Monday, 20 June 2011

Direct Marketing Campaign Planning - Managing your Campaign Data

In our previous post detailing the basics of direct marketing campaign planning we highlighted the importance of identifying the USPs of your business, the objectives for the campaign and the necessity to define a target audience. With these planning elements complete however, it is also vital that you manage your campaign data effectively before, during and after the campaign.

The first step of effective data management for your direct marketing campaign is to source what data is available for your target market. This should include profiling information for the intended audience and in many instances will be available from data brokers. If buying data however it is vital that any data adheres to industry best practices, complies with ISO 27001 regulations for data protection reasons and is always the result of opt-in protocols.

With the data in your possession it is important to know how to use it; this means managing the data in a database which allows you carry out campaign activities and handle responses. At this point organisation is key; the data should be segmented into sets and cleansed to ensure that it is still relevant and timely. The cleansing and segmentation exercise should also install profiling flags which identify the specific profiles of a business or the customers (in B2B and B2C campaigns respectively).

If you have created intuitive segments they can then be used to run direct mail, telemarketing or email marketing campaigns which are aligned with the target segments and profiles, greatly improving the focus of your campaign and increasing the opportunity for gaining responses.

Handling responses is also a key element in managing your campaign database. As much as possible it is worth considering automated data capture by integrating technology such as IFrames into web enquiry forms as this has consistently proven successful. Additionally, it is worth instigating channel response codes in order to track and analyse the response rates for each communication channel throughout and after the campaign.

Setting up your campaign database correctly and implementing effective protocols for segmentation and response handling are both foundational elements in running a successful direct marketing campaign. Look out for our next post on creating the right message for your campaign to ensure it is targeted and focussed towards your audience’s needs.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Direct Marketing Campaign Planning – The Basics

Whilst it may be an overused business cliché “failure to plan, is planning to fail” and this is certainly true when it comes to your direct marketing campaigns. Ultimately your direct marketing creates a revenue stream, one that is vital to your business, its growth and development.

A logical approach to planning your direct marketing campaign will offer serious rewards and is a necessity. In the following approach, the first step is to consider your company, its objectives and also who the campaign is likely to target.

Your Business

It may sound strange when you are considering sending out communications to hundreds if not thousands of people, but the first stage of any marketing is to look inwards, studying your own business. This process should include focussing on the USPs of your business, identifying how your brand is perceived in the wider world and also, if the direct marketing is focussed towards a single product or service, objectively highlighting its selling points.

Your Objectives

Getting the objectives right for your marketing campaign is a fundamental aspect of planning. A misconceived campaign will fail, equally, a campaign with a focus that is too broad, is unlikely to provide the feedback you require.

Direct marketing campaigns can be focussed towards increasing the awareness of your brand, opening relationship opportunities with potential customers or delivering messages to existing customers in order to foster better relationships.

Additionally, you may be using the campaign to generate leads or simply to stimulate the market. Ultimately whatever the objectives are, the important point is to have predefined objectives that are relevant and will deliver added benefit.

Your Target Audience

By knowing the objectives you can then move on to deciding who to target. Whether the campaign is B2B or B2C this stage requires you to make the most of the data at your disposal, using this insight to develop target profiles, or “look-a- like” profiles for your marketing. If your targeting is executed effectively, you are giving your campaign material the best chances of success by ensuring it is placed into the hands of people that are the most statistically likely to respond.

This first element in your planning is about setting the foundations for your direct marketing campaign. Look out for future posts studying the other stages in the planning process including, Managing your Campaign Database, Getting the Campaign Message Right, Planning how to Handle the Campaign Responses and How to Learn From your Campaigns.

Friday, 3 June 2011

CRM is dead... long live PRM!

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a term which has long been used in sales and marketing circles to describe a methodology for acquiring, retaining and deepening customer relationships through targeted, personalised communications.

Or to put it more eloquently, Wikipedia defines CRM as:

“... a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes.”

Wikipedia also highlights that the overall goal of CRM activities is fourfold:
Firstly; to locate, attract and secure new clients
Secondly; to cultivate and retain existing clients
Thirdly; to bring former clients back to the business, and...
Fourthly; to reduce marketing and client servicing costs.

Where this definition differs from our own is that it focuses on the use of technology to achieve the end goals. Whilst we don’t necessarily disagree with this, at EWA we prefer to focus on the overall ‘CRM ethos’ i.e. how can we help our clients to get closer to their customers through the use of CRM led techniques and appropriate technology rather than thinking of CRM technology as being the panacea to all customer communication challenges. Customer Relationship Management technology is only ever as good as the people who use it and the data that goes in.

A conversation along these lines with a client recently sparked a new idea (and I must say it was hers not mine, so well done Talia at Wilshire Farm Foods!), shouldn’t we be thinking about Personal Relationship Management (PRM) and not just an all encompassing approach to customer management?

The Holy Grail for marketers has always been to properly, completely understand what makes customers tick and then use this information to talk to them about (and ultimately sell) products which are of interest. The practice of CRM goes some way to achieving this, but ‘traditional’ methods can still lump people together into segments which share broadly similar characteristics. Marketers will then often fall foul of sending communications via the channel that best suits them (or is the cheapest) and not necessarily the one which their customers prefer.

So what we’d like to advocate is a shift in mindset to a PRM approach – essentially each and every customer communication should adhere to the 3 Relevances:
  • Relevance of channel
  • Relevance of message
  • Relevance of timing
If a communication can be sent at the right time, talking about things of interest via the right means it will ultimately improve customer relationships and remove the annoyance factor of untargeted, irrelevant marketing, something which is often underestimated in terms of negative brand impact.

And the technology to achieve this already in place, the integration of CRM systems and email marketing together with customer insight have brought customer communications on in leaps and bounds - Amazon is a fantastic example of this and how to use customer data to achieve highly personalised marketing. We’ve all spent more than we intended on Amazon as a result of their very sophisticated cross sell and up sell messaging (or is that just me?!)

So there you have it, it’s all about Personal Relationship Management and truly treating customers as individuals. We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this: is it just a utopian dream or can technology coupled with the right approach deliver the returns we’re all after?