In one of my alternate lives, I do variable-data printing. Picture a
Word mail-merge, on steroids. Ever wonder at those catalogs you get
that seem to have just what you want, without pages of crap that
doesn’t interest you? Variable data. With the software that’s out
there, you can rig it up so that it mines the customer data, and
swaps in images, products, and even prices, based on in
your customer data. The problem is the depth of the data. Give me
enough data, and I can target anybody, but most stores and galleries
don’t collect enough data to give them a decent lock on who their
customers are, and what they want.
Think about those ‘loyalty cards’ that the groceries give out. Those
have nothing to do with loyalty, they’re a way to get you to ID
yourself to the marketing database. They track your purchases over
years, and build a profile of who you are, what you buy, and which
brands you like. This gives them a baseline to compare against when
they do advertising. If they drop the price of Coke, do you buy more?
Does anybody buy more? If they hike it, what percentage of customers
buy less than their historic average? If they know you never buy
meat, they don’t waste their money sending you coupons for ribeyes,
they send you coupons for lettuce instead.
There are also systems that have a web tie-in, so that each campaign
has a website that the customer can go to to learn more about the
product. This is good for the customer, but it’s great for the
advertiser: each mail piece has an individual URL on it, so each
customer has their own landing page, customized with name and
initial marketing setup. As the customer clicks through the site (if
they do), the system keeps track of what they look at, if they
respond, and where they finally quit. (there’s usually a bit of
cheese…err…a coupon at the end of the maze to reward the
diligent.) That way you can tell not only how many, but exactly
which people on your mailing list responded favorably enough to
bother to look up the web-link you sent them. Therefore, you target
these folks for a follow-up mailing, tailored to exactly what parts
of the website seemed to interest them.
Typical mass mailings have a response rate in the 2-3 % range.
Targeted variable mailings run around 33% response, or better. I
haven’t seen reliable figures on the web enabled stuff, but I’d
guess it’s even higher, say 40%. The variable ones are more expensive
to print, so they’d better have a higher ROI.
So, start pondering your customer list, and what gems of information
may be contained within it. Give some thought to what you can do to
expand both the quantity and quality of data that you have on your
customers. Who are they? Where are they? What do they like? If all
you’ve got is name, address, and first purchase date, there’s not
much you can do to distinguish the retiree who gets his watch battery
changed every 2 years, from the corporate exec who bought a $5000
set of earrings for their anniversary. How do you tell these two guys
apart? Because you certainly want to pitch them differently.
I’d suggest starting to track name, address, phone & email if
they’ll give it, first purchase date, most recent contact date, all
purchases, both dollar amount, and type of item, as well as any time
they contact you, and what they’re looking for. There’s probably more
info that would give a better targeting solution, but it’s got to be
something that’s reasonably easy and quick to acquire and enter,
otherwise you won’t do it, and they won’t hang around long enough to
answer 50 questions.
That’s the reason for those ‘loyalty cards’. They’re a quick
positive ID for the system, which then just ingests all of the
register from your transaction, and adds it to your
customer record, all automagically. That works great for groceries,
because nobody really ‘window shops’ the grocery. They buy. So
grabbing completed transaction info gives a pretty complete record of
what they’re interested in. For a jeweler, I’d stop and ponder some
sort of way for the sales folks to log inquiries and window-shopping.
Maybe offer a free steam-cleaning or ultrasonic-rinse to get people
in, and make a loyalty card part of that setup, so you’ve got an ID
on them, and then have the sales people code in the types of items
they looked at after they leave, assuming they don’t buy anything.
The loyalty card gives you a firm ID without having to ask for name,
rank & serial #.
Once you know who’s interested in what, then you can figure out how
to target your advertising. (to grossly paraphrase Sun-tzu: “know
yourself, know your enemy…err customer…and everything else will
take care of itself.”)
PS–>If you want to learn business, you could do much worse than to
read Sun-Tzu. (“The Art of War”) Swap “customer” for “enemy” and it
reads like a Wharton School Primer. No, I’m not really joking. Much.