Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ready for Holiday Sales? Don't Stint on Mail Power

As retailers head into the holiday sales season and balance their offline-online marketing mix, there's solid recent evidence to support direct mail investment, even by digital-first marketers. It's why AccuList USA continues updating mailing list research to hone response for a wide variety of multichannel retail campaigns in popular seasonal categories like gourmet and food gifts, health/beauty, hobbies/collectibles, and pets. We're buoyed by recent data. For example, among the findings of global marketing firm Epsilon's just released 2016 holiday shopping survey is shoppers' clear propensity to respond to mail. In fact, 77% of respondents said they feel advertisements received by mail will have at least “some influence” on their buying decisions this holiday shopping season. Compare that number to the just 41% of respondents who said that banner advertisements when searching online will have at least “some influence” on buying decisions. According to the survey respondents, they are influenced by direct mail because it usually contains an offer or discount and the format allows for leisurely review time. No surprises there. If any digital-first marketers are unconvinced, they should take a look at some real-life mail examples from digital market leaders, cited in a recent article for Target Marketing magazine by Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What!. For more detail on those mailing pieces, go to

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Measuring ROI Is Top Multichannel Challenge

As highlighted recently in a MediaPost Real-Time Daily post, quantifying and optimizing ROI across channels is a top challenge for today's marketing execs.  Gone are the days when direct marketers could afford siloed channel strategies. Citing a new global survey conducted by the programmatic marketing and analytics firm DataXu, the Real-Time Daily article notes that U.S. senior marketers now say the single greatest challenge in their jobs is developing an accurate way to quantify ROI across the variety of channels. Another 37% of U.S. marketers say their biggest challenge is developing an efficient marketing mix across channels to drive ROI. The U.S. marketers are not alone, however; difficulty tracking the success of a marketing campaign into metrics was cited by one-third of global marketers as the largest threat to the success of their teams. In meeting multichannel challenges, marketers also feel the bar for technical skills is set higher than ever before because of expanding digital technologies and proliferating data sources. So it's no surprise that 78% of U.S. marketers point to understanding marketing technologies as a skill critical to their mission, and 72% think grasping digital media is crucial to success. Overall,  65% also say it is necessary to be data literate. Testing to optimize marketing mix ROI is an approach that some marketers are now taking, per the article, including survey author DataXu. These marketing teams are randomizing deployment of existing budgets across various channels and then measuring business outcomes to pinpoint where a campaign is most successful, transforming a media plan into a controlled experiment. For more on the article and its statistics, go to

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Print vs. Digital: Millennial Marketing Myths

Given that millennials love digital technology, does that mean they prefer digital marketing? Not according to a recent Target Marketing magazine article debunking several marketing myths about millennial customers, including the notion that digital advertising is the most effective way to reach those born between 1980 and 2000. Author Linda Antos, market development analyst at commercial printer Quad/Graphics, cites annual Quad/Graphics research that tracks millennial shopping and media habits and preferences to show that traditional print marketing--direct mail and catalogs--actually has greater power to move millennial buyers. The first myth Antos takes on is the belief that millennials ignore printed marketing. The Quad/Graphics study shows that 82% of millennials read direct mail and 54% look forward to receiving retail catalogs in the mail. Within 30 days of the survey, 49% reported taking print coupons to the store to shop and almost three in four used grocery retail inserts, higher than the average shopper. Myth No. 2 involves assuming that millennials' known addiction to daily digital interaction means they pay attention to digital advertising. The Quad/Graphics survey found that nearly half say they ignore e-mail and Internet ads, and 45% ignore mobile ads. By comparison, only 15% ignore direct mail ads. When it comes to millennial social networking, less than 10% say they made a purchase based on social media ads, and only 1% purchased from a social site. Another false generational stereotype is that millennials are less cost-conscious. In the Quad/Graphics millennials study, 49% said it was fun to see how much they could save with coupons, loyalty cards and discount offers, and 57% said they responded to "Buy One, Get One Free" offers in direct mail. The surprise power of direct mail with millennials doesn't diminish the need for digital marketing but does underscore the value of multichannel marketing, which is supported by more Quad/Graphics data. For the complete post, read

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Targeted Lists Are Key to Dimensional Mail Success

