Direct Marketing – Work in These Four Areas to Lift Profitability

Direct marketing is based on data about individual customer responses and transactions which are used to target, execute and control marketing actions meant to start and develop profitable customer relationship in the short-term as well as the long-term. The strength of direct marketing is that its profitability is easy to measure compared to mass consumer approach to marketing. Since this is so, it’s necessary to pay attention to the factors that impact that bottom line result.

Here we’ll look at four of those factors that affect the profitability of direct marketing operations.

1. Objective. The objective of the project must be clearly stated in SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic) terms. Common areas for objectives include customer acquisition, customer retention and winning back old customers. Customer acquisition is more costly than the others.

2. Life Time Value of the Customer. This is a calculation of what a customer in a category will contribute to profit and overheads during their “lifetime”, that is, while they remain a customer. This measure is affected by customer retention rate and inflation. It’s used for deciding how much to spend on a customer and to assess the best sources of customers. If you increase retention rate, then LTV will increase assuming price does not fall, which is unlikely. If for any reason inflation rate drops, then LTV will increase also, all things being equal.

3. Return on Investment. There are several ways of computing this statistic. The simplest method is the sales value method, in which you divide the sales value by the marketing cost. This measure is useful because it focuses on two main drivers of the amount of profit. There are three ways to increase ROI. One is to raise sales value and keep marketing cost the same. Two, bring down marketing cost and maintain sales value. Three, increase sales value proportionally more than marketing cost.

4. Allowable Marketing Cost. This measure is meant to inject discipline into the cost of marketing. It sets the upper limit to what you can spend to acquire new customers. Going above it, and I guarantee you will not be loved, because it means erosion of the desired profit unless, of course, product cost and distribution cost some how fall. It’s arrived at by netting out cost of goods, distribution cost and desired profit from sales value (All per unit).

Having set the objective in the area of interest, the profitability of a direct marketing campaign depends on the key efficiency measures of life time value of customer, return on investment and marketing cost management. These concepts are also useful even if you are doing business online.