Monday, June 30, 2008

Case Study Monday: eROI and Travel Oregon

Thought you'd be interested in this case study, brought to us by eROI, a leading interactive agency headquartered right here in Portland. Not only is the case study quite interesting, but I wanted to share some 'link love' with eROI as a THANK YOU for inviting me to their awesome party last week. These folks know how to have fun--what a creative group!

You can download the entire case study at their website, but the following provides highlights of the emarketing/newsletter work that eROI did for Travel Oregon.

"Travel Oregon" E-newsletter
The Travel Oregon consumer marketing department has been publishing a monthly electronic newsletter since October, 2005. The newsletter's goal is to keep Oregon vacations top-of-mind with potential visitors across the country and worldwide by providing subscribers engaging features and editorials of unique Oregon experiences, all wrapped in an evocative creative design. The newsletter is an extension of the Travel Oregon brand, bridging the gap between the inspiration Travel Oregon Magazine provides and the trip planning assistance at

Background - Cautious Optimism
Being this was a first time effort in consumer outreach, Travel Oregon remained cautious and conservative in its expectations. Even with confidence in its engaging content and evocative design, it was unknown how consumers would react to a previously non-existent communication channel from Travel Oregon. In addition, Travel Oregon expected to lose upwards of 30% of its subscriber list due to "bad" email addresses or lack of interest. It is with great pleasure that we provide the following observations from the October, 2005, Travel Oregon newsletter.

October 2005 Issue - The Beginning
The October newsletter marked the first active direct communication with consumers. Its goals were to:

  1. Introduce the 'Travel Oregon Newsletter' and request consumers update their preferences, including contact information and interests.
  2. Provide information on timely fall events, with a focus on the Oregon Bounty campaign and the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial celebration.
  3. Determine "best day" to communicate with interested consumers.
  4. Update and "clean" database to only communicate with people interested in Oregon as a vacation destination.
Download the case study at eROI's site for full Bounce, Unsubscribe, Read and Click rates, by day sent. Here is a summary:

Overall, Travel Oregon Open rates (ranged from 14-31%) are slightly higher than the industry (based on a recent industry study performed by eROI). Click rates (ranged from 7-9%) appear to be close to double on Wednesday, slightly higher on Thursday and Friday and over twice as high on Sunday compared to the eROI study.

The October issue appears to have resonated exceedingly well with consumers both from tangible and intangible observations.

Tangible Observations: One of the toughest challenges facing marketing today is that consumers are inundated with a barrage of advertising in every medium--from print to TV to email. The ability to stand out and build a long term relationship with consumers thus becomes increasingly difficult and even more important.

Intangible Observations: Measuring consumers' subjective reactions to the content and creative is often the best measure of a campaign--it is also the most difficult measurement to ascertain. however, based on what consumers are saying about the newsletter (when forwarding it to friendds), it is evident that the newsletter is a hit!

As stated before, consumers are being bombarded by marketing messages from many different channels. Travel Oregon and eROI work together to execute on their shared belief that the best way to cultivate a sustainable long term relationship with a consumer is to provide them with information based on their interests.

Segmenting and disseminating information based solely on an individual's preferences makes the newsletter highly relevant and enables Travel Oregon to meaningfully engage those "hand raisers" to sell them their Oregon dream.

Kudos to both eROI and Travel Oregon for making the first newsletter a success, and for being strategic to implement testing within the first edition!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Favorite Links This Week

This week, let's start out with a great one! Check out Robert Rosenthal's Freaking Marketing blog post from earlier this week. Let us warn you, however, that the video sports some pretty explicit language, so if you're not into having to hear the F-bomb a lot, don't listen. It is a very funny piece from comic, Bill Hicks, who is on a major rant about why marketers should kill themselves. In the video, Bill outlines how we see opportunity in pretty much everything, then try to build a marketing strategy around it (my words, not his). This one will get you laughing for sure!

On a semi-kinder-gentler note (well, at least he doesn't mention killing anyone), Ron Shevlin's Marketing Whims blog post this week talks to how we tend to over-use whatever seems to be the word du jour. Ron specifically notes these three words that he sees marketers, and business-people overall, using way too much (in his humble opinion): death, disruption, and innovation. As usual, Ron provides his opinions with honesty, candor and a dry wit. His points are well taken, and the thing is, words do lose their true value when people over-use them. Remember when the concept of CRM was first introduced? Then, how it came to be used in every sentence? Pretty soon it came to mean everything -- not a specific discipline, solution, etc. Well, the reality is that CRM is different things to different people . . . but by making it a buzz-word, the idea of it becomes very blurred and diminished greatly in it's interpretation (i.e., everything is dubbed CRM and the word loses its value). So, as usual, Ron's right!

On a more positive note, Lead From Your Heart's blog-author, Lewis Green, tells us how to deal with the summer doldrums that occur in marketing every single year. In Lewis' post, "Friday Mornings in the Dead Zone," he talks about his strategy to combat the summer doldrums and how he plans on getting more than one email to come in at a time and his phone ringing robustly again. As entrepreneurs, I think we can probably all relate to this post, and it'll be interesting to follow the comments to see what ideas others have on bringing in more business in slower times.

We hope you enjoy these links . . . and Happy Weekends to all!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

DMA in Las Vegas

Most direct marketers are aware of the big conference for our industry--that is the Direct Marketing Association's annual event, always in October, always filled with networking and lots of partying.

What this event (sadly) is NOT known for is the quality of the education and seminars. The reputation in the past has been that big firms that support the DMA (by sending hordes of employees to the show, and by renting those mega-size multiple-booth exhibit spaces) seem to land all of the choice speaking gigs. And, you know what that results in--boring Powerpoint speeches that typically are no more than a long plug for the direct marketing vendor.

You tend to see the same speakers from the same companies, year after year, after year.

Well, dare I say it? It appears that the next conference just might be a welcome change! Yesterday's DMA press release about the event touts (gasp!) a line-up of client-side speakers. Microsoft, Wyndham Worldwide Hotels, Aetna, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual Auto Insurance, AT&T. Some big marketers, there--and from a fairly wide variety of industries, B2B and B2C.

