When we started this column, we titled it, “Confusion Says”. Of course, it was a play on the words Confucius Says, usually the beginning of some thoughtful point of philosophy, some short and simple phrase from long ago, loaded with insight. Our Confusion Says column speaks to the confusion that exists in the world of marketing. Confusion has always existed in that world, but today the number of choices and subsequent directions are anything but short and simple. They are more confusing than ever before. We wanted to review the options and present the facts as they exist today.
What remains consistent is that, of every option you choose, it can succeed or it can fail. It is all dependent upon the development of the strategy and the execution of the tactics. ME is now in control as never before. ME has the ultimate channel changer, their keyboard and their mobile device. They will Like you, Follow you and Link up with you, but only if you ask permission and only if you have something relevant to say, something relevant to them that is. If that relationship works, they will buy from you. If that relationship fails, well, remember, it’s not ME it’s you.
Every channel we explored should be used dependent upon time and money. If only we had it all. As we reviewed in earlier segments, most should be used in concert with other channels. Yesterday, I watched an advertisement for Google on TV. A few days ago, they emailed me an invitation to use their services and several weeks ago they direct mailed me a printed promotion for these same services. Yes, even Google, a 14 year old multi-billion dollar highly successful company that is most noted as a search engine for web sites, even Google uses TV, direct mail and email to market its services. It integrates multiple channels. Now, the TV commercial has come and gone. The email is somewhere on my hard drive. The Direct Mail piece, well, that’s sitting right in front of me now – a constant, unobtrusive reminder of it, the other advertisements and, of course, the company. This is cross-channel marketing. It is what you need to do as well.
As we move forward and new information is gathered, we will provide you with what the industry has to say about all of these channels.
The confusion will continue. We will find the facts to sort it out.
Direct Mail! You mean Junk Mail, don’t you? I mean, who wants that? The answer, it seems, is quite a few of us not only want Direct Mail, but we respond to it quite well.
First, let’s establish the definition of Direct Mail, what it is and what it is not. Direct Mail is a subsection of Direct Marketing. It is a mailed item addressed to a specific individual usually based upon a prior business relationship or upon research. It offers specific benefits for that individual. It’s not unaddressed circulars and flyers that arrive in the mail or with a newspaper. That’s the stuff we call Junk Mail (believe it or not, the response rates for these are pretty good too). So once again, it is marketing directed at ME. You could consider it to be like an email or SMS text message, but without the digital component, or, as more and more are saying, the annoyance factor.
Now, like a lot of digital messages, you may not have asked for it. You may not want it. You may not even look at it. BUT…it’s not in your face. It’s not in your space. It’s not using resources that you are paying for. It has not demanded your time and used your money to get to you. Like digital media, it does not have your permission to be there, but you know what? That’s okay. You can look at it when you want to. ME is in control and ME likes control. It is personal and ME likes personal.
One more time, Direct Mail is the only media that can be used to contact ME without permission. Good news! Right? Well, yes, but it’s only the first step to get to ME. You caught my eye, but there has to be more than that in the relationship. Like remembering my name would be good for starters. What about what ME wants? Have you thought of that?
Rule #1 in Direct Mail is to address ME by name. If you don’t know ME, why should ME communicate with you? If you are mailing to existing or former clients/customers, then presumably you have their names (just a guess here). By the way, according to a 2012 report from The Ballantine Corporation, after receiving direct mail, 70% of consumers have renewed relationships with business they had previously ceased using (you really called!). Now, if you are prospecting, then rent a list based upon the known attributes of your clients/customers. That same Ballantine report states that 40% of consumers say that they have tried a new business after receiving Direct Mail (you really know ME). According to the Direct Marketing Association, 66% of people will open an envelope with their name on it (ME likes ME). In addition, according to Target Marketing, 69% of marketers will use Direct Mail for new account acquisitions. The right names on the right list will provide 50% of the campaign’s success rate and remove the stigma of old school push, mass-marketing.
Rule #2 is to send a message that ME is interested in. 30% of your success will be based upon your offer. It’s all about ME. You know your product and you know your audience. Targeting is the very established process of creating an offer of specific interest to a specific group. It is relevant marketing. With Direct Mail you can deploy a PURL campaign that is focused on the wants and needs of ME. It will begin an interactive conversation with ME using content that ME controls and that you provide. Using Direct Mail as a bridge to Email marketing and thus, cross channel marketing is very effective. Remember that 143% increase in response we reviewed on May 14, 2012?
Rule #3 is to get ME’s attention right away. You have their name (50%). You have their offer (30%). Now you need their attention. Creativity and design will provide the remaining 20% of your success. Just to make it clear, creativity is not only art. It is a point of differentiation. Examples would be: images that support the message, the size of envelope, the colour of envelope, the message on the envelope, the headline. ME is busy and has lots of things to do. Drab and bland just doesn’t cut it when you want to get to ME.
Rule #4 is to create a sense of urgency. Present ME with an offer that expires in a relatively short time line of say, one to two weeks, maybe a month dependent upon the business. The point here is that there must be a final date for the offer and that date cannot be too far away. If this is something that ME wants, then ME must act right away.
Rule #5 is to have a call to action. Define what must be done, when and how. If you know ME’s name, have something that ME is interested in, have caught ME’s attention, have something that is about to slip away, then you must let ME know what to do. Now that you have taken it this far, it’s the only decent thing to do.
