Archive for the International Marketing Category

UK economic situation and what it means for direct marketers

Posted in Direct Marketing, International Marketing, UK on 05/03/2009 by Richard Gibson

Before writing this column I looked back at an article I’d written for this magazine [Direct Marketing International] back in July of last year, some six months ago. Like this column its focus is the UK economy and what it may mean for direct marketers.

In the middle of last year inflation was rising and despite the slowing of the credit markets consumer sales were still buoyant. However as I write this in mid January 2009 most of the readers will be aware of the increasing signs of economic woe. The second half of 2008 was peppered with negative signs. Indeed the government’s own statistical department announced what many had already feared but may not acknowledged that the economy’s GDP shrank by 0.6% in Q3 and 1.5% in Q4 (source: Office for National Statistics) and that by doing so met the definition of a recession i.e. two negative quarters of growth. With the economic contraction comes rising unemployment and with that decreased spending. It is no wonder then that a poll by ICM/The Guardian newspaper of UK consumers in December found 86% of those surveyed plan to make cutbacks on their spending, with only 13% thinking that they would spend as much in 2009 as they did in 2008 (source:  ICM/The Guardian).

Decreasing levels of inflation, a small cut in VAT (sales tax) and significant drops in The Bank of England base rate, currently at 1.5% (down from 5.0% for most of 2008 and 5.75% at a high for some of the later part of 2007) all designed to ease fears have seemingly done little to curb the growing economic position to: negative.

I believe that there are two camps about how the recession may play out in the UK at least for direct marketers. There are those that are bullish about the industry and those that are slightly more bearish. The bulls tend to be those that believe that because of the measurability the direct marketing industry is well placed to ride out the economic situation in this country. The bears tend to be more cautionary (as is their nature) principally because the last time the UK economy was truly in a recession (early 1990’s) the internet, and by this I include email marketing, as an advertising channel did not exist. The truth is perhaps somewhere in between.

The IPA’s (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) respected Bellwether Report for Q4 2008, released in mid January suggests further reduction in spending and offers some supporting arguments to both the bulls and the bears. The reports author Chris Williamson does indeed show the largest reduction for media, with direct marketing also showing a reduction, indeed even Internet search shows a reduction in spending, albeit significantly less than direct marketing and media.

For 2009 marketers, direct or interactive have a challenge on their hands as the UK consumer adjusts spending habits accordingly. The battle ever more is around increasing effectiveness, most probably with static or likely declining budgets whilst at the same time trying to recruit new customers.

For the suppliers the challenge for some will be around staying competitive and fighting to keep their products in front of potential buyers and users. For others it can be about growth. A recession, whilst painful for all concerned tends to shake out weaker companies and survival and maintenance of a strong position potentially leads to far stronger prospects once growth occurs. Whilst I had previously written in this column about evidence from Prof. Patrick Barwise around strategies based on his research from the last recession, principally that those brands that do best post-recession tend to be those that invest during the recession. Anecdotal evidence, for example the latest Bellwether Report appears to suggest that very few brands are in a position to take this advice on board.

If further evidence was needed about direct mail volumes being squeezed, research from Billets (a media monitoring agency) reported via DM Bulletin show a decrease of close to 40% (Source: DM Bulletin) from November 2007 to November 2008 in terms of total volume. That said, separating customer and prospect mailings is as always a thorny issue.

Note: a slightly shorter version of this post appears as an article in the print and digital edition of the January/February 2009 issue of Direct Marketing International magazine.

References used in this post:

Barwise, Patrick (1999) Advertising in a Recession: The Benefits of Investing for the Long Term.

DM Bulletin

ICM/The Guardian

IPA (Institute of Practioners in Advertising) Bellwether report, accessed 01/03/09.


Gracias from Elautobus

Posted in B2C, Ecommerce, Email marketing, International Marketing, Not for profit on 22/01/2009 by Richard Gibson

Following on from an earlier post, ING Direct and UNICEF emailed me to thank me for helping to raise funds through their viral email marketing effort in December 2008.

For the record here is the creative used (click to enlarge):

ING Direct Espana UNICEF Autobus Viral Email ING follow up 16-01-09

A viral email campaign that I liked: Elautobus

Posted in Email marketing, International Marketing on 06/01/2009 by Richard Gibson

As I read in the January issue of Revolution (p25) Jeffrey Rayport coined the term, ‘viral marketing’ in 1996. Actually the entire page is taken up with the discussion of viral marketing in more general terms. Reading it reminded me of the last viral email marketing campaign I received.

I don’t often forward or for that matter receive too many emails with a viral element but this one arrived sometime in early December and I was duly impressed by it and forwarded it on to several of my contacts.

Why did I like it? Perhaps because of its simplicity, all the recipient has to do is forward it on, via entering friends details. When they open the email, the original recipient receives the message below. It also has the feel good factor. Whilst the host brand is ING Direct, they are raising funds for UNICEF, which is in my mind a great partnership in terms of halo effect.

