Addressee Unknown?

I appreciate part of the lure of reading what an industry analyst has to say is the expectation of stumbling upon something new, fresh, never-before-thought-of.

Sorry folks. Not this week. This week, a regurgitation of some of my oldies to prove a point: we have not, and do not, leverage the power of multichannel marketing. I say this because there are several companies I deal with on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and I interact with them in a wide variety of ways.

Yet not one of them consistently communicates with me through the various channels they have before them. Whether direct mail, email or the telephone, companies with various products and services should make it their business to know what I subscribe to, how I use the product or service in question, and, more to the point, whether it makes sense to try and extend or deepen their relationship with me through offers and promotions.

Before we go any further, let’s review some basics.

  1. Know thy customer. Move beyond asking me for my account or membership number, especially if you have to ask me twice because the system is too linear to attach my identity to the account. Cellular carriers are notorious for this. Catalogers, on the other hand, excel at this. With one simple number, they know my name and purchase history.

  2. The definition of “relationship” is when a connection exists between people related to, or having dealings with, each other. “Customer” is defined as a person with whom a business has dealings. Ergo, “relationship” is integral to “customer.” Build that relationship. It’s what will motivate me to be your customer.

Getting back to the original premise: companies are missing a golden opportunity. These studies may be a couple years’ old, but they’re excellent examples of how to do it right. Both are campaigns intended to increase cable subscribers’ pay-per-view consumption.

Know Thy Customer: Cox Communications’ Orange County, California system proved they knew their customers when they initiated the “You’ve Got Mail” campaign. Cox selected a very specific segment, Cox@Home broadband customers, to promote $0.99 movies. These targeted users had bought one or fewer PPV movies over the preceding six-month period. The email campaign generated over 2,400 buys, had a response rate of 3.4 percent, and generated $17,918 in new revenue. A direct mail campaign, blasted to the company’s entire base of 41,887 customers, would have cost $12,566. This selective, successful promotion strategy is viable for both multiple service cable operators as well as telco providers.

Use Thy Channels An AOL Time Warner Cable division in Memphis had 228,000 customers. Of these, 170,000 hadn’t purchased PPV in the preceding six months. The purpose of this campaign was not only to drive PPV sales, but also to build awareness of the product and to promote its ease of use. Through promotional advertising in local newspapers and radio and 30-second spots littered across four broadcast networks and 34 inserted networks over a three-week period, Time Warner was able to increase movie buys by 782 percent over the previous weekend-day period. Digital households accounted for 42 percent of all movie buys, although that audience represents only 28 percent of addressable households.

What are the take-aways? The first campaign was streamlined and simple, but precision-targeted. The second was much broader, but multifaceted and multichannel. The campaigns reached into a discrete, known audience of existing and potential customers not only to sell, but to build awareness. Many more case studies illustrate how different companies, in verticals ranging from retailers and automotive to telecommunications, can successfully leverage multichannel and/or highly targeted campaigns.

Drop me a line if you’re looking for more case studies, or if you believe your own campaign qualifies as one. In the meantime, to all you credit card companies out there: I have the darned Platinum card already. Leave me alone!

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