One of the pop definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. One of the pillars of direct marketing is running continuous campaigns that hit the same consumer numerous times. That means any direct mail campaign that does not evolve and adapt over time is insane by definition. Today, I received in the mail my regular dose of United Airline’s credit card campaign–the same exact ugly piece of mail I’ve now shredded every couple of weeks for something like two years. It has *never* changed. I will *never* get a United credit card. People wonder why United is on the rocks? These people couldn’t market their way out of a paper bag.
Marketers love to measure campaign metrics, and every marketer knows that a successful campaign entails multiple impressions, often over many weeks. A good Direct Mail campaign might return conversion rates of only 1% and still be successful, but that rate typically goes up when the marketer adjusts the campaign with different messsages and offers. What marketers often ignore, however, is the equal and opposite measure of conversion. A vulgar but effective name for this might be the Peeing in the Pool metric. For every 1% of the market you convert, you annoy, anger, and alienate some percentage of your potential future market, which makes it more expensive for you to market in the future.
Although few actually track this metric, it’s probably close to the inverse of your rate of conversion on successive campaigns. As the curve of conversion drops, the curve of alienation grows. And I strongly suspect this effect is magnified when the repeated campaign goes on forever unchanged. Each repeated drop of the same message to an unresponsive customer becomes an annoyance associated with your brand. It’s like you’re actually paying to alienate future potential customers. And that is insane.