Power Up Holiday E-mail With Segmentation, Offers

AccuList USA’s e-mail list clients, especially those in e-commerce and multi-channel retailing, are beginning their holiday e-mail campaigns. What strategies will make for optimum results?

Segment to Maximize Response, Order Value

From decades as data brokers and e-mail support providers, we can attest that targeting and smart segmentation are essential to holiday e-mail success. Of course, the house list can single out the active buyers and segment by basics such as location (no ice to Eskimos) and gender. But more sophisticated segmentation looks at purchase history in terms of product interest, in-store vs. web store, abandoned carts, purchase frequency, etc. For example, to maximize customer value, you can segment by average purchase (separating high-priced buyers from discount buyers) and send targeted e-mails with offers slightly over average order value. You can also reward and stimulate more sales from the most loyal buyers, segmented by purchase frequency or referrals etc., by e-mailing them unique holiday specials and freebies. The holiday season is also a great time to revive inactive customers, such as the previous year’s holiday buyers who haven’t been active since. Send them special offers to woo them back to the brand. Prior-holiday gift card buyers are a good sub-segment for a reminder e-mail about this convenient option. You can also target the most recent opt-ins who haven’t converted to buyers with offers and creative most likely inspire clicks. And don’t neglect to match your e-mail list to Facebook, YouTube or third-party newsletters to extend your reach via those vehicles! Although rented e-mail lists will not have the same intimate customer knowledge, you can still select by location, gender, age, product interest, and more.

Get Creative With Holiday Offers

Holiday e-mails have to grab attention in crowded inboxes, and that means you need to get creative with offers that drive opens and clicks. Constant Contact recently surveyed its small business clients and gathered 30 successful holiday e-mail ideas that may help inspire your marketing. Here are just the lucky top seven: a holiday preview sale, a campaign to drive traffic to your Cyber Monday specials, a free shipping offer, a gift card or gift certificate bonus offer, a holiday gift guide, the tried-and-true holiday coupon, a holiday sample sale (good for food and drink retail). Go to the Constant Contact post to see examples and read about all 30 holiday e-mail ideas.

E-mail Earns Top Digital ROI Via Personalization, Mobile Strategies

To support our e-mail list brokerage clients, AccuList USA keeps up with e-mail strategy benchmarks, such as those cited in the “2017 Email Marketing Industry Census” from Adestra, in association with Econsultancy.

E-mail Tops Digital ROI Rankings

E-mail marketers will be happy to know that, per the census, e-mail outpaces other digital channels in terms of reported return on investment, ahead of SEO, content marketing, paid search, and social media.  E-mail ROI was rated as good to excellent by 73% of marketers surveyed, just edging out SEO, with 72% giving SEO a good to excellent ROI rating. Content marketing slipped to third place, with 63% calling its ROI good to excellent. Paid search followed with 60% ranking its ROI as good to excellent, and social media trailed (44%). But the report also raised questions about how accurately marketers assess e-mail impact. The majority of marketers are using click-through rate (91%), open rate (80%) and conversion rate (62%) to track e-mail performance, while other important metrics, such as bounce rate, delivery rate and list growth rate, are used by a minority. List segmentation is another challenge that may be impeding even higher ROI, falling midway in the ranking of best practices even though those who carry out advanced segmentation are more than twice as likely to report “excellent” ROI from e-mail marketing as those who don’t segment.

Personalization Leads Marketers’ Best Practices

What practices do marketers use to push e-mail opens and clicks? The census found that sending personalized and relevant messaging led the list of e-mail best practices reported; 80% of marketers are already doing this and 14% are planning for it. Personalization was followed by mobile-optimizing of e-mail (73% doing and 19% planning to start), regular list cleaning (57% doing and 24% planning), and promoting social content sharing (49% doing and 22% planning on it). Looking ahead, personalization also is the area of e-mail marketing where most respondents (30%) say they need to focus in 2017, even ahead of automated campaigns (cited by 28%).

Mobile Optimizing Faces Cross-Device Challenges

With data from other studies showing that 56% of e-mail users prefer opening e-mails on mobile devices (and that 42% delete an email if it doesn’t display correctly), e-mail marketers have embraced the mobile-first imperative, and mobile optimization won second place in the ranking of best practices. But challenges remain for optimizing across devices. Although 90% of respondents report some strategy for optimizing e-mail for different devices, just 22% of marketers describe their approach as “quite” or “very” advanced.

