Brain Science, Industry Data Bolster Direct Mail Fundraising

As digital, mobile and social media expand their donor influence, some nonprofit marketers prepping for the all-important fourth-quarter may wonder about direct mail’s role as a fundraising workhorse. To underscore why it’s essential to keep direct mail in harness, AccuList can not only cite years of success as a direct mail list broker and data services provider to fundraising clients, but also the latest brain science and marketing industry data.

Science Shows Donor Brains Respond to Direct Mail

Marketing channels and technology may be changing rapidly, but the human brain hasn’t changed in size and basic construction for about 500,000+ years, and mail marketers have a brain advantage, notes a recent NonProfit PRO article by Christopher Foster, vice president of business development at Modern Postcard. Neuroscience has shown that direct mail taps two basic parts of the brain: the cerebral cortex and the amygdala-hippocampus pairing. The cerebral cortex
is where we process information, think about messaging and language, and weigh the pros and cons of decisions. Unlike the truncated messaging of digital, e-mail and social, direct mail can engage this part of the brain by describing benefits and citing the objective reasons that a nonprofit is the best choice for donor dollars. Plus, research consistently shows that people trust print/direct mail information more than digital channel info. Of course, recall and emotional engagement are key drivers, and the amygdala and hippocampus, combining long-term memory with emotional response, favor direct mail over digital, too. In fact, research shows that direct mail is 35% stronger than social media and 49% stronger than e-mail when it comes to long-term memory encoding, and 33% stronger than e-mail and social media in the engagement that drives memory encoding. Overall, direct mail’s motivation response is 20% higher than digital media, per Canada Post research.

Mail Spurs Donor Response and Retention in Omnichannel Efforts

While the volume of direct mail has decreased by about 2% each year since 2015, this has actually helped boost direct mail effectiveness by helping it stand out in the messaging blitz of the digital era. In fact, the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) 2018 direct mail response rates were 9% for a house list and 5% for a prospect list, way higher than any other channels (such as e-mail, social media and paid search at 1%). As a result, mail’s median ROI is also higher than most digital channels. Direct mail, of course, works even better integrated into an omnichannel campaign, where it actually spurs digital results; for example, studies show donors are three times more likely to give online in response to a direct mail appeal than to an e-appeal. Plus, direct mail drives donor retention; for example, 70% of donors have restarted a relationship because of direct mail, per DMA data. And direct mail is efficient at retention; the Association of Fundraising Professionals reports direct mail costs $0.25 for every $1 from recurring donors.

The Right Fundraising Tactics Capitalize on Mail’s Strengths

However, direct mail’s fundraising success is certainly not a given. A recent NonProfit PRO article by Jen Linck, chief marketing officer for Corporate Giving Connection, cites some important strategies, beginning with list segmentation and targeting to avoid wasting time and resources sending costly direct mail to bad leads. We would note here that, for effective segmentation, data quality is key, which requires prospect lists from reputable sources and good hygiene of house lists (note that 20% of addresses in donor databases are out-of-date, per research). Then get creative to capture attention and drive envelope opens via tactics such as dimensional mail and a large or unconventional sized envelope, urges Linck. And make sure the direct mail pieces add value to the audience’s lives by including a special offer or a promotional gift of branded materials for everyday use, such as a notepad. But remember that content needs to tap both logical persuasion and emotional connections in donor’s brains! Because 63% of donors want to know how their donation will be used, use specific donation amounts to tell donors how they help and quantify how previous amounts donated have been used, but also inject emotional examples into the dollar results. Finally, remember that direct mail works best when it is integrated into an omnichannel campaign, so be sure to incorporate digital technology by including QR codes, short links or text keywords for use across all channels. Plus, links should direct donors to a branded, campaign-specific landing page, since 38% more donations happen when landing pages are branded and campaign-specific, and 66% of those same donors are more likely to come back and donate again. For more tips on integrating direct mail with digital fundraising, see this MobileCause infographic.

Make Clean Data a Top Priority for Effective B2B Marketing

As business-to-business marketers craft their fiscal 2020 budgets, it’s important that complex issues such as analytics, automation or AI do not distract from a core investment for achieving ROI: clean data. Certainly, AccuList stresses to all its list hygiene and management clients, whether for house lists or rental prospecting lists, the importance of data quality for targeting and response, and a recent blog post by b2b data management firm Synthio confirms the basic steps for data hygiene.

