Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Make Holiday Marketing a Gift That Keeps Giving

The holidays are not only a key time for boosting immediate sales, they are also one of the most important periods for gathering data and customers that will generate profit in the year ahead. A new infographic from the Marketo blog provides some good tips on how to optimize your holiday marketing investment for future ROI. First, look at the "ghost of holidays past" and note that both online sales per shopper climbed between 2014 and 2015 and offline purchases (in-store and mail order, for example) also went up. In fact, industries such as apparel saw 11.1% offline sales growth, technology rose 6.5%, and health and beauty climbed 5.1% in offline sales. A strong multichannel data gathering and marketing investment is required if you want to maximize sales moving forward. Meanwhile, in digital marketing, there is no denying the growing importance of social media, with 55% of respondents saying a brand’s social presence has at least some influence on their decision-making during the holiday season. So your strategy should not only boost social efforts during the holidays but keep them strong all year to capitalize on customer relationships. What if you succeed in driving more online traffic but don't reap the conversions desired over the holidays? Don't accept marketing defeat; capture customer information and retarget! This is especially true for industries with "considered purchases," those that are high-cost, high-involvement and life-cycle oriented, the Marketo researchers point out. Just using a Facebook retargeting campaign, marketers report an average 92% increase in impressions, 33% lower cost per action and 26% lower cost per click, for example. And a key goal should be to turn as many new customers captured with those holiday sales into repeat customers. That means a well-thought-out, multichannel retention strategy. The payoff: The average repeat customer spends 67% more 2.5 to 3 years into a shopping relationship than in the first 6 months. For more tips, see the article and infographic:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

In Busier Holiday Mail Season, Get Creative to Stand Out

With the mailbox distractions of the election finally past, retail mailers can now focus on the challenge of grabbing recipient attention in a holiday direct mail season that is projected to be even busier than last year's. The U.S. Postal Service just announced that it expects to deliver roughly 15.5 billion cards, letters, flats and packages for the holiday period, with around 600 million packages delivered just between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, representing a 10.5% annual increase. The more successful mail efforts are likely to be those that stand out in the flood of promotions, so if you haven't already come up with something more creative for this year, take some inspiration from Target Marketing magazine's Summer Gould. Her recent article offered four ideas for spiking your creative's holiday punch. First, use direct mail's unique tactile advantages for more interactivity, she suggests, citing endless folds, scratch-and-sniff or coatings as fun options. While it's standard now to urge combining mobile with mail, Gould urges going beyond the standard QR code inclusion this year to augmented reality, a la Pok√©mon Go. She also pushes the envelope, so to speak, by advising consideration of a video direct mailer. This less-used idea is certainly a way to stand out--as long as you can figure out how to make the video both entertaining and promotionally effective. Finally, she supports holiday-inspired die cuts, a proven boon to postcard response but also a way to create more interactive, complex dimensional mailers. "We have even seen mail take on a whole new shape with each unfolded panel as you open it. This is fun for recipients and draws them into the mailer," she notes. To read her article, go to

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Data Strategy Can Help Best Amazon With Holiday Buyers

Retailers complain that Amazon e-commerce gobbles up more holiday dollars each year. In fact, Amazon is now the primary gift destination of 42% of U.S. shoppers, per recent research by Signal, a marketing tech and data platform company. Is there any way to compete with the Amazon Goliath? Yes--if retailers know how to weaponize their customer data, argues Signal's CEO Mike Sands in a recent article for Marketing Land. Sands suggests three data-driven strategies for competing with Amazon this holiday season. Sands points out that while Signal's research shows Amazon is a primary buying source for a chunk of consumers, Amazon is NOT the primary gift destination for another big group (40%). Retailers can use customer data to successfully woo those customers, Sands argues. Compared with Amazon, retailers have access to more first-party data across channels and devices via sales, customer service, loyalty programs, marketing and promotion channels, and interactions with store associates. That extensive customer data from multiple channels can by used to deliver relevant, targeted promotions that outdo Amazon's touted recommendations, which often miss the mark due to minimal customer knowledge. Using data-driven marketing, retailers also can leverage the omnichannel strength of multiple touch points to create a seamless, personalized shopping experience. "Gone are the days when holiday shoppers had to choose between the convenience of buying online from home versus the assurance of handling the product in a store. Now they can do it all — and they leave a rich trail of data every step along the way," Sands notes. He points to statistics showing that while consumers say they browse for holiday purchases most frequently on desktops/laptops (36%), they most frequently purchase gifts in stores (33 percent). Finally, since offer relevancy remains basic to wooing customers, retailers can use data-driven marketing to gain an edge over Amazon even in the digital arena. Some 43% of consumers surveyed still say digital advertising on websites or mobile apps influences holiday gift-buying. Retailers now can use addressable media for personalized, timely digital ad targeting by seeing customers as people not just impressions, notes Sands. Bottom line, retailers who make the effort to aggregate, clean, segment, profile and personalize omnichannel customer data can still enjoy happy holiday sales in the Amazon era. For Sands' full article, go to

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mail Boosts Home Services Contractors--If Done Well

Changing seasons signal a burst of direct mail from clients in home services contracting, especially HVAC promotions. And we've seen some great and some not-so-great examples. So we'd like to pass along a timely article from Contracting Business by Matt Michel, CEO of The Service Roundtable, who draws on his experience to create a helpful list of common direct mail pitfalls for contractors. To whet your appetite, we'll pass along just five of the first points in his series of 21 tips on direct mail mistakes. Michel's focus is HVAC contractors, but we think his tips have wider application to a range of consumer mailings. The No. 1 mistake on his list is leaving out a main headline. Yes, some mailers still forget that that they have only seconds to grab consumer attention in the pile of junk mail. But just any headline won't do the job. Marketers need to work hard to summarize appeal in compelling, clear, attention-grabbing text. And that doesn't mean trying to hedge bets with multiple competing headlines; a confused message is the same as no message. Second, remember to play to emotion in the copy and the images; emotion, not logic, moves people to buy, and research has found leading emotional motivators include greed, fear, guilt, exclusivity and need for approval, with convenience and pleasure as icing on the cake. If the images and words in your piece don't touch a nerve, it will get tossed. Third, choose images with people, not product arrays, Michel advises; a parade of boxes, which is all consumers see in pictures of condensing units and furnaces, has little marketing power. Plus, the people pictured should fit the target audience and evoke motivating emotions along with the copy. Fourth, consider the gender of the target decision-maker. Since many HVAC contractors are male, they often make the mistake of marketing to a male audience, but research shows that women make the service and replacement decisions in most households. In that case, images should feature women, and copy should recognize the different emotional triggers of female buyers. And fifth, whether the target audience is male or female, speak directly to the consumer in a conversational and engaging tone. A dry recitation of facts and figures is more likely to bore than persuade. For the rest of Michel's tips, read

