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The Math Behind not Segmenting or Personalizing Direct Mail

December 23rd, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Fundraising

Dear Current Reader,

Sounds very inspiring doesn’t it. In fact, the research at Haines-Direct would show that personalization increases direct mail response rates by up to 10%. So instead of getting 50 people to read this article, I could’ve gotten 55 readers if your name was on it….shoot!

Since the only metric that matters with direct mail is ROI, let’s turn the 10% into a numbers game. Say you normally get 100 responses with no personalization. With personalization, the same letter can generate 110 responses. If your average gift per response is $40, then you just made $400 by putting a name on a solicitation.

The same math can be applied to direct mail segmentation. I’ve heard many organizations that send the same message to everybody, regardless of their relationship with the donor. Here’s the perception when receiving an un-segmented mail piece:

“Did they even realize my last gift?”

“Do they not notice that I donate at this time every year?”

According to research through hundreds of individual direct mail campaigns, Haines-Direct has experienced an average of an 8% increase in response when using segmentation.

If you normally send out 20,000 direct mail pieces, get a 2% response with an average gift of $40, then you would receive $16,000. With an 8% boost to response by adding segmentation, your response would move to 2.16%, thus increasing your total collections to $17,280.

Examples of segmentation would include:

  • Developing copy depending on when they last donated. For example, having the same introduction to donors who donated to the holiday appeal, but not the spring appeal
  • Adding additional copy thanking donors who have donated to the brick-a-thon, walk-a-thon, or phone-a-thon
  • Acknowledging where the donor made their last gift. Donors can donate through direct mail, through the phone, online, or in person.
  • Some donors want frequent communications from your organization, while others want an infrequent volume. Regardless of the frequency, all donors are valuable
  • There is a wealth of information in current research about generational giving trends. Most of this information provides strategies and tactics for targeting or segmenting your fundraising efforts toward these generational donors. The four main generations are: Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y (or Millennials).
http://brianlacy.com/consulting-services#annual-giving-consulting

http://brianlacy.com/solicitations-and-appeals#direct-mail-appeals

September 8, 2015
By Greg Palya
Haines Direct – Direct Marketing Solutions for NonProfits

Laser-Focused Direct Mail With Personas

December 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Fundraising

The best way to increase your chances of great response is to mail to people who are interested in your product or service. There are many ways to do this, but one of the most effective is to create personas.

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Many marketers are familiar with personas in their inbound or digital marketing, but for some reason have not applied them to their direct mail campaigns.

Benefits of Buyer Personas:

  1. Ability to target the right people for each message — send them only offers that they are interested in.
  2. Increase response — better offers equal a better response rate.
  3. Ability to find more prospects like your current customers — when you profile other people you can match them accurately to your current customers.

By creating buyer personas, you can identify who your ideal customers are, where they are and what they want. When you combine this with variable data direct mail you can laser focus your message to each individual based on that person’s persona while getting the benefits of postal discounts for mailing a larger quantity rather than doing a separate mailing for each persona.

We get asked many times, how can we create personas? Here are a few ways you can start researching:

  • Interview or survey current customers — create questions that answer what you need to know in order to build your personas.
  • Review LinkedIn profiles — try to find the common themes between each of your customers.
  • Ask questions on social media — this can give you a larger pool than just your customers, but be careful to fully vet each person responding before you add their input to your research.

After your research there are some best practices for building your personas:

  1. Focus on motives not behavior. Why are they doing what they are doing?
  2. Keep them fictional, but be as realistic as possible. Do not base them off of your most important customer, this can give you a skewed result.
  3. Choose one primary persona, this should be the group of people that will make you the most money.
  4. Create a story for each persona that is explained in five segments:
    • What is their job and demographics?
    • What does a day in their life look like?
    • What are their challenges or pain points?
    • How do they search for information?
    • What are their common objections to your product or service?

There are two big benefits to adding personas to your direct mail. The first is that you can save money on services and postage — and since direct mail’s biggest expense is postage, you can save a lot by not mailing to people who are not interested in what you are offering. The second is by getting more people to respond because they are interested in your offer. So, while you are saving money you are also making more money. It is a win-win situation!

