Direct Mail as a Defender of Customer Loyalty

by Michelle Salater on June 24, 2010


It is our pleasure to introduce guest blogger, Blase Ciabaton, direct mail professional and author of The Direct Mail Man blog, to our Copy Doodle readers. Blase’s unique blog caters to small businesses and tackles issues related to customer prospecting, improving response rate, and identifying targeted mailing lists.

Below is Blase’s guest post on Direct Mail as a Defender of Customer Loyalty:

How much do you love your existing customers?  According to John Coe, author of, The Fundamentals of Business To Business Sales and Marketing, “68% of long-term customers stop buying because they just don’t feel loved.”  In addition to feeling snubbed, the simple fact is that your customers will completely forget that you exist if you fail to communicate with them.  What can you do about this?

Start with the basics.  Recognize key customers on their birthdays, and send all customers periodic communication to acknowledge national or local holidays.  This may sound hokey, but every time I send out a holiday campaign like this, I get business-every time! There’s no pitch for business in these communications, so they are very easy to plan and execute.It’s like tapping each customer on the shoulder and saying, “I just wanted to remind you that I care about you, and I’m here when you need me.”

If you need help remembering birthdays, I use  Why do I like this website?  Because it’s simple & free. Sure you could try to manage clients’ birthdays via Facebook or another social media platform, but when you go to you won’t get distracted.  The site has a single purpose which makes it extremely efficient.  It e-mails you 1 week before each person’s birthday, and then again on their actual birthday.  It even has a free feature that you can use to request any birthdays that you’re missing.  For the most important clients, I not only send a card, but I also call them personally to wish them happy birthday.  I found that this is a powerful way to establish rapport, and keep an open line of communication with your customers.

What’s the next step? Once you’ve mastered the more basic forms of communication and client interaction, you can move on to product-related offers.  These types of interactions require some sort of call to action.  The most effective offers involve some form of interaction between your client and your company.Technology has made it much easier to initiate this interaction, and to leverage existing data that you have about your clients.  This includes utilizing information like:

  • the date of the last purchase
  • the amount of the last purchase
  • the frequency of purchases over a defined period of time
  • suggesting a complimentary product based on an earlier product or service that your client purchased

This type of information is typically referred to as “variable data.”  Leveraging variable data helps to assure that your communication is more about each specific customer and less about your company.

The next technological leap in personalization involves using PURLs (Personalized URLs). The advent of PURLS creates a bridge between traditional print communication and your company’s online presence.  A PURL campaign uses a printed piece, typically a postcard or letter, to drive customers to a specific website where they are greeted by name.  Each specific micro-webpage typically incorporates their first and last name in the url/web address.  In this scenario, if you mail to 1,000 existing clients, you will have 1,000 unique webpages.  These micro pages will share much of the same info except for the specific information that you choose to personalize for each client.  Can you see the theme here?  Effective campaigns get your customers to interact with you because they are all about the customer!

If you’re wondering how to gauge the effectiveness of a PURL campaign, it’s very simple because you’ll get data back that tells you which recipients went to their unique web page, and where they clicked!

So you say, “That’s way too complicated!” The reality is while using PURLs may only have been an option for large businesses a few years back, it’s now a cost-effective marketing vehicle for small businesses and nonprofits.  If you see the value in product-related campaigns for your business, but are intimidated by the additional thought and planning that’s required to pull off a successful campaign then it may be time to ask for help.  In fact, it may make a lot of sense to work with a marketing professional or professional copy writer to create and execute a product-related campaign.  When done correctly, these campaigns GENERATE REVENUE for your business so money spent of these campaigns is truly an investment in your business.

Do you still feel like money invested on marketing to your existing customers is a waste of time? If so, please consider that According to Marketing Sherpa it costs 5-7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell more to an existing customer.  The reality is that you can’t afford NOT to market to your existing customers.

Where can I start? Start simple & start now!  While a full-scale customer loyalty plan can be intimidating, it’s not an excuse to continue to neglect your existing clients.  Learn to crawl before you try to start running; start collecting the birthdays of your most important clients right now!  Plan a simple direct mail or e-mail campaign to recognize your customers on the next local or national holiday.  Even these very basic interactions help to maintain top of mind awareness with your clients and show them that you care.  The future of your company depends on your ability to prevent the defection of the 68% of long-term customer who feel “unloved.”Start today!

About the Author: In 2009, Blase Ciabaton used his 6 years of expertise as a direct mail professional to launch the blog  The blog caters to small businesses and tackles issues related to customer prospecting, improving response rate & identifying targeted mailing lists.  If you found this post valuable you may want to sign up for his weekly e-newsletter or following his blog’s rss feed.

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