Cleanse Your Marketing Database

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It's time to increase response rates and boost ROI by parsing, standardizing and cleaning your global address, name, email and phone info. Find out how our verification tools can help improve your marketing efforts: 



Learn more about our address verification solutions.

Add Property & Mortgage Data to Your Records

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Watch this informative webinar and discover how to access our comprehensive property and mortgage data for over 140 million records. It's easy to customize your property lists by owner information, property values, current sale information, and much more! 

It's an ideal tool for investors, lenders, real estate professionals, insurance agents, and others who want to capture new sales leads and market to prospects.


Email Deliverability in 5 Steps

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1.      Bad emails go nowhere - which in turn affects your sender reputation, lead generation, and the bottom line. Find out how to get your emails delivered in 5 steps!


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How to Save Money with Global Address Verification

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Are you plagued by returns and address correction charges? Melissa Data's Global Address Verification Cloud Service will verify, correct, and standardize your U.S. and international in real time.

11 Rules for Testing Direct Mail Creative

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Most direct marketers face limited funding and time for testing creative strategies and executions. Overall budgets have been cut and what's left is used to test media/lists and offers. With the little bit of money available, managers must structure creative tests very carefully. Here are a few rules to follow: 

1. In a new product launch, always test two very different concepts (and not tactics). If you test only one and it doesn't work, you have no idea what to do next. 

2. Similarly, when you are far from meeting budget, you must test radically against your control.

3. Never mix apples and oranges: the wording of the offer in your test must be exactly the same as in your control.

4. Similarly, don't mix concept/creative strategy testing with format testing. If you need a quantum leap in response, go with concept and creative strategy testing first.

5. Test the big ideas. These would include vertical and/or horizontal positioning of your product/service; what customers call it, how they use it, and what they tell their friends about it; and how the package leverages societal trends.

6. Consider creative segmentation. It's not a big idea, but it can provide the same kind of lift in response if you harness database technology and digital printing properly.

7. Next to testing big ideas, envelope testing is most important. You have to decide if you're going with a one-to-one correspondence strategy vs. envelope as store window. In B2B mail to executives, one-to-one almost always wins. Promotional envelopes haven't worked for most mailers for some time.

8. Letters are still the prime selling vehicle in most direct mail. (The latest trend, in fact, is to insert letters into self-mailers.) Key parts of letters to test are the headline or Johnson box, opening two paragraphs, P.S. and cross-heads or sub-heads.

9. If your control package is working fairly well, you may want to engage in component testing - new letter, new brochure, lift note, or even response form.

10. Go with your best effort first, then see what you can do to cut costs. Try eliminating the brochure first. You can also look at eliminating the response form and BRE, particularly if you are driving people online to order.

11. Learn from your competitors. Don't bother testing what they haven't been able to make work.Test on a plan, not on a whim. You need to be strategic about improving your performance.

Lee Marc Stein is a direct marketing consultant and copywriter. 

Direct Mail Marketing is Back!

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By Bob Martel

Direct mail marketing never went away. Smart marketers continue to target mailboxes to create new business. Think about it, for the cost of a stamp you get your sales message delivered consistently to your entire list. Yes, the letter carriers are your secret sales force!

Pretend for a moment that the Internet was unplugged or simply not yet invented. Or, instead, imagine adding a "new" yet proven and perhaps long forgotten marketing channel to your repertoire. Direct mail marketing works better than ever, when the marketer avoids shortcuts and studies what works for their business. Here are a few tips to help boost response:

1. Make your direct mail piece lumpy! Surely, you have received a personalized pen in the mail. The fact is lumpy mail works. The primary goal of a direct mail piece is to get your envelope opened, and then to have your letter read. Lumpy mail is proven to yield very high open rates. The challenge is to captivate your reader by connecting the "lumpy piece" with your message and call to action. There are hundreds of light weight pieces that keep your mailing piece under one ounce. Remember to take a sample mailing piece to the post office to make sure you are within their regulations for your planned postage.

2. Be smart about selecting and buying the right mailing lists. A great mailing piece mailed to the wrong people is not going to win you kudos. Simply buying a compiled list for a good old fashioned mass marketing blitz will only produce mediocre results. Do you clone your list and target prospects like your best customers? Perhaps, depends on your campaign. There are several cutting edge marketing platforms that offer data analytics to help you zero in on your best prospects. Ask yourself, in your list building, whether you are taking advantage of today's data science to gain the valuable insights on customers and prospects that will lead to increased response. 

