It’s the targeting stupid!
For any DM activity marketers needs to focus on gaining an in-depth understanding of their targeted audience. Only then will the ideal direct marketing campaign channel become apparent.
A pertinent direct marketing question today is whether too much emphasis is being put on impulsively targeting specific direct marketing channels before the question as to why those channels were chosen (in the first place) has been addressed.
So many times I’ve heard statements like ‘we need a Facebook promotion’, ‘let’s do an email campaign’, ‘direct mail will engage in a way no other channel can’ or ‘how about an InMail campaign on LinkedIn’. This do-now-think-later approach not only doesn’t make sense but seems to be way more common than it should be. It often leaves campaigns targeting specific direct channels without any rationale having been thought through for why those particular channels were decided upon in the first place.
As direct marketers we need to be more strategic. We need to take a step back and look at potential channels in a more objective way and to do this without any preconceptions. We need to see the myriad of direct channels for what they are – just different potential channels to communicate a message directly to customers and prospects. In other words they are all just media. Budgets, by definition, are limited. So as with any media channel there must be a rationale for choosing one over another (or a combination of best channels) before jumping in and targeting particular channel because “it appears” everyone else is using that channel or because it happens to be fashionable at a particular point in time.
The starting point before deciding on the best direct channel for a particular campaign, and what direct marketers must never loose sight of, is a deep understanding of the target audience. If we understand our target audience in-depth it will more easily become apparent what direct channels will best engage this target audience and ultimately get the best response. Then brand owners and agencies can more easily decide which channel (or combination of channels) will make best use of their direct marketing spend.
With continuing media fragmentation, and so many more direct channels than there were even 10 years ago, the crucial question to ask is not should we target prospects directly on Facebook (or wherever), but rather where can we reach most of them with a targeted relevant message that will get cut through and generate the best possible engagement, response and ROI. It’s back to basics of getting the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time!
Where does more traditional direct marketing now fit in to today’s online world?
Despite fears at the time people didn’t stop going to the cinema when the DVD first came out. Nor did they when Netflix launched. New technologies rarely renders old ones totally redundant. The point is that different options suit different people at different times. The same can be said for more traditional direct marketing in relation to the emergence of various digital, online and social media channels.
For many brands it makes sense to use a mix of channels as different prospects will respond in different ways depending on their location, specific profile, mood, day of the week and so on. The same is true of direct marketing channels.
We recently completed a campaign in which the client wanted to use a strong call to action 1890 phone number to generate response. While we knew it would be the best performing inbound option it should never have been the only option. There were other options and some of these, while they didn’t suit the core of the audience we were targeting, did suit sub segments and clusters within the database we were using. So we recommended the client use multiple inbound response channels to ensure the optimum response. These included SMS and an inbound (data-capture enabled) landing page.
It makes sense that direct mail gets more cut-through now than it ever did!
What I’m finding now is that, while DMCM has broadened its direct offering in to digital, online and social media channels the effectiveness of more traditional direct mail is actually better than it has ever been and still remains core to a lot of what we do. Why? Quite simply because less people are using the more traditional channels like direct mail, so it’s getting better cut-through and response than it ever did. For example email is cheaper, but is it working? Does it engage? Is it valued and does it help achieve your marketing campaign objectives?
Direct mail can often be the single most important channel to reach customers and prospects. There are millions of websites trying to get to number one on Google. Tweets and Facebook messages are coming at us and bombarding us, making it increasingly difficult to get cut-through. Many of us now automatically filter out irrelevant ads from these channels seeking to focus more on relevant communications that genuinely entertain, engage and inform us.
Unless someone goes looking for you they may never get to know you exist. Similarly how many magazines, TV and radio channels now compete for your attention. Nobody can afford (the time and money) for them all. So direct marketers need to think smart and clever.
Ironically just this week I received a mailing from Google promoting their AdWords. Did I read it? Yes. Would I have if they’d emailed me? Probably not! The point is they took the time and effort (and spent a little money) to write to me and that stood out from all the messages coming at me that particular day. It got my attention and it wasn’t even particularly creative!
A key point to consider is that every home has just one letterbox. Every business typically gets just one delivery of post a day. Add to this that well–targeted creative DM offers an engagement with a brand that no other channel can compete with. And response rates and ROI that are better than they’ve ever been. This is because the channel that’s less cluttered than it’s ever been, but also works incredibly well as a lead channel with other related (online and above the line) channels hanging off and supporting it in clever ways.
The fact that is clever DM is all about the targeting. It doesn’t matter how good your creative, offer, message, copy or timing if your targeting is off. If your communication targets the wrong person then the communication (and budget) has been wasted and it’s back to square one!
Peter Whelehan – Managing Director DMCM
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