Blog Activity

  • Thinking Outside the Box with Content Marketing

    Issue: 

    2013, May

    I’m a dyed-in-the-wool direct marketer, so this is going to sound like heresy.  I propose to champion an indirect method of marketing and selling, namely content marketing.  You’re probably thinking, “What, no call to action?” or “Where’s the ROI for indirect marketing?”

    But let’s take a close look at content marketing. To an email marketer, content marketing actually makes a lot of sense.  In fact, compelling and engaging content and content-based offers are methods that are very effective in convincing your audience to act.

    So, what is content marketing? 

    Content marketing is the technique of creating, curating and distributing relevant and valuable information to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and well-understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

    If I haven’t grabbed you yet, notice that the definition is all about targeted marketing to drive profitable actions.  That’s not so far afield of direct marketing!

    I’ll address content creation in a moment, but let me first explain content curation.  This aspect of content marketing allows a company to cull ideas available from a myriad of sources, decide on the most important resources, and package the information with the company’s point of view in mind.  As an example, if I wanted to position my company as an expert in direct marketing, I’d research credible sources, select authoritative information and then put my own spin on why direct marketing is valuable.  I would also be careful to credit my sources.

    Why should you care about content marketing?

    Content marketing allows you to reach your target audiences in new and different ways, among them:

    •       Content marketing helps you attract additional audiences, by building trust and credibility. Lots of people don’t want to be hit over the head with a heavy hammer these days.  Traditional marketing communications may not work with this kind of prospect.  

    •       You’ll drive more traffic to your website.  Search engines are increasingly tweaking their algorithms to give sites credit for credible content.

    •       Content marketing addresses your sales funnel in engaging ways, by providing the right message to the right people at the right time.

    How to become an effective content marketer

    Every company has content.  You probably have as blog posts, videos, presentations, photos, webinars, marketing collateral, press releases, industry articles and white papers already in hand. 

    Here are the top ten content marketing vehicles.  I’ll bet you are already using at least half of these already.  Consider testing even more.

    1.       Social media—a great way to get your content shared and to get your audience engaged.

    2.       E-newsletters—a perfect vehicle to build and deepen relationships with those who want to hear from you.

    3.       Articles on your website.  Well-written articles let you address issues, trends and topics of interest to targeted audiences.

    4.       Press releases and clips.   Today, your audience of influencers is no longer just journalists. You need to be cultivating anyone online who accesses search engines, RSS feeds or social media for information on a topic of interest.

    5.       Blog posts.  A blog offers an easy way to present short chunks of frequently refreshed web content.

    6.       Videos.  Video is hot!  Possibly the most powerful vehicle for engaging customers and prospects. 

    7.       Print magazines and catalogs.  Direct marketers have been in the business of providing content for years.

    8.       Infographics—which present complex information quickly and clearly.  A perfect opportunity for content curation.

    9.       White papers.  Used primarily by B-to-B marketers, white papers deliver thought leadership on a topic of interest.  They can also present research, provide product usage tips, or highlight a particular product or service.

    10.   Webinars, webcasts and podcasts—which give marketers the opportunity to capture attention and present products and services.  When archived, their influence grows with time. 

    I am going to assume you do have content already available in your company.  Now it’s time to re-purpose or re-package your content for a minimum of three marketing channels.  Content marketing is about leveraging information so that your audience may find you on social media, on your site, from search engines or via links from external sites.  So take up the challenge.  This stuff is really direct marketing!

    Author: 

    Reggie Brady

    Reggie Brady is president of Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions, a direct and email marketing consultancy.  Reach her at 203-838-8138 or reggie@reggiebrady.com

  • Driving Multichannel Marketing Through Online Preferences

    Issue: 

    2012, March

    Customers’ channel preferences are changing left and right – and it’s more important than ever to know which channel your customer is paying attention to and using.

    Whether selling to consumers or to businesses, leveraging an online preference center is an effective best practice used by savvy marketers to deliver strategic communications and engage customers. Essentially, it is a place where the customer shakes hands with a brand.

    Maintaining Productive Online Preference Centers

    Here are six considerations to keep in mind when operating Online Preference Centers:

    1. Give Customers a True Choice in Their Communications. The first step in creating a preference center strategy is identifying the channels a marketer can support and finding out if those channels can be integrated at the database level. Channels may include all the traditional media, but it is important to consider social and mobile, too. Use the preference center to confirm preferred address and contact details for data accuracy.

      The next choice is one of frequency (ie, monthly, or maximum number of messages per week). In the past, the frequency of customer marketing communications often was determined by budget, occasionally determined by result optimization and often determined by the needs of multiple groups within an organization (a marketer only has one list of customers, and that list might be accessed by many people, resulting in too-frequent communications). Some channels, such as mobile, require frequency expectations – and a preference center can help enable the customer to provide their own frequency of communications.

