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Donna Caputo
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Should we insource our direct response campaigns? What you may be missing.


Many organizations use outside vendors to help them plan, create, and execute direct response campaigns. Depending on the types of campaigns you run, you may use several vendors. Inevitably a question will arise: “Couldn’t we do this ourselves in-house?” We’ve seen many organizations consider this, and it’s easy to overlook something crucial. Below is a checklist of key questions to answer to explore the benefits and costs of doing your direct response campaigns internally.

Expertise
  • Do internal staff have the knowledge and better mission-focused perspective than your outside vendor to create the strategy for your direct response campaigns?

  • Do staff have the tools and the skills to design direct mail pieces or emails? Can someone write scripts for telefunding/telemarketing campaigns?

  • Do you have staff that are capable of doing complex list pulls and segmentation? Make sure you know what criteria are typically used to pull lists, including suppression lists. Determine how you will apply segment coding to the lists.

  • Do you have staff who can create reports and analyze campaign results?
Time
  • Let’s say you have an internal team that knows how to do everything. Chances are they are all very busy with their current workloads, so when will they be able work on direct response campaigns?

  • What volume of work will there be? Think about how many campaigns you have annually and when they happen. Are they spread evenly across the year, or are there certain times of year when the work will be concentrated because multiple campaigns happen simultaneously (such as for acquisition, renewals, and special appeals)?

  • How many hours per week or month are required for each new task? Consider everything—strategy, design, execution, analysis, and reporting. If you want to bring telefunding/telemarketing in-house, how much time will you need to run a call center?

  • How will you make sure all current job responsibilities are maintained as you add new direct response work? Will you need additional staff?

  • How does the cost of additional hours or additional staff compare to the current expense of the outside vendor(s)?

Whatever your decision, make sure it will help you achieve your goals.


Technology
  • Do you have the right technology to manage direct response campaigns in-house?

  • Do you have the tools to manage large list pulls with complex segmentation? You’ll want to ensure you can perform the work efficiently and not slow down overall database performance.

  • How will you manage external lists for acquisition campaigns, merge-purge, and data hygiene functions, like NCOA and CASS?

  • Do you have telephony technology that will empower an in-house call center?

  • What kind of business intelligence tools do you have to report on campaign results and analyze your success?

  • If you have the right technology, great! If not, what will it cost to purchase or license what you need? How does that compare to current expenses with a vendor?

Answering these questions will help you make the case, both for yourself and your organizational leadership, about the best way to manage your direct response campaigns. You might choose to handle some aspects of direct response in-house and use outsourced vendors for select items. Whatever your decision about outsourcing versus doing work in-house, make sure it will help you achieve your goals for direct response campaigns. Any change you make should help you improve response and increase your ROI.