examples of companies using outlets such as YouTube to share their work on a variety of causes. Companies sited include the usual suspects: Starbucks and Nike, and also includes Timberland and Whole Foods. All of these firms are raising some pretty significant awareness both for their chosen causes, AND for their companies.

Of course, the companies are motivated by more than altruism.

For Timberland, the YouTube exposure is a marketing instrument, Morey-Reuner (Timberland's Senior Manager of Value Marketing) said.

And it reaches the target groups of the young and keen to consume. The Timberland Earthkeeper spot, for example, has been watched by nearly 107,000 viewers since it was posted in April. The Nike clip has drawn more than 125,000 viewers since May.

"Companies have an interest to be perceived as socially responsible, but they want to sell their products at the same time," said David Stewart, dean of the School of Business at UC Riverside. "YouTube is a new vehicle, and companies are offering these types of media. Therefore, the spots are not completely altruistic. There's an element of both selling and doing good."

Here are specific examples referenced in the article:

I have mixed feelings about this type of promotional activity. I guess consumers (especially young ones) are savvy (and cynical) enough to understand that firms involved have an ulterior motive. And, I guess, if the cause is a good one, then any support is a good thing, right?

But, somehow this type of altruism continues to ring a tad false to me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Direct Marketing Links

Small Business Blogging
For all of you out there who are still toying with the idea of starting your own company blog, this post from Duct Tape Marketing is a must-read. Author, John Jantsch, shares a story about how an unlikely blogger (a sign company) is using blogging to differentiate his business. And, for those who aren't blogging yet--my advice (and stolen from one of Portland's top marketers) to you would be--Just do it!

Banking and Social Networking...
Swami at his Customer World blog has started a lively conversation about the new banking review site, You'll see some differing opinions about whether people will be likely to use this service, or not. I'm also pleased because he refers back to my post on same topic :)

Don't Ignore your Generation Y Customers!
You know how much we love the concept of Generational Marketing--using generational attributes to understand your customer segments and also to drive marketing strategy. So, I really enjoyed reading this post from The Financial Branding blog that specifically talks about how important it is not to ignore or underestimate Gen Y. Pictures are even included!

More on Mobile Marketing
From the 1 to 1 Media blog, check out this post that discusses mobile marketing. The article emphasizes that Mobile Marketing should not be a stand-alone channel, but should fit into your overall marketing strategy. "One of the best uses of mobile, he said, is to enhance other channels with a mobile call to action." Good ideas, here, and a nice complement to my post on same topic, from yesterday.

Whole Foods
The Church of the Customer blog started a thought-provoking conversation in their post about Whole Foods Market. Blog author Jackie Huba cites Whole Foods' recent dismal financial performance and asks her audience what Whole Foods should do to boost their business. Some excellent comments--definitely worth a read!

Enjoy your weekend! Stay cool and have fun.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mobile Marketing: Who's Doing It?

I have to be honest with you. Although we've been writing about the importance of incorporating Mobile Marketing into the direct marketing tool box for over a year, so far, not one of our clients has even come close to using this channel. Not a single client is even talking about it. And, the only advertising I've personally received on my own cell phone have come from Verizon Wireless, my service provider.

So, where's the disconnect? In an April blog post, we reported that Mobile Marketing is expected to reach $19 BILLION in 2012 (from $3 billion in 2007). I just wonder who's spending all this money...And, who's getting these ads served up to them?

This I know for sure--mobile marketing is happening, somewhere!

Take a look at this MarketWatch/WSJ article I found today that reports a 13% quarterly growth in mobile marketing advertising expenses.
"Limbo, one of the largest mobile social communities in the US, and GfK Technology, a leading market search agency, have released the latest joint Mobile Advertising Report (MAR). The second quarter report shows that a high percentage of mobile phone users in the US, UK and India indicate they are receiving advertising messages through their mobile phone; 85 percent in India, 51 percent in the UK, and 37 percent in the US."
Within the mobile marketing mix of Internet banner ads, text messaging and radio ads (sidenote--me being dumb again--what is a mobile radio ad? Anyone?), the most common format is the text message. For any of you marketing to the youth market, note that younger males typically view mobile Internet advertising the most.

