Testing – the Most Effective Tool for Database Marketing

Each marketing campaign plan should be tested on a smaller group of Customers, before being deployed. Based on the results of the test campaign, the marketing campaign can be reshaped to achieve better results.

Testing is essential in every campaign, given that the business environment changes dynamically. Nothing should be taken for granted. Testing can be used not only for the estimation of short term response rates and marketing campaign ROI, but also to monitor the medium term effect (e.g. one year) of a campaign.

The steps to implement a test campaign, are the following:

1. identify a group of customers, who are potential buyers of a product, e.g. 20.000 Business Customers to receive an offer developed for the Business segment.

2. set up a test and a control group (e.g. 2.000 Business Customers each). The test group gets the offer. The control group is treated as usual, but it does not get the offer or any other offer. Ideally, the test & control groups consist of the same type of Customers (Business Customers). The groups can be easily selected by sorting the Customer group and taking the 3rd out of each 10 for the test group and the 5th out of each 10 for the control group. The size of the control group has to be sufficient to provide statistically accurate results.

3. the test campaign is executed and results (orders made by the 2 groups) are captured.

4. the effectiveness of the test campaign is evaluated by the difference between orders by the 2 groups (test & control), in the given campaign period.

In order to exploit efficiently a control group, the following additional rules apply:

o no other offers should be made to the control group, during the ‘control’ period

o the control group should not be informed of the offer made to others – this may lead to negative reactions and introduce bias to the evaluation

The test group is expected to produce increased orders. The comparison to the control group can factor out any market or economy factors, affecting the result. This is why the set up of a control group is so important, in order to evaluate accurately the effect of the test campaign.

Increased ordering made by the test group (vis-à-vis the control group), can be identified in certain cases on non-promoted products also. This can be attributed to the campaign, since it may increase the visits (or interest for the Business and its products) of the test group.
The effect of the campaign can be extended beyond the campaign period. This is attributed to the fact that those Customers who accepted the campaign offering, have increased their recency.

The same approach to use a control group for evaluation purposes, should be applied to the roll out of the campaign as well.

In a test campaign, alternative offers may be tested, in order to figure out the most efficient approach, yielding higher ROI. In this case, only a single variable should be different between alternative offers (e.g. the level of discount), in order to produce valid results. Two test groups (or more according to the number of alternative offers) are needed, since each Customer should receive a single offer (during a promotion, a Customer should not be asked to choose between alternatives). Again a control group should be set up. After the test campaign is concluded, comparisons between test groups behavior as well as evaluation vis-a-vis the control group, should be carried out.

Testing comes at a cost. The Business has to assign resources to execute the test and capture & evaluate the results. Moreover it has to delay the campaign roll out, for one or more months. Since roll out of the campaign follows the test campaign evaluation, there is a delay in campaign execution.

Understanding Behavioural Marketing Software

I work for a small independent publishing company. The company is privately owned and we often use less traditional means to promote both our print and online publications. So it was not a big surprise when I was contacted by an account manager for a new behavioral marketing service. The company is called Soho Digital International and they have a number of market leading companies as their clients, including Dell, T-Mobile, Hotels.com, Match.com and Travelocity. They are located overseas, not really sure how this effects privacy laws, and associated with Direct Revenue and the Best Offers Network.

My understanding of Behavioral Marketing was limited to how ads can be displayed on a website, based on the users behaviour or interest in web content. I was notfamiliar with the Behavioral Marketing software so I visited the Soho Digital website for a description:

“Behavioral marketing works from a simple idea: that consumers will consent to viewing targeted ads in exchange for free software for their computers.”

The key question here is really consent, how does a consumer consent to receive ads on their computer? The answer is that user downloads some software, usually for some other intent, and the software records where they go and what they do online. The software also provides the mechanism to display a pop-up ad based on the user’s behavior online.

This leads to the next question, which software includes this behavior recording and ad display? The answer isn’t easily available on the Soho Digital site but by visiting the Best Offers Network you can see some of the partner software. They include the following:

* Eliminate Spam

* Luke the Screenwasher

* Smiley Source

* ID Theft Radar

* Sam Free Skype Radar

* Record-n-Rip

* Mahong

* Atomic Clock

Each of these software packages includes a EULA ( End-User License Agreement ) that is about 6 pages long. I believe the most relevant statement in the EULA is :

“This Software will collect information about websites you access and will use that information to display advertising on your computer.”

