The importance of marketing media integration
Media integration - that is, the combining of online and offline marketing channels - is much talked about but little practised, according to Patrick Sargeant, managing director for data solutions provider Response One Group, who reports that targeted direct mail is perhaps one of the most effective drivers of web response that is likely to lead to a purchase.
The combination of online and offline marketing channels is certainly a good approach, ideally speaking. But it is also a growing problem in a world where, despite 60% of the population having a home internet connection, legislation and 'spam' has seriously undermined e-mail as a prospecting medium.
Online can drive offline marketing According to Sargeant, from the experience of the few practitioners who are truly combining media in single campaigns, evidence is emerging that targeted direct mail may be proving one of the most effective drivers of web response that is likely to lead to a purchase. Opt-in electronic marketing is now being re-examined to see whether the high response rates are consistently maturing into an equally high conversion rate. Through looking at these emerging campaign experiences one can uncover which media combinations are starting to prove effective at generating real campaign return on investment.
The recent surge in online investment has certainly influenced direct marketing spend figures. However, despite the impressive ROI currently achieved via online, clients are beginning to find that it is an increasingly crowded space.
Rather than drastically diverting spend into a single channel, for many of our clients, an integrated approach is now considered the best way to ensure their overall direct marketing strategies tick all the boxes: influence behaviour, change perceptions and most importantly, maximise responsiveness. What we're seeing is integrated scheduling through a wider channel mix in order to drive online cut through. Consequently, spend amongst our client base continues to focus heavily on offline media such as direct mail.
A need to engage consumers More than ever, the need to engage consumers is paramount. That's why conventional direct marketing channels such as direct mail will continue to dominate budgets. It provides opportunities to capture recipients in the comfort of their home, in an involving and non-intrusive way, and leave them with something to consider in their own time. On-screen reading just isn't the same for consumers and doesn't offer the same longevity, unless for example, someone can be convinced to go to the effort of printing out a marketing e-mail.
It's for these reasons that clients are getting wise to the "halo effect" of offline media as a way of 'doing the groundwork' in order to drive responses - which increasingly means online traffic.
Targeting and personalisation We're also seeing an increased focus on quality driven by targeted mailings and personalisation, and that means a reduction in large-scale cold mailings. It is no surprise. There's no hiding the fact that social acceptance of mass mail-shots is on the decrease and, with the ongoing environmental debate and the rise of Mailing Preference services, the move toward higher value and more responsive customers is inevitable.
Therefore much investment is going into more sophisticated analysis and insight techniques in order to identify and coordinate the most targeted solutions available. Whether it's the building of prospect pools to optimise contact strategies or match-back analysis to understand on and offline impact, such techniques ensure that marketing activity is more precise and, ultimately, justifies increased direct marketing spend.
Third party inserts Third party inserts also have a part to play. The wise marketer must ensure that third party inserts are also adapting to today's web-responsive culture. More advertisers are discovering how this traditional offline medium can drive online responses, which is bucking a downward trend within the wider inserts market.
Insert volumes have taken a battering recently, with the DMA recording an industry decline of 18% for Q3 2006. It's just one of the many channels having to work harder against the increasing competition of the online channel. But the game is not over yet, especially when it comes to the specialist sector of third party inserts.
Where brands are effectively joining forces with another to market to a similar consumer audience, such as product despatch, statements, catalogues and directories, we have seen response rates increase during the same period in volume placed by an average of 45%. In fact, for many of Response One's clients, third party inserts have moved up in the efficiency rankings.
Interestingly, if you take into account additional responders who are driven (via inserts) to the web, their true performance is even more positive. More and more agencies and clients are quantifying the halo link between online and offline responders in order to better calculate true media performance. Response One recently conducted research into the issue and found that, for some clients, at least 30% of insert enquirers are responding via the web.
Match-back analysis Match-back analysis can provide a clearer understanding of the impact third party inserts are having on web responses. This type of analysis has traditionally been examined in relation to data. However, by matching web enquirers back to the net mail file, and drilling down to exclude possible duplicates, the results have been encouraging.
For example, web responders (during a set campaign period) that would have otherwise been relegated as 'general' web enquirers have since been found to have actually received the insert. While such analysis is still in its infancy, it is certainly suggesting strong correlations between offline campaigns and online responses.
What's next? Now is the time to start thinking about just how web-responsive your third party inserts are. To do that, it's essential that coding techniques should start falling into line. Make them tailored, or separate, and consider developing unique web URLs that are specific to each campaign. Some of Response One's clients are even testing creative content that omits the usual postal tear-off or telephone response coupon, replacing it instead with a stand-alone URL. Similarly, think about building main keywords and phrases into your copy that support your cause when it comes to search engine input.
Certainly, the success of a third party insert campaign is still attributable to innovative buying strategies that maximise implied endorsement and have significantly reduced media rates. But the third party insert market is evolving to take advantage of the increasing number of new multichannel opportunities becoming available through new media. By accurately tracking and measuring their effectiveness via as many web-friendly elements as possible, you may find that third party inserts are the missing link in the modern-day marketing mix.
Response One Group is a data solution provider that offers list and media planning, data intelligence, direct solutions, and media sales.