New Direct Mail Tech Solves Old Issues

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The consumer popularity of the do-not-call and anti-spam movements makes it clear that marketing intrusion levels are out of control.


Telemarketing has lost its edge as a viable channel for prospecting. Since the enforcement of DNC legislation in October, more than 56 million Americans - half of all adults in the United States - have registered for the national no-call list. And penalties for violating DNC are severe.


Filtering technologies already had made e-mail advertising difficult before the CAN-SPAM Act was enacted. Several tiers of penalties have been established, some with up to five years in prison for certain violations. Even legitimate marketers need to be concerned about inadvertent violations since not all registries are in place. And online advertising has been further compromised by pop-up blockers and general consumer cynicism toward banners and skyscraper ads.


As a result, many marketers are retreating to the safety of traditional direct mail. But how can marketers overcome some of direct mail's usual disadvantages such as high cost, long turnaround time, inability to test and customize messages on a granular level or make "on a dime" mid-campaign adjustments?


New technology-driven solutions are helping marketers combine the cost-effectiveness and low nuisance level of direct mail with the immediacy, personalization and speed of telemarketing and e-mail. They have proven to achieve these objectives:


· Decrease the usual months-long cycle times.


· Cut costs by eliminating or reforming manual processes.


· Allow for cost-effective printing technologies to accommodate any batch size.


· Reduce errors and lower postage costs.


· Improve response rates by increasing a marketer's agility and ability to conduct more sophisticated testing and targeting.


Moreover, by better pinpointing customer needs and interests through intelligent direct mail, these "next generation" direct mail solutions are leading consumers to "opt in" to being called or e-mailed - establishing the high-value dialogue that good marketing is all about. Once a consumer responds to a direct mail offer, an organization is permitted by law to call him for up to 18 months after he makes a purchase or up to three months after he submits an inquiry or application.


So how do these new intelligent direct mail approaches work? They use technology to aggregate all the complexities of highly granular customer data, external events and product offerings and configure them into a set of automated business rules, which act continuously to execute varying-sized batches of direct mail daily. The system drives every step on the back end while providing sales and marketing managers and other users with intuitive, front-end functionality tailored to specific business requirements.


In one real-life example, a major U.S. insurance company sought a way for its 4,000 brokers across 180 branch offices to market better to its customer and prospect base, 60 percent of which had been blocked as a result of DNC legislation. Issues included:


· Enabling agents to comply with state-by-state regulations for its diverse products.


· Ensuring prospect pools were divided correctly among distributed agents.


· Reducing a campaign length that often gave leads to brokers more than 60 days after a campaign was initiated.


· Identifying a way to customize messages for customers and prospects.


· Reducing high error rates.


· Eliminating problems in the production process.


· Measuring better to assess success.


These issues combined to hurt this company's new customer growth.


The insurance company now uses a solution that unites corporate marketing and branch offices in the effort to drive leads. Branch managers no longer have to struggle to develop and execute campaigns on their own. Campaign development and execution have become an instant, automated process supporting corporate goals and standards.


The technology solution raised response rates more than 20 percent, reduced production and postage costs and offered its distributed agents a seven-day turnaround time on direct mail campaign orders, which enables campaigns to be easily tested and adjusted in new and existing markets. Also, increased direct mail efforts have let this organization reach out to a percentage of its prospects previously blocked through DNC.


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