Next week: Direct Mail…The Dance Continues
In this discussion, our goal is to build and sustain communications with customers/clients through the use of direct mail and email, two very effective marketing channels. For this, we have a two pronged approach. First, you now know that direct mail is the most acceptable initial contact method, but did you also know that when they receive direct mail, 43% of recipients prefer to respond on line? That’s the second prong. So why not give them the chance to do so? Why not obtain their email address with their permission?
Now, why would ME give a company their email address? Well, for self-interest of course. When ME provides a company with an email address it expects to receive something back. Something exclusive. Something unique. Something very few other people will ever get. They don’t want just some newsletter. They want membership to a special club that’s all about ME. They want to know things before anyone else. They want special pricing. They want the moon, the stars and the platinum card of special treatment. Give them that and they will stay. Ignore them and they will leave. It’s not ME it’s you.
Your direct mail piece should offer them a special place if they provide their email. So, if you have a promotion, then ask them to sign up for an additional discount and more exclusive information as it comes available. One way to obtain this information is through the use of a PURL (personalized URL) campaign or even a GURL (general). This directs them to a custom landing page where they can sign up for all that special attention you promised. You could also direct them to your web site, but you had better have a very obvious sign up page for them and the site better look good. Either way, try to obtain information on what they would like and then make sure you pay attention. Remember you have to know all about ME and when you communicate, talk about things ME likes. If you don’t then they will leave. In fact 41% of them will leave if you send irrelevant messages. Content is King. Boring just doesn’t cut it in a relationship. It’s not ME it’s you.
If you are wondering if there is some information to back this up, well here’s something from recent ExactTarget studies of email subscribers:
The kicker – 66% of respondents have made purchases as a result of email marketing (April 12, 2012)
Here’s another interesting one for all you Facebook fans – Millennials are twice as likely to subscribe to Email (56%) for deals as they are to search for deals on Facebook (28%).
Yes, even that very mobile tip of the iceberg group of society, the Millennials prefer to use emails when searching for deals. It’s not ME it’s you.
By the way, for all you retailers out there, did you know that 77% of consumers would like to receive confirmation, thank you and retail receipts via email? Ever been in an Apple store? Did you get a paper or an email receipt? Imagine, people want to give you their email address so that you can send them their receipts. For the most part, these are people you do not even know. They are customers. How can we make them clients? Now, also image that you ask them if they want to subscribe to your email communications for future exclusive benefits. One more time, it’s not ME it’s you – well it’s up to you anyway if you want to keep the relationship going.
One more parting thought. Do you know the third most common activity amoung smart phone users? It’s Email. Yes, Email strikes again. Every day first they talk (87%), then they text (77%), then they email (66%).
So, the link is unbroken. From Mail to Mobile. Email is the thread.
Next week: Mobilizing for Marketing
How would you like a 143% increase in your marketing response rates? Those of you who say NO are excused from the room. The rest of us will examine this proposition over the next several weeks. We will focus on Cross Channel Marketing or what could be called Cross Channel Confusion, a subject we first mentioned on this blog on May 1.
Now, Cross Channel Marketing sounds so new, so cool, so edgy, but the concept has been around for a long time, just without the range of options available today. In the past, it might have consisted of mail, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, signs and even the telephone – you might remember the ad, “Reach Out and Touch Someone”. I know that they are still trying to reach our household, usually when we are eating dinner. That is not what we would call “permission based marketing”, but that’s another story.
Today, of course, we have all of that plus Email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS Texts, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube etc. etc. So let’s discuss one very old and very effective marketing tool – Mail. Yes, that’s right – Mail. You remember Mail right? That physical stuff that shows up at your home or business. The stuff you usually didn’t ask for, like bills and flyers and stuff. Yes, we are talking about snail mail, junk mail, you know, the usual derogatory remarks we direct at good old mail.
Now ask yourself, when you get mail, do you handle it? Do you look at it? If it has your name on it, do you open it up? If it’s a postcard with a great picture, do you look at that? Well, if you are like most of us the answer to the above is YES! According to the US Postal Service, 51% of all postcards are read by at least one member of a household. 66% open envelopes with their name on it. Remember how the 2012 ExactTarget study showed that 66%of respondents have made purchases as a result of email marketing messages? Well, the same study shows that 65% of consumers have made purchases as the result of direct mail. When it comes to motivating consumers into buying something, Email and Direct Mail are neck to neck in the race for results. So, who would have thought that? One of the oldest technologies and one of the newest technologies, both in a dead heat for first place.
But wait, there’s more.
Remember when we identified that email marketing must be “permission based” and how I reflected that telephone solicitation is anything but permission based? Well, direct mail is the only channel where permission is not required. The mail arrives and you either look at it or you throw it away and you do this on your own time. It is not intrusive. It’s not in your face or in your space. The ExactTarget survey results showed that consumers did not view unsolicited direct mail as inappropriate. Consumers went on to say that Direct Mail beats Email and all other channels for promotional messages from companies with whom they regularly conduct business but have not asked for ongoing information (permission) or with whom they have never interacted with before. THUS, DIRECT MAIL IS THE MOST ACCEPTABLE INITIAL CONTACT METHOD.
So what? You might say. Well, yes, snail mail is slow, but when it gets there, the probabilities are high that someone will look at it, unlike non permission based emails that arrive in a hurry but are deleted just as fast. The logical next step is to integrate the two channels and take the best of both in the campaign of Cross Channel Marketing.
Next week: The Best of Both – Cross Channel Marketing.