Campaign management is one of the cornerstones of successful direct marketing. Yet most catalogers still use spreadsheets to track and analyze campaigns. During the past few years, though, several packages have come onto the market that analyze and track campaigns across multiple channels and apply the results to your future marketing efforts — all from a Web-based interface.
Some of the features of the Web-based systems, such as upselling and cross-selling recommendations, have existed in traditional software packages for years, notes Niels Christianson, president/CEO of New York-based OrderMotion, a subsidiary of Natick, MA-based catalog industry software provider CommercialWare. OrderMotion’s Smart Mailer, for instance, sends promotional messages to customers depending on predefined criteria. A catalog that specializes in backyard furniture and grills, for instance, could program its software to send an e-mail offering a discount on sun umbrellas to customers who purchased patio furniture. Again, this sort of application isn’t new — but the new campaign management systems provide marketers with access to a gamut of such features in one single, easy-to-access place.
Database forecasting and analytic programs have several advantages over spreadsheets, says Ned Barrett, a principal with Mount Laurel, NJ-based Direct Logic, whose Direct Integration software package has a campaign management tool. For starters, a spreadsheet is limited to 65,000 rows across 256 columns, so it’s not easily adapted to complex forecasting routines and millions of customer records.
What’s more, using spreadsheets is a manual exercise. “Campaign management is more advanced and easier with an integrated database application,” Barrett notes.
Many catalog order management systems provide the raw data needed to produce forecasts and analyses. But reporting is not always a strength of these systems. Campaign management software can be plugged into these systems so that marketers can pull out information such as returns and bad debt files.
For all their benefits, campaign management software has one significant drawback: It can be expensive. Costs typically range from $75,000 to $1 million, depending on the size of the business and the number of units in which it will be deployed. Catalogers can sometimes opt to license the software rather than outright buy it. In such a case, a cataloger doing $1 million a year in sales could expect to pay $1,250 a month as well as a $250 monthly hosting fee.
For his part, Christianson says that Order Motion customers could expect to pay what amounts to 1.5% of their monthly revenue. According to Direct Logic’s Barrett, though, within 14 months the investment pays for itself in increased revenue and decreased marketing costs.
The analysis and forecasting logic of a campaign management program should be tailored for each type of promotion within each channel. For instance, you need to account for differences between print catalogs and e-mails in forecasting and analysis. The solution should be robust enough to manage any number of products and promotions regardless of the size of the corporation and would ideally integrate circulation planning, merchandising, forecasting, and analytics across all channels into one enterprise platform.