Marketing executives at the recent ExactTarget Connections conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, agreed that the future of direct marketing will depend on the personalized consumer experiences that come from building strong emotional relationships and connections, Direct Marketing News reports. Much of this engagement between marketing executives and customers will ultimately be driven by the prevalence of demographic and consumer data. This data is extremely valuable during the planning and strategizing processes of a direct marketing or direct mail campaign.
The conference was formed as an initiative to integrate data gleaned by a company across multiple disparate channels. By creating or acquiring targeted mailing lists that rely on a wealth of personal data, marketing executives can craft campaigns that are focused, clearly-defined and efficiently-run. Ensuring that the right direct mail pieces and direct marketing ad campaigns reach the right audiences could mean a great deal to the bottom line of a company in determining its return on investment (ROI).
“Data is king,” Scott McCorkle, the vice president and general manager for software at ExactTarget, told the news source. “Data is what drives relevance.”
A recent survey highlighted the various marketing channels utilized by small business owners and how effective marketing executives were in measuring the results of their direct marketing campaigns, The Herald Bulletin reports. The Pitney Bowes Small Business Marketing Survey polled 756 small business owners and discovered that most had inadequate metrics for measuring direct mail and email marketing response rates and returns on investment (ROI).
According to the survey, more than 80 percent of respondents failed to measure their direct mail effectiveness, while 73 percent of survey participants did not effectively measure the response rates on their email marketing campaigns. Additionally, the survey highlighted the importance of implementing multi channel marketing efforts. Combining direct mail and direct marketing efforts with an email campaign was noted by the survey authors as being an effective marketing practice.
For direct mail and direct marketing executives, failure to properly measure the returns on investment of a marketing campaign is tantamount to an incomplete effort. With the advent of new technologies – including mobile marketing channels and social media networks – marketing executives have to justify the success of direct mail. Implementing a system of tracking response rates could make a big difference when compared to simply sending out a mass campaign and relying on a “throw it and see if it sticks” philosophy.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) recently launched the Data-Driven Marketing Institute in a bid to help educate consumers about the impact that data collection and demographic information has on the marketing industry, Chief Marketer reports.
Believing that both consumers and marketers alike will benefit from better education and more information, the DMA plans to spend at least $1 million on the initiative. Specific details are yet to be finalized, but DMA CEO and president Linda Woolley has expressed plans to incorporate research on consumer attitudes, ratched up lobbying efforts and improved consumer outreach, the news source reports.
“We want to set the record straight on what we think has been a lot of mischaracterization of what we do and to explain the benefits of data-driven marketing to consumers,” said Woolley. “Consumers want what marketers do, and using data is something consumers expect and want. Data-driven marketing is thriving. It’s fueling the economy in a big way.”
To get a glimpse of just how highly valued direct mail marketing continues to be as an effective medium, marketing executives need simply look at the campaign strategies for both parties in the upcoming 2012 Presidential Election. According to the Washington Post, the two presidential campaigns have spent nearly twice as much on their direct mail campaigns – including fliers, get-out-the-vote cards and other information mailers – as they have on online advertising. More specifically, the news source reports that Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee have spent more than $100 million on direct mail costs, while President Barack Obama and the incumbent Democratic party have spent approximately $70 million.
“The power of [direct mail] is still huge because it’s reaching that age group that includes baby boomers, who are still largely more comfortable with direct mail than other, newer forms of communication,” Paul Bobnak, research director for DirectMarketingIQ, told the news source. “It is still a huge workhorse for political fundraising and messaging.”
The ability to directly reach and influence older generations of voters could play a pivotal role in the outcome of the presidential election. The news source reports that in the 2008 race, more than half of the voters were 45 or older. While email marketing and other digital channels of promotion are more cost-effective, those budgetary savings are ultimately wasted if the campaigns themselves are less efficacious. If an email marketing campaign is widely disseminated but nobody over the age of 45 is technologically proficient enough to see it, does it make an impact?
Junk mail is a derogatory and pejorative term for direct mail that has given the medium a bad name. While the phrase calls to mind pieces of mail that can be junked without even a second glance, the truth of the matter is that direct mail marketing is desired by consumers. Subsequently, direct mail has been proven to deliver high response and conversion rates, which has been prompting marketing executives to pour more of their efforts and resources into this channel. However, simply upping the volume of direct mail isn’t a recipe for success. Instead, consider these fundamental changes to your direct mail campaign to see greater response rates and overall success.
People love incentives
Business 2 Community recently conducted an experiment where they sent out a survey with a dollar bill attached. Unsurprisingly, the overall response rates on these particular pieces of direct mail was extremely high, well over 40 percent. While companies are not advised to actually send out money as part of their real direct mail campaigns, marketing executives can get creative with some simple incentives that would prompt consumers to read the information about the brand or company more carefully.
