Tuesday, October 9, 2018

2018 Insurance Marketing Stresses Trust Message

Earlier in the year, Mintel Comperemedia identified four insurance marketing trends for 2018: courting consumer trust; fighting commoditization by redefining scope and repackaging; building AI savings and speed into underwriting, customer engagement and more; and competition via supplementary service and risk mitigation. AccuList USA's insurance marketing clients will be interested in Mintel's recent update on two of those predictions: trust messaging and expanded product scope. While all types of personal insurance lines showed shifts in messaging to win consumer trust via simplification, education and transparency, Mintel especially notes life insurance efforts to close the financial literacy gap through content marketing. An example is Allstate's launch of an advertising campaign in July 2018 that reminded viewers "truth today is hard to find" and concluded TV ads with "Now that you know the truth, are you in Good Hands?" Likewise, insurers Humana, Gerber Life, Kaiser Permanente, State Farm, John Hancock and Mutual of Omaha revamped direct mail messaging with some form of the line "insurance can be confusing" and then offered simplified language to which consumers could more easily relate. It was the marketing landscape for health insurance that saw major changes in terms of insurance scope this year. For example, the CVS pharmacy acquisition of Aetna opens the door to a one-stop-shop health care experience, including better digital customer service. Similarly, Mintel notes the Amazon acquisition of PillPack and the partnership between Walmart and Anthem as opportunities for established insurance products to expand and redefine the digital-age customer journey. Meanwhile, insurance marketers are watching to see how much the Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway collaboration to offer independent employee health care will shake up the status quo. For the full blog post, see http://www.acculistusa.com/trust-message-takes-center-stage-in-2018-insurance-marketing/

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Business Trends Drive Recognition & Incentive Sales

AccuList USA recently completed proprietary research on hundreds of top performing lists of employee recognition and incentive product buyers to support clients in a business-to-business marketplace that now encompasses close to 90% of companies. In fact, the 2017 "Trends in Employee Recognition" report from WorldatWork, a nonprofit human resources association, found 89% of surveyed organizations committed to recognition programs, with 65% offering between three and six different programs, from companywide (81%) to individual (69%) to department/team (67%). Certificates and/or plaques remain the most awarded recognition item, at 80% of respondents, followed by cash (55%), gift certificates/cards (45%), company-logo merchandise (40%), and food, such as a lunch or pizza party (39%). For incentive and recognition marketers, targeting can mainly focus on two departments responsible for administering programs: human resources (59%) and compensation (22%). Now, the Incentive Research Foundation's "IRF 2018 Trends Study" offers recognition and incentive marketers more guidance on changing demand trends. For one, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality capabilities will be a "fundamental requirement" for vendors and suppliers looking to partner with incentive professionals in 2018, per IRF. Marketers also will want to push wellness messaging, since more incentive professionals are adding health and wellness components focused on fitness, food, and comfort to their incentive programs this year compared with other features, says the report. And when it comes to merchandise products, incentive buyers in 2018 don't want more choice as much as more "impactful products," such as products with local sourcing or organic roots and products that can be easily personalized and customized. The desire to build a brand-asset culture around intangibles, such as innovation, as well as traditional assets is one factor pushing these non-cash awards in 2018, notes the report. On the other hand, gift cards will continue to gain momentum this year, according to the IRF, which says mid-size firms spend an average of nearly $500,000 annually on gift cards across all programs, while large ones spend over $1 million annually. Finally, although incentive travel makes up a small part of the recognition pie, the incentive travel industry's net optimism score for the economy is up almost 20 points from 2017 in the IRF report, leading to budget increases despite rising costs. For more on top incentive trends, see our website blog post at http://www.acculistusa.com/2018-recognition-market-tech-partnering-wellness-non-cash-awards/

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Market Trends Bolster Food Gifting Growth