      Finally, customers should be able to choose their content. Marketers may want to consider groupings of content (ie, sports or entertainment) as well as types of content, such as offers, events or new-product launches.

      Another aspect of the preference center is the “save” of the opt-out. When customers click on the opt-out link, the preference center can offer alternatives to the customer, such as less-frequent communications and the availability of different channels or different content. This allows a customer to opt down or to change content preferences.
       
    2. Enable Multichannel Marketing. Most marketers today communicate with customers across several different channels. Many understand that campaigns and corporate content should vary by channel, particularly in today’s environment where email, social and mobile communications are often managed by different teams. But, good marketers also know that campaigns must be carefully coordinated across different communication types. Remember that we all have our own version of what multichannel means to us. Putting the customer in charge of his or her own multichannel experience will mean better relevancy and results.
       
    3. Learn About and Understand Customers. Marketers can obtain a multitude of useful information about consumers through information provided in an online preference center. At the very minimum, asking for an email address, mobile phone numbers for text opt-in or a physical address for fulfillment is essential in improving data quality.

      Beyond those imperatives, there’s an opportunity to ask for information that will enhance the customer’s relationship and the flow of future communications. For example, consider offering dynamic surveys and polls to gain information about customers that can result in improved offers and communications. Leverage the fact that a brand recognizes its customer, and all of the behaviors associated with a preference profile can be tracked to best serve the customer.
       
    4. Engage With the Customer. The term “engagement” is often overused today, but it is one of the best reasons to consider an online preference center as the basis of many programs that produce dialogue and create value.

      Customers can create their profile to opt in or out of programs, but they might also register products, obtain warrantee information, store gift information for friends and family or participate in an online community at the center. Provide reasons for customers to come to the preference center – and to return repeatedly.
       
    5. Improve Loyalty and Retention. Creating a place where customers can directly communicate with a brand is a key aspect of customer retention and loyalty. Even if the marketer is not ready to implement a loyalty program, he or she can leverage a preference center to encourage customers’ continued interaction with the brand. Consider offering highly targeted coupons (customers’ IDs and data allow a marketer to be smart about coupons) or bringing in a local element by providing details about the nearest retail location. This private, customized brand gateway offers a great opportunity for customer retention and repeat purchases.

      Brands that offer loyalty programs can refine the preference center as customers access loyalty program benefits. Consider temporary card printing, viewing reward information or point balances, checking progress toward rewards or viewing previous purchases. These functions work within the preference center context to increase customer visits and interaction.
       
    6. Keep It Simple for the Customer.The preference center can provide corporate-level communications or give single brands the ability to communicate with customers within a corporate framework. A preference center provides value regardless of brand situation and increases value as customer preferences and data are applied more frequently. But, it is important to remember the customer experience across brands in order to ease any potential frustrations because of internal roadblocks. If a marketer has multiple brands, it should consider brand-specific preference centers that are integrated with other company brands.

    A Valuable Resource – in Both Directions

    Online preference centers provide customers the ability to tell marketers what they want – and allow marketers to save money by only providing communications in the chosen channels, and determine the

    best return on channel combinations. Ultimately, greater message relevance means better results.

    Author: 

    Jeanette Kocsis
    Jeanette Kocsis's picture

    Jeannette Kocsis, senior vice president, digital marketing, oversees client digital strategy and media programs at The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks.  Jeannette is responsible for integration of new media, including social and mobile, into client offerings.  Reach her at jeannette_kocsis@harte-hanks.com.

  • A Case for Analog in a Digital World

    Issue: 

    2012, June

    True, the world has gone digital. But that doesn’t mean customers no longer want to hold a catalog in their hands!  Here’s another compelling argument for integration; specifically, keeping print, and tried-and-true DM techniques, a part of your marketing mix.

    I believe that most direct marketers will find the following to be a reasonable modern definition of our profession: Direct marketing is “the monetization of data in a privacy- compliant manner.”  My argument for the continued use of analog direct marketing techniques follows from this premise.  (It’s still the data, stupid!)

    I grew up in an analog world.  I remember shared telephone “party lines” and black-and-white TV.  As a direct marketer, I remember an era before PCs, when a mail order was really an order placed though the mail.  

    Today, most of the articles in print and online are about the importance of having a “social media strategy.”  That is the world of direct marketing in the 2nd decade of the 21st century.

    But I will argue that direct marketers who ignore print and the tried-and-true techniques like recency, frequency, monetary (RFM) analyses are leaving money on the table.  Consumers who buy direct have shifted how they buy (more online and less by phone or mail), but not what they buy.  And they still want to have a trusted relationship with companies and buy products and services that are relevant to their own unique lives.

