Direct Mail – 4 Keys to Increasing Profitability Through Mailing Lists and Data

Every business owner who depends on marketing to produce leads has run into the same issue. You work hard to set-up your systems and you train your sales force to operate at peak performance. You refine your procedures and develop your products or services. You study your marketplace and build an outstanding business plan. You consult with marketing experts and design the most effective mail piece. It’s time to open up the marketing floodgates but the lead-generation deluge you expected to rain down on your office is instead more of a lead-generation drizzle that causes a marketing drought.

Where did it go wrong? The answer is always in the data used on your marketing campaign. It doesn’t matter how great your marketing creative is or how talented your sales force is or how much mail you sent out, if you don’t market to the right audience. Here are five important suggestions to turn all of that hard work into leads, sales, and profits.

1. Not All Mailing List Data Sources are the Same

A Data Source is a Data Source is a Data Source! Right? Wrong unless you’re buying cheap data and trying to convince yourself that it will be just as effective as the proven data. The reality is that today’s marketplace provides several data compilers and several data re-sellers. Most of the people you talk to are data re-sellers and many of them are purchasing data for their own use. What does this mean for you? It means that you will be purchasing old data from a second hand source and only after that source has taken the best data for themselves. It’s important to build a relationship with a data source you can trust.

2. Mailing List Data Analytics: What are they and how do they benefit me?

Data is selected to be included in a data pool based on criteria that you determine. The first step in selecting the best data is to understand the “DNA” or make-up of your ideal target audience member. Once this process is complete, it is time to find a data list of audience members who most closely match this ideal profile. Data Analytics is the process of filtering data through algorithms in order to find the most relevant data. All data has variables, some are statistically significant (SSVs) and others are statistically insignificant (ISVs). The purpose of the algorithm is to include as many SSVs in your data pool while eliminating as many ISVs as possible. The end result will translate into you marketing only to your intended target audience.

3. Make sure your Mailing List data is fresh?

Many so-called data sources, often data re-sellers, are not interested in developing a long-term relationship with your company. They truth is that they only care about making a quick dollar. Because of this, you can end up with a large database of unusable records. The main problem is that the data provider is continuously re-selling data, regardless of how old that data is. This is why you end up with wrong phone numbers, people who moved, someone who should have great credit but is in default. You should only use data that has been updated within the last 30 days.

4. Track Your Results

Tracking results can be a painstaking, frustrating task. However, if you have a lead-generation dependent business model, you need to make sure that you’re maximizing the Return-on-Investment for your marketing budget. It’s important to continually analyze not only your response rates but also what works and doesn’t work with your current data. Often data problems are not the result of false promises on the part of your data provider, but rather are due to subtly tweaks that need to be made during the data analytics process.

The best analytics are effective, but still may need adjustments. For example, one of my clients in the past requested only records of homeowners, who had $25,000 or more in consumer debt and mid-range credit scores. The problem we encountered was that the computer read Home Equity Lines of Credit as revolving debt because of the way that the credit bureaus sometimes reported the information. This made a person with an 800 credit score, no credit card debt and a $100,000 HELOC look like someone with a 650 credit score and $100,000 in credit card debt. By tracking the data results, we were able to easily identify the problem and adjust the algorithm to provide a more relevant data pool.

Mailing List Data is not a simply aspect of marketing, and it may be the most important. For the data users, companies that depend on great data for great marketing results, data is an unknown commodity. Unfortunately, the huge demand for data has allowed the marketplace to fill-up with opportunists. Many data providers would rather learn “how to sell you the wrong data” than learn “how to provide you with the right data”. The bright side is that there are great, honest suppliers of quality, relevant data. Just be sure to keep these five factors in mind when purchasing data and your marketing will soon produce the outstanding results that your hard work deserves.

Track Facebook, Twitter & Social Networks in Google Analytics – Social Network Marketing Analytics

A cornerstone of any organization’s overall social marketing strategy should be reliable web analytics – that is, accurate tracking of traffic coming from networking sites on which you’re conducting marketing efforts. This will enable you to slice and dice statistics for those visitors, and hopefully align those numbers with your marketing goals!