Mail Can Boost Home Services Contractors--If Done Well

Changing seasons signal a burst of direct mail from clients in home services contracting, especially HVAC promotions. And we've seen some great and some not-so-great examples. So we'd like to pass along a timely article from Contracting Business by Matt Michel, CEO of The Service Roundtable, who draws on his experience to create a helpful list of common direct mail pitfalls for contractors. To whet your appetite, we'll pass along just five of the first points in his series of 21 tips on direct mail mistakes. Michel's focus is HVAC contractors, but we think his tips have wider application to a range of consumer mailings. The No. 1 mistake on his list is leaving out a main headline. Yes, some mailers still forget that that they have only seconds to grab consumer attention in the pile of junk mail. But just any headline won't do the job. Marketers need to work hard to summarize appeal in compelling, clear, attention-grabbing text. And that doesn't mean trying to hedge bets with multiple competing headlines; a confused message is the same as no message. Second, remember to play to emotion in the copy and the images; emotion, not logic, moves people to buy, and research has found leading emotional motivators include greed, fear, guilt, exclusivity and need for approval, with convenience and pleasure as icing on the cake. If the images and words in your piece don't touch a nerve, it will get tossed. Third, choose images with people, not product arrays, Michel advises; a parade of boxes, which is all consumers see in pictures of condensing units and furnaces, has little marketing power. Plus, the people pictured should fit the target audience and evoke motivating emotions along with the copy. Fourth, consider the gender of the target decision-maker. Since many HVAC contractors are male, they often make the mistake of marketing to a male audience, but research shows that women make the service and replacement decisions in most households. In that case, images should feature women, and copy should recognize the different emotional triggers of female buyers. And fifth, whether the target audience is male or female, speak directly to the consumer in a conversational and engaging tone. A dry recitation of facts and figures is more likely to bore than persuade. For the rest of Michel's tips, read

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Survey Shows Holiday Shoppers' Offline-Online Mix

Heading into the holiday season, what should retail marketers do to maximize 2016 holiday sales? Start by asking the shoppers. Global marketing firm Epsilon has just released the findings of its 2016 holiday shopping survey. More buyers are likely to be in-store than online this year; 87% of Epsilon's 2016 respondents say they are “very likely” or "somewhat likely" to purchase at brick-and-mortar stores, compared with the 76% who say they are "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to purchase online. However, the shopping journey will probably involve a mix of channels from marketing trigger to final purchase. More than half (55%) of respondents are "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to look at a product online and then go to a store to buy, for example, while almost the same percentage (54%) are "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to look in store for a product and go online to find the best deal. Clearly, retailers will want to integrate messaging and create a seamless customer journey across channels to prevent dollars from slipping through the cracks in this multichannel environment. Since DBM Designs specializes in direct mail and supporting data services, we're happy to report surveyed shoppers cite direct mail as a potent offline marketing channel, with a big 77% of respondents saying advertisements received by mail will have at least “some influence” on their buying decisions this holiday shopping season. That's a lot more than the 41% who say banner advertisements will have “some influence” on buying decisions. Why does direct mail work so well in an increasingly "digital-first" world? No surprises: Respondents say they are influenced by direct mail because it usually contains an offer or discount, and the format allows for leisurely review time. Retail marketers can't afford to neglect online ads, e-mail and social media, of course; most respondents (90%) say they plan to access online sites or e-mails to learn about the best deals before starting to shop, and that's up from 88% of respondents in 2015. For more data from the survey, go to

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Getting Donor Data Ready for Year-End Fundraising

Nonprofits are heading into their important year-end fundraising season when donor file prep and targeting can make a big difference in results. We wanted to pass along a recent post on key ways to maximize success with donor data, especially since these are areas where clients regularly rely on DBM Designs' data services. The first goal, as the article notes, is to have an accessible, updated, accurate and actionable database and donor management system. Besides name and contact info, it should include strategic targeting factors such as campaign performance, donor history, gift amounts, last gift dates preferred channel and demographics. Data services experts can help quickly aggregate, organize and clean existing donor data, and also help append missing data, such as demographics. The next key task is donor segmentation. Segmentation identifies groups by shared attributes in order to send each group the appropriate targeted message or campaign. Segments can be divided by giving level, last gift date, relationship with the organization, demographic information and more, and the article offers a handy "donor segmentation cheat sheet" for beginners. Of course, the segmented data is useless without a marketing plan, which should include fundraising goals; deployment timings; integrated use of channels such as direct mail, e-mail and phone solicitation; and targeting and creative messaging strategy. Targeted donor data and segmentation will then permit more effective creative via crafting of tailored, personalized communications that tap the donor's personal connection and history with the organization or cause. Plus, data can be used to tailor the rest of the donor experience, from the mailed response device or online donation page to expressions of acknowledgement and appreciation. For the full post, see

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Are Your Direct Mail Plans Election-Ready?

After Labor Day, the nation will be heading full tilt toward the election--with TV, online and mailboxes full of national, state and local political appeals. Have you adjusted your direct mail plans for that political mail deluge? Because, despite the dominance of TV and the growth of digital, leading market researcher Borrell Associates forecasts political direct mail spending will still hit over $380 million in 2016. The biggest challenge for direct mail marketers will be delivery delays. Political mailers get preferential rates and expedited processing from the U.S. Postal Service, while commercial direct mail marketers generally use Standard rates or Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), which are processed on a time-available basis and thus pushed back by political mail volume. So we thought it would be a good time to help our nonpolitical clients prepare for the coming political promotion flood by passing along a timely post by the Planet Central ad agency. The biggest spike in political direct mail usually comes at the end of September and continues through Election Day, the post points out. So marketing plans need to take into account potentially delayed in-home dates during that period--assuming an added two to three days for local mail delivery and up to a week longer for national campaigns. So how can marketers minimize the impact of congested mail delivery? The simplest option is to accept delays and help meet target in-home dates by mailing earlier, the post notes. A second option is to avoid delays by switching to First Class postage to earn equal delivery priority with political mailers--assuming the added cost makes bottom-line sense. A third option is to reduce delays by drop-shipping mail closer to its destination. So, for example, rather than following the multi-step path from the originating USPS sectional center facility (SCF) to the regional Bulk Mail Center to the destination SCF and finally to the local post office for delivery, drop-ship mail as close to the destination as possible to shave delivery time. For the complete post, including planning for election impacts on media and online advertising, read

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Data-Driven Marketing Power Drained by Basic Mistakes

Data-driven strategy is an ideal that many marketers, especially in the B2B world, have not fully mastered. For example, a 2015 survey of marketing professionals by Ascend2 and ZoomInfo found that only 33% of respondents called their data-driven marketing strategy “very successful.” The good news is that just 10% said their data strategy was somewhat or very unsuccessful. Still that leaves a lot of room for improvement! What's preventing marketers from maximizing data success? In a recent post, Hila Nir, vice president of marketing and product at ZoomInfo, cited the three most common mistakes sapping data-driven marketing potential, with a focus on business-to-business marketing. No. 1 is wastefully "throwing the net too wide" and hauling in confusion. While there is a mass of multi-channel data you can gather and analyze, only some data and patterns are relevant to marketing success. So where do you start? Nir advises going to the foundation of the customer relationship--the actual customer contact--and building from there. The No. 2 error is failing to frequently refresh customer and prospect data. Data value erodes over time as basics such as mailing address, job title, phone number and e-mail change. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that stores lots of outdated legacy data can make the problem worse. And maintaining data quality is a big job that only grows with the size of the database. That's why 79% of the most successful data-driven marketers in the survey said they outsourced some portion of data management. Finally, mistake No. 3 is simply failing to take full advantage of customer and prospect data to improve cost-effectiveness and ROI. Trying to find a path through the data weeds to ideal customer targeting can certainly be daunting and strain internal resources--which is also why many successful B2B marketing efforts turn to consultants for database analysis. Needless to say, DBM Designs is among the data service partners who stand ready to assist! For the full article, go to

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Personalization Driven by Bad Data Ends Up Crashing

Personalization is a fundamental necessity for direct marketing response today. So why do personalization efforts still flop? It's usually a data problem. A recent post by Spider Graham for highlighted five common personalization mistakes and illustrates our point. First, pretending to know a recipient when the marketer clearly has nothing more than a name is a response killer. True personalization is about crafting message, offer and value proposition based on understanding the target and his or her needs--which requires recent, multifaceted, quality data. On the other hand, getting the name right is still the first, most basic requirement. Using the wrong name or a misspelled name is a data sin, but even using the wrong version of a name can backfire, especially with opt-in e-mail or telemarketing, Graham points out. Spam suspicions rise when someone who always subscribes as Bob is addressed as Robert. That's why it's important to consider list data sourcing when personalizing, especially in terms of hygiene and rented versus house quality. Third, Graham reminds that marketers are chasing moving targets; many attributes, from address to relationship with a brand, change over time. Good personalization relies on up-to-date data about multiple demographic factors and purchase patterns. A promo for stuffed toys to a household where all kids are grown and gone stirs up nostalgia not dollars. Fourth, don't lie and imply a relationship that doesn't exist based on a one-time visit or query, warns Graham, or "come back" and "we miss you" will not only alienate but waste an opportunity to start a new relationship. Finally, check your basic data quality! Dedupe, normalize, update and watch for missing data fields as well as faulty fill logic so you don't end up with "Dear FirstName" or "We miss you, N/A." The good news is that the worst personalization errors can be avoided by committing to smart data hygiene, logic and processing. See the complete article:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fundraising Letter Fall Flat? Check for These Mistakes

Nonprofits around the country are starting to gear up for year-end fundraising campaigns, and that means scrutinizing any disappointing direct mail results from last year for areas to correct. We can help them analyze response by list, segment and package, but when it comes to marketing copy missteps, we'll pass along the advice of Joanne Fritz, nonprofit charitable orgs expert for In her June online post, "8 Things You Should Never Do in a Fundraising Letter," Fritz starts with a fundamental error that our mailing data services can help nonprofit clients avoid: lack of personalization or faulty personalization. It's hard to say which is worse in the eyes of a donor, an impersonal "Dear Friend," using the wrong name or misspelling a name! Fritz also notes various copy and design flaws that can make the mailing so difficult to get through that potential donors toss it. For example, a mail package overwhelmed by inserts can confuse recipients into inaction. Appeals can sink under the weight of fancy vocabulary, too; the most effective promotions are written at the 4th-6th grade level, say experts. Hard-to-read design elements--such as reverse-out type or small fonts--can frustrate others, especially older recipients. And remember that urgency drives action. If you don't want donors to set aside your appeal and forget it, stress that you need a donation now and what will happen to needy people, animals or causes if those funds don't come. As added incentive, offer to match their gift if they act right away. Fritz provides links to real-life effective mailings as examples of how to succeed with simple yet emotionally resonant appeals. For more of Fritz's fundraising letter taboos, read

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Retail Leaders Still Count on Mailings to Deliver Sales

Any retailer hesitating over the role of direct mail in their marketing mix should read a recent Entrepreneur magazine article that spotlights how much today's retail leaders count on physical mailings for sales success. For example, Costco, which sends 8.6 million magazines per month, reports that 56% of members who receive the magazine buy something based on what they read in it, according to article author Shaun Buck, CEO of The Newsletter Pro. Costco did consider dropping the print version in favor of a digital version to cut costs during the Great Recession--until it found affluent members overwhelmingly preferred a print edition. It's no surprise Costco now projects print circulation growth for the foreseeable future. Williams-Sonoma, parent brand to seven companies including Pottery Barn and West Elm, also considers catalogs "a very, very important part of the marketing strategy,” and 50% of the company’s marketing budget is spent on catalogs each year. Online men's retailer Bonobos, which only entered mailed catalog marketing in 2013, now sees more than 20% of its website’s first-time customers placing orders because they received a catalog in the mail--and spending 1.5 times as much as first-time buyers who did not receive a catalog. Author Buck adds that when The Newsletter Pro is late with its own print newsletter, phone consultations with prospective new customers drop by 25% to 33%! For the complete article, read

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Are Duplicate Fields Hurting Your Database Marketing?

A basic requirement of cost-effective direct marketing is elimination of duplicates, meaning multiple database records for the same person or company account. But marketers today need to watch out for another, trickier duplication challenge: duplicate data fields. Expanding use of multi-channel, multi-sourced data fuels the problem. The same prospect or customer record is often enriched by data from different online and offline sources--data appending services, lead-gen services, list rentals, predictive and lead scoring services, e-mail validation services, call center entries, online ad and social platforms, events, and so on. The marketer may intend to validate, update and unify this data, but efforts are delayed or incomplete for whatever reason. Then the marketer gets ready to launch a campaign and discovers many contact records have two job titles or four industry codes or three e-mail addresses. If the data entries are not clearly dated and sourced, the marketing team has no clue which data are the most up-to-date, accurate and appropriate for targeted promotion! We were pleased to see a recent MarketingProfs article by Ed King, CEO of the data automation firm Openprise, offer cogent advice on avoiding this costly problem. Obviously, marketers should first strive to unify field content promptly while the data is fresh. If data unification must be delayed, new data should be labeled by its source and age for use in future data consolidation decisions. Whether field data unification is immediate or delayed, the marketing team needs to agree on a data-unification logic. King advises that this logic should be based on at least three key factors: source authority (giving priority to trusted data sources); source focus (preferring sources more aligned/specialized for the marketer's industry/target); and age of data (for example, in B2B, more recent contact name or company size is likely to be more accurate). Consistency and scalability are the goals; ad hoc, manual record decisions are not only less efficient but less likely to yield optimal overall results. While unifying data in fields, the database process should also normalize data so formatting and coding are consistent. Plus, a smart database effort can remap field content for better targeting. King provides the example of consolidating 2,000 industry codes into 10 custom definitions that better fit market targets. For the whole article, see

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pairing Mail and Digital Can Max Marketing Power

Digital marketing and traditional direct mail marketing often seem to run on parallel but separate tracks. However, several recent articles show why an intersection of online and offline is a more desirable destination for marketers. Consider a Forbes magazine article by Jenna Gross, CMO of the national direct marketing agency Moving Targets, who explains how her agency combines digital marketing with direct mail to deliver a powerful one-two marketing punch. In her June 1 piece, Gross describes how her agency pairs all direct mail campaigns with digital advertising, using the identical demographic and behavioral data, and leveraging e-mail marketing to boot. As a result "prospects see an ad in their mailbox, inbox and social media feed." Using such "cross-media tactics produces an exponentially better response rate, typically 25% or higher than direct mail alone, based on my agency’s findings," Gross says. Meanwhile, a post by Lewis Gersh, a leader in retargeting and e-commerce, argues that the marriage of digital and direct mail is also an ideal way to deal with the tough problem of cart abandonment and lost digital conversions. Currently, digital marketers spend 10% to 50% of budgets on retargeting efforts, he points out, yet many fail to capture attention in the noisy digital landscape, or fail to even reach the growing number of customers who resort to ad blocking and unsubscribes to escape the digital marketing onslaught. In contrast, direct mail has the advantage of guaranteed arrival and attention as a physical, tangible presence in the home of consumers, where it can be saved and referenced in future and also can be seen by people other than the intended recipient, which is rare for digital media, Gersh points out. So, leverage digital and direct mail advantages to solve the retargeting challenge, he urges: Apply digital's valuable real-time, intent-driven data to direct mail, transforming online activity into mailing of a highly relevant piece that retargets a known site visitor. To read the full Forbes article,

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How Direct Mail Joins in Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is a strategy that sometimes has more buzz than sting, embraced by 88% of B2B marketers but with only 30% saying they are effective at it, per a 2016 MarketingProfs/Content Marketing Institute survey. But more than half of B2B marketers are planning to increase their budgets for content marketing, with a focus on digital delivery for social media content, case studies, blogs, e-letters, website articles, videos, white paper downloads, infographics, webinars, etc. Direct mail is notable by its absence. Yet we think it's a mistake to assume that mail can't fit into a content-oriented pull strategy to build leads and sales. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as "a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience--with the objective of driving profitable customer action." That certainly works with direct mail, too. In fact, a recent post by Yvonne Lyons, Right Source vice president of content marketing, cited five reasons to include direct mail as a content marketing tactic: 1) the unique ability of print to engage via design, dimension, and sensual appeal (color, texture, and even sound and scent); 2) targeting with mailing list selection and segmentation that is unmatched digitally; 3) trackable response devices; 4) integration with digital content via PURLs, QR and AR; 5) and high response rates--3.7% for a house list and 1% for a prospect list, compared to 0.62% for all digital channels combined. More specifically, Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What!, offers some great examples of mailers delivering content marketing's "valuable and relevant content for the defined audience," such as Williams-Sonoma and Trade Joe's. See his presentation at

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Planning B2B Mail to Win Decision-maker Attention

Business-to-business direct mail must leap basic hurdles to get through to decision-makers and prepare the way for sales. For one thing, there is usually a gatekeeper sorting the mail before it ever gets into the hands of a decision-maker/buyer. Getting past this gatekeeper means designing a mail package so it stands out and looks important/interesting, yet doesn't scream junk mail. Successful design tactics include dimensional mail and oversized formats (No. 11, 9X12 or 6X9 envelopes, for example). Then the copy (from teaser to letter) must do some heavy lifting. Studies have shown that, especially for the C-suite level, this means 1) focus on a topic that is significant to the target market, 2) provide a solution to a problem/pain point, 3) prove value with third-party endorsements, 4) intrigue with new information or perspective, and 5) as with any direct marketing, include a call to action--an attractive, time-sensitive offer. But probably the most important part of a B2B direct mail effort will be the list targeting. Selecting by industry and company size, based on profiling of best customers, is useful, but what about the title/department targeted? Here's where it gets trickier--especially when you move from the small business realm to the mid-sized or enterprise company where decisions involve multiple players. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Newly released research by LinkedIn, based on a survey of 6,000 buyers, marketers and salespeople in seven countries, shows the number of departments involved in a B2B purchase decision varies significantly by industry. As an example, the number of departments involved in buying ranges from 3.4 for the travel industry up to 4.6 for manufacturing. When it comes to which department is most influential, results again depend on industry and product. For example, promoters of marketing and advertising services tap the marketing department as the most influential in buying, while adtech products choose Finance as a top target, and online media platforms go direct to media and communications buyers. For details relevant to your B2B targeting, take a look at the LinkedIn report "Which Departments Influence Buying Decisions in Your Industry?" at

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Want Your Mailer Opened? Check These Envelope Teasers

An envelope "teaser" is one way to win attention in the critical seconds determining whether a direct mail piece is opened or tossed. We've watched clients struggle with teaser copy, so we thought it might be useful to offer recent examples that won marketing praise. First, we note that the best teasers often tap into marketing's proven emotional drivers for spending on a product, service or cause. Various marketing pros have identified those drivers as exclusivity, fear, flattery, greed and guilt, and others have expanded the list to include anger and salvation. Recently, a Target Marketing magazine article by Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What! global mail monitoring, highlighted his selection of the top seven envelope teasers of 2015. Agree or not, they provide food for thought and may inspire imitation. Here is a sample of just four. GEICO leads with the greed-driven "GEICO just made it easier to help you SAVE MONEY on auto insurance," plus a QR code on the envelope for those who don't want to waste a second to hop on the deal via mobile device. California College San Diego uses a teaser to flatter, along with a monetary lure, in "earn your degree and the income you deserve." Lifelock taps into fear, the fear of identity theft, with "Attention: Major Health Care Breach Could Affect Up to 80 Million." Quantum Wellness Botanical Institute knows lots of folks are angry at "big pharma" and their prices, so it teases with "Big Pharma Sparks OUTRAGE Trying to Patent This POWERFUL HERB" (which also implies pharmaceutical value), and then sells the herb curcumin inside. A caveat: A teaser can spark an open, but response requires the rest of the mailer to fulfill expectations! For all seven envelope teaser examples, including nonprofit appeals, go to

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Surprise! Political Direct Mail Key to Wooing Millennials

In this 2016 election season, candidates and causes are leaving no channel untapped in the drive to woo support, with the investment in digital media higher than ever before. Indeed, it is assumed by many political pundits that digital channels are vital to reaching the millennial age group, the digitally connected, under-30 crowd that makes up 20% of today's electorate. Traditional direct mail is for older traditional voters, right? Wrong. According to a survey jointly conducted by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC), younger voters not only pay close attention to political mail, they actually favor it over other forms of political advertising. The survey found that at least 42% of millennials prefer direct-mail political ads over online ads, with 38% favoring both equally. Equally important for political marketers, millennials are more likely to read, discuss and use political mail than older generations. Over twice as many millennials thoroughly read political mail received when compared with non-millennials (40%  to 18%), and milliennials are more likely to discuss political mail with others than older counterparts, too (78% to 63%). Finally, political mail works in prompting millennials to take action. Because of political mail, 66% said they are likely to research the candidate, with 54% visiting the candidate’s website. Read the news release at

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Marketers Should Stop Snub of Third-Party Data

Many data-driven marketers seem to suffer from a costly bias that focuses on first-party and second-party data and gives short shrift to third-party data. For example, an April report of the "Data-Driven Marketing Benchmarks for Success" study by Ascend2 and ZoomInfo shows that a company’s internal first-party data is used by 86% of data-driven marketers, but only 49% use data from marketing partners, 32% use data from channel partners, and a mere 27% use data from third-party vendors. Why the third-party data snub? Marketers may assume that first-party data is more powerful, but that power depends on data quality and completeness. In fact, third-party data has a vital role in enriching first-party data by adding key targeting information. Third-party data sets can be appended to first-party data to correct and fill in missing elements such as e-mail addresses, phone numbers, lifestyles, demographics, purchase indicators and more to strengthen customer insights. Second, while first-party data is more powerful for certain marketing goals--such as loyalty programs, targeting and retargeting existing customers, or profiling best customers--it's not going to provide a mailing list of new prospects for growth! Marketers can rent quality third-party data and segment these specialized data sets to target prospects by factors such as demographics or firm-ographics, trigger events, location, recency, purchase history, and more. Marketers also may assume that even second-party data from partners is of higher quality than third-party data. First, that ignores the inherited quality problems and integration issues of second-party sources. Second, more high caliber third-party data is available today than in the past. Marketers can further ensure third-party list quality by working with a data-independent provider, by selecting aggregated data from multiple quality sources and files, and by making sure all data is frequently updated and hygiened. For more on the power of third-party data for direct and digital marketing, read

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Survey: Market Rewards B2B Predictive Marketers

Business-to-business marketers who use predictive analytics are rewarded with better revenue and market position, according to a recent Forrester Consulting survey. The study tapped 150 respondents from market-leading B2B firms in a range of industries, dividing them into predictive marketers, those using modeled data for forecasting and scoring, and "retrospective marketers" without predictive analytics. The survey, commissioned by predictive marketing firm EverString, found that B2B predictive marketers are 2.9 times more likely to have revenue growth above the industry average, 2.1 times more likely to occupy a commanding leadership position in their product/service market, and 1.8 times more likely to exceed company goals when compared with retrospective marketers. No wonder 89% of the B2B marketers interviewed included predictive analytics in their 2016 plans, either initiating or expanding implementation! Some 49% already used predictive marketing, 44% said they planned to expand or upgrade existing predictive implementation, and 40% planned to initiate predictive efforts within 12 months. Equally interesting, most of the marketers (78%) saw a shift in their role from demand generation to deal acceleration, requiring involvement in the sales cycle beyond pouring leads into the top of the funnel. And here is where predictive marketers led retrospective counterparts again. Predictive marketers showed effectiveness across the customer life cycle, with 49% listing two or more customer discovery tasks (building brand equity, audience targeting, identifying best account types, etc.) among their top three best practices, balanced by 51% including two or more tasks from later in the sales cycle (such as qualifying leads and managing the end-to-end customer experience). Retrospective marketers focused mainly on customer discovery in naming their top three best practices (70%). Marketing success with any stage in the sales cycle is still all about the data, however. Predictive and retrospective marketers agreed that their two biggest marketing challenges were ensuring quality data from a variety of sources (47%) and managing data from a variety of sources (47%). For a Forbes magazine summary with a link to the full report:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Are You Using Lifetime Value's Full Marketing Power?

We work with many clients who use customer Lifetime Value (LTV) in planning acquisition budgets--tailoring the spending to acquire a customer to the revenue expected from an acquired customer's future "lifetime value" of purchases. But acquisition budgeting isn't the only way to leverage the power of this standard database marketing tool. Here are at least three other important ways LTV can help optimize marketing results, as pointed out in a recent Direct Marketing News magazine article by Jason Compton. First, LTV can guide channel selection. Cost per lead, cost per conversion and repeat purchase patterns can vary significantly by channel and impact customer value. So LTV becomes not just a guide to acquisition budget but to efficient spending by channel within that budget. Second, LTV can help with retention strategy by showing which customer segments have the highest long-term profitability. Compton uses the financial services industry as an example of how LTV helps balance retention focus between lower-asset younger customers who may be more profitable long-term and high-asset older customers who have already made most of their financial services purchases. Third, the LTV measure can help refine and redirect marketing assumptions--provided marketers go beyond a one-time snapshot and use data to continually reevaluate LTV. Compton cites the mobile carrier industry as an example of how an LTV shift forced strategic change. Mobile carriers started out subsidizing handsets to lure customers, assuming customer long-term value would more than cover the discount. But once regulatory changes allowed easy provider change and competitors engaged in aggressive switching tactics, the subsidy ploy was largely abandoned. For the complete article, read

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring-Clean That Sales Funnel to Keep Leads Flowing

If lead flow has slowed and lead performance is spotty, maybe it's time for spring cleaning of the sales funnel. A recent post by Megan Totka, chief editor of, offers a recipe for how even a small business can clean and polish its sales process. Start by purging old, unresponsive leads--plus, we would add, update contact and targeting information, and clean up inaccuracies and formatting of retained prospect data. Then create a time frame for contact and follow-up so leads don't go stale. Totka points out that the odds of qualifying and converting a lead increase by 21 times if called within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes. Obviously, speedy entry of new, qualified leads is an important system goal. But those incoming leads need good pipeline processes not only for lead entry but also lead qualification and management. CRM software can help, but it boils down to deciding on basics for turning leads into sales opportunities. Totka lists some key questions to ask: When leads come in from various sources, where do they go? How much time do you have to enter them? Who or what qualifies them? Who or what moves them along in the funnel? How much time do sales agents have to follow up with the leads? With those issues in mind, evaluate new or existing sales processes for problem areas, places where leads leak out, or stick and go stale. Still, no matter how good the sales funnel, it only works if a steady flow of leads is entering, and that means adjusting marketing strategy to boost qualified lead generation--testing and optimizing targeted e-mail, direct mail, social media and online promotions. If qualified leads aren't converting despite good targeting, then seek prospect feedback. Is it an overly complex sales process or something more basic like noncompetitive pricing? Test and readjust the lead gen and sales processes, adding lead nurturing, in the form of follow-up e-mails or calls, to move prospects past sticking points. However, even if the sales pipeline is pleasingly full, don't forget to keep purging unresponsive and inaccurate data to prevent costly clogs! For the complete article:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Smart Direct Mail Reaps New-Mover Bounty

New-mover lists provide direct mailers access to one of the most valuable event-triggered consumer segments. A family move drives a leap in purchases of goods and services--household furnishings and appliances, home-improvement services, phone services, insurance, banking and financial services, medical services, pet care, restaurants and even nonprofits. In fact, research shows new movers spend more in the first three months after a move than most people do in a three-to-five-year period. A timely introductory mailer can not only reap immediate revenue, research also shows new movers are five times more likely to become long-term customers. Depending on promotion, final counts and costs, mailers may want to further target a new-mover mailing by factors such as household income, age, home value, presence of children, move distance, geographic radius and more. Because of proven response, new-mover mailings are popular, so it's worth some creative thought to stand out in the crowded mailbox of a new resident. A recent Target Marketing magazine article by Paul Bobnak, director of Who'sMailing What!, provides examples of four ways to improve impact. The first response-booster is a no-brainer: Offer a new-mover discount. Bobnak cites Pottery Barn's 5 3/4" X 10 3/4" self-mailer with three 15% off coupons redeemable in-store, online or by phone, plus promotion of free design services. Idea No. 2: Leverage marketing's tried-and-true emotional copy motivators (greed, guilt, fear, exclusivity, need for approval), such as the GEICO auto insurance mailer touting a potential $500 savings based on the new address. Hook No. 3: Offer desirable content with the promotion, such as a retail furniture chain's 16-page mini-catalog with tips on interior design along with coupons. Finally, Tip No. 4: Make it easy to respond. Bobnak shares a local hospital's postcard with mobile-scannable QR code leading to a pURL welcome landing page and pre-populated form, plus a gift (thermometer) for adding data such as insurance and e-mail address. For the examples:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Right Mail Helps Local Firms Compete for Sales

Direct mail is a great way for local businesses to draw traffic and compete for sales--if it is crafted to win attention. A recent Target Marketing magazine piece by Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What!, offers real-life examples of seven basic direct mail tactics that work to woo local customers. 1) Start by selling the benefits rather than the features of a product or service, and put a personal face to the company with names and photos while you're at it. 2) If you are a competitive local service (plumbing, painting or HVAC, for example), make sure you show the range of tasks you can do to set your business apart from other service professionals. 3) Deliver essential information to alert custumers to their potential need, such as the water heater sticker with emergency shutdown instructions and troubleshooting checklist sent by a plumbing contractor. 4) Generate trust and show expertise by educating consumers, like the eight-page, soft-sell brochure on replacing a heater or air conditioner from a home services provider, which leveraged credibility to then promote the company. 5) Make smart use of the calendar to tie into holidays and seasons, such as Mother's Day retail specials or Halloween "scary furnace" checkups. 6) Make it easy to order and then retain contact info, such as a pizzaria's mailed menu sized to post on a refigerator door. 7) Create innovative and personalized call-to-action devices. Going beyond coupons, a local nursery mailed a personalized gift card that snapped out of a postcard, for example. To see real mailing examples:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

B2B Lead Gen Rediscovers Direct Mail

Direct mail is enjoying renewed interest as a lead generation tool among business-to-business marketers, according to Demand Gen Report. Demand Gen Report's "2016 Demand Gen Benchmark Study" found direct mail not only still in the B2B marketing mix but earning increased spending by some marketers. Besides working to drive leads at the top of the funnel, direct mail was seen by surveyed marketers as an effective way to drive conversions later in the buying cycle, with 21% citing it as most effective at boosting conversions, tied with social media. A recent Demand Gen Report article interviews some B2B marketing execs to find out why they opt to invest in direct mail along with their digital lead-gen efforts like e-mail, search and social media. The CMO of Salesfusion sees direct mail as a way to stand out with the target audience, citing over-exposure in the digital space and touting a 10%-15% conversion rates for direct mail. Aptos is trying the same tactic and increasing direct mail spending, including a high-end mailer to nurture "suspects." Ricoh Americas also is sending out "high-end and very targeted dimensional mailers," especially to global and major accounts, and combining mail outreach with an interactive website and phone follow-up. B2B agency Babcock & Jenkins has "leveraged direct mail as part of an account-based marketing approach" for clients like CSC, IBM, Jive Software, Lifelock, Tripwire and Xerox, per the article. Stressing direct mail's place in an integrated strategy, Ruth Stevens, president of B2B consultancy eMarketing Strategy, explained why mail can be more effective at outreach than other channels: "In the B2B world, there's an increased understanding that you cannot get all the business you need by using e-mail as an outreach medium, since e-mail address data is far less available than physical addresses." Read

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

When Mail Budgets Hold Steady, Innovators Spur Ahead

In a marketing landscape of digital growth, direct mail spending is holding its own, with 69% of marketers planning to increase or hold steady 2016 direct mail budgets, according to Target Marketing magazine's annual "Media Usage Survey." But direct mail success isn't guaranteed by simply staying the course, and marketers who want to break away from the pack can look for inspiration from a recent post by Tech.Co, a media company and events organization for startups, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts, which suggests five innovative ways to use direct mail in 2016, including some real-life examples. Tech.Co's five areas for mail innovation: 1) use Augmented Reality (AR) apps to give 3D reality to products via videos and demos (or consider other mobile-enabled options like QR codes and Near Field Communication); 2) leverage free incentives and sampling opportunities, with eye-catching examples from the archives; 3) wow with great copy, as showcased by the D&AD agency's decade of award-winning examples; 4) grab mailbox attention with innovative design, going beyond No. 10 envelopes and postcards to oversized, dimensional or interactive mailers, as illustrated by a recent World Water Day piece only readable when wet; 5) finally, and most important in a digital-dominated marketing world, integrate direct mail into multichannel campaigns, avoiding the tendency to silo by channel. For the post and its examples, go to

