Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Smart Marketers Cater to Millennial Direct Mail Fans

Remember when marketing gurus were calling direct mail "dead," drowned by a wave of digital, mobile, and social technologies? Well, research keeps resurrecting mail from its low-tech tomb. In fact, recent studies find that Millennials--the 22- to 36-year-old, tech-savvy generation supposedly addicted to mobile devices and digital networking--are bigger fans of direct mail than older generations in some ways! For example, a recent study by InfoTrends and Prinova found that response rates for direct mail remain high for all demographics, including Millennials, who open direct mail received at the same high rate of 66% as recipients overall. More significantly, Milennials as a group respond faster to mail--within 2.4 months--which is less than the average response time for all respondents. Plus, the InfoTrends research found that a big 63% of Millennials who responded to a direct mail piece within that three-month period actually made a purchase! Along similar lines, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) conducted a survey on direct mail's political impact on Millennials and found that at least 42% of Millennials prefer direct mail political ads over online ads, and that Millennials are more likely to be prompted to action by mail, with 66% likely to research the candidate and 54% visiting the candidate’s website after receiving mail. However, research also shows that all mail pieces are not created equal. Mailings that resonate best with Millennials are targeted and personalized, per research. Luckily, sophisticated targeting and personalization are possible with today's variable printing, programmatic and automation programs, and database segmentation and analytics. Millennials demand printing quality as well, with one quarter of surveyed 25- to 34-year-olds saying they opened direct mail because of the print and image quality. Plus, engaging copy counts, with 25% of that same surveyed group saying they consider reading direct mail a leisure activity. That doesn't mean that printed mail can be divorced from Millennials' digital lifestyle. Data in eMarketer's survey report “US Millennial Shoppers 2017” shows that Millennials prefer digital shopping and are comfortable with mobile shopping, which means that integrating print and digital--via QR, AR, or PURL--can significantly boost response. For more detail, go to http://www.acculistusa.com/marketers-win-by-catering-to-millennial-direct-mail-fans/

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

In Direct Mail, What's Old Is New (& Effective) Again

Keeping up with the latest direct mail options combining print and digital technologies doesn't mean ignoring the tried-and-true, pre-digital tactics that still deliver mail response! Thank Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What!, for sifting through mail volumes to spot some successful new takes on old tricks for attention-getting envelopes. In a recent Target Marketing magazine article, he noted the reappearance of four "old-school" tactics. One is an envelope highlighting Yes-No-Maybe stickers, once a favorite of subscription drives; Bobnak cites a recent mail piece from UPMC, a healthcare system, with the Yes-No stickers visible in an outer envelope window. Posting an outer envelope quiz is another proven way to intrigue prospects into opening--a ploy often used for health care and financial services offers. Bobnak shows how a few qualifying envelope questions work well today for the Harvard Health Letter. The interoffice-routing-style envelope is an old trick for catching the attention of office workers and has been a go-to for B2B. Despite e-mail's workplace dominance, interoffice paper still exists, and Bobnak notes the recent engaging nonprofit marketing use of an interoffice envelope by Sacred Heart Southern Missions, a social ministry. Then there's the photo lab envelope, seemingly obsolete in this digital photo age. But high-quality printed photos still come in envelopes, Bobnak reminds, and that syncs with the message of Dissolve, a stock footage agency, which recently prospected with a photo lab envelope containing quality photos from its collections. Once recipients open the envelope, the old-school marketing basics of the letter copy offer still matter, too. Thus, in another recent Target Marketing magazine article, Summer Gould highlighted seven items required for a great direct mail letter: a first sentence that hooks the reader; an offer that is attractive; a story line that pulls important emotional triggers; flattery that convinces the reader he or she is special and appreciated, which today requires personalization; questions that qualify; a problem solved by your product or service; and benefits that matter to the prospect or customer. For more detail and links to real-life examples, see http://www.acculistusa.com/for-direct-mail-whats-old-can-be-new-effective-again/

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Science & Tech Offer Event Audience-Building Tools

