make room for direct marketingIt’s that time of year again.

We direct marketers get to find out if our hard work has paid off.  We review revenues from the past fiscal year and budgets for the coming fiscal year are published. Now we get to start formulating our new marketing plans!

Show us the money.

The good news is that a lot of us are getting the green light to spend more on our marketing efforts. In fact, according to Econsultancy,  63% of businesses plan to increase their marketing budgets in 2015. Unfortunately, with all the marketing noise out there, today’s businesses need even more clever ways to break through the sound barrier in order to positively affect sales. And that makes deciding exactly how to spend those dollars a harder puzzle to solve.

One thing remains clear, no matter what business you’re in, you should make room in your budget for direct marketing.

Direct marketing is defined as communicating directly with a target audience using highly personalized touch points such as email, direct mail, and telephone, and including a call to action. A key component of relationship marketing and client cultivation, these channels pull results and break through the clutter. And when you use multiple channels to communicate with your audience you compound your success. In fact, according to WordStream, multi-channel consumers spend 3 to 4 times more than single channel consumers. Targeted direct marketing campaigns might initially cost more, take more time to plan, and go to smaller segments than mass mailings, but when done right the proven return is far greater.

What’s the next step?

The first thing you need to do is evaluate your goals and target audience. Then you need to decide how to construct your core message and what media channels will deliver that message to your audience most effectively. The right direct marketing partner can help you with all of that. In addition to choosing channels and developing stellar content, here are three crucial direct marketing elements you need to include in your budget:

  1. Data –The more you know about the people in your target audience, the more effectively you can speak with them on a 1:1 basis. Set aside the funds to have a data analyst slice and dice the data, add more data to it, and then segment accordingly.
  2. Personalization – Statistics show that you’ll see a higher conversion rate when your communication is highly targeted. And the more robust your data is (see #1 above), the more personalization you can do. This data can include name, contact information, contact preferences, affinity to your organization, length of relationship, past transactions, geographical location, demographic information, psychographics, and so on. Even without a name, all of this information can be used to break through the clutter and land precisely targeted communications into the hands of your intended recipients.
  3. Tracking – The emergence of online marketing has given us so many ways to measure the effectiveness of our marketing efforts. Plan your measurement methods before your communications go out to ensure you’ll have concrete data in hand when you need it. Imagine yourself sitting in a boardroom with upper management, justifying your spend. Having the numbers to show what worked and what didn’t will come in quite handy. Even if the campaign didn’t yield great results, the fact that you know what not to do is key. If you can tell them what you’ll do differently next year in order to get better results, they’ll really be impressed.

When you make room for direct marketing in your budget, you open the door to better marketing results and higher ROI. And that can produce new resources (data, leads, sales, etc.) that will help you grow your business. With direct marketing, the possibilities are endless.