Direct Marketing: More Relevant Than Ever

Direct marketing has taken on greater relevance for marketers with the growth of social media and other online interactions. Successful marketers today are reaching more and more customers directly, on a personal level, than ever before.

Through blogs, tweets, and affinity groups more brands are becoming personalized through customer-led co-creation. I can get alerts on virtually anything I buy and let companies know how I would like their products modified for my changing requirements. Being a marketer myself I also maintain a dialogue with several companies as a member of their customer research panels. I’m frequently asked to share my perceptions of trends and how they influence my purchasing behavior.

If used effectively in combination with this type of data, direct marketing tools can enable marketers to develop and enhance emotional bonds with individual customers, and customer groups, to grow the value of their customer base in real time.

When factored in with evolving mobile marketing tools, direct access to customers on the go gives marketers the ability to establish a virtually perpetual direct contact with those customers. For example, I’m frequently contacted on my smartphone with a variety of direct marketing promotions that I’ve opted in to receiving as part of my personal interest profile with specific companies.

As is the case with many consumers today, the most effective direct marketing promotion for me is anything that makes my life easier or more convenient. If I’m motivated by an alert of a specific promotion, special sale, or new product that I’ve expressed an interest in, I can order directly from my smart phone.

An example of a company using a mix of direct marketing effectively is easyJet, a short-haul European airline. EasyJet’s projections for 2013 are to serve 60 million passengers over 600 routes to 30 countries. The profile of its passengers is that the average flight time is one hour and fifty minutes at $89 a seat. CEO Peter Duffy gets updated sales information every 30 seconds.

EasyJet has 400 million visits to its site every year. The airline books more than $90 million in seats through its U.S. website alone every year. Additionally, it has more than nearly 87,000 Twitter followers and 144,000 Facebook likes.

A tool on its site called Inspire Me was designed to convert web traffic into flight bookings. It targeted young singles. Visitors select price, timing, and activity types and the site highlights an easyJet destination that fits the criteria.

Additionally, EasyJet developed a smart phone app at the end of 2011 that now generates 5% of revenue from bookings. This app is currently downloaded 100,000 times every 10 days.

One of its most effective recent direct marketing campaigns, via email, targeted all customers who travelled with easyJet during the February 2012 school holiday period, but did not rebook for 2013. Each message was tailored to include prices starting at less than the customer paid the previous year.

As a result of its direct marketing efforts, profits increased 28% last year and the airline achieved nearly 100% online check-in performance, which reduces staff and desks at airports, as well as improving the overall customer experience. Also, for every dollar spent on direct marketing in digital media easyJet has generated $4 in profit. This is a significant fact given that the airline makes a per-seat profit of less than $8.

Bob Donnelly is author of Personal Brand Planning for Life, as well as an educator and brand builder.

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