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?

Shopping: the Cure for the Summertime Blues

Whether you’re prepping for summer vacation or back-to-school, now is the time to save big 

Mass retailers like Kohl’s, Macy’s and Target are looking to move summer merchandise fast to make way for their fall offerings.  In addition to slashing prices, retailers across the country are attracting customers out of the heat and into their cool, air-conditioned stores with front-door marketing.  So what are your customers waiting for? Help them decide that it’s time to pick up that super cute bathing suit they wanted back in April, not only at a sale price but perhaps at an even deeper discount in the form of an attention-grabbing coupon right on their doorknob.  

With a high-value retail offer waiting at the front door, brands have the opportunity to get the attention of parents who are busy juggling summer activities and priorities.  And while more families are taking ‘staycations’ to save on gas and lodging, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t trying to beat the heat in the latest summer fashions and accessories. With a big need for shorts and tank tops but little room for big splurge, consumers are looking to brands that appreciate and respect their position.  Retailers must in turn attract consumer dollars more creatively and at every strategic opportunity.

Front-door marketing can be executed quickly and easily to drive 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 into your store during the lazy days of summer?

Front-Door Marketing Proves Effective in Reaching Culturally-Diverse Hispanic Audiences

Precision Targeting, Cultural Relevance and High-Value Promotions Work Together to Engage Hispanic Consumers

Front-door marketing can influence purchasing decisions by reaching Hispanic consumers at home.

Marketing to a diverse Hispanic audience is becoming an important challenge for major brands across the country.  According to recently published reports from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half of the growth in the total population of the United States between 2000 and 2010 was due to the increase in the Hispanic population. In fact, in 2010 there were 50.5 million Hispanics in the U.S., accounting for 16 percent of the total population – some pretty impressive statistics that are causing marketers to rethink this important audience and how best to reach them.

This week’s Hispanic Retail 360 Summit in San Diego will no doubt highlight this new data and offer up some innovative methods to turn Hispanic prospects into customers. Front-door marketing is one such method that is growing in use based on its ability to reach precisely targeted Hispanic market segments whose country or place of origin (such as Mexico, Puerto Rico or Cuba) typically affects similarities in dialect and cultural traditions. Highly motivating incentives and promotions are characteristic to front-door campaigns and a boon to marketers – essential for reaching a value-conscious Hispanic consumer base and amplified by the word-of-mouth communication inherent to many Hispanic communities. Door hangers remain a popular choice, made today in high quality, oversized formats designed to get attention.  Polybags, courier packaging and other creative approaches are also available, including scratch-offs, affixed gift cards, or even sensory options such as sound, scent, or taste.

Recent Hispanic front-door marketing campaigns have been deployed by PowerDirect for clients such as Clorox, Hillshire Farms and Fingerhut. Have you joined the ranks of culturally-savvy brands, thinking outside the box to get the attention of this growing audience? Are you embarking on front-door campaigns to offer relevance and respect for what the Hispanic audience values most? What are you doing to reach and engage the Hispanic consumer?

Big Brands Take a Fresh Look at Coupons

Record-Level Couponing Reaches Best Customers, Not Just Deal-Seekers

After a coupon glut in the 90’s, some brands refocused efforts on everyday low pricing – however sweeping factors like unemployment, rising gas prices and a faulty economy have steadily increased consumers’ sensitivity to pricing and sharpened their focus on getting a good deal.  On everything.

Coupon redemption is up almost 17.6% from 2009, according to Valassis' 2011 US Mid-Year Consumer Packaged Goods Coupon Facts Report.

Coupons and coupon users have changed with the times. From casual users, to enthusiasts, to evangelists, to extreme couponers a la TLC’s television show – brands have recognized a shift in how coupons are perceived, valued and redeemed. Today, coupons are a hot commodity valued by a much broader range of the American public, and offered strategically by forward-thinking brands charged with developing buzz and profits amid recession.  Via Google Insights for Search, “coupon” or “coupons” recently indexed at more than twice their 2006 pre-recession levels. Growth was steady through 2009, leveled off in 2010 and reached new heights in early 2011 – in step with growing consumer concern for value and savings.

