Direct Marketers Have Historic Opportunities and Challenges This Fall and Beyond

Published: August 12, 2010

This fall will afford direct marketers a historic opportunity to acquire new customers and donors.

In the quarter following September 11, 2001, some of AccuList USA’s clients postponed their mailings while others mailed with a vengeance. The folks who mailed post 9-1-1 had great results. The others who eliminated their holiday campaigns lost a significant amount of seasonal revenue. A convergence of factors make this fall special for direct marketers. Mail volume is down, postal rates are capped through the end of this year, and the national economy is slowly rebounding.

This year, we observed a growing number of dormant mailers, who relied on house files and online advertising the past 2 years make a triumphant return to direct mail. We are flattered they chose AccuList USA to assist them with their postal, e-mail, and mobile marketing needs.

There is no time like the present to confidently utilize direct mail as an integral part of your fall campaigns, because your offers will receive unprecedented attention. If you are a contrarian, yet still committed to direct mail, less mail emanating from your competitors is a good thing. As they reallocate their budgets and mail less, that affords you the opportunity of a lifetime to increase spending on direct mail and thereby extend your market reach.

Many of our clients have informed us their sales and donor acquisition efforts last fall were surprising good. This year, some clients have noted their response rates have returned to “pre-recession” levels, which bodes well for those planning to utilize direct mail this fall. Depending upon your offer or appeal, we can deliver targeted direct mail, e-mail, and mobile media to the same recipients, which will enhance your revenue.

Some of our readers may not be aware that Miles Kimball, who has multiple catalogs, made it a priority several years ago to coordinate its online marketing efforts with their catalog mailings. E-mail campaigns that are part of this strategy have boosted response and revenue by up to 20%.

For those of you who are contemplating an e-mail test along with direct mail, we have some great news for you. E-mail rental rates are more competitive. The opportunity to target known online buyers has never been greater. Best of all, there are a growing number of “branded” transactional opt-in e-mail lists on the market. Those lists should be contrasted with their bargain basement “private label” counterparts, which are harvested from web site visitors who have no buyer histories. In other words, AccuList USA can help you effectively target known online buyers from some of the same lists that have proven successful offline. When you pursue a multi-channel strategy incorporating e-mail and postal, your results will exceed those of a single channel campaign. Best of all, it is well settled that multi-channel customers spend more.

Here is another tactic to consider this fall:

Increase your mail density in states with lower unemployment rates such as Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. These states have rates under 7% (seasonally adjusted). There are other areas in our country where the economy is also very strong. The more you mail in certain areas, the less you pay per piece on postage. You can target direct mail, e-mail, and mobile through AccuList USA to maximize results on local, regional, and national campaigns.

Unfortunately, there are some grey skies ahead for direct marketers, whether you market on the web or via direct mail. Several bills are now being considered by Congress that will restrict your ability to prospect for new customers or donors, or share names.

For example, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) recently introduced HR 5777, the Best Practices Act, which is similar to the legislation Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduced earlier this year. The Rush bill includes more stringent privacy protections, as advocated by various consumer groups. These groups expect direct marketers to opt-in their customers and site visitors, before data can be shared or tracked. This includes direct mail, not just online.

The Federal Trade Commission is considering a “do not track” list to address Internet advertising privacy concerns, which is similar to the notorious Do Not Call Registry.

For years, we have lamented the fact that direct marketers who maintain a WE DO-NOT SELL OR EXCHANGE YOUR NAME POLICY unnecessarily tie their hands, because informed consumers expect those same entities to share their names, unless they ask to be on a DO-NOT-MAIL list. If you establish a “pro-consumer” privacy policy, and request an opt-in to share personal identifiable information, your company or non-profit will be prepared to stay in business, regardless of today’s hostile regulatory environment.

In conclusion, there is no time like the present for direct marketers to take advantage of unique market conditions to generate more revenue this fall. They must also “batten down the hatches.” A review of your online and offline privacy policies is de rigueur , along with asking each customer, donor, or site visitor for permission to send unsolicited communications. If you respect your customers’ or donors’ privacy, you can maintain lawful relationships with them, and share their names with affiliates, cooperative databases, and third parties. We strongly advocate that you take this action now and write to your elected officials in Washington, before restrictive privacy legislation is passed by Congress and sent to our President. In its present form, the aforementioned legislation has the potential to devastate direct mail (offline), mobile media, and online advertising.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AccuList USA Can Help You Find New Multi-Channel Customers in 2011

Published: November 30, 2010

There is much to be thankful for this holiday season, particularly if you have a job. For business owners, your company is still alive and kicking. The last two years have devastated our homeland as we approach what we believe is the end of “The Great Recession of 2008.”

Most economists agree our domestic economy will continue to improve in 2011. Leading indicators such as consumer and business spending are now up in successive quarters, as our country becomes cautiously optimistic. Some direct marketers are even starting to feel bullish for the first time in several years.

If you are planning to increase your customer or donor acquisition budget next year and integrate various forms of digital media with traditional channels, AccuList USA® is ready, willing, and able to help you succeed as never before — as I will explain throughout this article.

The traditional list business has always been sensitive to changes in the economy along with postal rate increases. Today, there is a unique convergence of factors that has compelled many of our former competitors to leave the industry, merge their operations with sworn enemies, or attempt to reinvent their brands as media buying agencies.

AccuList USA is moving forward.

Several years ago, we were given some financial advice by one of our competitors. We saved some of our revenue when times were good and kept a close eye on our expenses as the bottom fell. That piggy bank came in handy. What’s the bottom line? AccuList USA remains strong and is eager to serve you in 2011.

Over 20 years ago, it was prognosticated by folks with ties to the so-called “double opt-in” e- mail business that list brokers would go the way of the dinosaurs. In their place, we would see the mythic “infomediary.” Guess what? The e-mail business has fully embraced list brokers as a sales channel. It is now the same story with text messaging services. Will that happen again with CPA advertising on Facebook® and LinkedIn®? By the way, you can rent self-reported members of both sites through AccuList USA. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

We are encouraged to see many of our venerable clients return this year to traditional media including direct mail, e-mail, and insert programs. In 2011, we anticipate direct mail will garner even more attention as astute direct marketers integrated it with PURLS, QR Codes and other proven online tracking and engagement tools. Social media and mobile marketing will also continue to gain followers along with traditional insert media programs.

In 2010, response rates for direct mail returned to pre-recession levels while postal rates remained unchanged. But that’s not all. The most successful direct marketing companies have mastered the process of integrating new digital media with traditional channels. It’s no wonder a growing number of them are increasing their advertising budgets for 2011. Aside from sustained customer retention and reactivation efforts, the focus is now back on targeting and acquiring new customers and even donors across a galaxy of digital and offline channels.

Some of our clients have focused more of their advertising dollars on digital media over the past two years, with mixed results. To help them monetize their digital investments, we have successfully appended postal addresses to visitors who opt-in to e-newsletters along with other web site registrants. Conversely, we have appended e-mail addresses to postal records and overseen “permission-pass” mailings to request an opt-in. We can append other variables as well. If any of these services are of interest to you, please let us know because we can help you market across all channels, without missing a beat.

Admittedly, e-mail is not always our first choice for acquisition, but it does work for promotional offers such as free newsletters, white papers, and webinars. It is also effective for staying in touch with your customers or donors. When it comes to innovation, the good news is that there are a growing number of “branded” e-mail lists on the market. This trend bodes well for reinvigorating e-mail marketing. These lists have the potential to generate much higher open and conversion rates for all mailers, because they are true permission-based lists from trusted brands that maintain active relationships with their customers, as opposed to web site visitors or contest respondents on traditional e-mail lists. Call us for details. These new e-mail lists are worth testing to boost traffic on your web site, or to market synergistically with direct mail.

Text messaging (SMS) lists have been around for several years. Reputable list owners are MMS compliant and scrub their names against various Do Not Call files, and maintain opt-out lists as well. Text messages are growing in popularity because they work for retailers and others who rely upon “location-based” services or special offers to previous customers Fundraisers have achieved success with mobile marketing by sending “urgent” appeals to prospective donors.

AccuList USA can “push” an SMS message along with a separate e-mail, and send direct mail to the same recipient. This data can be mapped to specific locations. For those who aspire to integrate digital media with tried and true direct mail, this is a potential marriage made in heaven because we can track each channel using PURLS, QR Codes, along with triggering a timely e- mail as a by-product of utilizing “cloud-based” Intelligent Mail or other tools. It has been shown that integrated direct marketing can yield superior results across all channels.

B2B advertisers can now participate in new Co-Registration (CoReg) programs that are hosted by various trade publishers and available through AccuList USA. They allow you to generate new customers or prospects on a Cost Per Lead basis (CPL), as newcomers sign up for magazine or e-newsletter subscriptions. Please contact us for particulars on this exciting new service.

B2C advertisers can also avail themselves of new Websert programs through AccuList USA that are hosted by major-brand catalog companies. These e-commerce site owners will present your offer upon completion of an online sale. Some list owners will consider Cost Per Action (CPA) deals along with CPM.

Last but certainly not least are insert media programs including package inserts, blow-ins, statement stuffers, and ride-along programs. Several of our clients have experienced continued success with their insert programs. We invite you to put them to the test next year. They are very inexpensive and can yield a favorable return on investment.

As you can plainly see, aside from expanding our offerings, we are generating favorable results for those who are utilizing digital media along with direct mail through AccuList USA. We look forward to helping you successfully integrate your digital and offline initiatives in 2011.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Digital “Engagement” Faces New Challenges in 2011

Published: February 22, 2011

A growing number of our clients are mastering the process of successfully integrating digital or online media into their overall direct marketing strategy. Results have been mixed, and there are a number of challenges ahead that may temper expectations about turning Facebook users into customers.

Direct Mail is Kicking ***

Earlier this year, Epsilon Marketing’s ICOM division published results from a survey on consumer preferences as they relate to the growing number of communications channels for the delivery of marketing information, offers, and promotions. Among other things, the survey said that direct mail “…is an increasingly viable and effective channel to reach and engage purchasing decision-makers in North American households.”

E-Mail is More Of The Same

While e-mail message open rates remain virtually unchanged, click rates have shown slight recent improvement, according to a new study of e-mail marketing campaigns by Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association’s E-Mail Experience Council.

E-mail can be a very effective tool for outbound prospecting. As an example, sending an e-mail to a prospect before making a phone call can double the response rate. The same may be said about staging or triggering e-mail, by calling attention to the mail box. Integrated direct marketing does increase response rates across individual channels along with profitability.

Social Media is Making Fans and Raising Eyebrows

It is undeniable that Social Media is gaining traction among marketers. Some are early adopters, others follow the herd. As with any new media channel, there are innumerable opportunities to make friends and lose customers or donors, all with the ease of a mouse click.

Market research company Firefly Millward Brown has reported, “…consumers are wary of corporations participating in social media, and corporations are uncertain how to use social media.. According to Hershell Gordon Lewis, we live in “The Age of Skepticism.” How trusting are you when “friended” by a stranger?

If you are reaching out to prospective customers that you hope to befriend on Facebook, you may have an upward battle endearing strangers to your brand or appeal. Making friends in any social setting is a two-way street. For advertisers, aside from making a good first impression, any talk or promises must match the walk. In other words, if you make an offer, it has better be one that you can live with as a marketer, and is compliant with prevailing law, including testimonials.

Let’s face it, unlike direct mail, online relationships are fleeting, not to mention the blogosphere where misdeeds can become instant news in places like www.thehuffingtonpost.com, Breaking up is very easy to do online, and hell hath no fury like the wrath of an unhappy customer or donor, particularly one who is both web and blog savvy.

According to Exact Target, internet users who unsubscribe, unfan or unfollow brands on social networks do so because of irrelevant, too-frequent or boring marketing messages. So if you are spending big bucks to attract fans who may not be loyal, there are better ways to reallocate your advertising budget in 2011.

Back in the so-called “dot.com” era of the 1990’s, companies spent billions of dollars developing huge customer lists. It is well known that many of these same entities went bankrupt because they failed to monetize their data warehouse investments. Is social media on the same path? That depends upon whether you are successfully converting friends and followers into customers. If that is the case, you deserve kudos because others are on a wild goose chase, along with fellow members of the herd.

According to a widely reported Webtrends study, Facebook ad performance metrics are dismally low, and getting worse. Between 2009 and 2010, worldwide click through rates dropped while costs per click and per thousand increased. What that means is that Facebook users are clicking less, and costing marketers more money to put ads in front of them.

A whitepaper by social marketing and analytics firm Webtrends, which studied 11,000 Facebook ad campaigns in the U.S., found that the cost of advertising on Facebook that encourages a user to become a ‘fan’ on the brand’s Facebook page is $1.07,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Demand for digital media and advertising services appears to be ebbing among some clients of major advertising agencies, according to a recent survey conducted by Strata. Digital advertising demand has decreased for the first time between two consecutive quarters, falling to 21.1% of respondents in the fourth quarter of 2010 from 26.0% of respondents in the 3rd. quarter of 2010. Strata said it also found that demand for mobile media services is “not yet living up to industry hype.” “Agencies expressed the predominant obstacle with digital advertising is the lack of channel effectiveness.”

So what about Mobile Marketing?

Mobile advertising is four-to-five times more effective than online advertising on average, according to an InsightExpress presentation at a Microsoft workshop. Mobile Giving also works when there is an urgent need for funds. However, once SPAM filters become de rigueur on web enabled phones, all bets are off. Relevant and timely messages will get blocked, just like e-mail.

According to Mobile Marketer, if successful, a class-action lawsuit filed against Apple Inc., Pandora Inc., The Weather Channel, Dictionary.com LLC, Gogii Inc. and Backflip Studios Inc. “would set an ominous precedent for the mobile advertising ecosystem.”

Mobile marketing has created a feeding frenzy for trial lawyers. Is third party opt-in e-mail marketing next? It depends whether the courts treat commercial e-mail blasts like SMS. Frankly, a growing number of court cases do not bode well for so-called permission-based e-mail and mobile marketing lists, unless they are hosted and deployed in a certain way.

Clearing the way for a potential class-action lawsuit regarding wireless spam, a judge has rejected two marketing companies’ argument that a federal law banning text message spam is unconstitutional.

In conclusion, as of this writing, direct marketers can rest assured that direct mail still works and is lawful in all 50 states. In light of recent litigation and growing attention by regulators and Congress, one cannot make the same case about either social media or online advertising. When it comes to digital marketing, one could reasonably conclude “may the buyer beware.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Encouraging News and Proven Strategies Await B-to-B Mailers and Fundraisers

Published: June 22, 2011

Whether you are a business-to-business mailer or a fundraising professional, we have some exciting news to share on proven strategies and other authoritative information to help you generate more sales, or in the case of fundraisers, additional gifts this year.

B-TO-B MEDIA SPENDING IS GROWING. EVEN WITH A SLUGGISH ECONOMY, RESPONSE RATES ARE UP THIS YEAR.

Business marketers who rely on direct mail and multi-channel media are smiling like Cheshire cats this year, because response rates are up. Even one of our very high-profile competitors “let the cat out of the bag” last week. If this trend continues, businesses will have greater momentum, renewed optimism, and more profits as they recalibrate their marketing plans for the remainder of 2011 and 2012.

According to the new “PwC Entertainment & Media Outlook 2011-2015” released last Tuesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the U.S. b-to-b media market will increase at a 4.1% compound annual growth rate from 2010-2015, reaching $86.0 billion in 2015.

For those who have a passion for internet marketing, the top online application for senior executives at work is watching webcasts, followed by viewing online videos, according to a new report from Doremus New York and the Financial Times. FREE “webinars” are also very popular and elicit higher open and click rates than conventional prospect e-mail. So, if you have a FREE webinar, be sure to target potential registrants with “co-branded” e-mail along with a timely and relevant offer. You can stream “content” as well, once you have the proverbial “opt-in.”

According to Chief Business Marketer, if you have no historic e-mail response data on a given prospect, “then send your e-mail on a Thursday—which is the best B-to-B day. The best time for B-to-B e-mail marketing is in middle of the day, typically from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.”

Worldata has reported that LinkedIn users with 50+ connections are 29% more likely to open a third-party e-mail offer than non-users. Let’s get real, many of our business associates who enjoy networking in various forms are also bona fide e-mail and social-media junkies. They have a passion that you can tap into as a marketer, particularly as a trusted “friend” with the right offer. For those who are curious, we can identify a growing number of these same individuals with accounts on either LinkedIn or Facebook, who have “self-reported” postal addresses.

A third, often overlooked way to leverage the social element is to incorporate content from social media into your e-mail messages. According to Email Essentials, doing so can improve your brand’s credibility, set your newsletter apart from the competition and, yes, boost response.

FUNDRAISERS ARE ACHIEVING SUCCESS WITH MULTICHANNEL MEDIA. DIRECT MAIL STILL REIGNS SUPREME FOR RETENTION OF SUSTAINING DONORS

Multichannel giving has become popular among fundraisers as a way to build constituent support. But, the large majority of donors on file give through only one channel and use only direct mail as their vehicle for donations. The only donors who do significant multichannel giving are new donors acquired online, who switch in large numbers to direct mail giving in subsequent years. That’s among the findings of the 2011 “Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report for Target Analytics” by donorCentrics.

An annual survey just released showed charitable giving rebounded slightly in 2010 after two years of sharp declines resulting from the recession, the Giving USA Foundation reported. Total contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations were estimated at $290.9 billion, up from $280.3 billion in 2009. You can have a bigger piece of the pie this year, if your organization is willing to consider one of the latest donor-acquisition tactics.

For example, the Capuchin Order of the Province of St Mary received a 3% response rate and raised about $100,000 from its first e-mail and web campaign to benefit victims of the tsunami in Japan. If you have a compelling appeal with a high degree of urgency, aside from direct mail, consider using e-mail to engage your donors across multiple channels.

By the way, mobile-giving initiatives do not cannibalize other fundraising channels such as online and direct mail, according to a panel at Nonprofit Mobile Day.

Cause marketing, when firms share proceeds from the sale of products with a social cause, reduces overall charitable giving by consumers, according to Aradhna Krishna, the Dwight F. Benton Professor of Marketing. Krishna found that charitable giving is lower if consumers buy a cause-related product — even if the consumer planned to buy it anyway, regardless of its link to a cause. For those fundraisers who are co-branding their appeals with sponsors, this is a big wake-up call.

ACCULIST USA CAN ENHANCE YOUR POSTAL AND E-MAIL ADDRESSES, SO YOU CAN EXTEND YOUR REACH INTO NEW CHANNELS.

Marketers of all stripes are appending new information to their house files to enhance their relationships with buyers and donors. As an example, if your web site visitors are providing their e-mail addresses, and you would like to contact these same respondents via direct mail, AccuList USA can append postal addresses to your names. For those seeking to convert postal addresses into permission-based e-mail addresses, look no further than AccuList USA. We can append e-mail addresses to your postal names, and do a special “permission pass” mailing. There is no cost to find out how many names AccuList USA can “match-back” on your list.

AccuList USA can help you increase your level of engagement across all marketing channels. We are just a phone call, e-mail, message, or tweet away. Let us help you prosper in 2011.


About Acculist

AccuList USA® provides a broad spectrum of services to direct marketers and their agencies including consulting, list brokerage, list management, list enhancement, merge-purge, response analysis, campaign planning, graphic design, copywriting, printing, mailing, and predictive modeling services.

AccuList USA is headquartered in Ventura, California. It maintains a list and insert management office in Laguna Woods, California, along with affiliates in La Quinta, Oxnard, and Thousand Oaks, California.

AccuList USA is an active member of the following professional associations:

Advertising Federation of the Desert (Desert AdFed)
Association of Fundraising Professionals
Direct Marketing Association – (National – List Leaders)
Direct Marketing Association Southern California (Charter member)
International Association Of Exhibitions and Events

Contact:

AccuList USA
1891 Goodyear Ave, Suite 622
Ventura, CA 93003-6431
(805) 644-1966 Phone
(805) 644-1659 FAX
www.acculistusa.com

AccuList USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of AccuList, Inc.

Copyright 2013 by AccuList, Inc.