4 Ways to Triple Your Digital Marketing Results

Digital marketing is direct marketing. If you follow these four principles, you’ll triple your digital communications results — and it doesn’t cost you a penny more.

What metrics do you use to define digital marketing success today? Clicks? Traffic? Followers? Leads? Sales? ROI? Notice what these metrics have in common. They all require some action on the part of the target, whether it’s a prospect or a customer. And how do you motivate an action? You use direct response communications. It’s as simple as that. Digital marketing is direct marketing. So why are we still seeing suboptimal digital communications in display, email, SEM, wherever. It’s a tragedy. If you follow these four principles, you’ll triple your digital communications results — and it doesn’t cost you a penny more.

Direct response communications are structured specifically to motivate an immediate response, which is why they are perfect for digital marketing communications. The structure relies on four elements.

1. Add an Offer

The offer is the key motivator that overcome inertia and stimulates response. A strong offer can improve response rates by 300 percent. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with discounts or deals. In fact, in B2B, the most powerful offer is authoritative, educational information, packaged up in a report, a case study, a chart, a video — something that answers a question or solves a business problem. Make the offer the center of your messaging. Explain why they can’t live without it.

2. Make a Strong Call to Action

The CTA is, in sales terminology, the “close,” where a rep asks for the order. “Click here.” “Download now.” Make it prominent, and make it persuasive. No more bland “More information” buttons. Here’s a handy checklist of 75 CTA options to inspire you.

3. Prepare a Dedicated Landing Page

This is where the real close takes place. Use the landing page to resell the offer, and capture the prospect’s information. Design the form to be filled out easily, asking for as little data as possible. If you already know some of the target’s data elements, as is likely with email communications, then prepopulate the webform. Whatever you do, don’t drive the respondent to your home page.

4. Test and Improve

Continuous split testing is so easy in digital channels, you have no excuse not to take advantage. Test your audience segments, your offers, headlines, calls to action, design — everything. And keep testing, for continuous improvement. As Jan Brandt, the digital marketing pioneer who launched AOL practically single handedly, used to say: “Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.”

After these four, there are plenty of other effective direct response principles you can apply. Improve your audience targeting. Use a friendly, personal tone. Add a sense of urgency. Focus on benefits, over features. I could go on. But you’ll get 90 percent of the way there with the Big Four principles above. Then sit back and watch your digital marketing response rates soar.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Summer Blockbusters: They Don’t Always Disappoint

Been to the movies lately? Neither have I, but I do have a few summertime musts on my list:

Credit: Pixabay

Been to the movies lately? Neither have I, but I do have a few summertime musts on my list:

10. Disaster movie: It’s not current events in Washington, it’s what’s going on in the database — get it cleaned up. Here’s a perspective from Radius.

9. In work and life: Skip complaining about Millennials and Plurals, and consider today’s realities. One perspective from Canada.

8. Speaking of Plurals, they’re entering the market now, so get to know them (what, they skip advertising?!): https://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2016/02/forget-millennials-meet-plurals/

7. Transition the ads: There’s a wholly updated portfolio of digital ad specs and standards to take command of from Interactive Advertising Bureau: https://www.iab.com/newadportfolio/

6. Study up on GDPR and data-driven marketing — because we have to — via Evidon, TrustArc and even Aberdeen. Note the sequel: ePrivacy Regulation.

5. Wow, congratulations! What a lineup of Direct Marketing Club of New York Silver Apples 2017 honorees — from IAB, American Express, PCH, Bottom Line and more — I must get a ticket for November 16.

4. August in New York City? Oh, I’ll be judging ECHOs, while others in B2B solve the sales and marketing gap with data and content at LeadsCon Summit: Connect to Convert.

3. Yes, I do believe in “Wonder Women” — a summer highlight after all: http://www.dmnews.com/2017-marketing-hall-of-femme/topic/51589/

2. Get on it …You have exactly five days to get your blockbuster breakthrough entered in this year’s Innovation Awards.

1. Set you travel plans for October 8-10, NOLA. It’s not for Bourbon Street, but maybe some late-night jazz and all my data and marketing questions answered at Data & Marketing Association’s &Then.

Looks like I’ve got a busy month ahead, and not in a theater near you!

Direct Marketing: An Rx for Medication Non-Adherence

Direct-to-patient communications are an effective tool for overcoming barriers to adherence. Educating patients about how their medication works in simple language can go a long way to helping them realize how and why to take it.

healthcare marketingCiting a review in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine, the New York Times recently reported that people do not take their medication as prescribed. “This lack of adherence is estimated to cause 125,000 deaths, and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations, and to cost the American healthcare system between $100 billion and $289 billion a year.”

This news was not surprising to me. I know from professional experience that many prescriptions are never filled (20 to 30 percent according to the article), and that regardless of the condition for which the medication is prescribed, after three months only about 40 to 50 percent of those prescribed long-term medications are still taking them. I also know from controlled testing that direct marketing techniques can improve patient adherence with medications by 20 to 25 percent.

There are many reasons why people don’t take their medication. Forgetfulness is not significant among them. So medication calendars, special pill bottle caps and refrigerator magnets can have only a marginal effect. Refill reminders from pharmacies and Rx brands are not effective, because the most significant reasons for non-adherence are psychological:

  • Medications remind people that they are sick, or have a medical condition; many people would rather ignore or deny that. They see taking medications as a sign of weakness.
  • Medications are viewed by some as chemicals that are bad for the body in contrast to “natural” remedies, like fish oil or vitamins.
  • Medications for silent conditions, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, don’t make people feel any different. So they see no benefit in taking them.
  • Many times people do not understand why they are taking a particular medication or how long they’re supposed to take it. Doctors do not have the time to adequately explain it. The standard physician visit is scheduled for 15 minutes, and according to another Annals of Internal Medicine study cited by Forbes, “even when in the examination room with patients, doctors were spending only 52.9 percent of the time talking to or examining the patients and 37 percent doing paperwork. In other words, shrink that 15 minutes to under eight minutes.”

Direct-to-patient communications are an effective tool for overcoming these barriers to adherence. Educating patients about how their medication works in simple language can go a long way to helping them realize how and why to take it. The stakes are high, and the stakeholders who stand to benefit most from increased adherence (besides the patients themselves) are insurers, healthcare providers, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Each of the stakeholders has their own roadblocks for mounting an effective program, which I’ll explore in a future post.

Marketers Are Making Progress on Waste Reduction

With all the talk about trashing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whatever your politics, there’s not much good in generating waste. Direct marketers have known this for years.

Happy Earth Day, a couple days late.

With all the talk about trashing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whatever your politics, there’s not much good in generating waste. Direct marketers have known this for years.

The Inefficiency Problem

Waste equals inefficiency. Pollution is inefficient. Waste and pollution extract costs that should be accounted for in business ledgers, accounting standards, valuations, investment strategies and — absent these places — at least public policy. The position is both conservative and progressive.

This is not about hugging trees, climate change and saving the planet … it’s a ruthless commitment to efficiency that portends a golden age premised on sustainability. Who knows? The world’s first “trillionaire” may well emerge from sustainability innovation …a better battery, a smarter meter, a national grid built on local power exchanges instead of costly, inefficient, long-distance transmission, fresh water from salt water at low cost, or fill in your own idea here. The 20th Century created millionaires through extracting limited resources. The 21st Century will create billionaires by harnessing unlimited resources. (Though we can debate another day the sustainability of generating billionaires.)

We are far better off as a society, as businesses, as citizens, when we seek sustainable forms of energy, production and end-of-life for our products — because waste and pollution, read inefficiency, are avoided. A throw-away society throws away society.

Yes, there are some dirty secrets in clean energy in the march toward sustainability, but despite our fracking and attacking climate science, we’re really making strides toward efficiency that are all the more remarkable because our economy continues to grow, too. Can zero waste be a next quest? Should it?

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Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2016.

Toward Zero Waste

Look at what cities and towns are achieving in municipal solid waste — our everyday garbage, so to speak.

According to the most recent EPA statistics, released late last year for 2014:

  • Per capita waste in America dropped to 4.44 pounds per day per person, down from its 2000 peak of 4.74 pounds per day per person – achieving per capita metrics we haven’t seen since the 1980s. (Still, we’re generating twice the rate of garbage than experienced in 1960.)
  • 36.4 percent of total municipal solid waste was captured for recycling and composting — nearly four times the recovery rate from 1985. This is creating its own industry, and jobs, built on recovery.
  • Paper and paperboard comprise 26 percent of total municipal solid waste, but nearly half of all recycled and composted content. It’s the third largest category destined for landfills — behind food waste and plastics.
  • Tipping fees for landfills hover around an all-time high of $50/ton. Waste has its price.