Brands are more than ever recognizing coupons as an opportunity to build consumer awareness and trail, as well as a platform to tell their value story.  Front-door marketing is proving highly viable in this effort – but requires some expertise in order to make of the most of a strategic opportunity.  For example, your brand is being invited into someone’s home right through the front door – don’t show up empty-handed.  Consumers have a strong expectation of quality from their favorite brands, and front door marketing campaigns must meet or exceed this bar. As a result, the front door offer is typically higher in value than offers made through other channels, providing the most compelling call to action and ensuring greater result by being remarkably worthy.

Are you considering the strategic couponing opportunity presented by the front door and its ability to communicate powerfully on a personal level?  And if so, are you tapping channel expertise to develop the most compelling offers and maximize the front door as a customer venue?

Effective Front-Door Marketing Can Meet a Variety of Goals – Quickly

Working with an Experienced Partner Sets the Foundation for Success

Handled with skill and technology, today’s front-door marketing campaigns are able to generate results faster than most other media. In fact, with a highly-efficient distribution system in place, speed-to-market can be maximized with campaigns frequently executed in a 10-14 day timeframe.  Now that’s a fast track to results, which can be tied to a range of client metrics or priorities.

Consumers redeem front-door media offers in-store, and coupon redemption is tracked to evaluate campaign results.

There are a number of ways to measure success and it’s important to determine those criteria up front.  Frequently, the ultimate goal is redemption of a promotional offer, however front-door marketing can and does serve a variety of purposes.  It can be used to generate traffic, provide loyalty incentives, increase awareness or reinforce branding efforts; it is an ideal component to an acquisition, retention or ‘re-activation’ program. 

The medium also works well to reinforce a position when a company is expanding or finds itself going head to head with the competition.  New product launches and trial programs can be targeted with pinpoint accuracy, getting information and product into the hands of those most likely to respond. Response-driven mechanisms like coupons, toll-free numbers and drive-to-web incentives are popular and effective – made even stronger by working with a skilled, trusted front-door marketing partner.

Meeting marketing goals effectively – while communicating a strong sense of brand – is a top mandate for national and regional businesses, and is well-supported by delivering a high-quality message of value to a very precise target.  Are you defining metrics and moving quickly to engage your best prospects? Are you teaming up with an experienced and knowledgeable front-door marketing partner that knows the ins-and-outs of deploying a successful campaign?

Pinpointing Your Audience

Using the Front Door to Reach Your Most Valued Customers

Every marketing campaign requires thoughtful analysis and identification of the best prospects based on the brand’s targeting strategy and available data. For front-door campaigns, data must be analyzed with the front door in mind – including information reflecting behavioral characteristics, geo-demographics, and transactional information whenever possible.   The ability to consider these factors and apply the information strategically has in fact enabled front-door marketing as a highly targeted strategic tool.  

Photo courtesy of Raymond Shobe via flickr.com

For example, a recent campaign was executed to promote the launch of a new family film.  The front door campaign was executed within 3 days of the movie’s launch, delivering to 4 states simultaneously. U.S. Census block level data was used to identify target family neighborhoods, eliminating waste by delivering the offer only to families with young children.

Prior to such skillful targeting capabilities, marketing pieces were delivered to the front door based on ZIP code saturation.  This meant everyone within a ZIP code (approximately 13,000 households) would receive the same piece of media regardless of demographic importance or project objective.  By abandoning the ZIP code approach and moving to the use of U.S. Census Block Groups – census-defined territories of approximately 100 to 400 households – this process has been substantially refined to enable extremely targeted distributions.  Digging even deeper, custom profiles can be created using Census information, household purchase behavior and lifestyle segmentation; this identifies clusters of homes that will in turn deliver the highest response rates on the campaign’s objectives.

