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.
Just In From Twitter One Minute Ago…
Twitter. 140 characters. 340 million tweets per day. 500 million followers. Overwhelming. It is the ultimate in, “Get to the Point” communications and the ultimate panacea for short attention spans. It has become THE source of real time data. Even then, although many sign on, many sign off. About 47% of followers are no longer active on Twitter, according to ExactTarget. They leave because there is too much clutter in their world of communications. 52% of Followers stop following brands because the messages are too boring. This is not a good start, but having a Twitter presence can have significant benefits for a brand.
Let’s look at the profile of a frequent follower on Twitter. According to Edison Research: one third is between the ages of 25 – 34; they are more educated and have higher incomes than average; they are early adopters of technology. They are voracious consumers and contributors of online information. They will follow a brand on Twitter for the usual reasons – real time deals, promotions and sales, being the first to know and of course, that exclusive content that “club members” always have. We have seen them before. They are ME, but with a twist. Not only do they say, “What’s in it for ME?” but, they say, “What’s in it for ME Right Now!” For this article, let’s call them Digital ME.
So, while the passive users of Twitter continue to decline, the active users continue to grow. Digital ME are the users that you want. Digital ME wants to know more about the personality of a brand. When it finds out, Digital ME is a very influential distributor of information. In fact, much like Facebook that we discussed earlier, this is your real target in the world of Twitter. Digital ME, the influencers are 79% more likely to recommend brands they follow. ExactTarget has a phrase, “What happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter.”
Again, like the Facebook approach, try to link Digital ME to your permission-based email subscriber activity. Offer exclusive content or promotions on the email account for the Twitter followers. Constantly link your multimedia activity for higher returns.
Follow Michael and the Allegra team on Twitter: @allegra_ca
Next week: Marketing The Tangibles… Now, how about something we can really get our hands around?
To continue with our dance theme from the last entry, let’s look at the start of the dance. We need to be heard. We need a microphone. One that works. We need to test that mic. Direct Mail needs to be tested. Tap, tap, tap. Do you hear ME? We are fine tuning here. Not everything will work. Some tunes bring everyone onto the floor. Some do not. Ever been to a dance where no one is getting up? Conversations are low. People are looking around checking out the ceiling, the floor, the shape of their paper cup, their watches. Looking for the exits. When do we get to leave? Have we spent enough time here? Shouldn’t I be somewhere exciting right now? Then, suddenly, a tune breaks out. It’s alive. You love the beat. Maybe you’ve heard it before. Your feet are moving. Everyone crowds onto the dance floor. They are coming to the party. Moving to the sound. In Direct Mail, you want to be that sound. Over and over. They never want you to go away. They keep coming back. You have found the magic. The right tune. Testing, testing, testing is your route to finding that song and becoming what everyone longs for. With that objective, let’s focus on ME.
Is the Direct Mail message getting through to ME? We won’t know until ME communicates with us loud and clear. Although we send the message, it is ME who determines if the message is ever received. It is ME who decides to contact us. They control the channel. Think of the intro to “The Outer Limits”, a 1963 Sci Fi television show. That’s us on the couch in front of the TV. How do we get that remote to work?
As we know, marketing is a continuous process constantly evolving to meet the needs of ME and like all marketing, testing is critical to the success of Direct Mail. Marketing is not a one hit wonder. It is not a home run. It is a series of improvements until we load the bases and the runs start to come in. It takes time. Marketing is like the movie, “Moneyball” for those of you who like Brad Pitt and sports. It is a focus on the stats, on the numbers, on the results. Some of the methods we use to separate and measure the results of our campaigns are things like: numbered coupons, gift cards and reply cards, various offers, different toll free #s and email response addresses for each campaign, specific QR Code and PURL landing pages tied to each campaign.
We send Direct Mail to segments of our markets to gauge the response to our offers. These segments might consist of geography, gender, age, customers, prospects, income and previous purchases etc. It is important that we send a sample size that will yield “statistical significance”, but not one that uses up a large portion of our list. We might send out 5-10% of our list to a minimum of 500-1000 per campaign. We will need to measure the results of each modified campaign so that we can focus our efforts on what has provided the highest responses and alter the offers accordingly. Remember that our success depends upon the list accuracy (50%), the offer (30%) and the creative (20%).
There are Power Locations on every Direct Mail piece. These are locations that will be noticed first by ME. They are: the outer envelope, the opening or heading of the letter, the closing of the letter, a PS section in the letter, a burst in the letter or card, the lower left portion of a postcard and an insert in a letter. Straightforward offers or calls to action should be at these locations. In other words, it answers the question, what’s in it for ME?
