Having a strong and relevant offer to make, presented with compelling copy and visuals, is every direct mail marketer’s goal. Yet the real potency in the formula for campaign success lies with your data. Whether you’re marketing to prospects or customers, your mailing list is responsible for up to 60% of your campaign’s response. Of course, good data is a powerful business asset and essential for more than marketing campaigns. What defines “good” data, and what makes up a data-driven organization? We talked with John Loury, president of CAUSE + EFFECT Strategy and Marketing, about data’s role in a small to mid-sized business (SMB), how organizations can use what they know about their customers and supporters to drive better results and how to fill in the gaps.
What defines a successful direct mail campaign?
LOURY: Direct mail is a powerful marketing channel, and it behooves marketers to justify it by being data-driven. From my perspective, a successful campaign is one that is produced on time, within budget and exceeds the data-driven goals that are established prior to execution. Today, there is no reason why every campaign should not have some projections based on desired response rates or revenues generated.
Level one metrics might be website visits or event registrants resulting from a direct mail piece you’ve sent. And that’s great. Next level would be, did they show up to the event? And after they came, did they purchase or do the desired business action? To calculate the true ROI, you need to close the sales loop.
How do you go about segmenting data for better response?
LOURY: Segmenting starts with identifying the goal(s) of your campaign and then building an audience to help you accomplish that goal. Start with an internal review of your current data. Once that is collected and compiled, ask yourself the following questions: Is our data set complete? Is there more data that we wish we had, and where is it? Are there third-party resources that could help us fill those holes or enhance what we already have?
Then it’s time to apply the attributes of the audience you think will help accomplish your goal to the data. Once that audience has been defined from a strategic sense, it’s important to choose the offer or value proposition for that segment and develop creative elements that are personalized to maximize the emotional appeal and desired response. All segments are not worthwhile targets for every offer.
How do SMBs typically mismanage their data?
LOURY: The biggest challenge I see is that SMBs don’t have all the data they need. You might collect response data or address data for a few months. And then someone gets busy, and before you know it, there’s a few months missing before someone picks it up again.
Most software programs make it easy to input data. The cleanliness or inaccuracy of it is due to human error. There are free tools or inexpensive tools that can do the wrangling or manipulation of data at a basic level: fixing capitalization, eliminating extra fields or characters, and removing duplicate records.
The next level is more about completeness or being thorough and detailed about what you’re collecting and who you’re collecting it from.
What are some ways to get more out of the data you already have?
LOURY: Most can benefit from a better understanding of their data sources, regardless of whether you think you need it now or not. Anything business related should be accounted for and categorized.
For example, it’s not uncommon for finance, HR, marketing, sales and operations to have files kept in silos. You might not think you need operations data when you are measuring a marketing campaign. But, if you want to close the loop on ROI, being able to merge marketing or sales data with operations or finance data might be the linchpin to do that.
Today, being able to tie things back to actual business results has never been more important and never more possible.
Behavioral data versus transactional data. How do they interact?
LOURY: Behavioral data and transactional data are the two parts that make up the how, what and when a marketing success takes place. Behavioral data is knowing that someone has visited a landing page or opened an email. Transactional data would be the purchase of a product or attendance at an event. Sequentially, we hope that behaviors lead to transactions.
As a data-driven marketer, you set out to tie the two together, so you can duplicate this process and begin to understand the last piece, which is why this is taking place to generate more of these successes!
Need a hand with managing customer lists or sourcing prospect data? Let us know; we can help!