Friday, June 29, 2007

More on Grocery Loyalty Programs

The other day we commented on how Albertsons is canceling their frequent shopper program. No longer will they issue cards that shoppers swipe to receive discounts. In a nutshell, they cancelled the program because they weren't using the data.

Our comment was--what a shame that they didn't take advantage of the rich data to better serve their customers AND build more profitable, more long-term relationships.

Well, I came across some research that validates this premise. See the following article from "Promo Magazine", titled: Frequent-Shopper Data Improves Direct-Mail Offers: Valassis

The key finding from the research: "Using data from frequent shopper programs to target direct-mail offers can boost sales nearly 26%, according to research from direct-mail and FSI giant Valassis."

Perhaps Albertsons abandoned their program prematurely. Or maybe they just need some new marketing thinking!

TGIF. Enjoy your weekend. Happy 4th!

P.S. Valassis (the company that performed the research) offers their results at their website. The study is called: Swipe Past Common Benchmarks. How Frequent Shopper Card Data is Pushing Direct Mail Results Way Up. Good data for any consumer packaged goods marketers.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Direct Mail Favored by Consumers

Can you believe it? Our friend, Jerry Snyder, from NAC, one of the country's leading lettershops, shared a recent article from the June 18th printed version of DM News. (Try as I might, I couldn't find this article on-line, so no link. I'd be happy to send you the PDF of the article, if you'd like it.)

In any event, the article, headlined "Mail Still Consumer Favorite" provides research performed by International Communications Research. Their survey found that "despite today's digital world, consumers clearly prefer mail to other communications vehicles, such as e-mail, for receiving new product information and offerings as well as confidential business communications including bank statements and financial reports."

The article is full of key stats that compare DM to other media. It states that consumers are much more unlikely to throw away mail without opening it, than they are to delete an e-mail. Further, the study found that consumers found direct mail "less instrusive," "more convenient," and "more persuasive" than other media.


RRW is always on the look-out for new channels for our clients. We keep up with changes in social media marketing, mobile marketing and other interactive channels and new technology. Of course, we won't stop this research and will constantly strive to bring fresh ideas and new viewpoints to our clients. (After all, that's our job!)

But, it's also important to remember that for many marketing initiatives, the old stand-by, direct mail, still is effective.

P.S. We blogged on a related topic a few days ago, relaying how consumers preferred to get their credit cards via direct mail. Just more food for thought and reason to keep DM in your toolbox.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Becoming the Master of Your Customer Data

In a recent article from Business Intelligence Network, Richard Skriletz discusses the importance of "Mastering Master Data -- How to Succeed with Master Data." Skriletz talks about how really understanding and integrating your customer data is key to building more profitable customer relationships -- and how solving this business problem with help your business reap huge rewards from a profitability perspective.

It goes without saying that in order to effectively compete in todays competitive marketplace, you must truly understand your customer relationships. Skriletz (and many others) have referred to this piece of mastering your data as being customer centric. It is important to understand the transactions that your customers perform with you, however, it is even more important to understand the customer relationship as a whole. Skriletz states it well: "This is the first challenge to becoming customer-centric: recognizing that a series of fragmented customer interactions delivered by separate customer service, account, product or billing business units does not ensure customer satisfaction. Businesses where customers churn are beginning to tackle this challenge in order to keep their high-value customers."

In our work with the telecommunications industry, we've experienced this first-hand. In the late '90s and early '00s, many of the large telecommunications firms were losing as many customers as they brought on to their network. It's really quite astounding to think about this. Those firms that embraced the concept of mastering their customer data and effectively looking at the entire customer relationship, were able to stem the tide of churners and create more loyal -- and long-term customers. Those who didn't -- well, let's just say there are fewer telecom companies out there today, and this is a contributing reason for their ultimate demise.

We've written a white paper (titled Data Management Solutions) on effective customer data integration techniques. We are passionate about this topic because we've seen our customers benefit greatly from utilizing this tool to make their direct and database marketing efforts more successful than ever. Let's all become masters of our customer data environments! We promise it'll make you a hero!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Give the People what they Want

Not only give them what they want, but give it to them when they want it, and how they want it with an understanding of why they want it. A tall order to ask of us marketers... Yet, if we can present the appropriate offer to the right prospect at the right time, with a message that resonates and through a channel that they prefer we all know that our campaign will be a successful one. But, wow, it's not easy, is it?

