Do Direct Marketing Evaluation Criteria Apply to the Internet?

As consumers continue to consume the Internet at an ever-increasing rate, I see it as the direct marketer’s dream come true. It offers many advantages to the direct marketing practitioner.

1.    One-to-one marketing to the nth degree with customized content based on the user’s preferences.
2.    Trackability by sales, click-throughs, pages visited, length of time for each visit, visit frequency and endless usage information.
3.    Immediate feedback for almost any conceivable testing scenario.
4.    Extension of branding, promotion and other integrated media options.
5.    List building opportunities with email, direct mail and other opt-in  choices.

Other direct marketing benefits exist. But reliable results evaluation criteria remain elusive for digital media.

Attributing all sales to the Internet would be like giving all sales credit to inbound telemarketing. What drives people to visit the web site more often than not comes from other promotional activities just as inbound sales calls originate from some other medium.

It is true that paid search, organic search, banners and other internal Internet tools exist that attract buyers to a given site. But the Internet alone rarely handles the traffic needs of major product lines or large, established organizations.

The question remains. What medium gets credit for the sale? Is it the medium that gets the sales, or the medium that drove the business to the telemarketing group or the Internet? All media used contribute to the sale. So how do you distribute the credit when distributing expansion budgets?

I do not envision a change in evaluating marketing efforts based on cost-per-lead, cost-per-sale or cost-per-customer. But I do see a crying need to standardize the analytics involved.

What changes do you see in the evaluation process? Do the fundamental direct marketing strategies such as testing, proven direct response creative work and established direct marketing evaluation criteria go away? Or do we simply revise the way in which we attribute the sales credit?

Posted on September 27, 2007 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy.