Five tips for achieving consistent double-digit response rates with opt-in and multichannel marketing

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Consider the following data points; 132 million plus phone numbers are listed in the National Do Not Call Registry and scores of states are considering do-not-mail legislation. The need to reformulate your marketing from “push” and “blasts” to opt-in and customer-driven is not a luxury, it is an economic necessity.

Companies with solid brands and value propositions have nothing to fear from opt-in strategies. Customers and prospects welcome the opportunity to self-profile their message, offer and media preferences—in exchange for meaningful value propositions. The resulting self-profiled data creates uniquely accurate databases, which in turn drive consistent double-digit response rates.

Following are five tips to ensure your opt-in and multichannel marketing success:

  1. Set honest objectives—opt-out is not opt-in. Bite the bullet and set honest objectives to build opt-in driven relationships, where customers truly drive the relationship and communication process. Don’t kid yourself by perpetuating “Spray and Pray” blasts under the guise of “CRM” or “Relationship Marketing.” If you place the burden on the customer to “opt-out”, then you are miles away from true “opt-in” driven marketing—and your single-digit response rates will bear testimony to this.
  2. Do not misconstrue “permission” as opt-in. The reason opt-in programs consistently achieve double-digit response rates is because customers and prospects actively opt-in to an engaged dialogue with a company by self-profiling important business/personal needs and preferences. This is vastly different from passively giving “permission” to send them yet another e-newsletter.
  3. Don’t try to define the customer experience from the arrogance of a conference room. True opt-in engagement with your customers and prospects is brand new for your company and new for your audience. We have seen too many failures because of companies deciding that “they know best” what customers/prospects want. Innovative companies such as Microsoft, Golden Rule Insurance, HP and IBM have used Voice of Customer research to understand issues such as: How do customers/prospects define opt-in relationships with your company?; What value propositions must you offer to entice customers/prospects to share critical business/personal preference information?; What questions are appropriate to ask and when in the course of the relationship should you ask them?; and What are the message, offer and multichannel media preferences and aversions of your customers/prospects?
  4. Establish clearly defined strategies specific to opt-in marketing. Based on findings from the VOC research, cultivating opt-in specific strategies is key. You will need to develop compelling, customer-focused value propositions to stimulate customer/prospect opt-ins; a customer-driven process for asking increasingly detailed, but appropriate self-profiling questions; multichannel guidelines for building and maintaining the opt-in database; VOC driven guidelines for your internal business units regarding the role/use of multichannel touch points; and suppression guidelines to ensure business units respect opt-in preferences.
  5. Integrate multichannel marketing. To effectively integrate multichannel marketing, deploy your preference-driven multichannel mix per VOC guidelines and opt-in media preferences and aversions. You should also define clear “rules of engagement” for each of the media components. For example:
    • PR – use both traditional PR and Web PR, to provide trustworthy “aerial cover.”
    • Advertising – vertical and targeted, to reduce cost.
    • Web – rethink the role of your Web site to serve as a destination and connection with customers and prospects. Your Web customer-experience must provide much more than just efficient transactions.
    • E-mail – depending on VOC and opt-in preferences, e-mail may serve as a vehicle for transactional information.
    • Direct mail – per VOC and preferences, mail may be reserved for high value, important communications.
    • Customer service call centers – these are critically important value points for customers. Ensure that their experience is a value added, not a negative.
    • Outbound calling – powerful medium to drive incremental response—and irritate your customers. Call only if people have opted-in to receiving calls.

Follow these five tips and you will consistently achieve double-digit response rates.

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