Here's some data reported in today's "DM News": Americans like credit card applications to come to them

The article talks about how Americans typically get their credit cards through a pre-approved direct mail piece that is unsolicited, sent to them. "Forty-two percent of U.S. consumers received their newest credit card through a pre-approved credit card offer, according to Cardbeat, a syndicated market research report by management-consulting firm Auriemma Consulting Group."

We Americans prefer it when the credit grantor takes the effort to do their homework and present us with an offer that is tailored to our particular financial situation. We like our chosen financial institution to essentially complete the application by accessing our personal credit data. And, we're fine with this type of privacy intrusion because we see a clear benefit--we now have a new credit card, and we didn't have to do much (if anything) to get it. Plus, we didn't have to experience the potential rejection of being turned down--we ALL hate feeling like a loser.

As a direct marketer in today's information-rich age, we need to carefully balance the need to serve our customers with the need to respect their privacy. We're going to have to remember that our customers hate junk mail (typically). They hate to be bothered by annoying pop-up ads, despise SPAM and they ESPECIALLY hate people calling them during dinnertime. It's tough getting a message out.

(At this point, I know that many readers will say, ok fine, let customers come to you. Let them ask you to be their customer. Stop annoying them with unsolicited offers. Well, in the case of credit cards, consumers don't want to look for a card. They want it to come to them. And, the credit card industry is not alone. Ok, enough of THAT sidebar.)

Bottom-line, if we live by the mantra: "Give the People What they Want," we should do okay.

It's truly that simple. If we are providing a clear benefit to our customer or future customer, if we are thinking of their needs (and not just of making money for ourselves), we will be successful. We'll make the client happy and turn a profit, too.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Markets Evolve.

I found this interesting piece of research from Vertis Communications, a leading marketing agency: HISPANICS ARE TECH-SAVVY CONSUMERS.

Their research "revealed that Hispanic adults in the United States are just as likely, and in some cases more likely, to use technology as are non-Hispanic adults." Technology adoption does, however, vary based on different traits, such as whether the consumer speaks only Spanish, which country they or their ancestors came from and how long they've been in the country.

But, overall, the research shows that Hispanics are using the Internet; they are text messaging like the rest of the world and are no strangers to IM.

What this pointed out to me, especially considering the amount of ethnic data that is currently embedded in several of my clients' customer segmentation systems, is that we need to constantly be aware of evolving markets. We need to constantly be thinking of how to best maximize our knowledge of the segments.

This study tells me that we should probably re-evaluate channel strategies for the Hispanic market. Interactive marketing may now be a good fit. Further, it highlights the need to seek a deeper understanding. Do we understand their language preferences? Do we know how long an individual prospect or customer has been in the country? All of these nuances within the overall Hispanic segment are very important, and this Vertis research proves that one more time.

Be on the look-out for behavior changes in your core customer groups. By understanding your segments, you can continually tweak messages, offers and channel strategies in order to better-serve your customers. And, of course, in the end, if you're doing it right, ultimately you'll reap the highest possible profit from each customer.

P.S. This article also provides a link to the entire research results. It gets pretty specific as to what offers Hispanics prefer and tend to respond to and overall is a great resource.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fear of Commitment

No, I'm not talking today about some of the men I've dated in the past...

Today's topic is (drumbeat, please) CRM technology. Specifically, I want to explore reasons why so many times a huge technology investment for CRM tools never pays off. Why do so many CRM deployments end up dead, never used correctly and abandoned by the company that had such high hopes when they initially deployed the technology?

Case in point--Albertsons Grocery stores. They just announced that they're abandoning their loyalty program. Apparently, grocery managers weren't taking advantage of the rich data collected every time shoppers swiped their card to get grocery discounts. Wow, think of the money wasted by this significant investment in building and deploying such a large loyalty program.

It's stories like Albertsons that give CRM a bad name--horror stories about firms that spent a bundle on CRM systems that users never use. I think it comes down to a simple fear of commitment. Firms need to embrace, shall I say, COMMIT to an environment that is focussed on the customer well before they even think about spending money on any technology. They need to understand that buying technology for the sake of technology or because they believe that they need to keep up with their competitors (which may be the case with Albertsons) is just dumb.

Prior to any CRM investment, at the very minimum, these three simple questions should be answered thoughtfully and completely:

1. How will our customers benefit from this new program? In the case of grocery loyalty programs, in my opinion, the benefit was never clear. As a shopper, I know that I need to participate in order to get the discounts, but I'm never happy about having my buying habits open to scrutiny. Why can't I just get the discounts? Now, if they would take the program to another level (and some chains may, just not the ones I shop in), that would be different. If they sent me a coupon for a free box of laundry detergent just when they knew that I'd be needing it, that would be great. If they celebrated my birthday by giving me a nice bottle of wine that they knew I enjoyed, that would be super. As a consumer, I never see these types of personalized benefits, although the stores have all the data they need to extend them, if they choose to.

2. What will be our return on this signficant technology investment? CRM was such the buzzword several years ago that many firms simply just jumped on the bandwagon without the due diligence that they would have given any other similar-sized investment. Any CRM investment needs to ultimately pay for itself. Whether it's increased lifetime value, new customers acquired, more customers retained, cross-sell, up-sell, whatever, goals need to be articulated up-front and tracked over-time.

3. Do I have commitment from all levels of the company? There's that pesky word again, commitment... But this is so true. Not only does the CEO need to be a customer advocate, but any users of the system need to understand the customer-focussed vision. If ultimate users of a CRM tool understand the vision behind it (and not just see it as another new technology step that they need to deal with to finish their job for the day), they may surprise you by devising new ways to use the tool to create customer satisfaction. At the minimum, they'll use the tool in the way it was designed.

If you have any other core questions that should be explored before investing in technology, please share.

TGIF. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

As in Life, Timing is Everything

DM News just published a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) study: Timing key for consumers not buying via DM

Essentially, the DMA surveyed a panel of consumers and asked them why they did NOT respond to a direct marketing offer. The primary reason was that it wasn't the right time to make that particular purchase.

From the article: "According to the DMA’s “DM Consumer Response Study,” a national survey of multichannel direct marketing sent to 1,000 U.S. consumers that was conducted between October 2006 and January 2007, 24.4 percent of respondents cited “not the right time” as the main reason for not buying during the two-day diary period of the study."

Now, if we direct marketers only had that crystal ball, we'd know EXACTLY when to present an offer. Response rates would go through the roof. Our customers and prospects would be so pleased that we were serving them so well. We'd save money on not marketing to people not in the market. Life would be good.

Sadly, it's not that easy. However, with a clever look at available data, there are some cases when you can hit that need head-on; when you can anticipate exactly when your prospect will be needing your product and hit them with an offer right at that moment. Here are some real-life examples of times when our clients have gotten it right. Needless to say, results from these "just-in-time" campaigns were spectacular.

Example 1: Use credit data to trigger shoppers. For a mortgage client, we used a credit bureau to monitor their prospect universe of homeowners. Anytime one of those prospects applied for a mortgage loan through one of their competitors, our client would send them a compelling offer, via first class mail. Since the mortgage process can be lengthy, in many instances, our client was able to take the sale away from its competitor. This marketing program served the consumer as well; they now had a few competitive loan offers to review.

Example 2: Watch for life events that cause big changes. The classic example is targeting new home-buyers. The concept of marketing to new homeowners is certainly not new. But, as a new homeowner myself, I can attest to the effectiveness, IF you are presenting the right offer. Personally, I took my 20% coupon from Linen and Things and went to town! I bought new towels (had to match the new bathroom), rugs, window treatments, even a gazebo for the backyard! The 20% discount (on top of an annual sale) made me pleased. And, Linen and Things' investment in a postcard mailing to me, a new homeowner in their area, paid off in spades.