Social media has emerged as the hottest buzzword in marketing circles these days. The proliferation of various social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest – has led to a flood of users on each one, prompting marketing executives to sit up and take notice. If this is where the youths, the most desirable demographic for brands and retailers, are flocking to today, then this is where marketers need to direct their maximum efforts.
However, for all the bells and whistles that have been trumpeted by advocates of social media, the reality of the matter is that the channel remains remarkably murky. Questions abound regarding just how efficacious social media marketing can be in terms of driving up revenues and providing enough returns on investment to justify efforts. Several recent studies reflect this doubt among skeptics, who believe that the greatest ROI in terms of marketing still lies with direct mail marketing.
Chief Marketer recently surveyed 1,050 business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing professionals who ran the gamut of industries to find out their thoughts on social media marketing. Among these respondents, 76 percent said they were engaged in some form of social media marketing, while an additional 16 percent admitted they planned to do so by the end of this year. Unsurprisingly, most of their efforts were concentrated on the three biggest American social networks – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
A recent survey revealed that the perception of marketers, when it comes to the success and influence of digital marketing, did not jibe with the reality of consumers, according to Print in the Mix. The power of digital marketing – including mobile, e-commerce and social media – has been overstated, as has the alleged demise of traditional channels such as direct mail marketing.
The Marketing-GAP report, conducted by UK company fast.MAP, revealed that fewer than 2 percent of survey respondents were happy to receive marketing messages via text or social media channels. This is largely in contrast with the recent motivations of most marketing executives, who have loudly touted the numerous benefits of social media and mobile marketing. The prevalence of Quick Response (QR) codes, coupled with the proliferation and explosion of new social media networks on a seemingly daily basis, would seem to suggest otherwise. This signifies a massive gap in perceptions between marketers and the consumers they are actively trying to reach.
“Marketers again and again prove themselves to be deaf to consumer demands and preferences by overestimating…people’s desire to be contacted via mobile call, social media and Twitter,” the report stated. “In fact, a sure way to alienate customers and prospects is to only provide information and offers via these routes.”
In an increasingly digital world, it’s no surprise that traditional forms of print material are giving way to their digital counterparts. While the numerous benefits of direct mail marketing remain intact and extolled by marketers in lieu of email marketing and other channels, one aspect of direct mail has indeed gone the digital way – business reply cards (BRCs). According to Target Marketing Magazine, these cards were standard response devices when accompanied with direct mail campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the rise of personalized URLs (PURLs) and Quick Response (QR) codes have banished BRCs largely to the wayside.
“The big news is that QR style codes…get higher response rates than other printed direct marketing tools,” Roger Matus, executive vice president at Nellymoser, told Mobile Marketer. “We never knew this before because this is the first time anyone has been able to measure the complete impact of printed mobile codes from the initial scan to the delivery of the mobile experience.”
As direct mail marketing continues its renaissance across-the-board, one industry in particular has seen high response rates through direct mail campaigns. The healthcare industry is well-suited to such channels of marketing for several reasons, including the advent of consumer data for a more targeted approach and the high returns on investment (ROI) associated with specialist programs.
According to USA Today, many healthcare providers are using direct mail marketing to promote their most lucrative services and specialized offerings, including cancer, heart and orthopedic care. Many healthcare providers are using the health and financial records of patients – as well as possible patients within a certain geographic region – to target specific consumers. For example, mailers promoting lung cancer screenings might be sent by hospitals to people who demonstrated a higher inclination toward smoking, based on age, income, insurance status and other specific demographic criteria. Targeting possible smokers who may harbor concerns about lung cancer will likely lead to a higher response rate. Additionally, patients with private health insurance are more popular potential clients, as their coverage plans typically pay higher rates to hospitals than government insurance plans.
A recent report revealed that Quick Response (QR) codes drove consumers to take action more responsively and at a higher rate than any other direct marketing tactics, according to Mobile Marketer. The report, “Scan Response Rates in National Magazines,” was conducted by Nellymoser.
“The big news is that QR style codes…get higher response rates than other printed direct marketing tools,” Roger Matus, executive vice president at Nellymoser, told the news source. “We never knew this before because this is the first time anyone has been able to measure the complete impact of printed mobile codes from the initial scan to the delivery of the mobile experience.”
According to the report, the median response rate for consumers using mobile action codes was between 4.5 percent to 5.9 percent, with the average coming in at around 6.4 percent. To contrast, the average response rate for direct mail was around 4.4 percent, while the average response rate to a catalog was 4.3 percent.