Category: Marketing Advice

Aug 28 2013

Why Testing Is The Key To Successful Direct Mail

There are three things you need to do to run a great direct mail campaign; test, test and test again. So what elements of your direct mail campaign should you test and how should you do it, in order to benefit from more successful mailings?

There are just three things you’ve got to do in order to have a really successful direct mail campaign – test, test and test.

By the time you’ve factored in the cost of postage, list rental, and printing, direct mail can be a costly business – if you get it wrong. So the best way to avoid an expensive mistake is to test every aspect of your direct mail campaign well before your mailing letter even hits the postal system.

You should test these key elements of your direct mail campaign:

1. Test Your Offer

Make sure your product or service is appropriate to the list you are mailing, by testing your offer. Your offer can be meant in a literal sense – what product or service are you offering the recipient; but it can also be interpreted as a special offer or incentive you might be providing, such as a price discount, free gift, or free shipping.

To test which promotional offer will work best, look at what established competitors in the same industry usually offer in their direct mail (if these don’t work, they are unlikely to keep using them). Speak to some friendly existing customers and your sales staff to ask their opinion of what offer they think would attract the most responses from your target audience.

2. Test Your Letter

Your direct mail letter needs to be clear, catchy and persuasive – not woolly, inaccurate or boring. You can follow some simple guidelines to write a good direct mail letter such as including a catchy heading, a benefit of your offer to tease the reader, bullet points and a strong call to action.

But the only true way of testing the power of your letter is to send it to a smaller sample of your list. If you have more than one version of letter you’d like to test, send it to two small list samples, but each with a different response code recipients can use – or even register different national rate phone numbers and use them on different letters, then measure the calls you receive.

3. Test Your List

A direct mailshot is only as good as the list it is sent to. So it’s really important that you get your data in the best possible state before you send a mailing. If it’s your own internal customer database, then use data cleansing and profiling tools and services to make sure addresses are up to date. This is particularly important for consumer lists, where you’ll also need to screen recipients for people who may have deceased recently to avoid unnecessary upset for their relatives.

If you are renting or purchasing a list, you have to make sure it’s from a reputable source, and has been fully screened against all the main suppression files when you buy it. Only ever deal with established and preferably independent list providers who can give you objective and impartial advice on the best list for your needs, and ensure your list provider is a member of the UK’s Direct Marketing Association.

4. Test Your Timings

Mailings sent at different times can achieve very different results. For example and b2c consumer mailing could be sent early in the month, just after the time when most people have just been paid their salary. (On the other hand if your mailing is selling loans or credit cards, it may be better to wait until the end of the month when money is tight).

For b2b mailings to other businesses, find out if there is a purchasing cycle for your product or service, If you are selling consumables such as office stationery or raw materials, plan your mailing to be sent a fixed period after the previous or initial purchase. Target mailings to coincide with when annual or quarterly budget and purchasing decisions may be made, or for key seasonal peak periods such as Christmas.

Testing Your Direct Mail

With such a simple approach to achieving successful direct mail, there’s nothing to hold you back from getting the same results in your own business, and your own direct marketing campaigns.

For further information call us on 01304 382211 or visit

Dec 06 2012

The importance of building the right marketing database

It’s all very well saying you need a good database to build your business, but first you need to know what you want to achieve and which section of the paying public you want to target.

Marketing is driven by three crucial aims: widening and deepening your current customer database; keeping existing customers and obtaining new ones.

The first step is to hold a brain-storming session with key members of staff to come up with an aim, then once you are focused it will be easier to acquire the right data.

Thanks to technology that a company such as Selectabase employs, businesses are able to sift through a vast amount of data enabling them to make better, well-informed decisions. That means they’ll be better placed to know how to spend their hard-earned cash on marketing to get the best value for money.

Once you are happy with your database you can decide which customers are:

-    likely to be more receptive to a particular promotion – Recency, Frequency Monetary value (RFM)
-    more valuable to you – Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
-    better than others
-    how you acquire more of the better type of customer
-    how you package your message to certain sections of your customer database

In short, your marketing database should be anchored on solid foundations. There are no quick fixes and it is a labour-intensive exercise – it should be because your business is depending on it.

There are various ways of collating your own data, but it may be found in many places within your organisation not just the sales ledger. Look at systems you use every day, for instance: accounting; orders; sales tracking; outside lists and then link this data with your customers to get a picture of their buying behaviour.

You’ll want to know where they live, what they bought, when they bought it, where they were when you made the sale (the doorstep, the business premises, over the phone, via a leaflet or catalogue).

Once you have the structure in place you’ll need to clean the data. What does this mean? Simple, Selectabase’s service will identify people who cannot or will not respond to you; can sift out name and address duplications; update names, addresses and phone numbers and quite crucially, run a Telephone Preference Service check (TPS) to ensure you don’t contact those people who have expressed a desire not to be contacted by phone by marketers.

Should you phone someone by mistake who has actively tried to stop marketing calls, your business is breaking the law and could be fined up to £500,000. So watch out!

