Wednesday, November 25, 2015

USPS, Mailers Prep for Busier Holiday Season

Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes for a profitable holiday season. The U.S. Postal Service is adding workers to handle an estimated 15 billion mail pieces over the holidays, a 10.5% increase from 2014. Hopefully, bulk mailers are prepped for the delivery rush, too, and have scheduled around mailing deadlines, starting with Dec. 8 for Priority Mail Express International and ending with Dec. 23 for Priority Mail Express. For a list of mailing deadlines, check out the recent Direct Marketing News magazine article:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Brand Marketers Are Ignoring Consumer Preferences

U.S. brand marketers model communications on a dictatorship rather than a democracy, consistently ignoring consumer preferences for channel and frequency, according to a recent study by MarketingSherpa. Indeed, the gap between consumer preference and marketer practice is often wide enough that many brands shouldn't be surprised at a profit-burning customer revolt. A useful infographic of research results, based on surveys of more than 2,000 consumers and 455 brand marketers, was recently created by Direct Marketing News magazine. Among the findings, although 54% of consumers say they prefer to receive promotions via print mail, only 19% of brand marketers send out print materials. Instead, 90% of marketers blast e-mails, even though only 60% of consumers say they want to get e-mail promos. And once they've chosen to woo consumers via e-mail, marketers time messages to suit themselves; 76% of companies base e-mail frequency on their own needs, even though only 24% of consumers want that brand-determined frequency. Of course, marketers are enticed by social media popularity, so 77% of those surveyed offer customers the opportunity to follow brands on social media. The problem is that only 20% of consumers want to receive company updates and promotions via social media. Similar overfishing of digital waters occurs with online ads, with 60% of marketers using online advertising, even though just 27% of consumers say they discover new products via online ads. For more details from the DM News infographic, go to

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Facebook's Search FYI Has Marketing Promise

Facebook's recent launch of Search FYI may offer exciting new scope for social and content marketing, as a recent post by points out. With Search FYI, Facebook has updated its search function so that search results include posts from the entire Facebook universe, which consists of more than two trillion posts, as well as posts from users' connections, friends and family members. When users tap Facebook's search function on a mobile device or desktop to find connections and content, Facebook will now generate personalized search suggestions that may include timely topics and current events and will organize search results to include public posts deemed relevant to the query. This implies that, via Search FYI, marketers can use social content to reach users with whom they don't have a relationship already. Although Facebook's 1.5 billion daily searches are less than half the estimated daily searches on Google, Facebook's search scope is still big enough to earn marketers' close attention. Of course, there are unanswered questions, the post notes, such as how users will interact with Search FYI, how Facebook will determine post relevancy to queries, and how Facebook may end up monetizing the search function, via paid placement for example. But marketers will definitely want to observe and adjust strategy as Search FYI evolves. For the full post, go to

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Research Offers Five Clues to E-mail Success

While chasing the holy grail of e-mail response, marketers can get lost in a forest of subject line and offer gimmicks.  Here's some helpful guidance that Direct Marketing News shared from a recent study by Retention Science, a marketing platform provider. Based on Retention Science's analysis of one billion e-mails, the article can distill five tips for success. Tip No. 1 is that percent signs trump dollar signs: According to Retention Science, 38% of customers are more likely to click on e-mails containing percent-off offers than on dollar-off deals, and 47% are more likely to convert in response to percent-off. Tip No. 2 is that mystery is better than excitement in subject line punctuation: Subject lines containing question marks have a 44% higher open rate than those containing exclamation marks. Tip No. 3 is that brevity is the soul of response: Retention Science found that e-mails containing subject lines with six to 10 words generated the highest open rates, at 21%, compared with a 14% open rate for messages with 11- to 15-word subject lines. Tip No. 4 is that timing matters--depending on whether the goal is click-through, conversion or retention. While open rates are fairly consistent year-round, click-through rates jump during the early holiday months, rising to 30% in October and 27% in November, and conversion peaks in July, with a rate 21% higher than average. But then e-mail list retention hits its nadir in August, with unsubscribes at a 28% rate. And Tip No. 5 is that novelty may spur opens, but familiarity breeds clicks. A novelty item in the subject line yields a 6% lift in open rates, but necessities in the e-mail body (such as groceries) earn a 10% higher click-through rate than featuring specialty items, even if those special items won an open for the subject line. For more on the Retention Science study, read