Have you tried using personas in your direct mail? How has it worked for you?

http://brianlacy.com/solicitations-and-appeals#direct-mail-appeals


Target Marketing magazine

Don’t Overcomplicate Year-End Fundraising

December 11th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Annual Giving, Direct Mail, Fundraising

You’ve got a little less than a month left before the bells toll announcing the end of 2015. For most fundraisers, that’s a time for balancing efforts—to end the year strong in terms of income, to use up accrued vacation, to be cheerful at the company party and to keep up on work so 2016 fundraising doesn’t fizzle before Valentine’s Day.

Here are five ways to stay focused on what matters in these final days of 2015 while still having time for holiday cheer.

1. Set realistic goals for December. It’s better to do some things well than plan to do everything by Dec. 31—but never get anything executed. A good mailing on Dec. 11 beats a great mailing that never gets past the planning stage. Especially in a small shop, accept that you can’t do everything; instead, do something, but make sure it’s something that matters.

2. Review your year-end donor communications and make sure the focus is on the donor, not your organization. When I was being nosy, my dad used to say, “This isn’t to you, for you or about you.” Unfortunately, too much year-end fundraising isn’t to, for or about the donor. “We have had a good year. We did this and that. I am so proud of all we have accomplished.” Where’s the donor in that? The formula for success in fundraising is not “What we do + your money = success.” If the donor isn’t front and center in your fundraising messaging, rewrite it until he or she has the starring role.

3. Set aside anything that catches your eye—in the mail or online. You may not have time to digest these pieces now, but think of them as free training for later in 2016. These samples sometimes are called a “swap file” because you can swap ideas from them. Sometime in 2016 when you are creatively coming up dry, the subject line that you actually noticed in the midst of the holiday-email clutter or that envelope that stood out from the rest of the mail can trigger a great idea that gets your own creativity flowing. Two ideas for jump-starting or expanding your own swap file:

  • Donate to organizations you admire from a fundraising standpoint. Then watch what they are doing and when they are doing it. You can’t assume everything they do is “best practice,” but you can see how others treat and communicate with donors and learn from that.
  • Consider a holiday gift to yourself of a subscription to Who’s Mailing What!, the ultimate swap file, collected and categorized for you.

4. Call some large donors from earlier in the year who haven’t given in the last four to 11 months, thank them and give them a report on what their gifts did that made a difference. Don’t ask. Just thank and report. Then see if it makes a difference in their year-end giving. (Don’t wait until Dec. 30 to do this; you want to give them enough time to make a gift after they get over the shock of being thanked and receiving a verbal report on impact.)

5. Celebrate your success in 2015. Fundraising is a train that never ends (unless the organization goes out of business). You did some great things this year; I know you did! Don’t wait for someone else to point them out and thank you for your amazing efforts. Look back at your favorite mailing and the one that raised the most (not always the same). Pull up that great e-news or e-blast you sent. If you were a kid, what would you want posted on the refrigerator door for all to see? Create your own virtual refrigerator door and take time to say “Well done!” to yourself.

Dec. 31 will come, no matter what we do. And this old dog knows that you won’t get everything done that you (or your boss) would like to see accomplished. But stay focused on what matters—your donor and your mission—and forgive yourself if other things get neglected. Choosing that new computer system or printer can wait until 2016.

NonProfit PRO magazine

http://brianlacy.com/consulting-services#annual-giving-consulting

http://brianlacy.com/solicitations-and-appeals#phonathon-campaigns

http://brianlacy.com/solicitations-and-appeals#direct-mail-appeals

 

IoF ban on data-selling will hurt charities that use direct mail, says head of agency DM Focus

December 7th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Fundraising

Adrian Williams tells Third Sector that the move ‘goes above and beyond’ the Data Protection Act and means there would be no grace period for charities to use data gathered more than six months before.

The Institute of Fundraising’s ban on charities selling supporters’ data and on sharing data without consent from donors within the six months before they do so is likely have a significant effect on the ability of smaller charities to use direct mail effectively, the head of the direct marketing agency DM Focus has said.

Adrian Williams, managing director of the agency, which helps charities to buy and share donor lists, told Third Sector today that the IoF’s recent announcement that it would change the Code of Fundraising Practice so that charities could no longer sell data or share it without valid consent had taken him by surprise.

“The way the IoF has gone about it is retrospective,” he said, referring to the IoF’s endorsement of the Information Commissioner’s direct marketing guidance on third-party consent. “I never thought that would happen. It never has before; they have stepped into a very dangerous position because this recommendation goes above and beyond the Data Protection Act.”

The ICO’s guidance says that if an organisation is making contact by phone, text or email for the first time, it should not rely on any indirect consent given more than six months ago.

Williams said this meant that there would be no grace period for charities in which they could use data they had gathered more than six months before.

“The selling and swapping of data has massive implications for the sector,” said Williams. “If this change goes through, it would have a massive impact on smaller charities that rely on purchasing charity data to get direct mail to work. Many charities are not too sure where to go.”

Williams, who also spoke to Third Sector before the IoF’s announcement earlier this month, had previously said that an IoF prohibition on the sharing of donor lists without express consent would have an insignificant impact on data-sharing compared with the EU data protection laws that are expected to come into force in the next 12 months.

But today he said: “I think that this has a much larger impact than the EU rules, which might change. Many charities purchase data, so this announcement will have big consequences for them.”

He said that reciprocal transactions – where charities swap lists using services such as the Reciprocate programme run by the list broker ResponseOne – would be “wiped off the agenda”.

Williams, who recognised direct mail distributed by his company in photographs of Olive Cooke surrounded by charity mailings in the Daily Mail, estimated that almost two-thirds of charities that fundraised by direct mail bought lists of potential donors, about 10 per cent exchanged their donor lists with other charities and about 3 per cent sold or rented these lists to third parties.

Speaking to Third Sector in early September, he said that the EU regulations – which at their most extreme could forbid organisations from contacting, profiling and tracking an individual’s cookies online without their consent – would have a significant detrimental effect on the number of lists available as well as on fundraising income, which could cause some charities to close down.

He said such rules could lead to unscrupulous practices if marketers felt the legislation was too restrictive. “Some rogue organisations could say: I’m going to mail from India and get some 12-year-old boy to write my copy,” he said.

Williams said that international development charities in particular would have good cause to post their direct mail from developing countries in order to circumvent EU or UK rules. “They wouldn’t need to worry about any legislation because they’re not writing from the UK,” he said. “Most charities would adhere to the rules but you might find some wouldn’t.

“We shouldn’t apologise for what we’re doing. We’re doing it because it works, because it makes money and because it allows us to offer the services that the government doesn’t put onto the market.”

He also questioned whether the public really found direct mail an irritation, saying they could just “chuck it on the fire” if they did not like it.

A spokesman for the IoF said that in order for fundraising to be successful and sustainable in the long-term all potential supporters needed to have confidence in how charities used their data.

“Moving towards sharing data where the individual has ‘opted in’ by giving informed consent will mean people feel more in control over the fundraising communications they receive,” he said.

He said the Code of Fundraising Practice set standards for fundraising that went beyond minimum legal requirements. “This is one area where we need to raise the bar to ensure that fundraising practice meets the expectations of the public,” he said. “We know that the Information Commissioner’s Office is to produce guidance on informed consent and the timescales of valid consent to help fundraisers understand how to manage data appropriately.”

28 September 2015
By Susannah Birkwood
Third Sector

http://brianlacy.com/solicitations-and-appeals#direct-mail-appeals

 

 

IoF ban on data-selling will hurt charities that use direct mail

December 3rd, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Fundraising

 

Adrian Williams tells Third Sector that the move ‘goes above and beyond’ the Data Protection Act and means there would be no grace period for charities to use data gathered more than six months before

Data-sharing: will charities suffer from new rules?
Data-sharing: will charities suffer from new rules?

 

The Institute of Fundraising’s ban on charities selling supporters’ data and on sharing data without consent from donors within the six months before they do so is likely have a significant effect on the ability of smaller charities to use direct mail effectively, the head of the direct marketing agency DM Focus has said.

Adrian Williams, managing director of the agency, which helps charities to buy and share donor lists, told Third Sector today that the IoF’s recent announcement that it would change the Code of Fundraising Practice so that charities could no longer sell data or share it without valid consent had taken him by surprise.