Prospecting with dimensional mail is both attractive because of high response rates and risky because of high costs. So what's the key ingredient of success? Mailing lists that are appropriately and tightly targeted, answers a recent Entrepreneur magazine article on dimensional mail. Here are the facts: The Direct Marketing Association's 2015 "Response Rate Report" shows dimensional prospecting mail earns a median 2.8% response that betters the 1% of a letter envelope and postcard, or even the 2% of an oversized envelope. Dimensional mail works because it's often lumpy, bumpy, unusually shaped and/or weightier, which grabs attention in the mailbox and sparks a curiosity about internal rewards that leads to opens. However, while dimensional mail may earn top response rates, it also has the highest cost per thousand, at an average $1,205 compared with a standard letter envelope package's $583, per the DMA report. This raises the stakes but does not disqualify dimensional mail as an acquisition tool. Overall, dimensional mail for prospecting still comes in at the lowest $43 cost per response, compared with the highest cost per response turned in by catalogs ($112) and oversized mail ($105), per DMA stats. Success in this response-cost balancing act depends on another ingredient: list targeting. In his recent Entrepreneur article, Craig Simpson, owner of Simpson Direct, Inc., explains why dimensional mail works best with "a small, highly targeted group of prospects." It is also "invaluable" with "hard-to-reach niches," especially business-to-business  promotions that need to get past office "gatekeepers," he notes. Read the rest of our post at

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mail Still Stars in Multichannel Subscription Drives

As multichannel publishing evolves, traditional direct mail, long a staple of subscription acquisition campaigns, has evolved as well. So a recent Target Marketing magazine article by Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What!, caught our eye. The article provided an interesting example of how an established print publication brand successfully used targeted direct mail to promote multiplatform content and expand reach to a digital-first audience. Bobnak shares how The Economist, one of the world’s most respected magazines and a "big user of direct mail," created a new mail piece to promote its brand to an academic target market of college professors--and secondarily their students. The piece used a recent issue's eye-catching magazine cover as the non-address side of the outer portion of a brochure mailer, taking advantage of the visual, tactile and guaranteed-mailbox-delivery of direct mail. There were additional cover examples inside--up to 25 on its first page alone--to reinforce the value of an invitation to academics, at a "special academic rate," to join "one million leaders" in keeping abreast of significant political, business, finance, scientific and technical news and trends. Plus, the professors were encouraged to pass along the informational benefits of the magazine to their students, who could subscribe at a special individual rate or via a group subscription provided by the teacher. Recognizing that many academics, especially younger students, are digital-first today, a full page of the brochure highlighted a digital package. That package included options such as a weekly digital or audio edition sent to tablet or smartphone, and a "Daily Espresso" of top stories shot to the subscriber's device. So while the promotion was delivered via printed direct mail, the stress was on desirable content delivery--regardless of platform. For a link to the actual example, go to

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Marketing Pros Share Biggest Mistakes (and Fixes)

To err is human, even for the best direct marketers. So it is instructive to learn from marketing pros when they admit mistakes and then share corrections and prevention advice. A recent Direct Marketing News magazine article asked 13 experienced marketers to share their biggest goofs, how they fixed them and lessons learned. Here we'll share just their e-mail marketing stories since we have experience helping clients address the same issues via our e-mail list brokerage support and data services. For example, Guillaume Cabane, vice president of growth at Internet software firm Segment, relates how he failed to take segment crossover and duplication into account. He ended up e-mailing the same user five times in a week because the user appeared in multiple different data sets of people. The subscriber was not only irritated by the flood of e-mail but also confused by "similar but different" messages. The solution? Cabane notes that using data services to exclude recipients who have recently received other communications is one way to avoid the problem. Next the team at Return Path, a leading e-mail data solutions provider, cites several lessons from a failure to update an e-mailed webinar promotion post-testing so that the subject line "TEST" went to the entire subscriber list. To learn about their fix and how they made lemonade from their subject line lemon, as well as other cautionary marketing tales, go to

Thursday, August 11, 2016

How Direct Mail Can Boost Digital Marketing Power

Direct mail is becoming a key player in the digital marketing world, as Christopher Karpenko, executive director of brand marketing at the U.S. Postal Service, recently argued in an article for the Association of National Advertisers. His points are worth summarizing and support our own belief in the response power of combining direct mail with digital marketing channels, such as opt-in e-mail and social media, as we do in our Digital2Direct program. Karpenko points out that direct mail has evolved and now achieves even greater response power via technologies such as Augmented reality (AR), near-field communication (NFC), and quick response (QR) codes. These technologies bridge the physical and digital gap by launching a website, a video or an interactive experience right from a paper mailing piece. "These can be powerful ways of sparking product discovery and drawing consumers into the digital ecosystem of a particular brand," he writes. Technology is also removing the "snail" from "snail mail," with real-time delivery scan notifications already sent within a few minutes and now an "Informed Delivery" service on the horizon from the USPS. Informed Delivery will allow consumers to check their e-mail inbox, social media and mobile apps to actually see the front of most mail pieces coming to their physical mailbox before they arrive. To read our complete blog post, including how direct mail can leverage social media engagement, go to our website's full-length version, which also includes a link to Karpenko's article, with an interesting Chick-fil-A case study: