After 30+ years in marketing, the most important advice I can share with anyone is this: When it comes to marketing communications, stop treating all your customers and prospects the same.
They are NOT the same ... and they will react/respond differently if you take the time and make the effort to market to them differently. This fact has been proven time and time again — most recently in the five case studies presented in the Sept. 30 Direct Marketing IQ Brunch & Learn webinar, "Big Things You Can Do With Little Data" (available on demand).
For example, AAA of Northern California, Nevada and Utah, was looking for a way to build relationships with their members in their first year of membership. The hypothesis was if members knew more about all the benefits of membership, they would be more likely to renew.
Research had identified that members knew about Emergency Roadside Service, but other than that, awareness of other member benefits was virtually nonexistent. How did AAA solve this problem?
- They sent an email to new members with an enticement to take a five-question survey.
- Based on the answers to the survey, members were segmented into three life stages: single/married without children, single /married with young children (14 or younger), and single /married with teenagers.
- These segments were then tested against a "no responder/unknown" segment to determine the lift in response that could be achieved through the segmentation efforts.
- AAA blasted an email — every two weeks — that highlighted a different Membership benefit.
The result? Life stage segments opened emails at a rate that was nearly 2.5x higher than the "unknown" segment — and, in some instances, the clickthrough rates were more than double.
When you think about it, those results make perfect sense, because instead of an email that simply states a generic message like "Save X% at ABC Company when you use your AAA card," the message to the families with teens suggested items that would be of most interest to teens: saving X% on sunglasses, music and computers. Families with young children were encouraged to save X% on photo albums and scrapbooks, zoos and theme parks, car seats and playpens, while those without children were told how they could save X% on dining, entertainment and travel.
One webinar attendee asked during the Q&A session whether AAA had considered simply appending the data points instead of conducting research, waiting for the results and then assigning the segments. The answer is a flat out "No!" and for good reason.
Outside data is never 100% accurate — and it never will be. It's a risky proposition to assume that the data appended is accurate, assign each household to a segment based on that data, and then make future marketing decisions based on how the segmentation strategy performs.
If the data is inaccurate, households may be assigned to the wrong segment. As a result, they may pull down the overall response and click through rates because they cannot relate to the communications received from the segment to which they've been assigned. But you'll never know this, so you assume the segmentation program simply doesn't work and move on.
Also, part of the upfront engagement strategy was to send a Welcome email that acknowledged the fact that if they participated in the survey, then "based on your answers, we'll send you a personalized email that highlights a AAA Member benefit that makes sense for you."
The first email set member expectations that emails from AAA would be relevant and meaningful to them specifically, based on how they answered the questions. That's certainly a promise that could not have been made by appending outside data and "hoping" you got it right.
Finally, if, as a consumer, I didn't tell AAA I had young toddlers or teenagers, it might make me uncomfortable that AAA was suddenly talking to me about my teen driver or my need for car seats and playpens. I might wonder "How did they know?" and instead of perceiving AAA as clever and insightful, it might be perceived as simply creepy.
Carolyn Goodman is president and creative director at Goodman Marketing Partners, she is also a regular blogger at Target Marketing, and sits on the ECHO Board of Governors for the Direct Marketing Association. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.