Are you achieving results by pinpointing your target, or wasting marketing resources by blanketing a too-broad group?  Consider creative integration of front-door marketing programs within your overall marketing strategy.

Restaurants Increase Traffic by Influencing Dining Choices and Engaging Customers at Home

Front-Door Marketing Can Effectively Reach the Best Prospects in Range of Dining Categories

Whether launching a new menu item, promoting a signature dish, trying to reach a specific customer segment (e.g. Hispanics), or build traffic around a specific day or week part, front-door marketing is well-suited to help restaurant chains make the most of renewed consumer foodservice spending.  But while many restaurant operators anticipate increased consumer spending, they are still acutely aware of new long-term attitudes toward frugality. Capturing the consumer’s attention is essential to cornering these carefully spent dollars, as well as maintaining a brand identity that is meaningful to the customer – expectations all met through effective targeting of front-door campaigns.

Target heavy fast food users, also known as "HFFUs", with front-door marketing. (Image courtesy of The Consumerist, via flickr.com)

As restaurants have become more and more innovative – developing creative pricing strategies, locations and food concepts – they are taking care to connect these strategies with the right audience.  Thoughtful analysis enables development of target groups that consider not only the best prospects, but where they live and the likelihood that they will visit a particular restaurant chain. Data modeling extends targeting resources by further identifying “look alike” prospects whose demographic or behavioral profiles mimic those of best-performing customers.

These groups can be targeted in much smaller units, using “block groups” of about 400 households rather than entire zip codes, and include variables such as type of chain user, brand affinity, and usage occasion. Block groups can also be segmented according to visit frequency; in particular, heavy fast food users (known as “HFFUs”) can be reached readily. Leading restaurants such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Denny’s have leveraged this level of sophisticated data, along with high-quality physical media, eye-catching creative and an attractive offer.

Are you making the most of the opportunity to engage, deliver value and reach potential diners at home, where they consider options and plan their time and budgets?  Front-door marketing can reach the right customer with the right offer, making you more competitive in introducing new stores, boosting frequency of dining visits, party size or value of average checks.

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?

Are QR Codes the Next Big Thing in Shopper Marketing?

Still in its infancy here in the States; major brands see the potential of the technology

In this week’s issue of AdAge, reporter Natalie Zmuda writes about QR Codes Gaining Prominence, with the likes of Target, Best Buy, Macy’s and Post Cereals embracing the technology.  A pretty impressive group to be sure – but just the tip of the iceberg as the technology gains greater acceptance through a concerted effort to educate the consumer.

PowerDirect's own QR code points prospects to our website.

Originally used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR (or quick-response) codes are becoming more widely used in marketing for a broad range of brand initiatives that provide mobile access not only to special offers and discounts, but also to more informative content such as product ratings and reviews, How-To guides and product-specific videos.  These two dimensional barcodes are appearing anywhere and everywhere – on billboards, in-store displays, event ticketing and tracking, business cards, print ads,  direct mail campaigns, websites, email marketing, and couponing. Marketers are realizing that the possibilities are endless.

Front-door media is yet another ideal medium for QR code implementation – providing a way to influence shoppers early on their path to purchase, supporting shopping decisions and lists made in the home with high-value offers delivered directly to the front porch.  For example, imagine bypassing the mailbox and the other clutter of a prospect’s daily life and delivering a branded message along with a product sample or a special offer to the front doors of a targeted group of prospects.  On this marketing piece is a QR code that takes the customer to a website where they can quickly view the product in action, learn more about it and even purchase it online. Perhaps the QR code takes the customer to an added incentive meant to drive traffic to a brick and mortar retail location.  Working with other pieces of the marketing program, this delivery method adds a personal touch and incentive the consumer’s brand experience.

Have you been eager to test QR codes as part of your overall strategy? Are you looking for the ability to measure response rates with a high level of accuracy? Are you ready for a simple, inexpensive way to explore the potential of QR codes?  Front-door marketing may be just the ticket.

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.