    Print and RFM still work

    Direct marketing has always been about monetizing data by targeting customer preferences.  RFM still works – digitally and in print.  Case in point: I mailed a small catalog, with an equally small circulation (30,000) this past fall.  The response rate was off the charts.  And the results were as predicted by our RFM analysis: The most dollars came in from the most recent buyers, followed by the multi-buyers and finally customers with the largest prior purchases.  The catalog, with fully loaded costs, generated a

    handsome profit.  True, more customers ordered online than in the prior year, but I am certain that, without ensuring those customers had a catalog in-hand, the total profit would have been less. 

    Why?  The slim-jim sized book, with a compelling cover, got the attention of a ready buyer increasingly deluged with online offers.  The catalog stood out from the crowd as something concrete the customer could hold in his or her hand.

    For that reason, I am of the opinion that adding mail offers to your marketing mix can actually get your products or services more attention these days.

    Should you add print to your mix?  Test it and see.

    Should every direct marketer be in print today?  Probably not; however, I would argue that most should – and you will never know whether you should mail until you simply test it.

    And that doesn’t have to cost you too much.  Printers are creating more ways to make ink-on-paper competitive with other ways to reach customers.  Co-mailing alone has made it possible to put more catalogs in the mail profitably.

    Finally, here’s a strong argument for testing a print run: Even Amazon and Google – who are no-doubt the most successful of the pure-play digital marketers – are testing print.

    Multi-channel becomes omnichannel

    The most successful direct marketers understand that you must meet your current and prospective customers where they are.  And there are customers who still prefer to view products and services in print, even if their preferred ordering vehicle is online.  There are buyers who would prefer to speak with a live, knowledgeable customer service representative before placing an order, and finally, there are still people who will send in a mail order.  We must not ignore these individual preferences!

    I am a big champion of social media, and agree that direct marketers who ignore that important vehicle do so at their peril.  However, I’m also convinced that ignoring traditional direct marketing practices will result in lost profits.

    Consider expanding your multichannel marketing to embrace some tried-and-true direct mail practices.  The results could surprise you – in a very good way. 

    Author: 

    Robert Allen
    Robert Allen's picture

    Bob Allen is President/CEO of the WindhamFoundation (www.windham-foundation.org),based in Grafton, Vermont.  The foundation has two operating businesses: The Grafton Inn and The Grafton Village Cheese Company.   Bob retired in 2005 after 25 years at The Vermont Country Store.  In 2010, he served as Interim CEO of the Direct Marketing Association in New York.  Reach him at bob.allen@windham-foundation.org.

  • Integrated Digital/Direct Marketing Offers Life Beyond Direct Mail

    Issue: 

    2012, June

    The bad news: The digital marketing landscapeis fickle, changing almost daily.  The good news: Direct marketers, trainedto focus on the customer, are uniquely qualifiedto meet the digital challenge.  Here are a few tips for creating integrated direct/digital marketing campaigns like a DM pro.

    Back in 2004, I attended a conference on digital printing and had an epiphany that my team’s livelihood (as well as my own) as a print production agency was vulnerable.  Traditional marketers were just beginning to come to grips with the idea that the Internet was changing everything.  Then and there, I developed a philosophy of “adapt or perish.”

    How we ‘went digital’

    Our agency added marketing-strategy and creative services – first through outside partners, and later through additions to our staff.  We bought shares in a Web development company to help us with all

    the coding that the building of Web applications requires.  The transition is ongoing, but if nothing else, those moves have given our agency an opportunity to thrive.  Did I have an exact idea of what our results would be?  No way.  And I still don’t.  However, I’m happy to tell you that you do not need to have all the answers before you begin your own transition to digital. The best thing you can do is take your first steps – and keep going. 

    What the heck is an integrated marketing campaign?

    Since our transition, we have accomplished a number of fully integrated marketing campaigns.  From my experience, they are like snowflakes: No two are exactly alike.  Any number of channels might be used – but there is no set number.  Fully digital campaigns (ie, those without a broadcast, nonelectronic outdoor, or mail component, etc.) are wonderfully measurable (something we direct marketers live and breathe every day) and often quite involved.

    Like any good direct marketers, we always begin by establishing what we will be measuring at the end of the campaign.  How do we drive customers to the various digital outlets – such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook?  We sometimes use blog posts to drive SEO; we often use SEM to help us understand what to do in SEO; and we create campaign landing pages or (on occasion) personalized URLs (pURLS) to offer visitors a planned Web experience when they answer a survey, enter a contest or watch a video created especially for the campaign.

    Based on what we’re learning in our ongoing transition to digital, here are three survival tips to take to heart:

    Embrace mobile. The mobile aspect of marketing is taking center stage – as smartphone users keep their devices within grabbing distance at all times.  The great thing about working in the mobile space is that we are as experienced (or inexperienced!) as all the other firms out there!  Marketers know that user experiences in mobile (and tablets, too) have to be different than those on a desktop or laptop.  Direct marketers are extremely well-suited to help clients achieve success in the mobile space, based on their trained focus on the customer.

