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These Tech Trends Likely to Drive 2018 Direct Mail Success

Because direct mail data and support services are at the heart of AccuList USA’s expertise, we are always delighted to pass along tips on how to use direct mail more successfully in multi-channel marketing strategy. A blog post by Postalytics, a self-serve direct mail automation tool, recently mined multiple expert sources for the most influential direct mail trends of 2018, ranging from creative to technology to mailing strategy. If you have any lingering doubt over adding interactive technology to traditional snail mail, just take a look at the article’s top mail technology trends for this year.

Automation and Integration: Speedy, Targeted Production

Unsurprisingly, automation purveyor Postalytics puts mail automation software at the top of the list, but they get plenty of industry support. Automation allows marketers to quickly generate high-quality, personalized and trackable letters and postcards by leveraging templates, digital cues and automated workflows, cutting direct mail production cycles from 4-6 weeks down to 1 week. That automation also allows marketers to maximize response by integrating triggered direct mail into any step in the buyer’s journey, online or offline, so that mail delivery taps into the appropriate timing, content and call-to-action.

Linking Offline to Online: AR, QR and PURL

Interactive, mobile-scanned Augmented Reality apps and QR codes, as well as personal urls (PURLs) linked to targeted content-specific landing pages, allow direct mailers to connect offline marketing’s printed paper with online marketing’s digital pages, images, animations and videos. Studies show that combining snail mail with interactive digital is key to greater overall campaign response and ROI.

Enhanced Data Targeting and Personalization

The magic wand of quality, enhanced data can be waved over direct mail to match the right message to the right people at the right time. Good mailing list data allows for targeting based on shopping habits and needs, retargeting and cross-selling, recapturing and reactivating of lost prospects and customers, leveraging of trigger events and personal preferences, and more–provided there is a commitment to quality database hygiene and processing. Customer and prospect data lists need to be up-to-date, de-duped and accurate, and mailings must use cost-effective advanced postal address hygiene and pre-sorting. In addition to cost-effective, high-response targeting, good mailing data allows for sophisticated content personalization far beyond simply inserting a name, the kind of personalization that has become a basic expectation of customers. Marketers can even create personalized coupon codes that deliver a much higher ROI than generic coupon codes; these unique codes make customers feel valued on an individual level.

For 2018 direct mail trends in creative design and mailing strategies, see https://www.postalytics.com/blog/direct-mail-marketing-trends-for-2018/ 

 

 

 

Publisher Mistakes Undermine Online Subscription Efforts

Subscription marketing is a goal for most of our B2B and B2C publishing clients, so we wanted to pass along a recent Publishing Executive (PE) magazine article warning of some common online errors by publishers that are undermining circulation marketing investments.

Use Premium Content to Lure Subscribers

Access to premium content should be online but limited to subscribers, urges PE author Eric Shanfelt, founding partner of eMedia Strategist. After all, why subscribe if you can go to the website and see all content for free? Unfortunately, some publishers are so baffled by the technology of locking down content as subscriber-only that they don’t even put their premium content online–losing a big selling point with digital traffic. Others are worried about reducing Google search traffic or ad impression dollars by limiting content access, but they are not factoring in the cost of lost subscribers, argues Shanfelt. Of course, for success with subscriber-only premium content, the website must then prominently promote that premium content and its subscriber-only status via clear incentives and calls-to-action, he adds.

Quick, Easy Subscription Pages Need to SELL

A website or mobile subscription page should not be just an order form, Shanfelt advises. Remember that most people who visit a subscription page are just considering subscribing. They need to be sold. Visitors should clearly see the benefits of subscribing and what they get (deliverables). Plus the page should generate a sense of urgency to sign up and use FOMO (fear of missing out) to push orders. Equally important, the subscription process should be quick and easy.  Make the subscription link easy to see and navigation simple by putting an obvious menu item and widget on every website page, with a link directly to a single-page subscription form, not a multi-step process. And finally, make sure the subscription page is not only secure but loads quickly on desktop or mobile. If it doesn’t load in 2-3 seconds, up to 50% of potential subscribers could be lost, warns Shanfelt.

Invest in Data Tracking and Integration

In order to test and adjust marketing tactics, online subscription and confirmation pages should use Google Analytics for e-commerce conversion tracking and cross-domain tracking to see how people get to subscription pages and how well they convert from different sources. Subscription/confirmation pages should also use tracking pixels from Facebook, Google, Bing and other digital sources, as well as from customer data platforms and e-mail systems.  More important, circulation data needs to be integrated with the website subscription pages and any e-mail or marketing automation systems. For effectiveness, that circulation data should be updated automatically in real-time or, at a minimum, manually once a month. If the website is synchronized with the circulation system, people can log into the site by authenticating against subscriber data to get access to premium content, for example. Integration also allows for conditional content blocks in follow-up e-mails to upsell non-subscriber leads, for sending of automatic renewal reminders, and even for a sync of subscriber lists with programmatic ad networks.

For more tips, see the full article.

2018 Offers New and Old Marketing Data Challenges

As a data broker, AccuList USA is committed to helping its data services clients with data gathering, quality, targeting and analytics. Looking ahead to 2018, we see new and old data issues for direct marketers. A recent Forbes magazine interview with Tom Benton, the CEO of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), highlighted six of those data challenges for next year.

Perennial Problems From Quality and Integration

Given the huge amount and types of data streaming into marketers, many are struggling to decide which data sets to use and which to ignore, how to keep data accurate and actionable, and how to integrate new data with existing data. Several practices for 2018 success are suggested: clear business goals and target audiences to narrow the data focus; a clear test case for examining or onboarding data; regular examination of new and legacy data accuracy and value; and systems for integrating new data with existing data, especially given the new types of data streams available–everything from wearable gym trackers to chatbots to grocery checkouts.

New Opportunities Via Technology

The Forbes overview also cites the exciting opportunities coming from new marketing tech tools, such as augmented reality (AR), machine learning and AI. Are you ready to take advantage? The articles offers the example of how 1-800-Flowers improved customer experience by integrating the company’s website with artificial intelligence (AI) technology and natural language processing to understand customer demand and then search the product catalog to deliver customized recommendations. Use of AR today ranges from AMC theater movie posters to Simmons Bedding Co. product demos to labels of Australia’s 19 Crimes wine brand. And consider that digital growth company Urban Airship has developed a machine learning algorithm to analyze mobile customer behavior and help app publishers identify the most loyal users and predict those that are likely to churn to improve retention investment in specific customer segments.

Challenges With Cybersecurity and European Rules

If customers don’t trust that sensitive information will be safeguarded, they’ll stop engaging, hurting not only individual brands but the data-driven community. Massive data security breaches made headlines in 2017. That makes data security a top concern to retain customers and prevent risk in 2018, per Benton. Meanwhile, American marketers who seek to tap European markets need to get ready for the enactment of the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), taking effect May of 2018. The regulations will set a new baseline for consumer privacy rights and focus on ensuring that proper consents are obtained for a range of data sets and that other privacy rights are observed, such as the “right to be forgotten.”

For more on 2018 data trends, read the Forbes article.

How B2B and B2C 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. As a data services provider in the age of multi-channel “big data,” AccuList USA certainly has client experiences that attest to the value of integrated marketing data and analysis, and the dangers of data silos.

Data Silos Undermine Big and Small Marketers

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. Marketers are likely to face poor immediate ROI and wasted future opportunities from an incomplete and inaccurate picture of customers, campaigns and channel results. Smart marketers will invest in solutions, such as third-party support, software for content management and marketing automation, and data warehousing.

Silos Prevent Personalized B2C Marketing Success

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. As customers demand more personalized marketing, marketers can embrace targeted, contextual approaches using search terms, browser history, etc. 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! Persson urges centralized storage and analysis to allow for a full line of sight into customer activity; real-time data access and analysis; channel attribution visibility; and tailored loyalty programs.

B2B Silos, Separated From B2C, Miss Audience

Another type of silo can impact business-to-business efforts: isolating business-to-business from business-to-consumer data. 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 a great tool for B2B onboarding, argues Gupta. Since data management platforms match B2C e-mails at a higher rate, linking B2B data to B2C e-mail addresses boosts reach. Creating custom audiences on social media can also benefit from a B2B link to B2C. Since most people use their personal e-mail addresses when they create social media accounts, connecting B2B data to personal e-mails will help reach far more B2B prospects on social media, too. Check out Gupta’s complete article.