Monday, April 30, 2007

Significant Growth in Advertising

From today's "Advertising Age": U.S. Agency Revenue Jumps 8.8% to $28.2 Billion. That's healthy growth for advertisers and marketers--the most since 2002's recession.

What I found especially interesting is that the growth was NOT fueled by traditional advertising media, such as TV or print. This huge growth primarily came from online/interactive channels and other non-traditional media, such as direct mail.

So, I guess it's becoming more and more clear to marketers--the media that provide proven results and those that are measurable are the right choices for today's marketers.

Great news for Direct Marketing!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Web 2.0, the Travel Industry, and the Customer Experience

As mentioned earlier, we are big fans of Web 2.0 and it's increasing impact on marketing. It is quite interesting to see its impact on various industries. For example, the travel industry is now examining how to utilize Web 2.0 principles in helping them to better drive traffic to their websites, increase sales, and decrease overall costs. In fact,the editor of Eye For Travel online magazine, has defined Web 2.0 for his industry as meaning that consumers now rule the web and that user generated web content is the key to increasing traffic, and therefore, increasing sales.

As a result of this, this industry is debating whether or not to continue to pour money into social media phenomena, such as YouTube and Trip Advisor (2 of the fastest growing websites on the internet). Through these sites, consumers can post their opinions of airlines and hotels, and rate them based upon their traveling experiences. The alternative philosophy is to pull back spending in this area and instead simply focus on customer retention techniques.

As you can imagine, there are differing opinions on both of these ideas. We argue that no matter what your opinion is on this debate, companies have to focus first on the customer experience. If the customer experience is not good, it doesn't matter how you market. You will alienate customers either way if their experience is not positive.

For more on this interesting debate, you can attend the Affiliate Marketing Travel Industry Conference in May. It promises to be a conference filled with a rousing debate on the best ways to capture consumers' travel share-of-wallet most effectively.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Integrating Customer Data

We loved this article by Balaji Yellavalli of Infosys, "CRM: Putting the Cart Before the Horse." It speaks about the challenges that large companies (in this case financial institutions) face in understanding the entire customer relationship. He cites typical CRM systems that wait for a customer to transact and then the system must reactively collect transaction data and is "continuously trying to catch up and build a 360 degree view of the customer." Quite the challenge...

Then, the next hurdle is to ensure that you are associating the appropriate transactional data with the right customer. This is where Customer Data Integration (CDI) becomes so very important. Yellavalli defines CDI as "the creation and maintenance of a centralized repository of core "master data" – the multiple facets (demographic, household, even updated credit-worthiness data) of information that identify a customer."

RRW agrees with his assessment that CDI is critical to successful CRM practices. We've even put together a White Paper that provides an overview of CDI tools, and relates some of our personal experiences building a 360 degree view of the customer. We'd be happy to share this with you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's Easy To Be Green!

In a recent DM News article, Chet Dalzell reports on how direct marketers are right in step with the environmentally friendly attitude that prevails today. In fact, the article touts 3 "green" companies -- Starbucks, General Electric and Toyota -- as companies who are actually "building their growth on products and strategies aimed at helping to preserve the planet."

When you think about what we do each day, it's true! We are measured on our ability to be efficient. We are constantly being measured for targeting better, increasing response rates on our direct mail campaigns, increasing the efficiency of our marketing databases, etc. As Dalzell so aptly points out, "Avoiding waste, more often than not, is avoiding cost." Deep isn't it.

It's nice to know that through our efforts to make our marketing strategy as efficient as possible, we are also being good corporate citizens -- both from a budgetary and environmental perspective. This philosophy goes hand in hand with corporate goals of doing what's right for all of our stakeholders -- and more importantly, for our planet.

It turns out that Kermit was wrong . . . it IS easy to be Green.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to Mitigate Postal -- and other DM Costs

There has been a lot of talk recently about the new postal increase, and those increases planned for the future. Many direct marketers are talking about how they may have to decrease their direct mailing campaigns -- particularly to their prospect universes -- so that they do not blow their DM budgets. We reply to that logic with a heart-felt, "No Way, People!"

The key to dealing with these types of increases is by marketing smarter. Utilizing intelligent direct marketing tools such as analytics and database tools, you can market to those prospects most likely to respond to your offers, and weed out those who likely will not. As Direct Marketers, we have a plethora of tools available at our fingertips. While most do require some upfront costs, they will definitely save you money upon implementation. Mailing costs are just one of the costs that will be postively impacted. When you start to factor in costs of printing, piece-development, etc., you can quickly see how the utilization of these tools can help you meet -- and exceed-- your budgetary objectives.

Just a little food for thought as you are planning your direct marketing strategy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

E-Mail Marketing -- Great Click-through rates!

