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:

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