I think this makes the intent of the software fairly clear but it does assume the user reads the EULA. Its fairly well known that most users do not read the EULA and just click NEXT, NEXT… through the installation. There is very little information outside of the EULA on the software’s behaviour and the user has no control over what information is provide and when ads can be displayed.

So exactly how exactly does the Behaviour Marketing component work? My account manager at Soho assures me that there are several options to position my advertising.

* Targeted URLs

When a user goes a target website, presumably a competitor, the software can launch a popup with my website displayed. Is there any limit to the number of URLs? Not really, it depends on how many the advertiser is willing to pay for.

* Key Word Based

Its also possible to have your ad displayed when the user starts entering data related to certain key words, either in the URL string or on web page forms. Is there any limit to keywords? No, not really it depends on the how much the advertiser is willing to pay.

* Time Based

If I have a time sensitive promotion, for example an election, err.. time limited sale. I can display my ad on periodic basis for a a given time period. For example if I have a time sales special going on for a month, I could have my ad displayed every day when the user starts their web browsers. Is there any limit to the sales period or the display interval? No, depends on the advertiser again but the account manager doesn’t recommend displaying the ad repeatedly more often than every 15 minutes. Can you imagine getting the same ad every 15 minutes?

Targeting a demographic with this Behavioral Marketing system is not really possible. Soho can isolate customers to a particular geographic area though. In my case they would even be able to provide my ads only to customers in the Province of Ontario, Canada.

Conclusion

Soho claims to have 25 million users of that can receive their Behavioral Marketing advertising. While it can be tempting for small companies, and even large ones like Dell, do use Behavioral Marketing Software I don’t believe it’s the path to customer loyalty. Ultimately I don’t believe you’ll attract meaningful customers by annoying them with unexpected advertising.

Colin Smillie has extensive technical experience gained at several leading Internet, wireless and security providers in Canada and Asia-Pacific. He studied Electrical/Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ottawa and Computer Electronics in Ontario, and has been able to translate this technical expertise into the classified media industry for Trader Media Corporation. His current role as Product Manager of Automotive Products involves product development, competitor analysis and advertising performance tracking and search engine optimization, as well as alliance-building with third parties. He speaks fluent French, good Japanese and enjoys designing computer games in his spare time.

Shamelessly Successful Self Promotion

Self-promotion, when done effectively, works for ANY business or career. Once you begin to implement the proven marketing strategies behind it … it’s EASY to be successful in anything you set your mind to. In fact, when you promote yourself over and over again, you will begin to enjoy it more, and it will reward you many times over in return.

I shockingly discovered that an average of 87% of the thousands of business people I’ve surveyed did NOT feel comfortable promoting themselves and avoided it MOST of the time.

In business we understand that if we don’t promote and market we can’t be successful. Right? No matter how great your service is or what amazing value you offer, if prospects don’t know about you, you’re not going to win the opportunity to do business with them.

Therefore, if you don’t promote yourself … it goes against the grain of all sales and marketing success! Right?

But why do so many people feel uncomfortable with self-promotion?

Because … much of what they believe to be true about self-promotion comes from past programming that dates back to their childhood. When you grew up you may have hear comments like this, “It’s not polite to talk about yourself. It will come across as pushy or rude.”

Too many of us have 10, 20, 30 or more years of negative and/or limited beliefs rattling around in our heads about the concept of self-promotion. These limiting and negative beliefs have been programmed into our subconscious minds for years.

What were your parents, teachers or guardians like when you were growing up? Did they believe in promoting themselves? Did they promote your self-esteem to believe that you could do anything you set your mind to? Were they risk-takers or were they conservative?
We usually hate to admit it, but we are all creatures of habit, especially when habits have been programmed into our brains since childhood.

Some people are so conditioned against self-promotion they are closed minded about it; no matter how much it might benefit them. Now, I don’t expect you to change your belief over night, but you can start by opening your mind to believing differently about self-promotion from this day forward.

Why believe differently? Because you can’t be truly successful if you aren’t willing to let people know that you, your product and/or services exist? If you aren’t willing to promote your talents, expertise and products, others will quickly pass you by. The world is not going to beat a path to your door unless you pave the way.

Resenting self-promotion is one of the greatest obstacles to success.

“If you don’t toot your own horn, you can’t enjoy the music.”