    Look outside borders for brand-new opportunities – and start now!  We just launched our first integrated marketing campaign for China’s giant search engine Alibaba.com.  I felt it took forever, but I am told that getting there in less than 2 years was a “real accomplishment.”  The point here is that a change in direction takes time to achieve – but you can do it!

    Our campaign for Alibaba.com integrates infographics, surveys, sweepstakes, events, social media, and whitepaper content we’ve created on their behalf.  We’ve used email, display advertising and social

    media to generate interest and excitement.  But I gained agreement from our client from the start that their objectives were aligned with good, old-fashioned direct marketing principles.

    Alibaba.com is doing little or no brand advertising.  They have a really cool platform that few Americans are aware of – and that is the marketing challenge.  We’ve planned video creation with distribution via social media for a future campaign.  And we’re rolling. (Quite a step forward for a print production agency!)

    When you get to a fork in the road – take it.  (Sorry. I couldn’t resist a little Yogi Berra reference.)  The proverbial bottom line is this: In order to make headway in direct/digital marketing, you need to dive in all the way without knowing how deep is the ocean.  Since you already know how to swim (you have the best training around – as a direct marketer), just keep the shoreline in sight, and your focus on the customer.  That way, your company is bound to expand its marketing horizons.

    Author: 

    Mark Kolier
    Mark Kolier's picture

    Mark Kolier is the founder and president of CGSM, Inc. (www.cgsm.com), and is responsible for overseeing the strategic evolution ofthe company into a full-service marketing organization.  Reach him at 203-563-9233 or markk@cgsm.com.

  • Two Vital Issues Affecting Direct/Digital Marketers – and How to Take Action

    Issue: 

    2012, June

    Although direct/digital marketers continually navigate marketing challenges online and offline, two major issues loom that could undermine the very nature of doing business.  Here’s a breakdown of their possible impact – and tips for what you can do right now to help.

    For decades, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has been supporting the marketing community on critical legislative issues, securing many recent wins, including:

    • Standing up for marketers in the face of proposed privacy legislation, including calls for a federal “Do Not Track” registry
    • Beginning enforcement to ensure industry compliance with the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising
    • Successfully fighting an attempt to raise postage by 10 times the rate of inflation 

    But this is only the beginning. The challenges we still face include two major ongoing issues:

    Data privacy

    Privacy legislation is one of the hottest topics among politicians. Senators Kerry and McCain have introduced a privacy bill in the Senate, as have Reps. Stearns, Rush, and Speier in the House. DMA is at the forefront of the fight to ensure that any proposed legislation protects the growth of the Internet, protects the information that fuels it (and offline direct marketing), and ensures that the marketing innovation that drives the US economy continues.

    Self-regulation is the most effective way to respond to privacy issues related to marketing and advertising. For this reason, DMA partnered with other associations to launch the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising, which gives consumers a better understanding of and greater control over ads that are customized based on their online behavior.

    The Program calls for interest-based ads to include an “Advertising Option Icon” that links consumers to information about online behavioral advertising and allows them to make choices about the interest-based ads they receive.

    What you can do

    • Make sure your organization is leading the way in complying with the Self-Regulatory Program. Learn everything you need to know at AboutAds.info.
    • Periodically check DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, which provide generally accepted principles of conduct, and are the basis for DMA’s self-regulatory program.  To access the Guidelines, which are constantly updated to reflect innovations and new best-practices employed by the marketing community, visit dmaresponsibility.org/guidelines.
    • Access DMA’s educational opportunities.  We have launched a new, comprehensive course and certification for marketers who use, access, and live in the world of data and information.  Upon completion of The Institute for Marketing Data Governance and Certification, attendees will be armed with the most current information and guidelines on marketing data governance.  To register, and for more information, visit dmaeducation.org and click on DM Essentials.

    Postal Reform

    DMA for years has supported downsizing and streamlining the Postal Service to render its day-to-day operations more cost-effective.  On April 25, the Senate voted 62 to 37 in favor of passing the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S.1789). The Senate took a very important step in passing this bill.  Without postal reform legislation like S. 1789, the USPS will continue to lose $30 million a day.  Your organizations – both for-profit and nonprofit – need meaningful postal reform NOW.

    On May 9, the USPS announced a new plan for retaining retail postal operations and reducing costs in rural America.  The plan would keep existing post offices open, but modify their retail window hours to

    match customer use. DMA supports creation of the plan.

    What you can do

    • If your Senators took the important step of supporting postal reform, please thank them for their important votes.  Go to the DMA Action Center at dmaaction.org and click on “Tell the Senate You’re Glad They Passed Postal Reform.”

    On these vital issues, as well as a wide range of policy and political issues affecting the direct marketing community, DMA’s Government Affairs team constantly works to ensure that marketers’ interests are

    advanced and protected. To find out more about their work, go to dmaaction.org or email government@the-dma.org.

