Why are all DM campaigns not customer-led?

The winner of Marketing Week Engage’s direct marketing gong, HomeBase’s ‘Customer First’ was heralded as a “customer led” campaign, which is laudable but such an approach should not be prize-winning in itself.

Russell Parsons

Created by MRM Meteorite, the campaign delivered ten personalised mail and email campaigns focussed on three areas – customer lifestyle, lifestage and specific project journeys.

To achieve this, data management processes were transformed to find patterns of behaviour in transactional and non-transactional data, which in turn identified customer needs and intent. The approach intended to initiate purchases and spot further spending opportunities.

Communication programmes included targeting homemovers, targeting loyal customers with bespoke magazines and emails and seasonal themed activity, while messages were personalised around what customers had bought or a project they appeared to be working on.

The “sophisticated, customer-led approach, personalised campaign was a departure from the usual one-size-fits-all ‘sales prospecting’ strategy previously employed, the winning agency said in its entry.

The better than expected results were very definitely award-winning. Sales beat targets by 17 per cent, profit by 20 per cent and ROI by 22%. ROI on some of the programmes was more than 400 per cent – 3.5 times the previous strategy, while average DM response rates more than doubled.

Impressive stuff but it begs two questions. Why would anyone launch a campaign that wasn’t personal, wasn’t based on the transactional and non-transactional data available and didn’t identify customer needs and intent? Conversely, why on earth would any brand employ a one-size fits all strategy?

Brands have this data but exploiting it requires a little imagination, a little creative thinking, which is too often lacking.   Too many campaigns are lazy and personalisation falls well short at simply a name.

The Homebase campaign is a worthy winner. The return on investment generated to be celebrated. Its approach, however, should be a minimum requirement.

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