Hmmm. I may just spring for the full boat admission this year!

Direct Marketing is changing so much. We are adding so many new disciplines--mobile marketing, social media--to name just two examples of what I'm talking about. And, all of us are grappling over how to incorporate these new channels (or even integrate the traditional channels). If the DMA can step it up, turn their conference into an exciting event where real learning (and not just lots of parties) happens, they can really grab lots of new members from the emerging disciplines.

I'm already looking forward to October. Viva Las Vegas!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Don't Count Out Newspapers!

Who would have thunk that with all of the electronic ways to get your news that the standard newspaper would still be even in existence? In talking with my very hip, younger neighbor the other day, she told me that she just could not start her day without reading her LA Times. She actually leaves home a half-hour early, so that she can fight Los Angeles traffic to get to her office and read it before starting her day. Wacky!

In a recent BizReport article entitled "Why Local Marketers Shouldn't Count Out Newspapers," author Kristina Knight reports that it is indeed too early to give up on this advertising vehicle. Here's the amazing thing . . . numerous surveys over the past few years have reported a decline in newspaper readership. However, 15-29 year olds are increasingly turning to traditional newspapers to get their daily news. The funny thing about this is that I always thought that newspapers would appeal to older generations who grew up with them (and no internet). Now, we are finding that the younger generations are the ones that may sustain this industry now and into the future. See, you just never know!

The World Newspaper Conference recently released a study on this. From the article: "The study indicates that newspapers still have several chances to reinvent themselves, especially with the younger demographic. Researchers surveyed 3500 15-29 year olds in the US, the Netherlands and Finland; they learned that television is still the demo's choice to obtain news but that these younger consumers are open to local newspapers."

It turns out that both teachers and parents are encouraging younger folks to reach for a newspaper and they are doing it. In addition, social networks are also spreading the word about the "coolness" of newspapers. So, it's a situation where new-school is embracing old-school. It's actually quite refreshing in my opinion.

The other interesting idea is that the Millennial Generation (9-22 year olds) have been compared value-wise to the GI Generation (those 75 years old and above). Maybe . . . just maybe . . . the values of the Great-Grandparents have influenced the thought-processes of the Great Grandchildren.

Now that idea alone makes me want to reach for a newspaper!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Corporate Reputation is Important

It could be that this headline says it all:
"Seventy-One Percent of Consumers Say the Reputation Of Corporate America Is "Poor", But Consumers Will Buy, Recommend and Invest in Companies that Concentrate on Building Their Corporate Reputation"
This headlined an article from Harris Interactive discussing their Reputation QuotientTM (RQ) survey. I don't think it's any big surprise that consumers don't trust big business. In this economy when we see large firms, (like the big bad oil companies) realize huge profits while the rest of us struggle to pay our bills, the majority of people have had it up to here with big business.

So, if you happen to be a big business, or if you help big firms market to consumers (like we do), what do you do with this news? Luckily, there is an action-plan (and some advice) to be found.
"But despite a slide in Corporate America’s image among consumers, the RQ found that a strong statistical correlation exists between a company’s overall reputation and the likelihood that consumers will purchase, recommend or invest in a company or its products and services."
In a nutshell, be good to your employees. Make honest and fair business decisions. Make sure that your 'goodness' is shared/communicated with the public. Listen to your customers and make them happy. Build your reputation. Do all of that and your customers will like you; they'll buy from you. You'll get more just like them.

Sounds pretty easy, eh?

Here's more from the article, talking about how Google clinched the number 1 spot on the RQ rankings.
What does it take to get to the top? Google provides a case in point. Four years ago, the company was not included among the top 60 most visible companies on the list. But this year, Google rose to No. 1, beating last year’s RQ reputation leader, Microsoft. Google also beat this year’s second-runner-up, Johnson & Johnson, which was the top ranked company, until last year, since the inception of the survey in 1999.

"How did Google achieve this stratospheric climb? The company scores either in first or second place on reputation drivers of financial performance, vision/leadership, social responsibility and workplace environment," says Fronk of Harris Interactive. "For Americans to hold a company in high regards today, clearly more than just profits are needed – companies need to focus on overall corporate social responsibility and how their employees are treated in order to build trust with today’s consumers." It’s interesting to note that Google ranked No. 2 on the social responsibility dimension, but does not even make the top five of companies based on its support of good causes, the environment or communities. "Google received a top-ranking for social responsibility primarily due to their workplace environment," Fronk notes, "demonstrating that corporate responsibility, in the minds of consumers, starts with your own employees first."

If you're interested in how other companies fared in terms of their reputation, you can download the list of the top 60 companies here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Case Study Monday:Award-Winning Marketing Through Collaboration

Today, we'd like to feature a case study that demonstrates how two companies collaborated to utilize multiple marketing channels to create an outstanding and award-winning marketing campaign. By receiving these awards, KG Partners and Con-Way Inc. really demonstrate how marketing success can be realized by effectively working together, thus creating a real partnership through true collaboration.

KG Partners and Con-way Win Six Transportation Marketing & Communications Association (TMCA) Compass Awards

KG Partners, a nationally recognized advertising, public relations and interactive agency, and Con-way Inc. (NYSE: CNW), a $4.7 billion freight transportation and logistics services company, today announced that they have won six awards from the Transportation Marketing & Communications Association (TMCA).

The companies won six TMCA Compass Awards -- one of which achieved the Best in Class designation for marketing excellence in the transportation and logistics industry. The awards were presented at TMCA's recent annual conference held in Ponte Vedra, Fla.

"The TMCA Compass Awards are well-respected throughout the industry and could only be won with a strong relationship between our companies and a shared strategic vision," said Tom Nightingale, chief marketing officer, Con-way. "Developing and implementing an effective, results-driven marketing and communications program is vital in an industry as competitive as ours. Recognition from our industry peers is indicative of the type of meaningful work the teams are producing in collaboration."

KG Partners and Con-way received the highest number of awards of all 2008 TMCA entrants. The Compass Award-winning entry, "Con-way Truckload: Driver Recruitment Advertising Campaign," was the recipient of the 2008 Best in Class award. The Best in Class award is one of the two highest honors in TMCA's Compass program. Winners must have excelled in all areas of the judging criteria and achieved a perfect or near perfect overall score.

"The creative marketing, media relations and interactive campaigns KG Partners executed for Con-way last year were extremely successful in helping promote its Con-way Freight, Con-way Truckload and Menlo Worldwide Logistics lines of business as well as its driver career opportunities," said David Goldberg, principal, KG Partners. "Being honored by our industry colleagues at TMCA for our transportation and logistics industry communications expertise makes the success of our campaigns for Con-way even more gratifying."

The six TMCA Compass Awards earned by KG Partners and Con-way are as follows:

* TMCA Excellence Award & Best in Class: Advertising campaign -- Con-way
Truckload: Driver Recruitment: A national print advertisement series running in several driver-targeted publications promoting a lifestyle oriented career and Con-way Truckload as a leader in the industry.

* TMCA Excellence Award: Integrated communications program -- Filling the Seats: Con-way Truckload Q1 2007 Driver Recruitment Campaign: Planning and execution of a 10-week program that included public relations, advertising, search-engine marketing and online advertising resulting in a 166 percent increase of new driving teams hired each week.

* TMCA Merit Award: Media relations -- OceanGuaranteed(SM) Expanded Service Offering from Con-way Freight and APL Logistics: A media relations campaign creating a thought-leadership position in the global supply chain industry for Con-way Freight and APL Logistics, who teamed up to provide a new service offering on the cutting edge of international supply chain management.

* TMCA Merit Award: New media -- Con-way Inc.: Con-way Enterprise Web Site: A complete redesign of by KG Partners to improve the customer experience, build the Con-way brand and more clearly define the company's business units.

* TMCA Merit Award: Media relations -- Con-way Inc.: Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Campaign: A media relations campaign to communicate Con-way's support of the National Guard and Reserve and its win of the prestigious Department of Defense Freedom Award -- given to employers who have shown exemplary support of employees who also serve in the National Guard and Reserve -- was developed to leverage the company's thought-leadership position on this issue.

Finally, Con-way Inc. also earned the following TMCA Compass Award for their direct marketing campaign:

* TMCA Merit Award for Direct Marketing Campaign -- Experience The Road Systems Advantage: A video campaign sent to select transportation providers that had a need to extend the lives of their 28-foot trailer fleets. The campaign was developed into a flash module, which served as the focal point of the new Road Systems Inc.(RSI) Web site, a resource for media interest and an ongoing online search presence for RSI.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Marketing Links

All About LinkedIn
This post from the Emerson Direct Marketing Observations Blog cited some very interesting stats about LinkedIn, and how powerful this social network is. To whet your interest--23 million people participate in LinkedIn! A new user is added every 2 seconds! Overall, LinkedIn is THE place to network, especially for professionals.

Measuring Social Marketing
Last week I blogged on how direct marketers really need to figure out how to measure and track social marketing investments. This well thought-out post from Chris Brogan provides an expert perspective on this very topic. He brings up some interesting ways to look at developing a social media strategy, by including clear-cut goals AND results measurement.

And, for more on this very topic, check out Lewis Green's post on the Marketing Prof's Daily Fix blog. The title says it all: The Real ROI of Blogging.

I usually find something useful at the popular Duct Tape Marketing Blog. This week, it was a link to the Word of Mouth Manual written by Dave Balter, creater of BuzzAgent. It's free and promises to be not only informative, but a good read, too.

I love Starbucks!
And, just because I love how Starbucks is harnessing the power and the brilliance of their customers by soliciting new ideas (and then actually acting on these ideas!), I had to link to this post from the Damn! I wish I'd Thought of That! blog. Anytime our customers can give us ideas, we need to listen.

Thanks to all the bloggers out there who make my life so much more interesting. I mean that! Have great weekends, everyone.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Interesting New Use for Mobile Marketing

We've promised to keep you abreast of the evolution of mobile marketing. Today, in an article from Seeking Media in Australia, it is reported how Strictly Tickets, a next generation marketing and ticketing solution, is using this channel in a new and creative way. As the article puts it, "If you have a WAP-enabled phone, you can buy the tickets from your phone, store them on your phone and swipe your phone at the event. There's no waiting in lines not even to pick up your pre-ordered tickets, just walk straight to the gate." Wow -- we love this idea and application. What a time and resource saver for all involved!

In fact, it's more than a time-saver, it's also better for the environment. "The director of Strictly Tickets, Mr. Tony Lotzof, said today: 'Strictly Tickets will revolutionize mobile marketing and ticketing in Australia. It will finally be affordable, simple and convenient and available to all. It is an ideal application for any promotion or event.' Mobile ticketing and marketing reduces processing costs on both sides. The vendor does not pay for printing and distribution fees, and neither does the customer. Plus, less paper is better for the environment."

So, here we have a win-win scenario for all involved -- the consumer, the business and the environment. And, because this technology works for various types of merchants, it may be the idea that puts mobile marketing on the map.

Think about it -- next time you need that perfect gift for your Aunt Betty, you can send her an electronic gift certificate from her favorite store right to her cell phone . She can then take it to the store (or shop online) and redeem it. Or, maybe you want to take your favorite client to a soccer game? Purchase the tickets on the way to the event and simply walk right through the turnstiles with a quick swipe of your mobile phone.

This application is all about ease of use. In addition, the Strictly Tickets solution "includes a range of outstanding features including Database Creation, CRM and Box Office Software and Push Mobile Marketing giving promoters and clubs the ability to personally market upcoming events to their own opt in clients." Now this is a mobile marketing idea whose time has come.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Information on Using Coupons

Ah, coupons! A tried and true weapon in any direct marketer's arsenal. And, in this type of economy when just about everyone is trying to save some money, it just might be the right time to revisit incorporating a coupon strategy into your marketing mix.

I came across this article today in this months' issue of Canada's "Direct Marketing Directives": Dispelling coupon redemption myths.

