2019 Trends Open Doors for More Direct Mail Success

Direct mail lists and data services are core to AccuList USA’s business success, so each year we research which trends our direct mail marketing clients will want to embrace for maximum response–and which trends are fading in effectiveness.

Digital Ad Tune-outs Offer Mail Opportunities

Digital issues can create direct mail opportunities, points out direct mail agency Inkit, noting that customers are tuning out digital advertising, whether e-mails, banners or social media promos. In fact, eMarketer estimates that 30% of all Internet users will use ad blockers in 2019. One way to offset the drop in digital ad effectiveness is to beef up direct mail campaigns. Note that ANA-DMA research shows that 84% of millennials take the time to look through their mail and 64% would rather scan for useful information in the mail than e-mail. Plus, 41% of millennials and 53% of Gen Xers report enjoying catalogs. That engagement translates into higher response rates for mail than for any other media, per the 2018 ANA-DMA Response Rate Report, with 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists.

Snail Mail Can Join the 2019 Video Boom

While digital ads are being ignored, digital video is booming; Inkit reports that Cisco projects video will encompass more than 85% of all Internet traffic in the U.S. by 2020! Direct mail doesn’t have to be left out. Thanks to print technology–QR, AR, Video-in-Print and Near Field Communication (NFC)–paper promotions can jump on the video bandwagon and further boost their own mail response.

2019 Demands Personalized, Cross-Channel Campaigns

Customers in 2019 will expect marketers to personalize offers and deliver a seamless experience across channels, Inkit asserts, requiring integration of online, e-mail, direct mail, social media, mobile, and in-store campaigns. In fact, retailing research recently found that close to 90% of retailers say integrated cross-channel or omnichannel marketing is key to success. AI is one way marketers are getting a handle on messaging across channels and at different points in the buyer journey, which can help decide timing and targeting of direct mail. Meanwhile, for mail, variable data content printing and enhanced database targeting and segmenting can deliver the personalized relevant messaging that will be a basic of 2019 marketing.

Take Variable Data Printing to the Next Level in 2019

Yet when it comes to printing and personalization, there are some popular direct mail practices that need to be ditched this year, advises direct marketing agency Darwill. For example, using a 4-color master shell on which variable content is laser-printed in black and white has become old-hat given that new inkjet presses can create endless 4-color versions for a more targeted and engaging campaign. Along the same lines, the custom maps laser-printed in black and white can be replaced by full-color variable maps that are more personalized, eye-catching, and likely to drive leads.

Use Envelopes to Intrigue Outside; Put Tailored Offers Inside

This year, instead of revealing all details of a promotional offer on the outside envelope to drive opens, Darwill advises that a promotional pitch that is visible but not fully revealed on the envelope is likely to work better–a sneak peek at a personalized offer. Then once the recipient opens the envelope, he or she better not find one-size-fits-all content! Luckily, with today’s full-color inkjet technology, a letter or a coupon can now be varied based on a recipient’s past shopping patterns or demographics.

 

 

 

Weaponize B2B Data for 2019 With These Tactics

Targeted, clean data is a key deliverable of AccuList USA’s data services and list brokerage efforts for business-to-business marketing clients. And as those clients prepare their 2019 plans, we urge them to take basic steps to ready their data-driven marketing for maximum performance. A Martech Today post by Scott Vaughn sets the stage by recommending five essential data-oriented strategies for B2B.

Precisely Defined Audience Targets Using Clean Data

Good response and conversion depend on identifying and engaging the right audiences, meaning the right companies and the right decision-makers within those companies, Vaughn reminds. To target that right audience requires processes for capturing critical data about prospects, customers and their purchase journey with precision, he asserts, and recommends a strategy of starting with a smaller universe of accounts and roles to more precisely define best targets–and then testing and using advanced strategies, such as predictive marketing and intent-data modeling, to expand to more accounts and buyers. But that kind of data targeting only works if marketers are looking at quality data, so data hygiene is another necessity. When a recent DemandGen survey finds that more than 35% of the data in existing databases is unmarketable on average, avoiding wasted dollars means instituting a “get clean, stay clean” data-hygiene effort for 2019, Vaughn urges. The hygiene regimen should include regularly auditing of data-capture processes and sources, using filters before data can enter the database, and maintaining a cleansing process to eliminate records that are invalid, non-standardized, duplicate or non-compliant.

