This week's blog post is contributed by guest writer, Doug Oldfield, Vice President of Business Development for NaviStone.
We're All Direct Marketers and We Can Do Better!
As direct marketers, I know we can all do better. Not only do I know we can do better, I know we simply have to.
Whether it’s the consumers, the regulatory agencies or the people you report to, marketers are being asked to do better to make their message resonate and translate into action.
“Data are becoming the new raw material of business” Craig Mundie, former Microsoft Strategy Officer.
I’ve been in the direct marketing world for the better part of three decades and I’ve seen a lot of advances in the data targeting process. However, every single day, I have marketers ask me “does direct mail really still work?” And I always answer with a resounding, “YES. But it has to be done in a thoughtful and purposeful way, using the right data for the outcome you want.”
Having said that, I am also let down every day when I go to my mailbox. Every day when I open my mail box, I am disappointed because marketers see me as a veteran, a senior citizen or a “resident”. These efforts are lazy, costly and make me believe that my prospective clients are right when they ask the question about whether or not anyone successfully uses direct mail anymore; because they are having the same experience at the mailbox as I am.
As a marketer, it’s your responsibility to speak to the consumer in the way they have come to expect. Consumers are smart but can be fickle at the same time. Today, more than ever, consumers are willing to give up their personal data in order to receive more relevant messages. But every time a non-veteran receives a message thanking them for their service to our country and offering the benefits they can take advantage of, when they aren’t a veteran, the message is costly. Costly in terms of lost marketing budget but also, and maybe more-important, costly in the loss of consumer confidence in you, the advertiser, and the direct mail channel in general.
As a marketer, are you collecting data? Hopefully the answer is “yes” but also “yes, but only data we need and intend to use.” While consumers expect you to use the data they share with you accurately and responsibly, regulatory requirements such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are becoming commonplace in the data industry and require advertisers to use that data in a responsible way.
When putting your marketing plans together, consider these impactful sources of data.
Individualization Data: Some years ago, marketers started speaking to me personally, starting communications with “Dear Douglas…”. Well, this was a great first start as it did increase response rates, but now the consumer expects us to do better. Individualization data is taking personalization to the next level by knowing I prefer Asics brand running shoes, I need a new pair about every six months, and I prefer to buy my shoes in an independent retail shoe store is individualization.
Consumers not only expect marketers to speak to them with an individualized message, they will reward you with higher response rates and lower acquisition costs. As stated in a recent article on Xeikon.com, marketing campaigns using individual data produces response rates 600% higher than personalized data.
Intent Data: Today, consumers tell you exactly what they intend to do through their online activities. When it comes to a considered purchase, most consumers will spend a lot of time doing research online: reviewing prices, product options, reviews, etc. This is intent data.
The more time someone spends doing their research, the more engaged they are with a brand on your site, the more likely that person is to ultimately make a purchase. They are telling you through their digital body language that they intend to make a purchase.
There are a number of data sources available to marketers which will help them find this all-important intent data; and help them use it in the most effective way. Intent data has been found to be two to three times as effective as other, traditional data sources in predicting response by a consumer.
Declared Data: As I had previously mentioned, consumers expect to be marketed to and for the most part, are open to it as long as you give them a message or offer that is relevant to them. Declared data, as defined by jebbit.com, is “information willingly and actively given by consumers, including their motivations, intentions, interests, and preferences”. Historically, the best way to gather declared data was to have consumers fill out a survey and tell you about themselves and their preferences. Today, marketers can use more subtle avenues of data collection including social media posts and mobile site and app interactions.
A marketer may collect declared data through the interaction they allow consumers to have with online articles and interactive email messages. Similar to those “you choose the ending” books popular when I was a kid, today’s marketers can allow consumers to “fill in their preferences” so they can be accurately re-marketed to.
So, as a marketer, when you sit down to put your data plan together for the upcoming year, think about the responsibility you have to the consumer who is willingly giving you their information, the regulatory agencies who are watching what you are doing and your company who needs you to produce more with less.
The right data will help you make everyone happy; help you achieve your sales goals; and the right data will continue to make you a responsible member of the direct marketing universe. Whether you believe it or not, if you put a stamp on something you are one of us and it’s the responsibility of all direct marketers to ensure the future success of the channel.