Next week: Social Media…The Twilight Zone of Marketing
So, let me get this straight. Are we saying that Direct Mail is like dancing? Well, yes, it sort of is. But like everything in life, there is more than one way to perform this dance. One form is a physical expression of individualism with or without a partner and with or without the flow of the music. It is spontaneous and eclectic. Touching is usually not allowed. Another form is the movement of two people in synchronization with the music. Think of Dancing with the Stars.
Direct Mail is Dancing with the Stars. It is planned and rehearsed over and over. It is not random. It is not spontaneous. It is you engaging your partner with a series of choreographed moves. In Direct Mail your partner is the customer/client/prospect. You guessed it, it’s ME, the object of your attention.
In Direct Mail we don’t just show up at the dance and jump out onto the floor, well, not unless a lot of substance abuse is involved, but that usually doesn’t turn out so well. Planning is crucial to the success of Direct Mail just like any marketing campaign. The first thing we need to do is to decide with whom we would like to dance before we even get to the floor. We need to target an audience. What does ME look like? This is a focus on your products and services and the markets that could use them. Why should ME dance with you? List the benefits because you will need them in your direct mail marketing. We are only going to use a few of these benefits at a time in Direct Mail because we want to provide a simple, easy to explain benefit that can be grasped quickly and acted upon urgently. Again, it’s all about ME.
Where do we find ME? The best targets are your house list. That is a list you have compiled from your database. This list is 5 to 10 times more likely to respond than a purchased compiled list. After all, they have danced with you before. Hopefully it was a good experience for ME. Another good target is a response list. This is a list you have purchased and it consists of targets that have purchased from other’s direct mail in the past. In other words, they have danced before. This list is 3 to 5 times more likely to respond than a purchased compiled list. They like to dance. The next target list you can use is a compiled list. Again, it is something that you have purchased and it is random, but relevant to your product or services. It looks a lot like ME.
Next week: Direct Mail…Testing, Testing, Testing can you hear ME now?
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
There was a time, not too long ago, when a certain credit card company used the following line in their advertising: “Don’t leave home without it.” Of course, they were saying, take us with you because you never know when we might be needed in your life.
Today, as mobile phone users, we need no convincing as to the importance of our phones. We are addicted. Leave home without it? Many of us won’t leave the room without it. For some, might need you in my life has become you are my life. Driving this message home for me was the first time I overheard someone talking on their phone in a public toilet stall. Multitasking – the mantra of smart phone users. I wonder, just how urgent was that call?
Let’s look at some of the numbers. A 60 Second Marketer 2011 report states that 4 billion people use a mobile phone and 3.5 billion use a toothbrush, providing evidence that, for some of us, communication is more important than hygiene. An IPOS Research Canadian survey in May of 2012 identified that 79% won’t leave home without their smart phones. It went on to identify that 25% would give up their TV before they gave up their smart phone. 70% use them for emailing. 60% use them for web searches. 59% use them to search for products and 50% use them to search for Restaurants, Pubs and Bars (maybe tied to that toilet stall issue I mentioned earlier). Just saying…
The studies and the numbers are extensive. They all point to the same thing. We are becoming more mobile in our communications and marketing must adapt to our growing mobilization. Marketing organizations have coined new phrases for this approach such as, One to One Marketing and Location Based Marketing. That’s the obvious. What is not so obvious is how to reach out to the mobile audience. Remember we are talking about ME and ME does not want their personal space (grimace and refer to above) intruded upon with marketing messages. In fact, if you do intrude upon this space without an invitation, you will be locked out of further communication. So, it’s a dicey situation. How do you reach out with promotions without offending your prospects? How do you deepen the relationship? The answer is, seek permission, of course. How do you do that? Let’s review a few options.
One very effective approach in obtaining permission to contact smart phone users is to start with a QR Code (Quick Response Code). A QR Code can be printed on just about anything (see our video) and should be directed to a mobilized site with special content (the promise). It is scanned by a smart phone and linked to a landing page of your choice. This morning, one of our staff came in with a QR Code label on a banana. When scanned it took you to a mobilized menu of options ranging from a movie to product information. This QR technology was developed almost 20 years ago in Japan and has proliferated throughout Asia, Europe and now, North America. As usual, you must offer some reward if the QR Code is scanned and then further potential benefits if they provide permission to be contacted by your company. Remember the ME principle.
