Posts filed under Database Marketing

How to Increase Your Direct Mail Response with pURLs

For decades, marketers believed that combining messages through many channels increased response rates. During my career, several tests proved that this strategy works most of the time.

These same tests looked at the cost of combining several channels to support each other. I tested these combinations on an A/B split basis against single channel approaches. 

For this reason, I think all companies should leverage the Internet when promoting with traditional media like direct mail. Personalized URLS leverage your direct mailing with a landing page to lift response.

Most responses today come through an Internet based application or ecommerce website. This gives the respondent 24-hour access to a user-friendly format to buy your product. 

 Notice the personalized URL in this direct mail letter.

A pURL enabled mailer merges the domain name with the recipient's name. When typing or clicking the pURL, the displayed landing page contains the recipient's name. You can also insert other relevant information that is available in your database within any landing page.

Here's an example of a pURL landing page.

According to a Boingnet study (a company that provides advanced pURL support and reporting), pURLs can increase response by 3x for B2B campaigns. This higher response assumes you follow up each pURL with a phone call, email. and other appropriate channels. pURLs that are not supported with detailed reporting and response follow-up do not work as well. Here's an instance where automation makes a significant difference.

The following flow chart shows how to set up an effective pURL system that will increase response rates and reduce your Cost per Sale.

With proper support, adding pURLS to your direct mail program does not have to keep you up at nights. Please contact me if you want to test such a campaign for your company. My email is


Posted on October 4, 2016 and filed under Direct Mail, Database Marketing.

Direct Marketers Make Stronger Digital Marketers

Digital Marketers

Hiring managers do not understand the strengths offered by experienced direct marketers. I see this in the job descriptions that specify channel expertise. Which one do I see the most often? Digital marketing.

Think about the implications. Would you entitle your new marketing position as "TV marketer", "direct mail marketer" or "print advertising marketer"? Of course not. These roles are and always were too confining. You would instead create roles for "brand marketer", "positioning marketer", "general advertiser", "direct marketer" and so on.

Why limit your marketing scope to specific channels?

As a starting point, let’s first agree on the attributes of a talented direct marketer.

1.    Knows that the goal of marketing expenditures requires increasing incremental sales and profits.

2.    Understands that one-to-one selling drives content.

3.    Designs advertising that track sales to a specific channel mix.

4.    Believes that all customer and prospect contacts should reflect previous purchases and inquiries.

5.    Believes that the contact database drives new marketing initiatives, analytics and program ROI evaluations.

6.   Studies and comprehends the evolutionary nature of the buying process of the company’s customers.

7.    Knows the proper uses of the various channels and tools of the trade including CRM systems.

8.    Focuses on customer needs and response patterns.

9.   Builds close relationships with finance, IT and other top executives.

10.    Supports appropriate personal and staff training at every opportunity.

11.    Insists that top executives and team members support the marketing objectives and keys strategies.

12.    Understands the need to test all strategies rolling out successes and killing failed tests.

13.    Champions both bottom AND top line revenue projections so long as they are achievable.

14.   Uses every available channel to achieve the ROI objectives.

Unfortunately, top job descriptions reflect a channel preference emphasizing digital media. As a result, marketers have little training in database marketing and critical direct response.

What we have today are hiring managers who hire marketers based on narrow parameters. This assures shallow programs with little expansion opportunities.

True expertise in marketing does not rely on the flavor of the day but proven direct marketing methods. The more experience the candidate has with test failures and successes, the better.

Don’t sacrifice true depth of expertise for narrow specialization. Direct marketing experts will handle both the short and long term objectives.

I have always wondered why the term "direct marketers" says "direct mail" channel specialists to so many people.

Experienced direct marketers come with many multichannel experiences. They include traditional media, digital media, print, telemarketing, database marketing and direct mail. Companies need eCommerce expertise, relational database planning, and traditional media know-how more than ever before.

Here's my point. Direct marketers are not media specialists, they are direct marketing strategists. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of all channels.

Direct marketers balance media expenditures for highest possible response rates.

