When it comes to generating results from your direct marketing campaigns, half the battle often is just being heard. But getting the ear of business decision-makers isn't about shouting the loudest. You can improve your marketing return on investment with an integrated approach that puts a limited number of coordinated messages into the market.
Here are four strategies to integrate your b-to-b direct response communications campaign to achieve greater impact:
Avoid creating clutter.
If your company is like many others, it has multiple business units, each with a portfolio of products, services and marketing communications needs. The first strategy is to avoid creating clutter, which often happens when product managers independently create their own standalone, product-centric marketing campaigns.
To prevent this, create an annual campaign architecture for each key market segment, one that identifies the broad themes you want to promote and aligns with the value propositions of your company's offerings. Be sure that your direct response demand-generation activities are supported by the brand-level messages that are also in market.
Doing this will help you move from one-off tactics to a consistent set of messages that establishes and reinforces what your brand stands for and that drives revenue.
If you're just starting, take a structured approach that documents the capabilities, functional benefits and higher-level business value of each product or service offering. Then, search for the common business-level themes and use those to build a limited set of benefit-oriented direct-marketing campaigns that address your targets' needs.
Use multiple channels.
With a well-defined campaign architecture in place, your next step should be to identify effective ways to reach your audience.
While your budget and marketing objectives will dictate the reach and frequency of your campaigns, strive to approach your targets through more than one channel. There are several advantages to this. Being present in multiple direct-response channels creates the impression of having a greater presence than if you merely utilize one channel, such as e-mail, direct mail or online advertising.
Also, as you think about your contact strategy, don't overlook the power of search and social marketing tactics. Informative, relevant content—such as a white paper, a best practices guide, a webcast demo or customer success stories—can be posted online and used to drive a response that will begin a conversation with prospects by getting them to register and provide contact information. The content can be seeded through search marketing and by joining conversations in relevant online forums.
By utilizing the different strengths of each channel, you have the opportunity to tell your story in different levels of detail, letting the messages build on each other.
The third strategy for achieving results-grabbing integrated campaigns is to ensure that all tactics carry a consistent set of messages delivered via a common visual idea.
First of course, express your story in a compelling manner, in a way that connects with your target audience. Then, make sure the key visual and headline(s) are carried consistently through all the tactics that comprise your direct marketing campaign.
And don't shy away from repetition; it's a key tenet of advertising. Remember, you're competing against dozens if not hundreds of other business communications. Saying and showing the same message more than once is one way to break through the noise, especially if it's expressed in a customercentric, benefit-oriented way.
Apply judicious measurements.
The final strategy is effective measurement applied judiciously. This is especially true in direct marketing, where the linkage between marketing activities and results is easier to establish than with perception-changing communications.
There are two categories of metrics. First are measures of overall campaign performance: Account for all campaign expenditures and determine how much it cost to deliver qualified leads or sales. Given the potential value of a lead and sales conversion rates, ask yourself if the campaign delivered an acceptable ROI.
If not, the second category of metrics can help you understand why. These are diagnostic measurements such as response and click-through rates, registration rates and lead-conversion rates. They can tell you which tactics were most effective at engaging the audience.
Use these metrics to fine-tune elements of the campaign and optimize across direct-response channels. But use your metrics wisely, because with integrated marketing, all communications work together to drive sales. This is true even though it may look like just one tactic drove the sale, such as a particular e-mail blast or a banner ad.
Together, these four strategies will guide you from strategic campaign planning through post-execution measurement. When followed, they can lift a set of disconnected, competing communications into a focused story that more effectively drives sales while also building your brand.
Jonathan Perloe is senior VP-strategic marketing with direct advertising agency Wunderman, New York, a WPP company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.