Blog Activity

  • Unhappy About Your Campaign Results? Take a Look at Your Marketing Department’s Goals


    May, 2013

    No matter how well you execute your marketing campaigns—sharp copy, fresh products, appealing promotions—your own marketing department’s organization, goals and metrics will have a surprising influence on your long term success.  Are you organized so that everyone gets the “big picture” that will lead to success?  Do the performance metrics you use to evaluate key staff truly reflect the organization’s long-term goals? What, in fact, is the big picture for your organization, and what are those long-term goals?

    For some marketers, the answers are easy. In the high-growth years, you may be simply looking to acquire as many customers as fast as possible. In which case, you are marketing at virtually maximum frequency at any opportunity. 

    But most of us face limited marketing resources, and we manage a large customer file that needs careful segmentation and contact frequency strategies.  We know that we need to acquire not just any customer, but one that will be profitable.

    So, where does your organization come in? Let’s take customer acquisition. Most of us operate with a negative cost per acquisition. That means we have to rely on future sales to justify the prospecting program.  But if your customer-acquisition group operates in a silo or is measured based simply on how many customers they bring onto the file each year, it doesn’t take long for even a gifted marketer to start acquiring the low-hanging fruit—the one-and-dones, the promotion grabbers  with no likely subsequent purchasing.

    Perhaps the biggest improvement in prospecting  over the last decade has been the ability to leverage the wealth of data contained in prospecting databases to predict the potential demand of a given prospect, and target those names within a list or database that are more likely to provide sufficient return on your marketing investment.

    Unfortunately, every customer file is eventually infiltrated with lower-value customers. That’s why so many of your customers lie dormant.  It’s not your marketing efforts.  It’s not your products. It’s their needs.  They simply may not require more of your product or service. 

    Now consider your retention versus reactivation efforts. You’ve probably invested in external data enhancement to understand your customers better.  You have some sense of which are your best customers and most likely to reorder in large amounts.  But when it comes to reactivation, do you treat those customers really differently?  Once the customer has aged to a certain point, do you reduce the number and frequency of contact?  

    If you broke down the wall between retention and reactivation roles within your department, you would notice that some of those inactive customers are actually better suited to increased investment and the normal retention sequence. 

    Even more challenging is looking at which active customers aren’t worthy of the normal retention sequence. Does your marketing organization facilitate slotting some of those active customers into the less expensive reactivation sequence?  Too many of us throw good money after a bad acquisition, like mailing expensive full-offer catalogs eighteen times a year to a customer who is inherently unlikely to order frequently or in substantial quantities.   

    The next time you look at how your marketing department is organized, and what metrics are used to measure their behavior, consider your long-term goals around customer acquisition, retention, reactivation and profitabilty.   Aligning your organization with your goals and metrics is the ticket to improved campaign success.  


    Blair Barondes
    Blair Barondes's picture

    Blair D. Barondes is vice president of database marketing at MeritDirect, with a 25-year history of innovation in B2B marketing, including MeritDirect's MeritBase, the MeritMatch multi-channel matchback, and Mercury Response-Analysis toolkits.  Reach him at


  • 3 Essentials of Cross-Device Direct Marketing


    September, 2014

    We’ve seen astounding changes in consumer media behavior lately. Digital research company comScore reports that 51% of a person’s total digital media time is now spent on smart phones and tablets. The always connected consumer creates new challenges and VAST new marketing opportunities for direct marketers.

    Just as PCs required different marketing strategies and techniques from DRTV and direct mail, so too does the growth in mobile require us to rethink our strategies and tactics. Fortunately, “going cross-device” needn’t feel daunting if you remember three simple principles for doing it right:

    1.  Start with a 360 view of the consumer.

    With digital we can effectively observe consumer behavior in unique ways. But most targeting solutions base their decision-making solely on a person’s PC activity. Given that PCs now represent a minority of total time spent on the Internet, it’s easy to see how PC-only data results in an incomplete customer profile.

    Granted, it is more difficult to track mobile activity owing to issues with cookies in mobile applications and 3rd party cookies in Apple’s iOS operating systems. But technology has advanced, and the best solutions providers can now combine a user’s PC, smartphone and tablet activity into a single, rich customer profile. By analyzing such profiles you can pinpoint ideal target audiences as well as each person’s stage in the buying process.

    There’s something else to consider. Most people think about running integrated PC, smartphone and tablet campaigns when they think of “cross-device.” Such campaigns have been proven highly effective.  But you can also use your 360 cross-device data for targeting and then execute your advertising in just one channel, like PC or mobile. This can be a good way to get your feet wet before you commit to broader creative development and media buying.

