Imagine knocking on a random stranger’s door and trying to sell them something. How likely is it you’ll end up as a life long friend? It could happen, but it probably won’t. You’re more likely to have a door slammed in your face. Why, then is our industry still sending out cold prospecting packs to people who we have no connection with? Packs which work less and less well and which once they successfully annoyed their target, end up as land fill. No wonder our industry is still tainted by the ‘junk’ label.
I worry about our industry’s luke-warm response to the possibility of Opt-in legislation (that all customers will have to specify at point of data collection that they give permission to be communicated to cold). It feels like an industry that is at best unwilling to change and at worst self-serving.
Some of the industry’s great and good tell me it’s about being ‘sensible’ about Opt-in – comments like “it’ll happen but we want it to happen on our terms”.
To me, the advantages of reducing the volume unwanted direct mail in land fill is a given. Another argument centres around how empowered consumers are better informed and know how to find what they want when they want it. They’re also adept at choosing how they’d like to communicate with each other and with brands, and so increasingly just screen out cold approaches.
With this in mind how can Opt-in not be a step forward? Surely these days we should be embracing ‘pull’ rather than more disruptive ‘push’ strategies.
If we look at things from consumer’s perspective, we need to make sure our propositions are good value, accessible, and make it a pleasure to engage with us. Then we’d create more loyal, higher value customers, who actually want to have a relationship with our brands.
As direct marketers, I think we need to find structured ways to integrate channels like search marketing and behavioural retargeting (where behavioural data is collected in real time and used to target tailored messages). And let’s opt-out of printing millions of unwanted cold prospecting packs.