One of AccuList USA's areas of specialization is the food and wine gift market, so we keep an eye on emerging trends. In fact, food gift sales will approach $20 billion in 2018, up 4% over last year, per the “Food Gifting in the U.S.: Consumer and Corporate” report for 2018-2020 by research firm Packaged Facts. Marketing dollars will naturally focus on year-end sales, since, while consumers and businesses are giving food baskets across a wider variety of occasions today, Christmas is still the food and wine gifting mainstay. More than half of the 130 million consumer food gifters purchasing in the last 12 months bought during the winter holiday season. So how can food gift marketers keep overall sales growth going strong? One key factor will be continued innovation that creates exclusivity and artisanship, avoiding the commoditization that drains profit with discounting, notes the report. To support that kind of brand power, marketing efforts will need to embrace the kind of story telling that creates a sense of authenticity and uniqueness and builds a gourmet brand image. Food gift marketers also need to continue expanding gifting occasions beyond holidays, not only for consumers but also for the lucrative corporate market, by pushing work anniversary and thank-you gestures as examples. Finally, while the food gifting market is heavily dependent on older, high-income consumers, tapping into millennials will require a more omnichannel approach that takes into account millennial ordering preferences, stresses the Packaged Facts report. An omnichannel wooing of millennials will combine direct mail/catalogs with e-mail, social media and e-commerce strategies. While traditional direct mail continues as a workhorse, a strong online presence and SEO strategy is especially essential. Luxury biscuit gift company Biscuiteers provides an example of how it matters: The company increased their website traffic from new customers by 90% and SEO revenue by 77% in 6 months by optimizing category landing pages for different types of food gift buyer and season. E-commerce goes hand-in-hand with a good e-mail strategy. For example, the venerable Hickory Farms brand decided to improve the quality of its customer data and create a more agile e-mail campaign process to trigger consumer journeys and automated e-mail sends. E-mail inbox placement this year rose to 94%, almost 10% above industry standard, plus e-mail list growth improved. Hickory Farms CMO Judy Ransford explained to CMO magazine that the smarter list management "helps us deliver e-mails at the frequency customers want, and to make sure the content quality is better. This year we’ve seen a huge improvement and not such high attrition rates as a result." Social media also has become a must-have for food gifting via leading platforms like Facebook and Instagram for consumers and LinkedIn for corporate prospecting. For more, including Top Ten Reviews' ratings of the best gift baskets of 2018, see the full post at http://www.acculistusa.com/new-marketing-trends-bolster-food-gifting-growth/

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Use Direct Mail to Spur Trade Show Attendance

After many years of supporting the marketing of trade show and conference managers and exhibitors, we can attest to the continued power of direct mail in building audience. While exhibitors who do a pre-show campaign one or two months before a show can increase attendance by up to 50%, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, a post by the NextPage agency recently explained how direct mail can push those pre-event promotional efforts several steps ahead of competitors. Show marketers looking for an edge with multi-channel audiences will embrace direct mail’s higher response rates and retention rates, urges NextPage, leveraging the deliverability of a tactile and visual attention-getter in an era of crowded digital mailboxes and websites. By combining variable printing with segmented list targeting, savvy marketers can create a pre-event mailing that is a highly personalized invitation. Including an incentive in the mailer will further spur booth visits. For example, trade show expert Marlys Arnold earns long lines at her booth by using scavenger hunts in pre-show campaigns, with a direct mail piece that lists five questions and gives a web address where attendees can print off an answer sheet to fill out and bring to the show. In another example, independent copywriter named Mark Johnson wanted to target subscription newsletter marketers at a Las Vegas Conference and created a special website with case studies and a free offer that he touted in a postcard. The free offer was an exclusive 30-minute consultation with Johnson to review current marketing campaigns. Johnson rented the conference association’s membership list and mailed the card only to qualified leads five weeks before the show. Out of 400 pieces mailed, 406 people visited his site, and he generated five solid leads! As Johnson showed, the real key to success with a direct mail campaign is targeting qualified leads, starting with a list of current clients and prospects and moving on to lists of registered attendees, association members, subscribers to relevant trade publications and newsletters, multi-channel buyers of relevant products, etc. Marketers can then segment and tailor messaging by geography, industry, product interest, title, and firm-ographics (such as number of employees). For more on event direct mail, see http://www.acculistusa.com/use-direct-mail-to-push-trade-show-attendance-ahead-of-the-pack/

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mail Joins Digital to Bolster Promotional Products

AccuList USA recently completed a proprietary analysis of the top-performing direct mail and e-mail lists for promotional products companies to help buttress the continued success of this evergreen marketing tool. Promotional product providers already have some powerful arguments in wooing business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketers. For example, per industry surveys, eight in 10 consumers have one to 10 promotional products, 53% use the giveaways at least once a week, and 60% retain the products for up to two years. Before receiving a promotional product, 55% surveyed had done business with the advertiser, but after receiving a promotional product, 85% did business with the advertiser. With promotional products delivering such regular, repeated brand exposure and enhanced outreach, it’s no wonder the U.S. promotional products industry is forecast to generate $24 billion in 2018, growing at 2.5 % annually. Plus, while not every industry is a good target for a promotional product pitch, prospective buyers abound. A recent post by Designhill, a graphic design platform, cited some top promotional users they have supported. Real estate promotions lead in distributing branded notepads, keychains, calendars, magnets, door hangers and more, for example. The education sector often offers writing instruments, apparel, water bottles, folders, and frisbees at college fairs, seminars, expos and open houses. In today’s competitive healthcare market, clinics, hospitals, outpatient clinics and surgery centers go beyond branded tote bags to first-aid kits and custom ice packs. Nonprofits are big consumers of tumblers, tote bags, wristbands and lanyards, while banks, credit unions and insurance firms opt to reward both employees and new accounts with everything from travel bags and mugs to fidget spinners. With the midterm elections ahead, don’t forget that political candidates are a big market for flags, stickers, decals, apparel and hats (following in MAGA footsteps). The key to success is targeted data. Promotional products are visual sales, which is why direct mail and catalogs using targeted mailing lists have such a role in the industry. Now social media options such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn also allow for visual, targeted promotions, including video. And tools like AccuList USA’s Digital2Direct can link highly targeted direct mail with social media advertising on Facebook, or send direct mail with timely opt-in e-mail to the same recipients. For more ways that AccuList USA supports promotional products companies, see http://www.acculistusa.com/promotional-product-marketers-can-hone-proven-tools/