It provides some very handy tips that every direct marketer should be aware of, especially if you use coupons or if you're thinking of doing so. Check out the full article for all ten myths. I've highlighted a couple of them that hit home for me.
Myth #1: Short-term expirations drive immediate sales.
Fact: Consumers need more time. A short expiry often cuts redemption far more than any increase in value can make up.

Myth #4: Targeting the most loyal users of a competitor's product yields the best return on a coupon program.
Fact: Light to moderately loyal competitive users are more likely to try a new product and will do so on a lower-value coupon offer.
Now, as a self-proclaimed analytical geek--someone who loves to be able to work with as much customer and prospect data that I can get my hands on--I'd love to analyze the heck out of coupon redeemers. Try to find out what makes them tick. I'd like to develop an understanding of their lifestage and their demographics to truly figure out which offers will best resonate with them. But, as you know, that's all dependent on capturing the coupon-lovers' data...

My challenge to all of you couponning advocates--how do you track exactly who is redeeming your coupon, without making this cumbersome to the consumer? How can you develop a program where you are capturing individual information so that you can better target future coupon efforts? Rebates are one way, but this approach seems costly. I'd love to hear case studies or good ideas.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Direct Marketing and This Flippin' Economy

As you probably know by now, we tend to be pretty darn optimistic bloggers! In previous posts, we've discussed how this slowing economy is impacting direct marketing, and most of the press we've posted has said while it's hurting short-term revenues, we remain quite positive about the long-term.

Then, here comes an article from Advertising Age that really focuses in on what the short-term hurting is all about . . . damn their eyes! Seriously, the article makes some very good points. As an industry, us direct marketing types do tend to be more positive than most. However, even we have to admit that things are slowing -- and where they are the slowest is in the area of acquisition programs -- data, new expenditures on prospect database tools, and direct mail.

Well, think about it . . . with the decrease in mortgage lending alone, acquisition has fallen to record lows, especially when you compare campaigns over the last five years or so when lenders were mailing millions of pieces each month and enjoying wonderful response rates. Ah, the good old days . . .

Anyway, the article talks about how direct marketing isn't as recession-proof as we originally thought. Further, loyalty campaigns to existing customers have become more important than ever, as companies seek to keep and grow their existing customer relationships. According to the article, here's what Steve Cone, chief marketing officer at Epsilon, had to say about it: "The focus is now on making sure they [financial services marketers] keep their existing customers as engaged as possible in this type of economic climate, communicating with them regularly and giving them an incentive to doing more business with us and less with anybody else through some kind of loyalty program."

The good news is all of this is that the emphasis on intelligent direct marketing, via the use of analytics, has continued to grow. Now, more than ever, marketers are taking a step back from the frenzied marketing of the past to ensure that their campaigns are targeted and relevant to those to whom they market. The article goes on to quote Gary Laben, CEO of Knowledgebase Marketing. Laben is quoted as seeing a huge increase in the analytics, reporting and insights parts of the business. "It's our largest growth area and is defying all negative economic outlooks," he said. "It's better than anticipated and we did not expect it to be as robust."

When you look at it from this perspective, it occurs to me that the economy has forced marketers to market more efficiently. It is no longer OK to mass market or over-mail to a prospect database repeatedly. Now, in order to be effective (i.e., increase response rates, improve ROI) you've just got to market smarter.

Now, maybe this is just the optimist in us trying to make an economy made of lemons into lemonade. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Case Study: How to Grow Your Email List

We firmly believe in the power of email as a great way to communicate with customers and prospects. The challenge, of course, is how to start the email relationship--how to get your customers and prospects to stand up and say that they want to hear from you via email.

That's why I was pleased to see this article in Direct Magazine (which I've included below) about how Bath and Body Works has solved this problem. Their stats on the value of an email address are interesting, too.


Bath and Body Works began collecting e-mail addresses from customers just last January and has since built a whopping file of over 10 million addresses.

“By November, we’ll have the largest e-mail file in all of specialty retail,” said Brian Beitler, vice president of customer marketing for Bath and Body Works, at a presentation during eTail 2007 in Washington, DC last week.

A customer’s e-mail address is worth $18 to the company, Beitler added.


To entice customers to give over their electronic addresses, Bath and Body Works offers free tubes of lip gloss. However, they don’t get it on the spot. The company takes a true multi-channel approach.

The gift comes as an offer in customers’ e-mail boxes that they must take back to the store to redeem, Beitler said.

“E-mail is significantly more valuable to us for a store customer than for a Web customer,” he added.


“When they’re in the store the first time, they make a $24 or $25 transaction,” he said. “When they come back to the store, what do they do? They make another $24 or $25 transaction.”

Part of the reason for success of the young program is that when customers began coming into the store asking about specials offered online, store managers immediately saw the benefit of getting customers’ e-mail addresses. Another reason is pure store traffic volume.

“We make a lot of transactions,” he said.

Also, bringing customers back into the store is a crucial component of the program because of the effect physical contact has on conversion rates, he said.

“We have found that if an associate touches the customer’s hand, our conversion rate goes to 65%,” he said. “This is compared to around 30% otherwise,” he added.

My commentary:
Wow--these are some awesome results! Lesson learned--think about the absolute best offer you can make (and afford). In this case it was a free lip gloss, and then ongoing great deals extended through their email channel. Think about what you can give away to entice your prospects to come to you. Giving value will get you valued customers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Great Links!

Welcome to this week's edition of the Friday Blog Log! Here are our fav's of the week:

Our first link is one from BtoBOnline regarding Green Marketing. You may recall our earlier post from this week on the same topic. There we discussed how important it is to practice what you preach, i.e., you can't say you're a green marketer if you aren't. In other words, don't talk about your "green-ness", then direct market environmentally inefficiently. Makes for some really bad press -- that's for sure! Anyway, back to BtoBOnline . . . in this post, author Carol Krol provides a readout from IBM's presentation at DM Days (going on this week in NY). IBM's VP Marketing, Elaine Lennox presented on this topic and how IBM is moving towards being a truly-Green company. “Don’t think about green in terms of ‘How do I make this product look green?’ ” she said. “You are ‘green-washing’ it in that scenario. Instead, ask: ‘How will I make my company green and make my products green because of it?’ ” Lennox proves that she "gets" it -- and for a company as huge as IBM, that is extremely significant!

