Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mailed Sales Follow-up Can Grow Share of Wallet

Direct mail follow-up to in-store on online purchase can be an effective way to boost customer relationships and grow share of wallet. A recent Dell computer campaign is a case in point, as noted by Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What!, in a recent Target Marketing magazine piece. Bobnak spotlights a Dell mailer to recent computer purchasers. The consumer has already shelled out for a major purchase, so if Dell wants to win more dollars, its marketers need to push all the response buttons--personalization, relevancy, exclusivity and urgency. So Dell starts by personalizing the outer 6"X9"self-mailer with bold use of the customer's first name and an exclusive, limited-time 15% discount on electronics and accessories. Inside, the first page of a two-panel spread details deals on four items, including wireless speakers. But then Dell sweetens its pitch further on the second inside page with five more reasons to buy from Dell--from easy financing to 24/7 phone support. Dell's approach may prove instructive to retailers of other big-ticket items, such as cars or appliances. For a look at the mail creative Dell used to build customer rapport and sales, go to

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Basic Tips Aid Even Small Firms in E-mail Success

E-mail marketing success doesn't have to be limited to big firms with big-data technology. A recent article combined suggestions from e-mail experts to create 15 basic tips that put an effective e-mail campaign within reach of even small- to mid-sized businesses. Here are just the top seven as an example. Start out by segmenting e-mail lists to select the relevant content and offer by customer or subscriber group. If discounts are available for students or retirees, then segment by age as an example. Next, make sure the e-mail creative uses responsive design and is mobile-friendly. Research shows 68% of recipients open e-mail on a mobile device, and 71% of those will delete an e-mail immediately if it doesn't display properly. Consider testing text-only e-mails versus image-based e-mails to take into account the e-mail clients, such as Outlook, which automatically block images. Try to have a promotional e-mail come from a real person (not just noreply), realizing that 64% of subscribers open an e-mail based on who it is from. Then craft a subject line to maximize opens by keeping it short (lines with fewer than 50 characters have higher open rates) but at the same time compelling and urgent/time-sensitive. Avoid a mass-marketing approach and personalize the subject line and content to the target segment--going beyond first name to use other data, such as past purchase behavior, for the relevance that drives response. Finally, add a clear, visible call-to-action. Research shows that if the recipient can't understand what they're expected to do within just 5 seconds, the e-mail risks deletion! For eight more tips and resource suggestions from the experts, read

Thursday, April 21, 2016

E-mail Sender Reputation Key to Reaching Inboxes

Reputation matters in marketing, and e-mail marketers especially need a sterling sender reputation to ensure messages reach target inboxes. Mailbox providers use algorithms to filter and remove "spam," and marketing e-mails can be swept out of inboxes based on their sender reputation metrics, explained a recent Inc. magazine article by Peter Roesler, president of Web Marketing Pros. To show how important sender reputation is to inbox placement, Roesler cited recent Return Path research. The Return Path study measured e-mail marketer reputation with a Sender Score--a number between 0 and 100 (best)--to show how mailbox providers view a marketer's IP address. Return Path found one quarter of e-mail marketers with Sender Scores between 71 and 80 had their messages land in junk/spam folders, for example. Even marketers with scores between 81 and 90 had 10% of their messages diverted to junk/spam folders. Marketers want to be in the 99-100 score range, where only 2% of messages went into junk folders. Unfortunately, most e-mail marketers fall far short in terms of sender reputation; Return Path found 52% of e-mails were sent by marketers with scores below 71. One way to end up with a poor score, Roesler warns, is trying to jump-start e-mail marketing by purchase of an e-mail list with addresses that have not been properly obtained. Many of these e-mail recipients will mark unsolicited content as spam, spoiling reputation so legitimate e-mails get dumped in spam limbo. E-mail marketers need to know how they are viewed by mailbox providers if they want to improve reputation and keep it polished. Since scoring criteria vary by provider--based on combinations of open rates, bounce rates, spam complaints, etc.--it's best to go to an outside source to check reputation metrics, advises Roesler. He suggests resources such as, ReputationAuthority and TrustedSource. See

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Direct Mail's New 'Moment' in the Digital Age

