3 Steps to a Better Targeting Plan

Photo by cliff106We’ve talked about targeting in the previous post and how it’s done for a front-door campaign. In general, though, leveraging available consumer information, whether third-party or in-house, is one of the most important steps in a campaign.

Here, we share three steps you can take to creating a better targeting plan for your next campaign.
 
1. Start with the right strategy
Take a moment to understand how you are reaching your customers. If it’s through the front door, then evaluate whether your message will resonate in the same way that it does via a television commercial. Ask questions: What do we hope to achieve? Can we make a unique, high-value offer specifically for the front door? Is the offer compelling enough to drive ideal customers to action?
 
2. Leverage existing customer information
Many brands already have well-developed customer profiles, created from either internally managed sources or response data from previous campaigns. Leverage this information to create a unique profile for your campaign. Doing so will allow you to identify any new learnings from the campaign and enables you to track these customers and their behaviors more accurately. Furthermore, data modeling of this customer data can help find “look-alikes” and even predict future behavior.
 
3. Add other quality data sources
If you don’t have years of curated internal customer data, then use third-party resources. Resources like Nielsen Claritas, Simmons, and the US Postal Service provide demographic, behavior, and purchasing data that helps you further understand your target audience. Also, be certain to use up-to-date information, such as in the case of the Census demographic information.
 
What are some other ways you’ve improved your targeting plan? Share with us your ideas in the comments below.
 

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?

Tapping into the New Normal

Value-Conscious Americans are Driving Marketers to Adapt

Wide-sweeping financial, economic and even political issues impact American life today, inspiring ‘a new normal,’ or permanent changes in consumer thinking based on the recession and economic challenges.  In actuality, consumers are embracing a series of ‘new normals,’ including dramatic changes in the way we think, act, plan, shop, spend and save.  Americans are adapting and marketers must follow suit. These trends represent a significant opportunity for marketers to move well beyond grabbing someone’s attention, and instead deliver usefulness and value. 

"New normal" consumer habits like penny-pinching continue in the post-recession economy.

Shoppers are seeking value as a priority, paying cash for necessities, foregoing credit cards, searching for discounts and putting money in the bank as the rule rather than the exception – courtesy of the recent recession. Spending is more cautious, with consumers looking for deals, using coupons and actively focused on getting the most for their money.  In turn, trimming advertising and promotion budgets is part of the new normal for marketers, who now must turn to more streamlined, targeted, ROI-based practices.

The current marketing climate is ripe for alternate strategies such as front door marketing, using the same targeting tools routinely applied to more crowded media venues – yet providing a quiet, uncluttered environment to offer value and build ROI with an intelligent, response-driven mechanism.  The call to action on the front-door marketing piece attracts the attention of the recipient by proving to be remarkably worthy. Gift cards, sweepstakes, tear-off offers, and sensory marketing with sound, scent or taste are available options, and represent a highly-strategic, savings-based approach suited to major brands and promotions.

The recession may be showing signs of recovery, but many economists predict that most of the changes in our spending habits, initially seen as temporary, have taken hold for the long term.  If consumer behavior has truly evolved on a socio-economic level, what are you doing to meet or exceed a consumer’s expectation of value from a favorite brand?  Are you tapping into the front-door marketing channel to deliver savings to your best customers?

Today’s Media Onslaught Causes Consumers to Tune Out

Use the ‘Less is More’ Philosophy to Break through Media Overload

Howard Gossage, one of the earliest innovators in advertising, once said that people don’t read ads. They read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad.  The point is that people don’t inherently hate ads; they just hate bad ads that don’t bring value or otherwise matter to them.  Today that phenomenon has evolved even further, as the average consumer has become highly skilled at tuning out messages that are neither of interest nor intended specifically for them.

Image source: creativecouples.net

This increasing ability to shut down messages means that marketers need to refine their efforts rather than simply expand them.  Less is more, and more of the same simply won’t do the trick. Channels, messages and targeting all must come together to effectively reach the right audience with pertinent communication.

The ability to deliver a succinct message, respecting the intelligence and value of the audience in the process, is highly prized by marketers.  An innate characteristic of front door marketing, this singular, uncluttered channel is in line with the evolution of the ‘consumer brain.’   In fact, according to a now well-cited study by Stanford University researchers, the human brain is just not well-suited to media multi-tasking and being bombarded with multiple streams of electronic information.

Are you considering the ‘how, when and where’ factors in reaching your target audience? Using the front door may help your message stand out with value and meaning, and break through on a much more personal level.

Good Marketing Always Finds a Reason to Celebrate

Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day – You Name it; Retailers Have Been Using ‘Holidays’ to Drive Customer Traffic for Decades

Ah, love is in the air.  Just look around. On TV, in newspapers, magazines and online – who needs a calendar to be reminded of Valentine’s Day when the good folks at Hallmark, Teleflora and Godiva are pulling out all the stops to ‘nudge’ you into buying or doing something nice for your sweetie.