    2.  Connect with Users on Their Terms

    Marketing success is all about right person|right time|right message. In digital that means that you need to ensure that the message you deliver comes to them when they are most likely to care about it, and that the desired action is conducive to the strengths of the device they are using.

    Different devices have different interactive strengths. Phones are great for on the go. PCs for content creation. Tablets for viewing content. Make sure that you leverage the strengths of each device in the messages you deliver. For instance, give people ways to find a store in a mobile ad. Rely on PC for online sales, because people are more likely to make purchases on this platform due to easier data entry. Showcase product shots and videos in tablet executions.

    3.  Use Every Campaign as a Learning Opportunity

    Direct marketers are all about metrics and results. Reporting is essential to doing cross-device right. But you should also be learning about the specific cross-device behaviors of your particular customers with each campaign. The more we understand our audiences, the better we can design our programs to perform. 

    Doing cross-device right requires techniques that are a departure for many direct marketers. But the results are worth the change. My company recently conducted testing that compared single device campaigns with cross-device campaigns that used a 360 customer view. The results showed enormous increases in both engagement and conversion rates. 

    With figures like those, it makes sense for you to “take your brand cross-device” ASAP. 


    Kurt Hawks
    Kurt Hawks's picture

    Kurt Hawks, General Manager, Mobile, for Conversant, Inc., spoke to DMCNY members at our May luncheon.  Reach him at

  • Year end Tax Tips


    November, 2013

    Our trusted DMCNY accountant offers us—again—a gaggle of useful tips for tax and financial planning at yearend 2013.  [David, watch out!  We’re going to have to make this an annual thing!]

    A health savings account.  These provide a great tax break, even if you don’t itemize your deductions.  And the money helps you pay medical expenses.  Keep in mind, if you don’t use all of the money in one year, you may carry it to the next year, even if you change jobs.

    Party time.  You can only write off half of your business meals and entertainment expenses.   But if you hold an event, like a party, a picnic or a BBQ, for the entire company, that’s 100% deductible.

    Obamacare.  If you are having trouble understanding the new law (and who isn’t), go to:

    Married couples of the same sex.  All who are legally married will now have to file federal returns as married, even if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize their marriage.  The rules for state returns depend on the law of the state where you live.

    December 31 is the last day to set up and deposit up to $51k into your solo 401(k).  It’s also the deadline for setting up your Keogh retirement plan. 

    New York State driver’s license. You may have to forfeit your license if you owe more than $10k in taxes.

    Warm up.  If you are retiring and want to move someplace warm, look into 3 questions:  How the state taxes retirement income; what the sales and real estate taxes are; and whether there is an estate tax.  Keep in mind that states offering tax breaks in one area may raise revenue by taxing other activities. State rules vary widely. One place to start your research is

    The tax man cometh.  Starting January 1, 2013, for married couples with income over $250k (and singles above $200k), there is a 3.8% tax on investment income, including dividends, capital gains and rental income.  There will also be a 0.9% tax on wages above those amounts. The top tax rate is now 39.6%.  So, it makes sense to keep taxable bonds, REITs, and high paying stocks in your tax-deferred retirement accounts.  You can then keep tax-exempt bonds in your regular investment account, since those earnings are not included in income for this tax calculation. 

    For any further questions, club members may reach David at  


    David Lord
    David Lord's picture
  • What You Need to Know About DRTV Today


    February, 2014

    Today, $150 billion of consumer products in the U.S. are sold through DRTV, and between 20% and 40% of TV households buy from DRTV.

    1.    So, what is DRTV? And what's the difference between DRTV and regular TV? 

    Direct response television is a form of marketing used to generate responses from prospective consumers, as a direct result of the marketing campaign. DRTV is often broken down into three subcategories: lead generation, product direct sales, or service direct sales. The difference between DRTV and traditional TV is as simple as a URL or 1-800 number. Media that has been designated DR based on the presence of a URL or 1-800 number can be purchased at a discount, versus standard TV advertising (brand advertising), thus ensuring media efficiencies. On average, DR prices are 30-50% lower.

    2.    Who uses DRTV? 

    Chances are you've seen the old “yell-and-sell” infomercials, with pitchmen like Billy Mays, but those days have passed, and DRTV has taken on an entirely new tone. Today, it's used by more brands than you probably realize: Estee Lauder, American Express, L'Oreal, Bose, KitchenAid, Capital One, Hanes, Keurig, Vanity Fair, Dyson, Garnier, Fab, Travelocity, Playtex, ShoeDazzle, Maybelline, and many more.