It's no surprise when the CEO of the powerful McCann ad agency, which manages $10 billion in annual marketing spend, stands up to champion direct mail at the recent National Postal Forum. McCann is the U.S. Postal Service's agency of record, paid to push the advantages of mail. But that doesn't diminish the value of the insights offered by CEO Harris Diamond, as reported by Direct Marketing News magazine's Senior Editor Al Urbanski. Arguing that "in a world in which people are endlessly bombarded with electronic messages, direct mail is now the most welcome house guest," Diamond backs up his belief in mail's value by citing a McCann finding that the average American spends 25 minutes out of each busy day with mail. Diamond calls that 25-minute opportunity "The Mail Moment." And he offers five creative principles McCann uses in marketing campaigns to maximize results from that precious Mail Moment. First, he advises, go to the customers to understand their perspectives, looking beyond traditional assumptions; he holds up the example of Pope Francis going out at night, dressed in street clothes, to spend time with the homeless. Second, use direct mail's unique physical properties to engage in ways unavailable to digital, and he cites an Australian Air Force recruitment piece that mailed radio parts sans instructions to prospective engineers and offered a commission to any who could build the radio and tune into a dedicated station. Third, put new technologies to work with mail to enhance engagement and branding, such as using augmented reality (AR) to add a digital experience to paper. Fourth, realize it's not about mail tweaking; it's about "reinventing" the mail medium, using technology creatively to drive action and leverage the Mail Moment to the max. And, finally, make mail a tool for developing a relationship in the digital age, using data to target, personalize and touch audiences. For more details of Diamond's remarks, read

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Amid Digital Clutter, 'Simple' Mail Wins Notice

With multiple digital channels now used to communicate with customers--e-mail, online, mobile and social--businesses risk creating so much marketing clutter that they bury message and response. We've found that targeted direct mail is one way to cut through that marketing noise--and sometimes the simplest mail message speaks the loudest. Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What!, provides a good example in a recent Target Marketing magazine article. Independence Blue Cross, a healthcare insurer, wanted to contact members ahead of a deadline for renewal of 2016 health plan coverage. Since e-mails may be ignored in busy inboxes, the insurer decided to gather text opt-ins for renewal communications with members via a single, easy response channel--their ever-present mobile phones. And then Independent turned to a direct mail postcard as an outreach device that was sure to be delivered and "opened." The company mailed a two-sided 6-inch-by-11-inch postcard prompting mobile phone sign-ups for its text-messaging service. The front of the postcard simply announced "2016 health care coverage" and "Right from your phone," and drove home the point visually with a photo of a cell phone with a big "easy" text message bubble displayed. The reverse side of the postcard laid out the few steps, via a single call, to opt-in to insurer text alerts. For a look at the actual piece, go to

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Consumers Shun Excess, Irrelevant Retail E-mail

Retailers count on e-mail to help drive sales--but overly frequent, poorly targeted e-mail currently may inspire more consumer irritation than shopping, according to recent research. A 2015 survey of more than 1,000 Internet users, conducted by First Insight, found the average consumer subscribes to 2.3 retailer e-mail lists and receives 13.1 e-mails a week from those lists. But most aren't happy about it. Two-thirds of the consumers who received six or more e-mails a week said it was “too many.” In contrast, only 21% of shoppers who received five e-mails per week thought that frequency too high. Individual retailers will want to aim for fewer than five e-mails, however; 61% of consumers said their favorite retailers only send them one or two e-mails a week. Excess frequency is not the only problem. Just 25% of retailer e-mails got opened, and the most common reason consumers gave for not opening more retailer e-mail was lack of relevance. Based on e-mails received, just 18% of respondents felt retailers understood them. Indeed, the average shopper said only about 5% of retailer e-mails were personally relevant. Unfortunately for retail e-marketers, consumers tend to express their frustration by opting out, with 45% saying they unsubscribed from a retailer’s e-mail list in the prior six months. On the other hand, the research also points out a solution: 43% of consumers said they would be more likely to open retailer e-mails if they knew the e-mails contained personalized suggestions of products aligned with past purchases, instead of promotion of products generally available or "on sale." For the study report:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Are Wrong B2B Lead Concepts Hurting Sales?

Sales reps are key to converting business-to-business leads into sales for many firms. But most sales reps are completely wrong in their thinking about leads, asserts a recent HubSpot post by Ali Powell. First of all, sales reps should realize that a B2B lead is about a company, not just a specific individual contact, and any given company has many people involved in purchasing decisions. In fact, an average of 5.4 stakeholders are involved in each B2B sales deal per CEB data, Powell notes. So using an account-based approach, sales reps need to find multiple contacts at a company and engage each of them. But even before beginning to chase a company lead, it is important to research that company to make sure it is a good fit for the product or service promoted. Powell offers 12 places to start that research, from LinkedIn to news releases to internal CRM. Then compare the lead organization to the target customer profile, or at least to best clients. Sales reps can use two basic questions as a litmus test for lead pursuit, she suggests: Why am I working this lead and how can I help them? Be sure there are solid answers based on research and fit with client profile before moving forward. Reaching out to multiple contacts at a company doesn't mean a single one-size-fits-all approach, however; the sales pitch should be tailored to each individual contact's needs and roles, she advises. To tailor outreach, find a reason or trigger event to start a conversation. Here are steps suggested by Powell: Follow each contact and the company on LinkedIn; create a Google Alert to catch news and mentions online; follow the company on AngelList and Crunchbase; create a dedicated private Twitter list of contacts and company; and subscribe to the company blog if it exists. And, since leads are so valuable, be dogged in pursuit and don't quit before a definitive yes or no response, adds Powell. For the whole post: