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June 21, 2017
The Bigness Trap
Too many marketers think bigger is always better. They figure that if they bomb a huge universe of prospects with their message, the big number of those touched will eventually yield a decent number of sales or conversions.
It’s crude and a trap! It’s also a formula for alienating customers and wasting time and money. This carpet-bombing strategy is the lazy man’s approach.
The availability of new data sources enables savvy marketers to undertake precision marketing, which reaches those with a propensity to open, click and convert. It requires more steps, more strategic thinking and more upfront costs. But the yield is much richer and the ROI is better.
Imagine you work at a bank charged with acquiring new credit card holders or new personal loans customers. You start targeting with basic demographics and geographies. Then you decide whether to pre-qualify prospects with FICO scores, which trigger requirements under The Fair Credit Reporting Act or reach out to target populations without an upfront risk assessment.
Once you’ve made a decision, use various data sets to refine your campaign target list. Filter the list with related data to ensure that the offering is personally relevant, useful and valuable to the selected recipients.
An obvious starting place is establishing the need for money or credit. Lifestyle events generally create these needs. The creation or dissolution of marriage (e.g., newlyweds or newly divorced) always has financial impact.  Moving into a new rental or purchased home frequently prompts a cash need.  Kids in college frequently stretch family finances. Retirement prompts cash flow changes. Sorting the list using these variables adds precision and increases the likelihood of message resonance.
The next step is to identify channel preference by using pre-built scores indicating an individual’s propensity to open and respond to direct mail, email, social media ads, display ads or text messages. These scores are generally sound, commercially available and further refine the target list.
Lastly, cleanse the list and mitigate risk by running the list through a robust suppression file to eliminate likely non-responders. This file should contain opted-out customers or prospects, people on the Do Not Mail file, known SPAM traps or frequent SPAM complainers, and improper or non-conforming addresses.  The net result of using a strong suppression file is a campaign target list with respect for its audience and an increased likelihood of success.
eDataSource documented this process in a recent report by John Landsman that argued “many email professionals don’t associate inbox performance with audience optimization practices.” Basically too many marketers are still comfortable with  “spray and pray” targeting.
In his study of six leading brands, emailing on average 40 million individuals, the best performing brand had the most targeted messages, the largest number of individual email campaigns, the lowest frequency, the smallest total number of deployed emails and the best inbox performance leading to the highest open rates.
The bottom line in Landsman’s terms is “ since engagement is so strongly affected by the basic factors of intelligent mail (e.g. relevance, targeting, personalization and frequency management) its importance cannot be understated in managing email deliverability.” In other words, if you fall into the bigness trap and you don’t get personal and precise your email campaign is doomed.  


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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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