According to the Direct Marketing Association, auto retailers who spent $7.3 billion on direct marketing campaigns in 2007 saw it drive $248.1 billion in sales, for a return on investment of $33.81 for every dollar spent.
Auto makers, meanwhile, spent $8 billion on direct marketing in 2007 to generate $77.8 billion in sales, or a $9.68 ROI per dollar spent.
There's an in-depth article on spam in this week's issue of The New Yorker. The article's opening chronicles
the birth of spam:
In the spring of 1978, an energetic marketing man named Gary Thuerk wanted to let people in the technology world know that his company, the Digital Equipment Corporation, was about to introduce a powerful new computer system. DEC operated out of an old wool mill in Maynard, Massachusetts, and was well known on the East Coast, but Thuerk hoped to reach the technological community in California as well. He decided that the best way to do it was through the network of government and university computers then known as the Arpanet. Only a few thousand people used it regularly, but their names were conveniently printed in a single directory. After selecting six hundred West Coast addresses, Thuerk realized that he would never have time to call each one of them, or even to send out hundreds of individual messages. Then another idea occurred to him: what if he simply used the network to dispatch a single e-mail to all of them? “We invite you to come see the 2020 and hear about the DEC System-20 family,’’ the message read. As historic lines go, it didn’t have quite the ring of “One small step for a man,” yet Gary Thuerk’s impact cannot be disputed. When he pushed the send button, he became the father of spam.
This was a direct mailing created for Raid by FCB, Johannesburg. Each mailing included an official-looking eviction notice addressed to a common household pest: ants, cockroaches, spiders and mosquitoes. The business-size envelope in the photo is there just for scale.
I hope this mailing also included some sort of coupon or reply card. Because direct mail is too expensive to be used for branding purposes alone.
That's why most direct mail is also direct response advertising; that is, it includes a measurable call to action that results in direct sales, increased traffic, sales leads or valuable information for a marketer's database. The call to action typically involves a dedicated toll-free number or dedicated landing page, coupon or business reply card.
Every baby boomer raised in the U.S. remembers the ad for X-ray glasses... The titillating promise of seeing people naked... And the I-should-have-known-better disappointment that accompanied our buyer's remorse.
The first thing advertising has to do is catch one's attention. Being shocking or outrageous is certainly one way of doing that, although it's not always appropriate. Or welcome.
It's much more difficult to get a consumer to stop thumbing through a magazine and take the time to really look at your ad in a Rated G, family-friendly kind of way.
That's what makes these ads so great.
The images stop you in your tracks. They're funny, with just enough edge to be interesting. Even the wording of the offer is unexpected: grown ups travel free. Yet there's no uncomfortable explaining to do should your five-year-old catch a glimpse of the ad.
According to the ad copy, MailMate "eats junk mail whole -- including those annoying fake credit cards." The small photo accompanying the ad shows a woman shredding what appears to be an unopened mail solicitation. Staples can't come right out and say it, but the message is loud and clear: shred the junk without even having to open it.
That's the bad news. But only for mailers who haven't yet figured out how to beat their controls* with something that doesn't look like crap. It's good news for everyone else.
*What's a control?
In direct marketing and, specifically, direct mail, the control is any mail package that has proved itself to be more successful than any mail package against which it has been tested -- tested in a very controlled and not at all arbitrary way.