In Direct Mail, More Is Less: How Oversaturation Kills ROI

Yes, we are saying that more mail pieces actually get you less as far as results go with direct mail. Don’t be fooled by the notion that more choices, more text and more offers are better. That does not hold up to reality. It is harder for your prospects and customers to make a choice, understand more text and pick from multiple offers than if you stick with one or two.

Yes, we are saying that more mail pieces actually get you less as far as results go with direct mail. Don’t be fooled by the notion that more choices, more text and more offers are better. That does not hold up to reality. It is harder for your prospects and customers to make a choice, understand more text and pick from multiple offers than if you stick with one or two.

With two, they can make a comparison. Once you move past two, you get confusion. Confused people do not buy. Your ROI will reflect your “too many choices” with poor results. Not sure if I am right? Let’s look at some key ways people process your mail pieces.

  • Decision Processing — Good decisions are processed in three steps, on avaerage. The steps are: know the importance of your goals, consider your options to meet them and pick the winning option. Knowing this, you can help them make decisions faster by providing them with the benefits of your product or service to them in your copy. The more options you offer, the harder it is for people to make decisions. When decision-making is hard, people tend to just not do it. Your mail pieces should make it easy for them to decide to buy from you.
  • Intake — As people are looking over your copy, they skim as they read. Many tests have shown that what resonates with them is the last item read; make sure your strongest copy is last, in order to convince them that it is in their best interest to buy from you. The more positive spin you put on the benefits, the better people feel about your product or service and the more eager they are to buy.
  • Past Experience — All decisions we make are based on past experiences, but your prospects and customers can be influenced by other people’s experiences, too. That is why testimonials about your product or service are very important. Your customers and prospects can relate to others’ experiences and want to get that experience for themselves.
  • Familiar — People buy from companies that they are familiar with, so your company branding is important and must be carried through all your marketing channels. They need to be able to recognize you to help them decide to buy from you.

Take the confusion out of your direct mail pieces in order to increase your response rates. Your prospects and customers are inundated with marketing messages all day long in various forms. In order for your mail pieces to resonate, you need to grab attention with your design and then wow them with concise, easy-to-read copy. Focus on how great their life is going to be by using your product or service. Then make it a limited time offer so they respond quicker. Finally, make it easy for them to buy from you.

Stay away from multiple offers per mailer; target the right people with the right offer. You can still have multiple offers in your campaign; just send different offers to different people. When you are not sure what offer will work best, do an A/B test so half of the people get one offer and the other half get the other offer. You can then analyze your results to see which offer worked better. There are enough difficult choices in the world, make buying from you an easy choice and you will see your results increase. In your marketing, you cannot be everything to everyone. You need to be something to someone. Focus on the someones. Are you ready to get started?

Get Revenue Marketing Analytics Right for 2018

Here’s a trap many marketers fall into in the early part of the journey: The marketing VP received additional marketing budget, but the price is that she has to report marketing numbers to the CEO each month. How do you start? Here are your best bets for initiating revenue marketing reporting this year

Last month on our revenue marketing journey, we discussed how to develop use cases as a way of teasing out specific technology requirements for marketing. This month, we turn our attention to revenue marketing analytics and, more importantly, how to choose the right metrics for where you are in your revenue marketing journey.

Here’s a trap many marketers fall into in the early part of the journey: The marketing VP received additional marketing budget, but the price is that she has to report marketing numbers to the CEO each month. So the organization is turned upside down attempting to create marketing results reports for the first time.

How do they start? Marketing ROI analysis, or marketing influenced revenue, or, harder still, predictive reports? The outcome is predictable.

6 Steps to Accurate Revenue Marketing Analytics

If you are in the lead generation stage of your Revenue Marketing journey, moving into demand generation, and recently acquired marketing automation technology, here are your best bets for initiating revenue marketing reporting this year:

1. Avoid Ego Metrics for 6 Months

Marketing ROI and marketing influenced revenue. These require a lot of pieces to be in place and working and are simply not a good place to start. We recognize that they are important, but don’t try to start here. Avoid creating the ego metrics the first six months.