Marketing experts say that many businesses fail because the quality of their data or its structure is poor. You need clean data to understand your customers and this is an on-going process.

You do the maths. If 20 per cent of the addresses in your database were wrong and you spent £10,000 on a marketing initiative, you’ve wasted £2,000 before the project started.

Database marketing will continue to evolve, but the basic elements remain the same: you need to update your customer data on a regular basis and a business needs to gain quick answers to marketing queries. Technology is changing the landscape all the time of how marketing is delivered and how data is acquired, so ensure you keep up.

Nov 26 2012

Why are slogans so important in marketing?

Slogans are a vital part of marketing and have been used to help promote business and engage with customers for many years.

They are not just an advertising ploy, since they attempt to get into the customer’s mind and stay there. That is why companies are always tinkering with this aspect of their branding.
And it IS branding as your company name is always sandwiched between the slogan and a tag line.

Just think on these slogans for a moment or two and see if you can remember the companies that used them in the UK: Always cutting prices; Never knowingly undersold; I’m lovin’ it; Connecting people; You shop we drop; Saving you money every day; The world’s favourite airline (answers below).

Here are some guidelines on creating your own slogan:

1.    Make sure it is catchy and only three to five words long
2.    Make it memorable
3.    Ensure it reflects what you want the public to think your brand is about, for instance one of BMW’s slogans is The ultimate driving machine. It also has slogans for some of its models such as the new BMW1 series, three-door sports hatch: Made for the road
4.    Your slogan should have some emotional attachment. Think of McDonald’s slogan I’m lovin’ in (we’ve given the game away here a bit on this one, but you see the point?)
5.    Another very productive route to go down is a reliable slogan. We’ve mentioned Ronseal before in other blog posts, but it amply demonstrates this point: Does what it says on the tin.

Before you think about a slogan you need to ensure you have the right brand name – that’s when you need to work on your slogan as it will act as your brand’s partner.

It is believed that a phrase with meaning strikes more of a chord with the customer than just the brand name alone because a good slogan not only gives the customer a commitment but tells them what the brand stands for.

Your slogan can exert great power over the paying customer because it can give meaning to the name so it needs to apply to their everyday lives and should connect emotionally with them.

Watch out if your brand is being sold abroad or you could end up putting off a whole country from buying your product because your slogan or brand means something entirely different and rather rude in their language.

Some of the tales of more repeatable clangers we have found on the web include: The KFC slogan, Finger lickin’ good that had to be translated when the company expanded into China, except the translation they had planned to use actually meant We’ll eat your fingers off in Chinese.

We haven’t been able to find out whether they got as far as putting the signs up over the shop doorway – if you know, do tell.

And then there was the brewer Coors, whose brewing slogan was Turn it loose but the Spanish translation actually meant “Suffer from diarrhoea”.

Answers: Currys; John Lewis; McDonald’s; Nokia; Tesco delivery service; Asda; British Airways

Nov 16 2012

Pitfalls of business marketing – 8 ways of turning off your customer

Marketing is a vital part of growing your business but it is not always cheap so ensuring you don’t fall down the many pits that litter your path to success is vital.
We’ve come up with eight marketing mistakes that you want to avoid if you don’t want to become another casualty of the global recession.
1.    Stop talking about your marketing strategy – just get on with it! All the while you delay no one is finding out about your great product or service. Pick your budget, try out the best method of marketing available to you and test. Then test again to see what gives you the most productive sales leads and represents value for money.

2.    Don’t plough on with your marketing plan without knowing what section of the market you want to target. Experts agree there are some companies who become so blinded by their fabulous product they don’t pay enough attention targeting the very people who might want it.

3.    Don’t blind your audience with jargon or buzzwords. Just say what your product is simply. It’s those strategies that are often the most effective. Think of Ronseal’s slogan: “Does exactly what it says on the tin.”

4.    Don’t think your business is too small to feature a blog on its website. If you give good, free advice about your trade that people can really use to help their businesses you can generate custom this way through your impressive knowledge. Blogging gives you an opportunity to have a direct relationship with your customers. Check out what other companies are doing on their blogs and how they are interacting with their customers. Your target audience could come up with some cracking ideas in how to make your business better.

5.    If you are selling a product or service don’t start marketing strongly until you fix all the problems. Some companies mistakenly believe that strong marketing will smooth out all the flaws in their product or service. If your marketing message states that your service always delivers on time and never does because the processes that bring your service to the customer are failing, you have shot yourself in the foot.

6.    Don’t fudge the issue over a “qualified sales lead”. Make sure you know exactly what this is to ensure you and your staff know and follow the right sales process. Pick out the methods of marketing that are getting those sales leads and drive them forward.

7.    Don’t get seduced by expensive, attractive marketing. It may be a beautiful glossy brochure that you have produced, but how many sales leads did it give you? Have you even put a system in place that measures this?

