Direct Mail’s Success Should Be Measured By Orders, Not “Click-Through’s”

A recently published article stated, “more than a third of web traffic is ‘suspicious’”. Suggesting that the number of web visits you see on your website are being inflated – producing incorrect results because of viruses and bots designed to artificially inflate traffic numbers. This all sounds underhanded, but is it really a problem?

A recent study revealed, “that only 40% of the visits measured were actually genuine,” – but again is this actually a problem?

Regardless of whether you are trying to increase website traffic by sending out a Direct Mail campaign, it does not make sense to determine whether a campaign has been successful or not by the number of “views” that are achieved. In fact, Direct Mail campaigns can, and have been measured accurately for years based on total orders as a percentage of total quantity mailed.

In the days of instant results we lose track of the fact that different marketing campaigns do different things. For example, of the total number of emails we receive everyday, it has been revealed that, on average, 87% of it is spam. However, because of the way your inbox works, nearly all of the emails will have been considered opened and read, even if you simply click on the email and delete it.

Until recently, it was the total spend or orders that counted, not the number of people that opened the Direct Mail piece, and some would argue that this should still be the standard.

No marketer ever assumed that every reader of a Direct Mail piece looked at the advertisement; the measure of success was cost vs. income. I don’t think they would even expect 40% of the readers to view the ad—just as long as the expenditure/income ratio was on target.
All marketers can determine their market; many of them have been doing it with great success for years. Most know that a fully personalised A4 catalogue in their market is probably a good bet to get orders.

The world has changed, many people run Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns to get people to look at websites, the website owner will then sell advertising based on the number of people looking. The fact there are “bots” and “viruses” inflating figures is disturbing, not to mention dishonest, and one could argue illegal, so yes It should be stopped. However, if advertisers returned to judging a promotion’s effectiveness by the orders or money gained, surely they would be better off.

It is natural to desire the most effective response to a campaign, regardless of what it is for. Marketers have been doing it for years, and yes we all want to promote the most positive figures we can—but those figures actually have to mean something, and in many cases, they don’t.
Some have argued that as a result of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) findings, rates for advertising should be reduced. The argument being if you are not reaching a certain percentage of the file, your rates are inflated, but this really is not the case. Nobody ever claims to reach a certain percentage of the file, because if they did, they would have to prove it.

Your website can have 20,000,000 page views a day, and blast out millions of emails with links galore, but unless someone places an order, the bubble you operate in will burst.

We should get rid of the bots and viruses if for no other reason than as an industry we need to correctly analyze data many of us have spent quite a bit of money investing in, as with most viruses we need to develop a vaccine so our industry remains healthy.

However, if you get rid of all the harassments people can devise to inflate figures, and we manage to achieve a world where page views and such are 100 % correct and accurate—unless you actually get orders etc.—we will be no further forward than we are today.

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