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Crafting Direct Mail That Woos Millennials

Don't assume millennial customers are digital-only responders. Direct mail is a great way to reach this desirable demographic (aged 19 to 35). In fact, research shows more than half of millennials purchase based on direct mail offers. But you can't necessarily win them over using the same mail tactics that worked with their parents. A recent Retail Merchandiser magazine post by Joan Patrick, director of Marketing for Vision Integrated Graphics, offers good tips for crafting direct mail specifically for the millennial market. One thing is obvious: Most millennials are attached 24/7 to their mobile devices, so mail packages need to include mobile-friendly connections--such as QR codes linked to online video. On the other hand, messaging and offer should not treat millennials as a single buyer persona; yes, there are at-home dependents in the cohort, but more are married, parents or homeowners, so segmentation will improve response. Then, to appeal to a generation weaned on digital and media creative's visual cues, direct mail packages need eye-catching colors, images and graphs. Millennials also tend to prefer a personal, casual style of communication, but mailers need to guard against personalization, humor and slang that don't fit the brand--because millennials value "authenticity" even more. Yes, the direct mail pitch to millennials should still include a WIIFM hook (What's In It For Me?), but marketers must accept that this group can evaluate offers differently. The majority say they prize happiness and life quality over money; so don't just list features and prices, cite personalized benefits. The majority of millennials also say they prefer to do business with socially conscious companies--so let them know your mailer uses recycled materials, or highlight a promotion's charitable giving link. Finally, millennials tend to stress connecting and collaborating; almost half say they'd like to help companies develop future products and services. Mailers can play to that response-getter by including user surveys, user-generated content, and social links. For the full post:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Survey Finds Big, Dirty Challenge in 2016: Customer Data

Direct marketers know that quality data is at the heart of their success. Yet three-quarters of customer service, data, marketing, sales and tech professionals told the latest Experian Data Quality survey that they will be struggling with inaccurate data in 2016--undermining efficiency, customer satisfaction and profits. From a recent Direct Marketing News magazine report of Experian findings, respondents cited their main data quality problems as incomplete/missing data (60%), outdated info (54%), duplicate data (51%), inconsistent data (37%), and typos (30%)--and more than half attributed that bad data to human error. Indeed, when it comes to the biggest obstacles to improving data quality, respondents cite the two top challenges as lack of internal knowledge/skills and lack of internal human resources. As a data services provider, we're happy to see that underperforming data quality vendors is at the very bottom of the list of impediments to better data (cited by just 7%). So what kind of projects can we expect from clients this year if they join the push to tackle data issues? Those surveyed said they'd be working on data cleansing (37%), data integration (37%), data migration (31%), and data enrichment (31%). If you are still wondering if data quality is worth the investment, consider the top five reasons given for improving data quality: increasing efficiency (56%), enhancing customer satisfaction (41%), enabling more informed decisions (39%), saving on costs (39%), and protecting brand and reputation (34%)--all goals with a positive impact on the long-term bottom line. For more report details, read the DM News story at

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Using B2B Data Segmentation for Sales Success

We work with many business-to-business clients on direct mail and data services projects, and a key task is list segmentation, selecting and personalizing by criteria with proven impact on sales success. A recent MarketingProfs article by Ed King, CEO of data automation firm Openprise, offers some great practical tips on using B2B segmentation for demand generation, starting with these top ways to segment B2B customers and prospects: 1) job level, which can be inferred from job title, winnows the decision-makers from the chaff of general leads; 2) job function, also inferred from job title, can start with coarse department divisions, such as Finance, Sales, IT, etc, or drill down by specialization within functional area, to tailor for buying process; 3) company size, either in terms of annual-revenue or employee-number ranges, helps target for product/service fit and offer; and 4) industry, using NAICS or SIC codes, selects best verticals for response/purchase. Segmentation can be used to achieve many key goals, King points out. Segmentation of the existing database helps develop a profile of best customers, so the business can market look-alike prospects by the same job, company and industry parameters. Segmentation also allows B2B marketers to go beyond targeting individual leads, who may not be the right contacts, to an account-based marketing that is more efficient. Segmentation, of course, supports more engaging personalization. Finally, segmentation permits money-saving suppression of low-value or low-response targets. These goals are not out of reach even for B2B marketers lacking quality segmentation data since they can turn to data services like ours for data appending and data cleaning/normalizing for effective segmentation. For the complete article, go to

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Using Segmentation to Better Mine Donor Databases

We have helped nonprofit clients boost retention and fundraising response by segmenting their existing donor mailing lists for better targeting and personalization. And we've learned that effective segmentation has two strategic prerequisites: selecting the right segmentation parameters and having accurate data for those parameters. Unfortunately, surveys show that many nonprofits rely on an overly narrow donor segmentation strategy and ignore factors that could really improve response and engagement; for example, Eleventy Marketing Group recently highlighted a survey finding that while 80% of nonprofits segment by donation amount, other significant factors are frequently neglected (less than 15% said they always segment by interest, channel preference or demographics, for example). A January blog post by the Creative Suitcase nonprofit marketing/design agency gave a great summary of important individual-donor segmentation factors: donation amount, of course, but also donation timing (recency, frequency, patterns); area of focus or interest; preferred type of communication (and that means going beyond mail vs. all-or-nothing opt-ins to frequency and content options); age (older donors prefer direct mail, while millennials like a multi-channel approach, for example); and preferred donation channel (mail, event, online, etc.). So how can a nonprofit gather and maintain such information, especially preference and interest data, about donors? Online and mail donation form questions, online thank-you questions, event registrations and donor surveys are some of Creative Suitcase's suggested vehicles. We would add that demographic data, such as age, can be appended. For more on using donor segmentation to improve communications, see

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Creating Loyalty: Using Retail's Most Valuable Data

Growing a loyal customer base is the holy grail of business, especially retail. A recent MarketingProfs infographic illustrates why: Existing retail customers spend 67% more than new customers, and increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by up to 95%. One solution is a great loyalty program. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between consumers (73% say programs should show the business's loyalty) and marketing execs (66% seek consumer loyalty, read dollars), which is why 97% of loyalty programs are about transaction rewards, and 77% of transaction-based programs fail in the first two years. The bottom line is that retailers need to better profile and segment loyal customers and then develop programs around their needs, not just their transactions--and that means improved data gathering and analytics. A Forbes magazine article by Bryan Pearson, president of LoyaltyOne, highlights nine loyalty trends for 2016 that we think can help refocus data efforts, especially since loyalty program engagement is getting tougher, with the average American household enrolling in 29 loyalty programs but active in only 12. Standard transaction-based points and discounts aren't going to cut through a crowded field to woo loyalty, so watch for a 2016 shift toward using data insights to offer high-value experiences, such as special events or early VIP access to sales, per Pearson. Plus, he notes that even transaction-based loyalty programs are changing shape; it's not just about cards and memberships now that there are apps to gather data and deliver personalized offers, including mobile one-to-one in-store specials (underscoring the need for integrated, multichannel data strategy). Indeed, retailers who truly maximize the value of loyalty data in 2016 will be those who use its insights across the business, not just in a retention silo, to align pricing, promotions and merchandise assortments to better address consumer needs, suggests Pearson. And he adds another way retailers can leverage data investment: Data generated by loyalty programs is a valuable product in itself, as evidenced by The Kroger Co.'s 2014 sale of $100 million in data to product suppliers. For the whole article:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Turn Aging Behavioral Data From Problem to Opportunity