8.    Don’t send too many marketing emails. You are sure to have the recipient stabbing the delete button without fail the moment they see your firm’s name in their inbox if you have bombarded them with marketing emails. If that’s the case it doesn’t matter how good the content is, you’ve lost your customer already.

Nov 13 2012

How to achieve the right Unique Selling Point

Unique Selling Points (USPs) are a vital piece of marketing because they tell the public why they should buy your goods or services over and above the competition.

Yet sometimes it is the last thing some businesses, in particular small ones, think of because they are too busy to take stock. It takes time to establish a USP that fits the bill for you.
It can take a lot of hard soul searching to come up with the right USP but when you do it is a lot easier to be more effective in hitting your sales targets.

USPs are vital because they are a summary of what your business stands for, how it benefits the public and why it is better than anyone else around at what it does. It also serves to help guide your business by setting out in one sentence its goals.

Try our step-by-step guide to help you come up with the right USP:

1.    Find out why your customers keep coming back to you instead of your competitors. It could be because your service is better than theirs. If so, ask them what element of your service is better. You could be more reliable, quicker or offer great value for money. If your business is pretty new, become a secret shopper with your competitors to find out what makes them successful and why.

2.    Find out the things that influence your customers when they buy your product or service. Is it convenience, peer pressure or the quality of your goods, for instance, or the look and packaging of your product?

3.    Pick three to five USPs that correctly identify what your business is about. These should be what make your business different from the competition.

4.    Know what section of the market you want to target. If you have a beautiful venue in the country that has been licensed to hold weddings then obviously you’ll want to target people who are planning a wedding.

5.    Identify the biggest benefits your goods or service can offer clients. This will mean placing yourself in your clients’ shoes. What problems do you think they may have and how your goods or service can help?

6.    The promise. Write down your promise to your customers. You don’t have to state the obvious as this can be implied in a very subtle way.

7.    Lump all the above together. Then nip and tuck the text into one simple sentence that gets straight to the point.

No one said it was going to be an easy project to fulfil. But you don’t have to go it alone. Involve key members of staff and kick the ideas around between you. Then take those ideas home and talk to someone who is one step removed from your business operation. They may be able to come up with something everyone has missed. Once you have your USP, test it out on your customers and monitor the results. It may be that you adapt it in the future after you get valuable feedback from the paying public.

Jun 14 2012

June 2012 New Business Trends

Welcome to the June round-up of our New Business marketing trends for businesses in the UK.

Each month we bring you the latest trends amongst UK businesses and consumers, all drawn from the range of Selectabase direct marketing lists. According to the most recent month’s data we identified the following…..

June 2012

This month 4,504 new business start ups were identified by New B2B from Selectabase. Beauty Salons & Consultants were the most popular business type either new business, relocating, change of ownership, change of function or a new branch or franchise in the UK with a whopping 107 captured in June 2012. We also identified that Domestic Cleaners were the popular New Business with 90 being captured this month!

Why Beauty Salons & Consultants?

Like us, you may be asking “Why Beauty Salons & Consultants”? As we found from there are plenty of reasons to start up a Beauty Salon;

“UK adults spend around £5bn a year on health and beauty products, and much of this cash goes to salons. According to a 2008 report from, there were over 13,000 salons in the UK, employing more than 30,000 people.”

“Industry analysts claim that beauty salons have performed well during the recession; a 2009 report from market research leaders Mintel found that only one in 10 women had stopped going to the salon to save money during the downturn. Furthermore a number of recent trends, notably the increasing number of men seeking specialist health and beauty treatment, have provided real benefit to salons up and down the country”

Why Should I Subscribe to New B2B?

New B2B from Selectabase is a unique direct marketing solution that provides you with a monthly list of all the latest new and changing businesses in your chosen postcode area. New B2B provides a constant and easily manageable source of new business leads that simply have to be followed up by letter or telephone. With New B2B you can select the opportunity type, postcode area and even industry type. This means if you are a supplier to a specific industry we can help! Visit for more info now!

Oct 04 2011

Smaller Regular Mailings can be Better than a Large Campaign

If you’re about to embark on a direct mail campaign it can be tempting to think big and mail a large sized list in one big hit to try and generate instant and impressive results. But there is much to be said for approaching direct mail in a smaller scale and more targeted fashion.

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Sep 19 2011

Free Tools for Marketing Agencies and Consultants

Selectabase offer a range of free tools which are useful for helping marketing agencies and consultants to research markets and identify opportunities on behalf of their clients. This can be for direct marketing and direct mail campaigns but also for general market research.

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Sep 02 2011

How Social Media can Impact on Direct Marketing Campaigns

Like it or loathe it, social media is here to stay and is having an ever increasing impact on society and can also have an impact upon how you conduct your direct marketing campaigns.

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Aug 26 2011

Make Me an Offer – Using Special Offers in Direct Mail

Sometimes the sourcing of a mailing list, deciding what to send and arranging fulfillment can all distract you from what offer you are actually going to include in the mailing.

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