According to a recent study commissioned by the National Retail Federation, the average person will spend $116.21 on traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise this year, up 12.8 percent over last year’s $103.00. Couples this year will spend an average of $68.98 on their significant other or spouse.  And total holiday spending is expected to reach $15.7 billion.

For years marketers have been relying on this and fringier holidays to boost sales. (Presidents’ Day is the perfect time to buy a mattress, right?). No matter how silly some of the sales connected to the various holidays seem, they do represent yet another opportunity for retail marketers to connect with consumers who are more willing to spend as the economy strengthens.

By adding alternative channels to the mix, marketers can extend these ‘holiday’ sales efforts and expand their reach beyond the ordinary. The new twist on front door marketing combines the same scientific data used in traditional direct marketing channels with unique special offers to deliver the right branded message to the right door. Yet another layer to an aggressive marketing strategy designed to get customers into the store.

Are you taking advantage of all the right effective channels to drive retail traffic?

Renewed Focus on Shopper Marketing Looms for 2011

Marketers Emphasize the Art and Science of Reaching Shoppers All Along the Path to Purchase

Consumers have evolved – a not too surprising outcome of the recession and resulting lifestyle changes across the country.  Values, priorities and resources have shifted profoundly, reshaping shopping behaviors and motivations.  Marketers need to gain insight into this new mindset, finding ways to deliver value and connect with customers on the long and winding path to purchase.  According to excerpts from the Ad Age Insights Shopper Marketing Report, agencies are restructuring for enhanced shopper marketing – defining primary challenges, best practices and developing needs as an overall brand marketing priority. 

Booz & Co. states that manufacturer investment in shopper marketing has nearly doubled over the past five years, currently at $35 billion with 15 percent annual growth anticipated (based on funding reallocations from traditional media and trade promotion).  If that’s not convincing enough, the Booz data also notes that 83 percent of consumer-packaged goods companies surveyed expect to increase their shopper-marketing investment over the next three years. For 55 percent of those companies, investments in shopper marketing will exceed all other marketing spending, including internet and social media.

At the same time, consumer spending is more cautious with shoppers looking for deals, using coupons and actively focused on getting the most for their money.  Research from the Integer Group shows that 86 percent of respondents felt that coupons were at least somewhat influential in choosing a brand; as many as 70 percent used coupons to justify their brand choice.

These trends represent a significant marketing opportunity for direct response messages, going beyond the sole purpose of getting someone’s attention, and instead delivering usefulness and value.  Front door media is uniquely suited to this purpose, hand placing an impression of quality in a location where residents interact with the media and have a high percentage of response. The right message of value receives more consideration in the comfort of the home, where consumers are relaxed and more responsive.  Shopping decisions and lists are made in the home, and nearby phones and computers support the consumer’s ability to act on the message.

Are you bracing for enhanced shopper marketing? And what are your plans for reaching your best customers early on their path to purchase?

A Great Holiday Season for Retail Sales but What Comes Next?

As Shopper Attention Shifts, Retailers Put Finishing Touches on Post-Holiday Deals to Entice Consumers

In the final week leading up to Christmas, retailers are still reaping the rewards of a busier-than-usual holiday season with consumers checking those last few items off their gift-buying lists. In fact, earlier this week the National Retail Federation revised its holiday forecast, now projecting a 3.3 percent increase over last year’s figures. And while sales generally slow significantly after Christmas, retailers recognize some of the very unique opportunities post-holiday promotions can bring. 

The closer it gets to Christmas the more likely it is that people are trying to steer clear of the malls. But there’s something about December 26th that makes them more than willing to venture out again. After all the fun and stress leading up to the big day, shoppers are traditionally ready to think about an entirely different set of priorities. Diet, exercise and general ‘recovery’ from holiday indulgences commonly top the list, often paired with feeling like “it’s time to treat myself.”  Perhaps that perfect gift wasn’t under the tree, but several not-so-great presents could be returned and put toward what was really on the wish list.  Retailers rely on after-Christmas sales, gift cards and gift returns to keep shoppers strolling through their doors, and need to make the most of this post-holiday shopping period.

To rise above the hustle and bustle of holiday ads and messages, retailers may choose to take a more personal approach to attract post-holiday shoppers and clear out merchandise. Campaigns using channels like front door marketing can be executed quickly and easily, driving response with a compelling offer that gets consumers to act.  With a start to finish timeframe of as little as two weeks, retailers can have their branded message delivered to the front door of some of their best and most promising customers.                                                                         

What are you doing to get shoppers back into your store after the holiday splurge?

The Path to Purchase Starts at Home, During the Holidays and Year-Round

The Search for Value is Not a Linear Process, with Consumers Making Shopping Decisions Every Day in Every Way

Consumers consider brands as they move through a variety of daily events such as walking through a store, or even non-events such as opening the pantry door.  With major retailers referring to the path as a circle, a pool or even a puddle, it’s dramatically clear that it is neither linear nor defined by a particular channel.  The path to purchase is a big picture opportunity for retailers, fueled by mobile, digital, social, radio, television and print media – and advantage goes to markets using multi-channel strategies to layer messaging and offer consumer value all along the path.