Next, we'd like to feature our friend Becky Carroll and her Customer's Rock blog. This week, she's shared with us the results of some recent work that she's done for one of her clients on what makes for 5 Star Customer Service. In this economy, customer service becomes more important than ever . . . and Becky's research proves this out. The biggest "aha" is that the idea of excellent customer service, particularly 5 Star Customer Service, is different to every person. The business who understands that they need to create a phenomenal situation for each individual customer is one that will be looked upon as 5 Star. There are some great comments in this post and we know you'll enjoy it as much as we did!

Finally, check out Ted Grigg's post from this week on how he defines the next great "Big Idea" in marketing. We love Ted's down-to-earth and downright honest attitude. Ted keeps it real, man. In this post, Ted discusses his answer to a client question, "What's Your Big Idea?" Ted's response is accurate and well-put or as Ted says: "I gave my typical response, 'Direct marketing relies upon a set of discovery processes including research, testing and analytics. It is out of this discipline that big ideas emerge.' " Amen! Come on people, there aren't any silver bullets out there . . . or the one Big Idea that will turn your business around. We agree with Ted in that as you are planning your direct marketing strategy in this or any other economy, take it back to the basics and start by using an intelligent approach. If you do this rather than flying by the seat of your pants or just going by your gut feeling (something that we see way too often by the way), you'll weather any economic situation and make each campaign more successful than the last.

Happy Father's Day to all of you Dad's out there! Have great weekends all!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How to Measure Social Marketing

It's official--Direct Marketers are still trying to get their heads around how to measure an investment in social marketing. So, reports this article from

Just in from DM Days, going on this week in New York:
"Here at the biannual gathering of the Direct Marketing Association, where the attendees are used to trading on measurable actions such as click-throughs and response rates, the social media phenomenon is particularly challenging."
So, we're not the only direct marketers who struggle with how to quantify and track social marketing. Ah, it's nice to be validated!

The speaker, Marc Schwartz, a strategy director of the interactive division at the agency DDB, also agrees that such measurement of social marketing efforts is difficult. But, he did provide some tips on how to best use this channel.
"Advertisers taking to the social Web should have a clear idea of their objectives from the outset.

"When you think about how you enter a conversation, it really starts with listening," Schwartz said. Then on the flip side, it's not enough to simply roll out a Facebook application and leave it unattended -- it is a conversation, after all.

Advertising effectively across social media requires marketers to spend time in the community to keep it engaged with the brand.

When the branded presence is tended properly, "social media provides an environment to create deep insight into consumers and their behavior in order to drive engagement and response," Schwartz said."

I think that advocates of social marketing (and this group definitely includes Nancy and me!) would agree that companies cannot ignore this channel. However, at the end of the day, there is still no way to measure the impact.
"To address that issue (of how to measure), Schwartz said that he had contacted some members of the academic community around Seattle, where DDB is based, to pin down the connection between social media advertising and sales.

As he envisions the research, it would be a statistical correlation between sales trends and the different methods of engagement marketers, such as return visits, pass-alongs and downloads.

He said that the academics he's approached have been interested, but that they have not devised a formal strategy."
Well, as a direct marketer who absolutely loves to show a clear and direct return, I'll keep waiting patiently until a valid way to measure social marketing efforts is devised! I think I may be waiting awhile :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Being Green Direct Marketers: Going the Extra Step

We've talked about the whole concept of Green Marketing from time to time in our posts, and it's interesting to track this idea as it continues to evolve.

I found an article today that says that it's Not Easy Being Green. In the DM News article, author Melanie Tuazon discusses the importance of practicing what you preach. In essence, if you tout the fact that you want to take part in saving our planet, you've gotta prove that what you do in your business reflects that to the people or businesses in which you target with your marketing efforts.

Here's an example that better explains this from the article: "To create the right perception, mail­ers and coupons must also be green in both message and medium. “We knew we wanted to do a high-impact piece to get the target's attention,” says Sam Henning, management supervisor of Rapp Collins, regarding a green campaign he worked on for Lipton. “But we thought about how people interested in green living would perceive getting mail. We knew it was a must to use recycled paper.”

See, it isn't just enough to say that you're a green marketer, you've got to prove it in all of your business efforts. This applies to the paper that you use in your direct mail efforts, the coupons that you send to your customers, and the catalogs that you print and mail to your customers. In fact the greenest media are digital -- as you would expect. From the article: "For many, a Web site complements other methods and educates the consumer through games, contests and measurement tools that make green living more accessible. Mobile campaigns are also being explored."

It's interesting to see what companies are doing to demonstrate their ideas for being Green. It's an interesting balance . . . because consumers are going to be wary of any effort that smacks of taking advantage of a passing fad or trying to look like you're green when you're not. The bottom line is that for those for whom this is important, they'll be able to sniff out the real Green direct marketers from those who are simply posing. It'll be interesting to watch how creative our industry can get to achieve Green-ness!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Data Quality Remains Top Priority

We've seen too many CRM or marketing database initiatives fail simply because the data input to the system was full of duplicate or dated data. And, sadly, we've seen users judge the effectiveness of the database system solely based on the customer data they see, completely ignoring the other functions and system capabilities.

If that first impression is bad, you know that they'll never trust, nor use the new technology. What a waste of money...

That's why we're firm believers in using all of the tools and processes available BEFORE you import any data into a new database. And, this article from B2B Online highlights that point.
"Executing a fine-tuned data-quality strategy is essential in today's multichannel environment. As costs climb across the board due to a weakened economy, having accurate data becomes even more important to ensure targeted marketing messages actually reach customers and prospects."
Yep, actually reaching the people you're trying to target is, indeed, important...

The good news is that the marketplace is starting to realize the importance of data quality.
"Refining customer data quality and access to customer data have emerged as two of the top marketing investment priorities of b-to-b CMOs this year. Half of b-to-b marketers plan to put more resources against creating marketing databases, cleaning up customer data, improving sales force automation and CRM integration, according to Forrester Research in its “B2B CMO Investment Priorities for 2008” report."
This is even better news to the direct marketers (like RRW!) who understand the available data quality tools out there, and who have used the tools for years. From postal processes like NCOA to sophisticated customer data integration techniques that take advantage of large databases retaining multiple name/address versions, there are proven techniques that you can employ to get your data updated, deduped and as clean as possible.

Let us know if you'd like the white paper that we've developed around using these techniques. Just email us at and we'll send it right over. It not only gives an exhaustive overview of the tools, but also provides some "Do's and Don'ts" based on our practical (ouch) experiences working with the various processes and vendors in the industry.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Case Study Monday: Increasing Enrollment Using Intelligent Direct Marketing

Welcome to Case Study Monday. Today, we're featuring a Marketing Sherpa case study on how an educational institution used a solid direct marketing strategy to increase enrollment in it's online program. This is a great example of how you utilize an analytical approach with a multi-channel strategy to get really excellent results! We hope you enjoy this case study.

Prospects for your products and services can come from anywhere and show up at almost any time. But how do you get those leads in the first place and keep them “warm” once they’re in the pipeline? See how a school’s marketing team doubled enrollment with a nurturing campaign that included targeted online advertising, search, telemarketing and email.

Adult distance learners are a difficult demographic for colleges to attract. It’s not like targeting high school students within a certain radius and knowing that many of them will be interested in you simply because of your location.

Ronald Kennedy faced this dilemma when he became Executive Director, Distance Learning and Graduate Studies, Liberty University, about 2 1/2 years ago. He was charged with increasing the college’s distance learner enrollment, which was about 12,000 students when he took over. At Liberty, adult and distance learners are almost one and the same -- 60% to 70% are 30 to 45 years old.

Adult distance learners also can enroll at almost any time, unlike traditional college students who typically start in the fall. And there’s plenty of competition from colleges like The University of Phoenix, which offers courses to working adults online and in local learning centers nationwide.

“It’s a very competitive field out there going after the adult learner,” says Kennedy.

Kennedy and his team devised a strategy that focused heavily on online ads, interactive lead generation and Liberty’s brand identity to attract adult distance learners and keep them interested as prospects.

Here are the seven steps they followed:

Step #1. Analyze the demographics of each degree program
Kennedy and his team first conducted a detailed demographic analysis of each of the college’s more than 35 distance learning degree programs.

They compiled this data by:
o Extracting the student profiles of each degree program
o Breaking down profiles by gender, age, household income, etc.
o Matching the demographics to websites for targeted advertising

“We get a lot of traffic that we can’t effectively source back to any particular channel,” Kennedy says. “That relates directly to our strong brand identity.”

Step #2. Leverage existing brand

Next, they took advantage of the school’s reputation for having one of the oldest distance learning programs. The team also leveraged the college’s conservative faith-based approach to education in their messages to stand out from secular schools offering online courses.

Step #3. Target online ads to matched websites
Kennedy and his team ran banner ads primarily on two types of sites:
o Those that appealed to the demographics of Liberty’s online degree programs
o Those that affiliated with education -- specifically online education

“We’re targeting a student who is potentially going to take classes online, so there’s already an assumption that they live online.”

An example of matching demographics to degree: They advertised the school’s seminary degree program -- with a 95% male demographic -- on sites that appealed to Christian men.

Step #4. Qualify the leads

Prospects who clicked on the banner ads were directed to a landing page with a form containing qualifying questions to weed out those who weren’t a good fit. “On the back end, we do append some information to the lead to try to tell us internally who’s most likely to convert more than others, and we’ll gear our strategy in-house to that,” Kennedy says.

Qualifying these potential students was very important because adult learners are expensive leads to generate and nurture. Adult learners often won’t enroll in an online degree program for up to a year after giving their information to Liberty. This means the team has to spend more money to keep the brand name in front of the lead for extended periods of time and they didn’t want to waste money and internal resources on leads that weren’t going to convert.

Step #5. Invest in matching services

Kennedy and his team also spent some of their marketing budget on a service that matched programs with students to develop more qualified leads. Here’s how that worked:

- The service provider used search engine marketing and an extensive keyword campaign to drive traffic to Liberty’s website.
- Then, they collected the demographic and contact information from the leads and matched them with the most compatible degree program at the university.

“We liked the strategic analysis they were willing to provide on the leads we were getting to help optimize and bring in better quality, as well as analysis they did with SEO and purchasing,” Kennedy says.

Step #6. Create landing page

Higher quality leads were directed to the landing page, which included a description of the university and information about it being ranked No. 3 on the Online Education Database’s 2008 list of online universities in the United States.

The landing page asked visitors to enter:
o Name
o Address
o Email
o Phone number
o Good time to call
o Degree program of interest

“The easier you make that form, the more leads you’re going to get,” Kennedy says.

As soon as visitors submitted their information, they received an immediate reply email. They also received a telephone call within 15 minutes. This was an extremely important part of the nurturing strategy because “in this business speed wins,” Kennedy says.

That nurturing strategy consisted of three parts:

Part 1. Phone call
Telemarketing calls were the No. 1 method Kennedy and his team used to follow up with qualified leads.

Part 2. Email
Email was second -- and the longest lasting of the three strategies because it was the cheapest.

The emails contained:
o A link back to the school’s distance learning website
o “Real life” situations in the messaging
o Emphasis on the ultimate goal
o Call to action

Instead of just telling adult learners how convenient online classes were, the team described how inconvenient it was to find a baby sitter after work or to fight traffic to take classes on a campus. They juxtaposed that scenario with coming home, making dinner and then working on the computer for a couple of hours to take classes.

The team also invited leads to call or email the university for more information or to chat live with an admissions counselor or academic adviser online from the school’s distance learning site.

Part 3. Direct mail
Direct mail was No. 3. “We try to hit them with all the different communication styles that are available to keep our name and brand in front of them vs. our competitors,” says Kennedy.

