Monday, November 13, 2017

Event Marketers Foresee 2018 Spending Boosts

Trade show and conference marketers are already looking ahead to 2018, and event technology firm Bizzabo’s recent “Event Marketing 2018: Benchmarks and Trends” report has some good news: Event marketers and business execs plan to invest more in live events in future. One of the key findings of Bizzabo’s global survey of 400 mid- to senior-level marketers is that most event marketers believe that events are the single most effective marketing channel--better than e-mail, social media, and digital and traditional advertising. The majority also plan to invest more in future live events, both in terms of budget (63%) and number of events (63%). Plus, the majority (91%) of businesses with top performance place a greater emphasis on live events as a marketing channel than the underperforming businesses or businesses performing as expected–and those overperforming businesses plan to grow their event marketing budgets by more than the rest. Regardless of performance, an overwhelming majority of C-Suite executives surveyed (87%) say they believe in the power of live events and plan on investing more in the future. Though event marketers and executives have confidence in the marketing effectiveness of B2B trade shows and conferences, that doesn’t mean they think success is assured. In another survey, Bizzabo asked leading event marketers for advice on overcoming common event hurdles. For example, what if attendance is sparse? To avoid staring at an empty hall in horror, make sure the event is clearly advertised on all social media profiles, blog, and website, including paid ads; empower those who have already committed attendance (especially speakers) to be event ambassadors by sharing the event on their own social media profiles and websites; and use RSVPs to keep attendees accountable. Then what if the attendees are there, but enthusiasm is low? To boost engagement, the pros suggest crowdsourcing questions for interviews and round tables before the event; creating hangouts or webinars related to event sessions; and sending segmented e-mails based on registration data to get attendees pumped up for specific aspects.  For a link to solutions to nine common event management problems, go to http://www.acculistusa.com/event-marketing-pros-foresee-spending-boost/

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Power Holiday E-mail With Segmentation, Offers

E-commerce and multi-channel retailers are beginning their holiday e-mail campaigns. What strategies will make for optimum results? From decades as data brokers and e-mail support providers, we can attest that targeting and smart segmentation are essential to holiday e-mail success. Of course, the house list can single out the active buyers and segment by basics such as location (no ice to Eskimos) and gender. But more sophisticated segmentation looks at purchase history in terms of product interest, in-store vs. web store, abandoned carts, purchase frequency, etc. For example, to maximize customer value, you can segment by average purchase (separating high-priced buyers from discount buyers) and send targeted e-mails with offers slightly over average order value. You can also reward and stimulate more sales from the most loyal buyers, segmented by purchase frequency or referrals etc., by e-mailing them unique holiday specials and freebies. The holiday season is also a great time to revive inactive customers, such as the previous year's holiday buyers who haven't been active since. Send them special offers to woo them back to the brand. Prior-holiday gift card buyers are a good sub-segment for a reminder e-mail about this convenient option. You can also target the most recent opt-ins who haven't converted to buyers with offers and creative most likely inspire clicks. And don't neglect to match your e-mail list to Facebook, YouTube or third-party newsletters to extend your reach via those vehicles! Although rented e-mail lists will not have the same intimate customer knowledge, you can still select by location, gender, age, product interest, and more. Holiday e-mails have to grab attention in crowded inboxes, and that means you need to get creative with offers that drive opens and clicks, too. Constant Contact recently surveyed its small business clients and gathered 30 successful holiday e-mail ideas that may help inspire your marketing. For a link to all 30 ideas, go to our full post at http://www.acculistusa.com/power-up-holiday-e-mail-with-segmentation-offers/

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

At Year-end, Check KPIs to Gird 2018 Marketing

The busy year-end holiday season, especially for fundraisers and retailers, should not distract direct marketers from the working on the analytics they need to finalize next year’s marketing plans and ROI. Marketing ROI is about effective spending and requires tracking results by channel and campaign. KPIs use actual annual outlay for direct mail marketing (lists, print, lettershop, creative, postage), digital marketing (e-mail, SEO/SEM, landing pages, social media and creative), as well as spending on PR/events/content marketing. Marketers must keep a tally of the number of outbound leads attributed to direct mail or e-mail campaigns, as well as the inbound leads generated by efforts such as SEO, blog content or PR. Then a cost per lead acquired (CPL) can be calculated by dividing annual expenditure by the number of leads generated. Since the ultimate goal is sales not merely leads, the percentage of leads that become paying customers and the dollar sales per lead are key measures. Beyond general performance, marketers should use measurement to fine-tune future plans and budgets. This means identifying the response rates and conversion rates for each channel, for each direct mail and digital campaign, and for tests of creative, timing, frequency, lists and segments. Performance rates should be measured not only for campaigns to acquire new leads/customers but also targeting of existing customers and reactivation of dormant customers. Website traffic reports from Google Analytics can not only show online ad and SEM effectiveness but also track spikes around direct mail or e-mail promotions to give a fuller picture of response. A simple ratio of the return on marketing investment can be calculated by adding up incremental sales from marketing and subtracting marketing amount spent, and then dividing the result by amount spent on marketing. But remember that a focus on annual or campaign results can be myopic since these do not necessarily deliver long-term growth. Marketers need to look at customer and prospect databases to make sure they are growing year-over-year. Because acquiring a single sale per lead also is less profitable long-term than acquiring a repeat customer, average customer lifetime value is vital and calculated by multiplying average dollar sale per customer by the average number of purchases per year and the average retention time in years. For a helpful KPI checklist from Digital Dog Direct, see http://www.acculistusa.com/use-key-direct-marketing-kpis-to-gird-2018-plans/

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Boost Fundraising E-mail Results With Smart Timing

