Is Frequency a Pay-off or Piss-off Strategy?

We’ve all heard about contact frequency strategies: Send (often) the same communications to your target audience repeatedly over a period of time. But if you continue to bombard your target over and over and over and over, does it really pay-off? Or does it just piss off your audience?

We’ve all heard about contact frequency strategies: Send (often) the same communications to your target audience repeatedly over a period of time.

The rule of thumb is that you’ll get half of the response rate you got from the prior mailing. So if you got 1 percent the first drop, you’ll get 0.5 percent the second, 0.25 percent the third and so on.

But if you continue to bombard your target over and over and over and over, does it really pay-off? Or does it just piss off your audience?

Earlier this year, I started noticing that Comcast was sending me a lot of direct mail solicitations. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT.

First it occurred to me that perhaps the marketing team at Comcast had never heard of a merge/purge process. Or perhaps the person who was in charge of merge/purge had gone on vacation … or had been laid off … or had dozed off.

So instead of filing them in the recycle bin like I usually do, I started to save every package that came to my office. And then I noticed that my husband was also being bombarded with the same packages at his home office—so I saved those too.

And then I was personally receiving business mail solicitations at home (my business is at a separate location). AND I was receiving very similar DM packages at home for home service (we already use them for Internet service but not for phone or TV).

While I realize there is no data strategy that will enable Comcast to match me to both my home and business addresses, the fact is, we got over 13 solicitations over a few weeks. THIRTEEN. Some arrived on the same day, while others were a day or two apart. Hello … have you heard of merge/PURGE?

It’s not like it’s a compelling creative package. Pretty plain really. A white, #10 envelope with a teaser in big blue type and my name, in all caps, lasered on the front. And inside? A form letter: No niceties like a salutation—A little “Dear Carolyn” or “Dear Ms. Goodman” would be nice. Nobody bothered to sign the letter. Just, “Sincerely, Comcast Business Services.”

Sometimes the offer changed price-wise (clearly I’m in a test panel), but more often than not, the packages are identical.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I have trouble believing this strategy has a positive ROI.

Several years ago, a prominent B-to-B client told us that a customer had contacted them after getting 28 direct mail packages in one month from them. Despite being from different divisions, and about different products, it brought home the point: How do companies control the communications flow to any single customer without a proper customer relationship management strategy in place?

I propose that all companies demand that the customer relationship marketing manager job description includes:

Managing and monitoring customer communication to ensure we are never perceived as badgering our customers. That means that no single customer will ever receive more than X no of direct mail or email solicitations in any given 30-day period.

With all of the sophisticated segmentation techniques, it isn’t uncommon that one customer would meet multiple criteria for selection for any given campaign. But part of that strategy should also include the “last time customer received an outbound communication.”

Merge/purge is a lost art. Purge being the operative word here. Finding duplicates. And protecting Customer Zero.

Comcast—I know you’re busy streaming, but are you listening?

Caution: I’ve Been Diagnosed With Social Media Madness

There are so many social media options now available, my head hurts. My palms get sweaty at the mere whisper of a new site. And if I get one more invitation to join some random, seemingly important group, I think I’ll weep. As a marketer, I feel a lot of pressure to keep up with it all, primarily so I can talk to clients about how they can leverage these forums as strategic marketing opportunities. But in reality, it’s not possible to do that, my day job and raise a family.

There are so many social media options now available, my head hurts. My palms get sweaty at the mere whisper of a new site. And if I get one more invitation to join some random, seemingly important group, I think I’ll weep.

As a marketer, I feel a lot of pressure to keep up with it all, primarily so I can talk to clients about how they can leverage these forums as strategic marketing opportunities. But in reality, it’s not possible to do that, my day job and raise a family.

While there are certainly more social media options in the B-to-C world, we B-to-B marketers are under intense scrutiny to understand and learn how to have, at the very least, a point of view on what these options are and how to use them appropriately for business. It is a Herculean task, and one that cannot be accomplished under normal circumstances.

So I’m officially raising my hand and shouting to the world, “STOP THIS MADNESS.” I’m going to spit out the social media Kool-Aid, stand tall, and promise, on my honor, to be only as social as I need to be, while spending my time on more important marketing initiatives. To that end, I’m going to embrace these four directives:

  1. I vow to maintain an updated LinkedIn profile—and respond to inquiries to connect when they make sense.
  2. I promise I won’t tweet every day just to be able to claim that I tweet regularly.
  3. I won’t use my Facebook stamp to let my friends know every time I’m in a new location… unless it’s someplace impressive like one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
  4. I’ll stop posting videos of my kitten playing with string on YouTube. Despite the fact that I get millions of hits worldwide. It’s not fair to my kitten, and surely viewers have better things to do.

Won’t you join with me to find a cure to social media madness? Fling open your windows and shout it with me: “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it any more…” Then go back to learning and creating marketing solutions that drive your business forward.