So as I ponder this 47th anniversary of Earth Day, let’s recognize how we are achieving and honoring efficiency – by generating cleaner energy and less waste. Just like our marketing.

The Elements of Great Direct Marketing

The elements of great direct marketing have mostly remained unchanged. Target an audience, make an emotional connection, offer them what they want, make it easy for them to order, measure response and learn from the experience so you can do it better next time. The “All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference” is built to show the elements of great direct marketing in today’s marketing environment.

There was a time when the term “direct marketing” pretty much only meant direct mail, because that was the only addressable channel out there. Then, of course, came direct space ads, radio and TV, telemarketing, and finally, the Internet.

Throughout them all, the elements of great direct marketing have mostly remained unchanged. Target an audience, make an emotional connection, offer them what they want, make it easy for them to order, measure response and learn from the experience so you can do it better next time.

Always be improving, optimizing, expanding the audience while better targeting what you send them.

These ideas are no less essential today than they were 50 years ago.

What is a little different is how to employ them.

Audiences online are easier and cheaper to reach thanks to all the digital channels. But they’re less defined by their demographics than their interests and self-perception. Getting them to engage and trust you is a totally different challenge; one that often has to be met by proving the authenticity of your brand more than offering a simple satisfaction guarantee.

All About Direct Marketing

The “All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference” is built to show how the elements of great direct marketing are still essential to succeeding in today’s marketing environment.

Targeting an audience: The show kicks off with our reigning Marketer of the Year Windsor Hanger Western, who’s built her empire on connecting with college-age women — she’ll talk about how to connect with the upcoming generation Y and Z audience. And the show closes with Julie Rezek, President North America for the Hacker Agency, sharing her world-renowned insights about how marketers should be connecting with women today.


Making an emotional connection: “5 Emotions That Fuel Sales and How to Tap Into Them” (with Mandy Marksteiner) and “Color Psychology and How It Can Make or Break Your ROI” (with Jeanette McMurtry) will show you how to connect with your audience.

Offer them what they want and make it easy to order: That may be very specific to your audience, but Gary Hennerberg’s “10 Ingredients for Your Video to go Viral” and Summer Gould’s “Bring Direct Mail to Life With Interactive Elements” will show you how to make direct marketing that breaks through the clutter and demands a response.

But perhaps the best part about attending All About Direct Marketing is that it’s entirely free and online. You can watch it right from your desk, couch, coffee shop or wherever you want, as demonstrated by Melissa Ward:

I guarantee John Wannamaker was never able to do that!

The elements of great direct marketing may be timeless, but the environment you market in is constantly changing. Join us on May 4 to learn how to bring those elements together and market better today.

Programmatic Advertising Is Running Amok

Having spent many years in the direct marketing business, I’m usually amused by examples of target marketing gone awry. My personal favorite happened when I was on Amazon purchasing a cell phone bracket for my bicycle.

Target stock imageHaving spent many years in the direct marketing business, I’m usually amused by examples of target marketing gone awry. My personal favorite happened when I was on Amazon purchasing a cell phone bracket for my bicycle. Amazon’s algorithm generated this suggestion:

Amazon wants Chuck to be a pirateNow I don’t know how frequently the pirate boots and the tri-corner hat are bought together with the cell phone mount, but I have to say that the combination was tempting for a few minutes.

The fact remains that direct marketing is not perfect. Many years ago, I made a donation to my alma mater, Rutgers College. The student on the phone asked if I wanted to designate my gift to a particular part of the University, and when I said, “No,” he said, “Well I’m in the Glee Club and we could sure use the money. Will you designate to the Glee Club?”

“Sure,” I said.

For decades now, I’ve been getting mail addressed, “Dear Glee Club Alumnus.” One day, I will attend a Glee Club reunion, certain that many people will remember my contribution to the tenor section.

While these harmless examples of imprecision are humorous, there’s nothing funny about the current exodus of major advertisers from the Google ad network and YouTube. Programmatic ad placement is a boon to target marketing, but like most direct marketing, it’s not perfect.

Major advertisers are in a tizzy over how to control where their ads appear … and the Google ad network is scrambling to get control over placement, as they should be. Advertisers need to protect their brands from appearing in an environment that can harm them.