Step #7. Test, test, test
The team analyzed traffic patterns and continually looked for more effective keywords. They also conducted split tests on creative, including the online ads and landing pages.

Testing was especially important when determining how many qualifying questions they should ask a lead, Kennedy says. The team did split tests between longer, more detailed forms vs. shorter forms.


Enrollment in Liberty’s distance learning program shows the campaign’s overall impact: in 2 1/2 years, Kennedy and his team have seen a 108% increase to more than 25,000 students.

Other results:
o 3% to 5% clickthrough rate on banner ads with targeted audiences
o 0.5% to 1% clickthrough rate on paid search ads
o 2% to 5% clickthrough rate on trade name search
o Higher clickthrough rates on Christian sites vs. secular sites

“I think through doing more target marketing and more demographic type research has really paid off in terms of what we’re seeing at the back end as far as enrollments,” Kennedy says.

As for how many questions they should ask a lead, the shorter forms proved to be more successful, Kennedy says. But it was a balancing act. “We’re constantly honing in on how many questions we’re asking vs. how many we’re going to have to qualify.”

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Marketing Links

Here are some of the interesting articles or blog posts we followed this week:

This experiment has got me intrigued! Social Networking Dominator is promising to "use social marketing and social bookmarking to launch a brand new site into the web traffic stratosphere. I’ll be doing this with high speed SEO, social networking, social bookmarking & video marketing." Their goal is make their website profitable within days. You can follow their progress at I'll be checking in frequently to see what tricks they have up their sleeves.

For those of you who like free things (and who doesn't, right?), you might want to sign up here and ask for Nicky Jameson's 19 New Rules of Social Media Copywriting. I received the tips and learned some things. If you're wondering how to customize your style to maximize your social marketing efforts, this free report might help.

From PR Weekly, check out this article titled: Executives join social media conversation.
It talks about how executives from a wide variety of industries (from the US Army to Mastercard) are joining in on the conversations, as a way to build credibility and simply because it's now almost a new business requirement. We couldn't agree more.

Although it's a bit like preaching to the choir, I couldn't resist sharing this post from Marketing Prof's Daily Fix blog. Titled, "Are Marketing and Mathematics Getting Married?", it talks about the growing importance of analytics in shaping marketing strategies and direction. Yep, we see that, too :)

Have a great weekend!

Some Thoughts on Social Media

By now, you know that we love social media. After all, we attend Social Media tradeshows, we author not one, not two, but three blogs and we are avid commenters and Facebook contributors (particularly on our favorite Facebook page, "What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution").

We've even taken the additional step of proposing to be blog authors for some of our very favorite clients. Hey, we think we're pretty good at it -- why not help our customers be good at it, too?

So, today when I came across two really interesting and insightful articles from a couple of fellow bloggers about what Social Media is and isn't, you can imagine that I thought it was definitely worth a blog post to share these musings with our favorite readers.

First, I read Marc Meyer's post on his blog "Emerson Direct Marketing Observations." Marc discusses 11 things that Social Media is Not. As you can probably guess from the title, Marc outlines his thoughts on what social media isn't . . . all in an effort to gain a clearer definition of what it is. He brings up some great points . . . it's not static -- it's ever-changing; it's not calm -- it disrupts and is meant to disrupt; it's not many-to-many and not necessarily one-to-one -- but it can be better than that -- one-to-one realtime.

Finally, Marc ends on the point that Social Media is not the Final Frontier of Marketing -- giving full credit to a post by Brian Solis of Futureworks. In Brian's post, he discusses some of the thoughts of Pierre Far, who had originally discussed this point in an interview on the Techipedia blog (phew!).

Brian succinctly states:
If anything Social Media, as it exists today, has simply created a more efficient platform which amplified and organized people’s voices as well as democratized content, and in doing so, collectively built a foundation for a new level influence between companies, traditional media, influencers, and people in general.

Social Media doesn’t necessarily replace traditional marketing. Everything is concentric. Everything should work together.
Brav-o! This view is very much in line with our view that Social Media is yet another tool in the overall marketing toolkit. If you integrate it into what you are doing today now, you will be well ahead of your competitors over the long-run. Why? Because despite all of the hoo-haa over Social Media, it is still not widely used or accepted by the many . . . and those few who see this and use it now will definitely have the upper hand.

The reason for this is that it is becoming increasingly apparent that consumers and businesses alike want to be involved in the conversation. It isn't just the younger generations -- it's all generations. There is a simple reason for this . . . people are sick of being marketed at. Businesses and consumers alike want to be involved in what messages are sent to them and the overall process of deciding what products and services to purchase.

While not the final frontier of marketing, social media is definitely the newest kid on the block -- and the channel that will separate companies from one another when integrated into the marketing strategy and executed really well.

Take a look at these posts -- both offer really compelling insights and will get you thinking about your own social media strategy. And, if you have any other ideas as to what social media is and isn't, shoot us a comment.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Two Thoughts on Generational Marketing

It's so very important (and quite interesting, too) to understand how generational attributes need to be considered when marketers are developing campaigns. If your goal is to make sure that your message resonates with your target audience (and let's face it, that's a key goal for any direct marketing program), then you absolutely cannot ignore generational attributes.

I thought I would share two perspectives on two different generations.

The first article is from Precision Marketing: Marketing messages ‘irrelevant’ for over 50s. It discusses how so many marketers are missing the boat when it comes to targeting the mature market.
"The mature market is being neglected and misrepresented by marketers, with over 60 per cent of the over 50s believing that advertising aimed at them presents them as infirm or immobile."
Contrary to many common beliefs, the research also showed that online shopping is the preferred channel for Seniors.

So, if your market is an older one, you absolutely cannot ignore interactive and social marketing. You also need to remember that this group considers themselves vital and full of life--not infirm. I guess 50s are the new 30s!

And, then from the opposite side of the scale, this Q&A from USA Today provides some insight on how to market to Gen X and Gen Y'ers (more commonly known as Millenials). The title says it all: Avoid hard sell when marketing to younger generations.