Google Analytics will automatically track referrals from other websites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networking sites. In your Traffic Source reports, you’ll see your social network visits grouped under referrals from that site – sources like LinkedIn or stumbleupon. However, these sites are grouped in with all other referring traffic! What if you want to track statistics for incoming traffic from ALL social network sites? It’ll be hard to do that if you have to sift through all your other referral traffic.

Grouping Social Network Traffic in Google Analytics

Google naturally defines traffic as being organic, direct, referral, etc – so what we’re doing here is telling Analytics to place certain sites within a certain category, or “medium.” Chances are, this is how your Traffic Medium report looks right now if you haven’t applied any custom filters – visits are grouped by 3 or 4 mediums. Organic traffic covers non-paid visits from search engines, (none) means direct traffic (IE, a visitor typed in your website’s URL straight into their browser), and all your social networks are grouped under referral traffic.

We want a separate category for those sites though! Using a filter, we can tell Analytics to remove specific sites from the “referral” classification and group them under a new medium.

(Note: This technique involves creating a filter. Create a duplicate profile before proceeding – any mistakes can screw up your historical data. We’ll install the filter on the new, duplicate profile.)

Once you’ve got the profile set up, click “Filter Manager” from the Overview Screen (the one that lists all your profiles), then “Add Filter”.

Name your filter something descriptive, then select “Custom Filter” from the Filter Type drop down box. We are advanced analytics ninjas, so select the “Advanced” button and configure the filter like so:

Field A -> Extract A

In the first drop-down, select “Campaign Source”. In the second field, you’ll be entering which sites you’d like Analytics to automatically group into your new social networks category. For best results here, we’re going to be using the Regular Expression character (directly below your Backspace key), which means “or” – this allows us to select multiple domains that traffic would be coming from. If, for example, you wanted all your referral traffic from Stumbleupon, Facebook, Twitter and EzineArticles to appear in this new, social-media-only category, you’d enter “stumbleupon|facebook|twitter|ezinearticles” (without the quotes) into this field. Adjust this to fit your needs.

Field B -> Extract B

These fields will be empty: in the first drop-down, select “-”. Nothing in the second field.

Output To -> Constructor

In the first drop-down, select “Campaign Medium”. In the second, enter the name of your new category – this can be anything you want, but make it simple and descriptive. “social” is always a good choice!

Radio Buttons

Field A Required: Yes

Field B Required: No

Override Output Field: Yes

Case Sensitive: No

You’re done! After you’ve applied the filter, you should see a spiffy little line in your Traffic Medium report – in this example, “social” would show up, and by clicking on it, all your visits from Stumbleupon, EzineArticles, Twitter, and Facebook are in one, social-media-only category, separate from your Google Image referrals (man, that’s a lot of cat pictures).

Now all your metrics in this category will accurately reflect social-media-sourced visitors only, without all your other referrals skewing the data. Analyze away!

The Value in Letting Return on Investment Drive Your Marketing Decisions

Based on the topics I write about, it could be easy to assume that I am against all forms of traditional marketing. This is not true. I am against marketing that requires a heavy investment on the front-end and that has a high or unknown cost per lead. In other words, in many cases I think companies take a great risk by using mass media such as television and newspapers to promote their business. A more prudent course in many cases is to use marketing strategies that place your message in front of a well defined group of people (your target market) and that has a lower cost per lead than mass media.

That is why my company still uses direct mail even though we are an Internet marketing company. Our sales letters go to a specific group of people whom we have determined would benefit from our services and are in a position to purchase them. Each letter costs us about fifty cents, which is way less that would cost as with mass media to reach those specific people.

That is also why I love search engine marketing and social media marketing. These marketing techniques get our message in front of exactly the people who need our services or who are potential referral sources. And we accomplish this not with a large cash outlay but by simply talking about and writing about the things we do (which we like to do anyway).

Also, we’re discovering that search engine optimization and social media and direct mail are not mutually exclusive. For instance, when we update one of our blogs, there is a search engine optimization effect because we are creating keyword rich content that links to our main web sites. Our blog posts then become the source of group discussion material in social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. When we send out a sales letter out, we always reference our web site.

All of this marketing is very low cost and highly targeted. It is also ROI (return on investment) driven. ROI is a wonderful gauge for comparison. I don’t think you can say the same thing about a TV ad. However, if you’ve got the cash to burn and are looking to generate a branding effect, then mass media is invaluable.