To download the full report, see http://www.adestra.com/resources/downloadable-reports/2017-email-marketing-industry-census/

What’s the Secret to Better E-mail Deliverability? Your Reputation

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 to drive up open and click rates are useless. So why do the top e-mail marketers get a 90% deliverability 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” analysis of 4 trillion e-mail messages.

Sender Reputation Is Key to Inbox Placement

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. A marketer that sends too much unwanted or spam e-mail is likely to see their reputation drop and their e-mail 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. By the way, Gmail and Microsoft were identified as the mailbox providers with the strictest deliverability requirements, and the global inbox placement average is only 80%, or 20% of e-mail wasted. Don’t join the crowd.

Boost Your Sender Score With Good Data

So what are the things to do, and not do, to 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, again leading to score-harming hard bounces. To deal with the problem, set up a program of regular communication and hygiene to prune your list frequently.

Spammer Tactics Tank Reputation

Sender scores not only suffer from poor data quality but also poor content quality. 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 while failure to communicate is marketing folly, the more 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 to cut your sender score. Finally, watch for spam traps hiding in your e-mail list. These can get you blacklisted! Spam traps come in two flavors. One type is an e-mail address purposely created by ESPs or blacklist organizers and posted online, which gets in your list via data sources “scraped” or “harvested” from the web without opt-in. (So work with a reputable data broker!) The other type of trap is an ESP-deactivated e-mail address that the ESP recycles months later; if you failed to remove the deactivated address as a hard bounce per best practices, the ESP catches you when you re-send to it.

For more insight on e-mailer reputation, get a copy of the Return Path 2017 Sender Score Benchmark Report.

Subscription Marketing Basics Still Create Winning Formulas

Despite modern publishing’s multi-platform environment (print, web, mobile), many long-time subscription marketing rules retain their relevance. A recent post from Bill Dugan, for niche magazine consulting firm Mequoda, stressed just that point by reminding audience development pros of the fundamentals for price, offer and creative. As a list brokerage with many paid or controlled circulation clients, AccuList USA would, of course, add another important component: quality data

Price, Offer, Creative

As Dugan stresses, the art and science of pricing still counts. In pricing, whether for print, online, tablet or combination packages, subscription marketers actually have an edge over many other products by being able to sell the same product at different prices each time it’s purchased, from a new subscriber to each subsequent renewal. Pricing strategies can include 1) simply the same price at every stage of buying or renewing; 2) giving the more price-sensitive new subscriber an introductory discount and then selling renewals at full price; 3) maximizing response and profitability with a step-up program from a low introductory price through gradual renewal increases to maximum; and 4) rewarding subscribers with a lower monthly price for selecting a longer (annual) term. Next, marketers can build a range of offers. Based on testing, Dugan reports that the best response is earned by a “soft offer,” meaning a trial free issue or more, plus a premium and a bill-me-later for a full subscription. The lowest response offer is the old-fashioned hard offer, requesting up-front credit card payment with no trial or premium,per his testing. And finally, direct marketing success requires wrapping the offer in effective creative. A key to creative response today, whether direct mail or e-mail, is personalization that focuses on the target customers’ needs.

And Market-Tested, Targeted Lists!

Of course, effective personalization requires targeted, quality data! So while Dugan didn’t talk about the paramount importance of data, we remind marketers of the continuing relevance of either the 40-40-20 rule (40% of response success from audience/list, 40% from offer and 20% for creative) or the 60-30-10 formula (60% from targeted audience/list). Bottom line, good audience data is key. To support digital and print publishers, AccuList USA turns to its proprietary research on market-tested data and selection parameters most likely to boost response. That means lists such as those targeting active subscribers to trade or consumer publications; book buyers having specific interests; digital or print edition subscribers; known subscribers at work, home, or waiting room address; or subscribers with Facebook profiles.

For the complete Mequoda article, see http://www.mequoda.com/articles/subscription_websites/subscription-marketing-the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same/

Push Your Event Marketing E-mails Ahead of the Pack

During close to 30 years of direct marketing to help trade shows and conferences boost attendance and sell exhibitor space, clients often have asked for guidance on event industry response for e-mail campaigns. Now we can enhance data pulled from our proprietary research and experience with Eventbrite’s new “2017 Event E-mail Benchmarking Report,” comparing survey responses from over 340 event organizers across the U.S. and U.K. for a range of event types and sizes.

Benchmarks to Emulate

If you’re an event marketer with a fuzzy notion of the basic response measure of click-to-open rate (CTOR), you’re not alone. The benchmark report found that 39% of respondents said they didn’t know their average CTOR. That’s an ignorance that these event pros need to remedy if they hope to catch up with even average e-mail results. The rest of the U.S. event organizers surveyed reported an average CTOR of 12%. That was higher than their U.K. brethren, who only cited a 9% average, but far behind the enviable 17% in the U.S. who reported a CTOR of 21% or higher! Festivals scored the best average e-mail CTOR (14%), while classes and workshops had the lowest (9%).

Copy & Design to Boost Click-to-Open Rates

Event marketers who want to improve CTOR can commit to a number of basic creative tactics. First, they can revisit layouts and make sure they direct recipients to a compelling and clear call-to-action. Then, copy should be relevant, personalized and spam-filter avoidant, running from a great subject line that entices opens to copy that wins clicks. Obviously, mobile-optimization is a must now that the majority of e-mails are opened on mobile devices. Note that the most effective e-mails today also include an engaging image. E-mail research has found that e-mail campaigns with imagery have a 42% higher CTOR than campaigns without images, for example. (Don’t forget to comply with CAN-SPAM opt-out and privacy regulations, of course.)

Target, Test, Automate, Integrate

As data brokers, we must remind that response is even more dependent on the quality of targeted opt-in e-mail data, whether house or rental lists, and use of professional software and database support for list segmentation, updating and permission management as well as results tracking, testing and analysis. Indeed, regardless of carefully crafted e-mail creative, results measurement and analytics are essential to a direct marketing basic: testing of creative, lists and targeting to find what works best. Automation of event updates and confirmation/thank-you e-mails has also proven its value in maximizing click-through rates and conversions/registrations. And, finally, e-mail gains the most reach as part of a consistently branded, multi-channel effort, leveraging social media’s e-mail list building strategies, for example, as well as the proven marketing power of direct mail. (Ask us about our Digital2Direct marketing program that matches postal and opt-in e-mail records to send targeted mail and e-mail to the same recipients.)

For more metrics from the new event e-mail benchmarking survey, get the free report at https://www.eventbrite.com/blog/academy/2017-event-email-benchmarking-report/

Harnessing Social Media to Drive Nonprofit Success

At the upcoming Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 2017 Conference, we expect to hear a lot about nonprofit social media strategy and will be offering AccuList USA support with our Social Media Users List of Lists and Digital2Direct program combining highly-targeted direct mail with social media advertising on Facebook. Of course, social media success is a moving target, so we wondered what social media trends will impact fundraising this year. Here are some insights:

Be More Visual, Personal, Responsive

A 2017 Redstart Creative blog post identified several noteworthy nonprofit social media trends. As in the rest of the digital universe, video is the new response-getting must, and now nonprofits can use live video to boost reach and engagement via tools such as new Facebook features allowing live video to be pushed to followers in notifications or timelines. As social media algorithms reduce organic reach and ad competition intensifies, Redstart advises uncluttered “less is more,” quality-over-quantity content that focuses on resonating with the target audience. “Reply and engage” should be a new mantra, too, especially since major platform Facebook began keeping score publicly on all brand pages last year by adding a notification that tells viewers how quickly the page replies to messages. For nonprofits, trying to woo and keep donors today means storytelling content and engaging personality, Redstart stresses; so don’t be afraid to embrace video, memes, emojis and gifs.

Polish the Art of Engaging

Need some tips for donor engagement on social media? A recent NonProfitPRO post by Dale Nirvani Pfeifer, founder of Goodworld, cited three basic steps–and she included images of real-life digital successes. Step No. 1: Respond quickly. As Pfeifer notes, 83% of Twitter users and 71% of Facebook users expect a brand to respond to their posts within 24 hours, and more than half of Twitter users expect a brand to respond within 2 hours! Social-media monitoring tools like Google Alerts and Mention can help keep track of responses to supporters. Step No. 2: Get personal. Responses can include a personal touch, but less time-consuming tactics include tagging supporters in thanks, or a simple “like” or “share” of comments. Step 3: Honor your donors. Even if thank-yous can’t be personalized, you can make donors feel special on social media by posting a “thank you” message after a successful fundraising post. Plus, part of honoring donors is transparency, Pfeiffer adds. Post organization news, fundraising goals and impacts; making donors part of the success story will build engagement, loyalty and a desire to give more.

Tap the Power of Social Influencers

“Influencer marketing” is a buzzword at the top of marketers’ agendas in 2017. A recent post on npENGAGE by Jeanette Russell, marketing director of the social engagement platform Attentive.ly, underscores the power of influencers to greatly extend the reach of fundraising campaigns.  Attentive.ly evaluated 90 of its nonprofit customers and found that the top 5% of influencers on a nonprofit’s e-mail list of 140,000 can reach an average of 34 million people, or 85% the total reach of e-mail and Twitter combined. Wow! So how do you identify influencers? You use a social scoring methodology, such as Klout’s algorithm, to assign a score based on measurable factors: reach/number of followers, engagement of followers, relevancy, post frequency, and relationship with the organization. Then you segment the influencers and their messaging into three main categories, Russell advises: VIPs (such as entertainment stars or politicians) who need high-touch, major-donor-style treatment; Media (Blogger) Influencers who can be recruited to post or Tweet to pools of followers, either on their own or as part of investment in a blogging program/network; and Everyday Influencers, who form the largest group and are already on nonprofit e-mail lists so they can be quickly energized by e-mails asking them to share or post easily accessible content.

For examples of successful nonprofit influencer efforts, as well as tips on crafting effective influencer e-mail campaigns, see the the full article at https://npengage.com/nonprofit-marketing/socialmediainfluencers/

E-mail Regaining Its Lead Role in Fundraising Digital Strategy

In 2017, e-mail is expected to regain its lead role in the digital efforts of nonprofit fundraisers, per numerous nonprofit marketing pros. Certainly, AccuList USA is ready to support that trend with a proprietary compilation of the top fundraising direct mail and opt-in e-mail lists  (check out our free download). In addition to smart list selection, fundraisers and fundraising consultants can make the most of a renewed e-mail focus with tactics like those provided in a recent post for thedatabank.com by Michael Stein, a nonprofit consultant and digital strategist.

Plan for a Successful E-mail Reboot

To maximize response, e-mail outreach in 2017 may require nonprofits to reboot, refresh and rethink, says Stein.  He urges marketers to address four basic issues before blasting out e-mails: Check to see if your e-mail template or e-newsletter needs a creative refresh; make sure the e-mail works well for mobile viewers; consider a rewrite of your welcome e-mail to new subscribers for better engagement; and develop new creative and messaging ideas to test for boosted e-mail fundraising appeal.

‘Mobilize,’ Personalize, Automate

Mobile readiness is essential for wooing donors, especially given, as Stein cites, the recent Movable Ink report that, across industries, 69% of e-mail opens were on a mobile device. A good mobile experience should extend from the e-mail subject line to the website landing page and, most importantly, to the donation page, advises Stein. Personalizing is another proven way to maximize e-mail response, and that means more than dropping in a first-name greeting. It means digital messaging with relevant, timely content based on smart e-mail list segmentation, using data such as event attendance, website downloads, and donation amount or frequency. Finally, marketers need e-mail automation, especially for timely engagement of new e-mail subscribers and donors. Automated responses should include key transactions such as e-mail subscription, event signups, and online giving, since these are often the most opened and read e-mails, says Stein.

Make It Graphic & Multi-channel

Testing by nonprofits has shown that use of graphics and video significantly boosts fundraising response rates. So write fewer words and show more images, urges Stein. Use a graphic to present a call to action or embed a video to replace a paragraph, for example. Finally, e-mail’s fundraising effectiveness is higher when it is part of an integrated multi-channel effort. That should include social media platforms since including social media advertising in digital campaigns often delivers a lift in revenues taken in by e-mails and websites.

For more advice from Stein, go to https://www.thedatabank.com/2017/03/harness-the-latest-giving-trends-for-digital-fundraising-success/ And if you like infographics and want benchmark data on what other nonprofits are doing with e-mail, check out http://blog.winspireme.com/nonprofit-email-marketing-infographic-ebook.

 

Innovative Media Tactics Offer Ideas for Growing 2017 Circulation

Helping circulation pros and media owners grow print and digital audiences with targeted direct mail and e-mail lists has been a long-time focus at AccuList USA, as seen by our many business publication and consumer publication clients.  But today’s challenges in reaching new subscribers, boosting event attendance and promoting content engagement require strategic innovation, and we would point to some great lessons in Editor & Publisher‘s annual feature “10 Newspapers That Do It Right,” which spotlights ideas for 2017 circulation, revenue and engagement growth with applications beyond the newspaper world. Below are just a few of the winning strategies highlighted.

Growth Formula Adds Print Frequency Flexibility to Smarter Retention

Editor & Publisher cites how the Albany Times Union grew its print subscription base by offering more frequency flexibility with a Thursday through Sunday and/or Sunday-only print delivery as primary options. “As consumers continue to downsize their subscriptions to fit into a busier and more digital audience, this change in tactics presented the consumer with flexibility,” Brad Hunt, circulation sales and marketing manager, explained to E&P. The strategy helped the paper secure an additional 5,067 new print starts versus the previous year. With lower frequency delivery options as the primary offer, kiosk and telemarketing vendors wrote an additional 3,907 subscriptions over the previous year, and digital efforts, such as e-mail and online, also secured 714 additional starts versus the previous year.  Then, by restricting discounted offers to 50% with limited exceptions through the year, the paper also countered the past deep introductory discounts that had created higher churn and/or downgrades rates. The paper further cut subscription churn by using data analysis of starts and stops to develop more efficient retention and engagement touch points. As a result, starts increased by 7% and stops decreased by 18%, giving the paper a net gain of more than 1,200 starts over stops for the year.

Unique Content and Multimedia Delivery Capture Audience and Ads

San Antonio’s Express-News is wooing subscribers and boosting ad revenue via multimedia publication of unique local content. For example, in October 2015, the paper launched a 48-page, all-color tabloid magazine, Spurs Nation, about its local NBA team, the Spurs. Full of original and exclusive reporting on the team (80,000 subscribers currently), the tabloid is inserted in the Sunday paper and sold on newsstands. Four months after the magazine launched, a half-hour “Spurs Nation” television show debuted on the local NBC affiliate. Plus, on game days, the paper began publishing a double-truck with a scouting report and feature story. Content was accessible on the paper’s premium subscriber website, ExpressNews.com, and on a niche site, SpursNation.com. So, in a single buy, advertisers can get magazine, newspaper, TV show and website ads. Plus, the paper added book publishing this past holiday season, with a Spurs Nation book about major moments in San Antonio basketball. The paper will replicate its winning formula when it launches a new series of daily historical articles, with ad sponsorship, leading up to celebration of the city’s 300th anniversary in 2018. There will be a companion book, covering the first 150 years of San Antonio’s history, and production of daily Tricentennial Minutes on local TV stations next year, too.

Social Media and Event Engagement Target Millennials

Hoping to woo millennials to its print, digital and mobile platforms, Singapore’s Straits Times decided to create Singapore’s first coffee festival to get its brand message to a younger crowd. Over the course of four days last June, the event hosted more than 100 vendors, ranging from cafes and coffee roasters to stalls selling books and home décor. “We wanted to target a millennial crowd in particular, and much of the publicity was specifically created for maximum impact on social media,” Managing Editor Fiona Chan told Editor & Publisher. Since the goal was to get millennials engaged with the publication, the paper’s designated Reading Room at the festival gave guests the chance to interact with reporters, columnists and editors at the Times through a series of hour-long Q&A sessions. “Readers are increasingly looking for more than just commoditized news that they can get for free anywhere. What they want is to engage with journalists and newsmakers, to ask specific questions about the issues that interest them and to obtain detailed answers,” Chan advised. By the end of the festival, the total number of guests was twice the turnout originally expected, so the paper plans on bringing back the event this year at a larger location to accommodate a bigger crowd and more sponsors.

For more ideas from the article, read http://www.editorandpublisher.com/feature/10-newspapers-that-do-it-right-2017-achieving-growth-in-circulation-revenue-and-engagement/