The concept is very simple, a bus that travels around the world, raising money for children who don’t have a school. What the message below quite quickly tells you is how far the bus, or as the creative so delightfully has it ‘your bus’ has travelled (essentially who has opened your email and the distance between you and them), how long it took (in terms of sending to opening) and how much money you sending the email has helped to raise.

Thus far, I have not received further emails from ING Direct nor UNICEF, I’m not sure that as such it was a database building exercise, indeed that may have been a missed opportunity. I rather think it was a purely brand focused exercise on ING Direct’s part and to that end I should imagine successful.

It’s that simple. Perhaps that is why I liked it. You can see a small image of the email below, alternatively you can click here to see a larger version.

ING Direct Espana UNICEF Autobus Viral Email

For those not familiar with Spanish, an approximate translation would be:

¡Enhorabuena! Tu autobús acaba de llegar a su destino – Congratulations! Your bus has just reached its destination [name of viral recipient]

Ha tardado – It took 11 minutes

Ha recorrido – And has travelled 5,555 kilometers [Southall to New York]

Y ha recaudado – And has collected €5,555 for those children without a school

Si lo deseas, puedes realizar tu propia aportación – If you want, you can make your own donation

Recuerda que puedes seguir enviando autobuses – Remember you can send more buses by clicking here

Entra en Mis Trayectos y consulta – You can go to ‘my journeys’ and check progress.

Refrences used in this post

Revolution (January, 2009) London, Haymarket Business Media.

Wikipedia entry for Jeffrey Rayport, accessed 07/01/09.


This post was picked up today (14/01/09) as part of the DMA’s Infobox newsletter, here.

International Address Guide

Posted in Database, Direct Marketing, International Marketing on 02/01/2009 by Richard Gibson

SwissPost have released their International AddressGuide which contains a reasonable amount of information on 22 markets (demography,address format etc). And then in more depth an overview of data sources in each country along with more detailed information on who the key providers of data sources are along with contact information. Furthermore introductory pages contain useful tips on address formatting, translation of some technical terms as well as a glossary.

Any guide is a useful starting point before international expansion but suppliers in individual countries need to be selected with care as do the individual lists they represent so as to ensure particularly with prospect data sourcing the lists most likely to succeed are used. The guide is further of use to essentially size the market as part of the overall planning process.

Whilst suppliers are listed, actual lists or data sources other than those offered by list owners are not.  This isn’t neccesarily a drawback provided it is understood by  the user what services the supplier offers and which data sources they are recommending and why.

SwissPost are to be congratulated for putting together such a volume, with close to 300 pages. All in all a useful guide as a starting point when looking for international data sources. In the package I was sent came a very useful International Holiday Calendar for 2009, showing key holidays by country and a helpful European postcode map.

You can order your copy here.

International Address Guide - Consumer and business addresses from 22 countries - SwissPost

References used in this post

International AddressGuide: Consumer and business addresses from 22 countries (2008), SwissPost.

First post, a welcome

Posted in International Marketing, Uncategorized on 31/12/2008 by Richard Gibson

Welcome to this Direct Marketing Blog.

What this blog is about

This blog is about the several aspects of marketing, specifically direct and interactive marketing that interest me the most. Subcategories would include email and other forms of digital marketing and database marketing, that although may be seen as separate disciplines are for my purposes parts of direct marketing.

I am equally interested in B2B as well as B2C domestic (UK) as well as international direct and interactive marketing so will blog on those topics, amongst others.

Why I have set it up

Essentially as a central ‘store’ of my thoughts, contributions to articles or research that I have encountered that might be of interest. Or as Gerry McGovern refers to it, the web acts as a kind of collective “memory” (McGovern, 2006).

Barriers that I may face

Like everyone else, time is short so as I type this I am slightly worried about keeping it updated frequently enough. I want to ensure that I keep the content good, trustworthy and above all interesting. What worried me a little piece of information in Gerry McGovern’s book that websites published by individuals are in the main “trusted by only 9%” (McGovern, 2006).

I am also concerned about not being negative or overly critical. I think it could be a little too easy to critisize campaigns run by others, so that is something I want to avoid. If I do post campaigns I plan to share what I like about them, what I felt were the positive aspects either from a marketing standpoint, a recipient standpoint or both.

Further because I want this blog to act as a store, I do want to republish some thoughts or articles that may have been published elsewhere. When this happens I will make reference to where the article first appeared. I also intend to fully reference any book, journal or white paper articles or reports that I may find or use.

I hope that it will evolve over time and look forward to seeing what becomes of it. I have deliberately decided to try a new platform after having several blogs hosted on different platforms. Thus far I have been impressed with WordPad.

References used in this post

McGovern, Gerry (2006) Killer Web Content, London, AC & Black.