2 Keys to a Healthy Integrated Direct Marketing Strategy
Integration. It’s one of the biggest buzzwords out there these days and for good reason. Without an integrated direct marketing strategy, a successful future is unlikely. Today’s consumers live their lives, and do their shopping, in a wide array of channels, so marketers must target them in each appropriate channel—in a consistent and integrated way.
Jamie Darnow, chief marketing officer for Consumer Reports, says integrated direct marketing is one of his favorite areas, emphasizing that a successful integrated strategy “all starts with building a very robust customer database and updating that customer database across all the various marketing channels you engage in, and then getting complete views of your customers.” Darnow proffers this advice in building and maintaining a healthy integrated direct marketing strategy.
1. Understand each individual customer. Some consumers prefer certain channels to others, and some consumers respond better to certain types of offers than others. No two customers are the same. The key is to track customer behaviors “with very careful analytics and metrics across all the channels,” emphasizes Darnow. Measure customers’ reactions to your promotions—either positive or negative—in each specific channel, and try to find out how to make those promotions work better for you.
“In the Web area, we have Web analytics. We have database marketing where we track direct mail and e-mail promotions and reactions,” says Darnow. That way, Consumer Reports can decide which promotions work best with which customers and implement ways to integrate those communications more effectively.
2. Balance your communications. It’s important to hit customers from all angles so your messages resonate, but you don’t want to become a nuisance. That means frequency and relevance are key in all your channels. “It's very important to make sure they hear you, but you have to also be careful that you're not overdoing it,” says Darnow. “… We build statistical models to predict the likelihood of a purchase, and on the flip side the likelihood of a nonpurchase, so we can save money and/or not bother people who are not showing a high propensity to purchase.”
Also try to balance selling messages with informative communications to keep consumers engaged and receptive. Offer both these options in your direct mail, e-mail and Web communications.
Darnow emphasizes that positioning your company to execute integrated direct marketing requires a long-term commitment, but it's more than worth the investment.
“Once you build all the tools, put all the tools in place, it's not that hard to [integrate your communications],” says Darnow. “I think many companies struggle with just getting over the hurdle and/or internal obstacles in building these integrated tools that will have ROI over many years and not in a given year. … [The keys are] integrating things and tracking customer behavior and making sure you're serving people, you're not bothering them.”