3. Create a smart looking mailing piece and a campaign strategy that gets your mail opened, read, and acted upon. Know your numbers. Response to break even? Lifetime value of a customer? Teaser copy? Handwritten address?

4. Remember the elements (and the "rules") of proven direct response copywriting, of which there are too many to list here. Your direct mail piece, whether a postcard or a sales letter, will end up in the circular file if the copy does not resonate with the reader. If you are going to be smart about choosing the list, decide that your copywriting is a top priority, too!

5. Plan on a drip marketing campaign. A prospect worth mailing to once is worth a second or third mailing. When you calculate campaign response, average initial order, and the lifetime value of a customer you can better evaluate your planned investment in a prospect campaign. Your goal may be to nurture the prospect to an on-line step and thus start a relationship that you can automate and follow, bringing phone calls and other steps into your stay in touch process.

6. Use a stamp. Test a live prepaid stamp if you must, but no indicia please. If you really want to get sneaky, angle the stamp so it does not appear to me affixed by machine. 

With all of the above in place and fine tuned, remember to choose the proper envelope for your campaign!

Bob Martel is a marketing consultant and direct response copywriter in Sterling, MA. Contact him at bobmartel@jmbmarketing.com or by calling 508.481.8383. To request a sample lumpy letter, write to Bob Martel at PO Box 1114, Sterling, MA 01564.

Get more information on Melissa Data's direct mail solutions.

Postcard Marketing: Top 5 Goals of Direct Mail Postcards

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By Jeffrey Dobkin

Here's why I like postcard marketing campaigns: Short, crisp, and to the point, direct mail postcards are one of the fastest and lowest cost ways to make your phone ring.

Postcards are not necessarily a good marketing campaign for the straight-up, out-and-out closing of a sale, but if created correctly, direct mail postcards can be great for pre-selling products and services, building brand awareness, and creating customer loyalty. And, of course, I saved the best for last: Postcards are the most efficient and excellent direct mail advertising vehicles for generating phone calls. 

A postcard direct mail campaign can make your phone ring off the hook with compelling headlines, smooth transitions, charming copywriting, lively graphics, an irresistible offer, and a solid call to action. Even further: A series of direct mail post cards can receive an explosive response, build customer loyalty, and stimulate brand awareness. Yet, postcards remain one the easiest to manage direct mail marketing campaigns.

Even though postcards aren't the best for closing sales because of their short format and open architecture (no one can enclose a check to pay for an order or write a credit card number), response can still be quite high. Here are several important goals of using postcards in any direct mail marketing campaign.

1. Generate phone calls. 
The number one objective of most postcard marketing campaigns is to generate a phone call. Ninety percent of the postcards I create for clients are written to fulfill this single objective: Make the phone ring. 

The way to make the phone ring is very straightforward in this short postcard format: Offer something for FREE and ask for the phone call several times on the card. "Call for FREE information!" or "Call for FREE review! Call for free analysis. Call for our FREE booklet. Call for FREE quote. Call for..." well, you get the idea. Ask readers to call you enough and they will. Every time a reader calls, you have the opportunity to provide better service and increase client loyalty and longevity. And, oh, yeah...did I mention increase sales and revenue? Yeah, you can do that, too. Did you notice I said YOU do that? Your postcard doesn't do that, YOU do that. The postcard generates the call, but YOU make the sale.

2. Build brand awareness. 
The other 10 percent of the postcards I create build brand. By mailing postcards frequently, you can stay in the top of your client's and prospect's minds. So, when your clients need anything that relates to your business--whatever you're selling--they immediately think of you, and call you first. 

3. Create instant success. 
Postcards can generate immediate response if your offer touches a timely trigger point. Figure out what your prospect's immediate need is and address that in your card. Then, ask for the call--what else?

4. Build relationships. 
Sure, you can--it's easy! But, not with a single postcard. You need to create this direct mail marketing campaign over time, with a series of postcards. Mailing postcards every two weeks is ideal. Even if you did this for an entire year, the total cost would be only ($.50 x 26 =) $13 dollars for the whole year. The key to success? Your list, relevancy, and your offer. 

5. Don't sell your product. 
The final objective is to realize that you don't need to sell your product from the post card. That's right--don't sell your product--but, you do generate phone calls and inquiries. Then, when the person calls, YOU sell your product or service. Now, you see how it's much easier to achieve your goal (generating a phone call) with your direct mail postcard, than getting an order: To actually make someone put money into an envelope and wave goodbye to it.

And, since postcards are easy to handle, postcards are so much less work than other direct mail marketing campaigns which consist of letters, brochures, or anything that needs to be placed in an envelope--folded or stapled. So, much less fuss and muss--just address and mail. Postcards are easy. These are the "goals" and objectives of your postcard marketing campaign.

Jeffery Dobkin (jeff@dobkin.com) is a marketing consultant, speaker, and writer who has written more than 250 articles and five books on direct marketing. Call for his free instructional booklet of direct marketing tips: 610-642-1000 or visit his website at www.danielleadams.com

How to Check Your Email Deliverability

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By Louis Chatoff 

Marketers should know what it takes to do a comprehensive deliverability audit. Even an email marketer with satisfactory sending results should take an hour or so a month to make sure all the checks and balances are in place. 

If you're finding your open rates declining and bounce rates increasing, a thorough audit can almost certainly set things right. 

Check the delivery report:

Delivery reports should be closely monitored for blocks and deferrals. All deliverability problems should be handled promptly by first correcting the mailing practice that caused the problem, and then contacting the ISP. More times than not, the contact method is included in the bounce reason.

Do an open rate-by-domain analysis:

Take the time to make sure that the top domains within your mailing list are actually opening your message. For example, if your mailing list is 15% Yahoo.com addresses, but only 3% of your opens are from Yahoo.com members, you may have messages bouncing or going to the bulk folder.

Audit complaints:

Spam complaints are the biggest cause of deliverability problems. By closely monitoring complaints reported through feedback loops, sent to the messages' reply-to address, or sent directly to the abuse mailbox account for the "from addresses" domain, marketers can isolate the source of the complaints, take corrective action, and prevent further delivery problems. Moving the unsubscribe link to the top of the message content and making it noticeable can greatly reduce the complaint rate--as much as 75%.

Test the unsubscribe link:

Nothing will generate spam complaints faster than an unsubscribe link that is not functioning properly. A quick test message to a personal account can quickly check to verify that the unsubscribe process is easy and working.

Check the SPF record:

Many ISPs--big and small--will use SPF (sender policy framework) records to verify the mail is actually coming from who claims to be sending it. SPF records, included in the senders' DNS, have become a key tool in preventing 'from address' forgery. For more information on SPF, go to www.openspf.org.

Send to a customized seed list:

Send to email accounts created solely for testing. All of the big ISPs offer free e-mail accounts, so open one or two accounts per ISP. Sending to this list of addresses can provide insight into whether the message is going to the inbox, bulk folder, or is being filtered by the ISP. These test accounts are also an excellent way to check message rendering, and to verify that the message's 'call to action' is above the scroll bar fold.

Check your IP address's SenderScore:

This ReturnPath service provides a quick analysis of your mailing server's IP address. The score uses several factors to rate the IP from 0 to 100 (with 100 being the best). Low scores can lead to deliverability problems. For your IP's score and score details go to www.senderscore.org.

Periodically reviewing some or all of the seven suggestions above will not only help identify deliverability problems, but will also give e-mail marketers a better understanding of the challenges they face when it comes to getting their messages to their list members. 

--Source: i-merchant (www.multichannelmerchant.com). Louis Chatoff is the deliverability manager of StreamSend E-mail Marketing.

After you've checked the deliverability of your emails, Melissa Data can help you with everything else you need to jumpstart your email campaigns. We offer complete email marketing services. Learn more about our services or get a free quote now. 

Is It Time for a Big Direct Mail Piece?

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by Dean Rieck

Ah, the good old days.

Just a few years ago, I could count on receiving a mailbox-full of direct mail nearly every day, including the crown jewel of direct marketing, the BIG direct mail piece.
Thick #10′s, fat 6×9′s, and beefy 9×12′s once stood atop the mountain of attention-grabbing communication.

