Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Facebook Aids and Challenges Fundraisers

Online giving has seen tremendous growth, but the latest M+R Benchmarks report shows a distinct slowdown, with online fundraisers reporting just 1% growth in 2018. M+R cites multiple trends underlying the lower growth—from declining e-mail response, to more low-dollar mobile traffic, to falling online donor retention. But the report starts by noting how rising Facebook usage has both undercut revenue measures and signaled potential for future growth. While changes to the Facebook algorithm resulted in, on average, only 7% of followers seeing any given post, use of Facebook Fundraisers' peer-to-peer giving really took hold for the first time in 2018. However, because of the way the donations are processed, the Facebook Fundraiser dollars were not included in M+R online revenue calculations. It's an important missing piece: The Facebook Fundraiser tool for hosted fundraising now accounts for about 99% of all nonprofit revenue processed on Facebook, with nonprofits raising $1.77 through Facebook for every $100 raised through other online channels, per M+R. The impact is big for some sectors. For example, health nonprofits received $29.88 from Facebook for every $100 in direct online revenue in 2018, accounting for about 30% as much revenue as every other source of online revenue, including e-mail, web giving, monthly donors, digital ads, and search. To turn the new Facebook Fundraiser use into a bigger boon, notes the M+R report, nonprofits need to get more individuals (the average now is 56) involved in hosting fundraisers and in attracting both more donors and higher-dollar donors (now the average per hosted fundraiser is seven donors and a modest $31 gift per donor). Another recent study pointed to a deeper issue with nonprofit Facebook efforts. The 2019 Digital Outlook Report—from care2, hjc and nten—found that nonprofits surveyed reported spending anywhere from $0 to $100,000 on Facebook and Instagram campaigns. But the majority (over 75%) answered "don't know" when asked about any resulting revenue! Clearly, the report urges, staff need training in tracking analytics and calculating not only resulting donations but the value of lead generation, e-mail signups, event attendance, etc. CauseMic recently offered some helpful tips for Facebook fundraising. In using Facebook Fundraiser, in order to benefit from site traffic and donor information as well as dollars, start by disabling the “donate” button and direct supporters to donate on your website rather than through Facebook. Donors will learn more about the mission and fundraisers can stay connected with them for better retention. Second, nonprofits shouldn't focus only on hosted fundraisers; they can use promoted posts and ads to grow the support base, interact with supporters, promote events, etc. When a breaking news story or emergency occurs that impacts giving, social media outreach can spread the word and raise money more quickly. Just make sure to use tracking analytics to avoid ROI ignorance! Remember that Facebook offers a proven response driver: video. Post videos about donation impact, host live videos or publicize upcoming events. Finally, pay attention to timing; M+R found that nearly a quarter of all Facebook revenue is raised in November. For a link to more M+R data, go to

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Insert Media Offer Cost-Effective Audience Reach

Insert media, direct mail's less glamorous relative, is also a proven way to reach new customers, and AccuList helps clients place offers in a range of printed insert options such as package inserts; publication "blow-in," "bind-in" and onsert programs; postcard decks; statement stuffers; and cooperative mailing programs. In the digital space, there also are webserts to qualified online buyers. Insert media programs may seem old-fashioned, but younger recipients actually embrace them. For example, Quad/Graphics research has found that 49% of millennials said they ignored Internet ads, and 48% said they ignored e-mail, but only 25% ignored retail inserts! Or on the flip side, 73% said they paid attention to retail inserts vs. 48% who paid attention to mobile text. Plus, insert media have a number of virtues that make them attractive to direct marketers: They leverage co-branding since offers "ride along" with material from an already trusted source; they avoid postage costs and save on printing expenses; and they offer a targeted audience. In choosing insert media, the first step is to consider your desired target audience and its match with the demographics and purchase history/interests of the host program. Next, as with any direct marketing effort, test and re-test, making sure there is a large enough universe for future rollout. You can test for both creative/offer and audience category, but if finding the right audience and host program is the goal and the budget is limited, it's probably better to test four different audience groups/programs rather than four creatives to the same audience/program. Of course, once a control is developed for rollout, continue to test against it. And be wary of potential audience duplication: Using different programs with the same owner, a package insert and a statement insert for example, might reach the same recipients at different times. Insert media today are usually part of an omnichannel strategy. That means inserts should provide more than one response option: business reply card, 800 number, URL, and mobile QR code. And it means tracking and analyzing results across channels. So make sure to provide a unique code on pieces to track response by program, offer, audience category, insert month/timing. etc. And if you use a mobile QR code, with links to an offer/purchase landing page or a reply/request page, be sure online pages are mobile-optimized! Because inserts are competing for attention with other offers, your creative needs to stand out in design and messaging, with a clear call to action. Plus, in scheduling insert media, remember that you are at the mercy of the host program's timings and availability. Plan with seasonality in mind and build in adequate lead times. For more, see

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Are You Realizing Personalization's Full Potential?

With direct marketing today striving for goals such as"hyper-personalization" and "personalization at scale," Barry Feldman of Feldman Creative recently put together an infographic for MarketingProfs to illustrate the potential of personalized marketing for those who still think “Dear FirstName” is enough. As data brokers and data services providers, AccuList is especially interested because personalized marketing relies on up-to-date, enhanced, accurate data to deliver on the promise—the right message, to the right person, at the right time—whether for customers or prospects. Customer outreach and the customer-based analytics for targeting prospects require collecting data from as many sources as possible: CRM, web activity, e-mail, direct mail, mobile apps, second- and third-party demographics, social media, and multichannel advertising. And then that data must be combined and maintained in a regularly hygiened customer data platform. Haven’t gotten there yet? You’re not alone. Only 5% of marketers have attained a single customer-data view that allows launching personalization across channels, per the infographic. So why worry about an edge gained by just 5% of competitors? When 78% of Internet users say personally relevant content increases their purchase intent, and 81% of consumers say they want brands to know them better and to know when (and when not) to approach them, any brand that is ignoring that demand for personalization is ignoring the bulk of their potential market. What do customers and prospects want? Feldman’s infographic breaks it down into “four R’s.” People expect to be recognized by name and to have their preferences remembered so that brands can make suitable recommendations and send relevant offers. Studies find that such personalization can cut acquisition costs by up to 50%, lift revenues by 5%-15%, and increase the efficiency of the marketing spend by 10% to 30%, per the infographic’s sources. Plus, in a competitive market, personalization will woo the 60% of shoppers who prefer to do business with brands that provide personalized, real-time offers and promotions. While discussions often focus on digital efforts, traditional direct mail also has benefited from technology trends, such as variable data printing, PURLs and QR codes, to enable greater personalization. For more on how direct mail can realize personalization's potential, see

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Avoid These Segmentation Errors for Max List ROI

List segmentation is key in targeted direct marketing, and the secret to success is as much a matter of strategic mindset as technical expertise. A recent MarketingProfs article by Mitch Markel, a partner in Benenson Strategy Group, identifies some of the common strategic errors. First, marketers need to be aware that segmentation models can slip into an ROI rut. Use of obvious profiling parameters and assumptions is one reason. Certainly, demographics (or firmographics), stated needs, and past purchase behavior are essential in grouping for likely response and lifetime value, but people don't make decisions solely based on these factors. Markel urges research that also looks at fears, values, motivations and other psychographics in order to segment customers or prospects not just as lookalikes but also as "thinkalikes." Markel cites the examples of car buyers grouped by whether they value safety over performance, and food purchasers sorted for whether they stress healthy lifestyle or convenience. Past success is another reason segmentation can get stuck in a rut. Because segmentation requires an upfront investment, marketers tend to want to stick with proven targeting once the segmentation study is completed. But today's hyper-personalized, digital environment has accelerated the pace of change in markets, perhaps shifting customer expectations and preferences away from an existing segmentation model. Markel advises an annual "look under the hood" of the segmentation engine to see if segments are still valid or need appending/updating. One outcome of segmentation based on existing customers or surveys of people marketers assume are the right targets is blindness to potential audiences that Markel calls "ghost segments." Markel suggests a periodic look at non-customers for conversion potential as one way to capture these "ghosts." And, of course, if a new product or service is in the works, research should ask whether it will attract new groups differing from the existing customer profile. Another reason ghost segments are common is that marketers, overwhelmed by the task of sifting "big data," fall back on whatever data sets are handy. Markel suggests that it would be better to bring in big data at the tail end of segmentation. He advises analysts to start by creating segments using primary research, add existing customer "big data" to target segments more efficiently, and then plug segments into a data management platform for insights on other products, services, interests, and media that may correlate. Finally, Markel stresses that a segmentation study will fail to live up to its ROI potential unless it informs the whole organization. Customer and prospect insights have relevance for multiple departments and teams, from sales to customer service to finance. Markel suggests creating 360-degree customer personas and promoting them throughout the organization via workshops and periodic team updates on results. For more, see

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tech Creates New Breed of Interactive Mail

