Thursday, October 23, 2014

Attention-Getting Design Trends Bolster Mail Impact

Attention-grabbing design is one way direct mail marketers can break through the promotional noise that bombards its busy audience. In a recent Target Marketing Magazine article, Paul Bobnak, director of research at Who's Mailing What!, cites three new creative trends that help the direct mail catalogued by his firm to stand out in mailboxes and earn recipient response. First, he notes an upswing in impactful, four-color envelopes, including full bleeds and color on both sides. Second, there is increased use of icons mimicking those from digital screens (desktop, tablet or mobile). It's an especially popular tactic in mail aimed at younger, highly digital audiences, but many mailers now commonly use icons on reply forms and call-to-action devices as prompts to online action or reminders of available response options. The third trend spotted by Bobnak is increasing use of advanced personalization. In a quest for the proven response lift delivered by personalization, mailers are rolling out personalized targeting that goes beyond including the prospect's name to leveraging mailing list data such as geography, buying/donation history, age, gender, etc. in targeted text and imagery. For Bobnak's comments, see

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fundraising Envelope Changes Spur Response

"Testing isn't difficult or costly, but it is the lifeblood of your program," Bryan Terpstra, senior vice president of RobbinsKersten Direct, advised direct mail fundraisers in a recent report by The NonProfit TimesBut where to start testing? How about with the first thing a recipient sees: the envelope. If the target audience doesn't even open the envelope, the great appeal inside is wasted. That's why moving from a standard #10 envelope to a larger package can really spur response, not only helping a solicitation stand out in the mail but enabling fundraisers to increase the size of text and graphics, inside and out, Terpstra notes. He provides the following example of how much difference an envelope change can make: When the Special Olympics increased its format from a 6-inch by 4-inch package to a 7.25-inch by 5.25-inch package, its response rate jumped nearly 10%. Of course, once that envelope is opened, there are letter and copy treatments, including changing the "gift array" or "ask ladder," to test as response boosters. For more direct mail testing suggestions, see the article at

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How to Avoid Common and Costly E-mail Flubs

Some e-mail mistakes sneak up on even experienced marketers. Check out the recent MarketingProfs article by Amanda Kiviaho to see five of the most common e-mail pitfalls and tips for avoiding costly marketing tumbles. At the top of her list is tacking on the subject line as a marketing afterthought. The subject line is key to open rate and thus click-through, so make sure it is part of e-mail strategy from the get-go, is based on past performance metrics, and is constantly tested to optimize, Kiviaho advises. Next, though relevant content is supposedly a marketing mantra, e-mails still blast out without regard to recipient interest or value, resulting in a disengaged. even disappearing, audience. The lesson: Content needs to be tied to smart e-mail list segmentation--using past response metrics such as opens, clicks, purchases or sign-ups. Expecting creative changes to result in immediate lift also can lead e-mail marketers astray toward ineffective updates or premature abandonment of changes, Kiviaho warns. Use A/B testing before roll-out and then be patient in judging results; response to new creative can initially dip before outperforming a control over time. Another common error is focus on revenue generation to the point of counterproductive over-mailing; one antidote is a disciplined e-mail calendar that monitors frequency and response by segment. Finally, e-mail does not earn optimum performance as a stand-alone, Kiviaho cautions; e-mail plans should draw input across the organization and marketing channels. Read more at

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ringing in the 2014 Holiday Fundraising Season

Year-end fundraising is a key marketing initiative for nonprofits, so what are some ways to make the 2014 holiday season cheery in terms of donations? Thanks to Elizabeth Chung of Classy online fundraising for recently posting her list of holiday-fundraising trends. First, if you are a nonprofit marketer, you've hopefully already started your push for donors because year-end giving has been starting earlier year after year. A Google study found that 2013 donation-related searches jumped 30% as early as August and September, as Chung notes. Since the same Google study also found that 75% of donors go online to learn about nonprofits, an effective online site with online fundraising capability is more critical than ever. The stage is set for a surge in online holiday donations; the first half of 2014 already recorded an 8% increase in online giving over last year. Include Giving Tuesday in online planning, suggests Chung. Since debuting in 2012, Giving Tuesday has won increasing support. Last year, donors gave 90% more than they did in 2013, and 10,000 charitable organizations participated. Here's a Trend for All Seasons: Make holiday fundraising effective with targeted list segmentation. Chung focuses on e-mail lists, but the principle applies to direct mail and telemarketing lists, too. Some suggested segmentation parameters: average donation size, last campaign or program donated to, the last time donated, and annual vs. recurring donors. Finally, use technology to enhance, not distract, from the personal giving emotion of the holidays. Personalization of mail and e-mail messages should be standard policy, along with holiday programs for donors to dedicate a gift on behalf of a loved one. Chung suggests taking the holiday card tradition digital with personalized e-cards, including e-cards for gift dedication. See the article at

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Time to Create a Video Marketing Strategy?

Marketing statistics are showing the potential power of online video in terms of audience, engagement and response, but successful video marketing requires a careful strategy. A recent MarketingProfs article by Michael Litt, CEO of video marketing platform Vidyard, comes to the aid of video neophytes, suggesting five basic steps for achieving video marketing goals. Step No. 1 is to decide what your video content seeks to accomplish for the brand, including defining the audience, its needs and desired added value at the outset. Step No. 2 moves on to selecting video story topics (questions from the target audience are one starting point) and then the type of video (webinar, how-to, leader interview, product demo, customer testimonials, case studies, etc.) that fits with the story-telling. Step. No. 3 is to assess resources and budget and clearly assign responsibility for video creative and content. Whether the video is put together by an in-house team or outsourced to an agency, don't neglect key stakeholder feedback during the process. Next, decide where the video will reside on your website and direct customers and prospects there. Note that YouTube is a great distribution channel but it serves competitors and distractions, too, so make sure you have links to your site within SEO-optimized YouTube descriptions and a destination on your site where prospects can learn more. Finally, measure results by setting up metrics-gathering from video platform and distribution, including attention span and drop-off rates, click-through rates and video consumption patterns. For more detail, go to

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How B2B Can Succeed With Native Advertising

Native advertising has big fans in consumer online marketing, and business-to-business marketers are being urged to take the plunge. B2B strategists who resist embracing native ads after disappointing results from traditional banners and pop-ups should consider these statistics provided in a recent MarketingProfs article by Helen Grimshaw: 52% of people who click on native ads have purchase intent, compared with only 34% for banner ads; 70% want to learn about products through content rather than traditional advertising; and 75% of publishers already offer some type of native advertising. Just to be clear, native advertising is a form of paid media that seamlessly integrates with a site to add value to the user experience. So native ads work best, Grimshaw advises, if the B2B campaign masters two strategic elements: placement and relevancy. As an example of successful placement, Grimshaw cites Relendex, a secured peer-to-peer lending company, which created co-branded online pages with Property Week magazine, a commercial property publication with a large audience of lenders and borrowers. The partner pages used semantic ad targeting technology to serve up educational links to Relendex's site. Grimshaw's example of smart relevancy comes from Delta Airline's TechOps division, a full-service aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) company. TechOps got the word out that it offered MRO services for any airline, not just Delta, by placing native ads with Flightglobal, an online news and information provider for the aviation and aerospace industries. The campaign used semantic search technology to create links between Flightglobal's articles and Delta TechOps's related content. For more detail on results, read

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Is E-Mail Marketing Favored Just Because It's Easy?

Surveys and studies consistently rate e-mail as the most effective digital marketing method, far outpacing mobile, content marketing, social media, and paid search. But a new study by Marketing Charts adds an interesting spin, showing that marketers also rate e-mail as the least difficult form of digital marketing. The implication is that a lot of e-mail marketing may occur simply because marketers find it easy to do, and the larger volumes (generating more leads and sales) then fuels the belief that it is also a more successful digital channel. For example, e-mail was rated as the most effective marketing tool by 54% and as most difficult to implement by just 11% of digital marketers in the Marketing Charts study. In contrast, while social media was rated as most effective by 43%, a larger 49% also rated it as difficult to do. Similarly, content marketing was judged effective by 38%, but 42% also rated it as the most difficult method to master. And mobile/SMS marketing fell even lower on the success scale, with just 9% rating it as an effective marketing method and 34% categorizing it as difficult to execute. It is worrisome to think that perceived difficulty may be scaring marketers away from potentially successful marketing methods! As a Business2Community post by Graham Jones points out, independent analyses by firms such as HubSpot have shown that content marketing is the single most successful online method of generating sales -- yet marketers still place its effectiveness behind that of e-mail. As Jones warns, "Sometimes, a business benefits when you concentrate on the more difficult tasks, rather than the easy ones." For more data from the Marketing Charts study, go to