Giving consumers the option to respond online to direct marketing offers has now become the most important factor for encouraging responses and purchases, according to research commissioned by direct marketing firm CDMS.
The survey of 2,000 British consumers asked what factors were most likely to make consumers open a piece of direct mail, respond to it, and subsequently make a purchase.
Among its key findings, the survey revealed that:
- Being able to respond online is 20% more conducive than average to a response and purchase;
- The telephone response mechanism fared much worse, as it was rated 16% less likely to result in a response and purchase;
- The timing of the campaign - to reach the recipient while in purchase consideration mode - was voted 17% more likely than average to drive response and purchase;
- Personalisation was also high in importance, being rated 14% more likely than average to elicit response and purchase.
According to Richard Higginbotham, head of marketing for CDMS, "The ability to respond online is now the clear priority among UK consumers. Although the growth in home internet access has been relatively slow over the past three years, it would appear that for direct marketing response purposes, we have crossed a boundary where, assuming timing and targeting have been properly executed, the real differentiator is the ability to respond online."
Apart from the internet becoming increasingly important in the direct marketing process, it also provides marketers with a number of opportunities for channel integration, providing new levels of consumer insight and also enhancing the degree to which customer-centric communications are possible. For example, by making use of internet technologies it is already possible for marketers to link offline identity, attributes and relationships with online visitor details and behaviours - such as the use of unique, personalised URLs (web addresses) in direct mailing campaigns.
Personalised URLs (often referred to as 'pURLs') allow marketers to generate a personal web page for every client in the database, typically looking something like this:
When the recipient visits or clicks on their personalised URL, they are directed to their own dynamically-generated 'microsite' (a personalised sub-site within the company's main web site) containing the offers, products, and services that are especially intended for them. Details of who accessed the site and how they behaved can then be tracked, providing the marketer with invaluable insight as well as a truly personal touch which, according to the survey, often inspires actions that are likely to lead to a sale.
Perhaps even more importantly, by registering various customer attitudes and behaviours from all available touchpoints, marketers can more easily and accurately create time-sensitive, event-triggered campaigns that are sent to customers only when they behave in particular ways. For example, event triggers could be anything as simple as a customer's birthday, or as complex as identifying particular patterns of transaction or contact behaviour.
A multi-dimensional view of the customer's preferences across all channels is important not only for the timing of direct marketing campaigns, but also for the accurate personalisation of messages. Effective data quality, channel integration, personalisation, timing and online response must be conducted in harmony with each other if direct marketing is to provide the kind of ROI that CDMS has found to be possible.