Monday, March 20, 2017

Using Data, Technology & USPS to Rev Mail Response

Recent research provides compelling reasons to include direct mail in marketing plans--and also highlights opportunities to further pump response and ROI. Direct mail response rates actually jumped in 2016 per the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) 2017 "Response Rate Report," hitting 5.3% for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists, the highest levels the DMA has tracked since 2003. Also consider last year's InfoTrends' direct mail statistics: 66% of direct mail is opened; 62% of consumers who responded to direct mail made a purchase within three months; and 56% of consumers who responded to direct mail went online or visited the physical store. But direct mail is expensive, and response is no slam dunk, so marketers must plan carefully to leverage positive trends. Luckily, 2017 offers data and print technology options, and U.S Postal Service support, to aid in direct mail success. We suggest committing to six key steps: First, start with data quality. That requires updating, cleaning and aggregating the customer database. Look for data gaps and append important targeting factors, such as contact info, demographics or firm-ographics. Second, analyze the data to identify and profile your best customers and their attributes, preferences and transactional history so that you can find and target lookalikes in acquisition, as well as tailor more profitable retention. Third, use your data to create effective targeting and personalization with tactics such as segmentation, variable data printing and timely triggered mail. Segment the audience into target mail groups, based on factors ranging from age and gender to purchase history. Use variable data printing technology for hyper-targeted messaging with multiple variable-content fields. You also can automate digital-activity mail triggers so that, for example, a relevant postcard is sent within 48 hours of an online purchase. Fourth, use print technology's PURLs or QR codes to leverage multi-channel investment, boost response ease, and create a seamless brand experience by linking physical mail to website, mobile and social. Fifth, test innovative creative that will stand out in the mailbox. Summer Gould, president of Eye/Comm, recently offered some suggestions in Forbes magazine, including Augmented Reality, dimensional mail, "endless folds" pieces, and video mailers. Finally, take advantage of the U.S. Postal Service's postage discounts and incentives! In 2017, programs include Earned Value; Color Transpromo; Emerging & Advanced Technology; Tactile, Sensory & Interactive Engagement; Direct Mail Starter; and Mobile Shopping. For details:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Are Self-Mailers Effective for Your Target Market?

Looking to tighten budgets in 2017, some direct mail clients are taking another look at self-mailers. Is it the right move for your market? Drawing on the experience of mailing experts, Target Marketing magazine has a great article with four key questions you'll need to answer before spending on self-mailer testing. First, consider your industry. Is it an industry with self-mailer success? Retail marketers have long used self-mailers and continue to do so, plus educational, auto dealer, catalog, telecommunications, travel and event marketers have used the format successfully, say direct mail pros, with some seeing new converts in business-to-business marketing and publishing. Why the interest in self-mailers in those markets? A simplified piece generally allows for reduced production and postage costs without a postcard's content limits or sacrifice of response vehicles (a self-mailer can include phone, website, QR, PURL, plus tear-off BRC/reply card). Targeted personalization also remains a response driver thanks to variable printing. So what markets don't fit self-mailer promotion? If you need a lot of space to explain and persuade, such as high-dollar B2B technology or machinery, self-mailers aren't likely to perform as well. Magalogs and tabloids also remain more popular formats for financial newsletters, business opportunity or nutritional supplements. And where letter packages still rule, such as fundraising, experienced direct marketers say they aren't seeing inroads by self-mailers; in fact, Who's Mailing What! reports the self-mailer format is at its lowest percent of mail by nonprofits of the last five years. Last question: If your market is a match for a self-mailer effort, how can you maximize results? Take a lesson from the pros in retail and keep the message and offer simple and timely ("act before this date for a special offer"), say experts. And put extra effort into design, starting with an arresting mail panel, a cover that drives opens, a clear offer, a strong call to action and easy response. To download the article with self-mailer examples:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ready to Ride 2017 Marketing Trends to Success?

As businesses and nonprofits begin to maneuver through 2017 with their marketing roadmaps, it's a good idea to make sure those plans account for any landscape-altering trends ahead. A recent article by Forbes magazine's CMO Network contributor Daniel Newman, a principal analyst of Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group, outlined the top 10 trends that he sees driving marketing efforts this year. Here are six of his trend predictions that we can see applying to our direct and database marketing clients: 1) a drive for more effective measurement that ties results, including in social media, back to basic business objectives such as profit and customer retention; 2) a greater reliance on marketing technologies and data scientists to support data-driven marketing and integrate strategies, content and customer data across channels, whether that requires an internal chief marketing technologist or outsourcing; 3) prioritized personalization, from ensuring touch points are targeted and individualized to more streamlined, responsive purchasing processes; 4) a surge in the amount and quality of video content, as video, visuals and augmented reality become basic to digital promotion; 5) not only greater use of social media marketing but a shift from generic content messaging to personalized, front-line marketing of sales and services; and 6) a new focus on "right-time marketing instead of real-time marketing," going beyond contact opportunities to using data to isolate the right moment to connect with consumers on the right channel. For all of Newman's 2017 trend insights, read his article at