In my estimation, we tend to recommend what we know rather than what the goal demands. Concentrating too much budget on a single channel weakens long-term growth and profitability.

Even direct mail specialists do not know as much about lettershop processes as suppliers. Printers and direct mail package formatters provide the tactical knowledge for direct mail specialists. What about postal regulations? No direct mail expert knows everything there is to know about postal regulations. He also knows lists and creative development that go into beating direct mail controls. Then there is the testing strategy, the analytics, and interpretation of the response information.

In the same way, digital media technicians should not attempt to be all things in digital media. Digital media specialists rely on supplier expertise. What all high-level marketers need is a strategic perspective and not a channel focus.

The successful direct marketer leads the marketing strategy to include the appropriate channels. This achieves the company’s sales and profit goals.

Hiring managers with a single focus on channel overlooks the need for strategic thinking. Hiring managers should broaden their thinking about their marketing candidates. Think big picture rather than a specific channel. In the end, you will be glad you did.

The Evaluation Process Differentiates Direct Marketing from Digital Marketing

The evaluation process highlights the primary difference between direct marketing and other strategies such as digital marketing.

Digital marketers as a whole do not evaluate their effectiveness based on financial data as clearly as direct marketers. Note the key digital media evaluators in the graphics below. Digital marketers -- especially content and social media practitioners must evaluate their efforts based on key indicators of results rather than actual sales data.

Let's begin with a sample list of the evaluation indicators used by digital marketers.


Notice than none of the evaluators incorporate evidence of incremental sales. These are useful for determining prospect and customer engagement. But no evidence of increasing sales or ROI are clearly evident.

Direct marketing strategists, on the other hand begin and end their planning based on sales data.  

This is not to say that these two approaches to evaluation do not complement each other, but that the approach to solving marketing problems between digital and direct marketers compliment each other.

I should mention that digital marketing is not a marketing strategy in the same sense as direct marketing. Digital marketing is actually a media strategy because it focuses on the digital channel.

In fact, the complete direct marketing strategy always incorporates the digital channel in the planning process. Social media, landing pages, email and web page support all contribute to the effectiveness of direct marketing.

Digital media marketing is no more a marketing strategy than broadcast marketing. That's why the wise marketer should use the direct marketing strategy to drive all marketing campaigns as a way to measure program effectiveness.

Posted on December 1, 2015 and filed under Planning, Database Marketing.

Is It Data Overload or Lack of Vision?

Marketing technology explodes. Virtually every customer interaction is captured in the Cloud. Customers expect companies to make relevant messages based on their buying habits with their favored brands. Yet many companies fail to grant customers what they want most -- recognition that they are a valuable customer to the company.

In a recent post at Customer Intelligence Blog, Tony Coretto writes the headline: "IBM Study Reveals CMOs Unprepared for "Data Explosion".

As businesses become more sophisticated in capturing data on every facet of the customer interaction, they’ve accumulated an enormous treasure-trove of information. However, as this study reveals, in most cases they don’t know what to do with it!

Heck. I'd be happy if retailers and other large businesses even bothered to maintain a customer database and used the tracking capabilities offered by their present POS vendors.

Why do so many companies lag behind the technology, tracking and data gathering process? And even if they do stay on top of the technology, they have failed to develop the talent and resources needed to turn analysis into action!

In my view, the future belongs to marketers who master the dashboard and know what to look for when analyzing the available data. These same marketers also know how to work closely with the CIO and CEO to break down the silos that make data gathering and its translation into action possible.

We must become ruthless in our zeal to help our clients and the companies we work for break away from making decisions based on what was done in the past. Great marketing decisions are founded on customer buying behavior.

But I think the real reason more companies have not grasped the power of customer intelligence to treat customers like, well... customers resides squarely in the hands of the CEO. Without a great CEO, a potentially great marketer stands little chance of making great contributions to the company.

The business vision should not revolve around operations, money management, acquisition, or European expansion. As important as all of these things are, they pale in comparison to the importance of creating many happy customers.

As the late Peter Drucker said:

...the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two--and only two--basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.

Posted on December 5, 2011 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy, Database Marketing.