A recent survey by retail industry analyst E-tailing Group confirms the consumer’s focus on value, indicating that merchants must get creative as almost half of shoppers will refuse to pay full price this holiday season.  Further customer service and promotions are heavily favored, and 39 percent of shoppers plan to complete most of their holiday shopping by early December (an increase over last year’s 34 percent.) Savvy marketers have recognized these factors as advantages for offering relevant information to the shopper early in the process, meeting expectations of brand value, keeping them informed and becoming part of the research and ritual of making shopping decisions.

Further, news from IDC Retail Insights points out that ‘sequential use of multiple channels’ by consumers will shift to ‘concurrent omnichannel behavior’ – meaning that new options such as mobile price research weakens the retailer’s immediate influence on purchase decision made right at the product shelf.  Brands that answer back with “three-dimensional selling,” working to solve a customer problem rather than sell a product, are on the right track by offering high value to reinforce greater brand appreciation earlier in the shopping chain.  The consumer may not necessarily care about which entertainment provider they use, rather they are more interested in the cost, availability and convenience enabled by their various options.

The path literally encompasses all aspects of shopping, from considering needs, evaluating brands, comparing prices, researching options and listening to recommendations from trusted friends.  For marketers, influencing customer choices involves strengthening the connection that comes to mind in each of these instances.   Reaching consumers early on the path maximizes the opportunities for shopper connections – whether it’s planning dinner, making a shopping list or just realizing the kids need new shoes.

Does your marketing strategy recognize the limitations of a linear view of the path to purchase? And are you doing enough to reach your customer early in the cycle, offering value and resonant messages that can linger for extended consideration and response?

Retailers are Getting Their Piece of the Holiday Pie with Deep Discounts

Black Friday Encourages Retailers to Keep Those Deals Coming

Disappointing retail results for the past several holiday seasons have led to sales and specials that go well beyond the hype that is ‘Black Friday.’ The lines have definitely been blurred with prices slashed throughout the months leading up to Christmas.  This aggressive effort seems to be paying off this year with retail traffic up significantly. 

In fact, recent survey results from the National Retail Federation show that 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the four day-long Black Friday weekend, up from 195 million last year. In addition, people spent more, with the average shopper shelling out $365.34, up from last year’s $343.31. And total weekend spending reached an estimated $45.0 billion.  These figures don’t even take into account the 37.2 percent of Americans who planned to begin holiday shopping before Halloween.

To get the attention of today’s consumer, retailers are taking advantage of the myriad channels available to them.  Print, online, television, direct mail – ads are coming at us from every direction.  It’s all good but it can get confusing and many times it’s in one ear, out the other. One under-utilized marketing channel is rising above the noise though, demonstrating significant success for major brands across the country.  These retailers have committed to reaching the right customers with ‘too good to miss’ offers delivered right to the front door. 

The front door is an ideal meeting place – uncluttered, highly visible and primed for action. And today’s front door marketing brings value to a precisely defined audience, with measurable results enabled by technology-based processes.  Certainly, the right message combined with a compelling offer receives more consideration in the comfort of the home where consumers are relaxed, more responsive and making their shopping plans.  It’s a channel that’s working for major retailers around the country. Are you doing all you can to reach your customers to drive holiday traffic with special discounts meant just for them?

Customers Seek Value Now More Than Ever, and Brands Must Get on Board

Consumer behavior has changed dramatically and smart marketers are paying attention.  Seeking value as a priority, paying cash for necessities, foregoing credit cards, searching for discounts and putting money in the bank have become the norm thanks to the recent recession. Spending is more cautious, with consumers looking for deals, using coupons and actively focused on getting the most for their money.  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.  The 2010 Nielsen Economic Current states “value remains the mantra and the new normal is characterized by restraint.” The report also indicates that shoppers across the U.S. and Canada are cutting back on trips to the store, seeking value and balancing their purchases with a mix of branded and store brand items. 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. 

Further, internet research firm Burst Media recently surveyed more than 4,500 women, age 18 and older, concluding that coupon use, in both the online and offline world, is growing.  In fact, nearly one-third (32.4%) of respondents consider themselves ‘frequent’ coupon users and one-third (34.0%) are using coupons more frequently today than they were six months ago.

High value offers characteristic of front door marketing strategies may fill a gap here – demonstrating a brand’s understanding of customer needs, while meeting a customer’s expectations of value. If it’s all about the getting the right offer on the right door, today’s creative front door media can make a high value offer stand out.  Gift cards, sweepstakes, tear-off offers, and sensory marketing with sound, scent or taste are available media options and represent a dramatically personal approach suited for major brands seeking to offer special treatment to their best customers.

If customers have high expectations of value from their favorite brands, what are you doing to deliver VIP treatment to their front door? Is your offer high value enough to walk through your customer’s front door as a welcome visitor?