Start With a Clear Data Plan

When 94% of B2B companies suspect inaccuracy in their databases, any marketers who do not prioritize data hygiene have their heads in the marketing sands.  That starts with a data plan. A good data plan will decide on the data-quality key performance indicators (KPIs) needed to achieve business goals. The plan will survey existing contact and account data and determine how to measure health in terms of data accuracy and completeness and how to maintain data hygiene tracking on an ongoing basis. It will look to see if there are important parameters for KPI success that the existing data does not address.

Standardize, Validate and De-Dupe Contact Data

What are the basics of data health and hygiene? Before cleaning data even begins, marketers need to check that important contact data at the point of entry or download is standardized. This will make it easier to catch errors and duplicates and to merge data from multiple sources. There should be a standard operating procedure (SOP) that defines fields, formats, and entry or upload processes to ensure that only quality, standardized data is used. The next step is to validate the accuracy of the data. Although a manual process might work for a small database, and there are tools and imported lists for cleaning data, advanced data hygiene is probably best handled by experts like AccuList, which can match contact addresses against USPS verification standards and change of address databases as well as update e-mail address changes. With standardized, validated information, data sets can be seamlessly merged and purged of duplicates. Why worry about duplicates? Duplicate records hobble CRM efforts, waste dollars in marketing campaigns, undermine the Single Customer View essential for targeting and response tracking, damage customer relations and brand reputation, and result in inaccurate reporting that can mislead marketing strategy.

Append Missing Data Parameters

Most b2b house databases have data for each record, such as contact first and last name, e-mail, company name and business address. But complete data for all records may be spotty, and some desired data may be missing altogether, such as title, phone number, company annual revenue, tech stack, purchase history, etc. Wouldn’t it be great for targeting and response to fill in the blanks? Data appending can enhance a house file with hundreds of variables from outside lists, including business “firm-ographics” on revenue, industry, employee numbers, etc.; opt-in e-mail, and telephone numbers. Self-reported LinkedIn data is another source that can be used. For more detailed data cleaning tips, see Synthio’s full article.

Is Your Direct Marketing Realizing Personalization’s Potential?

Every direct marketing effort today starts with an assumption of personalization. In fact, with today’s tech advances in digital data, marketing automation, AI, variable data printing and more, the simple “Dear FirstName” personalization of yesteryear has been replaced by goals such as “hyper-personalization” and “personalizaton at scale.” Barry Feldman of Feldman Creative recently put together an infographic for MarketingProfs to illustrate the potential of personalized marketing for those who still think appealing to “FirstName” is enough.

It All Starts With Good Data

Before summarizing Feldman’s infographic, we would point out that, as data brokers and data services providers, AccuList is especially interested because personalized marketing relies on up-to-date, enhanced, accurate data to deliver on the promise—the right message, to the right person, at the right time—whether for customers or prospects. Customer outreach and the customer-based analytics for targeting prospects require collecting data from as many sources as possible: CRM, web activity, e-mail, direct mail, mobile apps, second- and third-party demographics, social media, and multichannel advertising. And then that data must be combined and maintained in a regularly hygiened customer data platform. Haven’t gotten there yet? You’re not alone. Only 5% of marketers have attained a single customer-data view that allows launching personalization across channels, per the infographic.

Why Invest in Personalization? Buyers Demand It

So why worry about an edge gained by just 5% of competitors? When 78% of Internet users say personally relevant content increases their purchase intent, and 81% of consumers say they want brands to know them better and to know when (and when not) to approach them, any brand that is ignoring that demand for personalization is ignoring the bulk of their potential market. What do customers and prospects want? Feldman’s infographic breaks it down into “four R’s” based on research: Recognize, Remember, Relevance and Recommend. People expect to be recognized by name and to have their preferences remembered so that brands can make suitable recommendations and send relevant offers.