For an event to succeed, trade show marketers must build attendance before the event and deliver for attendees by the end of the event, whether measured by lead generation, education or networking. There's an art to it, but science and technology impact success today as well. For example, BizBash.com did an interesting Q&A with Ben Parr, author of Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention, in which Parr highlighted research-based conclusions about "captivation triggers" of audience attention. Start with "automaticity," which means using colors and symbols that automatically affect attention, such as the color red. Move on to "framing," setting the value of an event in a context that garners more attention, such as stressing event ticket scarcity. A message or design that offers "disruption," meaning a violation of expectations, naturally grabs attention, as does "mystery," such as an intriguing headline or subject line. Of course, there is the attention-getting "reward" for attendance, either an extrinsic reward (a swag bag) or an intrinsic reward (personal self-improvement). The good reputations of event, exhibitors and speakers really count, too; brain research shows audiences are especially attentive and trusting of experts, for example. Meanwhile, Event Farm, an enterprise event marketing platform, has interviewed event experts to find new technology trends likely to affect event marketing in 2017 and beyond. Among the trends cited is having events bring the internet to life onsite by letting attendees engage with online experiences, such as viral memes or videos. Marketing pros also foresee that the end of an event will no longer signal the end of an experiential marketing campaign, so that marketers engage with attendees (and non-attendees) after the event via tactics such as re-purposing an event presentation or sharing "digital" event memories. More people are expected to use live streaming to complement events via services like Facebook Live, too, not as a substitute for attendance but as an attendee-engagement enhancer. Finally, watch for attendees to seek to engage with the digital and physical landscapes simultaneously, such as using smartphones to help navigate through a venue. For more, see http://www.acculistusa.com/science-tech-can-help-events-capture-audience/

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Science & USPS Both Support Mail-Digital Mating

For any direct marketers who haven’t committed to combining direct mail with digital media, 2017 is a perfect year for experimentation, with both “brain science” and U.S. Postal Service incentives increasing the attractions of a mail-digital marriage. For example, an article from The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) recently highlighted the “neuromarketing” evidence for mail-digital pairings in a recent study by Temple University and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General and another study from a partnership the Canada Post and True Impact Marketing, a leading neuromarketing research firm. A key finding from the first study: Consumer “willingness to pay” was significantly higher when media was delivered across both digital and physical channels rather than a single channel. An important finding from the second effort: While digital media provide key platforms for customer interaction, direct mail is often better at closing the marketing-sales loop. So for marketers, a mail-digital combination offers the best of both worlds, helps bridge the gap between interaction and action and boosts sales. Why wait to reap the benefits? Especially now that the U.S. Postal Service is offering a range of 2017 programs that make the economic decision easier. The new Informed Delivery program, which inserts mail into consumers’ daily digital routines, is one example. Informed Delivery users receive e-mails that capture grayscale images of the address side of their mail. Under the program, marketers can take advantage of three potential touchpoints with one mail piece: an advance preview via e-mail/app, actually delivery in the mailbox, and inclusion of a unique URL in the digital preview to drive trackable traffic to a website. Plus, the USPS has two promotions supporting mail-digital pairing this year. The Emerging & Advanced Technology Promotion (March 1 – Aug. 31, 2017) encourages mailers to integrate direct mail with advances in mobile technology using NFC technology, Video in Print (ViP), Beacon technology, “Enhanced” Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality (newly included this year) or, as of 2017, use of Digital to Direct Mail to boost response with dynamically printed, personalized messaging automatically triggered by digital interaction. Mail-digital pairing is also rewarded by the Mobile Shopping Promotion (Aug. 1 – Dec. 31, 2017), which encourages mailers to invest in technologies that take recipients directly from the mail piece to a mobile-optimized online shopping experience via Quick Response (QR) Codes, Snap Tags, Watermarks and other technologies. For more details, see http://www.acculistusa.com/usps-science-encourage-merger-of-digital-mail-efforts/

Monday, May 22, 2017

Fundraisers Face Challenges Wooing Millennials

Millennials, now the nation's largest generational cohort, are a challenge for many nonprofit marketers. Alas, fundraising campaigns that won over baby boomers don't necessarily succeed with millennials in their 20s and 30s. Yet fundraisers can't afford to fail with this younger age group. A recent NonProfit PRO interview with Vickie Lobello, fundraising consultant Turnkey’s lead strategist, offered data points that explain why. Lobello cites research, from Salesforce to Millennial Impact reports, verifying that millennials want to make a difference and so form a great pool of prospective volunteers. For example, 88% of millennial females and 82% of millennial males say that it's important to be engaged in work that gives back to the community. A Pew Research Center survey found that 57% of millennials reported volunteering in the last 12 months, compared with 52% of boomers. Even more important for marketers, millennials are a growing donor force. Lobello points out that 52% of millennials say they donated to a cause affiliated with a social issue in the past month. Plus, millennials are more likely to increase their giving year-over-year compared with other age groups! Finally, Lobello underscores that millennials offer potent social media leverage. Research shows 61% of millennials post about issues they care about anywhere from one to 11 times a week on social media! Yet millennials are motivated in different ways from their parents. Messaging, creative and preferred giving channels need to reflect that reality. Randy Hawthorne, executive director of Nonprofit Hub, recently drew on his experience to outline changes in fundraising tactics to successfully win millennials. For example, since millennials spend so much time connected to social media, Hawthorne urges promoting the cause (not the organization) on social platforms. Also, since millennials seek relationships, marketers should realize that a cold ask for dollars may be a turn-off, and should also offer ways for millennials to engage more deeply with a cause, such as volunteering (which leads to donating). Fundraisers also must cater to millennials' impulsive use of technology by offering easy online and mobile donation options. Then maintaining that valuable millennial engagement requires frequent, meaningful communication, not just an annual report! Read our full post at http://www.acculistusa.com/fundraisers-face-the-challenge-of-wooing-millennial-donors/

