Each direct marketing campaign depends on a series of factors for its success. Careful planning is vital to ensuring that response rates are high and sales conversions numerous to effectively improve return on investment (ROI). Among such factors are the season, even the time of the week when the direct mail piece arrives, how relevant its message is felt to be by the consumer at that time and how strong the actual offering really is.

To this day, however, statistics regarding conversion to sale motivators in direct mail are still hard to source, so CDMS decided to commission a survey to find out which factors made British consumers more likely to make a purchase as a result of direct mail. The findings are extremely clear: the ability to respond to the campaign online was rated the most important factor of all, making consumers 20% more likely than average to respond and purchase. Timing of the campaign to reach the recipient when in purchase consideration mode (17% more likely) came in second with personalisation of the campaign rated as 14% more likely than average.

UK consumers are clearly calling for the ability to respond online, indicating that the internet is becoming ever more strategically important to the direct marketing process. Savvy marketers are thus investigating various new techniques for tracking online response to direct marketing campaigns. One such tracking technique deserves a little more attention due to its popularity and promise of success: personalised URLs. This technology allows marketers to generate a unique and personalised landing page for every client in their marketing database. It typically takes the form of www.domainname.com/name. When the recipient receives a piece of direct mail with a personalised URL printed on it and type it into the web browser they are directed to their own dynamic microsite containing the mailings, offers, products, and/or services especially meant for them.

On these personalised micorsites the activity of respondents can be minutely tracked, providing an organisation with valuable information such as customer appreciation of content. With the learnings taken from customer behaviour on the site, it is easy to improve the accuracy of offers and select content more relevant to the customer for display. Online and offline data can also be connected by sending personalised URLs in the form of a link on customer e-mails or even by SMS.

Consumers rated appropriate timing as the second most effective at inspiring response and purchase, at 17% above average. By registering customer attitudes from all touchpoints, and not focusing only on one or two channels, businesses have access to fresh information with which to create time-sensitive, “event-triggered” messages sent to customers via immediate delivery channels such as online or SMS, but only when they behave in a particular way.

A business can set these event triggers for anything from a customer birthday to proving responsive to a particular kind of personalised URL (pURL) and not another, to their following of a specific series of image click-thoughs. Tracking which content drives the customer towards a purchase and which turns them away provides valuable long term insight into likes and dislikes but also highlights a previously unavailable time-frame in which to correct targeting by offering something more appealing. With all this cross-channel data available, marketers cannot afford to ignore the importance of using all available information on the individual to ensure better personalisation is provided as this is ranked at some 14% above average as a driver of response and purchase.

Consumers are clearly indicating that the option to respond online, appropriate timing and accurate personalisation are very important to them and are the most significant drivers of response and purchase to direct mail campaigns. The three factors are related and depend on each other, allowing marketers to use the most up-to-date online information on the consumer to be combined with rich offline datasets to create campaigns that make the right offer, to the right person, at the right time. These practices yield a treasure trove of data to constantly refine and improve the cross-channel direct marketing process.

Article written and contributed by Richard Higginbotham

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