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