To help boost direct mailer use of emerging technologies, the U.S. Postal Service offered postage discounts this summer for use of interactive mail tools such as QR codes, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Near Field Communications (NFC), and Video in Print. But taking a new technology from gimmick to ROI booster requires inspiration even more than discounts. So here are some success stories courtesy of the USPS, too. Among the USPS-cited case studies of mobile- or tablet-scanned QR and AR codes is this example of how QR codes proved their value for organized sports marketing. Sports event managers created more than 50 unique codes for signage, publications and e-tickets to provide information, social media sharing, and mobile store access, and succeeded in getting QR-code users to scan event material an average of 1.6 times, and increased downloads of the official app to 15 million. Meanwhile, AR proved its traffic-building value for a furniture retailer's mailed yearly catalog; recipients used the app to superimpose pieces of furniture onto a real-time 360°/180° view of their homes, resulting in both more app and website visits by customers for the retailer. Apps can achieve other retail marketing goals besides traffic and sales, of course. The USPS cites a beauty company's print ad AR that allowed digital trials of nail polish, with the goals of preventing product returns and improving future stocking decisions and color choices. Over 10% of users scanned the ad with their smartphones or tablets to try on 40 different nail polish colors. Near Field Communications (NFC) relies on chips and radio waves to communicate with smartphones and has the advantage of instant access. The USPS notes a movie premiere's NFC-enabled posters that encouraged users to tap an image with their smartphones to access behind-the-scenes footage, and an Uber campaign in England with NFC-enabled coasters in pubs, right on the table with the smartphones--and the drinks inspiring ride requests. Video-in-Print (VIP) uses a video device included in a mailer or print ad and can work well for targeting high-value customers. For example, an auto company promoting a new truck used publisher data to select 20,000 readers who fit the target truck owner profile and sent them a VIP magazine insert. Mobile-in-Print also creates immediate interaction by placing mobile call or text capabilities in print media. Consider the case of a multinational auto insurance company plagued by complaints about help line delays: The insurer sent out mobile-in-print mailers that prompted customers to use the keypad embedded on the page to enter their mobile telephone number and license plate information to receive instant insurance quotes on their mobile devices. For more, see

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Use Predictive Analytics to Harness Big Data Power

Predictive analytics, meaning scientific analysis that leverages customer and donor data to predict future prospect and customer actions, can scientifically "cherry-pick" names from overwhelming "big data" lists and other files. For example, at AccuList, experienced statisticians build customized Good Customer Match Models and Mail Match Models to optimize direct mail results for prospect lists, as well as one-on-one models for list owners to help acquire more new customers or donors. Plus, predictive models can aid other marketing goals, such as retention, relationship management, reactivation, cross-sell, upsell and content marketing. One of the benefits of analytics is improved lead scoring, for example. Lead scoring is too often a sales and marketing collaboration, in which salespeople provide marketers with their criteria for a "good" lead and marketers score incoming responses, either automatically or manually, for contact or further nurturing. Predictive analytics will remove anecdotal/gut evaluation in favor of more accurate scoring based on data such as demographics/firmographics, actual behavior and sales value. It also speeds the scoring process, especially when combined with automation, so that "hot" leads get more immediate contact. And it allows for segmentation of scored leads so that they can be put on custom nurturing tracks more likely to promote conversion and sales. In fact, with predictive analytics, list records can be segmented to achieve multiple goals. The most likely to respond can be prioritized in a direct mail campaign to increase cost-efficiency. Even more helpful for campaign ROI, predictive analytics can look at the lifetime value of current customers or donors and develop prospect matching so mailings capture higher-value new customers. Predictive analytics also can tailor content marketing and creative by analyzing which messages and images resonate with which customer segments, identified by demographics and behavior, in order to send the right creative to the right audience. Finally, analytics can develop house file segmentation for retention and reduced churn, looking at lapsed customers or donors to identify the data profiles, timing inflection points and warning signs that trigger outreach and nurturing campaigns. Data analysis and modeling can also be used to improve future marketing ROI in terms of channel preferences and even product/services development. Of course, reliable predictions require a database of clean, updated existing customer or donor records, which AccuList also supports via its list hygiene and enhancement services. For helpful links, see

Thursday, June 6, 2019

How Social Media and Mail Can Partner for ROI

Social media and traditional "snail mail" seem a marketing odd couple, but they can work well together to deliver improved response rates, customer insights, creative testing, targeting and branding. Mail lists can build social audience, and social ads can build mail names. In fact, Facebook, the biggest consumer social media platform with more than 2 billion users a month, actively encourages marketers to upload direct mailing lists for matching against user information in order to run hyper-targeted paid social ads. Plus, Facebook ads can drive prospects to a landing page that offers an incentive to capture a physical mailing address in order to build up mailing lists. Social geo-targeting can be used to tailor mail geo-targeting, too. Before prospecting in a specific geographic area with a costly mailing, try inexpensive research using social media. Send a promotion to a social media platform's users in targeted zip codes and review the analytics to see which areas responded to which messages most favorably and then tailor direct mail list and creative. Social media also can help optimize direct mail via social apps and ad analytics that provide demographics, interests, and response data for targeting consumer and business audiences. Those insights can be applied to mailing list segmentation and targeting selections to increase direct mail response. Plus, social media ad creative can be tested and tracked to see which messages and images perform best with which audience segments, with the results used to inform the messages and images used in physical mailers. Finally, marketers can merge social insights and data from social media profiles with CRM and marketing automation to craft direct mail triggers and to create personalized mail content. Marketers can cross-promote on social media and direct mail to marry social media's ability to generate engagement and excitement with mail's ability to deliver personalized, lasting, tangible information. Of course, the creative and offer should mirror each other in both channels for consistent branding. For example, marketers can pump a product launch on social media and then mail brochures when product hits stores. Vice versa, direct mail pieces can include social icons and QR codes linked to a social page to recruit social media followers or promote social sharing incentives. For more, see