Just a few examples: Ads for IHOP, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, “The Lego Batman Movie,” “Chips” and others have recently popped up among nude videos from everyday users or X-rated posts from porn-star influencers. Ad Age 3/6/17

A Nordstrom ad for Beyonce’s Ivy Park clothing line appeared on Breitbart next to this headline: NYTimes 3/26/17

Chuck's take on Nordstrom appearing on BreitbartHere’s a great attempt at an explanation for this juxtaposition:

“What we do is, we match ads and the content, but because we source the ads from everywhere, every once in a while somebody gets underneath the algorithm and they put in something that doesn’t match.  We’ve had to tighten our policies and actually increase our manual review time and so I think we’re going to be okay,” Schmidt told the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. Fox News 3/23/17

Appearing next to hate speech is particularly problematic for brands:

Google-displayed ads for Macy’s and the genetics company 23andMe appeared on the website My Posting Career, which describes itself as a “white privilege zone,” next to a notice saying the site would offer a referral bonus for each member related to Adolf Hitler. Washington Post 3/24/17

The Wall Street Journal reported Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Dish Network Corp. suspended spending on all Google advertising, except targeted search ads. Starbucks Corp. and General Motors Co. said they were pulling their ads from YouTube. FX Networks, part of 21st Century Fox Inc., said it was suspending all advertising spending on Google, including search ads and YouTube … Wal-Mart said: “The content with which we are being associated is appalling and completely against our company values.”
Ads for Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Toyota Motor Corp., Dish Network, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Geico unit and Google’s own YouTube Red subscription service appeared on racist videos with the slur “n–” in the title. Wall Street Journal 3/24/17

And as difficult as it is for the ad networks to control, brands have their own challenges trying to protect themselves from undesirable placements. Different departments running different campaigns with different agencies cause ads to appear on corporate blacklisted sites. BMW of North America has encountered that issue because its marketing plan does not extend to dealerships. While the company does not buy ads on Breitbart, Phil DiIanni, a spokesman, noted that “dealerships are independent businesses and decide for themselves on their local advertising.” NYTimes 3/26/17

Clearly our technology’s ability to target has outstripped our ability to control it. And while it remains to be seen what controls will be put in place, it’s likely that, as always, target marketing won’t be perfect.

Top 3 Questions I Hear About Direct Marketing

Clients and friends who are traditional marketers often seek my advice on direct response. Here are the answers to the three questions I hear most frequently:

Unknown peopleTraditional marketer clients and friends often seek my advice on direct response. Here are the answers to the three questions I hear most frequently:

Question No. 1: What Kind of Response Rate Should I Expect?

There are response rate benchmark studies published by the DMA and others, usually organized by industry and type of offer (lead generation, free information, cash with order, etc.). These reports can provide you with some guidance in setting your expectations, but they can just as easily lead you astray. How? If you’ve seen one campaign, you’ve seen just that: one. But some marketers fall into the trap of applying previous results to various campaigns.

Your response rate is driven by three factors, listed here in order or importance:

  • Media: If you don’t get your message in front of the right people, your response will suffer. It is the single most important driver of response, so choose wisely.
  • Offer: What’s your value proposition to the prospect? Simply stated, your offer says, “Here’s what I want you to do, and here’s what you’re going to get when you do it.” If your offer is not appealing or relevant to the prospect, the response — or lack thereof — will reflect that. Also, keep in mind that soft offers, which require little commitment on the part of the prospect (e.g., get free information, download a whitepaper, etc.), will generate a higher response than hard offers, which require a greater commitment (request a demo, make an appointment with a sales rep, payment with order, etc.).
  • Creative: It’s hard for traditional advertisers to believe that this element is lower in importance than the first two, but it is. And the biggest driver of response from a creative standpoint is a clearly stated prominent call to action.

Question No. 2: We Have a Strong Campaign Coming Out of Market Research. My Client/Management Wants to Get This Out As Quickly As Possible. Why Do I Have to Test?

Three reasons:

  • You may have a well-researched creative position but it can be executed in a variety of different ways (see the third bullet under Question No. 1, above). Furthermore, your market research couldn’t predict the response rates from different media. But knowing whether email lists, websites or social media fare best for your audience and offer will be crucial to generating the highest response rate.
  • You want to be able to optimize the three factors above to determine which combination gives you the most qualified leads at the lowest cost per lead.
  • Most importantly, you want to avoid a potentially catastrophic result if you’ve gotten one of the three key elements wrong. It’s better to do that with a small quantity rather than a full-scale effort. It’s always disconcerting to hear people say, “We tried direct. It didn’t work.” Keep in mind that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen one. Previous successes and shortcomings won’t apply when you tweak the context.

