Thursday, February 26, 2015

How Direct Mail Beats E-mail in 4 Basic Ways

Despite the predominance of e-mail marketing articles, direct mail is still a key marketing tool, and mailing lists and direct mail support continue as a thriving part of AccuList USA's services. So we naturally welcome mainstream business media support from other champions of direct mail's virtues. For example, Entrepreneur magazine recently published an article by Craig Simpson, owner of Simpson Direct, Inc., titled "Four Reasons to Use Direct Mail Marketing Instead of E-mail Marketing." Simpson points out that direct mail's first advantage comes from e-mail's well-known drawback: inbox overload and the high percentage of e-mails filtered out or deleted unseen. By comparison, an Epsilon study found 77% of consumers sort through their physical mail as soon as received, and USPS data shows 98% check their mail daily. Next, mail is a directly personal experience, touching consumers physically in-hand and in-home, as opposed to an e-mail subject line scrolling on the screen of a multitasking computer or mobile device user. Third, direct mail avoids the growing trust problems of digital marketing. Because of online security hacks and phishing scams, people may avoid even opening an e-mail much less clicking on links or attachments. In contrast, consumers know they can safely open and browse a direct mail piece, where bells and whistles are bonuses not red flags. Finally, direct mail has more tools for standing out in the inbox and inducing an open and response: colored or oversized envelopes, personalized messaging, intriguing dimensional mail, and even physical inclusions such as premiums. "When was the last time you got a pen in an e-mail?" Simpson asks. For the full article, go to http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242731

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In B2B Content Marketing, Message Trumps Format

In business-to-business content marketing, substance beats format, or what you say is more important than how you say it, advises a leading B2B strategist. Consider how that affects implementation of findings of the 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey by Eccolo Media. Eccolo Media's survey respondents rated the helpfulness of 10 types of content at each of four stages in the technology buying process: pre-sales, initial sales, mid-sales and final sales. The two most highly rated content types for the pre-sales phase were blogs and e-newsletters. Tech buyers tapped white papers and case studies as most useful in the initial sales phase. By the mid-sales phase, content preferences shifted to detailed tech guides and videos. And detailed tech guides and e-books were most desired in the final sales phase. That's good information for both B2B tech marketers and general B2B marketing, but, to succeed, each content type stills needs to meet some key criteria, advises B2B marketing consultant David Dodd in a recent Business2Community post. The three attributes of successful content, in descending order of importance, are right message, right length and right format, Dodd summarizes. First, comes the right message, meaning content that meets the needs of a potential buyer at the appropriate stage in the buying process. So the right message at the pre-sales stage, whether delivered in a blog or e-letter, will focus on making the prospect aware of the problem or challenge that the product or service can address, for example. Next in importance is the right length of content. Continuing with the example of the pre-sales phase: When the potential buyer may be unaware of the problem, content needs to be delivered in bite-sized pieces that engage without a big time investment. Finally, successful content marketing uses the right format to engage the buyer. Because buyers have such different preferences, the best tactic is to present the same message in multiple formats, Dodd advises. Hopefully, coupling basic content criteria with buyer preferences will set B2B marketers on the road to more sales. For the full article: http://www.business2community.com/content-marketing/content-marketing-substance-matters-format-01144993

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spurring Referrals Is Top 2015 B2B Marketing Focus

If your business-to-business marketing is in a competitive scramble for leads this year, you're not alone. Generating new business is the top 2015 concern of professional services firms, according to a recent Hinge Research Institute study shared in Business2Community. A whopping 72% of firms surveyed said that attracting and developing new business is their priority this year. The Hinge survey included 530 professional services firms in a range of industries: technology, marketing and communications, accounting and finance, management consulting, architecture, engineering, and construction. So the focus of the surveyed firms' marketing plans should come as no surprise: generating more referrals was the most cited 2015 marketing initiative (61.9%). Senior executives named on average 5.7 different marketing tactics in their drive for new business. Only percentage points behind referral generation came increasing brand visibility, updating/upgrading the company website, increasing the visibility of their firms’ experts, making existing clients more aware of their full range of services, and developing more compelling messages to potential clients. For details and access to the full report, go to the Business2Community post at http://www.business2community.com/b2b-marketing/top-b2b-marketing-priorities-2015-01154781

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Test These Ideas to Re-energize Your Direct Mail