    Author: 

    Linda Woolley
    Linda Woolley's picture

    Linda A.Woolley is the acting president and CEO of the Direct Marketing Association.  DMA today represents nearly 2,500 companies in the US and 48 other nations, including a majority of the Fortune 100 companies.  Prior to becoming president and CEO, Woolley served as DMA’s executive vice president of Washington Operations. In this role, she was responsible for strategically managing DMA’s global advocacy, legislative, and political efforts, as well as DMA’s Nonprofit Federation, Internet Alliance, and Mail Moves America coalition.  She was also responsible for overseeing DMA’s corporate and social responsibility. Through Woolley’s leadership, DMA was a founding member of the Digital Advertising Alliance, a self-regulatory program that provides notice and choice to consumers about online behavioral advertising.  Reach her at lwoolley@the-dma.org.

  • Creative Strategy: “At-a-Glance” Comprehension Drives Response

    Issue: 

    2011, September

    The success of your direct marketing communications depends heavily on how well it is designed to help readers grasp your message quickly. But most people—even many designers themselves—don’t know how to improve comprehension when presenting products for sale. It’s actually pretty straight-forward. Here are several key principles that improve comprehension in communications, whether you are using direct mail, a space ad, a catalog, an email or a webpage.


      1. EMPLOY DESIGN THAT IS IMMEDIATELY UNDERSTOOD

         

        Organization plays a key role in comprehension. One of the easiest ways to make overall design more decipherable is to organize the presentation so the reader achieves an immediate grasp on what they’re looking at. This might involve a variety of applications:

        • Create features and sub-features, to prioritize your presentation.
        • Use columns, keyed copy, or bold leadins to help readers easily find product descriptions.
        • Employ a grid (invisible or with rule lines) to help organize dense or complex information.
        • Apply universally understood design tools, like page number locations, footer content, and headlines at the top of a page.

        Photography should deliver a clear depiction of the product. There is no time for guessing if the barbecue grill has a side burner, how big the vase is, or whether this dress has pockets. Why crop off the bottom of the pants so the reader is left guessing how the pants fall? Dramatic lighting may get in the way of understanding the fabric’s texture or design. Photography needs to supply a maximum amount of information, immediately. Your art director and photographer need to understand this principle and take responsibility for achieving it.

        Icons can be a wonderful tool to communicate features or benefits at a glance. Icons should look like what you’re telling the reader. For example, for a no-iron shirt, you might use a picture of an iron with a slash through it.

        Insets, call-outs and bullets help communicate features, construction and quality, especially for high-priced products with complicated features. Frontgate would never be able to sell a $5,000 grill without completely dissecting the product and calling out all its features.


    1. MANAGE TYPE SELECTION AND PLACEMENT

      For the benefit of the skeptics out there, all it will take is one read of Colin Wheildon’s Type & Layout: How Typographyand Design Can Get Your Message Across – Or Get in the Way. The book quotes test results and statistics on comprehension levels for various applications of type, headlines, captions and art. Some key principles from Wheildon research:

      • Use serif type, versus sans serif. We were educated on serif type in schoolbooks and newspapers, so it’s not surprising that this principle has become a maxim in the print industry. But serif type really does make a difference in your communications. Wheildon found that a serif typeface like Times New Roman is more than FIVE TIMES easier for average readers to comprehend than a sans serif type such as Helvetica or Arial.
      • Avoid reverse type. It’s harder to read white or knock-out type than black type on a white background. According to Wheildon, when text was printed black on white, readers reported good comprehension 70% of the time, fair comprehension 19%, and poor comprehension 11% of the time. When text was printed white on black, good comprehension fell to ZERO, while poor comprehension rose to 88%. If you have to use reverse type, use it for secondary copy that’s not critical to selling.
      • Avoid color type. It’s harder to read and slower to comprehend than black. And because color type is composed of more than one color, it can get out of register, appear blurry and be harder on the eye, unless you’re using a fifth color on press.
      • Avoid all caps. They are harder to read than upper/lower case sentences or headlines.
      • Long columns are harder for the eye to follow than shorter, managed columns.
      • Use left justified type. Centered type or right justified is much harder to grasp.
      • Captions and copy-blocks belong UNDER photographs , not above them. Newspapers train us to look for copy below the thing they’re talking about. If they can’t be below, then put them to the side.
      • Headlines are most read when they are at the top of a page. Headlines in the middle or low on a page have much lower comprehension scores.
      • Type reads best on white backgrounds. Comprehension starts to diminish when colors or photography is used for type background.
      • Avoid extensive use of bold type . Text printed in bold type is harder to comprehend than regular type.

      Using the techniques outlined above will not only improve your customers’ experience, you’ll increase performance and generate more revenue.

