Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Print Catalogs Still Key Multichannel Merchant Tool

Despite the growth of e-commerce, printed catalogs retain their important marketing role, and recent data from Multichannel Merchant's 2018 State of the Catalog survey highlights that trend. A big majority of the merchants surveyed (84.2% ) by Multichannel Merchant (MCM) said they continue to use print catalogs as a channel to reach customers. Their commitment to the traditional print catalog comes from its value as a multipurpose marketing tool. For example, branding led the ranking of main print catalog goals, with an 8.86 out of 10 rating. Branding was followed by web and mobile traffic driver and customer retention (both ranked at 8.14), reactivation (7.57), and prospecting and store traffic spur (6.43). Meanwhile, though measuring catalog effectiveness remains a matter of debate among merchants, a majority (57.1%) do have a formal measurement program, whether via matchbacks, tracking codes, response analysis or segmentation testing. Although merchants continue to seek maximum ROI by testing page counts and formats, the majority surveyed by MCM (83.3%) maintained the same page counts in 2017, and 50% also reported the same circulation numbers. Looking ahead to 2018, 50% planned to increase page counts, but respondents split into thirds over increasing, decreasing or maintaining circulation size. As far as frequency, 83.3% said they would hold it steady for 2018. Most merchants surveyed (57.1%) rely on both a digital catalog and a standard 8.5X11 print catalog. But many also use a "slim jim" print format (14.3%) or, especially for B2B, annual "big books" (also 14.3%). Some retailers report they send out other types of direct mail pieces, such as small gatefolds or postcards with special offers. For more on the report, go to the full post at http://www.acculistusa.com/print-catalogs-still-a-key-multichannel-merchant-tool/

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Targeted CTAs Drive Arts Marketers' Digital Wins

While direct mail continues to be a sturdy workhorse for performing arts marketing, digital campaigns--via online display ads, e-mail and social media--are required in a multi-channel world. Digital subscription drives offer cost-effectiveness, off-season branding, audience segment targeting, and synergy with direct mail. But with more competition for attention in the crowded digital space and with less room for persuasion than "snail mail," digital promotion success is especially dependent on a well-designed and targeted call-to-action (CTA), as pointed out in a recent blog post by strategists at MogoARTS, a digital marketing agency for arts and cultural organizations. An effective call-to-action will differ by targeting, the post points out. With renewals, the targets are lists of current season subscribers, so the CTA messaging can be direct and should highlight an incentive like a discount or savings for renewing early or by a deadline. For acquiring new members or reactivating lapsed subscribers, targeting includes lists of previous season ticket buyers and e-mail opt-in prospects, who need to be shown the benefits of subscription (or reminded). The CTA messaging for lapsed subscribers and multi-ticket buyers should give a reason to come back or upgrade to a subscription by promoting package savings or special benefits, such as free parking or early access to add-ons. CTAs to entice new members will need to spell out subscriber benefits, either across ad units or on a landing page. The blog post makes CTA creative suggestions and cites three best practices for any CTA: 1) customization for the different audience types, meaning renewing, lapsed or new members; 2) emphasis on the benefits of a subscription package over a single ticket purchase; and 3) highlighting of the savings/special rewards available for subscribing now. For more and CTA examples, see our complete blog post at http://www.acculistusa.com/arts-marketers-need-digital-ctas-that-drive-subscriptions/

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

B2B Trends Spur Mobile-Friendly E-Commerce

With Forrester Research forecasting steady growth in B2B e-commerce, reaching $1.2 trillion in sales, or 13.1% of all B2B sales, by 2021, smart e-commerce marketing is more essential than ever. A recent bigcommerce.com blog post highlighted many important B2B e-commerce trends, but we’ll focus on three marketing-related takeaways. First, acquisition is the new online focus. The days are gone when B2B online strategy could succeed by putting up a website as a customer service portal, a place for existing account re-orders or a passive catalog display. Online selling is becoming a core part of B2B business and sales strategy, argues bigcommerce.com post author Jillian Hufford, marketing analyst at nChannel, a multi-channel integration provider. B2B marketers should start by profiling customers to better target online and offline promotions to find high-ROI traffic. Note that a robust SEO/SEM strategy, coupled with website search tools, is essential given that 74% of B2B buyers report researching at least part of their work purchases online. Easy, seamless cross-channel ordering is another basic of online customer acquisition now. Plus, an investment in online content marketing, coupled with SEO strategy, can leverage educational and expert content on the website to attract searchers and win Google rank. A second takeaway is the trend to online and print catalogs that work in tandem. Five years ago, more than two-thirds of B2B sellers thought they would stop mailing paper catalogs. That hasn’t happened, but many B2B merchants are using an integrated multi-channel effort to balance smaller or less frequent print catalogs with more interactive online catalogs. For success with print-plus-online, the online catalog cannot merely mimic the print version. E-commerce means investing in interactive online tools that allow customizing, sharing, distributing, ordering and tracking, all supported by integrated back-end technology. Finally, and perhaps most important, mobile-friendly means revenue-friendly for today's B2B e-commerce as ever-expanding mobile device use drives marketing changes. Google and BCG research data from 2017 shows why: 80% of B2B buyers are using mobile at work; 60% of B2B buyers report that mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase; and 60% of B2B buyers expect to continue to increase their mobile usage. B2B retailers who are dragging their feet on mobile-friendly adaptation risk dragging down their own revenues; BCG research found that brands that are “mobile leaders” earn more traffic, more leads and more revenue than “mobile laggards.” For more, see http://www.acculistusa.com/b2b-sales-trends-boost-mobile-friendly-online-acquisition/