Direct mail continues as a solid marketing performer across many industries, but even the trustiest workhorse can fall behind without occasional spurs to response. So if you need to inject new energy into your 2015 mail campaigns, consider these suggestions from Paul Bobnak, research and content director of Who's Mailing What! and DirectMarketingIQ. Bobnak recently looked over the mass of 2014 direct mail and picked out four standout ideas that mailers may want to test this year. First, consider individualized maps. Maps are common components to drive consumer traffic, especially in retail, but a postcard by Patient First, an urgent care center chain, made tweaks that really boosted impact, Bobnak asserts. Patient First used variable data to create a personalized "You are here" starting point at the prospect's home, made the map bigger "than you'll see in almost any direct mail package," and positioned the map above the postal indicia to maximize effect. Second, Bobnak suggests calling out the competition, especially on price increases, citing campaigns by both Comcast and Verizon cable services that boldly pressed consumer pain over competitor bills that had "gone up recently." Third, make testimonial copy work harder for you by boosting authenticity, Bobnak urges, pointing to the tactics of LifeLock, an identity security provider that sold its value proposition by highlighting "real-life" case studies with actual customer photos. Finally, update your direct mail with the digital icons that have acquired such call-to-action power, Bobnak suggests, using a 2014 Citi MasterCard letter as an example. To see the actual direct mail examples, go to http://www.directmarketingiq.com/article/4-direct-mail-ideas-try-2015/1

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Personalization Spurs Digital Results, If Done Right

Personalization is becoming best practice for e-mail, mobile marketing and digital display ads, and recent marketing data underscores digital personalization's potential power, asserts a ClickZ article by Tess Wegert. Consider "Share a Coke" labels personalized with 250 popular names, which "reversed a decade-long decline in U.S. Coke consumption," per a Wall Street Journal report. Another example from Wegert is the personalized interest- and location-specific video ad campaign by automaker Land Rover, which lifted brand awareness by 50% and purchase intent by 53%. In the e-mail arena, data shows that personalized e-mails can yield transaction rates and revenues six times higher than non-personalized messages, she notes. And when it comes to online ads and content, Yahoo reports that 78% of consumer surveyed say they want some degree of content personalization. But, Wegert cautions, personalization can be a double-edged sword, turning off audiences if it is inconsistent, intrusive or mistargeted. She cites three basic tactics for succeeding with digital personalization: 1) coordinate messaging across all channels; 2) go slow and avoid creepy, excess personalization upfront and all at once; and 3) make sure personalization is targeted based on accurate data and profiling. For the complete story, go to http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2374653/the-importance-of-personalization

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Small Tests to Yield Big Leaps in B2B Digital Leads

Boosting business-to-business digital leads doesn't have to overtax marketers' imaginations and budgets, reassures a recent hubspot.com blog post by Lisa Toner. She suggests five quick, low-cost experiments for boosting B2B leads and sales from social, e-mail and online traffic. First, she advises trying out an embedded one-field subscribe form at the end of blog posts, instead of a call-to-action button; it boosted hubspot's conversion 20%. Second, do A/B testing of content titles; the winning title for an ebook increased leads 776% in one hubspot test, she notes. Idea No. 3 is to experiment with targeted Facebook dark posts (News Feed-style ads published outside your News Feed); she cites one test of ads and targeting that yielded an ROI 35 times the small dollar commitment. Her post links to tutorials for those unfamiliar with dark posts. The fourth area to examine is reduction of form fields on landing pages; Toner cites the example of ImageScape, which reported a 120% improvement in conversion by cutting form fields from 11 to 4. To reduce fields without losing key user info, Toner points to "progressive profiling" software and provides links to explanatory articles. Finally, there is tried-and-true A/B creative testing, starting with something as fundamental as the color of call-to-action buttons. To see examples and links to relevant articles, go to http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/lead-generation-experiments 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Just 3 Lines Hold Key to Mobile E-mail Opens

Mobile e-mail optimization is essential now that the majority of e-mails are first opened on a mobile device. So what's the key to boosting mobile open rates?  Just three lines of type, points out a recent MarketingProfs article. A look at major mobile default e-mail displays finds that all automatically show only three vital lines: the subject line, the first line and the From line. When it comes to subject lines, only 20-30 characters are available, and the optimum number of words averages around eight to nine, per studies. But not just any words will do the trick. Marketers need to pull response triggers by making it personal (using first names, or "you" and "I," for example), emotional (using words that evoke the pleasure derived or the pain avoided by a key benefit) and on-trend (referencing pop culture icons will go further than a traditional pitch). Next create a first line that draws opens via continued personalization and a human, conversational tone. Then make the personal approach believable with a From line using a human being's name--not a brand name, "customerservice," "sales" or the robotic "auto." See the MarketingProfs article for real-world examples: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2015/26925/increase-your-mobile-email-open-rates-how-to-optimize-the-only-three-lines-that-matter