Calls Aim to Salvage Mailer's Dismal Response

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CommerceOne will begin telemarketing calls this month to try to revive declining response rates for direct mail campaigns targeting senior executives at midsize and large companies.


Rates for campaigns during the summer were 1 percent to 1.5 percent, down from 3 percent to 6 percent last year, said L.J. Roberts, CommerceOne's senior manager of direct marketing programs and marketing operations.


The rate dipped to 0.5 percent for a mailing Sept. 20 to 6,800 executives. CommerceOne, a provider of operating platforms and e-commerce solutions, had planned to mail the piece Sept. 13 but delayed it a week because of the terrorist attacks.


"There was a great debate on how long we should hold off on the mailing," said L.J. Roberts, CommerceOne's senior manager of direct marketing programs and marketing operations. "In hindsight, I would have held the campaign for another four weeks instead of just one week. People were just too distracted to think about those types of things at that time. We didn't know what was going to happen, and then there was the mention of anthrax but there were no incidents of it yet."


The calls will be outsourced this month and next, targeting 10,000 executives who have received mailings this year.


"We are going to make an attempt to contact them again," she said. "But I wouldn't expect to see a return to normal response rates until early in the first quarter of next year."


The Sept. 20 mailer consisted of a personalized cover letter outlining the benefits of having CommerceOne's applications run on the Sun Solaris platform and an offer for a free book titled "B2B: How to Build a Profitable E-commerce Strategy."


"We find that when targeting high-level executives we draw a much better response with a personalized letter," Roberts said. "It looks more professional and has a better chance at getting past the gatekeepers and into the proper person's hands."


There were three response mechanisms: a business reply card, reply form that could be faxed to CommerceOne and the company's Web site.


CommerceOne, Pleasanton, CA, also sent 27,000 postcard mailers and 28,000 e-mails to managers and directors of information systems Nov. 2 to raise awareness about CommerceOne's support of Sun platforms.


Each contained a response mechanism, but the postcards and e-mails were not personalized and did not contain the offer for the e-commerce book. There was, however, an offer for a free Harvard Computing Group report on e-commerce and a case study from ForestExpress on vendors offering e-business solutions for their industries.


Roberts said there were no numbers yet for the postcard mailing, but the e-mail campaign generated a 0.25 percent response rate.


CommerceOne worked with RED Direct on all three campaigns.


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