Triggering response


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The importance of appearance and relevance when it comes to catching a consumer’s eye with a piece of personalised direct mail has long been recognised – but timing is just as crucial when it comes to triggering a response.

Timing is a critical element of the personalisation process and one that, when carried out successfully, can really make an impact on the recipient. A report we published last year found that nearly two-thirds of Britons (66%) say they are more likely to respond to direct marketing that reaches them at the right time. Well-crafted offers are more appreciated when they come at an opportune moment, and are more likely to result in a purchase.

These days, many businesses hold significant amounts of data on their customers, often gathered as a result of transactions or loyalty card membership. The more data they hold, the greater the opportunity to communicate with customers at the right time. Intelligent businesses are using this data to identify ‘triggers’ such as:
• a birthday (eg. contacting the customer with a birthday message and a special offer)
• moving housing (eg. an insurer or DIY store sends an offer)
• a particular product purchase (eg. offer on garden furniture after purchase of a BBQ)
• or an anniversary (eg. special offers to mark a year as a regular customer)

Customer behaviour is analysed to identify these ‘triggers’, or changes that may suggest the need for a new product or service. An offer is then sent to encourage uptake of this new product or service at a time when the recipient is more likely to do so.

Timing communications on this level can make a great impact on the recipient and incentivise them to spend more. Our newest survey shows that consumers really do take note of properly timed trigger mailings. The research found that 58% of UK consumers noted receiving event-triggered marketing offers in the past year. This suggests that more and more marketers are making use of the customer data they hold and using it to target people when they are most likely to make a purchase.

The key trend was found amongst the age categories: the older you are, the more likely you are to receive trigger mailings. 72% of the over 55s say they had knowingly received trigger mail in the past year, while only 39% of 18-24-year-olds said the same.

Older consumers are more likely to have a long-standing relationship with a brand or a supplier, and the business, therefore, has a better understanding of them. Companies have generally collected more information on customers with established relationships, which allows them to communicate more effectively with them. Conversely, businesses have had less time to get to know younger customers.

Essentially, then, more effort needs to be made to find out what the younger generations want, their spending habits, how they like to receive communications and, importantly, when the best time to send those communications is.

Of course, trigger offers can come via all customer touchpoints. Knowing which channel the customer prefers to use is what gives a business the edge. Direct mail remains an important customer communication channel and is often used as a means of driving customers online in the first place.

The best campaigns often use multiple channels, and recent research by Pitney Bowes and others suggests that combining email marketing with direct mail can produce conversion-to-sale rates seven to ten times higher than when email is used on its own. This underlines that, while email and email/direct mail combined produce similar levels of return on investment, critical sales volumes can only be achieved when the two are used together.

So, the importance of direct mail as a channel for trigger offers is clear, but the use of multiple channels should not be ignored if it is likely to produce a better result.

And, even though our study clearly shows that trigger-based campaigns are now being carried out by businesses, marketers need to work harder to establish relationships with the younger generations, and gather accurate data on these consumers – if they are to connect with the youth of today and gain them as customers for the long term.

Patrick Headley
GI Direct
Patrick Headley is Sales and Marketing Director at GI Direct. He has held roles with Colorgraphic and J Howitt & Sons before joining GI Direct in 1993. Patrick started with GI Solutions Group as a senior sales person, progressing to Business Development Director, and now heads the sales team.


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