Affinity Marketing – why it works better than standard DM

Affinity Marketing – why it works better than standard DM
15 March 2011 | | Marketing

The goodwill of a partner brand will almost certainly give consumers a greater confidence in a given product / service and response rates will be expected to rise accordingly – making Affinity Marketing a very attractive proposition.

But, I think DM has its virtues too and can prove just as fruitful for businesses IF you are using fresh, relevant data – I certainly won’t be discounting it in a hurry.  An interesting article / perspective none the less…

Affinity marketing (also known as partnership marketing) often witnesses response rates far beyond that experienced in traditional DM.  Nick Howse, managing director of Howse Jackson Marketing, explains why.

Direct mail response rates have been falling for some time.  Talk to any direct marketing practitioner and they will regale you with stories about how campaigns that worked well in 2005 are falling very short in 2011 with similar data and creative criteria.

One of the key reasons for this is that good data has been overused whilst fresh sources of data have been slow to come to market.  It’s a conundrum that has been vexing DM professionals for some years yet there is a simple solution that many practitioners are overlooking – affinity marketing.

Affinity marketing occurs when two brands join forces for mutual commercial benefit. Often, but not exclusively, it involves a lesser-known brand leveraging another brand’s appeal to enhance its marketing proposition.

How does it work? Here’s a typical example – one well-known UK high-street car repair chain, with over 570 outlets nationwide, recently partnered with an established insurance company to offer an affinity deal to the insurance company’s database. The car repair company sent the insurance company’s entire database a direct mail piece offering a unique benefit, in this instance 25% off an MOT and service.

The insurance company received commission on every car service and MOT offer that was taken up.  This gave it an income in excess of £20,000 simply for allowing its customers to be mailed with a relevant offer.

Likewise, for the car repair chain, the benefits of this affinity partnership were extremely attractive. The company had access to hundreds of thousands of car owners who they would otherwise not have been able to mail.

The key point about the above affinity marketing example is that one brand had access to another’s brand’s data that would never normally come to market.  The data was fresh, responsive and relevant.  Results were therefore far higher than would be expected in a ‘cold mailing’ scenario.

But what makes affinity marketing even more powerful is that affinity marketing relies on the goodwill of the partner brand.  This ‘subtle endorsement’ gives consumers greater confidence in the offer being promoted and response rates rise accordingly.

For these two reasons – fresh data & goodwill of the partner brand – affinity marketing has been witnessing response rates that are often far higher than standard DM campaigns.

Moreover, affinity marketing campaigns are often cheaper to implement because either (a) the data is supplied on commission-only by the partner brand or (b) the affinity offer is inserted into an existing customer communication by the partner brand (invoice, statement etc).

To conclude, affinity marketing offers a marketing channel that is typically cheaper to implement yet also witnesses higher response rates than standard DM.  The ROI is therefore greatly enhanced. During a time of deep recession surely there can’t be a more effective DM channel?

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