Example 3: Watch for usage patterns or how your customers are transacting with you. Credit Card marketers are pretty good at this (although they don't always take advantage of their findings). They'll look for rapid increases in card usage usually on the look-out for fraud/stolen card. We always urge them to go the next step and, if the increased utilization is NOT fraud, try to figure out what is causing the change. Are these business purchases, that haven't been made in the past? Perhaps the customer is starting a new business. What a great opportunity for a financial institution for small business services. Do the purchases appear to be related to home remodeling? If so, there's yet another set of opportunities (REFI, anyone?).

So, in a nutshell, while we Direct Marketers don't always have that crystal ball to understand exactly when our prospects and customers need to buy from us, we do have lots of data and tools at our disposal to implement what RRW terms "Just-In-Time Marketing." We've written a white paper with more ideas and tactics to make this happen. We'd be happy to share.

We'd love to hear of more examples of when you got the timing down and hit your customer or prospect at the exact right time, when YOUR crystal ball was working for you :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A New Dimension to Customer Segmentation

I attended a business forum at Intel last week and was quite impressed by the insight gained from their keynote speaker, Bob Wendover from The Center for Generational Studies.

Bob and his firm are expert in understanding the differences between generations. The thought being that we need to understand what makes various consumer groups 'tick' to effectively market and sell to them.

For example, Gen X'ers (age 26-42) place significant importance on time and time management. Bob shared examples of how this group will leave the office on-time. They have no time for office chit-chat and they really don't like face-to-face sales calls. They are suspicious of advertising and they pride themselves on "purchasing smarter".

And, Millennials (adults under age 25) rely almost completely on their computer and digital information; they need information at their fingertips, when they want it. They are highly influenced by friends and peers (hence the popularity of the social websites, such as and they are savvy shoppers.

The reason I bring this up (other than the fact that I find this topic fascinating), is that marketers should be cognizant of different generational traits when we are developing customer segmentation approaches. Sure, age is typically a component of segmentation, but I believe that generational attributes might just add some missing nuances that will make your segmentation even more powerful.

For example, if you know that Millennials prefer to get their information about a product on your website, then your marketing should definitely direct them to your website. Do NOT ask them to call an 800 #. They'll never do it. And, by the way, when they're at your site, make sure that the info is easy to find. Further, make it a fun experience. Try to incorporate some type of interaction to get your Millennial prospect involved in your site. If you succeed, you may have just acquired a new customer.

RRW (mostly for our own benefit) has put together a re-cap of the attributes of today's living generations. Click the button on our site called: "Impact of Generational Attributes on Marketing."

It's always great to understand your customers and prospects. By looking at them in the context of Generational Attributes, I think you'll learn a ton and come away with some good ideas on marketing more cleverly to them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Customer Experience Management for the Romantically-Inclined

It's fun to see how we, as direct marketers, can impact all kinds of customer experiences. Often-times, we think of our direct marketing efforts as impacting the customer experience of car buyers, loan appliers, catalog shoppers, and the like. However, in a recent article by Earth Times, managing the customer experience for those in search of ultimate romance can be impacted by database marketing tools. Who would have thunk it?

eHarmony has recently entered into a relationship with Tealeaf (who touts itself as the leader in online customer experience management). You have probably seen the eHarmony commercials on TV that show lots of smiling, kissing, and overall happy couples who have met their true soul-mate at the relationship service website. In fact, "on an average day, more than 90 eHarmony members marry as a result of being matched on the site (Harris Interactive, 2005)."

The article goes on to state that "as eHarmony has grown, the company has sought out the most advanced technologies in order to provide an optimum user experience for its members." Hence, their speedy growth.

In fact, Tealeaf VP of Marketing, Geoff Galat, puts it all into perspective. Galat states that through their Tealeaf CX Solution, they enable eHarmony to "optimize its members' experiences, ensuring an exciting journey toward finding true love, and creating a more profitable venture for company stakeholders." So, there you have it . . . romance and profitability.

So, as a group, we direct marketers should be proud -- not only can we help our clients build more profitable customer relationships, but our techniques and theories can actually make love blossom!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Using Profitability Models with Data Mining For Direct Marketing Success

As direct marketers, we are constantly searching for better ways to reach our customers and cause a positive reaction (i.e., get them to buy some of our products or services). Recently, CIO Insight published an article that talks about utilizing profitability models in conjunction with data mining to create more profitable customer relationships (our mantra).

