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Desperate measures: Why every agency secretly wants to be a direct marketing agency

Posted by Creative Collection on June 24, 2014

The digital revolution has allowed marketers to make their communications even more measureable and personal. To that, direct marketing agencies have given a collective fist pump. Measurability is our bread and butter. It’s what any good direct marketing agency believes in.

In fact, these days all sorts of agencies want to leverage the strategies and tactics of a direct marketing agency (if not our direct marketing name). Whether it is sending emails, reaching mobile-only users or engaging in the social space, all types of agencies are trying to boost their response rates and measure the results.

Well, welcome to the party, fellas. That’s what any solid direct marketing agency like Jacobs & Clevenger has been doing all along.

What is direct today?
The role of a direct marketing agency goes far beyond direct mail today. Here at J&C, our busy workweek includes email, social media, content marketing, web videos, PURLs and every other form of multichannel marketing. But our roots are firmly planted in direct, and our work is always about measurability.

That’s no surprise when you consider that direct marketing agencies have always championed the one-to-one marketing approach and continually improved upon it. And now, with the recent technological advances at our fingertips, we’re able to refine our efforts and deliver even better results for clients.

It may come as a surprise, however, to learn that despite all of the innovations, no matter how much data we can crunch, no matter how reliably we can predict consumer behavior, some direct marketing best practices transcend technological changes. In fact, many of the core direct marketing tactics originally perfected in direct mail have proven equally effective in other media.

For instance, having an offer, multiple calls to action and including an expiration date will likely boost the effectiveness of your email, mobile marketing, social media and other digital marketing communications.

Segmenting and targeting your list remain as important today as it was back in the days of the classic Johnson Box. Maybe even more so. The only difference is now we have the tools and data to make the segmentation more sophisticated and much, much faster. We can slice and dice the list like never before. (And just in case the term is new to you, the “Johnson Box” is the element at the top of a direct mail letter that contains the key message of the communication.)

The name game
People say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s so, all other agencies must secretly pretend they are a direct marketing agency. But it must also be said that when those same agencies toss around terms like Response Marketing, Customer Experience Marketing or Customer Relationship Marketing, they’re really talking about something that has worked steadily for years. You guessed it—direct marketing. It’s sort of like when GI Joe got Kung Fu grip. He had a cool new feature with a neat name. But at his core he’s still the same dependable GI Joe.

The same goes for names such as Mobile Marketing, Social Media Marketing or, even more broadly, Digital Marketing. Those are really just channels that, when used most effectively, leverage the proven direct marketing agency best practices honed over the last several decades.

The science of lifting response
So why do the principles of direct marketing have such longevity? Why do they continue to be effective regardless of the channel? The answer to that question touches on how they came about in the first place and why they’ll continue to be effective long after the next wave of technology comes our way.

The strategies didn’t just come about from a brainstorm session or the latest fad or even as the result of a tech advance. They are the result of millions of tests. Probably tens of millions at this point. It’s the collective wisdom of decades of A/B splits. If lime green headlines and no body copy worked best, that’s what would have been incorporated over the years. Because we would have seen it from the tests. What does work, as has been proven time and again, are the general strategies of a direct marketing agency that were mentioned above.

That’s not to say direct marketing is resistant to change. Direct marketing agencies like J&C are still vigorously testing new ideas and approaches. And testing. And testing. If something new starts working we’ll soon know about it and incorporate it to lift response. Because that’s what direct marketers do.

Techniques to Enhancing Marketing Communications Performance Want to leverage the most effective direct marketing best practices for your company? Then check out our ebook Techniques to enhancing marketing communications performance. Also, download our agency scorecard to evaluate your current agency in 5 critical areas.

Topics: Direct marketing

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