Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Direct marketing using e-mail and SMS as the distribution channel is not only becoming incrementally more expensive, it is also highly competitive – particularly in the financial services space when dealing with products such as loans and insurance.

As more direct marketers enter the market, and banks and insurers get better at marketing to their own databases, the response rates of consumers to e-mail and SMS marketing are declining. The knock-on effect is an increase in overall marketing costs. Combined with the clutter from other through-the-line marketing initiatives, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get the attention of prospective consumers.

Grabbing consumer attention amid the clutter is about managing your data effectively so that you can ensure marketing remains a profit centre. Marketing profit is directly driven out of the data assets so it’s vital to protect this data by targeting the right customer for the right product with the relevant message at the relevant time.

It’s as simple as getting the fundamental principles of direct marketing right, as this is what will differentiate between the success or failure of a campaign.

The big take-out:

The proliferation of brand messaging and platforms means that direct marketing is becoming more competitive and consumer response is dwindling. A more strategic focus on the target audience, message and timing will ensure direct marketing remains an effective way to reach consumers.

For example, taking the time to pre-score a marketing list to target the exact consumer profile could decrease costs on an SMS campaign, leading to greater profit. Targeted messages sent to the right consumer at the right time can increase response rates too, resulting in better lead generation.

Maximising and protecting data allows for more successful direct marketing campaigns.

Knowing the target marketing cost creates an understanding of profit and loss marketing and makes it that much easier to motivate for a larger marketing budget.

It’s advisable to build marketing scorecards before committing to spend. Much like banks want to market home loans and other loans to the consumers who will be approved based on the credit score, marketers must be selective about who their customers are.

Moreover, marketing messages should be crafted to talk to specific consumers. SMS marketing allows for only 160 characters to get your message across and to drive the consumer to respond. On e-mail, you need to make sure your subject lines are catchy and that calls to action are above the fold, clear and easy to find.

Multiple SMS and e-mail messages should be tested at the same time. Response rates vary significantly depending on whether you use your brand effectively, highlight the right benefits and the message is personalised. At the same time, read feedback reports to see if and when consumers are responding and to gain valuable insight in terms of what the best days and times are to communicate with them.

A slick sales process is a must – if a consumer responds to your brand message, you should be calling him or her within five minutes. With so much brand communication around, the odds are that consumers are doing their research and if you don’t get to them first, a competing brand will.

The right marketing automation software is crucial for teams to measure responses, financials, opt-outs, split messaging and lead volumes easily – in real time.

A combination of real data management and a slick sales process will not only keep your acquisition costs down, but extend the lifetime of your data – an increasingly valuable asset in today’s media-savvy world.

* Mountain is head of sales at Olico

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