Marketers are always looking for a new edge. It can be getting your package into the mail earlier than your competition. It can be a new type of see-through envelope, or it can be exploring the benefits of a new channel for your direct marketing efforts.
Over the last decade we have seen some of the most rapid changes in direct marketing that have ever taken place. In postal direct mail the speed and efficiencies of personalization and targeting have elevated the entire scope of what consumers or businesses receive in the mail daily, and of course yielded a better return on investment.
During the same time period, the Internet has opened up new ways to reach our markets; and while I still believe that Web-based banner advertising can be effective as a direct marketing tool, the killer app is definitely e-mail.
The binding theme that makes all of the above mediums of direct marketing is that they are all measurable, and therefore, they all have a place in the marketing mix.
E-mail comes in several forms: text-based, html-based and sometimes a combination. Depending on the message, the offer and the audience, one version can be more effective than the other.
Recently there has been a new development, a crossing of mediums or an integration of mediums. Lists have appeared on the market of sufficient quantity, demographics and other variables that possess both postal addresses and e-mail addresses. Some of these lists carry phone numbers as well. These integrated lists open a whole new world to the direct marketer.
Demographics and targetability beyond the actual vertical list that the name resides in can now be attached through the postal address, and the efficiencies and cost reductions of e-mail can be used for marketing efforts.
More important, results can be analyzed within hours rather than weeks of deploying a marketing effort. All of the benefits of e-mail marketing are now available with all the attributes and experience of the postal world.
There is even more to learn from these integrated names. An example that I believe will rapidly become a psychographic rather than a demographic is the type of Internet service provider that the person may be using on the consumer level. An AOL user, [email protected] is not using a DSL line at home regardless of his affluence. Will that availability mean anything in the marketing of electronics? It needs to be tested. Obviously the slower speeds of the dial up line do not seem to bother this person or it may mean that he or she is an infrequent Internet user, and the postal address may become the better medium for reaching this person.
In the business-to-business market, it will be interesting to analyze which companies have their own domains vs. simple ISP e-mail addresses. An example would be [email protected] (where Landscape is the name of the firm) vs. [email protected] Demographics and psychographics for business will be enhanced by the integrated name. Company size while an important demographic may only be one of several factors in determining targetability for certain offers.
In the example of Landscape.com, the small business owner has, by selecting a domain name for his organization, shown a psychographic or an ego for his company. That may be a significant variable for target buying (especially since there are so few psychographics for business).
Catalogers will be able to determine which people need to see a full color 64-page catalog vs. those consumers who have DSL hookups and are capable of receiving a version through their lines, or which individuals have to be guided to a possible website.
The concept of the integrated list will probably be replaced in the near future by an integrated address. There is no doubt that the U.S. Postal Service will eventually designate a universal electronic address for each resident and corporate workplace, and when that happens, the melding of all the many variables available in the marketplace will be able to be used through multiple direct marketing mediums.
Some people will always prefer direct mail to email. Others will look forward to the electronic communication. Who will win? Everyone wins, since we have more ways to market to people and for them to respond to us. n