4 Strategies to Increase Direct Marketing Revenue and Build Your Brand
This is the time of year when marketers are analyzing how to improve their businesses. As much as you might want to latch on to the latest fad, your success or failure comes down to doing a few key aspects of marketing better than your competitors.
To help you get a jump-start on the new year, here's where I suggest committing the bulk of your resources:
1. Identify your best potential targets. You’ve been hearing this song for a long time, but here's why it’s more important than ever: Marketing is simply too expensive to waste money on mass distribution and low response rates. That model worked when paper and postage were cheap, but those days are gone forever.
In addition, while you might argue that online alternatives provide the low costs you seek, print still powers many companies’ engines. Until that changes, spend more time figuring out how to make print work better rather than trying to eliminate it from your marketing mix.
That process begins with ongoing investments in database marketing tools, services and analytics that'll help you mine the most desirable customers. Developing customer intelligence is all about gaining individual customer insights that truly enable the delivery of “right message, right channel, right time.”
You can only accomplish this by taking a strategic approach to understanding your customers, rather than a last-minute, ad-hoc precampaign analysis. Building customer intelligence is a process that starts with understanding the value of each customer.
The next phase is to segment customers into relatively homogeneous groups that have relevance to your products. Typically, there'll be multiple segmentations that provide insights into the multidimensional nature of most people. There might be life-stage segments, relationship lifecycle segments, product needs’ segments or potential value segments.
Then add predictive analytics to provide a more quantified likelihood to purchase and potential value for each customer for each product or product category.
Investing in database marketing strategies to create more personalized communications helps organizations improve their marketing metrics and increase opportunities and incentives to improve the ever-important marketing return on investment.
2. Invest in quality creative. The 40-40-20 rule of direct marketing says your success depends 40 percent each on offer and list and 20 percent on creative. But have marketers become so obsessed with costs that they've forgotten the value of creative in making a good offer? Be certain your creative attracts positive attention and represents your brand with the image you want to convey.
I recently saw an ad from a major retailer of furniture and home goods featuring a right-hand, single gatefold that formed the door of an armoire. Opening the folded page displayed the interior of the armoire and its contents.
A little more expensive, sure, but my guess is that it was well worth the money. Get your creative team and printer together to see how you can enhance your creativity within a budget.
Creativity isn’t just about artistic elements, however. It’s also about finding innovative ways to help your customers find what they need, or finding ways to generate special interest for new product launches, best-sellers and other marketing priorities.
3. Speak to your customers as if you know them. Don’t get the idea that I'm trying to pass the “Dear Sue” stuff off as personal communication. Today’s highly evolved personalization capabilities — both in print and online — dovetail perfectly with good database marketing practices. Doing the up-front database work significantly improves the precision with which you can select customers and create specific offers to their preferences.
Proven print technologies ranging from selective binding to ink-jet imaging enable you to customize catalogs to a high degree. Quickly evolving digital printing technologies now allow for complete customization of each piece. Variable data digital printing is being used as a stand-alone solution, as well as in combination with high-speed selective binding lines.
There's technology that uses an optical character recognition system to selectively insert highly personalized, digitally printed covers and outserts based on customer data, for example. The optical recognition system on the finishing equipment reads the barcode and matches the personalized piece to the catalog, which is then ink-jet addressed to the specific customer at the end of the line.
4. Integrate media … then integrate some more. Don't fall in love with a particular medium. No matter how well it performs, you can bet your last dollar it would do even better if you integrated it with one or more additional media.
This requires strategic thinking and campaign execution, including careful synchronization and timing. True integrated media also means integrating print. Study after study shows that the combination of print catalogs with the web, email and personalized direct mail delivers maximum results.
What’s more, new tools such as the Intelligent Mail barcode help track letters and flats. You can now receive more detailed information than ever on how and when catalogs are being delivered, along with how customers are responding. Moreover, you'll acquire and retain customers you know are likely to generate strong lifetime value.
Virtually no one has enough time and resources to do everything. That means you have to make decisions about what will bring you the best return and then spend accordingly. Focusing on good database marketing practices in combination with strong creative, high-level customization and integrated campaigns will produce the superior returns your company seeks.