Direct Mail Response Rates Hold Steady, Finds Report
June 16, 2010

The Direct Marketing Association today released the 2010 Response Rate Trend Report, which provides key cost and performance benchmarks to help marketers gauge the efficiency of their campaigns. The updated report shows effective paid search campaigns usually lead to a multistep sales process.

How the Big Boys Chase Innovation
June 8, 2010

On day two of the Retail Marketing Conference in Orlando, Fla., last month, a panel of executives from Best Buy, Dell and took part in a roundtable discussion on how their businesses have evolved their brand, e-commerce and marketing strategies to differentiate themselves from their competition through innovation.

H&M Turns to Social Media for Integrated Campaign
May 27, 2010

H&M Style Eye was sponsored by Lucky Magazine, Conde Nast Digital and MTV Networks, and was held on Facebook. Whoa, watch out multipurpose powerhouses! For the contest, users uploaded stylish photos of themselves while others voted. H&M went on to choose the three most stylish, flew them to New York for a weekend, along with a $500 H&M gift card and a photo shoot for the July issue of Lucky. Best of all (and supremely smart of H&M), the entire hoopla was shot on video and then broadcast on YouTube and Facebook.

Marketing ROI: Art or Science
May 25, 2010

Tying the results of a marketing tactic to the actual financial performance of a company is no easy feat. You may not have ready access to business performance or transaction metrics to allow correlation. The sheer array of channels and options available to marketers, and the rise of new marketing tactics such as social media, only add to the difficulty of measuring clear results.

Unabandon Shopping Carts With Direct Digital Marketing
April 27, 2010

Given an inherent reliance on targeted and personalized content, direct digital marketing is a proven and effective approach to lifting key online retail metrics. But a reasonable question persists: How does an overall direct digital marketing approach to customer communications impact real e-retail challenges like shopping cart abandonment?

Target Influencers for Profitable Word-of-Mouth Marketing
April 20, 2010

Tasked with generating higher revenues on smaller budgets in more crowded marketplaces, today's marketers must take advantage of every tool at their disposal. One such resource is the power of word-of-mouth, an approach that uses the innate behavior of a unique group of consumers, known as influencers, to extend the reach of your efforts via “talkability.” A recent whitepaper from ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting, examines how to best tap into this rich resource.

Based on the latest findings from ICOM, previous profiles of influencers have to be adjusted. Consider the following:

  • consumers are influencers strictly within product categories, not across them all;
  • few commonalities exist within influencer demographics, as they cross gender, age, income levels and channels; and
  • influencers do their talking in person — at the kitchen table, on the phone, etc. — but opportunities exist to take their messages to new realms, such as social media.
One trait proves universal to influencers, however: They talk more than the average person, and do so in a way that connects people. But that doesn't mean they're willing to talk up any product/service. They're category specific. A young mother, for example, could speak passionately about diapers, but have no interest in tires, the whitepaper notes. Influencers are united by a passion or a particular life stage or lifestyle — a new baby, car, house or affinity for cars — that causes them to be interested in a particular product segment, according to ICOM's research.

Influencers also have a higher propensity for connecting with friends and family than random consumers, the whitepaper finds. Therefore, their comments carry more credibility, regardless of the size of their networks, because they tend to be more active within social communities. Because they've established themselves as authorities, influencers are more likely to be sought after for their opinions, the whitepaper says. That's why it's so valuable for an influencer to tout your specific brand or product.

Once you've identified influencers, track their behaviors. Influencers' audiences include not just the assumed demographic, but also unexpected sets of consumers, according to the research. People who are influencers recommend in three categories or fewer, the whitepaper finds. And these recommendations are typically made in personal settings. Regardless of how influencers receive product information — via email, first-hand experience or in-store promotion — about 90 percent of word-of-mouth communication occurs face-to-face or via phone, reports ICOM.

Catalog Doctor: Conquer 'Fear of Selling'
April 13, 2010

"Fear of Selling" is a paranoia caused by catalog marketing myths. Particularly susceptible are decision makers without marketing backgrounds, marketers without catalog experience and designers who never see test results. Try the following prescriptions for debunking catalog myths.

Weird Science
April 1, 2010

Steve Spangler has managed to make science cool … and at the same time earn a living. For the teacher turned retailer, the focus has remained the same: to educate kids, particularly about science. And if that means turning bottles of Diet Coke into erupting geysers in the process, all the better. Founded in 1990, Steve Spangler Science is the offshoot of a man's lifelong obsession with science. After 11 years as a science teacher, Spangler shifted directions. He decided to bring his passion for science to a wider audience, and a mail order catalog offering educational toys and science-related products was born.

5 Tips for Leveraging Personalization in Your Marketing Efforts, Part 1
March 30, 2010

Retailers and direct marketers must do more for less while providing concrete proof that their programs deliver results. That brings personalization to the forefront. Done right, personalization consistently delivers higher return on investment. But “done right” is the operative phrase.