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    Mar 2008

    Dell Direct Mail Offer Challenges

    Posted by / in Marketing, Tips and Tricks / Link

    A lesson in marketing and consistency.

    I was recently selected to save up to 75% off VOSTRO systems from Dell.  Pretty exciting eh? The glossy enviro-green and white direct mail piece was personalized and they even got the spelling of my name right! The headline had two footnotes. One said that I was selected based on factors such as historical purchases but I never bought a Dell through my company name so I wonder what other factors it could be.  The second footnote said that it was a promotional offer valid between March 21, 2008 and April 3, 2008 etc…good thing my business does not have to put laptops into a capital budget first! The strong call to action was duly noted.

    If you are one of Dell’s target business customers, as I apparently am, you are probably too busy to muck around a website getting educated on the various systems and configurations that Dell offers. So this offer was particularly enticing. In 3 simple steps, I could find out if my business was selected to save 25%, 50% or 75%. Here is what I had to do:

    1. Visit their website or call their toll free number.

    2. Enter my personal access code to find out how much I’d save.

    3. Choose my technology and enter the access code (again) to purchase it.

    Sounds simple enough so I decide to give it a try as one can always use another laptop right?

    Step 1 – No problem getting to the Dell site that immediately redirects to a tracking page with “mystery coupon” in the URL. First thing I see is the header Direct Mailer Offers. Now I wonder if I got the best offer. Second thing I see is a text box header with the question “Did you receive a Coupon Code”. Umm…I don’t know…I received a personal access code. Is that the same thing? I check the fine print on the direct mail flyer and it calls the personal access code an E-Value code so maybe I don’t have a Coupon Code? Figuring that Dell would not waste their money sending this to me only to have it fail on Step 1, I decide to try using my personal access code. That’s gotta be the same thing. As a potential customer, I’m not feeling too comfortable right now. I think I’m on a legit Dell site with the blue corporate colour in the navigation buttons. But the flyer was all green so now I’m not too sure – something phishy going on? Oh wait, there are green buttons lower on the page so all is good.

    Step 2 – The personal access code is 14 alphanumeric characters long. Dell will know exactly who came to the site, when they came and how far along the sales funnel they went by simply using this tracking code. I unfortunately got stumped at this step. The personal access code…oops, I mean Coupon Code, did not work. I try again – still no luck. I realized I keyed in an I instead of a 1 and probably an O instead of a 0. I can’t tell the difference since they used ALL CAPS in the code. Woohoo….I can save a whopping 25%! Good thing I did not call the toll free number. I can’t imagine repeating a 14 letter and number combo over the phone. What if I had to key them in and ended up at a remote call centre? On to Step 3 now.

    Step 3 – I look at the laptop solutions and desktop solutions, wondering why they are called solutions and not just business computers. Must be some marketing jargon. Does anyone google “laptop solutions” when looking for a computer? Google “laptop” and you get all the smart retailers that know what keywords are relevant ranking high on the search page. Hmmm…just made a mental note to contact Dell about helping them optimize their website 🙂

    Ok not interested in a solution at this point and also not very impressed.

    What are the lessons learned?

    Be consistent.

    The personal access code was referred to as the E-Value code in the fine print on the flyer. It was also referred to as the Coupon Code on the website. One of these is the appropriate and relevant term from a marketing and legal standpoint. That term should be used consistently.

    The layout of the flyer was similar to what one would expect to see on a tech oriented website. However, the Dell website is blue, with an orange and black graphic but the flyer is various shades of green. Not disconcerting but it would be nice for some design elements to be consistent across various marketing media.

    Make it easy for the customer.

    Don’t have a title that suggests better offers might be available. I was feeling special when I received the direct marketing piece but after reading Direct Mailer Offers, I’m not too certain that I was specially “selected” for this amazing limited time offer. Why does a customer even need to see this – it’s more for the marketing folks at Dell that say “go to the Direct Mailer Offers page” when describing their latest promotional offer to internal people. I would recommend calling it VOSTRO system special offer instead. A unique landing page for each customer could be created to really personalize the experience but that involves a bit more work. Hmmm….ANOTHER mental note to contact Dell and offer my consulting services!

    The 14 character personal access code was not very user-friendly. Instead of ALL CAPS, they should have made it all lower case so there would not be any opportunity for confusion with i’s, 1’s, o’s or 0’s.

    If I made a purchase I would have to key in the 14 character personal access code again. I can think of a solution here – capture the personal access code from Step 2. Better yet, knowing that I had keyed it in already, don’t ask for it again. Instead, personalize Step 3 by including my company name in the window. That would make it really easy for me and I’d feel oh so special too.

    Have you received any direct mail marketing pieces that made you feel special? Did you end up acting on the offer? Please share.

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