2. Define the Decisions

Start by defining what decisions the demand generation and content teams are making weekly and monthly and asking what reporting related information they need to make better investment decisions. Create those reports for them first. Good examples are:

  • Weekly database engagement by campaign, content, channel, region, product interest, and contact type. Are they a prospect or a customer? Engagement means they downloaded or clicked on an offer, registered for something or visited one of your digital properties. It also includes engagement on the social channels (likes, replies, forwards, clicks). It does NOT include email opens.
  • Form completion rates (or the converse, form abandonment rates).
  • Net new leads by region, product interest, lead source and content/asset that attracted them.
  • MQLs and SQLs by lead source, region and product interest.
  • Cost per MQL from inbound sources.
  • Funnel conversion rates, by contact type, region and product interest.
  • Funnel age in stage (qualitative measure of the funnel), by region and product interest.

3. Fix the Errors

Reports like these will reveal all sorts of issues with your data and with the processes that update your data. You will spend months fixing these process issues and amending the data. You will probably also find that your data has serious omissions precluding you from reporting the way you want and a data enrichment project may be initiated.

4. Take Your Time, Before Sharing

Do not share the initial reports throughout the organization because it is likely that they are wrong. There will be errors from simply not having enough good data to be a representative sample to incorrect data to faulty report configuration.

If you share the early reports widely and the errors are uncovered by the recipients, it may take a while to recover your credibility. Take your time, validate your early reporting and gradually start to share them more broadly.

5. Are the Initial Reports Helping?

Sit in with the demand gen teams and content teams and see how they are using these initial reports. Are they useful for making decisions on a weekly or monthly basis? I.e. is the reporting cadence aligned with the required decision-making cadence? Are they getting the detail they need? Is there drill down required?

Modify your reports to fully satisfy this audience before you move to the next audience.

The Positive Psychology of NO CHOICE

When asked why he always wore grey or blue suits, Barack Obama responded that he had enough other choices to make so this was a choice he could choose not to make. And per psychology studies, this was a smart choice.

choicesWhen asked why he always wore grey or blue suits, Barack Obama responded that he had enough other choices to make so this was a choice he could choose not to make. And per psychology studies, this was a smart choice.

Making choices actually depletes our brain energy and distracts our mental focus in ways that often lead to inertia, or procrastination of important events, and fatigue. In fact, several studies have shown that:

the more little decisions we make, the more it taxes our ability to make bigger decisions that are important to our advancement toward life’s bigger goals.

For example, a study conducted by University of Minnesota psychologist Kathleen Vohs and colleagues showed that participants who made several small choices while shopping were less likely to do well when asked to solve a simple algebra problem. This inability to go from a series of small choices to a more complex mental activity proved true with other tasks they conducted in this same study, which involved college students. Per the task studied involving students from prestigious universities, researchers found that students were more likely to put off studying for important tests if preoccupied with smaller decisions at the same time.

Vohs and her team conducted four different tasks associated with choice for their overall study and made some fascinating observations and conclusions:

  • Making choices can deplete the brain and body, creating mental and physical fatigue
  • Having to make choices is more depleting than just looking at options
  • Implementing choices imposed on you by somebody else is less draining
  • If you anticipate that making choices will be a fun and rewarding experience, the decision process is less depleting

These findings have substantial implications for anyone in marketing, whether B-to-B or B-to-C: If you want your customers to make quick decisions to purchase from you, and have an energizing vs. depleting experience, simplify the decision process by offering fewer choices.

Sounds counter-intuitive to some, but think about it. When you are faced with choosing from dozens of products on a shelf with lots of price and promise variations, you end up having to think more, analyze more, and it often results in muddled thinking and confusion. Per the above studies, you and many other consumers have likely made the choice to not choose when choosing becomes too time-consuming and exhausting. It happens when shopping for cars and even personal products at a grocery store. We get “depleted” mentally when trying to decide which product to purchase based upon our mental process to make sure we get the best deal, best value and don’t make decisions we might regret.

As a business, we need to do whatever we can to make choosing our products simple and energizing vs. depleting.

