Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Study: Consumer E-mail Behavior Varies by Industry

To optimize consumer e-mail response, marketers must adjust strategy for consumer behavior that differs by market vertical and device use. So they'll find valuable guidance in Movable Ink’s "US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q1 2017" report on how opens, conversions, engagement and even order values are affected by market vertical and device preferences. For all industries studied—retail, travel and hospitality, financial services, and media/publishing and entertainment—the report found most e-mails are opened on a smartphone as opposed to a tablet or desktop. Smartphone e-mail opens have especially jumped for financial services, up 7% from the fourth quarter of 2016 to reach 70% of opens in the first quarter of this year. However, retail is not far behind, with 61% smartphone opens for apparel and 57% for non-apparel e-mails. While smartphones still led opens, the more content-heavy media, publishing and entertainment vertical also has a good portion of desktop e-mail opens at 32%, followed by travel and hospitality with 29% desktop opens. Tablet opens are also stronger for media and publishing at 18%, higher than any other industry.Mobile optimization is clearly key for open rates, but retailers should not neglect desktop design because that's where the orders are racked up. Non-apparel retailer e-mails attribute 73% of conversions to desktop use, for example, with 51% of conversions on desktop for apparel retailing. Desktops also deliver the highest average order value for retailers: $171.04 for apparel and $138.57 for non-apparel sales. When it comes to e-mail reading time, the study generally found that iPhones are able to capture more attention than Android mobile phones, Android tablets, desktop computers, or iPads. The finance industry had the longest read lengths on iPhones, with 68% of subscribers spending 15 or more seconds reading their e-mail thanks to the Apple devices. Media, publishing and entertainment e-mails also garnered high iPhone read time, with 61% reading e-mail for 15 seconds or more. For more, see http://www.acculistusa.com/study-how-consumer-e-mail-behavior-varies-by-market-vertical/

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Reputation Scoring Key to E-mail Deliverability

Deliverability is the first step to e-mail marketing success. If your e-mail never hits the inbox, all those subject line and content tactics are useless. So why do the top e-mail marketers get a 90% inbox placement rate, while others languish below 50%? A deciding factor is reputation, as measured by a "sender score," according to Return Path's annual "Sender Score Benchmark Report." A sender’s reputation score is a number, calculated from 0–100, that mailbox providers use to evaluate whether or not e-mail sent by a particular IP address is likely to be legitimate and wanted or should be filtered out of inboxes. Return Path's analysis finds that e-mail senders with a reputation score above 90 saw an average of 92% of their e-mails reach the intended recipient, but e-mail deliverability drops to 72% for senders scoring between 81-90 and just 45% for senders with a score between 71 and 80. So how do you get and keep a strong reputation score? A recent post by Krista Barrack, for the sendinblue blog, cites six ways you could be damaging your sender score, starting with e-mail list issues. One common error is collecting invalid e-mail addresses in your house list (often caused by typos, especially from mobile users). These create hard bounces to erode your sender score. A second mistake is using purchased e-mail data where people have no opt-in relationship with your brand and so don't engage or mark your message as spam, hurting your score. That's why, as responsible data brokers, we don't sell e-mail data and instead broker list rentals so messages are sent by the list owner with valid recipient opt-ins. A third house list problem is allowing outdated, unmailed addresses to accumulate and become invalid. To deal with the problem, set up a program of regular communication and hygiene to prune your list frequently. Poor content quality affects sender scores, too. If your e-mail message is not mobile-optimized, is loaded with spam words, is plagued by faulty links, and/or is not relevant or honest, recipients are either not going to open it, will label it as spam or will opt-out. Timing matters, too, and the most common sin is embrace of a spammer's excess frequency. Note that studies show read rates drop with increased weekly frequency--and opt-outs and complaints rise. Finally, watch for spam traps hiding in your e-mail list. These can get you blacklisted! For more detail, go to http://www.acculistusa.com/whats-the-secret-to-better-e-mail-deliverability-your-reputation/

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Price, Premium, Copy Tweaks Lift Acquisition Mailer

While many direct mailers focus on the secret to millennial response, it's good to keep a close eye on mail tactics that work well with older and general audiences, too. A case in point is a recent Target Marketing magazine case study sharing the Mayo Clinic Health Letter's expertise in testing toward maximum acquisition response for its control. With its huge 2 million to 5 million mail pieces per quarter, Mayo has a lot of room for testing! Targeting an older audience (age 70 and up), the Mayo Clinic mailer has long used an oversized kraft outer envelope with a simple teaser that appeals to the older market preference for courtesy: "Please favor us with a reply within 10 days." Successfully tested changes include shifting the envelope size from 11"x 14" to a 10" x 14" to save money, but inside-package tweaks have delivered the response boosts. For example, the letter now leads with pricing, a "tough times" stress on the per issue $1.97 over an annual savings. But one of the most significant response-getters has been the addition of a premium in the form of existing internal special reports--on weight loss or arthritis, for example--offered for free. The control has also increased its lift by moving to an eight-page letter, up from the original four-page pitch. The results are proof that longer copy can outdo short copy when it comes to self-help offers and older markets. For one, the long-form letter allows marketers to pack in more benefits. Second, it allows for a larger type size. For example, the Mayo letter has shifted to a 14-point type as a boon to aging eyesight and a way to distinguish its approach as more personal and less corporate. Meanwhile, the mailer's reply card page has three-in-one power: reply form, premium stuffer and a BRE, in yellow to stand out in the package. For more, see http://www.acculistusa.com/how-acquisition-mailing-won-with-price-premium-benefits-copy/

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cross-Channel Effectiveness Needs New Tactics

Multi-channel, cross-device marketing campaigns offer broader, deeper and more nuanced audience reach, but without careful planning, there is a risk of counterproductive ad frequency and confusion. At the recent 2017 Google Marketing Next conference, Bill Kee, Google's group product manager for attribution, is quoted giving a powerful illustration of how a multi-channel campaign can saturate the market: “If I am on three devices, and if I see your ad five times, it means you've reached me 15 times….believe me I get it.” So how can marketers improve performance given today's complex, interconnected channel usage? In a recent Direct Marketing News article, Pierre DeBois, founder of digital analytics firm Zimana, suggests several tactics for better cross-device/cross-channel effectiveness. First, DeBois recommends using cross-channel/cross-device analytics in place of traditional last-click attribution or channel-to-channel comparison. The goal should be to see the complete picture of channel contributions to ROI at each step of the customer journey, he advises. An example is Google's new Unique Reach report that displays digital ad frequency metrics across devices, campaigns, and formats to measure how many times a person views a given ad. The report combines attribution influences from AdWords, DoubleClick and Google Analytics. It is a new marketing axiom that videos and images are great response-getters for digital media. But multiple cross-channel/cross-device campaigns can visually overwhelm and confuse customers, too. DeBois advises marketers to locate videos and images in a content mapping strategy so they can understand how their media aligns with each step of the customer journey. Plus, they should curate media by carefully selecting and orchestrating images, videos and messages in order to help customers understand products and services. One helpful curating tool is the "image story" feature on social media platforms, including Pinterest Lens, Instagram Stories, and Twitter Moments. Another option for providing a consistent customer story across channels is to employ chatbots, programmable assistance, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, to interact with customers via a chat interface, auditory or textual. For the full post, go to http://www.acculistusa.com/effective-cross-channel-marketing-requires-new-tactics/

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Why Direct Mail Retains a Key Marketing Role

Direct mail, perhaps because of its proven workhorse status, keeps a low profile in marketing trend articles, except for the periodic "direct mail isn't dead" reminder. Yet, despite growing use of digital channels--web, e-mail, social, mobile--the majority of marketers continue to rely on direct mail. Why? Marketing data backs up direct mail's proven response power and ROI. Target Marketing magazine’s latest study “Marketing Mix Trends 2010-2016” shows that 69% of marketers surveyed either increased or held steady on direct mail spending in 2016. The 6% of marketers decreasing their mail budgets were the smallest group since 2010. A reason for direct mail's survival as a go-to marketing channel can be seen in the the Data & Marketing Association's 2016 "Response Rate Report." The report showed 2016 direct mail response rates leaping to 5.3% for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists, the highest DMA-tracked response rates since 2003. By comparison, 2015's reported rates were 3.7% and 1.0%, respectively. More significantly, no other channel in 2016 had response rates over 1%! Direct mail response allows it to compete in ROI despite higher costs, coming in third at 27%, close to social media's 28% (e-mail leads ROI). Bottom line, direct mail's evergreen power lies in delivering on direct marketing basics. Rather than exploring the diverse creative and tech-savvy ways to meet direct mail goals, it is easier to focus on a few big mail "don'ts," and that's the tack recently taken by Summer Gould of Target Marketing magazine in "5 Things Not to Do in Direct Mail." Gould chooses key, highly avoidable pitfalls: a hard-to-read font; dishonesty; old, bad data in mailing lists (one of our bugaboos); a missing or unclear call-to-action; and a promotional focus on features over benefits. Direct mail--no matter how loaded with interactive QR codes, variable data printing personalization and multi-channel customer analytics--will miss the mark if it misses on these basics! For more, go to http://www.acculistusa.com/how-direct-mail-retains-its-place-in-marketing-tool-chests/

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How Data Silos Spoil Marketing Harvests

Silos can be great for agricultural storage, but they spell trouble when we're talking about customer data trapped in company departmental and systems silos. Research shows the magnitude of the problem. For example, a recent blog post by Veriday, a digital marketing company, noted that more than 80% of marketers say data silos within marketing obscure a seamless view of campaigns and customers. And that doesn't even consider data trapped outside marketing in IT, sales, etc. In larger, older companies, many data silos result when outdated processes and separate information systems hamper linkages. Yet silos are not just a big-business issue given the average small business today is using 14.3 different systems, as the Veriday post points out. Yes, information can be transferred between silos via import/export or manual efforts, but this risks duplication, errors, delays, inconsistent hygiene and inaccurate updating--meaning poor immediate ROI and wasted future opportunities from an incomplete and inaccurate picture of customers, campaigns and channel results. In business-to-consumer marketing, data silo risks are growing more acute, stresses a Forbes magazine article by Denise Persson, CMO at Snowflake, a data warehouse firm. She cites Accenture survey results showing that, while the promise of a deal or discount was the top driver of customer loyalty last year, in 2017, 58% of customers find marketing programs that are highly tailored to their needs much more enticing. Marketers can embrace targeted, contextual approaches, but, Persson warns, if each marketing channel--website, social media, e-mail, online ads, direct mail--uses a different set of data to develop a different channel strategy, marketers will end up with a fragmented customer picture delivering a fragmented brand experience! Smart marketers will invest in solutions, such as third-party support, software for content management and marketing automation, and data warehousing. Meanwhile, a blog post by Ajay Gupta, founder of Stirista, a digital marketing agency, points out the myopia of failing to link business and consumer data, especially now that digital media is blurring the line between professional and personal lives. Gupta gives the example of a company that wants to market a personal electronic device by targeting a proven business prospect list with only B2B e-mail addresses. If the company enhances the prospects' B2B info with B2C data, it could expand its reach by sending out e-mails to B2C addresses, direct mail to home addresses, online display ads via digital cookies, plus targeted social media ads! Linking B2B and B2C data is also a great tool for onboarding and creating social media custom audiences, per Gupta. For more detail, see http://www.acculistusa.com/how-b2b-and-b2c-data-silos-spoil-marketing-harvests/

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

'Informed Delivery' Puts Direct Mail in Digital Inboxes

The U.S. Postal Service has implemented Informed Delivery, a program that e-mails consumers' sneak previews of mailing pieces before that mail even lands in their physical mailboxes. Under the USPS Informed Delivery program, consumers can enroll online for free and get a password-protected account that creates a digital mailbox for the direct mail they will later receive at home. Before the mail is physically delivered, it is scanned so that users can log in and see a grayscale image of common-sized mail pieces, such as a #10 envelope or a folded self-mailer. Mailers can complement that digital touchpoint with a color image added below or in place of the grayscale scan, and can add a click-through URL. Even flat-sized mailings (unscanned) can participate by supplying two custom images and a URL. Now, there may be some in the direct mail business who are nervous about further digital inroads into traditional mail's marketing space. But it's self-defeating to ignore the reality that consumers have made digital platforms a part of their daily lives. And it's hard to argue against the potential benefits: the ability to use the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) to reach target audiences in digital and physical mailboxes simultaneously; potential tracking of when and which e-mails are viewed, and actions taken, to improve personalization and targeting;  and finally, a welcome boost to audience engagement for participating marketers. Per USPS data, there's a 70% open rate for Informed Delivery e-mails, and 88% of users check their Informed Delivery notifications every day or almost every day. However, Informed Delivery will require some marketing adjustments for success. Marketers who don't opt for enhancing with color images will need to consider how images and copy work in grayscale, for example. And all mailers will need to re-think how they use outer mail design both to gain click-through/interaction and to build anticipation for the physical piece--and then the physical piece will still need to deliver ROI. Plus, since many folks view their e-mails on mobile devices, marketers need to think about how their mail translates to mobile viewing. Marketers also need to think through how and why an e-mailed preview fits the target audience. The USPS cites retail, financial services, insurance, government, and telecoms as potential beneficiaries, but other markets may gain less from an advance digital touchpoint. For more on participating in Informed Delivery, see http://www.acculistusa.com/usps-informed-delivery-injects-physical-mail-in-digital-mailstream/