Put “List Maintenance” On Your 2012 To-Do List

You’ve devised the right strategy, crafted the right message and followed all the best practices for generating high response rates for your direct mail campaign. But if you don’t focus the same amount of attention to your mailing list, all that hard work (and a lot of money) can be wasted. With the January USPS postage increase, make 2012 the year you place extra effort to List Maintenance.

The Weinstein Organization offers many List Maintenance services to help ensure your list data is accurate, meets USPS mailing standards, improves deliverability and ultimately increases the effectiveness of your campaign:

  • Data Standardization: Includes address standardization, ZIP correction, ZIP+4 coding, delivery point coding, carrier route coding
  • NCOA (The National Change of Address) Process: Updates old addresses to new addresses when consumers or businesses move.
  • Data Appends and Enhancements: Adds phone numbers, demographic criteria (age, HH income, Home Value, ethnicity, etc.), and Customer Profiles (buyer behavior codes) to your data so you can better understand who your customers are, and target your message more effectively.
  • CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System): Improves accuracy of 5-digit ZIPS, Zip+4, carrier routes and delivery point bar codes, and helps achieve the lowest possible postage rates.
  • Merge/Purge: Combines multiple data files and removes duplicate data, which saves you money in print production and postage.
  • List Hygiene: This process “cleans” your list by correcting addresses, spelling of names, punctuation, and removes any extraneous information that can hinder the deliverability of your mail piece.

Make your list as accurate and efficient as possible to ensure that you don’t waste money, time and resources. Effective list management should be an ongoing process throughout the year. With 20% of the U.S. population moving each year, a “good” list from 6 months ago may not now have the most accurate and up-to-date information. Contact your TWO Account Executive for more information on our List Maintenance services.


The ABCs Of F-Commerce

E-Commerce is the process of developing, marketing, selling, delivering, servicing and paying for products and services on the internet. Typically, this means building a website to interact and transact with your customers. Your marketing drives people to the site, and the experience those customers have on the site will largely determine the chances of them coming back.

But “F-Commerce”, or Facebook Commerce, is different from E-Commerce. It’s almost the reverse perspective of E-Commerce in that customers and prospects are already on Facebook—it’s the marketer who must put their business there.

Facebook isn’t a website, it’s an internet platform. It’s a daily destination for the vast majority of regular internet users, almost regardless of demographic categories. It’s a consumer behavior that is increasingly relevant in peoples’ lives (whether they will admit it or not, 750 million people can’t be wrong).

Some of the world’s biggest brands are selling their goods and services on Facebook, and industry watchers are predicting that in 5 years more sales will be transacted on Facebook than on Amazon. This isn’t hard to believe when you consider how many ways a marketer can do business on the world’s busiest internet portal:

F-Stores: Facebook’s development platforms allow brands to install widgets that convert their Facebook page to an online store, with the ability to tap directly into their e-commerce website and supply chain, process orders and payments, and manage their customer relationships.

Group Buying: Trade “likes” for dollars. Provide your Facebook followers special offers that get better with every person who clicks the “like” button associated with your offer. Or generate significant social network buzz by announcing that a special deal will “go live” when an X-amount of people click the “like” button. It’s not just word-of-mouth, it’s crowd-sourced purchasing power.

Exclusive Offers: With traditional e-commerce (not an oxymoron anymore) you can make special offers to a known group of people—the folks on your list. On Facebook your offers go directly to your page fans, and any action they take on your offer is announced and opened up to their social network. You don’t need to ask them to forward the offer to a friend because all activity on Facebook is viral to begin with.

Facebook Connect: This permission-based marketing approach is conceptually similar to the opt-in, but it goes beyond allowing the marketer to connect with the prospect 1-on-1; it’s a 1-on-1-on-infinity relationship because Facebook Connect asks the individual for permission to look at their entire network and gather information on everyone. Think there’s a huge hurdle to get over regarding privacy? Think again. Every Facebook app from Angry Birds to Scrabble to Twitter on Facebook, asks for permission to tap into the users network first using Facebook Connect. The global success of Angry Birds means millions of people decided that protecting the privacy of their network wasn’t so important after all. If the offer is great, people will do whatever it takes to get access to it.