At the end of each year, nonprofits send out their big fundraising e-mail campaigns, and each year questions of optimal timing are debated. Research results from Next After, a nonprofit consultancy and research lab, may offer helpful guidance. A big problem for year-end donor appeals is the fight for attention amid the seasonal commercial e-mail blitz that jams inboxes. Timing is everything to avoid getting lost in the clutter. Many nonprofits focus on the Giving Tuesday opportunity, and 23% more e-mails are sent on Giving Tuesday than on Dec. 31, per Next After--yet 48.7% of nonprofit revenue comes in the last week of the year, Dec. 25-31. And 20% comes just on New Year's Eve. In fact, 581% more average additional revenue is generated on Dec. 31 than on Giving Tuesday. No wonder Next After suggests focusing on that final December week. Another sign of a missed opportunity: Despite December's donor haul, 22% of nonprofits studied send no e-mails in December, and most send about four e-mails. So experts advise dialing up the volume in the lucrative December time period! Day-of-the-week and time-of-day targeting matter, too. E-mailers who choose to send messages in the Tuesday through Friday period and blast between 7 a.m. and noon will wade through the heaviest e-mail volumes, per the research. So off-peak e-mail delivery--such as afternoon or evening--can help avoid the seasonal e-mail rush. And weekends clearly represent a neglected opportunity: Not only is overall e-mail volume lighter, but Next After notes a 50% higher gift amount on weekends. For more data and examples of real-life nonprofit testing, go to http://www.acculistusa.com/optimize-timing-of-year-end-fundraising-e-mails/

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nonprofits Enter Year-end Fundraising Season

With a third of annual giving occurring in December, over half of nonprofits starting year-end plans in October, and direct mail the leading fundraising channel, October often sees final tweaks to direct marketing plans. So nonprofit marketers may want to check their current campaigns against the four-step master plan recently offered by fundraising consultant Gail Perry on her blog. Step 1: Set goals for each donor segment, and don't forget lucrative leading-donor annual gifts, lapsed donors and board members. Step 2: Select channels for a multi-pronged appeal, integrating direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing, social media, website, and video creative--and design a consistent message for all. Step 3: Gather resources and set a budget. Step 4: Set a timeline and calendar. Of course, smaller fundraisers often bemoan budget limitations at this point. A guest post by Damian O'Broin for the Institute of Fundraising offers a bracing response. Greatness is not a function of size, it’s a function of attitude, he argues, citing donor surveys. The things that matter most to donors don’t depend on big budgets and lots of staff but on good, donor-centric fundraising practices: thanking promptly and properly; showing progress and impact; getting to know supporters and responding to their needs; empowering supporters; and asking consistently. Even modest direct marketing campaigns, assuming they are well targeted, can use these practices to boost response. For details and tips of Perry's year-end master plan, see our complete blog post at http://www.acculistusa.com/nonprofits-crucial-year-end-fundraising-drives-have-begun/

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Use Social Sharing to Rev Direct Mail Response

Integrating the targeted power of direct mail with the viral power of social media can turbocharge results, and a recent article in Target Marketing magazine offers some good case studies as models for how direct mailers can harness social sharing to significantly boost response. Article author Summer Gould cites two examples: 1) Chick-fil-A, which integrated social sharing with a mailing of 5,000 plastic postcards for a whopping 279.8% response to grow its store traffic and customer database, and 2) Stein Mart, which used viral social sharing with a 20,000-postcard mailing to earn 150.58% response for a referral program and in-store redemption. Put simply, the formula involves directing the target audience of a proven direct mail package to a landing page/social page to provide data, get a reward and share the promotion. But of course, it's not simple. The secret to success lies in executing the details, starting with eye-catching, call-to-action design for the direct mail and the landing page and social media creatives. The goal is to not only push response but capture customer data for reward delivery and database growth. It means defining the objectives, the target audience and the desired data capture carefully. Most of all, it means developing a killer offer, which has to be the same for mail and social venues. It has to be the right offer for the right audience at the right time. It must grab attention, drive action, and inspire viral sharing. Of course, sharing is helped by extra incentives offered to any who share, from coupons to freebies to whatever wows the target audience. Although the case studies both come from retail marketing, the lessons can apply to other verticals, including nonprofits. For links to the case studies, see our post at http://www.acculistusa.com/social-sharing-can-turbocharge-direct-mail-response/

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Always Be Testing: Even the Best Mail Control Tires

Successful direct mail marketers seek to optimize response by constantly testing creative (as well as lists), because they know that even the best control package can lose its punch and need refurbishing or replacing. Since direct mail testing can be expensive, especially multivariate testing, it is important to think through why response to a proven control can flag and what changes are worth testing. A recent Target Marketing magazine article, by direct marketing consultant Gary Hennerberg, addresses the issue by reminding marketers of basics: The control has succeeded better than other mailing packages because, using the right list, the marketer has matched the offer's emotional hot buttons and unique selling proposition to the prospects' awareness of both their problem and the marketer's solution at the time. But that alignment between prospect and promotion is not static. After mailing the same direct mail control package over and over (or using the same digital message), the majority of targeted prospects have either seen your pitch or been educated by other media, so your message may no longer fit with their knowledge and needs. "If you don’t stay on top of this changing awareness and understanding, your direct mail control package, or messaging in other channels, fatigues, and you’ll wonder why," Hennerberg warns. He suggests marketers commit to a program 1) assessing prospect awareness of the problem solved by the marketed product or service; 2) creating multiple creative approaches that align with different prospect awareness levels; and 3) testing creatives (headlines, leads, formats, etc.) against each other and the control to find the sweet spot. For more, see http://www.acculistusa.com/always-be-testing-even-the-best-mail-control-gets-tired/