The top 4 myths of affinity marketing
By Nick Howse, Managing Director, Howse Jackson Marketing
Affinity marketing is one of the most misunderstood direct marketing disciplines practised today. Draped in confusion, many data marketers give affinity marketing a wide berth for no other reason than the many myths surrounding it have developed a life all of their own.
At the outset it is best to define exactly what affinity marketing is: occasionally referred to as partnership marketing, it occurs when two brands join forces for mutual benefit. This typically involves one brand giving another brand access to its customer (data)base for a percentage of commission on resulting sales.
Below I attempt to explode some of the myths clouding the discipline.
“My data is exclusive (and I do not want to share it with any other company)”
Wrong. No one’s data is exclusive. To think that any record on a database is exclusive assumes that the person concerned lives a life akin to JD Salinger, living out one’s days as a recluse in a small cottage in rural New Hampshire.
The bottom line is that, as any analysis of data demonstrates, the vast majority of names on a database are held on other companies’ databases. What’s more, these names are being contacted all the time.
As affinity marketing specialists, our advice is this: treat your data with great care but don’t ever think that it is exclusive. It’s not. This should relax any concerns of allowing your data to be shared solely because it’s ‘exclusive’.
“My data could be misused (it’s out of my control)”
Once again, wrong. With affinity marketing you have complete control over your data at all times. Firstly, you get to decide which brand partner is allowed to share your data. An affinity marketing specialist will be able to find a partner brand with a good ‘fit’ in terms of relevancy and appeal.
With an affinity marketing specialist’s help, you can then structure a deal with clear guidelines over how your data is used, along with strict terms and conditions and built in legal safeguards. To reiterate: the data owner is in control and you can selectively choose your partners.
“My data security could be compromised (and it’s a risk I’ll never take)”
This is a justifiable concern but you are in control of your data in every which way. The terms and conditions of its use are laid out in legal terms, as are the data security guidelines in terms of transfer and storage of data. In fact it is possible to structure a deal whereby your data remains in-house and any direct mail campaign is sent out from your offices, not the partner brand’s.
“Direct mail is out-dated and response curves have declined hugely”
Affinity data is normally fresh and often highly responsive. In addition, because one brand partner has partnered with another, the offer is perceived as having more weight and authority making it even more appealing.
The bottom line is that affinity marketing campaigns typically pull in higher responses than solo brand campaigns yet at a fraction of the normal cost of implementing a typical direct marketing campaign.
Affinity marketing is actually one of the most powerful direct marketing channels available, with results that often far exceed those of other marketing disciplines on an ROI basis.
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