It is only by using the right evaluation and measurement tools that marketers can be sure their campaign has worked. In this final piece on affinity marketing, Nick Howse, managing director of Howse Jackson Marketing, focuses on direct mail to highlight the differences between affinity marketing and standard campaign evaluation.
Set clear objectives
Affinity marketing involves the close co-operation of two brands, so it is vital that both brands are involved in evaluation and measurement. Look back over each brand’s past five direct mail campaigns and calculate the average response for each brand. Then, compare these two average responses with the single response for your affinity direct mail campaign.
Tip By comparing the affinity campaign with cold mailings from both companies, it will be readily apparent if the campaign has resulted in an uplift of response relative to standard mailings.
The benefits of partner brand uplift
If results are superior to your traditional cold mailings, you can be confident that it is the goodwill of the partner brand and its customer base that have been instrumental in influencing the results.
Why? The partner brand’s customer base will have been built up over many years through careful communications and customer nurturing. By allowing your brand to communicate to its customer base, the partner brand is subtly recommending the offer and opening the door to its loyal following. This factor is a key driver in the success of affinity marketing.
Tip When evaluating the campaign, as well as the list, creative or offer of the direct mail campaign, make sure you factor in partner brand uplift too.
Look beyond response rates
Don’t be disheartened if responses are below those normally witnessed with cold mailings. Most affinity campaigns are cheaper to administer because either the data is free or the campaign is piggy-backing on existing business collateral, which means the ROI may be better.
There are two types of affinity marketing – either your brand uses another brand’s customer list for a solus mailing or it provides the marketing material to be mailed in another brand’s marketing communications (piggy-backing). Both routes bring down the cost of the direct mail campaign either in data costs, postage and printing costs or both.
Tip Affinity marketing may produce a lower response but initial mailing costs are cheaper, giving you a better ROI on a cost-per-response basis.
Know all the variables
Apart from standard direct mail measurement criteria such as recency (how long since the customer made a purchase), frequency (how many purchases the customer has made) and monetary value (the value of each purchase), it’s also important to consider another variable: right time to buy. This is the hidden fourth variable that can make a profound difference in affinity marketing and is important to factor into campaign evaluation.
Just because someone did not respond to an affinity campaign, it doesn’t mean they weren’t interested. The major driver may not be that they were the wrong people; it’s just that they didn’t need to buy at that time. This is why it’s so important for both brands to ensure that the timing is right for their products at the planning stage.
It’s no surprise, for example, that motor servicing ‘special offers’, for example, work best near the time of car owners’ MOT test dates. Other ‘right time to buy factors, however, are less obvious - one well-known holiday company found that affinity offers for cross channel ferry crossings worked best in the immediate weeks after another ferry crossing had already been booked!
Tip Factor the ‘right time to buy’ issue into the equation when planning and evaluating a campaign.
In a nutshell
- The success of affinity marketing lies in its ability to target customers that would otherwise be difficult to reach, and for minimal outlay.
- Careful measurement and evaluation is a critical component, particularly when comparing its effectiveness with traditional cold direct mail.
- By evaluating correctly, however, our experience has shown time and again that affinity direct mail often exceeds cold direct mail by a significant margin – if not by response then certainly by ROI.