*Inforonics Plans to Measure Campaign Response With Personal Web Pages

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Inforonics, a provider of outsourced management services for electronic commerce, is planning to launch a direct mail campaign next month that promises to provide a highly accurate gauge of response rates.


Each piece the company mails will refer every one of the 5,000 recipients to a distinct Web address, so that the company will be able to determine not only how many visits the Web site received, but exactly who it was that visited the site.


The campaign provides a unique way to circumvent the privacy protection that normally would conceal the identity of a visitor to the company's Web site. Mark Pinsley, vice president of sales and marketing at Inforonics, Littleton, MA, said the company would be wary of its potential customers' privacy concerns during the telemarketing efforts that are scheduled to follow the mailing.


The company is using the campaign to market its new I-Pay solution, which allows manufacturers and online catalogers to make itemized data available for display on billing statements for business-to-business credit cards -- called procurement cards -- used to purchase merchandise online. For example, if multiple purchases were made from the same manufacturer, I-Pay would enable the manufacturer to display each item on the credit card statement, along with the tax and shipping costs per item, rather than the bulk total of the purchase.


Manufacturers who implement such detailed reporting capabilities, called "level three" reporting, can receive a discount on the fee they pay to Visa or MasterCard for accepting their procurement cards for purchases.


The mailer itself will be a fold-over self-mailer on high-quality stock, with an explanation of the differences between various levels of detail in reporting purchases. The mailer focuses on the savings manufacturers can achieve through using level three reporting and then invites the recipient to visit the Web site for a more detailed report.


Other than the individual name of the Web site the recipients are directed to visit, all the pieces are identical. The Web address will be listed as www.inforonics.com/, followed by the person's name. Inforonics is creating the individualized Web sites itself.


"Not only are we going to know that people came and saw the site, we're going to know who saw it," said Pinsley, who originated the idea for the campaign. Inforonics worked with ad agency Fernandez/Wolf, Brookline, MA, to develop the actual campaign.


"What we heard from Visa was that there was a lot of interest in the procurement card space, but people don't really understand what level three means, and how to get there," he said. "So what we're doing is a direct mail campaign to the [chief information officers], to tweak them to the Web site, which is really a document."


The document, he said, "contains good quality information about level three data and how to implement it on their system."


The mailer is being sent to chief information officers and chief financial officers of manufacturers that sell directly to other businesses, but Pinsley said the company had not yet finalized the list.


The I-Pay system became available in March, but thus far the company has not done any marketing for it. Inforonics, which also creates Web sites, extranet systems and online catalogs, traditionally markets its services through telesales and at trade shows. Pinsley said this would be the first direct mail effort during his one-year tenure at the company.


In order to follow up on the direct mail effort, Pinsley said the company would use caution in implementing a telemarketing effort, and probably would make a few test calls to gauge the reactions of those potential customers who visited the Web site.


"We'll probably follow up with a couple of people just to try it out and see whether or not they're offended," he said. "We don't want to take advantage of the situation, otherwise they might never come to the site again."
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