The authors state, "We can use these models to come up with very accurate forecasts about how long this customer will stay with us or how many purchases they'll make over the next year. So, use the basic probability model to capture the basic behavior and then bring in data mining to understand why groups of customers with different behavioral tendencies are different from each other." It's a perfect marriage of two scientific marketing tools that when joined together can really boost the success of our direct marketing efforts. It makes our hearts sing to be able to more effectively dig out those profitable customers! More importantly, this gives us the ability to enhance the customer experience by knowing how to treat our valuable customers.

In addition, using profitability modeling with data mining helps us to profile new customers and understand the likely actions of current ones. It simply makes sense to utilize these techniques together. If you're interested in this topic, make sure you read this article -- it's excellent! Also, we have written a Customer Profitability Case Study that you may enjoy.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Beyond CRM -- Customer Experience Management

Continuing on our theme from yesterday's blog posting of acquiring -- and keeping -- customers, author Bill Porter of Porter Research has written an interesting article on CEM -- Customer Experience Management. According to Porter, "Customer Experience Management is a multi-dimensional phenomenon including both process and product and differs greatly from earlier simplistic movements like customer delight or the magic three questions to ask customers today. On the process side CEM seeks to measure customer expectations all the way from early customer encounters in the buying process – customer identification and customer acquisition - through support help requests and additional purchases of products and services throughout the customer life cycle (or the customer retention phase). On the product side, key factors like partnership and transparency matter a lot while customers traverse the phases above with a supplier or vendor."

As direct marketers, CEM is key to effectively planning campaigns -- whether they are fueling your acquisition or retention efforts. In fact, we would argue that the three key phases of CEM -- as outlined by Porter-- act as a strategic roadmap for your marketing plan. Paying close attention to your customer segments as they move through these phases will allow you to increase the success rate of each direct marketing campaign, and assist you in reaching your profitability goals.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Customer Data Management -- Avoiding the Walking Dead

There are many schools of thought on how to most effectively direct market to your existing customers. This is especially true when you are looking at cross-sell, up-sell campaigns. How do you make sure that you are making the best-next-product offer to your clients at a time when they will be most open to it?

Well, there's some new, recently-completed research on this very subject that was conducted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Marketing Professor, Peter Fader is the co-author of the study and comments on his research in a very interesting article. In the research, three general states were identified that define a customer's relationship with a company. The research was conducted on a telecommunications firm.

"In State 1, customers are close to certain key services, such as basic cable. 'In this introductory state, you're just dipping your toes in the water and trying out one or two services to see if they meet your needs and if you like working with the company,' Fader said.

In State 2, 'you broaden your relationship, often acquiring additional services, like premium channels,' Fader noted. But that's not always a good thing. 'A customer who moves rapidly into State 2 is likely to reconsider his portfolio more quickly and possibly acquire additional services. However, while such customers may appear tempting, these same customers are also likely to transition into State 3 quickly and reconsider their portfolios (i.e., drop all services) without much delay,' the researchers write.

State 3 customers, the walking dead, are just one move away from severing their ties with the company. 'However, customers' transition to this state may not be immediately observable; they may maintain their current portfolio for several months (or longer) due to inertia. Having plateaued in their level of service, their next change almost certainly will be to drop all services,' the researchers state.

Fader adds an important caveat: 'While we see a relatively sudden drop in this particular dataset, there could be additional states in other settings. Customers might gradually shed their services as they slowly sever their relationship with the firm. It would be interesting to compare these evolutionary processes across different types of multi-service providers.' "

Understanding which customers are in each of these defined states can allow your company to better identify the next-best-product path for each customer segment, thus enabling you to market products and services appropriately to each specific customer state. We've conducted several studies that have helped our clients better determine which customers they should spend their time marketing to and which customers should be "pruned" because further marketing efforts and customer service efforts will be wasted -- or at the very least, not very profitable. In fact, we've created a case study on Building Customer Profitability.

