Convergence Culture

Brand manager? Direct marketer? PR professional? Which of these are you? If you're in marketing today, you're all of these people and more. The new marketing ecosystem is forcing marketers of all trades to look beyond their specific marketing disciplines and embrace a world of marketing without borders among disciplines. Online search is just one of the countless new phenomena that are forcing the convergence of all marketing disciplines, changing how they interact with each other and, consequently, changing how we as marketers need to interact with each other.

Design It Right

Despite a challenging economy, online commerce remains a primary driver of growth for businesses. While improved Web site performance is an obvious target for most retailers, the path to achieve this goal is less clear. Online advertising, if successful, will drive qualified visitors, but traffic is only half the battle. The Web site must quickly establish high relevance to user needs, direct users to desired products and provide value and information to support the sale.

Eliminating Dead Ends

For eBags, the Denver-based online retailer of purses, luggage, and other types of bags and accessories, on-site search is mission-critical to improving conversions. How do you narrow that down from 36,000 to five or 10 and eventually that one perfect bag that they fall in love with and will purchase? eBags has been working with the Cambridge, Mass.-based information access software firm Endeca to blend search technology with merchandising to leverage the best aspects of retail shopping with the power of the Web.

Going to the Advance Renewal National Bank

As a freelance copywriter, I cut my teeth in the magazine circulation world, creating direct mail packages as well as renewal and billing series. When my wife, Peggy, and I started the newsletter, WHO'S MAILING WHAT!, I did for myself what I did for clients.

Leading Marketers Solicit More Feedback

Companies that pay more than lip service to soliciting and acting on customer feedback reap rewards that their trailing competitors can’t hope to match via other avenues. According to a June 2008 report from information technology research firm Aberdeen Group, marketers with best-in-class performance levels for customer feedback initiatives saw a 19 percent increase in customer-focused innovation over the 12 months prior to being surveyed. In addition, they realized 26 percent lifts in both customer retention and customer satisfaction—measures that strongly correlate to increased revenue and profit.

Mail's Mix & Mingle

This month, Target Marketing publishes the results of our third listing of the foremost mailers by estimated volume-estimated because most companies tend not to disclose their annual mail volumes. Once again, we've joined forces with lists and data firm ALC to create this well-informed calculation of mailing quantity.

Model Behavior

If you're not deeply trained in statistics or math, how do you know a good marketing analytics model from a poor one? It's more than an idle question. The difference could mean meeting your goals or not, or having to go back to beg for more marketing dollars before the year is out. It could mean spending way too much on a media channel that's beginning to suffer fatigue and not nearly enough on a fresh media channel that could rocket your sales. It also could mean you over- or understaffed call centers because you weren't able to accurately predict customers' responses to your calls to action.

Tap Into the Baby Boom

According to a 2007 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, there were approximately 4.3 million births in the United States in 2006 (the latest year available for such data). This is the highest birthrate since 1961. Demographics point to a young, female market in the early stage of its prime earning years. While many an expectant father basks in the glow of his partner's pregnancy, expectant mothers make the lion's share of purchasing decisions. Indeed, 85 percent of the subscribers to Fit Pregnancy magazine are females, and the median age is 28 with a median household income of $42,764. What's more, the CDC reports that single mothers account for 8 percent of births.

Tech Talk

E-mail service provider Silverpop, located in Atlanta, now offers dashboard reporting in its Vtrenz solution. Vtrenz is a B-to-B lead management platform that gives marketers a clear view into leads at all stages of the lead-to-sales funnel. With the addition of the dashboard function, Vtrenz provides users with on-demand marketing information, supplying reports that are graphic summarizations of significant marketing metrics. The dashboard reporting also allows more effective lead generation and lead nurture campaigns, and permits marketers to schedule the export of reports to important stakeholders.

Testing Makes Perfect

Direct marketing 101, lesson one: Test the big things first. And few things are bigger than creative formats. But you don't want to test new formats solely on principle. Author Stephen R. Covey said it best in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People": Habit two-begin with the end in mind. In format testing, you must begin with an understanding of what you are attempting to learn or prove, as well as an understanding of what you will do with the results of your test—before you start.

The Top 50 Mailers

This past March, in Target Marketing's Media Usage Forecast 2008, we noted some definite shifts in planned ad spending compared to 2007's breakout. More dollars were being shifted from print channels to online media like search engine optimization and e-mail. And now results from our third analysis of who's tops in the direct mail arena show which business verticals appear to be adopting the new multichannel mind-set more quickly than the others.

To Mail or Not to Mail

With all the interactive and newly emerging media that's available to direct marketers, many of you may wonder if and when you should still use direct mail. While media choices continue to grow, when used appropriately, direct mail remains a direct marketing workhorse for carrying your message to your targeted audience. Here are suggestions for how, when and why to use it.