    3.    Why DRTV? 

    Direct response television is a highly effective customer acquisition medium that offers broad exposure to build your brand while driving response and measurable sales. Tracking and measuring performance can be drilled down to the level of individual airings, allowing brands to cost effectively reach a segmented audience based on daypart, channel, location, or type of programming.

    4.    What should I know before considering DRTV?

    Step one is getting to know your customers and their journey. It is mission critical to know where your customers spend, what they watch, and how they are influenced by various media: print, radio, TV, direct mail, out-of-home, mobile, and social. Use data-driven insight, research tools, and emerging technology to create a holistic view of your consumer. Recognize that the overarching goal of DRTV campaigns is to either push continuity programs or drive to retail—or a combination of the two. Not only are these the areas that hold the greatest potential for profit, they are crucial to developing a business model that remains effective at scale.  

    5.    Give me a few hints! What are the keys to success?

    One major key to success is creating a seamless customer experience between TV, online, and retail, by streamlining messaging, creative, and in-store signage. To do so, you must surround customers with relevant messaging to ensure a frictionless path to purchase. In addition, establish metrics and benchmarks that ensure a clear line of sight to success. Savvy marketers will consistently test their campaigns to not only mitigate risk but constantly optimize campaigns to drive the highest possible level of ROI, retail impact, and scalability. 


    Monica Smith
    Monica Smith's picture

    Monica C. Smith is founder and CEO of Marketsmith, Inc., and a recent luncheon speaker at DMCNY.  Reach her at

  • Your Email Reputation Depends on These Top 10 Must-Knows


    February, 2014

    Email marketing is still a top priority for marketers who seek leverage in their ability to target customers with relevant offers. But it’s very concerning when you realize 20% of emails don’t make it to the consumer’s inbox, according to data from ReturnPath.

    Getting delivered requires some due diligence and care, but it also means giving consumers what they want. Web mail providers pay attention when consumers flag an email as spam, and when they leave the email unopened.  Here are the 10 ways to improve your email marketing:

    1.       Email Append, Direct:  Today, it’s a risky move to append email addresses to your database and then email those customers without an opt-in. Many email service providers will not allow their customers to use this method, because it can hurt the sender reputation.

    2.      Email Append, Indirect:  Appending your list to a third party list and emailing customers through the third party is still okay—on the surface. However, it’s highly recommended that you use a positive opt-in method, requiring the customer to click on a link and give their permission.

    3.       Email Change of Address (ECOA): This service, which is not recommended, provides a new email address if old one is no longer working.  While the majority of consumers have more than one email address, it’s important to remember that email permission is based on a particular email address, not a customer record. When the email address goes bad, so does your permission.

    4.      Cleansing: Take a hard look at your list.  Remove those hard bounces and any soft bounces that have occured a few times. When you send emails to bad addresses again and again, it hurts your reputation, wastes your money and impacts your ROI.

    5.       Filter Out Inactives:  Consider only communicating with customers who have engaged (via opens or clicks, for example) with you in the past 90 days This keeps your list fresh, improves your metrics and mitigates any deliverability impact of using old addresses.

    6.      Email Verification of Address (EVOA):  Use EVOA to verify that email addresses are correct.   Give your subscriber an opportunity to fix them, in real-time if possible.

    7.       Organic Acquisition:  Look across your customer’s touch points with your brand and find opportunities to offer an opt-in. Look at web sites, social networks or even in-store locations. Build your list with customers who indicate that they want to receive your messages, to ensure relevancy.

    8.      Preference Center:  Create a preference center to give subscribers the ability to change their frequency, channel or content types.  Put them in control of the message.

    9.      Monitor Delivery:  Watch your email’s performance, by campaign and in aggregate. Watch for trends that indicate emails are not being delivered—and act quickly. 

    10.   Mobile:  As more consumers move toward mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, leverage mobile-aware emails to ensure relevancy based on the device they are viewed on, as well as the content they deliver.

    Remember that your subscribers are interested in your message, but it’s easy to lose their love. Relevant messages that matter will keep them opening and clicking, and will help you maintain a good email sender reputation—in a world where reputation is everything.


    Jeanette Kocsis
    Jeanette Kocsis's picture

    Jeannette Kocsis is  EVP, digital engagement, at the Agency Inside Harte-Hanks. Reach her at