Online and On Time


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Research commissioned by CDMS highlights that being able to respond online has now become the most important factor for encouraging people to respond to direct mail campaigns and make a subsequent purchase.

The direct marketing services specialist, CDMS commissioned research amongst 2000 British consumers, asking them what factors were most likely to make them open a piece of direct mail, respond to it, and make a purchase. The element of conversion to sale was absolutely critical if the study was to make the distinction between sheer response volumes, and those leading to a commercial outcome. Too frequently campaigns boast of high response rates, but the commercial reality is that only resulting sales volumes can ultimately be used as a true measure of return on investment.

The key findings show that:-

* Being able to respond online is 20% more conducive than average to response and purchase. Telephone response mechanism by contrast fared remarkably worse as it was rated 16% less likely.

* Timing of the campaign to reach the recipient when in purchase consideration mode was voted 17% more likely than average to drive consumers to respond and purchase.

* Personalisation was also high in importance at 14% more likely than average at eliciting response and driving purchase.

Richard Higginbotham, Head of Marketing at CDMS comments, “The ability to respond online is now the clear priority amongst UK consumers. According to figures from the Office of National Statistics[1], 65% of UK households now have a home internet connection, and 56% of the nation’s households have a broadband connection. Although growth in home internet access has been relatively slow in the last three years, it would appear that for direct marketing response purposes, we have crossed a watershed where – assuming timing and targeting have been properly executed, the real differentiator is the ability to respond online.

“As the internet is set to become critically important for the direct marketing process, it is important to note the opportunities it brings for integrating channels, providing additional insight and enhancing the degree to which customer-centric communications can be achieved. By making use of internet technologies it is possible for marketers to link offline identity, attributes and relationships with online visitor details and behaviour – providing unprecedented insight into individual preferences. One such technology that is readily available for direct marketing campaigns is the use of Personalised URL’s.”

Personalised URLs (pURL) allow marketers to generate a unique and personalised landing page for every client in their marketing database. It typically takes the form of When the recipients of direct mail piece click on this personalized URL, they are directed to their own dynamic microsite containing the offers, products, and/or services especially meant for them. Details of who accessed the site and how they behaved is tracked; meaning that the site provides invaluable insight in addition to a personal touch inspiring – according to this survey – the promptest action likely to lead to a sale.

Timing was again an important factor at 17% above average. By registering customer attitudes from all touchpoints, businesses can in fact create time-sensitive “event-triggered” messages which are sent to customers only when they behave in a particular way. Event triggers can be anything from a customer birthday to a particular pattern of transaction or contact behaviour.

A multi-dimensional view of the customer’s preferences across channels is important to provide perfect timing but also forms the basis to providing “accurate personalisation” which consumers ranked at some 14% above average as a driver of response and purchase.

Higginbotham concludes, “This research highlights a real need for marketers to take a joined up approach to customer and prospect communications. Whilst the effect of combining these factors to driving response was not in the parameters of this research, we have now identified these foremost factors as the first stage. The next important stage is to understand how powerful they are in combination and can be examined in future study.

“Truly effective data quality, channel integration, personalisation, timing and online response can only be achieved when all these elements work together; if done well, it will provide further insight and learning for the marketer which only leads to more satisfied customers. Indeed our own experience with clients highlights that successful campaigns can be achieved when these factors are intelligently applied in combination. At a time when budgets are being squeezed, the need to deliver a joined up approach within your organisation or with the help of a trusted third party will ensure that maximum value is gained to successfully and profitably enhance customer relationships.”


About CDMS:
CDMS transforms the return on investment companies achieve in Direct Marketing through innovative and quality service provision. Using their unique resources, specialist knowledge and unrivalled execution platform, CDMS is helping clients to exceed performance and gain maximum value from their marketing investment, whilst communicating in more responsible ways. Industry accolades include awards wins at the 2008 Connect Awards and 2008 Data Strategy Awards for helping their clients deliver fruitful customer relationships and continually developing dialogue with customers. For more information, visit

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