Thursday, September 3, 2015

No Postal Rate Hike May Stall Other Mail Savings

Direct mailers will cheer if the Postal Service's current 4.3% exigent surcharge disappears and no rate hike occurs in the spring of 2016, and it is a possibility given that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) used to set the annual postal rate increase is now close to zero. But even good news has its down side when it comes to the U.S. Postal Service, warns Al Urbanski, senior editor of Direct Marketing News magazine, in a recent article. Joe Schick, director of postal affairs for major mailer Quad/Graphics, points out to Urbanski that a number of operational improvements translating into money savings for mailers might be stymied by because they require rate changes for separate classes of mail, which are dependent on a blanket CPI rate boost. Schick cites planned savings from changes in handling of Intelligent Mail barcode service and Flats Sequencing System (FSS) mail as improvements disrupted by a rate rollback. According to Schick, the USPS leadership is aware of the problem and "sincere in wanting to do the right thing," so there is hope that mailers may get rate relief without sacrificing other efficiency savings. But hold the applause for now. For more detail, read

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Politics Marks 2015 Top Nonprofit Mailers, E-mailers

Target Marketing magazine recently published a list of the top 10 mailers and e-mailers in the nonprofit sector for 2015, using Who's Mailing What! data from monitoring of mailboxes and inboxes. For direct mail, the list of top nonprofit marketers is eclectic, with strong representation by animal welfare and humanitarian causes; just the top five mailers are the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Wounded Warrior Project, AARP, Republican National Committee and World Wildlife Fund. Only the Republican National Committee indicates the ramp up to a 2016 election year. However, when it comes to the top nonprofit e-mailers, politics is paramount, with all top 10 e-mailers from politically motivated campaigns; just the top five are the Center for Individual Freedom, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic National Committee, Republican Presidential Task Force and National Republican Congressional Committee. For the complete lists, go to

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Get Better E-mail Results by Adapting for All Devices

With e-mail now viewed on desktops and smartphones, marketers must adapt content to optimize for all device users, and a recent Direct Marketing News magazine article suggests four strategies for success. While mobile e-mail viewing has surged, desktop e-mail has not gone away. In fact, the article notes, Movable Ink's "U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report" for the second quarter of 2015 found that desktop conversions actually increased to 52.6% of total e-mail conversion in the quarter. Nasty winter weather may be a factor (keeping e-mail recipients close to desktops), but it is still a reminder that e-mail needs to be device-agnostic. This is especially true because device preferences differ by market vertical, per Movable Ink data. For example, 49.4% of nonprofit e-mail opens occur on desktops, but 62.5% of apparel marketing e-mails are opened on a smartphone. The article draws on advice from Vivek Sharma, CEO of Movable Ink, to highlight four strategies for adapting e-mail to all device users. First, adjust content for customer e-mail habits that differ by device, by time of day, and even by geographic location (Californians prefer smartphone e-mail but Virginians lean toward desktop viewing). Second, note that post-click behavior also can vary by device. For example, ask a smartphone nonprofit e-mail opener to text to donate but send a publication subscriber opening a desktop e-mail to an online page. Third, avoid a silo mentality and integrate e-mail strategy for all devices with social, direct mail, and other channels. Finally, measure beyond opens and clicks--tracking click-stream and time on site for example--to tailor content more effectively across devices. For more details:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Direct Mailers Fear Late Deliveries This Fall

Coming into the busy autumn mailing season, direct mailers and catalogers are worried about the potential for significant late mail deliveries this year, reports Direct Marketing News magazine's Senior Editor Al Urbanski. The concern is based on a recent report by the Office of Inspector General that late mail deliveries by the U.S. Postal Service rose 48% in the first six months of 2015 compared with the same period last year. A rise in delayed mail was expected after the USPS made major operational changes in January, including shifting of a significant portion of Standard Mail from a two-day to a three-day service standard. But the revealed size of the delivery impact has mailers fretting. The OIG has tried to allay fears by noting that on-time delivery has improved, going from 472 million late deliveries in January to just 64 million in June. But the heavy fall mailing season lies ahead, and mailers are especially concerned about poor USPS performance in predicting real-time delivery so they have enough time to adjust their plans for crucial fall mailings. See the full story:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2015 Retail Marketers Boost Social Media Use

Social media advertising, especially on Facebook, has moved up significantly as a favored acquisition tool of retailers, according to the recent State of Retailing Online 2015 survey conducted by, Forrester Research Inc. and Bizrate Insights. Per a recent story by Multichannel Merchant, the survey found that 25% of retailers now cite Facebook as a top acquisition platform, although paid search and e-mail marketing still top their list of most effective channels. Among the paid social media tools, 50% of retailers said they are spending more this year than last year on paid Facebook options such as promoted posts and paid ads. YouTube came in second place among paid social choices, with 29% of retailers saying they will spend more on paid YouTube promotion, followed by Pinterest with 27% planning an increase, Twitter 22%, Instagram 20% and Snapchat 6%. For more from the survey, including trends in online marketplaces, search engine marketing and online site merchandising, see

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Marketers Pick E-mail for ROI, Mail for Response

Articles proliferate about social and online strategies, but the old standbys of direct mail, e-mail and even phone solicitation turn out to be the channels that shine when it comes to what matters: measurable results in terms of response rates, conversion rates, and return on investment. The Direct Marketing Association 2015 Response Rate Report vindicates marketers' continued faith in older, proven channels. Based on a survey of 485 marketers, the report shows that e-mail may have one of the lowest response rates among channels but still leads in ROI, with campaigns conducted with house lists achieving an average 30% to 32% ROI, and those using prospect lists achieving 15% to 17%. Direct mail continues to outperform all digital media in terms of response rates, with house list campaigns generating 3.73% response and an average 18% to 20% ROI. Social media, by comparison, had average click-through rates (CTRs) of 2.1% to 2.5% and 15% to 17% ROI. But social is still ahead of online display ads with CTRs of 1.1% and 1.5%. Meanwhile, phone calls win the highest response rate of 9% to 10%. For a survey synopsis, and a link to download the full report, see the Direct Marketing News article:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mobile Trumps Language in Wooing Hispanics

Marketers are eager to cash in on growing U.S. Hispanic purchasing power, which is rising at more than two times the national rate, but a recent MarketingProfs article warns that success goes beyond how well the brand message is translated into Spanish to how well it is translated to mobile, video and social platforms. For example, Hispanic consumers are less likely to access the Internet via desktop and more likely to own a smart phone than non-Hispanics, the article points out. So focusing on the mobile user experience becomes vital, via use of responsive design, mobile e-mail, an easy toggle to Spanish, or native advertising in appropriate mobile-friendly sites. Video--whether pre-roll, in-banner or social--is another way to engage with an audience that spends nearly 30% of its online time watching videos, streaming twice as much video as non-Hispanics. And with 71% of adults Hispanics using social networking sites, a social brand and ad strategy is another must. For more advice, read