Go Multi-Channel to Beat the Ad Clutter

How adding underutilized, alternative media channels can help your brand beat the clutter

In our previous post, we discussed the challenges that marketers face in diminished response in their brand marketing efforts. One of the key issues was that of ad clutter and the increasingly noisy communications landscape that marketers are facing. To combat ad clutter, data suggests an advantage goes to marketers who embrace a highly targeted yet multichannel approach. 

Multichannel-to-beat-ad-clutterA recent study by ATG  confirmed that nearly 80 percent of consumers consider more than one media channel when making purchasing decisions, and 25 percent use three channels or more. Furthermore, 78 percent of those surveyed said they use catalogs to browse and discover products — a notable validation for print media in the face of a growing array of digital strategies.

Advances in digital media — such as email, websites, social channels and mobile apps — have indeed forced print advertising and direct mail to take a hit. But the reality is that a decline in print tactics does not correlate directly to greater successes on digital initiatives. IDG Connect (2010 Report) recently confirmed that consumers receive 14-15 brand message emails daily, above and beyond their busy inbox for work-related communications. As a result, email overload and clutter is driving disappointing response rates for email marketers. Email is cheap though, so marketers determined to stick with an email strategy may simply increase outbound mailing efforts. This reinforces the cycle of clutter — with consumers using more powerful spam filters to stop the onslaught and email marketers further increasing their traffic. It’s part of the misguided approach that says the means to beat clutter is to just distribute more and more of it.

In contrast, data from Pitney Bowes indicates that the typical American household receives roughly 15-17 pieces of advertising-related mail per week. Although light in comparison to that amount received each day digitally, these direct mail materials pool in the mailbox and represent another source of clutter. The inherent advantages of print — the quality sense of color and heavy paper, the emotional connection of holding and feeling the material — these benefits are often undiscovered in a pile of mail that is statistically very likely to head straight for the recycle bin. 

The front door, however, represents an underutilized, additional channel that addresses some of these issues — free of the clutter that appears in the mailbox, online and on TV, and a highly visible avenue for message placement. This represents a vast and largely untapped channel for Fortune 500 brands to bring value to a precisely defined audience, with measurable results enabled by technology-based processes. Most consumers are tired of established mass advertising and direct marketing methods that bring self-serving messages and little to no value so the high-value offer left just for them is perceived as personalized, special treatment from a trusted brand.

Given the current marketing climate, all of these characteristics have coalesced to re-invent the front door as a strategic marketing channel. Further, science and technology — the same tools that are routinely applied to the more crowded media venues – are enabling front door campaign execution with controlled, technology-based precision. Marketers have a quiet, uncluttered environment to offer value and build ROI with an intelligent, response-driven mechanism.

What other alternative media channels have you added to your campaigns?

Understanding Diminished Response to Brand Marketing

Reasons why your marketing ROI may not be what you expect

Media-Clutter-NoiseMarketing to today’s consumer has become more complex. The communications landscape of today is busier and unlike anything ever before, with information and messages coming from mail, email, telephone, Internet, radio, television, mobile, social, even outdoor communications. Consumers are facing a surge in information that has the potential to, at best, overwhelm and, at worst, alienate. While marketers do calculate their targets, targeting may be too broad or a single consumer may represent the sweet spot for any number of target groups. As a result, that individual walks away unresponsive and feeling as if bombardment really is the name of the game. 

The New Normal
Broad-sweeping financial, economic and even political issues have had impact on the lives of Americans today. There is in effect a new normal, defined as permanent changes in consumer thinking based on the recession and economic challenges. Seeking value as a priority, paying cash for necessities, foregoing credit cards, searching for discounts and putting money in the bank have become the rule rather than the exception. And while the recession may officially be over, some economists say many of these changes in spending habits, initially seen as temporary, have taken hold for the long haul. This economic trend represents a significant opportunity for marketers, going beyond the sole purpose of grabbing someone’s attention, and instead delivering usefulness and value.

Feeding Fragmentation
At the same time consumers are overloaded with marketing messages that may or may not be applicable, marketers are dealing with increasing audience fragmentation. There was a time — a very short time — when a television ad could reach 70 percent of the viewing audience. Nowadays, network television has given way to an army of terrestrial, cable and now digital broadcast options offered by satellite, cable and fiber optics. The Internet changed the world and reaches anyone and everyone. Traditional print media — whether it be newspapers, magazines or direct mail — adds to the list of individual options for viewing information and interacting with commercial messages.  

Social media, email, print, radio and television all play a role in this deluge of information which continues to grow.  Marketers are seeing less favorable returns on their marketing investments and in turn must buy and manage communications strategies over a much greater number of channels.

Consumers in Control
Further, there is a marketing savvy present in today’s consumer that has grown out of this experience. Faced with a barrage of marketing messages and brand choices, it’s easy for consumers to believe that everywhere they look, everywhere they go, someone wants to sell them something. 

That growing media noise has taught consumers a new skill — that is, shutting down messages that are neither of interest nor meant for them specifically. Tuning out non-essential communications is a phenomenon that has dramatically reduced overall response rates,  even in the face of more and more and more communication and outreach from marketers. 

Marketers are determined to be heard over the noise but are ultimately only feeding the problem by buying more ad space and airtime, sending out more direct mailers, making more cold calls, and posting more tweets and Facebook updates. The good news is that consumers don’t inherently hate ads. They just hate bad ads that don’t bring value or otherwise matter to them – those are the messages that drive consumers away feeling alienated and are the type of tactics that skilled marketers need to sidestep.

The challenge for marketers is to understand that brand loyalty is being replaced by the pursuit of straight-up value, and take that concept further and determine new methods and channels for delivering on the consumer’s expectation of brand value and personal relevance. In our downloadable white paper (name and email required), we explore more about this issue and possible ways to improve ROI and motivate consumer action.

What other reasons or events have affected the response to your brand marketing efforts?

10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Direct Response Campaign

Leverage strategic thinking and execution to improve direct response campaigns

10-Simple-Ways-Increase-Direct-ResponseReaching the right consumer is becoming more difficult with the increasingly cluttered media landscape. Consumers are also becoming more accustomed to marketing messages, and their filters are more discriminating. However, this challenge is also an opportunity for marketers to win customers by delivering relevance, value, and, ultimately, engaging the customer.

Here, we’ve outlined the ten simple steps to improving your direct response campaign and your perceived relationship with your customers.

1. Think globally, but execute with precision
In today’s jam-packed direct response landscape, broad targeting can alienate. Reinforce your brand relationships and deliver on value expectations with precision targeting instead. Doing so will put you at the top of the consumer’s consideration list.

2. Execute today based on what you need to achieve tomorrow
Base your efforts on what can help you grow your results tomorrow and beyond. Capitalize on what you’re doing well and expand your strategies to include more than “just more” of the same.

3. Avoiding message clutter maximizes results
Take a savvy approach to your campaign by combining technology and a range of channels as well as grassroots communications such as front-door marketing. Remember: the only real difference between alternative and traditional media is perspective: the right channel is the one that reaches the responsive customer with the right message at the right time.

4. Customers expect you to know what they need; don’t show up empty-handed
Your brand message should always be persuasive, and give customers a genuine reason to respond and a high-value offer delivered in a useful, convenient way.

5. The path to purchase starts at home
Understand what makes your customers tick and meet them early on their path to purchase. While there are many elements that influence purchase decisions, perhaps none are stronger than experiences that start in the comfort of the home.

6. Science and technology drive results, but only if you stay close to the data
Integrate data about your customer into every campaign stage and use the data to support your plans rather than reshape them.

7. Don’t waste resources: targeting is the name of the game
Use factors such as demographics, lifestyle segmentation, consumer behavior, ethnicity, and consumer buying power as the starting points in your campaign’s targeting. Don’t forget to refine your ideal customer profile as the campaigns progress.

8. Test, evaluate, and adjust – learn something from every campaign
Always be prepared to re-prioritize data points that may unexpectedly impact your response rates, such as weather, geography, timing. Be further prepared to make adjustments with secondary campaign executions, such as increasing the frequency or value of your offer or shifting resources into a less cluttered channel.

9. Tracked results validate efforts and help expand targets
Direct response campaigns have the advantage of trackability, so keep a close eye on your campaign, budget, and results. Implement tracking and campaign management tools to help you close the loop on your investment, and when results are validated, use assumptive data modeling to build on what worked.

10. Even class direct response strategies can benefit from a fresh approach
Marketing budgets are tight and campaigns need to deliver, so develop a process for every campaign. Compare channel and results and think of ways to connect media touch points to maximize your efforts.

What are some other tips you would recommend for improving a direct response campaign?