The Payoff Is Big in Financial and Brand Clout

The bottom line shows why the “four R’s” matter. Studies find that personalization can cut acquisition costs by up to 50%, lift revenues by 5%-15%, and increase the efficiency of the marketing spend by 10% to 30%, per the infographic’s sources. Plus, in a competitive market, personalization will woo the 60% of shoppers who prefer to do business with brands that provide personalized, real-time offers and promotions. This is especially true if the customer experience is consistent across channels. With omnichannel personalization, studies show that marketers can achieve the multiple goals of boosting response, improving customer experience, increasing brand loyalty, driving revenue and delivering creative consistency across channels.

Omnichannel Personalization Includes Direct Mail

While discussions of one-to-one marketing often focus on digital efforts, traditional direct mail also has benefited from the technology trends driving personalization. Of course, a postcard or an envelope are, in a sense, always personalized by name and address for delivery, but inside the envelope or mailer, a letter, reply card, lift note, coupon, etc. can be personalized even more extensively. For example, a personalized pre-filled reply card has the advantages of both increasing response by cutting recipient effort and ensuring reply completeness and accuracy. More important, with enough quality data on recipients and modern variable data printing (VDP), messaging can be modified for each recipient based on database/list information such as purchase history, demographics/firmographics and online activity. A business-to-business campaign can be tailored by industry, title, association membership, online visits and more. A retailer can use product purchase history to craft discount offers, up-sales and cross-sales. An auto insurance mailer can leverage policy expire date, owner age, vehicle information, online quote requests, etc. to create a timely, personalized offer. VDP can even tailor graphics to fit individualized content. Plus, printing a personalized url (PURL) is one option that can take a curious recipient to a personalized online landing page with a pre-populated form and select offers. Or unique QR codes can be printed to take each recipient to a custom, personalized web page. There’s no reason for direct mail to remain stuck in the “Dear FirstName” era of personalization!

Predictive Analytics Can Harness Data for Marketing ROI

Beyond list brokerage, AccuList can support direct marketing clients with “predictive analytics,” meaning scientific analysis that leverages customer and donor data to predict future prospect and customer actions. It will scientifically “cherry-pick” names from overwhelming “big data” lists and other files. For example, AccuList’s experienced statisticians build customized Good Customer Match Models and Mail Match Models to optimize direct mail results for prospect lists, as well as one-on-one models for list owners to help acquire more new customers or donors. Plus, predictive models aid other marketing goals, such as retention, relationship management, reactivation, cross-sell, upsell and content marketing. Below are some key ways predictive analytics will harness data for better marketing ROI.

More Swift, Efficient and Effective Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is too often a sales and marketing collaboration, in which salespeople provide marketers with their criteria for a “good” lead and marketers score incoming responses, either automatically or manually, for contact or further nurturing. Predictive analytics will remove anecdotal/gut evaluation in favor of more accurate scoring based on data such as demographics/firmographics, actual behavior and sales value. It also speeds the scoring process, especially when combined with automation, so that “hot” leads get more immediate contact. And it allows for segmentation of scored leads so that they can be put on custom nurturing tracks more likely to promote conversion and sales.

Better List Segmentation for Prospecting, Retention and Messaging

With predictive analytics, list records can be segmented to achieve multiple goals. The most likely to respond can be prioritized in a direct mail campaign to increase cost-efficiency. Even more helpful for campaign ROI, predictive analytics can look at the lifetime value of current customers or donors and develop prospect matching so mailings capture higher-value new customers. Predictive analytics also can tailor content marketing and creative by analyzing which messages and images resonate with which customer segments, identified by demographics and behavior, in order to send the right creative to the right audience. Finally, analytics can develop house file segmentation for retention and reduced churn, looking at lapsed customers or donors to identify the data profiles, timing inflection points and warning signs that trigger outreach and nurturing campaigns.

Optimizing for Channel and Product/Services Offer

Data analysis and modeling can also be used to improve future marketing ROI in terms of channel preferences and even product/services development. By studying customer or donor response and behavior after acquisition, analytics can identify the most appropriate promotion and response channels, communication types, and preferred contact timing by target audience. Plus, a customer model can match demographics, psychographics and behavior with product and offer choices to tailor prospecting, as well as upsell or cross-sell opportunities, to boost future results.

Committing to a Good, Clean Customer Database

Reliable predictions require a database of clean, updated existing customer or donor records, with enough necessary demographics/firmographcs and transactional behavior for modeling. So, to prevent garbage-in-garbage-out results, AccuList also supports clients with list hygiene and management, including hygiene matching for DO NOT MAIL, NCOA and more, data appending of variables from outside lists, merge-purge eliminating duplicates and faulty records, response tracking with match-back, and more advanced list screening options.

Targeted E-mail Expands Museums’ Direct Marketing Options

While previous AccuList posts focused on direct mail strategies for our museum marketing clients, e-mail marketing is also an area where our expertise can help museums reach new members, event participants, or donors, as well as improve the performance of existing e-mail databases.

Study Museum E-mail Benchmarks and Success Stories

Evidence that e-mail can be a successful player in museums’ multi-channel campaigns comes from Constant Contact’s March 2019 e-mail statistics for house databases in the arts, culture and entertainment vertical (including museums and galleries), which show overall e-mail open rates averaging 17.54%, and click-through rates averaging 6.81% for the vertical. Those results are better than the all-industries averages of 16.74% open rate and 7.43% click-through rate, plus ahead of all but 13 of the 34 verticals tracked, and far ahead of some verticals, such as technology (e.g. web developers), automotive services, salons, retail and consulting. Marketers can also use e-mail to prospect for new members, donors and event participants. For example, marketers report success with event audience building via a series of e-mails that start with a promotion linked to ticket purchase, RSVP and/or social-sharing request, then follow up with reminders prior to the event, and finish with a post-event thanks e-mail that includes a request for an online review. Other successful e-mail series reward loyalty or re-engage dormant supporters by offering special perks (such as discounts). E-mail automation can make contact strategy even easier with programmed triggers, such as a re-engagement e-mail automatically sent six months after a last visit. For some creative inspiration, check out this nonprofit e-mail gallery and Pinterest grouping of museum e-mails.

Invest in Clean, Targeted E-mail Lists

Earning response to a house database or prospect list requires a few e-mail basics: 1) personalized, targeted messaging; 2) a brief subject line that inspires opens and engaging CAN SPAM-compliant creative content that inspires click-throughs; 3) mobile optimization of the e-mail with a clear call-to-action linked to a mobile-optimized digital landing page; and 4) an updated, clean opt-in e-mail list to avoid spam filters. As data experts, AccuList’s services especially focus on the last point. For responsive, targeted prospects, AccuList’s proprietary research has identified the top choices among opt-in e-mail rental lists (plus telemarketing and direct mail lists), including lists of museum members/donors, lists of museum mail-order buyers, and lists by type of museum and collection (download our free compilation of top list datacards). For clean, targeted house lists, AccuList points marketers toward database enhancement and hygiene, including identification of recent e-mail address changes through Electronic Change of Address (ECOA) lists, enhanced targeting by adding demographics from outside lists, and expanded e-mail reach by appending opt-in e-mails to postal records.

Pair Mobile-Optimized E-mail and Landing Pages

Every e-mail—regardless of target audience—needs a clear call-to-action linked to an online page that makes that action easy to accomplish. For fundraising e-mails, check out these best practices suggested by online fundraising software provider DonorBox: 1) include a prominent Donate Now button in the e-mail with a link to an online landing page, either one page for general donations or a page per specific project; 2) include suggested donation amounts on the landing page and tie those amounts to outcomes that show how they will improve the museum and visitors’ experiences; 3) optimize the e-mail and landing page for desktop computers, mobile phones and tablets; 4) include recurring giving options on the online page for higher donor retention; 5) if appropriate include a donation “thermometer” or other graphic of progress on the donation page to encourage more donations; 6) allow for multiple secure payment gateways, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal in addition to credit cards; 7) and, finally, make sure the donation form and its processes are as simple, clear and quick as possible.

Combine Social Media Engagement With E-mail Targeting

E-mail can be a natural complement to social media campaigns, which is why social media networks themselves use e-mail marketing for customer retention. Museums can pair social media’s ability to engage and build brand, community and web traffic with e-mail’s advantage in delivering highly targeted and personalized messages, enhancing the power of both channels. Social media apps and forms can be used to capture new e-mail opt-in subscribers, for example. With platforms like Facebook, house e-mail data can be matched with the huge social audience to deliver demographics- and interest-targeted ads and promoted posts to existing names and lookalikes. Social media also is good at soliciting user-generated content (reviews, images, videos and posts), which can be used (with permission) in e-mails to boost response. And both social media and e-mail targets can be matched with direct mail for multi-channel power. Check out AccuList’s social media user lists, Facebook match and target options, and Digital2Direct programs combining direct mail with Facebook or e-mail lists.


Make Sure You Have a 2019 Data Hygiene Plan

As marketers prepare to launch their 2019 campaigns, they should make sure that a complementary data hygiene plan is in place, and certainly AccuList USA data services stand ready to aid in ensuring the quality, up-to-date, enriched data essential for achieving marketing results.

Why Does Clean Data Matter?

Marketers don’t want to join the 88% of U.S. companies whose bottom lines are hurt by dirty data, based on Experian research. The top areas impacted by poor data practices are marketing (66% of companies) and lead generation (80% of companies), according to DemandGen. Dirty data leads to poor targeting and ROI for marketers, reduced revenue from customer acquisition and retention, wasted company resources and misdirected strategy. To avoid that fate, marketers need a plan to regularly fix any customer and prospect data that is incorrect, inaccurate, incomplete, incorrectly formatted, duplicated, or irrelevant, plus to enrich the database via appending of relevant but missing customer parameters.

Developing a Data Cleansing Strategy

Pete Thompson, founder of DataIsBeauty.com, has put together a useful primer for developing a data hygiene plan. Start with the basics: Decide what data is important for business decisions and estimate the ROI of data quality improvement. Then review existing data processes: types of data captured, where it comes from and how is it captured, the standards for data quality, how errors and issues are detected and resolved, etc. Other questions include the main sources of errors, methods for validating and standardizing data, methods for appending or combining multiple sources, automation used if any, accountability for data quality, and measurement of data ROI.

Key Elements of a Data Hygiene Plan

Without going into detail, the basic steps of the data plan will start with creating uniform data standards, preferably applied at the point of data capture. Then develop a data validation process, applied either when data is captured or, if that is not possible, at regular intervals for data already entered. After data has been standardized and validated, you can append missing fields by cross referencing with multiple data sources. Streamline the process through automation tools and scripts, saving time and money and reducing human errors. However, while it may be tempting to start with automation, Thompson cautions against putting the cart before the horse; success requires having data standards and a proven validation process in place before automating. And then set up a monitoring system of the hygiene process, whether automated or not, via random test samples and back testing, and implement periodic checks.

For regular monitoring, or overall scrubbing without an automated regimen, experts suggest a quarterly hygiene review for databases of 100,000 records or more, and semi-annual cleaning for smaller databases. Based on our own years in the data business, we think the best advice from Thompson and other experts is to enlist the services of data processing pros when hygiene is due!

Check out more details from Thompson’s data hygiene plan.




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

Smart List, Mail Design Choices Help Save on Postage

Direct mail has higher average response rates than digital choices, but maximizing mail ROI requires cost efficiency, especially in the postage realm. Good list selection and hygiene are key to avoiding mailing waste, and this is one area where AccuList USA’s expertise in targeted mailing lists selection and data services can certainly aid clients. Another important factor in controlling postage costs is mail package design. An article by Target Marketing magazine’s Summer Gould offers a great summary of how smart choices in lists and design can add up to savings.

Targeted, Clean Lists Cut Postage Waste

If you are sending mailings to the wrong people, people unlikely to be interested in your offer, lower response rate and cost inefficiency will be reflected in poor ROI. Using tools from predictive modeling to customer profiling to segmentation can improve list choices and targeting parameters. Plus, AccuList USA’s proprietary list research can help clients find the top-performing lists for their specific vertical market. But no matter how data is targeted, dirty data with duplicates, errors, invalid addresses, and old demographic or purchase history information will create costly delivery failures and misdirected waste. That’s why AccuList USA goes beyond list brokerage to provide expert merge-purge services that combine and standardize data in order to eliminate duplicates, identify and correct old or undeliverable addresses, verify zip codes, and maximize postal discounts. In fact, by comparing names and addresses to real-time information on multiple public and private databases, AccuList USA offers an advanced hygiene regimen that is able to identify and correct twice as many addresses as standard USPS FASTforward and NCOALink use, which only represent a portion of U.S. movers and undeliverables.

Careful Design Wins Postage Discounts

USPS offers postage discounts to mail pieces that are not only addressed correctly but also designed for processing on automated equipment. For mail to qualify for the lowest postage rates, the mail piece needs to be at a letter size, which is a minimum of 3 ½” high by 5″ long and a maximum of 6″ high by 10½” long. Larger mail pieces fall into the flat category, which can cost more than twice as much per piece as a letter. Plus, to take advantage of automation, the piece must by rectangular, with an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of 1.3 to 2.5. Mail pieces outside those ratios could cost twice as much in postage. Then the addressing and barcode block on letter size mail must fit into the USPS OCR read area to avoid additional postage. For tri-folded self-mailers, the address must be on the center panel to qualify for discounted automation postage. Naturally, weight matters.  Keep the weight of a folded self-mailer under 1 ounce; if the piece weighs over 3 ounces, it must go in an envelope. Thickness counts, too  If a mail piece is less than 0.009″ thick, it costs more in postage. On the other hand, the  maximum thickness for letter size mail is ¼” and for flat size is ¾”. The best advice is to consult with your mailing service provider about any new design in advance. For more, see https://www.targetmarketingmag.com/post/save-money-postage/

 

Want E-mail Marketing Success? Here Are Some Basics

E-mail is a key part of most omnichannel marketing strategies, and AccuList USA supplies data and support for a growing list of e-mail marketing clients. Yet dodging spam filters and reeling in responses from crowded inboxes is an ongoing challenge. A recent Direct Marketing News article laid out some basic tips on how to get the most out of e-mail marketing:

Data Is Key to Deliverability, Targeting

As a data broker, AccuList USA naturally stresses that data matters. The DM News article listed data last among its tips, but we’ll put it first. Even the most well-crafted e-mail will end up in spam folders if delivered to an e-mail list with too many duplicates, outdated addresses, missing permission hygiene, spam traps, etc. Quality e-mail data is essential to deliverability, which means regular cleaning and updating of house lists, or carefully vetted rental lists (sponsored e-mails) for prospecting. Quality data is also key to the targeting that maximizes response, using segmentation and personalization to tailor offers and messaging to specific audiences and individuals.

Make Good First and Last Impressions

Once an e-mail lands in the inbox, the subject line, a brand’s first impression, impacts open rates.  While there are few absolute guidelines, be aware that 50-70 characters in length is the “sweet spot” for readability, per the article. In those few characters, the subject line needs to quickly convey an offer/value and tone that intrigue the audience. Beyond avoiding words and symbols likely to trigger spam filters, A/B testing is usually the best way to find which subject line leads to higher open and click rates, as the article advises. While focusing on a first impression, too many e-mail marketers forget the importance of a closing impression. For example, after gaining response and conversion, marketers can use transactional e-mails (e-mails acknowledging a purchase, donation, sign-up, etc.) to expand customer/donor value by offering a reward (discount on next purchase as an example), a loyalty program, a newsletter, social links and more.

Design With Mobile in Mind

When it comes to design, the key to success today is the ability to translate across desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Remember, research shows that more than two-thirds of consumers access e-mail through their smartphones! Other common general guidelines include formatting within standard dimensions and fonts, creating a layout with quick-scan logic and clear call to action, optimally sized images with alt text in case of blocking, and personalized or even dynamic content.

Embrace Social Media and Sociability

E-mail isn’t usually the only method for connecting with an audience, or necessarily the channel preference of all recipients. That’s why e-mails also should highlight social media buttons, invite readers to share content, or urge them to visit appropriate social pages and profiles, notes the article. Meanwhile, with personalization, humanization and authenticity as benchmarks of today’s marketing, e-mail marketers should avoid generic messaging and deliver content in a tone that speaks to the target audience yet remains in line with a consistent brand voice across channels.

For more detail, see the complete article at https://www.dmnews.com/channel-marketing/email/article/13034539/6-email-marketing-tips-to-stand-out-in-the-inbox

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/