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How to use targeting to make DM green

How to use targeting to make DM green

By Scott Logie, Strategy Director at marketing data and technology specialists Occam

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting rather tired of hearing about recycling. There, I’ve said it.

What should direct marketers be doing? Recycling. What will save the industry from extinction? Recycling. What’s the cure for every known evil in the world? Recycling.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well versed in the benefits, no, the absolute necessity of sustainable marketing. We work with some of the country’s biggest charities and commercial operations, and a vendetta against green bins would fly entirely in the face of their CSR policies, and quite frankly, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

But what I object to is the positioning of recycling as the answer to every woe the industry faces. In fact, in many ways recycling is actually the right answer to the wrong question.

Because being a responsible marketer is about far more than ensuring that your mailers go back into a sustainable cycle. The responsibility begins a million miles before that mailer even hits the doormat and the ability to recognise this is fast distinguishing the smart agencies from those that are tainting the whole industry. So, clean data should be the absolute cornerstone of a brand’s approach.

That doesn’t just mean running a few suppression files through your data and hoping for the best. It means maintaining a clean, accurate database that not only allows you to target the right people, but also allows you to extract maximum value from the most likely respondents.

Targeting is key. But agencies should be advising clients on volumes based on the insight – not responding as best as they can to volume decisions that have been made by people without the same analytics at their fingertips. Let the analysts feed into the volumes you mail.

A well-targeted mailer to less people is more productive and therefore, less wasteful, than a splattergun mailing that goes for everyone but engages with no one. And it’s not just the analysts that should be influencing volumes.

No amount of hoping, predicting or praying can replace the basics of ‘test, learn, roll-out’. Testing is as wasteful an activity as any if the learnings aren’t then applied.

And here’s a novel one. Ask your audience. I don’t want to be cold-called in the middle of a meeting, but I just might respond to a witty, relevant viral sent to me on my lunch break. And if the people targeting me don’t store that information then they might as well strike me off the prospects list now.

Even the simplest databases can store information on contact preferences, and if agencies don’t listen to what their audiences tell them the results will range from disgruntled customers to mass industry criticism.

And of course, much as I’m sick of talking about it, recycling has a place. But once again, if you stop there, you won’t stick any great obstacles in climate change’s path. Yes, recycle paper, printer cartridges and parts.

But why not also offer benefits to staff that lift-share or cycle to work? Why not look into carbon-neutralising the business? Elevating DM’s image is about a genuine change that comes from within and goes far beyond re-using scrap paper.

The answer is a comprehensive, industry-wide revolution that sees marketers employing the same strategy, energy and inspiration that they wouldn’t think twice about applying to a new mailing campaign

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