Sunday, September 2, 2007

Direct (esp. electronic), where is it headed?

We have all watched the changing response rates on emails for a while now, but have we reacted to what we see happening? And are we ready for what is to happen in the future in the short term?

SPAM has done a lot of damage to this reach-out method and is continuing to
take a heavy toll. Very few agencies or marketers have been proactive about permission marketing and are in fact pushing too hard on merely trying to reach out to without understanding the long term damage to the brand caused by way of un-clustered, unsolicited, unimaginative and unintelligent bombardment of mails.

The recent survey findings of eROI, yet again highlight the need of relevance of content and delivery of message as two of the most important factors effecting the edirect trade. While the survey predominantly looks at US, the Asia story is no different.

Relevance of content: The ease and low cost of this reach out technology does not warrant a barrage of email. The age old logic of communicating only when the content is hot holds true now more than ever before. The prospect needs to love what he gets, period. Linked and exclusive knowledge / white papers are a must. Don’t do it for the sake of completing a task on the marcom chart.

Also a number of passive formats could be used like a blog with an RSS or email subscriber feed to ensure people who wish to receive content, do so. You will end up creating a more loyal and interested community.

Everyone on the Db is not interested in everything you want to say. The best of Db cannot yield results if it is not used diligently. Segmentation of your installed databases to depths which might appear silly is the way forward. Segmentation restricted to designations, product purchase information, and geographies is passé. Look at interest areas, responses to previous communications by way of click thru, time spend on the communication etc. to ensure relevant communication in the future.

Need to have a “call to action” in the communication! Measure the ROI. This is not about brand awareness, this is about conversions. Do not send out a communication which does not have a measurable call to action. And do operate with a pre-decided success measurement matrix.

Delivery of content: Focus on this. Your best designed and targeted communication is of no use if it is not designed for delivery. Your email needs to be coded to deliver across various email clients. Spend time to understand and master filters. This is going to get more and more serious an issue with organizations and mail portals increasing the security levels and with sender verification system coming into fray.

To me, delivery is above everything else and will tend to separate the successful agency / marketer from the novice.

And go back in time: Go back to an exposure on printed direct mailers. Suddenly the prospect is taking the printed document very seriously. The communication stays on the table longer and gets passed around much more than the perceived cheap spam email.

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