An example, shares Ellis, is a computer software giant that mailed a direct mail piece to its customers asking them to visit a specific page on its Web site where they could indicate their preferred channel of communication and select offers they are interested in. As an incentive, visitors were entered into a contest.
Above all else, “don’t tie response to permission,” cautions Jon Hamilton, principal of JHA Telemanagement, a call center and telemarketing consultancy. For example, if you mail a CD with free software, don’t make permission a condition of software registration. Give consumers access regardless of whether they give you permission.
3. Provide value.
“Consumers have to receive something of value; you have to inform or entertain them,” says Peppers, who advises marketers to take a lesson from Sales 101, and bring a “gift” to the homes they visit. “By that I don’t mean direct marketing will get more expensive,” Peppers explains, “but it will have to become more value oriented. There must be an intrinsic appeal.”
What’s in it for the consumer? Marketers need to impress upon consumers that the relationship is a quid pro quo. Surveys asking, “How are we doing?” don’t get to the issue, says Neal, because they don’t offer value to the consumer.
Michael Pridemore, CEO of Socketware, an e-mail solutions provider, suggests providing consumers an exclusive invitation or special discount for e-mail registrants. Informational products such as newsletters and white papers are popular with B-to-B mailers.
4. Be relevant . . . always.
Don’t ask for permission unless you have something relevant to offer—now and in future messages. For example, Hamilton suggests a collectibles marketer might mail its lapsed buyers and ask permission to call when products similar to those they’ve purchased in the past are made available. This strategy has several advantages. Not only can you call customers who give permission, but those customers will be better-qualified prospects who are more likely to buy.