Thursday, August 27, 2015

Get Better E-mail Results by Adapting for All Devices

With e-mail now viewed on desktops and smartphones, marketers must adapt content to optimize for all device users, and a recent Direct Marketing News magazine article suggests four strategies for success. While mobile e-mail viewing has surged, desktop e-mail has not gone away. In fact, the article notes, Movable Ink's "U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report" for the second quarter of 2015 found that desktop conversions actually increased to 52.6% of total e-mail conversion in the quarter. Nasty winter weather may be a factor (keeping e-mail recipients close to desktops), but it is still a reminder that e-mail needs to be device-agnostic. This is especially true because device preferences differ by market vertical, per Movable Ink data. For example, 49.4% of nonprofit e-mail opens occur on desktops, but 62.5% of apparel marketing e-mails are opened on a smartphone. The article draws on advice from Vivek Sharma, CEO of Movable Ink, to highlight four strategies for adapting e-mail to all device users. First, adjust content for customer e-mail habits that differ by device, by time of day, and even by geographic location (Californians prefer smartphone e-mail but Virginians lean toward desktop viewing). Second, note that post-click behavior also can vary by device. For example, ask a smartphone nonprofit e-mail opener to text to donate but send a publication subscriber opening a desktop e-mail to an online page. Third, avoid a silo mentality and integrate e-mail strategy for all devices with social, direct mail, and other channels. Finally, measure beyond opens and clicks--tracking click-stream and time on site for example--to tailor content more effectively across devices. For more details:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Direct Mailers Fear Late Deliveries This Fall

Coming into the busy autumn mailing season, direct mailers and catalogers are worried about the potential for significant late mail deliveries this year, reports Direct Marketing News magazine's Senior Editor Al Urbanski. The concern is based on a recent report by the Office of Inspector General that late mail deliveries by the U.S. Postal Service rose 48% in the first six months of 2015 compared with the same period last year. A rise in delayed mail was expected after the USPS made major operational changes in January, including shifting of a significant portion of Standard Mail from a two-day to a three-day service standard. But the revealed size of the delivery impact has mailers fretting. The OIG has tried to allay fears by noting that on-time delivery has improved, going from 472 million late deliveries in January to just 64 million in June. But the heavy fall mailing season lies ahead, and mailers are especially concerned about poor USPS performance in predicting real-time delivery so they have enough time to adjust their plans for crucial fall mailings. See the full story:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2015 Retail Marketers Boost Social Media Use

Social media advertising, especially on Facebook, has moved up significantly as a favored acquisition tool of retailers, according to the recent State of Retailing Online 2015 survey conducted by, Forrester Research Inc. and Bizrate Insights. Per a recent story by Multichannel Merchant, the survey found that 25% of retailers now cite Facebook as a top acquisition platform, although paid search and e-mail marketing still top their list of most effective channels. Among the paid social media tools, 50% of retailers said they are spending more this year than last year on paid Facebook options such as promoted posts and paid ads. YouTube came in second place among paid social choices, with 29% of retailers saying they will spend more on paid YouTube promotion, followed by Pinterest with 27% planning an increase, Twitter 22%, Instagram 20% and Snapchat 6%. For more from the survey, including trends in online marketplaces, search engine marketing and online site merchandising, see

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Marketers Pick E-mail for ROI, Mail for Response

Articles proliferate about social and online strategies, but the old standbys of direct mail, e-mail and even phone solicitation turn out to be the channels that shine when it comes to what matters: measurable results in terms of response rates, conversion rates, and return on investment. The Direct Marketing Association 2015 Response Rate Report vindicates marketers' continued faith in older, proven channels. Based on a survey of 485 marketers, the report shows that e-mail may have one of the lowest response rates among channels but still leads in ROI, with campaigns conducted with house lists achieving an average 30% to 32% ROI, and those using prospect lists achieving 15% to 17%. Direct mail continues to outperform all digital media in terms of response rates, with house list campaigns generating 3.73% response and an average 18% to 20% ROI. Social media, by comparison, had average click-through rates (CTRs) of 2.1% to 2.5% and 15% to 17% ROI. But social is still ahead of online display ads with CTRs of 1.1% and 1.5%. Meanwhile, phone calls win the highest response rate of 9% to 10%. For a survey synopsis, and a link to download the full report, see the Direct Marketing News article:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mobile Trumps Language in Wooing Hispanics

Marketers are eager to cash in on growing U.S. Hispanic purchasing power, which is rising at more than two times the national rate, but a recent MarketingProfs article warns that success goes beyond how well the brand message is translated into Spanish to how well it is translated to mobile, video and social platforms. For example, Hispanic consumers are less likely to access the Internet via desktop and more likely to own a smart phone than non-Hispanics, the article points out. So focusing on the mobile user experience becomes vital, via use of responsive design, mobile e-mail, an easy toggle to Spanish, or native advertising in appropriate mobile-friendly sites. Video--whether pre-roll, in-banner or social--is another way to engage with an audience that spends nearly 30% of its online time watching videos, streaming twice as much video as non-Hispanics. And with 71% of adults Hispanics using social networking sites, a social brand and ad strategy is another must. For more advice, read

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Quitting Direct Mail Cost Big Fundraiser $30 Million

When it comes to the value of direct mail, sometimes, to coin a song lyric, "you don't know what you've got till it's gone." At least that was the case for the American Cancer Society, which suspended its direct mail acquisition program from January 2013 through June 2014 as part of an organizational consolidation and re-alignment of fundraising strategy. As reported recently by The NonProfit Times magazine, ACS now reveals that, in the first year of suspended mail acquisition, its new donors declined by 11% and new donor revenue dropped by $11.3 million. In addition, the direct mail hiatus impacted renewal programs, planned giving and events, so the charity estimates the mail suspension will end up costing $29.5 million in lost revenue over five years. For every $1 invested in mail acquisition, ACS brings in $7 over the course of three years, explained Catharine Houlihan, ACS director of marketing, in an ACS-led panel discussion of its re-entry into mail at the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation's New York conference. "We need acquisition to feed the core audience or else the entire program loses profitability through the course of the natural customer cycle," she noted in the article. When ACS successfully re-launched its mail acquisition program in 2014, it was part of an integrated multichannel strategy including digital, e-mail and tele-fundraising--but direct mail remained at the core, raising 80% of direct response revenue. The ACS panel noted that while digital and e-mail channels are attractive because they are less expensive, they also take longer to break even and fill the fundraising funnel. For more, read

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Caution: These Words Can Turn E-mail Into Spam

E-mail messaging is a tough balancing act, creating interest and urgency on a tightrope over the spam abyss--especially when writing the subject lines so critical to recipient opens. Our thanks to Geoffrey James, Inc. magazine contributing editor, for his recent article providing a whopping 401 words and phrases likely to raise spam flags and tip e-mail straight into spam folders instead of inboxes. His list starts with "$$$" and ends with "You've been selected." Along the way are many tempting and seemingly innocuous marketing words and phrases: 50% off, affordable, all new, bargain, bonus, call, compare, deal, discount, for you, hello, instant, member, no cost, no obligation, now, one time, only, opportunity, sale, save up to, subscribe, urgent. And, of course, beware almost any phrase beginning with the word "free." Other no-no words reflect the e-mail abuses found in certain industries: insurance, investment, mortgage, quote, prize, refinance, lose weight, search engines, vacation, Viagra. For his complete list of words to avoid, read