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

This Direct Mail Lead Gen Is Budget-Friendly

Many direct marketing articles tout digital tactics for generating sales leads, but we can attest to the continued lead-gen effectiveness of traditional direct mail for a range of our clients, including online retail and publications. Direct mail has higher response rates while avoiding some of the challenges of SEO, social media and e-mail, such as rapidly changing rules, deliverability/visibility issues and a crowded competitive space. But what about the cost of direct mail? As a recent MarketingProfs post highlighted, there are direct mail options that can effectively deliver leads without busting the marketing budget! A No. 10 envelope that includes a one- or two-page letter and a reply card is an expensive, simple and effective way to reach prospects with something likely to be opened and read (unlike many e-mails). Of course, response depends on the proper targeting of the prospect lists and the personalized content of the letter. The letter should identify a problem, present a solution and offer a "freebie" of value, such as a brochure, sample, demo, evaluation, information kit or anything else that will get a response so that salespeople can follow up with qualified prospects. A postcard is an inexpensive alternative to a letter, with low print costs and lower postage rates than letters as long as you stay within USPS minimum and maximum sizes. Because there is less room for the sales message, offer copy needs to be simple with a clear call to action. And because there is no additional response device, postcards need to stress a website address or a phone number. To drive traffic to a retail store, make room for directions or a map. Similarly, flyers are cheap and great options for local small businesses. Printed on ordinary paper, folded in thirds with a tab to hold it closed, and addressed with a mailing label and stamp, the result doesn't have to be beautiful to be effective. An invitation also doesn't have to be printed in formal lettering on cream card stock in a fancy hand-addressed envelope. You can draw people to an event or offer in a way that seems more personal and important just by using the words "You are invited..." An invitation can use a letter, a postcard or a flyer for an open house, special sale, product demonstration, etc. The key is to make the event seem exclusive and the invitees special in some way. Another way to make a mailing seem special is to use FedEx or other quick delivery service. The package content can range from a simple personal letter to a video or product sample. A special delivery package is a guaranteed open, but, because the delivery method is more expensive, it is usually limited to a smaller group of select targets. For more, see http://www.acculistusa.com/direct-mail-lead-gen-doesnt-have-to-bust-the-budget/

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

How B2B Marketers Can Boost E-mail Leads

It's no surprise that close to 90% of B2B marketers use e-mail to generate new leads when the latest data from the DMA shows e-mail marketing delivers an average $43 return for every $1 spent. But that doesn't mean B2B e-mails are a guaranteed success. B2B e-mailers may want to benchmark their efforts against a recent infographic from EmailMonks that offers proven ways to help boost those all-important open and click rates. Start with personalization. Marketers personalize e-mails because 91% get better open and click rates when they do, and that means going beyond using a first name to targeted, personalized content based on demographics, purchase and browsing history, subscriber interests, etc. Achieving that quality targeted personalization requires good list segmentation; blasting a one-size-fits-all message to the whole e-mail list is a recipe for low response. Segmenting by age, gender, preferences, purchase history and more delivers 14.31% higher opens and 100.95% higher clicks than non-segmented list campaigns, notes the EmailMonks infographic. Executing that personal touch also means permission-based e-mail that respects recipient preferences and lets them manage frequency and timing of contacts. Then, as the infographic points out, 35% of e-mails are opened based on the subject line alone. What makes up a winning subject line? Brevity is the soul of subject line wit; with 54% of e-mails opened on a mobile device, a subject line of around three words scores higher since most mobile devices can show only four to seven words across the screen. Personalization counts big, too; personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than general ones. Once the e-mail is opened, the crafting of a good call-to-action (CTA) will drive more click-throughs. The CTA should be noticeable and "above-the fold"; in fact most brands prefer to place a CTA in the top third of an e-mail, and 48% match the CTA colors to their brand logos. Oh, and make sure the CTA links to an effective, mobile-optmized landing page, too. Looking for specific examples? Go to our onsite blog post for a link to 17 B2B e-mail templates based on actual successful e-mails: http://www.acculistusa.com/how-to-boost-e-mail-lead-gen-for-b2b-publishers-marketers/