    Glenda Shasho Jones is a consultant specializingin improving brand and performance using creative strategy. She is a frequent speaker and writer and author of The Identity Trinity: Brand, Image and Positioning for Catalogs. Reach her at Glenda@sjdirect.com.

    Author: 

    Glenda Shasho Jones

    The success of your direct marketing communications depends heavily on how well it is designed to help readers grasp your message quickly. But most people—even many designers themselves—don’t know how to improve comprehension when presenting products for sale. It’s actually pretty straight-forward. Here are several key principles that improve comprehension in communications, whether you are using direct mail, a space ad, a catalog, an email or a webpage.

  • Canadian Law Calls for Opt-in for Email

    Issue: 

    2012, June

    The challenges to integrated marketing continue.  The new Canadian anti-spam law could hold dire consequences for unsuspecting American marketers.  Here’s a breakdown of what the law prohibits, and what it could mean to you if there are Canadian names on your email list.

    In 2010, Canada adopted an anti-spam law called The Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act (FISA).  The relevant regulator (CRTC) recently published its final regulations, which provide details on the required contact information and unsubscribe mechanism to be included in each commercial electronic message, and the requirements for valid consent.  The law will be effective at a date to be set by the Governor in Counsel.

    What this means for marketers

    It is wise for marketers to assume the law is effective now since a “phase-in”period of three years ran from adoption, and there are compliance steps that one should take right away.

    Here’s an important point to remember: The statute covers the “sending” of messages.  It is irrelevant whether the message gets delivered or whether the address even exists.  It is the transmission alone that will be deemed illicit.

    And a caveat: You can still use a Canadian email address without “expressed consent” until the law’s effective date, provided it is not merely a rented name but arises from an “existing business relationship” or an “existing non-business relationship.”

    “Expressed”Consent

    Under the law, a commercial emailer must obtain the “expressed” consent of the recipient before sending commercial emails or other electronic messages, unless there is an “existing business relationship” or “an existing non-business relationship.”  For addresses on file on the effective date who have not objected and with whom you have a relationship, there is assumed “implied consent” to commercial messages for two years from the establishment of that relationship.

    A “business” relationship

    What is a “business relationship”under the law is basically a matter of common sense.  The statute defines the relationship in terms of actions or messages relating to actions.  Generally, if it feels like business, it’s a business relationship.  A business relationship includes enquiries also, but only for a duration of six months per each relationship.

    The “non-business relationship” is similarly a matter of common sense.  The non-business relationship might have involved a donation or a charitable gift made within the previous two years, such as to a political party, charity or a candidate for public office.

    Exceptions

    Some exceptions to the law exist for marketers.  They include:

    • Responding to a request for a quote
    • Employment-related matters  
    • Information regarding a subscription, membership, or maintenance arrangement of the addressee
    • Information regarding delivery of a product or service previously ordered

    Personal messages are also exempt. 

    Sender information and unsubscribe options

    Disclosure is required of the name and contact information of the sending company, and the company on whose behalf it is being sent.  There must be an easy means to object, ie,“readily contact” the sender for 60 days from transmission.  A phone number or an email unsubscribe mechanism should be acceptable to meet this requirement.

    There must also be an unsubscribe mechanism in the email.  This can be a link to a website or an email reply mechanism or “any other electronic means that will enable the person to indicate the wish.”  The industry in Canada believes a phone number would be acceptable as well.

    Painted with a broad brush

    Be forewarned that the statute is not just about email spam, but any “commercial electronic message,” and any message via telecommunication, landline or mobile, such as text, sound, voice, image, IM, or “any similar account.”  Presumably, that would include social media venues as well.

    Dire consequences

    Noncompliance with this law can bring dire consequences. The law has penalties of up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses. The fines are “per violation,”and there are grounds to believe

    that a campaign mailed over a multi-day period would draw a penalty for each day.  Thus a three-day campaign might cost a company $30 million.

    Be forewarned that there is also a private “right of action” for any individual or business that has been affected by a violation.  Take heed: Corporate officers and directors can be held personally liable for violations.

    Industry sources believe that these penalties were intended for the worst spammers, but the courts will ultimately decide who that is.  Of course, if you have no physical presence in Canada, it may be that any

    lawsuit against you in Canada would not be sustainable.  It is doubtful that you could be sued in a US court under the Canadian law. 

    However, it is unclear whether a “penalty” assessed against your company in Canada might not receive enforcement by a US court.  It’s best to play it safe.

    Any US company with a database of addresses obtained without affirmative consent, such as rented lists or gathered addresses, should consider determining the physical locations of those addresses – and obtain consent from Canadian residents.  Obviously, “.ca” domains are Canadian, but the national location of addresses with gmail or domains like “.int,” “.post,” “.co” – the list goes on – could be anywhere.  Protect yourself. 

    Author: 

    Charles Prescott
    Charles Prescott's picture

    Charles Prescott is a consultant and attorney specializing in marketing, privacy and international postal matters.  He primarily represents companies seeking to enter new country markets.  Previously with the US DMA as VP, international business development, he isnow on its board of directors.  Reach him at +1.914.533.0208 or chaspres@optonline.net.

  • Successful Lead Generation: InBound Marketing

    Issue: 

    2014, December

    Successful Lead Generation: Is Inbound Marketing Delivering the Revenue You Need?

    Top performing B2B sales organizations rarely employ just one lead generation tactic.  B2B companies today use multiple lead generation tactics including email marketing, search engine optimization, tele-prospecting, inbound marketing, direct mail and trade shows.

    Why then are so many consultants and companies out there actively promoting inbound marketing as the dominant lead generation strategy of our time?

    Inbound marketing is based on developing high-quality content that attracts qualified buyers, who are in the early stages of the sales cycle. “Build it and they will come,” they say.  But I wonder: Can you build enough content, and who will come?  Despite their best intentions, many B2B companies are not able to generate enough business from an inbound marketing lead generation program alone.

    Lead Quality Drives Increased Revenue

    But the debate about inbound marketing is not just about volume.  It’s about quality.  B2B companies know that lead quality is equally—if not more—important than the quantity of leads generated.   Let’s take a closer look at the quality of leads produced by inbound lead generation tactics and how this impacts your ability to further develop these prospects into customers.

    Most leads from inbound marketing include basic demographic information captured on forms required to download or access content. There is a direct relationship between requesting more detailed information and declining response rates. The more information you request, the fewer prospects that will download your content.

    So your inbound lead may consist of a person’s first and last name, the company or organization, an email address and maybe the size of the company.  This is hardly enough to qualify the prospect.  And who knows if this information is accurate.  I am thinking of a healthcare company that recently had a white paper downloaded by Dr. Kildare at the MASH Hospital Unit.

    Furthermore, if you have defined your target as C-Level executives in your industry, are they likely to search the web for solutions themselves? Many executives will delegate this responsibility to lower level people within their organization. Your “qualified” inbound marketing lead may actually be an administrative assistant or lower level executive with only limited decision-making or influencing ability.

    Compare this to a qualified lead from a professional tele-prospecting company. The prospect has been personally engaged by a trained, experienced salesperson who has helped identify a pain point, possible solutions and qualified the prospect by numerous pre-determined factors. Of these two examples of qualified leads, which one will your company be able to more quickly and efficiently convert to a customer?

    Defining Lead Quality

    At my company, we define the attributes of a truly qualified lead as one that includes:

    1.  Relevant industry. 

    2.  Firmographics (revenue, number of employees, number of locations). 

    3.  Decision makers and influencers identified. 

    4.  Environment documented. 

    5.  Decision-maker engaged. 

    6.  Business pain(s) uncovered/validated. 

    7.  Decision-making process and timeframe documented. 

    8.  Budget allocated or process for budgeting documented. 

    9.  Competitive landscape documented. 

    10.  Sense of urgency or compelling event exists. 

    A quality lead sets the stage for relationship selling, lead nurturing and prospect development. The more successful your prospect development program—the more successful you will be at generating revenue.

    Another benefit of prospect development is reaching prospects earlier in the sales cycle. Some companies may not even be aware of their pain proposition or whether a solution exists or not. Inbound marketing only identifies prospects that are actively searching for a solution. Your outbound prospect development program may identify prospects before they even start their buying research.  

    Why wait for qualified leads to come to you? Adding outbound prospect development to your lead generation mix allows you to aggressively and actively beat your lead generation and sales forecasts. 

    Author: 

    Dan McDade
    Dan McDade's picture

    Dan McDade is president and CEO of PointClear, and the author of The Truth About Leads.  Reach him at dan.mcdade@pointclear.com

  • Email May Not Be Sexy – But It’s HOT!

    Issue: 

    2012, June

    Despite the ongoing challenges to email, it still rules as a major customer service and marketing channel. Here are some insights from an industry veteran about how to take your email campaigns to the next level.

    All the buzz today is about social and mobile, but the true workhorses for direct marketers are direct mail and email. Both channels are not particularly sexy, but they certainly do work!

    I’m going to focus on email. Let’s start with research from the Direct Marketing Association in late 2011:

    • Email is the single marketing channel that produces the highest ROI.
    • For every dollar invested in this highly profitable channel, the return on investment in 2012 is 39.40. (The second highest channel is search, pegged at $22.38.)

    One major reason for email’s top position is that it is inexpensive – particularly if you use it to communicate with opt-in customers and prospects. While it is relatively easy to “batch and blast” email, savvy marketers take advantage of personalizing technology to make their efforts pay off.

    Here are three concepts that will help you take your email program to the next level:

    Relevance

    Relevance is all about making your customer feel special. Use the data you collected when they signed up, and personalize your emails. Better yet, if you can link email subscribers to your customer database, you know if they interact with you in multiple channels how much they’ve spent with you and what they buy. You can mine this data to focus on offers, products and promotions that will capture their attention.

