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?

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

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