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Personalization, Omnichannel Strategies Drive 2020 Direct Mail

AccuList’s direct mail marketing and mailing list clients embrace a channel that, despite perennial death notices, continues to outperform in terms of response, but mailers must also rely on evolving strategies for success in 2020.

2020 Success Depends on Data-Driven Personalization

Research consistently shows that personalization bumps up response. Most recently, in a 2019 NAPCO Research report on direct mail personalization, 44% of respondents saw personalized print marketing campaigns increase response by 16% on average, while Canon Solutions research found that adding a person’s name and other personalized database information (along with using full color) can increase the response rate of direct mail campaigns by up to 500%! So it’s no wonder that the recent Printing Impressions article by senior editor Toni McQuilken cites a number of leading marketing and print industry leaders stressing that data-driven personalization is the route to 2020 direct mail success. For example, Maureen Powers, president, Direct Marketing Group at RR Donnelley, asserts, “Personalization is more important than ever before, including with direct mail…We are using the direct mail channel to drive the customer experience through communications such as coupons and personalized offers. We’re also changing how we help our clients message their clients based on individual customer preferences and their point in the customer journey.” Likewise, Jim Andersen, executive chairman of IWCO Direct, stresses the shift toward variable data printing of smaller runs of targeted, personalized direct mail with digital tie-ins: “Today’s direct mail is more effective, relevant, and timely thanks to more sophisticated audience selection and segmentation. This technology uses digital print to personalize every component of a mail piece, including letters, inserts, cards, and call-to-action reply devices that connect the physical mail to an online, digital marketing experience.” 

Customer-Demanded Omnichannel Campaigns Mate Mail With Digital

For Andersen, mail personalization must be part of the omnichannel approach that customers demand today: “One of the biggest opportunities in the direct mail space is providing effective and efficient solutions to consumer demand for personalized, relevant messaging integrated across all channels. Insightful use of data, combined with the flexibility of digital print production, allows marketers to seamlessly integrate tactile marketing in their omnichannel campaigns.” Summer Gould, of Target Marketing magazine, has cited three already-proven ways to combine mail and digital:  1) online display ads that match direct mail data files to an IP address to target specific people by displaying cookie-free banner ads on web pages; 2) Facebook ads that match direct mail data with Facebook data to send targeted ads (see our Facebook Match services); and 3) e-mail matched with direct mail audience targeting to keep offers fresh, deliver response reminders and make added special offers (see our Digital2Direct services). The mail-digital mating can be taken even further to a union of programmatic automation with mail. Printing Impressions cites the example of Brodnax 21C Printers in Dallas, where Jim Singer, managing partner, describes their innovative program: “We take raw XML data to drive intricate, complex direct mail campaigns, including ongoing on-demand digital printing campaigns for local store marketing applications. Every night at midnight we get a massive amount of data, and the automated workflow we built for this programmatic offering” kicks in to generate direct mail campaigns and send them to production.

Data Quality Has Never Been More Paramount

These trends to more personalization and omnichannel integration rely on marketing data for segmentation and targeting, of course. Plus marketers must adjust for growing regulation of data security and privacy. All make data quality a top direct marketing priority in 2020. Yet too many marketers feel overwhelmed by the torrent of omnichannel “big data.” A Forrester Consulting 2019 survey revealed that, while 82% of companies place a high priority on refining data quality, more than a quarter of all marketing campaigns were hurt by substandard data in the last 12 months. Clicktale 2019 surveys of marketing and customer-experience professionals found almost a third of marketers don’t feel they’re effective at utilizing their web and mobile data, over half (54%) said they “don’t believe they have a strong understanding of their customers’ behavior across digital channels,” and 20% reported feeling like “they will never truly understand why their customers buy.” Check out this 10-step data-quality strategy from VisionEdge Marketing if you are looking for a place to start.

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Your Direct Marketing Ready for Gen Z?

Generation Z is arriving in the marketplace. Gen Z, also called post-Millennials and the iGeneration, includes young people born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, who are now graduating and getting their first jobs. Any b2c marketer ignoring this group is risking the bottom line since Gen Z members not only make up 25.9% of the U.S. population now but will account for 40% of all consumer markets in 2020. Their annual purchasing power is already $44 billion and growing as they advance in the workforce. If you add their influence on parental spending, Gen Z accounts for closer to $200 billion in annual purchasing. Is your direct marketing ready?

The Challenges of Winning Over Gen Z

Wooing Gen Z will require marketers to amend their playbooks. Oberlo, an e-commerce agency, recently discussed Gen Z marketing challenges in its blog. IWCO Direct, a data marketing agency, comes to similar conclusions in a post. First, Gen Z members have a short attention span; marketers have only about 8 seconds to capture their notice, which is even shorter than the 11 seconds required to grab the attention of the typical Millennial. This means content must be targeted, relevant, to the point and quick to engage. Second, Gen Zers have a higher number of technological devices and are constantly jumping from one device to another. While Millennials bounce between three screens at one time, Generation Z can use up to five screens at the same time. Multi-channel, multi-platform, mobile-optimized campaigns are required to reach this generation. Third, Gen Z young adults have strong opinions and, raised to expect personalization, demand that marketers customize experiences. They will be very critical of advertising that fails to meet their standards for authenticity and meaningful interaction. What is meaningful? Gen Z members want to buy from companies that support their values, for example; 55% of Gen Z chooses brands that are eco-friendly and socially responsible. Yet Gen Z has less brand loyalty than prior generations and is less motivated by traditional loyalty programs, although they can be wooed with interaction, such as online games or events. And while Gen Zers are definitely social media fans, they use social platforms differently than prior generations. A study by Response Media found that Gen Z favors Snapchat to showcase real-life moments, gets news from Twitter and gleans some information from Facebook, although they see Facebook as a platform for older people. Market Wired research shows that Instagram is their most popular app for brand discovery, with 45% using it to find new products. YouTube video is another way to reach Gen Z.

Gen Z Was Weaned on Digital, But Print Marketing Still Works

However, direct mail marketers shouldn’t assume only a digital strategy can work with Gen Z. As IWCO Direct points out, Gen Z actually finds print media more trustworthy. An MNI Targeted Media study found that 83% surveyed said they turn to printed newspapers for trusted news instead of the Internet. Gen Z does not trust information on the Internet unless it comes from a website ending in .org or .edu, research showed. In fact, since Gen Z is online so often and using multiple devices, the biggest challenge is making a lasting impression, which is where trusted print material, such as direct mail that can be physically touched and revisited, offers an advantage. Omnichannel marketing that advertises on multiple online platforms and is combined dynamically with print is more likely to increase brand recognition than digital alone, per studies. For more insight on Gen Z marketing, including content and influencer strategies, check out this recent Forbes article.


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Honoring Channel Preference Delivers Fundraising Wins

Donor control of communications channels is important for efficient fundraising contends DonorVoice’s The Agitator in a recent blog post worth passing along to AccuList USA’s fundraiser and fundraising consultant clients.

Cutting Costs and Boosting Deliverability

Fundraisers fret over opt-out rates in their efforts to grow donor files. Yet failing to learn and honor channel preference not only leads to higher opt-out rates but to wasteful marketing as well. People who opt out of telemarketing or e-mail channels are unlikely to give through that channel, so the resulting file reduction is actually a savings, cutting spending that annoys rather than produces. Plus sending e-mails to people who routinely don’t open them lowers overall e-mail deliverability, reducing e-mails that might get through to those who do want them, for another real but hidden cost.

Increasing Opt-ins and Donor Value

Giving channel control to donors can produce more quality file growth. DonorVoice has done two different tests of what causes people to opt in, and both show that donor communications control is the single biggest factor in whether someone will want to learn more from a nonprofit. Plus, another recent study by DonorVoice and the DMA Nonprofit Federation found that allowing donors control of their communications makes them more likely to donate, and that donors who provide and receive a communications preference tend to be more valuable donors. For example, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare coded people who requested less mail and sent them half as many appeals as those who stated no preference.  Those donors who requested and received half as many contacts actually gave more than the group that didn’t express a preference, per the DonorVoice article.  Catholic Relief Services also found that donors who requested a specific mail preference gave 6 to 8 times more per year, notes the same blog post. By asking for communications preference and honoring it, fundraisers identify more quality donors and make them more likely to stay.

Direct Mail Channel Still Leads With Donors

Despite the growth of online giving, channel preferences continue to favor direct mail, which is one reason it is still alive and kicking as a fundraising tool.  In fact, 73% of consumers say they prefer mail for brand communications, and that includes nonprofits, and 62% like checking the mail, per Epsilon research. Plus, mail gives nonprofits an edge in getting their message across since “brain science” research shows that printed appeals leave a deeper impression and stimulate more emotional processing. Plus, direct mail donors have higher retention rates; 31% of first-time offline donors are retained compared with 25% of new online donors, according to Blackbaud. For more on the case for fundraising direct mail, see this DonorVoice blog post.