If you’re selling software as a service, such as a SaaS platform for CRM or some other business function, you likely have a big range of services people can choose from, and different price ranges for “packages” of those services. If you have three packages to choose from, your chances of getting sales quickly are likely going to be greater than if you gave them 10 packages to choose from or ask customers to create their own bundle out of dozens of services you offer.

And if you make that choice “safe,” by providing a generous cancellation or opt-out clause, you take the fear out of an easy choice. This is critical to the psychology of choice, as both of these activities take less energy from our mental capacities. And when we use less energy worrying or stressing or contemplating, we have more energy to anticipate the reward of that decision.

So ask yourself these key questions:

  • Do my offerings or sales model drain or sustain brain energy?
  • How can I simplify choices without making customers feel like they have none?
  • How can I make choices a replenishing, energizing experience that makes customers feel good about their decisions and my brand?

When you can build your sales offerings and marketing messages around the answers to those three questions you can transform your brand’s ability to close deals. And that can transform your bottom line and competitive advantage for a long time to come.

7 Reasons It’s Tough to Change Decisions

With each passing day, voters’ decisions are being made up, and not a lot is going to change their minds — no matter how much is poured into political ads. Changing minds is also a problem for direct marketers. The minds of our prospects are often made up before we have a chance to stimulate their emotion and present our message. Envelopes aren’t opened and are pitched. Emails go away in a click. The mind is …

FrustratedWith each passing day, voters’ decisions are being made up, and not a lot is going to change their minds — no matter how much is poured into political ads. Getting people to change decisions is also a problem for direct marketers. The minds of our prospects are often made up before we have a chance to stimulate their emotion and present our message. Envelopes aren’t opened and are pitched. Emails go away in a click. The mind is made up.

There are plenty reasons why our copy and creative hit roadblocks. Some days our message just doesn’t connect. We have to work smarter, and know that changing the mind is often an uphill climb. So today I offer seven reasons why it’s often tough to change a decision, along with ideas you can use to overcome each area of resistance.

  1. Childhood Experiences: At an early age, like a sponge, we start taking in information, all a part of life experiences. We take away feelings about many things. We form opinions to keep us safe. It’s the primitive brain. So make sure you consider how your product or service reassures and keeps your prospect safe.
  1. Long-Term Memory: Deep-seated long-term memories stick with a person for their entire lives. To minimize a bad memory, another memory must be created to neutralize it. It’s a tall order to change a memory of any kind. But if you’re going to get through, you must create a new positive memory, especially if you need to overcome a bad memory.
  1. Perception Rules: For some people, changing an ingrained perception is impossible, even if their perception is wrong. And when you probe more deeply, most people won’t recall why their perception rules exist in the first place. This one is tough to overcome, so acknowledge to your prospect that you’re challenging their perception.
  1. Internal Conflict: Reason and emotion are in opposition to each other. Emotion most often wins. You must interpret your offer for the metaphorical left brain, setting you up to win over with emotion in the right brain.
  1. Regretting a Past Decision: People reflect on past decisions that disappoint. Regret and remorse set in. A person’s gut reaction is usually a product of bias. You need to assure, likely in a guarantee, that you stand by your product and make things right, if necessary, so your prospect doesn’t dredge up past regrets.
  1. Intuition: Intuition is activated before our minds consciously understand, based on stored emotional memories that a person keeps secret in their sub-conscious. Therefore intuition often guides decision making without much conscious deliberation. Keep your prospect focused on your message and set up a logical flow so intuition doesn’t creep in and move your prospect off your message.
  1. Noise: With the noise of competitive marketing messages across media at every turn, the mind becomes confused and numbed, which results in sticking with a past decision. That’s why you must stand out. Have a strong unique selling proposition and use stories to solidify new long-term memory.

Like it or not, the human mind works in mysterious ways. Today more than ever, it’s tough to change a mind.

As for candidates, those who have led in polls and snag voter commitments early solidify their position. How? By expressing positions that make the voter feel good, whether the position is credible or not. Ultimately, whoever attracts the most raving fans wins, because it’s the candidate that makes them feel good about the future who voters will support. There’s a lesson here for marketers, too.