Why DM doesn’t work all the time

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It is perhaps counter intuitive, but direct marketers in some sectors should hold their hands up once in a while and admit that the channel is not right for their brand or brands.

This is a conclusion I drew after reading a report that ranked how welcoming customers of brands from different sectors were about receiving marketing messages via email.

The report, by the Direct Marketing Association and carried out by fast.MAP, found that 56% of consumers surveyed have a positive overall view of email marketing by the retail sector, followed by supermarkets (49%) and high street retailers (43%).

Bottom of the pile where FMCG brands, with just 1% of customers polled saying that they did email marketing well.

Is it the message that’s leaving customers cold? The messenger? Or the channel used? I propose the latter.

Direct marketing, particularly email marketing is ready made for retailers and supermarkets. In the current environment, in which price promotion is the key tenet for retail marketers keen to attract the cash-strapped consumer on the look out for a bargain, email provides the perfect platform.

On-sale items, sales promotions and short-term offers provide perfect calls to action when people are sniffing out bargains, tools that are readily available to retail marketers but less so to their FMCG counterparts.

Indeed, the top three reasons offered by those polled for signing up to a brand’s mailing list are offers, discounts and vouchers.

Until direct selling becomes more prevalent among FMCG companies, they are without the ability to entice with price. Supermarkets do that for them, often to chagrin of financial offers and brand managers that complain about the hit to margins and equity.

The sort of news and exclusive content that is available to FMCG companies registered the fewest positive responses, the report found.
Better then that FMCG companies look to other channels. Separate research from pwc/IAB found that they are driving increased investment in other online channels.

The report found that FMCG spend on social media and video rose dramatically in the first half of 2011, helping push online spend up 13.5% to £2.3bn.

Brand chiefs from FMCG companies talk passionately about word of mouth, engagement and intangible benefits. All of which are difficult to cram into a cogent subject line that needs to offer a reason for people to take action.

This is not to conclude that FMCG companies should not use DM at all, but when attention is being grabbed by price, other channels should take precedence.

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