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?

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?

Be Direct; Bypass the Mailbox

Getting Attention with Front-Door Marketing

As the United States Post Office continues to take a beating – posting a $747M net loss in April alone – marketers have got to wonder about the long-term viability of this once stable and reliable entity to effectively deliver marketing messages.  Postal staff has been reduced, offices have closed, and changes in service may be coming soon as the USPS looks to find ways to survive losses in the billions for its fiscal 2011.

Is your advertising message getting lost in the clutter?

The mailbox is certainly finding it difficult to compete in a world where marketing messages have permeated nearly every aspect of daily life; it has sadly been relegated to the role of clutter collector. Smart marketers are responding by targeting their best prospects with offers that bypass the tired mailbox and bring value directly to the front door.  Major brands like Kohl’s, BestBuy and McDonalds have learned that front-door marketing is a highly effective tool in getting the right message to the right consumer at the right time – ensuring that messages are both delivered and heard over the noise.  A direct response discipline in its own right, front-door marketing eliminates the reliance on postal services and bypasses a clutter-filled mailbox, reaching consumers with personalized brand value.

Are you relying on outdated methods to generate customer response? Perhaps it’s time to consider broadening your reach beyond the mailbox with a more focused and effective front-door marketing approach.

Deal of the Day?

Random Deals Have Their Place – But Targeted Offers are Often the Better Deal, Both for Consumers and Major Brands

Groupon's deep-discount model is enticing, but offers are not always relevant.

The appeal of a deal that is just too good to pass up can be, well, difficult to pass up. And a new one every day may sound great in theory – but that sweet price break is not always a highly relevant offer. More accurately, it is rarely relevant.  Daily deal websites such as Groupon, Living Social and Gilt may entice the saver in all of us, but as they fill up email boxes, text messages and Facebook pages, the subscriber may begin wondering what they really signed up for.

From the marketer’s perspective, Groupon charges a comparatively high percentage of the pre-paid coupon’s face value.  This model is only ideal when the marketer’s product has a very high margin (like services such as spas) or needs brand awareness that is too costly to develop through other channels (e.g. small, unknown, local businesses). Larger retailers such as restaurant chains, major retailers and brand manufacturers have slimmer margins, are better known and just don’t need to widely offer such deep discounts.

Are there better options? While daily deal sites are still proving their usefulness, there are alternatives that are highly targeted, provide significant value and cost the consumer nothing up front.  One such method is front-door media – used by major brands like McDonalds, Kohl’s, Home Depot and Best Buy to bypass the mailbox and get the right message of value directly into the hands of their target shoppers. Similar to the daily deal sites, the discounts are significant – often in the neighborhood of 50 percent off or more – but unlike those sites, the offers are highly targeted and meant for the recipient based on a variety of factors such as demographics, lifestyle segmentation, consumer behavior, ethnicity and consumer buying power. Front-door marketing is not a new tactic, however it’s more sophisticated than ever, and effectively poised to drive traffic and purchase decisions as part of an overall marketing program.

Are you considering new, untargeted and unproven methods to increase sales? Will the end result warrant the investment? Shouldn’t a major brand like yours be speaking directly to your customers with branded offers delivered directly to the front door?

Out of the Mailbox: Alternatives to Reaching Consumers At Home

Direct mail is a multimillion dollar business in the US and a usual fixture in most direct marketing programs. However, according to DMNews, the changing nature of the USPS and emerging customer communications technology have forced marketers to consider new alternatives for reaching consumers at home.

Despite the Postal Regulatory Commission denying the Postal Service’s request for a rate increase, marketers are still planning for higher postal rates in the future (the USPS reported last month that it is looking to appeal Commission’s decision), the cutting of Saturday home delivery, fewer Post Office branches, and the possibility that the USPS will be out of money in 2011.

What this means for marketers is that not only will direct mail access to consumers homes be more expensive, but marketers will miss out on the chance to influence consumers at home on Saturday, one of the biggest retail shopping days.

In an effort to diversify their media mix and decrease their reliance on US mail, some marketers are moving towards an online solution, which has been propelled by recent mobile commerce innovations such as mobile payments. However, Paul Vogel, president of mailing and shipping services at the USPS, warns that inboxes and social media messages are becoming increasingly cluttered.

Making the move from out of the mailbox and into the inbox doesn’t solve for the age-old problem of increasing advertising clutter. If marketers are looking for a true alternative, front-door marketing gives consumers the touch and feel of a direct mail piece, but without the clutter of the mailbox or inbox.

Change is inevitable for the USPS, and marketers should consider how these changes will affect their future marketing plans and place renewed emphasis on finding alternative options to reaching consumers at home.