Direct Mail, Email and your brand

Direct Mail and Email marketing are critical components of any branding strategy for either a business to business or business to consumer brand. And it is a growing business. But the quality of Direct Mail and Email marketing in Malaysia and the mining and management of the databases used is horrendous.

If you own a company and you want to destroy any equity there may be in your brand, prepare a badly written product sheet on your desktop and when you are finished, don’t bother to spell check the document.

Print 50,000 copies and shove them in all the letterboxes of as many office or apartment complexes in the Klang Valley as you can. While you are sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring (assuming you included it on the flyer – and believe me, some don’t), your ‘DM campaign’ is being thrown in the rubbish bin by the lift, used as a place mat for lunch or simply thrown on the floor by the mail boxes. Hardly an inspiring ‘moment of truth’ first time experience for your brand and potential customer.

Another way to damage your brand is to send the wrong material to the wrong people. I have three kids, two under the age of 13. Yet this year they have both received two offers from credit card companies. These offers state that applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

A lot of firms are moving away from DM to save money on the printing of their flyers or brochures and looking at Email marketing. Although figures are unavailable for Malaysia, the Direct Marketing Association in the UK informs us that 90% of companies are now using email marketing.

There is no doubt that a well thought out and planned email campaign can be effective and profitable. But too many firms don’t do this and instead are simply adding to the seven trillion spam messages expected to be delivered to inboxes around the world in 2011.

I signed up with a local event organiser for information on forthcoming branding and marketing seminars that they organise in the region. Within a week my inbox was inundated with emails related to human resources, accounting, insurance, motivation and other topics I have nothing to do with and no interest in. These emails are trashed with the same irritation as the ones for Viagra, lottery wins and Nigerian banks.

Despite my repeated requests to be unsubscribed from their list, I continue to receive multiple emails. I cannot simply mark the email as ‘junk’ because they are using a Gmail account and this will send all mail from Gmail addresses to my trash. The name of the company is ingrained in my subconscious, but for all the wrong reasons and it is now a matter of principle that we will not sign up for any event organized by this firm.

I have received about 10 emails in the past month from an insurance company that recently spent RM13 million (US$4 million) on a rebranding exercise. The emails are not personalized, the attachment is of a flyer that is dull and states in two places that the offer is exclusively for Mastercard holders yet I don’t have a Mastercard.

I really lose faith in financial institutions and other companies when they make such mistakes. Think of the money wasted on the cost of the name, flyers, administration and so on.

The rewards for good campaigns are significant. The Direct Marketing Association reports that more than RM550 billion was spent on direct marketing advertising (including email marketing) in 2008 and sales generated from that were an astonishing RM6,450 billion! There is no question then that DM can be effective because it allows consumers to read about the products and services before deciding to explore further, or even buy.

But it has to be done properly. It is not enough simply to create a campaign and send it out. It is also important that the content resonates with the target market. And you still need to ‘sell’ the product. Just because you have got into the prospect’s inbox, doesn’t mean the prospect will buy.

The key for all direct marketing or email marketing is get the customer information right in the first place and keep it updated accurately thereafter. If you are collecting a lot of leads but don’t have the resources to input and clean the data, then outsource. There are many firms offering such services and it will be money well spent.

There is an edict within Direct Marketing industry that says, “Right offer, right person, right time.”

So it’s time for Malaysian firms, from SME up to main board, to end all this untargetted, uninspiring, untrackable, unproofed direct mail and start building brands with quality marketing collateral.

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2 thoughts on “Direct Mail, Email and your brand

  1. Hi Marcus,

    I came across this on facebook just days ago.
    http://digitaldistillery.blogspot.com/2011/06/email-behaviour-in-malaysia-drops.html

    Anyway, regardless of its relevance, personally I feel most email marketing (at least in Malaysia) is not working due to the improper way of doing it. And seriously I think I have slowly lost (or never had) faith for email marketing.

    Out of curiosity, may I ask, is there any moment that you ever feel like purchasing/spending after reading up a marketing email directed to you? That’s if you’re even bother to read.

    Does email marketing still have any potential in your point of view? Taking the numbers and statistics out of consideration.

    Like

    • Hi Chuan Choong

      I had a look at the link in your note and whilst it is interesting, it is related to web based mail and not email in general.

      Although we don’t have any data to back it up, I agree with your assumption that email marketing is not working because it is not being used properly. Quite often I find that CEOs ask marketing departments to ‘run an ad’ or ‘do an email campaign’ or ‘create a newsletter’ but they never ask for data on the effectiveness or ROI of the campaign. Marketing departments often can’t be bothered to do any work so they send something out in the hope that it will resonate with someone on the list. Invariably it doesn’t.

      I think Amazon does a good job and I often buy books recommended in their emails to me. I also buy from the England cricket and rugby websites, and have bought things from other emails. However, most if not all of the local stuff goes straight to the trash.

      I definately think email marketing has plenty of potential, but like all branding initiatives, it must be done right and it must be part of a integrated brand strategy not a stand alone ad hoc tactic.

      Like

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