Helen Roy, head of marketing at Experian Integrated Marketing, explains how marketers can increase the effectiveness of campaigns and reduce their carbon footprint by working towards the Direct Marketing Association’s new environmental standard for direct mail – PAS 2020.
Marketers are increasingly caught in a Catch-22 situation when it comes to direct mail and the environment.
Just when there is increasing pressure to make the most of customer data to drive targeted direct mail campaigns, the industry is pushing even harder to reduce the environmental impact of marketing activities and, in particular, to meet recycling targets for direct mail.
There is a way to achieve both aims however, and the PAS 2020 recommendations are a great starting point to help you get the balance right.
1. Clean and suppress your data
Maintaining data quality has always been important for marketers, and therefore one of the main PAS 2020 recommendations is to suppress customer and prospect data.
To do this effectively, the first step has to be to clean data to ensure it is accurate and free from errors and duplicates. Experian benchmarking shows that on average 10 per cent of customer addresses are incorrect prior to cleaning and 37 per cent of customers do not notify all organisations of an address move.
Consider the following facts: every year 600,000 people die and 1.2 million addresses change. Then think about a fairly typical direct mail campaign where a 50 pence mail pack is distributed to 100,000 people.
Using the above statistics, this direct mail campaign would waste 1,000 pieces (£500) on mailing deceased individuals and 10,000 pieces (£5,000) on gone-aways. Brands can adhere to PAS 2020 by using data suppression to match data to industry reference files to remove or flag contacts that have passed away, moved house or registered with preference services.
2. Identify duplicate data
Experian research in November 2008 found that 57 per cent of respondents across all types of organisation estimated that up to five per cent of contacts in their databases could be duplicates. This means there is a huge potential for wastage through these duplications.
By de-duping data as well as cleaning and suppressing it, organizations can ensure that marketing is accurately and effectively targeted, and is not sent to contacts that cannot or will not respond.
3. Enrich your data
It’s not enough to have data that is accurate and up to date. It is equally important for companies to really have an in-depth understanding of their target audiences including their lifestyles, financial situation and channel preferences.
By using this information in conjunction with market research data, customer feedback and website tracking data, marketers can really get to grips with what consumers want. Knowing the customer will ensure that message stay relevant, and will also allow organizations to identify additional prospects that match their desired customer profile. Again, using targeted, marketing activities will achieve greater levels of success at a far lower environmental cost.
4. Adopt a multi-channel approach
Knowing how your customers want to be communicated with is crucial in order to target them effectively and to prevent them from feeling bombarded by unwanted information.
Using a customer opt-in scheme is a very useful way of understanding their channel preferences and demonstrate that your organisation respects your customers’ requirements. Making use of the online channel where customers that have indicated interest in email communications, can not only prove more cost effective than traditional direct mail, it also has a lower carbon footprint.
5. Get the most out of your data
It is not enough to know who your customer is and how they wish to be communicated with – it is also vital that campaigns are planned effectively if customer data is to be used in the most effective way possible.
Timing can be crucial, so marketers need to avoid direct mail campaigns aimed at parents landing in the middle of the school holidays for example, or campaigns around winter breaks hitting too late in the year.
Accurate and thoughtful planning will ensure effective allocation of resources and prevent messages and budget being wasted. Finally, investing in marketing analytics helps marketers make sense of all the insight and data available to them, and helps identify the audience, message or channel which will generate the greatest return.
Experian’s top tips for data housekeeping
• Use data cleansing services to ensure data is accurate and up to date
• Don’t send mail to people who have passed away or moved house
• Don’t send mail to those who have registered with the MPS (Mailing Preference Service)
• Manage duplicate records and achieve a single customer view
• Look at specific consumer behaviours and ensure they are being targeted in the most effective way
• Invest in insight and analytics and avoid ‘carpet bombing’
• Understand your customers’ channel preferences and adopt a multi-channel approach that uses the benefits of both off-line and online channel
• Allow people to opt-out of your mailings
• Make sure you address your marketing to a person and not just the ‘occupier
• Continually monitor and evaluate all activity to ensure that you focus resource on activities and audiences that give you the best return
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