Database marketers focused on quick response to customer behavior tend to discount aging or expired behavioral data, creating an ongoing "data atrophy" problem. And that's a mistake in our experience. We agree with veteran database marketer Stephen Yu's recent Target Marketing magazine post, which argues that marketers need to see their aging and expired behavioral data as an opportunity rather than a problem. Issues arise because while targeting is improved when demographic or "firm-ographic" data is combined with behavioral data (transactions and clicks, for example), behavioral data is both harder to collect than geo-demographic data, which can be appended to fill gaps, and has a shorter shelf-life. The value of a hotline list evaporates quickly, and delayed response to real-time mobile or online actions can misfire, even backfire. But aging behavioral data still has value, and formerly hot data can be warmed up--especially if handled appropriately as Yu suggests. One way is to go from simple time stamps to measurements of intervals between events. How many weeks have elapsed since the last purchase? What are the average number of days between transactions? What is the average number of weeks between new product release and actual purchase? Marketers should also measure by channel to catch when an in-store or catalog buyer becomes an online buyer, and for which items. Yu points out that by collecting, maintaining and transforming historical behavioral data, marketers can use it for more effective targeting and personalization. Scored behavioral data become predictors in models identifying “cutting-edge buyers,” “bargain seekers,” “online buyers of repeat items,” “infrequent high-value customers,” “frequent small-item buyers,” for example. Yu concludes: "Today’s data become historical data in a blink, but we still have a lot to mine there. And such mining is possible, only if we arrange the data properly and let it age gracefully using statistical techniques. That is the way to personalize messages constantly for everyone, instead of reacting to real-time data only sporadically for a fraction of your audience." For the whole post, see

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Key Lessons From Personalization Backfires

Personalization is at the top of every list of 2016 direct mail strategies--but that doesn't mean personalization is a no-brainer. Indeed, a recent blog post by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director of Caslon & Company and the PODi (Print on Demand Initiative) digital printing organization, warns that poorly executed personalization can create epic fails, too. He provides a great example of personalization gone-wrong: an e-mailed offer of "escape the cold" winter airfare deals--sent to him in sunny Fort Lauderdale, FL, with an offer of a cheap flight to snowy Akron, OH! For personalization to work, all aspects of data, offer and message need to be thought out and tested from a variety of data perspectives, Greg stresses. First, the data must be clean and up-to-date (and, bravo, the offending piece got his e-mail and closest airport location right), and the offer must be appealing (an airfare of $39 from a local airport certainly piqued interest). But special care must also be taken with messaging. And here is where the marketing flopped--by adding personalized elements to a traditionally designed static offer without thinking it through. Simply dropping personalized data into copy does not necessarily create a relevant direct marketing message. Greg notes that the marketers could have avoided the snafu with cold and hot versions based on recipient location. But his basic point is that successful personalization requires "relevant thinking" instead of "broadcast thinking." Are you using your data to create that "relevant" personalized direct mail offer? Read the full article at

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Want to Rev 2016? Commit to Data-Driven Marketing

Whether it's the latest digital marketing trend or traditional direct mail, bottom line success depends on smart use of targeted customer and prospect data. So for all those seeking growth and profit in 2016, we wanted to pass along five great data-driven marketing goals proposed by database marketing veteran Mike Ferranti, founder and CEO of Endai Worldwide, in a recent Target Marketing magazine post. Ferranti starts by urging investment in a scalable prospect database program, which requires mating transactional data about your best customers with other data about them (demographic, psychographic, behavioral) to find the most predictive factors for targeting prospects who will respond and convert into more good customers. His No. 2 suggestion is identifying the gold customers in your database for new loyalty programs to "retain and delight"--and that means going beyond personalized e-mail and a nominal discount now and then. A true investment in VIP customers pays big dividends. A third idea for data-driven growth is to use your analytics-optimized database to identify customer purchase patterns for targeting by next likely customer purchase (before competitors snatch a sale). Similarly, the database can be modeled for targeting by next likely product or segment purchase, timing to close gaps otherwise filled by competitors or lower-priced buys. Ferranti's fifth suggestion is aligned with all of the above: improved segmentation that structures for queries and segmented targeting to optimize sales from both existing customers and acquisition of new customers. Are these easy goals? Heck, no, but they pay off in terms of profit and sales growth--and we are ready to help any clients who want to get started. For more discussion, see the full post at

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In 2016, Celebrate the Marriage of Mail and Mobile

The B2C and B2B purchasing journey increasingly starts on a mobile phone. For example, 65% of consumers start their digital purchase path on a mobile device and 42% of business researchers use mobile in their purchase process, per Google. So what does that mean for non-digital direct mailers? It means it's time to marry mail and mobile! The response synergy between direct mail and digital is already proven. Direct mail will influence 76% of Internet users to buy online, per Exact Target. The first step to a mail-mobile marriage is incorporating gateways to smartphones in your printed pieces. This can be done via QR codes linked to a landing page offer, Augmented Reality (AR) to deliver a persuasive experience such as video, Near Field Communication (NFC) to drive mobile traffic with a tap between phone and embedded chip, and Personalized URL (PURL) to send the recipient to a personalized landing page. Research how U.S. Post Office programs support and reward this technology use. The next step is to make sure your landing pages are optimized for mobile. Tips include use of larger text for viewing on small mobile screens and placement of the call-to-action device "above the fold" of the mobile screen to avoid scrolling. Marketo reports that making these and other mobile-friendly changes to its e-mail templates led to a 28% increase in click-through! The final step is to measure response and ROI across channels. For example, with a QR code, you can create a unique campaign landing page, an individually personalized landing page, or use a special landing page offer to gather contact info. If you are using PURLs, you can embed a campaign identifier or create a unique identifier for each individual. If you send prospects to a landing page, you can create unique offer identifiers or activation codes. If you need more ideas for boosting mail performance, check out the 2016 direct mail predictions of the gurus at C.TRAC interactive marketing: