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: