Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Prepping for 2016: Mail and E-mail Copy Starters

If one of your New Year's marketing resolutions is to boost the response power of your mail or e-mail copy, take a look at these 61 proven ideas for letter and e-mail opening lines, courtesy of a Target Marketing magazine article by Pat Friesen, direct response copywriter and author. Back in 2012, Pat offered 48 copy starters, and her article and resulting webinars proved so popular that she's returned with even more ways to start a promotional conversation. Some copy starters are more appropriate to digital and some to print, but all share the goal of focusing on you-the-reader and using engaging language to tap response-driving emotions and plant the WIIFM (what's in it for me) hook that will get the recipient to read on.  For example, the list starts with the exclusivity appeal of "You are on a short list of people who..." and moves to the fear/guilt-inducing "Help!" (as with the "Help My 9 Lives Be Healthy" headline next to a healthy cat picture in a PetMeds mailer). There are starters that stroke reader need for approval, such as "You're appreciated...," and others that target greed/pleasure, such as this "Congratulations! You just received a FREE..." header used in a Carter's children's wear mailer. Friesen's list ends with some copy starters that may be a bit too quirky for your audience, such as "Duh!" and "Hey!" Yet those types of openers seem to be winning for some top politicians. To see all of Friesen's 61 ideas, go to

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Don't Let Data Glitches Stymie B2B Lead Efforts

Business-to-business marketers dedicate chunks of budget and time to gathering qualified leads. Unfortunately, we've seen basic data problems undermine the effectiveness of hard-won B2B prospect and customer databases. So we'd like to pass along a recent MarketingProfs article alerting marketers to six of the most common data pitfalls. No. 1 on the list posted by Rob Manser, acting director of marketing at contact validation firm Service Objects, is relying on a single contact method in lead data. Focusing solely on e-mail outreach, for example, increases failure from address errors or poor channel response. By gathering or appending multichannel contact options--phone, e-mail and mailing address--the chances of connection climb. As Manser points out: "An e-mail or a phone call might never be returned, but a clever direct mail piece may catch a prospect's eye." Problem No. 2 arises from incorrect data gathering--incomplete, typo-riddled, misformatted or just plain bogus contact information. It doesn't mean all bad-data contacts must be tossed; many can be cost-effectively salvaged today via data verification, validation and appending software. Pitfall No. 3 is out-of-date information. Valuable contacts change companies, move to other locations in the same company, change titles and departments, etc. Frequent and thorough contact-data updating is required. That said, even when info is technically correct, Pitfall No. 4 occurs because data is not contact-specific enough; using a headquarters phone and address instead of the contact's division location will miss response in a geo-targeted campaign, for example. No. 5 on Manser's list of prospecting mistakes: Lead data that doesn't include a company's key targeting criteria--such as title or company size--which creates costly sales and marketing misfires. The final error compounds all others: allowing a contact database to become a pool of wasted opportunities by failing to fix data problems. Manser argues that there is no excuse now that marketers can turn to database services for quick, automated data-appending, data-verification and data-validation programs for clean-up--and we agree!  For more: 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Direct Mail for 2016: Personalized, Mobilized, Analyzed

The holidays are whizzing by, and those 2016 direct mail plans are on the launch pad. Are you sure you're using the right fuel to reach direct mail heights? We like the way a recent blog post by IWCO Direct's Senior Customer Engagement Manager Krista Black boiled down that question into the three top trends to include in any plan for mail success: targeted personalization, mobile phone impact and multichannel analysis. When it comes to personalized mail, simplistic first-name fills aren't enough to generate customer response anymore. Effective personalization, Black points out, is about targeting with the right offer, right audience and right timing--to segment audience by demographics, geography, purchase history and psychographics for best response; to tailor a compelling offer to audience needs and likely objections; and to time mailings to fit recipient buying cycles. Next, mailers must accept that mobile has become the "first screen" of the majority of the target audience, Black advises. Recipients are likely to go first to their mobile phone after reading a mailer to search for a product, service or retail location. Leverage that trend in printed mail by including QR codes, PURLs, and keywords integrated with SEO/SEM. Finally, today's marketing is multichannel, and that presents a challenge in response and conversion analysis and attribution, Black warns. Marketing analysis needs to account for both direct and "halo" effects across channels--such as direct mail sending respondents via mobile to web pages. We would add a key fourth element for 2016 direct mail success: quality data. Marketers will need accurate, complete, up-to-date, verified, integrated multichannel data to achieve all three of Black's goals in direct mail plans next year--and we can help with that! For the complete post:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Try These Mailer Creative Tweaks to Rev Response

In direct marketing creative, the devil that drags down response can lurk in the details. A recent Target Marketing magazine article by creative strategists Pat Friesen and Patrick Fultz suggests 19 little creative tweaks proven to pack response punch for e-mail and direct mail campaigns. Because DBM Designs provides data, print and mailing services for direct mailers, Friesen's and Fultz's "snail mail" creative tips struck a special chord, including the following 12 suggestions: 1) stand out from the standard postage look by creating your own indicia (within USPS rules); 2) push reader decisions with highly visible deadlines for action; 3) draw attention with copy "violator" design elements (and don't limit yourself to old-fashioned starbursts!); 4) check copy for active, engaging verbs in headlines, bullets and sentences; 5) use a signature sign-off on a personal letter because people respond to people not company robots; 6) embrace the standard P.S. because over 30% of readers scan the P.S. first; 7) have designer and copywriter work together for easy-to-read paragraphs of no more than five or six lines; 8) create copy "eye magnets" via highlighting, underlining, circling or "handwritten" notes; 9) keep marketing momentum by dropping pause-causing periods from headlines and subheads; 10) use data to take personalization beyond name fills to offers and copy relevant to recipient interests; 11) make sure wafer seals, fugitive glue or other adhesives don't create a mailer so hard to open that recipients toss it; 12) avoid iffy response by using "when" instead of "if." The immediate action implied by "when you call" will outperform the weaker, provisional "if you call." For more direct marketing creative tips and examples:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Survey Cites Obstacles to Data-Driven Marketing Success

Despite technology advances and the bounty of "big data," data quality remains the biggest challenge for data-driven direct marketing. Consider MarketingProfs' report on a new Ascend2 global survey of marketing, sales and business professionals. In terms of the most important goals of data-driven marketing strategy, personalizing the customer experience led the field (60%), followed by measuring data-driven ROI (51%) and targeting individual market segments (50%). Then when it came to the biggest obstacles to success, companies put front-end data issues ahead of back-end analytics by a wide margin. Improving data quality was ranked as the No. 1 challenge to data-driven success (59%), followed by integrating data across platforms (51%), raising the level of data analytical skills (38%) and measuring data-driven marketing ROI (37%). In fact, only 16% of respondents rated the quality of their marketing data as "very good," compared with the 27% who rated data quality as "somewhat poor" to "very poor." The majority (57%) called their data "somewhat good," which is just not good enough for the most cost-effective marketing results! For more from the survey, read