The current era of direct marketing has brought upon us not only a wealth of customer-centric data, but numerous channels by which to reach consumers. Direct marketers can choose from direct mail, insert media, telemarketing, direct response television, e-mail, fax and now mobile messaging—can blogging be far behind?
Because of the federal regulations governing telemarketing and fax marketing, these two channels have become problematic for acquisition and retention. At the moment, the most effective multichannel campaigns consist mainly of tandem postal and e-mail marketing.
In the past 18 months, multichannel marketing using e-mail and postal delivery has become an effective acquisition and CRM strategy. The adoption of permission-based e-mail has provided the direct marketing industry with a great opportunity to reinforce purchases, introduce new product launches, distribute
specific promotions and lift internal response rates on customer acquisition campaigns. And because list owners have become much more sophisticated with their e-mail files, marketers now can target consumers in much the same way they have with postal list selection processes.
Plan for Success
Implementing a multichannel campaign can be rewarding, but all too often marketers are overeager to execute, and planning falls by the wayside. Prior to beginning the list selection process, marketers should follow a few simple guidelines:
• Establish the objective of the multichannel campaign. Are you trying to make consumers aware of a product or service, or are you trying to get them to transact?
• Determine the characteristics that are critical for identifying the target customer. Start with less specificity and add additional detail, if necessary, to narrow selection.
• Determine the scheduling of each channel. The best results come from “bookending” your postal effort by sending an e-mail message both before and after the direct mail drops. The e-mail copy and creative should be similar to that used in the direct mail campaign to support the response objective. Schedule the preceding e-mail to drop a day or two before you think the direct mail effort will hit mailboxes, based on the mail class and level of sortation used.
• Know what will constitute success. Identify variables that you plan to analyze, and ensure that they are
relevant and measurable.
One area where marketers easily can make a miscalculation in developing a successful multichannel strategy is the selection of the proper list. There are three ways to select lists, each with its own caveats:
• Reverse-append e-mail addresses to your own postal list. While this may sound like an appropriate strategy, reverse-append is a tricky proposition. Beyond the issues of unpredictable and inaccurate appends, it generates a more loathsome vagary, in that it violates the requirement of having customer permission to be contacted via e-mail.
• Compile your own multichannel lists, through single or multiple sources. However, ensuring accuracy and compliance of each list is a monumental task and taking short-cuts can be treacherous.
• Use third-party providers of integrated multichannel consumer information. But here, too, you must ensure that the data providers comply fully with all regulations, including Can Spam laws and Direct Marketing Association regulations. Quality consumer information providers will not hesitate to provide quality guarantees.
If you work with a reputable direct marketing company, its in-house list should provide good delivery rates. When you deal with a compiled postal/e-mail file, it’s best to pay only for delivery on e-mail addresses that match to postal addresses.
When renting lists for integrated direct mail/e-mail campaigns, be sure to negotiate for multiple use. Because you will be renting a higher volume of names from the list owner, you should be able to get a more competitive cost per thousand than with a single list rental.
Getting It Right
Multichannel direct marketing campaigns provide you with another responsive avenue in which to prospect for consumers and speak to your current customer base. Knowing that e-mail is here to stay, multichannel success comes down to effectively using the medium to ensure that communication with prospects and customers is done in the most dynamic manner without alienating your audience.
Paul Chachko is CEO of Datagence. He has more than 15 years of experience in database marketing, including a position as founder and CEO of ConsumerNet, an Internet consumer database company that was merged with 24/7 Real Media. He can be reached at (732) 842-1001.