The Combined Power of Closed-Loop Marketing

You may have noticed a subtle change occurring on the web. More and more sites are asking for postal addresses in addition to email addresses. A combined email/direct mail list is a potent tool that marketers can rent. It facilitates the deployment of “closed-loop” marketing programs, whereby prospects and customers can be reached both by direct mail and by email.

In a closed-loop marketing program, the direct mail piece performs the initial groundwork. It helps promote your brand, provides details on your offer, and directs prospects to your web site for more information or to place an order. Because of their relative low cost and low creative overhead, large-format postcards have been very popular in the past year. Also, an increasing number of companies in the Internet marketing space are using traditional direct mail packages, including a variety of components in the envelope (e.g., brochure, lift letter, buck slip, etc.) to initiate a response.

The direct mail piece provides several marketing advantages. With the proper design, it can have a prolonged shelf life. This is typical with catalogs, digest-sized directories, pocket references, color brochures, or functional items (such as sliding reference cards or imprinted letter openers). The direct mail piece also provides an alternative response channel. It makes good business sense to allow a prospect to place an order at every point of communication. Some prospects, because of personal product-centric channel preferences, may also be more inclined to initiate a purchase from the direct mail piece.

After the direct mail piece is sent, a follow-up email can facilitate the sales conversion process and lift the response rates. In one sense, the direct mail piece is a marketing catalyst, exciting the prospects about your company, brand, and offer; the follow-up email then brings your offer to the forefront. You can choose to further enhance the direct mail offer with a premium, a more aggressive price point, or direct interaction via the web.

The landing page that is referenced in the follow-up email should do triple duty. It should:

  • Provide added information on your product or service

  • Allow the placement of an order
  • Promote the submission of information (e.g., via an offer of a free white paper, a PalmPilot drawing, etc.) so that subsequent conversion efforts can be made

Closed-loop campaigns should also be used for your own house-file mailings. If you are collecting email addresses only from customers and prospects, you are missing out on the benefits of having the ability to send highly integrated marketing messages to those in your house file!

An excellent example of a marketer collecting and renting a combined email/direct mail list is Thomas Register. It benefits from the ability to target direct mail and email campaigns at those in its combined house file. It also benefits from enhanced revenue opportunities with third-party advertisers by offering a combined email and postal list for rental.

Via the “Free Membership” link on the Thomas Register site, you can view the type of information it is collecting in exchange for free access to an online version of the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers. Notice the check boxes that allow the user to control receipt of email, both from Thomas and from third-party advertisers. Also note the privacy-policy links, which lead to a page that provides clear and concise information on how the collected data will be used. This page makes good business sense and actually enhances a user’s comfort level when submitting information.

As a marketer, you should be aware of the growing trend of collecting postal- as well as email-address information. More and more list owners are starting to offer such combined lists for rent, providing the foundation for highly integrated direct marketing programs.

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