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When planning a direct marketing campaign or a mailing, be clear about your desired outcome.

<!--more-->Remember that a mailing can have several aims; achieving a sale, generating an enquiry, asking for a referral, stimulating a sample request, collecting data, and so on.

Once you've decided on your outcomes, make sure you include and repeat a call to action which satisfies this requirement.

Calls to action can be repeated in a number of places, and should be as simple to use as possible. For example if you send respondents to your website, don’t make them hunt through the site to find the product they want to buy - give them a deep link or a link to a custom landing page with a shorter bespoke URL. If they have to phone to order give them a direct line to someone who will be expecting their call.

The world of marketing may have moved on, but it seems human nature can still be influenced by the same forms of language as 15 years ago.

<!--more-->We recently rediscovered some advice on writing direct marketing copy, originally provided by marketing guru <a title="Jay Conrad Levinson" href="">Jay Conrad Levinson</a> back in 1995. In his 'guerilla marketing' series of books, Levinson listed two sets of <a title="key words for marketing" href="">keywords for copywriting</a>; Magic words to sue wherever possible to elicit a greater response, and Tragic words to avoid at all costs as they were proven to switch off the recipient.

His Magic words included common sense suggestions like:


Plus also some more interesting suggestions which seem to have held true when one considers how often they are used in the realm of digital marketing, web copy, landing pages and the like:


Then there are the Tragic words, which once again still seem to wield negative influence over the reader but do include some terms that, somewhat surprisingly, you can often see in use in direct marketing copy and calls to action, such as:


Perhaps the modern marketing professional shouldn't forget the advice of veteran's like Levinson; after all, 15 years may be a long time in technology terms, but its surely not very long in terms of human psychology.

<strong>NOTE: If you are struggling with your direct marketing copy, you can also try out the free Selectabase <a title="free direct mail letter writing tool" href="">direct mail letter writing tool</a>.</strong>

Take time to prepare a creative brief for the design and content of your mailing. The brief should outline the aims, audience and proposition for the mailing so that an outside creative agency can come up with an appropriate design solution.

If you are producing a smaller mailing in house, then it’s still worth writing yourself a creative brief first, to help you then assess whether your efforts measure up to the job. You can then show your brief and your proposed mailing to others and get proper feedback.

There are numerous opportunities to get creative in a mailing; letter copy, envelope design, mailer format, mailer text and so on.

A recent research study reports that marketing professionals still aren’t measuring the right outcomes to be able to decide if their marketing campaigns are truly effective or not.

The study by CIM and Deloitte is reported in Marketing Week, who report that “marketers are not providing measurements that allow their companies to assess the return on marketing investment effectively” and are instead “measuring what is easy, not what is important”.

Apparently, only 7% of marketers set clear key performance indicators (KPIs) for each marketing initiative. Of course it’s an easy position to fall into.

Take the measurement of an email marketing campaign as an example, when it’s relatively straightforward to identify open rates and click through rates from your email broadcast software.

Conversion rates are slightly harder to identify but can usually be found using Google Analytics Goals to identify which outcomes originated from the email campaign.

But how many email campaigns also include analysis of phone calls generated, or more importantly the reasons why recipients visited a site but then did not buy.

As US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld famously and tortuously told the press, there are known unknowns, and there are unknown unknowns. In other words, sometimes it’s more important to discover what you don’t know, than simply measure what you do know.

The Prospect Download consumer mailing list from Selectabase has been updated to enable list buyers to select and purchase lists online based on the latest Experian Mosaic 2009 selection criteria.

Prospect Download is an online service, where users can search for, order and download lists of consumers for use in direct marketing campaigns.

Experian’s Mosaic 2009 consumer classification identifies UK consumers using a three tier classification of 141 Mosaic person types, aggregated into 67 household types and 15 groups. Using Mosaic to identify and then select data helps marketing campaigns to achieve better targeting, greater effectiveness and reduce wastage.

Prospect Download users who select lists using Mosaic 2009 can access more categories, to help their lists mirror UK consumers more closely, and access more up to date categories to better reflect UK society and identify emerging markets and sub groups.

Mosaic 2009 features the very latest consumer classifications to reflect changes in society and gives users a comprehensive view of consumers now and in the future.  For example the new classification is updated to include the ageing population, increased regional and ethnic diversity, and changes in household composition.

Other trends are reflected in Mosaic 2009 such as the growing numbers of the ever increasing 'grey market' of older people retiring to cultural cities or the shires rather than traditional seaside retirement resorts.

In addition to Mosaic 2009 classifications, Prospect Download also offers selection of mailing lists by Family Lifestage; a household level demographic segmentation showing the combined stage of life and family status (for example, mature families with children under 18, or young families with no children).

Additional advanced selections are available on Prospect Download by using Financial Strategy Segments; a person and household level segmentation developed to help financial services companies target their financial services products and services. Financial Strategy Segments classifies all adults in the United Kingdom into distinct financial lifestyle types which comprehensively describe their typical financial product holdings, behaviour and future intentions.

These advanced selection criteria are also available alongside the more popular consumer list selections including age band, gender, marital status, property tenure, household income and property value.

To access these selections visit Prospect Download, log in or register for free counts, then go to the Modeled Data section under Advanced Selections.

Whatever you decide as the goal for your campaign, you need to turn your aspiration into language your market will understand and respond to.

  • Research or analyse your existing customers to try and identify what made them buy, or what common features they share.
  • Make a list of the features of your offering, and turn each one into a benefit that will appeal to the target audience.
  • Look at your competitors, sign up to their databases and see what they mail to you.
  • Avoid negative language in your mailing. Use key buzz phrases, but don’t overuse them.

Imagine your business has just won it's industry equivalent of the Oscars. Who will you remember to thank in your acceptance speech? Your staff, suppliers, accountant or bank manager even? How about remembering a small thank you for the most important people of all - your customers.

<!--more-->When times are tough, it's more important than ever to hang on to your existing customer base. After all, finding new ones to replace them can be time consuming and costly. One way of keeping up a good relationship with your customers is by staying in regular contact, an maybe even extending the occasional thank you for their custom.

Sending a regular mailshot to customers with the latest news about your business, products and services, along with a 'thank you for your continued support' message reassures customers they are buying from the right people, and that your business is still alive and kicking! Alternatively you can phone customers with a customer service focused courtesy call, just to see if they need anything.

Of course before you do either of these you need to <a title="make sure your customer database is clean" href="" target="_self">make sure your customer database is clean</a>, and <a title="screen phone numbers against the latest Telephone Preference Service" href="" target="_self">screen phone numbers against the latest Telephone Preference Service</a> before you call them.

If you have too many customers to stay in touch with, or very limited resources, then at least target the top clients. They could be the customers who always recommend you, cause the least customer service aggregation, who pay the highest prices, or who buy the most profitable lines.

If your enquiries reveal that a customer dissatisfied with your service, then you have a chance to deal with the issue before it becomes too serious. Take criticism on the chin and seek a resolution wherever possible.

There's also another dimension to maintaining good relations with your customers. In this brave new world of social media fuelled online chatter, its even more important to keep your most important team members, your customers, on side and on message. Thanks to forums, blogs and social networks bad news about your business can travel fast!

Every direct marketing campaign needs to have a goal or objective against which results can be compared.

To help set your campaign goals you can research typical response rates for your sector or industry, or gather data on any previous mailings to set a benchmark.

Your goals might just be sales based. Or they might include driving visitors to your website, generating enquiries for your sales team, encouraging previous customers to get back in touch, generating word of mouth referrals and so on. Make sure you set realistic goals for your campaign though, which are actually achievable.

Include in your goals some financial objectives like the average anticipated profit from each conversion, cost of the campaign and a cost per '000 sent, conversions needed to break even, and so on.

Identify your target market in as detail as possible. If possible categorise your target segment as much as you can - technology allows you to send different messages to different sub groups.

Turn all of this into a simple one page plan for your campaign.

The 1st September 2010 saw the release of several important new guidelines and codes of practice for those involved in direct marketing in the UK.

Firstly the 12th edition of The UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code) came into force. The code is in effect a new rule book for the content of direct marketing campaigns, and is overseen by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), a self-regulatory body that creates, revises and enforces the Code. There are specific areas of the Code which now apply to direct marketing and children, privacy, political advertising, misleading selling and environmental or green claims. More information on the Code can be found at the Committee of Advertising Practice website.

In parallel to the launch of the new CAP Code, the UK Direct Marketing Association has also updated its DM Code of Practice. Now on its fourth edition, the DM Code of Practice is a key component of the direct marketing industry’s self-regulatory framework, which staves off excessive regulatory clampdowns by legislators. While it has no statutory power, DMA members are required to adhere to the DM Code. To ensure compliance, the DM Code is upheld by the industry’s independent self-regulatory body, the Direct Marketing Commission.

For the first time the DM Code of Practice sets out a series of guidelines concerning the use of data hygiene, making environmental claims in marketing materials, sourcing of sustainable paper, certification in environmental standards such as PAS 2020, adhering to a corporate environmental policy and using recycling messages on printed materials.

Both new sets of guidelines repeat the need to ensure that clean and accurate data is used in direct marketing campaigns, and encourage marketers to use effective data and list cleansing services.

PR agencies don't often look to Direct Marketing as a communication vehicle of choice, but there is much that each marketing discipline can do for the other.

For example in a B2C product marketing environment, where the PR effort is often directed at product placement in key consumer publications, the primary objective is usually to get eyes on products and raise brand awareness. But a secondary objective can also be added; that of generating records for a direct marketing database.

All PR activity could be accompanied by a dedicated phone number for receiving more information, which is directed to a call centre where data is then collected and added to a direct marketing database. Alternatively PR activity could always quote a website address, and the front page of the site could be designed to show a prominent data capture feature.

This would then create a further benefit from the PR activity of building a DM database for future use, which helps PR agencies by providing further justification for the investment in their services.

There are also other examples of ways in which PR and Direct Marketing can support each other.

For example in the event of a PR disaster for your business, direct marketing can be used to help keep existing customers and contacts on board and overcome negative perceptions of your brand.

This is because direct marketing allows you the opportunity to talk with your audience individually on a one to one basis, providing the ideal way to get your point across in your own words without interruption or interference.

These are just a few examples of direct marketing can be easily incorporated into any marketing mix.

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