Question No. 3. How Big Should My Test Be?

Your test should be large enough to produce statistically significant results. There are two parts to this: the confidence level of your results and the variation you’re willing to accept.

There are statistical formulas for calculating sample size, but a good rule of thumb to follow is that with 250 responses, you can be 90 percent confident that your results will vary no more than plus or minus 10 percent.

For example, if you test 25,000 emails and get a 1 percent response rate, that’s 250 responses. That means you can be 90 percent confident that (all things held equal) you will get between 0.9 percent and 1.1 percent in a rollout.

A smaller number of responses will result in a reduced confidence level or increased variance. For example, with a test size of 10,000 emails and a 1 percent response rate at a 90 percent confidence level, your variance would be 16 percent rather than 10 percent. That means you can be 90 percent confident that you’ll get between 0.84 percent and 1.16 percent response rate, with all things being held equal.

Nightmares, Ghosts and Terror in Data Land

When you come fresh from a large industry conference — such as DMA’s &Then16 — where you have lots of conversations and learn about lots of pain points, you’re highly motivated to put those winning ideas to work on solutions. Most of these solutions require access to data and handling it responsibly to make smarter marketing decisions — for the ultimate service to customers.

marketing Data graphicWhen you come fresh from a large industry conference — such as DMA’s &Then16 — where you have lots of conversations and learn about lots of pain points, you’re highly motivated to put those winning ideas to work on solutions. Most of these solutions require access to data and handling it responsibly to make smarter marketing decisions – for the ultimate service to customers.

Today, it’s Halloween, so here’s my own nightmare.

I wake up one morning and the entire world collectively lost its mind and governments have mandated a marketplace that’s totally (and only) opt-in for all types of marketing uses that are only helpful to consumers. There’s no more algorithms and no more “discovery.” All commerce must wait and wait and wait until a consumer asks for it. Particularly egregious online.

Marketing collectively goes dumb. Oh, I love pure branding, pure creative — but take data out of the equation, we’re truly back before the dawn of direct marketing. Not 20 years back. Not 50 years back. But 100 years back.

Entrepreneurship is destroyed. There’s no way to tap a niche market. Data is off limits. Everything is opt-in. Opt-in request here, opt-in request there. Think Europe and cookies — ask, ask, ask. Before long, we’re numb. And, except for big business, there’s no budget for blanketing the world with awareness advertising. (And why would even a big brand want to waste so much of its money?)

Websites get clunkier. You can’t even get past the home page without having to click on a permission (again, read Europe). All because some nanny-types who control policy decided consumers are stupid and have to be protected from being tempted to make purchases that generate sales, jobs, tax revenue — and, by the way, happy customers.

Everything becomes more expensive and, without the commercial availability of data, there’s a lot less of “everything.” Why? Because advertising and smart advertising (read, data), finances content, services and conveniences — gone, gone and gone. Nobody in regulatory land bothered to ask who was paying for the Internet. No one ever bothered to understand the economics of the Information Economy. No one ever understood that AdTech, MarTech and data-driven marketing had become one of the greatest of U.S. assets and exports, and Silicon Valley’s (Silicon Beach, Silicon Prairie, Silicon Alley, etc.) highest rewards.

The range and diversity of consumer marketplace choices disappear. Constantly asking for permission becomes deafening. Thus, data eventually wanes and is off limits. There’s no way to derive insights to build better products, no way to devise better services and no way to compete in a healthy, competitive marketplace with a better idea.

The Information Economy is maimed — only a concentrated few, behind huge walled gardens, get to “own” and use the data. We just inflicted upon ourselves the greatest harm. We gave up the golden chalice, handled with care, for a tin cup. Beggars all of us.

Less choice. Less informed. More expensive. And, the consumer is left poorest of all.

It’s Halloween morning. Somebody woke me up.

Amid ‘Data Marketers’ in L.A.

Will I be counting the stars on the Hollywood Boulevard or all the data geeks and data lovers inside the Los Angeles Convention Center this week? The latter, of course. Everything about &Then16 in Los Angeles this week is seemingly about what’s next … and I mean that.

insight into content marketingWill I be counting the stars on the Hollywood Boulevard – or all the data geeks and data lovers inside the Los Angeles Convention Center this week? The latter, of course.