    Take it a step further and look at their behavior in terms of what truly interests them. If you have good tracking in place, you should be able to connect email activity (a click-through on a particular link) to site activity (did they view multiple pages, how much time did they spend online, what product categories did they focus on?)

    Then, you can use this data to present products and offers that are truly of interest.

    Dynamic Personalization

    Dynamic personalization in email can boost relevance. The basic concept behind it is to set up if/then rules to deliver appropriate messaging. To keep this process simple, think of your email template(s). Reserve a block within the template to present relevant content. Let’s pretend it’s the dead of winter and you sell shoes. With dynamic personalization, the first item featured to those in the north are Uggs boots – and to those in the south, Birkenstock sandals. The rest of the message might be the same for all, but the primary offer will resonate more based on geography. It’s more relevant. And the latest email technology makes this easy to do.

    Triggered Messaging

    Triggered messaging can be pure gold for marketers. These messages are also based on rules that look at user actions (or inaction) from email and your website (for example, a welcome message sent within minutes of someone signing up for your email program).

    My two favorite triggered messages are:

    • Cross-selling in email order confirmations
    • Sending an email to someone who has started the check-out process at your website but did not complete the order

    You are leaving money on the table if you don’t try these two techniques!

    Today, between 50% and 75% of all Web shopping carts are abandoned. Do nothing, and you’ve lost the sale. Send one or more reminders that the customer has left something in their cart and you can re-capture between 5% and 15% of otherwise lost sales. My advice is to send more than one email and don’t start with a discount.

    And, if possible, you should picture the abandoned item in the email.

    It Works. Period.

    Let me close with one marketer’s experience that I recently observed: Only 4.1% of their total email volume was triggered and transactional in nature. Yet a whopping 41.2% of their email trackable sales were generated from those messages! I hope that’s an eye-opener for you.

    To thrive in today’s marketplace, be relevant, and use dynamic personalization and triggered email messages. You’ll be glad you did!

    Reggie Brady is president of Reggie BradyMarketing Solutions, a direct and email marketing consultancy. Reach her at 203-838-8138 or reggie@reggiebrady.com

    Author: 

    Reggie Brady

    Reggie Brady is president of Reggie BradyMarketing Solutions, a direct and email marketing consultancy. Reach her at 203-838-8138 or reggie@reggiebrady.com

  • How to Survive in the New Age of Cold Calling

    Issue: 

    2014, February

    Consider how sales people have to operate their cold calls these days.  Walk into a building and take the elevator to the floor of a prospect?  That ended with 9/11.  Now it’s a picture ID, just to get into the lobby.  If there’s a security desk, you’re going to need a contact name at your target firm—or that’s as far as you’re going to get. 

    But there are solutions.  One of the best things about the Internet age:  You can find just about everything you need online.  Before your calls, you can easily find company addresses and phone numbers.  And if you’re really lucky, you may find a list of company personnel, sometimes with their email addresses. 

    Armed with a name, I stand a chance.  Here’s how I proceed:  First, I put together a sales kit with product samples and my company information.  In the lobby, I have the guard call up, so I can get upstairs to see my targets. Invariably, the call goes to voice mail.  At that point, the guard may let me up to the company’s reception desk.  There, I can talk to the receptionist and leave behind my materials, to be delivered to the prospect.

    On the off chance that the prospect does pick up, I ask for the phone, and get the quizzical “Do we have an appointment?”  I say “No, but if you have 5 minutes I’d like to tell you how I can help you.”  The answer is usually “No,” but now the prospect knows I’m a real person, and I get to leave my information for them.

    The next day I make a follow-up call to set up an appointment.  Again, we have the problem of them picking up the phone.  That’s where polite persistence is a must.   Also, I find that calling at odd times can work to get a hold of them. 

    If I can’t get upstairs to see them, my next step is the old, reliable, mail system.  I drop the sales kit in the mail, wait 3 or 4 days, and call again for an appointment.  By then, they are likely to know who I am, and maybe they’ll see me. 

    If I get the prospect on the phone, often it turns out not to be the right person, and the process starts all over again. 

    I have learned that I can’t be too pushy.  That’s a turn-off.  After my first voice mail message, I keep trying to call, to get them live on the phone.  But I won’t leave another message until 2 weeks have gone by.  At the end of my voice mail message, I always say “If you have a problem, I’m here to help you.”  It’s surprising, but when people get desperate they do call me. 

    Prospecting, or cold calling, rarely provides instant gratification. It is a long process that requires patience and persistence.  So be prepared.  

     

    Author: 

    John Swensen
    John Swensen's picture

    John C. Swensen is president of Tri-State Envelope Corporation, and an 11-year DMCNY member.  Reach him at jswensen@tristate-envelope.com.

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