In a recent story from Carol Krol of BtoB Marketing Online Magazine, it is reported that the effectiveness of e-mail marketing is definitely on the rise. In fact, research has shown that an astounding 84% of e-mail users have clicked through from e-mail offers. The research was conducted by Epsilon, a database marketing and e-mail marketing provider, in its findings from research conducted with GfK Custom Research North America. The article reports that the survey of more than 400 e-mail users revealed generally high satisfaction with e-mail and mailbox providers, as well as high responsiveness to e-mail communication efforts across multiple channels. Additionally, the data indicate that e-mail campaigns exert a powerful influence over other marketing channels' performance.

The survey also found 73% of respondents report having made an online purchase as the result of receiving a relevant e-mail offer and 51% of respondents report having clicked "forward to a friend" links in marketing e-mail.

This is solid evidence that you should consider e-mail as part of your multi-channel marketing efforts. For more on effective e-mail marketing techniques, you may want to take a look at our E-Mail Marketing Best Practices White Paper. Just click on the link and we'll send you a copy.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Direct Response Critical to B2B Marketing

Take a look at this article from "B2B". Its headline: Direct Response Garners Biggest Piece of Marketing Budget.

Key points: Direct Response represents 42.9% of business-to-business marketing budgets. Of that, the biggest piece is direct mail (27.5%).

As a direct marketer, news like this always makes me happy. Means job security and future opportunities. And, moreover, the continued growth of DR channels illustrates that direct response WORKS--it builds business, plain and simple. I think that's why we love this industry. We are working on programs that we can justify with numbers--sales, leads, retention rates, etc.

Yes, we are held accountable to delivering results, but as a marketer, I wouldn't want it any other way!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco

I'm intrigued by the concept of Web 2.0, and since today is the last day of the popular annual conference, Web 2.0 seemed to be the perfect topic. The news from the show is exciting--check out the coverage.

The premise behind Web 2.0 (in addition to new Internet entrepreneurs raising lots of new money), is to offer consumers and businesses value. If you make your services (primarily web tools that make your life/business easier to manage) readily available to your customers (and usually free of charge) YOUR business will ultimately benefit.

RRW believes that extending Web 2.0 ideas to the Direct Marketing world only makes good business sense, and we've (not so) cleverly labeled this concept: Direct Marketing 2.0. We challenge you to think about new ways of bringing value to your customers. And we promise that you'll reap the rewards in enhanced loyalty, retention and a deeper customer relationship.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Keys to Multi-Channel Marketing Success

On a recent American Marketing Association webcast, John Campbell, VP of Sales from Accudata Integrated Marketing, discussed the importance of integrating Multi-Channel Marketing into your overall marketing strategy. It reminded me to remind you that it really isn't all that difficult to get started -- and it can really improve your campaign results when you do it correctly. Here are a couple of things to consider as you look at multi-channel marketing for your business.

First, expand your customer touchpoints: Ensure that your customers have multiple ways to respond. This way, they can choose whichever channel that they are most comfortable with -- and chances are, they will respond more positively and more often. For example, if you normally focus on telemarketing, consider testing direct mail or email marketing. A test doesn't have to break the bank and can provide you with a whole different group of responders that you weren't reaching through telemarketing.

Second, examine your customer communication preferences: It isn't enough to just expand the way that you are reaching out to your customers. For a successful multi-channel marketing approach, you also need to examine how your customers want you to communicate with them. Even if a certain customer visits a retail location, it may only be to "test drive" the product. Many try products out in a store, only to go home to their computers to order it. You won't know this until you take the time to examine how your customers prefer to interact with you.

Once you've implemented the two points above, you will definitely be well on your way to improved response rates. Not only have you identified more ways to communicate with your customer base, you are communicating with them in the way that they prefer -- hence, a more positive customer experience and better profitability to your bottom line.

For more information on John's presentation, simply go to this AMA website.

And, if you're interested in seeing a recent RRW newsletter on Multi-Channel Marketing, click here and check it out!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Testing the Concept

RRW firmly believes in the concept of providing value. If a firm provides value, when a firm goes above and beyond in order to better serve their customers, they'll reap rewards both short and long-term. Rewards may take the form of increased revenue. Or maybe they'll be demonstrated in a new-business referral or glowing recommendation.

Bottom line, the customer relationship has grown deeper. It will be harder to lose this customer, even if there's a major screw-up.

We're starting this blog today (on Tax Day, of all days...) with one simple goal: we want to provide value to our industry. Hopefully fellow marketers will visit (and visit often) to find new ideas and news about the direct marketing industry. We'll be including links to research, conferences and other marketers. And, we're welcome to new ideas and promoting exciting new products and services. Feel free to contact us with your thoughts.