Permission-Based Trust and Speedy Follow-up

Because today’s buyers are leery of companies and brands that don’t treat their information with care and because stringent data-privacy laws are being deployed around the globe, B2B marketers must have a proactive permission-based marketing plan for their data, warns Vaughn That includes asking for opt-in everywhere and having very visible, clear explanations of how behavioral data, such as website cookies, is used. Meanwhile, prospects and customers have not only come to expect data privacy, they have become used to the rapid, real-time response of the digital market. Yet for many B2B campaigns, it takes two or three days to follow up on a lead or inquiry, or even seven or eight days just to get leads loaded into marketing automation or CRM software! Vaughn proposes a concerted effort to speed data handling by identifying areas where data can be routed faster and reaction time reduced and then initiating sales and marketing training on speedier handling at each stage of the customer journey. That’s why many executive teams now prioritize a measure of “pipeline velocity,” meaning the time from when an opportunity is created to when the deal is closed, to improve revenues.

Agreeing on Measurements That Matter

Accurate, targeted, speedy data processes don’t automatically result in ROI improvement, however–not if data analysis ends up focused on the wrong metrics. Vaughn reports that high-performing marketing teams use insights with these key ingredients: agreed-upon key performance indicators (KPIs); tools that can measure performance; and easy-to-use dashboards that can help all stakeholders (marketing, sales, execs, etc.) make smarter decisions. For his complete article, see https://martechtoday.com/5-essential-strategies-b2b-marketers-must-master-in-2019-228066

Despite Doubters, 2018 Direct Mail Ups Response, ROI, Usage

AccuList USA’s direct mail marketing clients received lots of encouraging news in the 2018 “ANA-DMA Response Rate Report.”  Direct mail improved its usage ranking to tie with social media as the second most-used medium (57%), for example, and continued to deliver the best response rates of any medium. In fact, “snail mail” even improved on its response success by doubling median response rates over last year to 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists in 2018. Mail’s Return on Investment (ROI) also leaped by 12 percentage points to beat out online display this year.

While Marketers Forecast Mail Decline, Usage Tells a Different Story

The only negative in the report is that those surveyed continue to doubt the future of direct mail, with 19% saying they plan to decrease usage in the coming 12 months. But if the report participants follow their behavior after previous surveys, which similarly predicted mail declines, direct mail usage will remain buoyant, which allowed it to rise in 2018 despite planned cuts. One drag on direct mail continues to be its Cost Per Action/Acquisition, which is the highest CPA of any medium and puts budget pressure on mail volume, which did decline for both house and prospect lists compared with the 2017 study.

Direct Mail Usage Dominates Most Industry Segments

However, high response rates, competitive ROI, online tracking and print-tech advances are keeping marketers loyal to “traditional” mail in a digital world. In fact, direct mail usage for marketing campaigns equals or exceeds 50% for most of the 11 industry segments cited in the study. In usage, direct mail leaders were travel or hospitality (80%), nonprofits (75%), publishing or media (71%), and financial services/banks/credit (67%). Only Technology (44%), Retail (44%), and B2B Services (34%) came in below the 50% usage mark. 

B2B, B2C Split on Formats As Response Tracking Goes Digital

When it comes to direct mail creative format, postcards tend to produce the best overall response in combined B2B and B2C data, with a 13% median response rate for house files and 10% for prospecting files. Letter-size envelope formats turned in rates of 10% for house lists and 4% for prospecting, and oversize envelope mail garnered 11% for both house and prospect lists. Format results are different for B2B versus B2C, however. Looking only at B2B, limited data indicates the letter-size envelope format outperforms with a combined median response for house and prospect lists of 15%-40%, compared with postcards’ 14%-16%. For B2C, responses show oversize envelopes actually turning in the best 9%-12% median response for house and prospect lists combined, compared with postcards at 9% and letter envelopes at 4%. In tracking those response rates, marketers have definitely gone digital, with over half of surveyed marketers (53%) saying they use online tracking capabilities, such as PURLs, followed in popularity by the use of codes or coupons (45%) and call center or telephone inquiries (41%).

 

Scarcity, Targeting, Value Woo Performing Arts Audiences

Performing arts marketers face many challenges in competing for attention and share of wallet in a noisy multi-channel marketplace. AccuList USA recently found some good basic advice on winning audience response in a blog post by Dave Wakeman of the Wakeman Consulting Group. .

Create a Feeling of Demand and Scarcity

Wakeman noted that creating a sense of scarcity is key to performing arts marketing–even lacking a hot-demand show like the current musical “Hamilton.” Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd! Offering all tickets prior to marketing-generated demand undermines that desired sense of urgency, but marketers can still use the secondary ticket market, such as StubHub or TicketsNow, to produce a feeling of scarcity, he advises.

Define the Target Audience and Value Message

Performing arts marketers need to define the audience target of a show/event and then tailor a value message that appeals specifically to that audience. Targeting and creative messaging will be very different for a family show, a political commentary, a well-known classic, or a one-off by a famous author. New attendees will need a different approach than members and donors. Certainly, many shows don’t have the time for the sort of traditional agency advertising that waits for reviews to come out and then creates ads around positive lines from those reviews. Plus, that kind of reactive, critic-centered promotion can miss a more persuasive value message to win over the target audience.

Create Multiple Forms of Value

Wakeman notes that in today’s market, people often aren’t just going to “see a show.” They are likely looking to make a night of it and are attracted to events with multiple value offers. He lauds the successful audience-building efforts of the Chattanooga Symphony & Orchestra, which promotes multiple ways to engage even for those without a dedication to the symphony. Pairing a wine tasting, art show or discussion group/lecture with a performing arts event may be just what it takes to attract a new audience or convince an existing audience to try a new entertainment option. “If we don’t make it easy for people to see themselves in our seats, we are missing out,” he argues.

 

 

 

Many Business Publications Fail to Fully Mine Audience Data

Business periodical marketers come to AccuList USA for help with audience building via multi-channel campaigns. But as data experts, we’d like to remind them that their audience data offers other revenue streams worth mining. Most publishers know that targeted audience data is key to competing for ad dollars; for improved subscriber response via personalization; and for better targeted content marketing, but a recent Adweek article by Jason Downie suggests several other ways to monetize audience data.

Building Valuable Off-the-Shelf Audience Segments

Downie urges publishers to build “off-the-shelf” audience segments that can be sold directly to advertisers, for example. Consider how a seminar promoter could use a business magazine’s data if the publication built an audience of people interested specifically in his topics or proven seminar buyers; the advertiser would be able to enjoy the benefits of tapping not just a business-engaged audience but a strategically targeted set of potential buyers more likely to convert. By creating off-the-shelf audience segments, the publication offers more options for ad clients and more targeted impressions from high-value users. Audience segments can also offer insights that can be further monetized. For example, analytics could show that seminar attendees are four times more likely to share content online. That makes them online influencers, and since influencers are extremely valuable, the publisher can demand a higher CPM. Additionally, an audience segment can open the door to new advertisers and marketers, including non-endemic spending. A business publisher’s analytics may show a subscriber segment visits golf sites as well as the magazine site, for example. The publisher can now woo clients looking to target “golfers.”

Using Data to Win RFPs

Another way publishers can take advantage of data is in the RFP process, according to the Adweek article, noting that the average publisher spends up to 1,600 hours per month, or 18% of revenue, responding to advertiser RFPs. Publishers can develop a customized response to an advertiser RFP, starting with first-party data to build out the RFP-requested audience and then enriching that database with third-party data appending. Digital campaigns can expand targeting by adding lookalikes. Author Downie advises running a portion of an ad campaign without audience or contextual targeting to identify additional audiences, interests, actions and behaviors of those who respond well to the campaign but were not included in the initial targeting.

Turning Data Into New Revenue Streams

Another option for publishers with high-quality audience data is to sell it as “second-party data.”  The data can be sold either directly to another company through a second-party data exchange or through a programmatic data exchange. Second-party exchanges are popular because they are private marketplaces one-to-one with another company, versus an open environment. And, of course, subscriber lists can be monetized as “third-party data,” earning regular rental revenue on the open market and via data brokers. For more detail, see the full article.

Today’s Zoo Marketing Embraces Conservation, Digital

AccuList USA helps a number of museums and zoos with marketing to members, donors and visitors. A 2017 report on the U.S. market for museums, historical sites, zoos and parks, worth $14.5 billion annually, noted that some of the most significant changes are occurring in the zoo market. Consumers’ rising concerns about conservation and ethical treatment of animals have been a driving force. As the public loses its appetite for viewing animals in cages, zoos are initiating a new stress on realistic exhibits and conservation–and their marketing is reflecting that shift.

Zoo Marketing Wins by Stressing Conservation and Natural Habitats

A recent Platform Magazine article on the new wave in zoo marketing, noted to its PR-pro readers that the winning zoo marketing strategy seems to lie in finding the middle ground between promoting conservation and creating entertainment. Many zoos do this by creating exhibits that mimic animals’ natural habitats. For example, the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, promotes exhibits for jaguars, penguins and grizzly bears, which have won exhibit design awards. Meanwhile, the Houston Zoo not only advertises the fact that it shares part of the money from each ticket with conservation programs but plans to build a new exhibit to showcase the Texas Wetlands, which have a large variety of animal and plant life.  The Platform article also cites Zoo Atlanta’s strategy for merging consumer experiences and conservation by promoting its contributions to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) with new animals’ births that help “maintain healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining animal populations within North American zoos.”

Zoos Use Digital Marketing to Stretch Budgets

However, one marketing challenge for nonprofit zoos like Zoo Atlanta is stretching “our limited advertising budget,” Vice President of Marketing and Membership Tracy Lott acknowledges. And digital media investments are one way her zoo stretches those marketing resources. For zoos following Zoo Atlanta’s lead by starting or expanding a digital marketing strategy, Search Influence, a digital marketing agency, suggests five key steps to success.  Efforts need to begin with planning, with an emphasis on defining member/donor/visitor profiles for targeting. Then local prospects, loyal members and tourists can be sent the different messaging that will resonate and drive response. Next comes a polished website to showcase attention-getting content and provide a platform for sales and donations, supported by a traffic-building investment in search optimization and paid search. Third, zoos need a curated content-marketing strategy for website, social media and paid digital advertising to promote unique draws, from exhibits and events to conservation and education. Leveraging that great content then requires a targeted digital advertising strategy. Since 90% of time online is spent outside of search, mainly on Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms, one focus should be social media ads with enticing video, graphics and messaging. These ads can be targeted by interests, location, family status, buying behavior and more to boost response. These also can be tied into a multi-channel strategy that includes direct mail; for example, our Digital2Direct program serves Facebook ads to selected “matched” postal records.  Finally, to maximize ROI, marketers need analytics with defined KPIs per platform, including use of Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to track multiple e-commerce platforms and websites.

 

 

Industrial Marketers Bet More on 2018 Direct & Digital

AccuList USA has a long track record of helping warehouse, industrial and back-office product marketers via data brokerage, predictive analytics and multi-channel direct marketing, and we’ve learned some important lessons along the way.

Industrial & Tech Marketing Budgets Expand in 2018

The good news is that many industrial marketers were inspired to expand investment in 2018. According to the “2018 Budget Trends in Industrial & Technology Marketing” report published by engineering.com, industrial marketing budgets in 2018 are expected to hit “the highest levels of growth (45%) and the lowest reported levels of shrinking budgets (4%), of any of the last five years.” More than half (54%) of manufacturing marketers expect their budget to be larger in 2018.

Quality, Targeted Data Is Key to B2B Direct Marketing

But expanded multi-channel spending still needs to be smart spending. As data brokers, we can’t overemphasize that successful B2B direct marketing–including direct mail, print catalogs and e-mail campaigns–starts with quality, targeted data. Marketers can boost response by using predictive analytics and buyer profiles to target–and then opt for the rental lists of active product inquirers/buyers that our proprietary list research finds to be top performers in each vertical. Targeting the right message to decision-makers in the buying process is also key; with product and industry factors affecting whether to select a chief engineer, purchasing manager, warehouse manager, human resources chief, or C-suite executive in mailing lists.

A Digital Strategy Is Now Essential for Leads and Sales

While direct mail continues its response leadership, there’s no denying that most B2B buyers are digital shoppers today. Research by Acquity Group finds 94% of B2B buyers say they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product, for example. Forrester Research has found that 59% of B2B buyers prefer not to interact with a sales rep, and 74% find buying from a website more convenient. That makes digital catalog sites into essential sales tools, giving customers the option to browse product, pricing, and inventory information in real-time and then self-serve. Of course, online traffic-building requires a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy given that 73% of global traffic to B2B companies comes from search engine results. But most successful B2B marketers also invest in paid digital efforts. In fact, a 2015 study by Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, and Fathom found that manufacturers ranked search engine marketing highest among paid marketing options in terms of efficacy (52%) and promoted social media posts came in second (39%).  For social media ads, B2B marketers see video as a top response tactic, which is why manufacturers in the study ranked YouTube as the most effective social media site, followed by LinkedIn ads, which AccuList USA supports. Take a deeper dive into the core elements of digital industrial marketing with this post by gorilla76, a B2B consulting firm.

 

 

 

Trust Message Takes Center Stage in 2018 Insurance Marketing

Earlier in the year, Mintel Comperemedia identified four insurance marketing trends for 2018: courting consumer trust; fighting commoditization by redefining scope and repackaging; building AI savings and speed into underwriting, customer engagement and more; and competition via supplementary service and risk mitigation. AccuList USA’s insurance marketing clients will be interested in Mintel’s recent update on two of those predictions: trust messaging and expanded product scope.

Life Insurance Ad Campaigns & Direct Mail Woo Consumer Trust

While all types of personal insurance lines showed shifts in messaging to win consumer trust via simplification, education and transparency, Mintel especially notes life insurance efforts to close the financial literacy gap through content marketing, such as Allstate’s launch of an advertising campaign in July 2018 that reminded viewers “truth today is hard to find” and concluded TV ads with “Now that you know the truth, are you in Good Hands?” Likewise, insurers Humana, Gerber Life, Kaiser Permanente, State Farm, John Hancock and Mutual of Omaha revamped direct mail messaging with some form of the line “insurance can be confusing” and then offered simplified language to which consumers could more easily relate. Meanwhile, on-demand coverage from Trov, Duuo, Cuvva and Slice addressed consumers’ product transparency demand by offering real-time coverage for what consumers want when they want it.

Partnerships Offer More to Health Insurance Shoppers

The marketing landscape for health insurance saw major changes in terms of insurance scope this year.  For example, the CVS pharmacy acquisition of Aetna opens the door to a one-stop-shop health care experience, including better digital customer service. Similarly, Mintel notes the Amazon acquisition of PillPack and the partnership between Walmart and Anthem as opportunities for established insurance products to expand and redefine the digital-age customer journey. Meanwhile, insurance marketers are watching to see how much the Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway collaboration to offer independent employee health care will shake up the status quo. For the full blog post, see http://www.mintel.com/blog/insurance/insurance-marketing-trends-2018-howd-we-do