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Subscription Marketing Basics Still Win Audiences

Despite modern publishing's multi-platform environment (print, web, mobile), many long-time subscription marketing rules retain their relevance. A recent post from Bill Dugan, for niche magazine consulting firm Mequoda, stressed just that point by reminding audience development pros of the fundamentals for price, offer and creative. As a list brokerage with many paid or controlled circulation clients, AccuList USA would, of course, add another important component: quality data. As Dugan stresses, the art and science of pricing still counts. In pricing, whether for print, online, tablet or combination packages, subscription marketers actually have an edge over many other products by being able to sell the same product at different prices each time it’s purchased, from a new subscriber to each subsequent renewal. Pricing strategies can include 1) simply the same price at every stage of buying or renewing; 2) giving the more price-sensitive new subscriber an introductory discount and then selling renewals at full price; 3) maximizing response and profitability with a step-up program from a low introductory price through gradual renewal increases to maximum; and 4) rewarding subscribers with a lower monthly price for selecting a longer (annual) term. Next, marketers can build a range of offers. Based on testing, Dugan reports that the best response is earned by a "soft offer," meaning a trial free issue or more, plus a premium and a bill-me-later for a full subscription. The lowest response offer is the old-fashioned hard offer, requesting up-front credit card payment with no trial or premium,per his testing. And finally, direct marketing success requires wrapping the offer in effective creative. A key to creative response today, whether direct mail or e-mail, is personalization that focuses on the target customers’ needs. Of course, effective personalization requires targeted, quality data! So while Dugan didn't talk about the paramount importance of data, we remind marketers of the continuing relevance of either the 40-40-20 rule (40% of response success from audience/list, 40% from offer and 20% for creative) or the 60-30-10 formula (60% from targeted audience/list). Bottom line, good audience data is key. For more on our proprietary research on market-tested data and selection parameters most likely to boost response, go to http://www.acculistusa.com/subscription-marketing-basics-still-create-winning-formulas/

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Plan Event Marketing E-mails That Lead the Pack

Event marketers often ask for guidance on event industry response for e-mail campaigns. Now we can enhance data pulled from our proprietary research with Eventbrite's new "2017 Event E-mail Benchmarking Report," comparing survey responses from over 340 event organizers across the U.S. and U.K. for a range of event types and sizes. If you're an event marketer with a fuzzy notion of the basic response measure of click-to-open rate (CTOR), you're not alone. The benchmark report found that 39% of respondents said they didn’t know their average CTOR. That's an ignorance that these event pros need to remedy if they hope to catch up with even average e-mail results. The rest of the U.S. event organizers surveyed reported an average CTOR of 12%. That was higher than their U.K. brethren, who only cited a 9% average, but far behind the enviable 17% in the U.S. who reported a CTOR of 21% or higher! Festivals scored the best average e-mail CTOR (14%), while classes and workshops had the lowest (9%). Event marketers who want to improve CTOR can commit to a number of basic creative tactics for layout, copy, mobile-optimization, and use of engaging images. But as data brokers, we must remind that response is even more dependent on the quality of targeted opt-in e-mail data, whether house or rental lists, and use of professional software and database support for list segmentation, updating and permission management as well as results tracking, testing and analysis. Indeed, regardless of carefully crafted e-mail creative, results measurement and analytics are essential to a direct marketing basic: testing of creative, lists and targeting to find what works best. Automation of event updates and confirmation/thank-you e-mails has also proven its value in maximizing click-through rates and conversions/registrations. And, finally, e-mail gains the most reach as part of a consistently branded, multi-channel effort, including social media and direct mail. For more and a link to the free benchmark report, go to at http://www.acculistusa.com/push-your-event-marketing-e-mails-ahead-of-the-pack/