And, to answer my question--which advertisers have adopted mobile marketing as a channel?
"The brands recalled in advertising via this channel were mainly mobile carriers, handset manufacturers, media brands and digital entertainment companies."
Finally, as is usual in all things cell phone related, the US lags behind other countries.
"Though the US lags behind the UK and India in many mobile phone usage categories, it shows strong growth. The number of people using mobile phones in the US has grown from 251 million in Q4 2007 to over 263 million this quarter, up nearly ten percent. The US also shows steady increases in the number of people who recall seeing advertising through their mobile phone, from 31 percent to 37 percent over the same time period."
So, there you have it, Mobile Marketing is a reality already and poised to take off in a big way. I would really love to hear from those marketers out there who have personally used the channel. Case studies, anyone?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Analytics Key for E-Marketers

As a self-proclaimed data geek, I always get a kick about learning about unexploited opportunities to reap the benefits of data-mining. I salivate about the potential to make an impact using tools that haven't been used before. I truly do get excited when I see an opportunity to generate new sales simply by obtaining a better understanding of customers' wants and needs.

Take a look at this article from DM News: E-commerce should stress analytics: eTail 2008.

The article provides a recap of a recent presentation at the eTail conference in Washington. It talks about the opportunities for e-commerce firms to start to benefit from the knowledge embedded in the customer data they collect online.
He (speaker Sheldon Gilbert, founder and CEO of Proclivity Systems) said many e-commerce companies only “look at the cash register;” only what a customer is buying. To fully optimize marketing efforts, he added, companies have to dig deeper into predictive modeling, and take into account factors such as seasonal shopping cycles, consumer buying and browsing patterns, and gauging the value of certain “action words” such as the word “organic.”
Actually, some of what the speaker highlighted seemed fairly 'no-brainer' to me. Check out this point, where he talks about how to identify cross-sell opportunities:

He also said that companies should mine their databases to learn what customers of one particular product are also buying. For example, if 79% of customers that bought denim products and shoes from a retailer overlap, then the company needs to determine how to send the proper offer to those customers based on that data.

“The data will tell you what to offer,” he said. “Human behavior is fairly predictive.”

If this article is correct in stating that many e-commerce firms have not yet employed data mining tactics to improve customer strategy, than this is a huge opportunity for direct marketers. E-commerce needs analytical folks who are schooled in data analysis and modeling techniques--people who've had practical experience turning customer behavior into programs that make money.

And, guess what? As a direct marketer with a focus on analytics, I'm ready to help!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Case Study: Obama and Generational Marketing

You may have noticed that each Monday I publish a direct marketing case study. Many times I find these client success stories on corporate websites. Sometimes, like today, they come from today's news.

I was very interested in reading how Obama is using an understanding of the Millenial generation to capture their loyalty and (presumably) their votes. I've pulled out pieces of the article, below, but for more complete information, I urge you to read the full "Ad Age" article: What Obama Can Teach You About Millenial Marketing.

Mr. Obama's brand management, unprecedented in presidential politics, shows pitch-perfect understanding of the keys to appealing to the youngest voters.

Why is it working?
So what's the appeal to the under-30 set? True, the youth vote traditionally skews Democratic, but the difference this year is that Mr. Obama has actually motivated turnout. His success, it seems, is a result of both product and the branding behind it. The qualities he projects -- a cool, smooth aura, the communal values of hope and unity, his teeming crowds and his campaign's seamless graphics -- are the essence of appealing to millennials.

"Millennials want someone smart, funny and with a slight edge," observes Allison Mooney, who tracks youth trends for Fleishman-Hillard's Next Great Thing. Mr. Obama's occasional prickly moments, as when he dismissed Mr. McCain's recent ad comparing him to Paris Hilton -- "Is this the best you can do?" -- shows them he gets it. "Obama's kind of mellow. He doesn't have polarizing views."

He's got branding down, too.
Wrote Newsweek's Andrew Romano, "Obama is the first presidential candidate to be marketed like a high-end consumer brand." His rising-sun logo echoes the one-world iconography of Pepsi, AT&T and Apple.

Design guru Michael Bierut told Romano that the stand-alone logo, consistent use of the Gotham typeface ("very American ... conversational and pleasant") and his online look and feel make Mr. Obama the first candidate with a "coherent, top-to-bottom, 360-degree system at work. ... There's an absolute level of control that I have trouble achieving with my corporate clients."

Generational Marketing Basics
Mass brand experiences, from the iPod to Harry Potter, appeal strongly to millennials, who have been shown to be a more communal, pro-social generation than their predecessors.

While critics see Mr. Obama's penchant for mass gatherings as arrogant, Mr. Howe finds it perfect for millennials: "They're more civically connected, and they find strength in numbers."

According to Fleishman-Hillard's Ms. Mooney, the Obama campaign's mastery of cutting-edge social media, through the site (known internally as "MYBO"), is optimized for millennial appeal. For this generation, "the new pronoun is me, my. Using my-dot brings it to a personal level."

The MYBO site shows that Mr. Obama's campaign has made the leap from CRM (customer relationship management) to CMR (customer-managed relationship) better than many commercial marketers, according to Ms. Mooney. "Young people want to be in control of their relationship with a brand. They want to customize and personalize," as they can on iTunes, Mobile Me and YouLocate. The campaign's site allows this with its use of tagging, discussion boards, photo uploads and other interactive elements.

Lesson learned from this case study--if your target market is people 26 and younger (Millenials were born in 1982 and beyond), you should take a close look at how Obama is reaching and connecting to this group.

RRW has put together an overview of the five living generations. It provides key motivators and descriptions of each group. We'd be happy to share it with you. Request it here: Generations Overview.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Direct Marketing Links

Here's my round-up of some of the things I've been reading this week. Hope you enjoy these articles as much as I did.

What happens when you mail stinky cheese?
We all love to hate the US Postal Service (especially when you're in direct marketing, and they persist in raising those rates...). However, I have some new respect after reading this article from the Direct Creative Blog. It reviews some of the crazy things that the USPS has successfully delivered. Some examples: 1) $20 bill, wrapped in clear plastic for all to see, 2) A rose with no wrapping/packaging, 3) Fresh green coconut with no wrapping, all the way from Hawaii. It's amazing what they actually will deliver. Fun stuff!

Harley-Davidson Builds Customer Loyalty
I love reading how technology makes our lives more fun, AND I especially enjoy reading how the right use of technology can improve the customer experience and enhance a brand at the same time (wow--a lot to accomplish!). From the Customer Experience Crossroads Blog, see this article titled: Using GPS to build customer experience: yes, it's another Harley-Davidson story. The article discusses how Harley Davidson is pre-loading their GPS systems to include favorite rides, and how it encourages Harley riders to share their own favorites. Heck, makes me wanna become a biker!

Mad Men
I enjoyed this post from Chuck Nyren's Advertising to Baby Boomers blog. He shares his take on the hit show, Mad Men (a smart and funny TV series about advertising in the 50's/60's which also happens to be a favorite of mine). Chuck talks about the advertising greats and actually made me nostalgic and wish to have been around when creativity ruled advertising and Madison Ave was putting out cutting edge advertising.

"The Graying of the Great Powers"
Continuing on the Boomer theme, check out this thought-provoking post from the Boomer Worker blog. It discusses the economic implications of the aging population, not just here in the US, but worldwide. This quote provides a sneak peek at the article:
"With all of the headlines about the U.S. losing out to Europe today, it is hard to imagine that the situation will soon turn radically in the opposite direction. However, the demographics foretell a radically changing situation. Europe is headed for major problems as their population ages and declines far more than that of the U.S."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Social Networking Comes to Banking

Like most people, I like to complain about my bank. Why do they hold a new clients' checks for 10 days, before depositing it to my business account? What's up with these outrageous ATM fees? Why, when I call customer service with a question about a credit card I never use, I'm treated like a pariah, even though this same bank has my mortgage, some serious investments and my checking business? Why can't they understand the entire relationship and treat me like a valued customer???

Oh, most of us have lots of things to say (usually not very nice things...) about our bank.

Well, now you have a place to vent! Just announced this week, a new social networking site, called My Bank Tracker, that allows consumers to rate and review financial offerings.

From the introductory press release:
The "My Bank Tracker" site is designed to present sophisticated information through a visually uncluttered and an intuitive user interface where consumers can interact with each other and where local and national financial institutions (virtual or physical) can present their many product offerings. " realized that there was a need for an online banking services information destination that allowed users to comparative shop for a service that was best for them while leveraging the knowledge and experience of the millions of existing banking customers," said Alex Matjanec, Media & Communications - My Bank Tracker.

"With the launch of My Bank Tracker, we're taking the personalization and social networking movement a step further by leveraging the power of the internet and of consumers, to inform and educate in ways that were up until today lacking for traditional institutions such as banks," added Matjanec."
What will be very interesting, I think, is to see how banks react when their esteemed institution is being bashed by an angry customer. The smart banks will participate openly in this new community and address criticism honestly. They need to tackle issues and show that they are making positive changes as a result of hearing feedback.

Banks need to look at this new networking site as an opportunity to learn more about customer needs. It's also an opportunity to highlight their competitive and unique offerings to a captive audience of financial services shoppers who are actively seeking financial information. Talk about direct marketing!

On the flip side, there are lots of things that banks should not do. For example, they absolutely cannot become defensive. They don't have to agree with criticism of their services, but they need to answer concerns politely and with facts. Moreover, if the customer complaint is legit, they need to fix the problem immediately. And, most importantly, if this site takes off, they can't ignore it. Banks need to be vital contributors to this community.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the different financial firms embrace the concept of a social networking forum dedicated to them.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Marketing Case Study: Customer Lifetime Value Important to Automotive Industry

Today's direct marketing case study comes to us from Sigma Marketing, a Rochester, NY-based database marketing company. While I wish that they would have shared more about what went into their "Loyalty Metric" (probably it's their confidential 'secret sauce'), the message remains clear. It's important to get a handle on the true value of your customers, in order to best drive loyalty, retention and upsell campaigns.

Maximizing Lifetime Customer Value:

The Client

Major automotive manufacturer

The Challenge
Our client was overlooking future revenue opportunities by not recognizing the true lifetime value of its current customers. The client recognized that there were differences among customers’ loyalty over a lifetime, but could not quantify or act on those differences.

The Breakthrough
SIGMA created the Loyalty Metric, a measurement that allowed the client to make business decisions based on a real and accurate lifetime view of the customer, not a 12-month or even 60-month snapshot.

The Loyalty Metric yielded important and valuable learnings for the client:
  • current customers are worth billions of dollars to the client over a lifetime;
  • the top 10% of customers contribute 89% of total value;
  • the highest-value customers and lowest-value customers shared many similar characteristics, but one critical characteristic differentiates the two – purchase velocity.

The Win
SIGMA discovered that the client could best utilize The Loyalty Metric in:
  • the development of retention programs for high-value customers;
  • taking cost-effective, pre-emptive action against potential defectors;
  • creating intelligent marketing programs to effectively manage both high-value and low-value customers;
  • generating additional vehicle sales at higher velocity among medium-value customers, turning them into high-value customers.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Email Personalization

Just as in direct mail, email marketers are finding that sophisticated personalization boosts results.

Yep, we like to see our names in print; we like to know that the companies we buy from know us and have taken the time to address us personally; we wait for the day that each and every mailing is so relevant that the words SPAM or Junk Mail is no longer in our vocabulary (Suzanne being optimistic, here...).

This BtoB Online article, Personalizing your e-mail efforts, provides a recap of a research report recently released by the Aberdeen Group.
"Companies that engaged in more advanced personalization strategies are more likely to see a higher return on that investment. Ian Michiels, a senior research analyst in the digital marketing department of the Boston-based research firm and author of the report, said customers are beginning to expect a higher level of relevancy in the e-mails they receive."
The article then provides 4 pointers on how to take personalization to the next level. I'll summarize the 4 tips.
  1. Database accuracy is key. Getting the personalization wrong (with wrong info) is worse than not doing it at all.
  2. Verify and segment your data. Consider appending data from an external source to round out what you've collected. Then, use that complete view of your customer and identify unique customer segments. Tailor your creative and your offer so that they resonate with each segment. (A side note: segmentation is a subject near and dear to my heart. I'd love to send you more info on our approach and share some case studies, if you're interested.)
  3. Use Web analytics to track behavioral data and improve personalization. Track and monitor how individuals in the database move around on your company’s Web site. Know what people are clicking on, what they're most responsive to, and use that data to improve future campaigns.
  4. Understand the buying cycle. Take information from the Web analytics efforts and figure out where individuals are in the buying cycle. "The next message a company sends to people on the e-mail list should help them progress to the next step so they ultimately make a purchase."
Oh, just reading this research makes me excited! Direct Marketing experts who understand data and analytics can really impact e-marketing, and improve the customer experience at the same time.