So, as the Summer Solstice approaches, perhaps it's time to take a look at your customer database and determine which of your customers resemble the walking dead -- and which of your customers you can treat more like the living by continuing to build solid, profitable customer relationships.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Advertising Budgets Move to Direct Marketing

"Advertising Age" published some potentially disturbing figures this week: "U.S. ad spending -- at least the measured kind -- fell 0.3% in the January-to-March period, the first down quarter since the ad recovery began in 2002."

As a marketer and especially as a half-owner of a marketing services consulting firm, these numbers cause some alarm. Will I see a drop-off in my clients' marketing spend?

But, reading further, the news actually bodes well for direct marketers and other non-media based firms.

From the article: "Budgets are gravitating from old-line measured media to an array of marketing-services -- digital, direct, customer relationship management -- that offers better tools to quantify results."

Here's the link to the complete article:

Where's the Money Moving? Out of Media
Ad Dollars Drop, but That Doesn't Mean Marketers Have Stopped Spending

RRW firmly believes that today's marketing direction and definitely tomorrow's direction is in the way of programs that can be measured. Those where you can show your CEO/CFO a solid return on their marketing investment. And, we also believe that new channels, such as mobile marketing, are arising that are easily adaptible to direct marketing principles. So, bone up on your response analysis and strategic plannning skills--they'll be valuable assets for a long time to come.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another great database marketing example!

Yesterday's "DM News" included a case study about how one marketer, Road Runner Sports (a multi-channel retailer of shoes and gear for people who run), made effective use of database technology to build and grow customer relationships.

The article, called Using database marketing to build customer experience discusses Road Runner Sport's "desire to apply sophisticated marketing techniques to drive customer loyalty."

Road Runner understood the importance of segmentation and analytics. When applied correctly, these database tools can definitely be maximized to improve the customer experience, hence build customer loyalty AND grow profits.

More from the article: "In order to best meet the retail needs of its entire customer base, Road Runner Sports realized its marketing would need to move beyond basic demographics. It needed a database marketing strategy that would allow the retailer to integrate and segment its customers across all touch points in order to understand and communicate with its customers as the individuals they are.

“The key to growing our business is to create a compelling shopping experience with every customer interaction,” said Peter Taylor, general manager for Road Runner Sports. “To do this with the highest degree of effectiveness, we quickly realized that we needed a database marketing solution that would integrate our customer data across our entire enterprise to provide the foundation of analyzing customer information.”

What I found refreshing about the success story of Road Runner Sports is that Road Runner is NOT the huge corporation with tons of extra marketing dollars to play with. This is a niche, specialty retailer who understands that they need the edge to compete with their much larger competitors. They're using database technology and analytical techniques to keep their customers satisfied.

What a great example to all of us!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Direct and Brand Marketers: No Longer Enemies

Recent Direct Marketing Association (DMA) research indicates that direct marketing is becoming increasingly important to brand-building. "DM News" published this article: Lines between DM and brand marketing blurring: DMA.

From the article: "Direct marketing’s scalability, measurability and undeniable ROI has moved it to the forefront of all marketing, including branding,” Eugenia Steingold, senior research manager at the DMA and author of the report, said in a statement."

Well, of course! Isn't it much easier for a CEO or CFO to allocate marketing funds to programs that are measurable? Again, it's easier to justify programs that you can quantify with real numbers that prove the marketing investment paid off--either in new customers acquired, new sales made, or new relationships forged.

More from the article: “The findings of our latest report show that direct marketing tactics designed to increase consumer awareness and action are ubiquitous — from URLs on all marketing materials to 800 numbers, to calls-to-action in TV, radio and print ads — and across every other type of marketing media”

It's so gratifying--I remember years ago when I had to fight to get an 800 number included in a print ad. The creative types at the "general" ad agency simply didn't want to ruin the integrity of their art-work. Ha--it's nice to be proven RIGHT.

In all seriousness, this integration of brand and direct marketing just makes sense.
"The report examines how direct marketing and brand building are being integrated in today’s multichannel environment to increase response rates, sales, profitability, and brand awareness."

And, just how big of an impact does DM have on marketing, overall? "Respondents report 64 percent of their marketing dollars are allocated to DM and 36 percent go to mass marketing. Nearly 70 percent of brand marketers rate personalization as having a positive or strong positive effect on brand, and 64 percent rate targeting as having a positive or strong positive effect."

Bottom-line: Direct Marketing and all the tools associated with DM is the backbone of today's marketing world.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Using Mobile Marketing for Social Networking

The Coca-Cola Company is hoping its new mobile site for social networking, Sprite Yard, will become the MySpace of the cellphone world. This is reported in an article from Commercial Alert.

Over the past 2 weeks, we've discussed Mobile Marketing a lot. Well, Coca Cola is about to dive into this area-- head-first -- with their new mobile site. According to Mark Greatrex, Senior VP for Marketing Communications and Insights of Coca-Cola, "People will type in codes from Sprite bottle caps to redeem original content, like ring tones and short video clips called mobisodes. Recently, one of the most redeemed prizes from Coca-Cola promotions has been virtual clothing and furniture to use in virtual online worlds." Yes, we now have other worlds for our alter-egos (i.e., Second Life) to vicariously live through. Coca-Cola is definitely using cutting-edge marketing here.

It will be interesting to see how widely and quickly Sprite Yard is adopted by teens. Not many big companies have been brave enough to do this to date, and those who have tried have had mixed results. For example, BudTV (introduced by Anheuser Busch last February with original content), is cited by the article as having lagging web traffic.

However, the fact that Coca-Cola is the first to really commit to using mobile as part of their marketing mix is a good sign that this may become a viable channel for direct marketers. Kudos to Coke for being pioneers in this exciting new space!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Save the Environment--with Direct Mail?

Want to save the planet? Start by cleaning up your direct marketing
Marketers are realizing that by re-examining data hygiene, they can help their company reduce its environmental footprint

This is the title and description of a recent article in BtoB Magazine. Interesting take and rationale behind why direct marketers should ensure that their list is as clean as possible prior to mailing.

From the article: "Results of the 2007 ImagePower Green Brands Survey, released in May, demonstrate a shift in attitudes about environmental issues—in short, they're no longer on the fringe. Nearly all Americans display environmentally friendly attitudes and behaviors compared with a year ago. The online survey of more than 1,500 U.S. residents, conducted by WPP's Landor Associates; Cohn & Wolfe; and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, also found that corporations are increasingly expected to ensure their business practices are sustainable.

In light of such evidence that "green" is moving mainstream, marketing's proverbial four "Ps"—product, price, place and promotion— may soon be joined by a fifth: protecting the planet."

Well, whatever rationale it takes--it just makes good sense to make use of the data hygiene and customer data integration (CDI) processes available to us today. It may be time to examine today's practices to make sure that your process is as up-to-date as possible, that you are using the latest technology that will result in the cleanest possible data.

Let us know if you'd like our white paper on data management. We provide an overview of tools and practical list cleaning advice.

And, heck, you can even pat yourself on the back--you're doing your part to save our planet :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Partnering for Real

Tonight at the gym, I ran into an old friend who works for Gartner. Everyone knows of Gartner, Accenture, Deloite . . . etc. As consultants, we compete against them on different types of consulting gigs and we see them at many of the conferences we attend.

As we worked out, I asked her how it was going over at Gartner. She smiled and said, "I love my clients -- most of them." She went on to outline that it is sometimes difficult to get the "right" relationship established with your clients. There are lots of reasons: personalities, core competencies, corporate cultures, etc. And sometimes, despite all of the best intentions, it just doesn't work out.

We've thought about this topic a lot -- and thank our lucky stars every day for the clients that we work with on a daily basis. We've established some great relationships over the years, and hope to continue to do that over time. In fact, we even developed a partnering guide called Creating the Best Partnerships.

This is definitely an important topic. Picking the "right" partner for your important projects can make or break a marketing database, a multi-channel strategy, and can impact your bottom-line profitability. Our wish for you is to always pick the best partner for the job -- and one that ultimately helps you achieve your marketing goals.

Poor Data Quality = CRM Failure

This article from BtoB Magazine, How marketers can make the most of CRM data, hits home with RRW. I think the technical term is called "preaching to the choir".