Shop-And-Tell Plug-Ins: Built into your e-commerce site, these plug-ins will tell a shopper’s network about their recent purchase (with appropriate permission granted first), not only on Facebook, but on your e-commerce site itself. When someone visits your site, they can see if someone from their own Facebook network has purchased something from you. It’s a virtual testimonial, almost as if your friend were waiting at the store for you to say “hey, I just bought this here and you should too”.

Check-In Deals: Facebook took the Foursquare concept and potentially became the biggest check-in network on the internet and in mobile, with their already-huge user base. Incentivizing your customers and prospects to check-in at your brick and mortar location with a special offer is one of the most effective ways to drive foot traffic (remember real, actual stores?) to your business. If you operate a restaurant, offering a small discount off the bill in exchange for a Facebook check-in is not only a great way to advertise your existence and location, it’s also a tacit recommendation. And if the customer checks-in on Facebook and includes a favorable comment about their experience, then you’ve just received a review even Zagat’s can’t measure up to.

F-Commerce isn’t an alternative to E-Commerce, it’s an additional component of a fully integrated marketing campaign. Instead of driving customers to your business, F-Commerce drives your business to your customers. And in turn it can potentially drive your customers’ social networks back to your business.


Understanding Email Metrics

At The Weinstein Organization, tracking and measuring our work is at the core of what we do. Which is one of the reasons why we love email—the metrics available for us to analyze are truly fascinating (yes, we admit to being data nerds). And what we can learn from email metrics is fundamental to the effectiveness of our clients’ email campaigns.

Following are some of the more commonly used email metric terms and their practical definitions:

Email Conversions: Whether driving a purchase or attempting to acquire a confirmation, email conversions are a measurement of your specific call-to-action. This metric tries to answer the question “How many specific actions were taken by the recipient as a direct result of this email?”

Email Delivered: This metric describes how many emails were actually delivered to the intended recipient’s mailbox provider without getting “bounced” or kicked back to you from a delivery error. But this is not a bulletproof measurement of success. Your email can still be spam filtered into a recipient’s junk mail folder where it will appear to the sender as being delivered. A good way to ensure higher delivery rates is to take the proper steps and perform email list hygiene, which will help keep your list current and accurate.

Total Opens: Measuring how many times your email was opened is more of a measurement of the strength of your subject line, but there are too many variables involved to make this a reliable correlation by itself. Total opens alone do not indicate a successful email campaign, as there can be false open reads when an email is loaded into the preview pane, or when clicked-on just prior to deletion. Open rates are not a reliable metric for success alone, but they can help you understand the success rate of your delivery.

Unique Opens: are a similar metric to total opens, but it eliminates duplicate opens (ex: multiple opens by the same recipient) and tries to answer the question, “how many unique individuals opened my email?” Again, there are too many variables to rely on Unique Opens: alone as a measurement of success.

Click-Throughs: This may tell you that your email has been intentionally opened, and even the likelihood that someone has read it. However, you have to look at which links were clicked before you can measure effectiveness. If your offer link was clicked then your email is more likely to be doing a good job. But if the unsubscribe link was clicked then you have an indication that your email was worse than ineffective—it may have lost you a customer. Many clients will applaud high click-through rates at face value, but they do so at the risk of ignoring their customers’ true intentions.

Email Forwards: Understanding how many of your recipients forwarded your email to someone else is an excellent measure of several things: readability, relevance, the strength of your offer, and the appeal of your campaign to your target audience. As always though, it still doesn’t tell you by itself if your email is effective—conversions give you a better read of that. But conversions and forwards taken together can tell a marketer that they have a potential viral campaign in the works that might garner exponential reach.