Another option is to use a PURL campaign as identified on May 23, 2012. Again, future benefits must be identified and then later, provided. A printed item is sent to the customer with their name in the PURL. When they enter/click on that code a custom landing page appears. Provide a questionnaire asking for permission to send SMS mobile messages or email messages with special content when they are available. Remember email (56%) and SMS text messaging (41%) are two of the methods used to send marketing messages that resulted in a purchase by consumers using their smart phones according to an ExactTarget 2011 report.
Regardless of the method used to engage the mobile customer, you must have a mobilized web site. Never send a mobile phone user to a standard web site that has not been mobilized. On top of that and again, the most critical note, is never send mobile marketing messages without permission. That type of advertising is called “interruption advertising”, popular on TV and radio, but absolutely not in personal communications. A closing quotation:
“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”
Craig Davis, Chief Creative Officer Worldwide, J. Walter Thompson, the world’s 4th largest advertising agency.
Next time: What’s with Print and Marketing Anyway?
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
Email Marketing is all about Control, but Control for whom? Well, first and foremost,
control for ME, the recipient, the target, the client, the customer, the entire reason why we are sending
the email in the first place. ME can read and respond at leisure without interruption. Do you know what
ME does first thing in the morning? Well, according to ExactTarget 58% of them go to their email and
49% say they always open emails from their favorite companies. They could be going to you, the email
Speaking of the sender and Control, naturally, emails provide a vehicle for brands to send messages
according to their schedules and if ME likes it, then the majority will respond within 24 hours, according
to the LYRIS Marketing Guide. So, the sender gets control, fast deployment and fast reaction. It gets
Speed of Response. This is a sender’s dream. Some brands send emails in waves to different MEs within
a demographic, testing responses and adjusting accordingly. The campaign literally interacts with the
market and according to feedback, morphs into what is the best message for acceptance and response.
Oh Yes, One Last Thing. MarketingProfs talks about the power of post scripts. They are powerful in
direct mail marketing and they are powerful in email marketing as well. They list five things you can do
with your post script to generate more clicks in your emails:
Here we are, using old methods for new technology. Is it, “the more things change, the more they stay
the same”, or are the changes we see only the tip of the iceberg? Let’s mix it up a bit more with some
other avenues of choice.
Next week: A look at Cross Channel Marketing. Are we confused yet?
Confusion Says…….. Okay, so last time we looked at some of the technical stuff. So what? I mean we can send out the technically correct emails, but we’re still not getting the responses we want. How do we improve that? Well, how about saying something of interest to ME, the recipient. Studies by ExactTarget show that 67% will provide their email address for discounts and promotions. 55% will do so to get a “freebie”, 50% to get updates on upcoming sales and 45% to get updates on future products. So, people consider emails as an accepted method to engage with brands. To talk to ME you must have something compelling to tell. In other words, it’s the content. The subject must be relevant and focused on what ME wants. It must per personalized to the degree that you know not just ME’s name, but also who ME is and what ME wants. It should be centered on An Event - 71% higher open-rates and five times higher ROI than a standard weekly newsletter according to MarketingProfs. Next, you could try a Cross-channel strategy. These yield a 143% increase in response rates. So, the term, “Email Blast” is dead. Long live “Email Marketing”. Long live compelling, targeted messages composed through data driven insights with relevant information. Next week: Email Marketing: Control, Speed and Oh Yes, One Last Thing
So, why write about, “Becoming Better at Email Marketing”? Isn’t email marketing dying the proverbial slow death? Isn’t it falling under the wheels of those racing chariots called Facebook, Twitter, SMS Texts, LinkedIn, Pinterest or whatever other communications channel that will be launched next month and worth a billion dollars two years from now? Well not really.
Current surveys of consumers’ communications preferences by companies such as ExactTarget illustrate that every day
Since 2008, personal communications via email has declined from 66% to 45%. It has been moving to social media channels. However, permission based email marketing communications has increased from 72% to 77%. In other words, 77% of people prefer to receive product information via permission based email marketing instead of social media channels. This cuts across all age groups from 15 years to 65 years of age. The preference for permission based email marketing is so far ahead of other methods of marketing that it is almost a one horse race.
More good news – 66% of respondents have made purchases as a result of email marketing messages and 63% use email to share content with their friends and family. Sharing of content on Facebook was 33%. That’s 30% less than email marketing.
Next week: More Email Marketing Tips