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Are you Direct Marketing or Direct Missing!

With 66% of the UK telephone numbers on a do not call list, and nearly 6% of the UK population moving or dying every year and Royal Mail changing over 500,000 PAF address changes every year is it any wonder you find it difficult to stay in business with Direct Marketing.

Traditional Direct Marketing, where you physically send information out, is becoming a dying art because not only are the costs becoming too high to do the mailing but the returns are becoming too low as it’s been said that 44% of direct mail goes unopened. (Source The Guardian, TSEA.Org)

The unopened mailing is probably because of 2 things – either it’s of no interest to the receiver or the intended target has gone away!

The first issue is the marketer’s age-old problem of content and you can discuss the content till the cows come home but unless you get the information to the intended target you don’t even stand a chance of testing the content.

Most businesses know or think they know who they want to market their product or service to be they a consumer or another business. The problem is they only really know who has purchased the product or service they don’t really “know” their customer. The financial services companies have a fact find questionnaire so they can prove they “know” their customer but does the rest of the market.

So what does all this tell us about marketing activity – you don’t know if the content is good, you don’t know if the person you are contacting is really the right person and you don’t know if they still are living where you send the information – not bad really – yet you are happy to spend millions of pounds doing this activity! Crazy really!

It’s well known that companies don’t clean their data and it’s primarily because they think the cost of data cleaning is too high. What is too high – 5p a record, 10p a record, 25p a record? Well, let’s take a quick look using the statistics above.

If you are to send out a mailing piece that costs say 60 pence to produce and another 60p to mail – we’ll include the envelope and packing in the costs. If you want to send out 100,000 mailers then the cost of this is £120,000.

If you assume the database you use has been collected by our business over the last 5 years in business then you can expect that if 6% of the people have moved each year then nearly 10% of the database has actually eroded over that period. Ie nearly 20,000 people will not be there anymore or a cost of £24,000 has been wasted.

Now surely if you are able to spot all the ones that have moved or died and let’s say the cost is 30p per record then you will have paid out £6,000 to update the records address.

Now I don’t know about you but £6,000 seems a lot of money but when you look at the logic it’s actually not a lot in real terms.

In the first scenario, you were mailing 100,000 records and getting a wastage of probably £24,000. In the second scenario, you are cleaning the data for a cost of £6,000 but you are delivering another 20,000 mailing pieces.

If you get say a 10% interest rating then in method 1 you get 8,000 people showing interest and in method 2 you get 10,000 people showing interest in other words you have 2,000 more prospects!

Everyone suffers from bad and inaccurate data yet it’s so simple to reduce the data loss by using the products that are available in the market.

Royal Mail has its own National Change of Address file (NCOA) which is their redirection database. Royal Mail currently has 43 million records on the file adding nearly 100,000 new records every month.

The file is currently only available through directly licensed resellers such as ideal Media however more suppliers can always be found by contacting Royal Mail.

There are other files for movers or Gone Away Suppression files from numerous companies however they all don’t have the same people on – I wonder why?

What else is there that can be done – deceased files – no one wants to market to a deceased person for several reasons – the surviving family gets terribly upset and from the business perspective it not only causes grief but there is really no chance of further business!

Mortascreen, the National Deceased Register and The Bereavement Register and many other files all purport to cover this section of the data cleaning industry and all of them have a great use for the marketer.

So what other methods of contact are there to enable companies to reach the consumer?

Over the last few years, SMS and Email marketing have grown enormously becoming very abused methods of marketing and the latest from the Information Commissioner in their Guide to Privacy and Electronic Communications does clearly state that the regulations on electronic direct marketing will only get tighter with regard to where the record has come from and also how long you can use the method before one should stop this marketing method as it is clear the non-responder is not interested.

SMS has that effect on us all in that you immediately look who has sent us a text message and when you start getting lots of text messages that are marketing-oriented, what do you do? You change your number. It’s a real pain cos you have to then let everyone know and it takes time and you also lose contact with people or if you’re in business you lose the client. It’s no wonder that consumers get fed up with SMS marketing.

But what about the poor business – each text costs 1.5p to send as a minimum so if you are sending 100,000 SMS the cost would be £1,500 but there again what’s the cost of an ICO fine for unlawful marketing – hundreds of thousands of pounds!

SMS is a whole can of worms if your database is not accurate and up to date and therefore it is always best to have the data cleaned before any marketing campaign especially if you haven’t used the data for marketing purposes before.

Finally, you have email marketing, the flavour of the decade, and it is easy to see why marketers use this process so avidly.

The problem, like every other form of marketing, falls into 2 camps – content and data. Companies don’t keep their email data list clean and as a result, they get into problems with the anti SPAM bodies like SURBL and SPAMHAUS they also fall foul of the ISP by using addresses that have now become SPAMTRAPS. Then there is the generic address problem, mailing to enquiries@ and other similar addresses that people use to hide where they came from. There is also the rude and crude email address that has been entered or the robot addresses or the false email addresses that very often are sold by these “GET YOUR EMAIL ADDRESSES CHEAP” vendors

What can one do about it, well there are many companies that are big email broadcasters who have huge lists of email addresses that are suppression lists and have been built up by the very activity of email.

There are one or two of these email broadcasters who will provide a cleaning service using their expertise as well as their data and they can also help you get your emails delivered in higher volumes than sending them from your own systems.

So here you are, you’ve cleaned your data, you may even have purchased additional data and you think you’re ready for that marketing campaign!

Well, you’re not – why because you really don’t know enough about the person you are marketing so you now need to set about resolving that………..and that will be my next topic in my next blog.

Michael Rennison has been on both sides of the fence in Direct Marketing since 1982 both as a buyer of data for direct marketing and since 1988 as a data owner and supplier. Having effectively retired in 2005 to enjoy life and his family it was a huge challenge to come back into an industry that has changed from offline to online pretty much in that time. Michael has the reputation of a no-nonsense marketing approach and has built a team of highly knowledgeable marketing specialists within the Ideal Group of Companies where not only do they practice what they preach but they also share their knowledge freely with their clients.

Read Part 2 >

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