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How to Use Contact Management in Data Driven Marketing

You can use contact management in data driven marketing to prevent over-communicating with your customers. For example a couple took a cruise several years ago. When they returned home, they discovered a marketing packet from the cruise line in their mailbox. It was quite an expensive packet as marketing packets go. It included a high-quality color catalog listing some available itineraries.

Nothing really remarkable about that. Except that two days later they received another one, with slightly different itineraries and dates. The next day they received a postcard with a discounted offer. The day after, an offer to join their frequent cruiser program.

The couple had already decided that it was a nice enough cruise, but they weren’t really interested in taking another. But being the curious marketers they are, they wanted to see how long this communication deluge would go on. So they didn’t even attempt to get off of the cruise line’s mailing list.

That was five years ago. Since then, they’ve had four different addresses in three different states. The cruise line keeps finding them, so they’re managing their addresses quite well. But in those five years, they don’t believe they’ve ever gone more than three days without receiving something in the mail from said cruise line. Most of these are glossy, full-color pamphlets or catalogs, and they are sent first class.

The couple is pretty sure that any profit they made from their one cruise has pretty much been spent on marketing by now. From the looks of things, these mail pieces must be costing the cruise line at least a buck apiece for production and postage on average. At two or three per week for five years, that works out to somewhere between $500 and $750.

You can use your promotion history to prevent this type of over-communication with your customers. You don’t want to become annoying. How much communication is the right amount? Unfortunately, there are no hard-and-fast rules for deciding that. A lot depends on your business and the types of communications you’re doing. But surely it’s less than twice a week for five years with no positive response from the recipient.

Make it a priority to develop an explicit policy regarding the frequency of your marketing communications. Such a policy, usually called a contact management strategy, should be a core part of your standard operating procedure. You can certainly review and refine your strategy over time. But it starts with actively paying attention to how often you are contacting your customers — and more importantly, whether or not they are responding.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for what constitutes a good contact management strategy. Your strategy is highly dependent on your industry. It also varies by channel. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

First, you don’t need a one-size-fits-all policy. Different customer segments will have different levels of tolerance for your marketing communications. For example, you’ll find that you have a segment of high affinity customers. These are customers who are very loyal to your brand. They will tolerate a much higher level of marketing communication than other segments before they tune you out.

Second, your policy can be different for different channels. Direct mail is to some extent self-regulating because of its cost. But it’s very easy to fall into the trap of over communicating via e-mail. E-mails are extremely cheap to send. E-mail campaigns can be developed and executed quickly. E-mails also provide a great deal of hard data on which to base your decisions regarding how frequently you contact your customers.

Good metrics track which e-mails are opened and which customers click the links in the e-mails, among many other things. This information is extremely useful in gauging the interest level of your customers.

Getting agreement on a contact management strategy can sometimes be a challenge. It is particularly challenging for large companies with separate business units that have separate marketing goals and even separate marketing departments. But if everyone is communicating with the same customers, marketing overload will cause those customers to tune everyone out.

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