On their own, no single email metric should be used as a reliable indicator of the effectiveness of your email. Which is why at The Weinstein Organization we have the capabilities to measure our email campaigns from a wide range of metrics. When you look at all the metrics together you get the total picture of how effective your email is, where it can be improved, and what can be understood about your prospects and customers.


Facebook Email and Integrated Direct Marketing

While the big buzz this week was over Google's purchase of Skype, millions of people around the world were quietly obtaining their Facebook email accounts. It's the latest round of power plays between these two internet giants, each one trying to become the dominant platform in social networking, communications and marketing dollars.

Google, with it's combination of email, search, YouTube and now Skype, seems to have everything a marketer could want in one integrated platform. Facebook is the dominant global social network, combining email, video, search, e-commerce and a highly mobile audience (approximately 50% of Facebookers use their mobile FB app more than the web version). Targeting your audience on Facebook is a marketer's dream.

But here's the critical difference between Google and Facebook: Google is a utility, Facebook is a destination.

People use Google when they need to search or use their gmail account. Now they will use Google to Skype. Google is something people use when they need to do something specific. Facebook is different. Facebook is something people use every day regardless of their intent. There's a ubiquitous quality to Facebook in that it is a part of peoples' daily lives whether they want to admit it or not. 600,000,000 people around the world spend 40 minutes each day on Facebook. They might be just reading posts from their network, playing Farmville or Scrabble, watching videos, buying from retailers and now sending email inside and outside the Facebook universe. Regardless of the action they take, people go to Facebook and spend time there everyday.

Marketers need to see Facebook for what it is: a network with a highly engaged, identifiable and diverse global audience, a two-way communications device, and a daily destination. It is web based and mobile. And now with the arrival of @facebook.com email addresses, it is poised to become an all-in-one communications portal. Marketers should be licking their chops with anticipation.

If email marketing is part of your mix, then Facebook Email marketing will offer a truly integrated way to reach and grow your audience. If email marketing is something you are considering for your business, there's never been a better time to start.


The Email Subject Line Hall Of Shame

Email marketing, when executed correctly, can be extremely effective in reaching your audience and motivating them to respond in a particular way. But your email must be opened and read first, and one of the first lines of defense against a bounced or unopened email is a well-crafted subject line.

The subject line is more than a “headline” to your email. It is the key to getting through spam filters, which are notorious for degrading the ROI of your campaign.

Here are the stars of the “Subject Line Hall of Shame” and how your emails can avoid being just like them:

1. Everything you need to know about this email is in the subject line, so open it now and read.

At 92 characters long this subject line is likely to get cut off in most email clients, and has a high probability of being blocked by a content-based spam filter. Think about how you write a personal email. The subject line is usually just enough to convey importance, urgency, seriousness, or humor. It should act as an attention-getter, not a summary of the message.

We recommend subject lines be 35 characters max.

2. THIS EMAIL IS SO IMPORTANT, I’M USING ALL CAPS

This email looks so spammy, your filter can’t wait to block it from being delivered. All-caps are an immediate giveaway that the email is a poorly-crafted message that needs to SHOUT to be heard, or it was written by that guy in a foreign country who has $5,000,000 waiting to be deposited into your account. JUST SEND HIM YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER TO GET RICH.

Do not use all-caps.

3. Tips are a tipoff

If I wanted your advice I would have asked for it, so this email must be junk. Here’s a tip: tell me what the benefit is to me in the subject line and I’ll be motivated to read the email. Otherwise, I’ve got 20 other emails in my inbox that have identified themselves as requiring action.

Tips are too passive to be effective, and unsolicited advice is rude.

4. $ave Money!! Act Now!!

Benefit driven? Check. Short? Check. Upper and lower case? Check. Spam? Definitely, according to your filter. Spam filters look for symbols like exclamation points and misused dollar signs in subject lines. And “save money” is such a blind benefit that the reader will wonder how for about 1 second before they delete the email.

“Save money on your cable bill” or “Save money on groceries” focus the reader’s attention better because these kinds of lines communicate real, tangible benefits.