by Heidi Tolliver-Nigro June 30, 2006 -- If you are developing great marketing databases, merging and purging, keeping those databases up to date, and wrapping great creative around them to create full-color 1:1 personalized pieces, then calling it a campaign, you're wasting those databases. Huh? Did I really say that? Yes, I did. Marketers often get so focused on a single campaign that they forget to use the information they learned from that campaign to improve future campaigns. It's amazing how much you can learn about your customers and boost the effectiveness of your marketing programs (or your customers' marketing programs) by -- as one marketing services firm, Digital Innovations Group, calls it -- "wrapping it back around" to the next program. Marketers often get so focused on a single campaign that they forget to use the information they learned from that campaign to improve future campaigns. This is why One to One Gulfcoast, a Venice, Florida, marketing services firm that specializes in creating personalized programs for the non-profit sector, makes the sharing of program results a condition of its working arrangement. After all, if they don't know what worked or didn't work, their effectiveness is severely hampered. The Digital Innovations Group, Richmond, Virginia, does the same thing. A spin-off from a printing company, DIG has a name for this process of analysis and recommendations: Phase 5 of every program. When entering into a relationship with a new client, in fact, DIG assumes that this relationship will be long-term, involving multiple campaigns. Thus, the sharing of information is critical in figuring out what works best for each client and tweaking their campaigns for maximum impact. Wrapping Results Some months back, I gave an example of using data from present campaigns to influence future ones. Graphic Print & Communications, Meridian, MS, was doing a 1:1 personalized campaign for a chain of regional convenience stores. Although the client didn't include gender as part of its promotion (it was targeting based on past purchasing behavior of loyalty program participants), GPC decided to include gender tracking for its own intelligence gathering. Consequently, the shop learned that, overwhelmingly, respondents to its client's co-marketing program with a soft drink manufacturer were young men. This allowed GPC to give its customer information it didn't have before. Not only was this demographic responding most strongly to the client's current marketing strategy, but in order to reach other demographics, the client would have to change its approach to reaching these customers. What an incredible value to offer a customer! If you are creating great campaigns but never using the information from one to tweak the next you're leaving money on the table. Another firm with a track record of "wrapping results" back around is LeadGenesys. When one of its customers wanted to test the effectiveness of personalized URLs, LeadGenesys drove half of the promotion to a static URL and the other half to a personalized URL. Within the body of the mailer, everything was the same. The results from the static URL were less than spectacular -- hits on the site increased only 6 percent. From there, there was a strong abandonment rate. In the other half, the mailer and URL were personalized and the sign-up form was pre-populated. This half of the campaign had a 30 percent response rate, with 71 percent of people who hit the site submitting the form. Needless to say, the client is no longer sending prospects to a static site. LeadGenesys is also a big proponent of using qualifying questions when people hit a Web site. Respondents are asked questions such as their title, the size of their company, and the likelihood that they will make a purchase or exhibit some other behavior within a certain period of time. Like the earlier example, this gives customers some very important information. First, it tells them who is most likely to respond to their offer. Second, it allows the client's sales team the opportunity to prioritize its prospecting so that they are addressing the most qualified leads first. Often, what to do with the information can be counterintuitive. One LeadGenesys customer split its 1:1 personalized mailing into two parts, each with a different offer. Offer A had a higher response rate, but Offer B had more qualified leads. For clients stuck on response rates, what to do with this information might seem obvious: focus on Offer A, and more of it. However, at the suggestion of LeadGenesys, the client instead beefed up its list with prospects exhibiting the same demographics as those responding to Offer B, then adjusted the split to favor the lower performing but more qualified lead offer. The result? Both the response rate and the percentage of qualified leads went up. The Take-Away Point The moral of the story? If all you are doing is creating great campaigns, one after the other, but never using the information from one campaign to tweak the next, you may be getting great results, but you're still leaving money on the table. "If you follow the metrics, you should be continuously seeing a boost in ROI," notes Jeff Kostermans, president and CEO of LeadGenesys. "That will be negated, to some extent, as you test things. But that's just prudent anyway. Just doing VDP mailing and being happy with 30 percent response rate is fine and dandy, but there is so much more room for improvement."