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Trade Show Marketers Still Embrace Direct Mail

A recent survey of exhibit managers and event marketers by Exhibitor magazine shows why direct mail continues as a promotional tool, as a companion rather than a victim of the growing use of e-mail and social media. Here are some insights we gleaned from those comments: First, the traditional rules of direct marketing continue to apply for direct mail success: Quality, targeted data is the most essential response factor. Mike Naples, business alliance manager for the United States Postal Service, reminds event marketers of the basics: "A successful campaign is 60% identifying the target, 30% making a compelling offer, and 10% creating a unique piece." Dan McAdams, vice president of sales and marketing for McAdams Graphics, is even more specific: "The most effective direct-mail projects start with a solid mailing list. A bad list yields a bad return." Second, e-mail is a mate, not a replacement, for snail mail. While acknowledging the growing use of e-mail, Holly Seese, global marketing communications manager at Celanese Corp., reminds Exhibitor readers that "hard-copy event invites are still more memorable than e-mailed ones." That can be especially true with an older target audience. "People over the age of 50 have an emotional attachment to letters that people under the age of 50 never developed," opines Keith Goodman, vice president for corporate solutions at Modern Postcard. More generally, e-mail faces headwinds in crowded, spam-filtered inboxes, while direct mail's lower volume actually boosts its impact: "Direct mail is back in vogue because few companies are using it. So a creative mailer is more likely to get read," explains Eugene Maresh, co-owner of Say it With Style Targeted Promotional Solutions. Or as Joy Gendusa, CEO of PostcardMania, sums up: "E-mail is brilliant for lead nurturing, but not for lead generation. If your message is seen as spam, you're hurting, not helping." Finally, creativity and a multi-channel mix are requirements for today's audiences. Direct mail creative must be personalized, relevantly targeted and eye-catching to engage response now. Tired tricks are not going to win interest. "An interesting shape is the best way to generate attention. Priority or overnight mail doesn't cut it anymore. It feels wasteful," asserts Rhea Cook, president of Ex Machina Design X Marketing. And because audiences also use multiple digital channels daily, they expect to engage with coordinated event promotion and response across channels, so direct mail can't go it alone if it is to be successful. Or as Jefferson Davis, trade show marketing and sales consultant at Competitive Edge, concludes: "People ask me all the time, 'What is the single best media for exhibit marketing?' But there is no single best media. The magic is in the mix." For more, see http://www.acculistusa.com/why-direct-mail-still-wins-allegiance-of-trade-show-marketers/

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Direct Mail Still Powers Nonprofit Fundraising

Interest in direct mailing lists and services from AccuList USA's nonprofit clients remains strong despite the growing share of donor dollars collected via online giving. Some of the reasons that fundraising pros stay committed to mail power are cited in a recent article for The NonProfit Times by Mark Hrywna. Despite the growing share of donations attributed to online giving, Steve MacLaughlin, vice president of data and analytics at fundraising tech firm Blackbaud, stresses that online giving is still less than 10% of all charitable giving. Fundraisers need to avoid confusing the channel of engagement with the channel of transaction, he advises. Direct mail response certainly is no longer limited to mailed donations as many direct mail recipients go online to give; similarly, a mobile-device outreach or e-mail appeal can generate offline gifts. Even in an increasingly digital world, a good multi-channel mix will include direct mail. Hrywna cites Make-a-Wish Foundation as an example of that continued direct mail investment. When Chief Financial Officer Paul Mehlhorn started with Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2009, he recalls that he was told direct mail was a dinosaur that would be gone in five or six years. Yet last year the national office exceeded 2009 direct mail revenue by several million dollars, going from $13.9 million to $15.3 million. "It looks to me like a program that can stay very strong for the next 10 to 15 years," Mehlhorn asserts to Hrywna. In fact, Mehlhorn says he may expand on his direct mail investment: "As you get past the low-hanging fruit, [online] becomes almost as costly as direct mail. Unless you enlarge your donor pool, you’re going to be spending about the same." Plus, there are some areas where direct mail retains an edge, such as planned giving. Make-A-Wish Foundation has seen revenue from planned gifts just about triple during the past four years, growing from about $2 million to $6 million, and Mehlhorn credits part of that success to actively promoting planned giving in direct mail as well as online campaigns. “A lot of the folks now making end-of-life plans are still in that generation that likes getting mail,” he points out. See the full blog post at http://www.acculistusa.com/direct-mail-still-powers-fundraising-especially-planned-giving/