It emphasizes how a CRM implementation can never be a success if the underlying data is of poor quality. If names are old and addresses are bad, CRM system users will NEVER trust that system. And, they won't use it. What a waste of (a ton) of money.

From the article: "Cleaning existing bad data can require a great deal of time and effort, so company leaders who have invested time and money into a new system can be prone to ignore the importance of fixing the bad before bringing in the new. If these data are not taken care of in advance, they will be transferred to the new system and can completely defeat the purpose of upgrading. CRM often involves a significant investment and a substantial amount of employee training, so if you're not using a new system to its full advantage, you'll only end up hindering your business."

The great news is that traditional direct marketers have developed tools to address data quality. Heck, we had to--who wants to pay postage on mail that can't be delivered? So, we are positioned to be key players in CRM installations--we have the expertise, the vendor contacts and the knowledge of appropriate data hygiene and customer data integration technology.

RRW has written a white paper that speaks to the importance of data quality and also provides an overview of the various tools available. Let us know if you'd like a copy.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Social Shopping the next "In" Thing?

As we discussed on Friday, our monthly newsletter (which will be distributed today) will highlight the world of Mobile Marketing. I learned a lot in the 6th Annual Global Mobility Roundtable sponsored by USC's Center for Telecommunications Excellence this past weekend.

One of the topics that is closely intertwined with Mobile Marketing is Social Networking. Obviously, the wireless phone is becoming another way to interact with friends, business and all types of social networks. The concept that drives this is Web 2.0 -- as defined by Wikipedia, "a social phenomenon embracing an approach to generating and distributing Web content itself, characterized by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share and re-use, and the market as a conversation."

In a post by Mitch Joel of Twist Image, he points out that a new social network is taking hold -- Social Shopping. In fact, Joel feels that by looking at how far online social networking has come in the past few years gives us a realistic indication of where Social Shopping is headed in the very-near-future. Joel states, "If we’re currently doing it to find other like-minded people who have similar interests, what makes you think we would not do the same thing to find others who are similar to us in terms of our commercial interests … especially if the price becomes more attractive as the social shopping network grows."

As direct marketers, we need to pay close attention to this rapidly growing phenomenon. It will change how our customers interact with us, and those who change their marketing paradigm quickly in order to embrace it, we believe, will become direct marketing leaders within their industries.

Jump on board!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Mobile Marketing - The Next Big Thing in DM


That's $9 Billion, with a "B". This from new research from Compass Intelligence, a market analytics and research firm.

More from the article: "This year US businesses are expected to spend an estimated $3.8 billion on mobile applications, which include mobile and wireless-based custom-coded and packaged applications, including productivity, Enterprise Resource Planning, Email, CRM, security applications, and more. This market is poised for double-digit annual growth into 2011 and is primarily targeted to improve productivity and collaboration across businesses."

RRW Consulting
believes that mobile applications and technology will enable and create a valuable new channel for direct marketers. We look forward to adding mobile programs to our arsenol (that already includes standards like direct mail, outbound telemarketing, e-mail and Interactive marketing). We hope that our clients will be some of the early adopters and hit the ground running when the right tools and services are in-place.

As a new homeowner, I was dreaming just yesterday of how wonderful it would be if while shopping madly in Linens and Things for new towels to match the color of my new bathroom, an umbrella for my new patio, window coverings (have you seen how expensive they are???), etc, etc, I received a text message on my cell phone offering me 15% off of my purchase. Not only would I have whooped for joy, but I can guarantee you that I would have spent more time, and money, in that store. The icing on the cake: Linens and Things would have had a loyal customer for life.

Now, that's the power of direct marketing. And, it's the power of direct marketing fueled by mobile technology.

Look for more on this concept in RRW's June Newsletter. Nancy is attending (today) a conference on the topic. She'll come back full of good ideas and the latest news on mobile marketing that we'll be sharing with our colleagues, in our newsletter to be published on Monday. Let us now if you'd like to be added to the distribution. You can sign up on our website.

And, have a great weekend. I know I'll spend it shopping and fixing up this new house.