But then came hard days for the publishing industry, higher postal and printing costs, the rise of electronic media, and a faltering economy that dried up the stream of direct mail.
Today, the mail delivers anemic postcards, cheap fliers, and the occasional #10 envelope with a short letter inside. And it's made many wonder if direct mail has gone the way of the dinosaur.

Industry pundits have been sounding the death knell for direct mail. Though, those pundits have generally been young and directly involved with social media, email, and other electronic media. They've had no love for, or experience with, traditional media and shed no tears for its assumed extinction.

But as I've been saying for some time, the reports of direct mail's demise are greatly exaggerated.

Despite all the new media opportunities, people are beginning to realize that Twitter, Facebook, email, blogs, and other innovations are not delivering the stunning results promised. In fact, many are now waking up from their dream of a paperless marketing world and asking, "Where are the sales?"

What people are discovering is that traditional media, including direct mail, still work. That includes the big direct mail piece.

I'll admit that it may be hard to justify mailing big in today's economy when, often, sales aren't there regardless of the medium. But I'm starting to see more and more big direct mail pieces.

I've received a thick #10 envelope package from Planner Pads, a 36-page magalog from Jerry Baker, an 8.5×11 poly-wrap from Highlights for Children, and a traditional donor package from Smile Train. Plus I'm seeing a significant increase in larger credit card and financial mailings.

Compared to a few years ago, it's just a trickle. But the big packages seem to be making a comeback. And I know why:

Lower volume means less competition in the mailbox, which often translates to higher response.

A mail stream full of dinky formats makes larger formats stand out.

Larger formats provide more real estate for copy, the driver in any direct mail campaign.
The tsunami of electronic communications overwhelms people. By contrast, a direct mail piece allows people to relax and focus on one idea for a few minutes.

After years of sparse mail, those big packages seem novel now. They let you zig while everyone else zags.

I'm not down on all the new media. But I have a large client base and I've talked to many of them about their marketing. They're not saying they're switching to new media. They're just saying they're holding tight for the time being.

So as the economy recovers from its coma, all those pent up dollars are not going to fly into electronic media. My bet is, they're going back into traditional, proven media, such as direct mail.

And today's trickle of big packages will turn into a wave of  longer letters, bigger brochures, and larger formats. Why? Because it works.

Is it time for you to test a big direct mail piece?

Dean Rieck is a copywriter and consultant of choice for many of today's direct marketing leaders. He is the president of Direct Creative, a full-service direct marketing creative firm based in Westerville, Ohio.

Ready to go big with your next direct mail piece?  Take advantage of Melissa Data's direct marketing solutions, such as mailing lists and mailing software to ensure you reach as many people as possible with your offer. 

How to Test Your Email Subject Lines

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 By Nick Usborne 

Over the years I have worked on email and newsletters with a number of large companies. When the lists have been big enough I have always recommended that we test subject lines before sending to the complete list. 

Why? Because identifying the best subject line out of a group is perhaps the hardest of all calls. In fact, over the years, I have never been able to consistently guess which subject line will get the best open rate.

There are a couple of principles to follow with every email subject line:

1. Don't get on the bad side of the spam filters. So watch for "bad" words, too much capitalization, exclamation marks etc.

2. Identify yourself. Get your company, product or newsletter name in the subject line. So when people scan their new emails, they will recognize you as being welcome. Beyond that, you just have to test.

Here's how I have done it...

A couple of days before the main send, I test four or five different subject lines against 500-1,000 names each, depending on the size of the list. Twenty-four hours later I check to see which line achieved the highest open rate. If you can, also check the click-through rates. Sometimes the line with the highest open rate won't be the one that ultimately brings you the highest revenues.

Once you have picked your winner, use that line with the main send of your email or newsletter.

Is it worth the trouble?

Absolutely. I have tested newsletter subject lines where two of them appear to be very similar, but one has achieved an open rate almost twice that of the other. If you don't test, you're just guessing.

Nick Usborne is a copywriter and consultant with more than 20 years experience in the advertising and marketing industry. His website is ExcessVoice.com.

Too busy to manage your next email marketing campaign? Melissa Data Email Marketing Services handles everything from creation to reporting. Learn more about our services or get a free quote now.