07 September 2007

41 Timeless Ways to Screw Up Direct Marketing

Screw Up the Control Groups

  1. Don't keep a control group
  2. Make the control group so small as to be useless
  3. Raid the controls to make up campaign numbers
  4. Use deadbeats as controls
  5. Don't make the controls random
  6. Use Treatment Controls but not Targeting Controls

Alienate or Annoy the Customer

  1. Trigger defection with retention activity
  2. Use intrusive contact mechanisms
  3. Use inappropriate or niche creative content
  4. Insult or patronize the Customer
  5. Mislead or disappint the Customer
  6. Fail to Listen to the Customer
    • Bonus marks for refusing to take "no" for an answer
    • Double bonus marks for calling the customer back after she's said "No thanks, I'm not interested" and hung up.
  7. Overcommunicate
  8. Make it hard for the Customer to do what you want.
    • (Overloaded websites, uncooperative web forms, understaffed call centres, uninformed staff and failure to carry stock to meet demand are but a few of the ways to achieve this).
  9. Intrude on the Customer's Privacy
  10. (Over)exploit the customer

Misinterpret the Data

  1. Confuse "responses" with "incremental responses" (uplift)
  2. Confuse revenue with net revenue
  3. Take Credit for That Which Would have Happened Anyway
  4. Double Count
  5. Believe the name of a cluster means something
  6. Believe the data
    • The fact that the computer says it's true and prints it prettily, doesn't mean it is.
  7. Disbelieve the data
    • The fact that the data doesn't show what you hoped, thought or expected doesn't mean it isn't so.

Screw Up Campaign Execution

  1. Discard response information.
  2. Revel in unintended discounts and incentives
  3. Use dangerous, insulting or disrespectful labels
    • Yes, I really have known an airline label its bottom-tier frequent fliers "scum class", and a retailer label a segment of its customer "vindaloonies".
  4. Ship mailings with the internal fields filled in instead of external ones (see also 26)
    • Dear ScumClass, . . .
  5. Direct people to slow, hard-to-navigate websites, IVR Systems or overloaded or poorly designed call centres
  6. Fail to inform your front-line staff about offers you're sending to customers
  7. Fail to ensure your company can fulfill what the marketing promises
  8. Use a name that's very visually similar to a better known name that has negative connotations for many people.
    • I frequently get mail from Communisis, but I never read their name correctly.

Mismodel or Misplan the Campaign:

  1. Confuse statistical accuracy/excellence with ability to make money
  2. Model the wrong thing
  3. Use undirected modelling instead of directed modelling
  4. Assume equivalence of campaigns when important things have changed.
  5. Ignore external factors (seasonality, competitor behaviour etc.)
  6. Fail to make dates relative
  7. Contaminate the training data with validation data
  8. Screw up the Observation Window (Predict the Past, not the Future)
  9. Ignore changes in the meaning of data
  10. Fail to sanity check anything and everything

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