If your market includes people born between 1965 and 1994 (14 to 43-year-olds), you need to understand that this is a cynical group that needs to be educated (they love blogs). You need to prove that you understand what you're doing and be authentic when you do it. Nothing can smell like hype or 'sales'.
"The essential thing then to understand about selling to the new generation of younger adults is that they are Web-savvy, blog-friendly, and, not only do they see through the spin, it turns them off. Your pitch to them has to take all into account."
Hopefully this insight into two huge generational groups will provide some insight as you develop offers, creative and messages.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mobile Marketing: How Will it Grow?

Over the past five years or so, there's been more and more discussion about integrating mobile marketing into the direct marketing mix. You can find almost equal opinions on either side of the equation. Some feel that marketing to wireless phones won't work because the content isn't quite there yet, and consumers will feel that it is too much of a hassle to integrate mobile into their lives. Others feel that, as marketers, you're definitely missing the boat if you aren't actively engaged in strategically placing mobile marketing as an integral channel in your multi-channel marketing plan.

DM News just posted an article with two very different viewpoints on this subject. Entitled "Should Cell Ads Cost more than Web Ads," they pit Roger Woods, SVP and GM of the Americas at Amobee Media Systems against Robert Arena, VP and Interactive Director at Carton Donofrio Partners. Both gentlemen bring up some very interesting points in this very topical debate.

Woods argument is that "when visual real estate is severely limited and highly desired, demand for it among media buyers is naturally very high. It's why mobile ad inventory will com­mand a premium price." Woods also believes that wireless carriers will maintain a significant advantage for at least the short-term due to the fact that they are the ones that have virtually unlimited access to all of those wireless screens. Finally, he reminds us that "the fundamental elements of reach, precision and supply are aligned for the wireless carrier to charge a premium price in any scenario" -- no matter how mobile marketing continues to evolve.

On the other side of the equation, Arena argues that mobile marketing is far from commanding the premium pricing of traditional display advertising. He compares lower mobile advertising revenues (at $871 million) to higher internet advertising revenues (at $24 billion), even though more people have access to mobile phones than they do a computer and the internet. According to Arena, this is due to the fact that "metered pricing, slow networks and a frustrating user experience have dissuaded consumers from integrating mobile into their daily lives." In Arena's opinion, while a viable channel to keep our eyes on, mobile marketing still has a long way to go before it is adopted as a widely-used direct marketing channel.

So, here are two very different opinions on a direct marketing channel that we've been talking about for some time -- and is continuing to gain in importance. I'm thinking that mobile marketing will, in fact, command a premium price as the technology becomes more "consumer- friendly." There are many new, forward-thinking firms out there who are creating the technology to enable interactive media campaigns via the wireless instrument (take a look at CommerceTel's website). So, the technology is here . . . therefore, consumer-friendly is not that far off.

Consider the fact that the largest Generation alive today -- the Millenial Generation (those 8-22 year olds) absolutely depends upon their wireless phone, and you can start to believe that mobile marketing will continue to grow in importance as a marketing channel. This Generation embraces the wireless phone so much so that it has become almost an appendage to their bodies -- they literally depend on their phones to keep them connected. Millenials are now entering the workforce and will bring their ideas/needs to those companies that they work for. They may become (or perhaps have become) the springboard that will launch mobile marketing into the same stratosphere as internet advertising as they demand to have content delivered to them on their all-time favorite electronic device.

We'd love to hear your opinions as this debate rages on!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Case Study: Database Builds Loyalty for Casino

Today's direct marketing case study comes to us from Equifax. Since we enjoy reading about how technology (in this case a marketing database) impacts overall performance, we thought we'd share. For those who are grappling with the decision as to whether to build your marketing database in-house, or use a service bureau, you should continue reading.

Client Profile
A leading gaming and entertainment company, operating riverboat and hotel casino complexes across the U.S.

To increase customer loyalty and drive repeat visits to their casinos, the client targeted direct marketing programs to their existing customers. They were using their operational database and very basic tools to generate direct marketing programs. To enhance campaign effectiveness, they wanted to conduct more testing and better target their direct mail and e-mail campaigns, but did not have the infrastructure to address the challenge.

The client engaged Equifax to conduct a requirements and feasibility study. Their goal was to build an in-house database solution, versus a service provider solution. The feasibility study was a collaborative effort with the client's IT. Equifax built a comprehensive test database parallel to the client's current system--with the added challenge of a changing operations system.

Equifax delivered a database solution that exceeded the client's expectations. The project that began with a feasibility study evolved into a comprehensive service that provides a "single view" of the customer across several properties. The service includes daily updates of customer, transactional, demographic, hotel and promotion history data into an open relational database utilizing best-of-breed business intelligence and campaign management tools. The solution supports daily, trigger-based, multi-channel campaign executions, enabling more convenient, relevant offers to patrons. The client's solution has expanded to include data mining and analysis, using predictive analytics and modeling tools and techniques to enrich their direct and e-mail marketing strategies.

Equifax delivered a powerful marketing database solution, on-time and on-budget. The solution provides direct marketing expertise and support comparable to a more costly, yet less effective in-house solution. In addition, the database features a Quality Control element that ensures the clients meets industry regulatory requirements. The flexible, robust infrastructure facilitates a more "enabling environment." As a result, the client is experiencing greater success in marketing across all segments of the business.
  • Average spend per customer increased 20%. More timely and better matched offers to patrons--with emphasis on event-triggered opportunities--has increased patron's visits and play, resulting in a more satisfied customer base and better ROI for the client.
  • Dramatically shortened timelines enable the client to deliver more frequent mailings to patrons. Direct mail campaigns that used to take two days per property to execute now take two to three days for all six properties.
  • Through increased efficiency, the client can quickly, aggressively pursue multiple marketing tactics simultaneously. In addition, the marketing team can "put good direct marketing strategies to work."
  • Improved, timely business reporting allows the client to apply key learning for the implementation of more effective marketing strategies.
Equifax has proven to be a valuable resource in this client's quest to optimize customer relationships. As a database provider, Equifax has helped the client learn more about their customers in order to increase their visits, build loyalty and, ultimately, boost revenue.