Two Mailboxes Are Better than One (688 words)

By Diane March

The Charles Schwab TV commercial featuring Ringo Starr spouting off investment buzz words to the bewilderment of his rock ‘n’ roll cohorts really hits home for direct marketers in the aftermath of the Internet’s implosion.

Investment principles hold up in the direct marketer’s relentless need to refine, rethink and retool in order to capture the attention of the media-saturated consumer. The postal mailbox may be cluttered, but there’s more than one mailbox, and more than one address that direct marketers must leverage.

In his commercial, Starr mentions “asset allocation.” For direct marketers, this can be interpreted to mean the integration of different media—the destinations of which are the postal mailbox and the electronic mailbox.

Indeed, for a direct marketer, it used to be that the best way to find more customers was to uncover lists similar to its housefile. Then demographic overlays came along. RFM (response, frequency, monetary) followed. Then modeling, database marketing and lifetime value. Finally, enterprise-wide CRM (customer relationship management) solutions.

All of these milestones certainly are in play today, but they’re directed toward the postal mailbox, and to a lesser extent the telephone. Direct marketers must now embrace the new reality of finding their best prospects in two completely different realms: the traditional physical world where a direct mail offer can be opened, read, discarded or acted upon, and the electronic virtual world where, with one keystroke, a targeted message can be deleted.

So in what realm does a marketer look for new customers? Are prospects still reading promotional mail, clicking on banner ads or religiously reading e-mailed marketing messages? In which medium are they being the most responsive? Can one medium support or segue to another?

Postal Mail & E-mail

Today, by using a directly sourced online household file, direct marketers can target Web-active consumers at the individual level. The premise that a direct mail piece can stimulate online consumers to respond via the Web has been proven by virtue of the overwhelming and continuous demand for online consumer lists.

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