Basic Principles to Boost Response Rate

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While customer acquisition is always a pivotal part of an organization's growth, it requires more forethought and strategic action during an economic downturn. Solid marketing insight and diligent implementation support acquisition efforts and deliver results, regardless of the economic climate.


A successful acquisition approach should support the objectives of a forward-thinking, overall marketing strategy. Here are some key principles to reinforce and reinvigorate your customer acquisition strategy:


Quantify your program objectives. Customer acquisition in and of itself is not an objective. What kinds of customers does your organization plan to attract with this marketing program? What types of relationships does it aim to foster? How does it take into account the development of these interactions? From the outset, it is critical to think through your objectives from a communications and a business perspective. Articulating your organization's specific goals will positively influence every aspect of the acquisition program by keeping it focused and profitable.


Use information-based strategies to define your target audience. Most often used in customer relationship marketing, the creation of concrete, information-based profiles of your customers and their behavior is the first step in formulating an acquisition strategy. Understanding your customers and making the most of their data is also key to unlocking prospect behavior. Relatively simple, quantitative analysis, such as baseline analysis of customer profile data, provides critical information for developing successful acquisition strategies.


Customer behavior can serve as the foundation for a response model that allows organizations to adapt marketing tactics to different value segments, such as a segment's likelihood to respond to a marketing program and buy a specific product or service. Forming the information base allows for better creation of prospect profiles, which drives effective and efficient name acquisition, be it by scoring a compiled list, acquiring response lists or a combination of both.


Develop creative from the customers' point of view. Designing and implementing creative that is engaging, interactive and benefit-oriented will prompt your audience to respond. Determine what will appeal to prospective customers and develop graphics and text that clearly communicate that personalized message. Successful creative is simple - too much information or too many choices cause indecision and frustration. Your message should state the call-to-action concisely.


Make it easy for prospects to respond. Consumers today demand choices that reflect their complex needs and preferences while recognizing their limited time. Providing multiple response channels reflects that your organization values its customer relationships and responds to customer preferences. Retain channel preference for future use.


Customers will appreciate interactions that reflect a recognition of past preferences and consumer history, and your organization will gain a reputation for service that sets it apart from the majority, which do not convey the same level of customer understanding. Viewing customer communication as a two-way street forms the foundation for successful customer relationships.


Test follow-up communications. Creating marketing programs that combine mutually reinforcing e-mail and direct mail communications can dramatically increase response rates for acquisition campaigns. Follow-up direct mail or outbound telemarketing works well, too. Adding a simple follow-up message to your program can raise your response rates by up to 50 percent or more.


Measure program success based on actual ROI. It is important to use actual return on investment as the basis for measuring the success of an acquisition campaign. Standard measurements such as cost-per-piece or cost-per-lead are helpful but will not provide the "big picture" view that ROI analysis will. Return on investment, taking into consideration a customer's lifetime value, most accurately reflects the impact of a campaign.


Test, test, test - in a disciplined manner. Though dismissed by many organizations as cost-prohibitive or unnecessary when weighed against time constraints, focused testing is critical to long-term acquisition success. Design a testing program that is meaningful, affordable and manageable to implement that appropriately reflects the possible return or impact on investment.


An effective testing strategy can help organizations avoid missing acquisition opportunities and fruitless customer interactions.
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