Everything about &Then16 (that’s #andTHEN16 to Tweeters) in Los Angeles this week is seemingly about what’s next … and I mean that. I went to my first DMA show – well, let’s just say a while ago — and even from a few years ago, I can hardly believe the transformation.

I don’t mean only the name of the conference, or its rich, on-the-cusp programming. I mean literally everything about the profession, as if we have accepted the full heritage of what direct marketing teaches us, but we are immersed fully in a new data-enriched ecosystem. The variety, velocity and variability of Big Data – handled with care — is available and in service to make small data (contact information) more important than ever, in how we unify the data points to create more relevant content and messages.

It’s hard to (still) call this “direct marketing.” In so many ways, we’ve taken those invaluable DM practices and principles, and have re-interpreted them for a new age. We have become data marketers and we need to be accountable communicators as data proliferates. DMN is saying as much. DMA is well on its way.

In its latest white paper in partnership with the DMA and Interactive Advertising Bureau, The Data-Centric Organization: Transforming for the Next Generation of Audience Marketing (September 2016), the Winterberry Group reports these six takeaways:

  • “Though strategies to promote data-centricity are in full force – and will continue to represent a dominant priority among marketing and media organizations over the coming year – few organizations have yet to achieve meaningful results from their efforts at data-centered business transformation.”
  • “Though marketing and media organizations are looking to engage audience data to support a wide array of use cases, the hierarchy of those applications is shifting.”
  • “Data users and their supply chain partners agree: few organizations have either the depth or breadth of talent they need to derive full value from their data-driven initiatives, particularly when it comes to leveraging analytics as a driver of audience insights.”
  • “Standing in the way of business transformation: organizational silos and other internal process issues that hinder data access and sharing.”
  • “As they look to significantly ramp up their investments in technology, data and service-driven solutions over the next several years, data users are looking for their third-party partners to elevate their support for the strategic functions underlying such investments — calling for a renewed focus on business case development, technology assessment and holistic system alignment as elements of a comprehensive approach to ‘data-centricity.'”
  • “Going forward, data users are also likely to look to their supply chain partners to play a more active role in supporting their day-to-day marketing and media objectives – in particular, by helping leverage analytics to deliver strategic and campaign-level insights.”

Is this a business rationale for the next year or the next couple of decades? Seems to me that we now know why thousands of marketing practitioners are gathering in Los Angeles this week.

Growth Hacking for Direct Marketers

The term “growth hacking” first appeared about three years ago to describe generating sales using non-traditional channels at no cost, or low cost. At first, “growth hacking” was considered just another marketing buzz word that would fizz out over time. But it’s reportedly …

The term “growth hacking” first appeared about three years ago to describe generating sales using non-traditional channels at no cost, or low cost. At first, growth hacking was considered just another marketing buzz word that would fizz out over time. But it’s reportedly growing in use.

Wikipedia, the go-to place for definitions, probably sums it up best:

Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business. Growth hackers are marketers, engineers and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business.

Another definition:

Growth hackers often focus on low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing, e.g. using social media, viral marketing or targeted advertising instead of buying advertising through more traditional media.

Where do we see growth hacking most? Start-ups. The goal is to generate rapid growth in the early stage launch, and at the same time, make the growth sustainable and retain customers for the long-term. Another way you might think of growth hacking is to get earned media (no cost) instead of using paid media.

So how would a traditional direct mail marketer use no or low-cost growth hacking techniques? I think one application would be to integrate direct mail with digital channels using automated software platforms to create nurture marketing strategies.

  • Sync email contact with in-home direct mail delivery. Make sure you encourage anyone who comes to your website to opt-in to your email list.
  • Test multiple landing pages with email, and when you have multiple segments of customer email, test a variety of options.
  • Use Facebook sponsored posts or retargeting campaigns to serve ads to people matched from your email list or who have visited your website. Test a small budget that you’re comfortable spending daily.
  • Frequently generate new content your customers and prospects want to know about. The written word is good. Video recorded from a smartphone can be authentic.

Growth hacking might not be part of a traditional direct mail marketer’s vocabulary and approach, but thinking out-of-the-box with how you can sell for no or low cost digital channels might yield some profitable surprises.

(My new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code” is available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore. Or download my free seven-step guide to help you align your messaging with how the primitive mind thinks. It’s titled “When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.” )