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Demographics Fuel Pet-Owner Spending, Marketing

Direct mail and e-mail lists and data services targeting pet owners are one of AccuList USA's high-demand markets, and we expect trends in pet ownership to grow that marketing interest--and the competition that makes quality data and targeting even more essential. A recent post for The Marketing Insider highlights the demographic trends that are making pet owners such attractive targets: "Americans now own 305 million cats and dogs, an increase of 85 million over the past 10 years. The 50+ demographic is responsible for 60% of that growth. With 50+ population expected to grow twice as rapidly as the 18-49 segment over the next 10 years, brands that include 50+ pet owners in their marketing strategies will improve their odds of maximizing revenue growth," asserts columnist Mark Bradbury. Bradbury makes the point that marketers hoping to cash in on the older pet-owning market will need to adjust their buyer profiles given that 50+ pet owners are mainly empty-nesters (80%), retired (one-in-three), and three times more likely than younger pet owners to be divorced, widowed or separated--leaving more time and disposable income to devote to pet members of the family. Bradbury points to statistical proof that older owners are on a pet-spending splurge: People 50+ spent over $15.6 billion on their pets in the last year, more than all of the other generations combined, according to PetBusinessProfessor.com. The opportunity to market pet-pampering products is expanding, but so is the competition. Bradbury suggests several tactics that put the focus squarely on the growing Baby Boomer pet market, including messaging that celebrates a pet-centric Boomer lifestyle. Multi-channel campaigning is a must for this market. In addition to digital marketing via online, social and e-mail, Boomers are also still heavy users, and responders, of direct mail, magazines and television, Bradbury points out. "Synergistic cross-media marketing plans" are required to maximize reach at every stage in the purchase funnel, he advises. Plus, though Boomers like to spend to dote on their pets, they also want to spend wisely and are attracted to savings opportunities. Direct marketers will want to include discounts or loyalty reward programs to win brand fans. For a link to more pet marketing suggestions, see http://www.acculistusa.com/demographic-trends-drive-growth-in-pet-owner-spending/

Monday, March 12, 2018

Why You Should De-dupe Your Data

Anna Kayfitz, CEO of StrategicDB Corp., recently offered AccuList USA this expert advice on why direct marketing success requires de-duping data: 
In today’s data-driven marketing, data is not only the most important asset that your company can have but can also make or break your campaign. Having clean data impacts not only marketing activities but also impacts your reputation, operations and decision-making. De-duping is one of the most important aspects of overall data hygiene. Duplicates can be found on many levels of data; they arise at the household level, individual e-mail level or company level. If you are not convinced that you need to de-dupe, consider the following five benefits. First, you can avoid different offers to the same customer. For example, you send two different direct mail creatives to the same household. As one of the records was a customer, you decided to provide a returning customer 15% off, while the other record was marked as a prospect and only got 10% off. Now the person opening both direct mails will be confused by having two different discounts, and the company also can face a PR nightmare. Second, you can cut unnecessary cost. For example, assume you are doing a direct mail creative which costs you $5 per mailing. Your list contains 10,000 recipients. The total cost of mailings therefore is $50,000. If you decided to de-dupe, you would find out that 10% of your mailing list was duplicated. Therefore, $5,000 was a waste of resources. It would have been much cheaper to de-dupe prior to deploying your campaign. Third, you will get better analytics for decision-making. Analytics is important not just from a perspective of understanding how your marketing and sales is performing but also from a decision-making perspective. By having duplicates in your CRM, you are going to be double-counting your list capabilities, miscalculating your true growth rates, and getting the wrong rate of responses. If you are looking to make a decision on future campaigns, basing it on duplicate data will will give you the wrong list count, wrong budget and possibly the wrong creative picked (especially if you are basing it on an A/B testing done previously). Next, de-duping helps prevent customer service confusion when clients call in, e-mail or come into the store. For example, Mary Smith is found twice in your CRM with the same phone number. She calls in to your customer support to inquire about her order status. Your customer service rep decides to pull up the customer account by phone number and finds two records. Now she has to put the customer on hold while she checks both accounts to try to locate the last purchase before she can even assist the customer. Not only is it wasting everyone’s time and making customer service inefficient, it also makes the customer have a bad customer service experience. Finally, the biggest impact that duplicates have on your business is a potential loss of sale. If you have duplicates, you do not have a true view of all prospect or customer activities. Therefore, you could be excluding prospects from a sales call because your lead scoring system indicated that they are not ready. However, if the data from both records was combined, you would have all signals indicating they are ready to be passed on to sales. With duplicates, by the time you figure it out, a customer may have already lost interest and gone with your competitor. De-duping should be part of your data-cleaning initiative, either prior to any major campaign or on a yearly basis. You can easily de-dupe your list by using a de-duping tool that will require less effort to identify duplicates and establish a master record than is required to deal with the consequences of duplicate data. For more help, see http://www.acculistusa.com/why-you-should-de-dupe-your-data/