Thursday, November 12, 2015

U.S. E-mail Deliverablity Rates Drop in 2015

About one in four e-mails sent in the U.S. do not reach intended recipients, reflecting a sharp decline in U.S. e-mail deliverability rates for 2015. The overall U.S. e-mail deliverability rate is just 76% for 2015, down from 87% in 2014, according to the latest global research by Return Path. Return Path's "2015 Deliverability Benchmark Report," which analyzed inbox placement statistics by country, industry and e-mail provider, did have some good news for consumer-facing industries; retail, health and beauty, food and beverage, automotive and apparel industries all showed e-mail deliverability rates of 90% or above globally. In reporting the study, MediaPosts's Email Marketing Daily noted that e-mail provider policies and new spam filtering systems could be one factor impeding e-mail marketers' deliverability ratings. For example, Yahoo! Mail inbox placement rates dropped 13%, although Outlook improved by 3% and Gmail stayed consistent (Gmail's new block button has sparked concerns for 2016 deliverability, however). Another factor could be the overwhelming volume of e-mails, according to the Return Path report, noting that e-mail traffic has grown by 16% since 2013. For more on deliverability by country and industry, read

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

First E-tail Visit Predicts Future Buying Behavior

Online retailers can judge shoppers by their very first e-tail transactions, according to recent research from Optimove. As reported by Direct Marketing News magazine, Optimove found that one of the best indicators of future transactions is the number of items purchased on the first website visit. Shoppers who buy two or three items are 30% more likely to place a second order than those who bought only one item, per Optimove's two-year study of over a million transactions in varied product categories. In fact, shoppers who purchase more items in their first order are also more likely to join a retailer's top 10% of customers in terms of overall purchases. Wooing more first-time purchases to cultivate repeat customers is especially vital in an online environment where 62% of first-time buyers never place another order, per Optimove data. So how can e-tailers convince new shoppers to buy more? Optimove's research found the follow strategies were the most effective: data-based personalized recommendations before checkout; offers of impulse items during checkout; offers of discounts and promotions for purchase of additional items; encouragement of social sharing about purchases; and gaming mechanics, such as punch cards to earn discounts or freebies on the next order. For more data from the study, go to

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Direct Mail Still Key Insurance Acquisition Tool

In providing targeted lead lists to insurance marketers, we've seen the continued acquisition power of direct mail over the years, so it's nice to find an Insurance Journal article supporting our experience. Speaking to independent property and casualty insurance agents (but with arguments that apply to mailings for other insurance types), author Michelle Peel of IWCO Direct printing, cites four key reasons direct mail should be part of customer acquisition plans. No. 1, statistics show that consumers prefer direct mail for branded promotions, she notes, citing Experian's 2012 Channel Preference Study finding that 73% of Americans prefer direct mail for brand communications. And that preference extends across generations to include millennials, with 57% of younger buyers saying they have made a purchase as a result of a direct mail offer. Direct mail acquisition also continues to have a higher response rate than digital channels such as e-mail, per the latest Direct Marketing Association (DMA) data (1% for mail prospecting compared with 0.1% for e-mail). No. 2, creating the relevant, personalized and timely messaging that makes direct mail succeed is easier than ever with online marketing tools and templates from many insurance providers and, we would add, variable data printing to fill rental list data into custom-targeted, personalized creative. No. 3, the U.S. Postal Service is on the side of direct mailers and continues to develop products such as Every Door Direct Mail for blanket area coverage, as well as print-to-digital technology promotions of Quick Response (QR) code and Augmented Reality (AR) use. No. 4, direct mail drives traffic to online channels, too; Peel cites DMA data that 44% of mail recipients visit the company website, 34% search for the company online, and 26% save the mailer for future reference. Of course, using personalized urls (PURLs), QR codes and AR will further help boost online traffic. See