Effective Direct Marketing

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Many marketing executives are faced with tighter and tighter budgets while trying to increase the company's visibility and ultimately trying to increase the level of sales. This dilemma affects many different departments across an entire organization. IT departments are faced with trying to assist the marketing department without the resources to purchase new marketing related software. Call centers are also faced with transforming themselves into an extension of the marketing team while maintaining exceptional customer service. The good news is that most organizations have the tools to execute a targeted, cost-effective marketing campaign without having to rely on expensive direct mail campaigns or outsourcing telemarketing activities. There are several steps, however, that marketers need to take to use these existing tools. Marketing executives need to work closely with internal call centers to use the existing technology for the purpose of effective outbound marketing. Many organizations don't realize that there are several components already in place at the call center level that will help make an effective, low-cost marketing program. One way is to look at the information gathered about the customer through the call center. This information can be put to use for more activities than just customer support. It can also be used to create more effective campaigns that are readily measurable in real time. With real-time capabilities, a company will have the ability to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns to respond to market conditions and change them accordingly, as well as determine which marketing campaigns are more successful and why. Targeted email campaigns through the call center are an extremely cost-effective way to establish ongoing two-way communication between customers and prospects. Alerting loyal shoppers to special sales, offers, news, etc., establishes a tighter bond between the consumer and company. Marketing campaigns have traditionally used direct mail that is sent to an existing or potential customer's home. With reduced budgets, marketers should turn to more effective outbound email marketing campaigns more often. Email marketing campaigns don't always have to be direct solicitations of products. Many organizations have turned to e-newsletters that notify the recipient of related news or upcoming events. The reason many marketers have taken this approach is because the low cost per email allows them to stay in constant contact with the right audience, resulting in higher sales despite tighter budgets. With a solid knowledge base built with analytic technologies, companies now have power to recommend products to shoppers based on their previous purchases. The ability to cross-sell and upsell based on historical data specific to each shopper can increase profit and encourage the shopper to return. The investment that organizations need to make is training customer service representatives (CSRs) to use this information to effectively cross-sell and upsell company products and services. Without proper training CSRs frequently miss these opportunities, because they are focused on providing excellent customer service and not on providing marketing opportunities. Companies must remember that it is significantly more cost-effective and targeted to market products and services to existing customers than to prospective customers. Sometimes the best approach to marketing is allowing customers to find the best product or solution on their own. Existing self-service technology gives an excellent, cost-effective platform to cross-sell relevant products or services. For example, a customer enters a query on a retail site for "basketball sneakers." The self-service technology, which was originally implemented to cut the number of calls to a call center, allows the retailer an opportunity to return search results with a list of sneakers, as well as related products that a basketball customer might be interested in. Self-service also allows consistent access to knowledge without forcing a customer to face disparate information across different customer service agents. Because customers feels in control of the information presented to them, they are more likely to read through the information. In many cases marketing departments have not communicated their needs across an organization. This results in continued missed opportunities for increased sales. With spending tightened across an entire organization, it is absolutely vital that communication between departments becomes a regular practice. It is equally important that all departments think in terms of marketing. Education of these objectives allows marketing teams to decrease the reliance on new marketing software, and increase the results of existing marketing efforts. About the Author Chris Hall, director of Industry Solutions at KANA, has more than 15 years experience in the CRM industry and has been instrumental in leading the direction and strategy for KANA's contact center products. Prior to joining KANA Hall spent a decade working in many diverse areas of CRM. Contact him at kana@pancomm.com
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