“The way the IoF has gone about it is retrospective,” he said, referring to the IoF’s endorsement of the Information Commissioner’s direct marketing guidance on third-party consent. “I never thought that would happen. It never has before; they have stepped into a very dangerous position because this recommendation goes above and beyond the Data Protection Act.”

The ICO’s guidance says that if an organisation is making contact by phone, text or email for the first time, it should not rely on any indirect consent given more than six months ago.

Williams said this meant that there would be no grace period for charities in which they could use data they had gathered more than six months before.

“The selling and swapping of data has massive implications for the sector,” said Williams. “If this change goes through, it would have a massive impact on smaller charities that rely on purchasing charity data to get direct mail to work. Many charities are not too sure where to go.”

Williams, who also spoke to Third Sector before the IoF’s announcement earlier this month, had previously said that an IoF prohibition on the sharing of donor lists without express consent would have an insignificant impact on data-sharing compared with the EU data protection laws that are expected to come into force in the next 12 months.

But today he said: “I think that this has a much larger impact than the EU rules, which might change. Many charities purchase data, so this announcement will have big consequences for them.”

He said that reciprocal transactions – where charities swap lists using services such as the Reciprocate programme run by the list broker ResponseOne – would be “wiped off the agenda”.

Williams, who recognised direct mail distributed by his company in photographs of Olive Cooke surrounded by charity mailings in the Daily Mail, estimated that almost two-thirds of charities that fundraised by direct mail bought lists of potential donors, about 10 per cent exchanged their donor lists with other charities and about 3 per cent sold or rented these lists to third parties.

Speaking to Third Sector in early September, he said that the EU regulations – which at their most extreme could forbid organisations from contacting, profiling and tracking an individual’s cookies online without their consent – would have a significant detrimental effect on the number of lists available as well as on fundraising income, which could cause some charities to close down.

He said such rules could lead to unscrupulous practices if marketers felt the legislation was too restrictive. “Some rogue organisations could say: I’m going to mail from India and get some 12-year-old boy to write my copy,” he said.

Williams said that international development charities in particular would have good cause to post their direct mail from developing countries in order to circumvent EU or UK rules. “They wouldn’t need to worry about any legislation because they’re not writing from the UK,” he said. “Most charities would adhere to the rules but you might find some wouldn’t.

“We shouldn’t apologise for what we’re doing. We’re doing it because it works, because it makes money and because it allows us to offer the services that the government doesn’t put onto the market.”

He also questioned whether the public really found direct mail an irritation, saying they could just “chuck it on the fire” if they did not like it.

A spokesman for the IoF said that in order for fundraising to be successful and sustainable in the long-term all potential supporters needed to have confidence in how charities used their data.

“Moving towards sharing data where the individual has ‘opted in’ by giving informed consent will mean people feel more in control over the fundraising communications they receive,” he said.

He said the Code of Fundraising Practice set standards for fundraising that went beyond minimum legal requirements. “This is one area where we need to raise the bar to ensure that fundraising practice meets the expectations of the public,” he said. “We know that the Information Commissioner’s Office is to produce guidance on informed consent and the timescales of valid consent to help fundraisers understand how to manage data appropriately.”

By Susannah Birkwood
28 September 2015
Third Sector

5 Direct Mail Messaging Tips

November 6th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Fundraising

Direct mail marketing has many areas of focus, so sometimes not enough time is spent on messaging. Too many times marketers are quick to try something while not thinking it all the way through. Just as the designer took time to lay out the art, you need to take time to lay out the message. Thoroughly vetting WHAT you say and HOW you say it, is essential. In order to have your direct mail messaging be effective there are some things you should consider.

Here are five tips for better direct mail messages:

  1. Not Too Wordy: The easiest way to get your mail piece thrown in the trash is to put too many words on it. Think of ways to convey your message using less words. Bullets, color text, bolding and italics can all help to highlight the most important words. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) method is best.
  2. Repeat the Message: The more times a recipient sees the same message the better it is remembered. They are then more likely to respond. Another benefit of repeating the message is that the more often they hear or see it, the more they trust the message.
  3. Focused Theme: In direct mail it is very important to coordinate your message, your artwork, your design and your audience together to form your theme. When any of these is out of alignment it detracts from your message, confuses the recipient and your direct mail ends up in the trash.
  4. Rhyme: People enjoy rhyme. It’s easy to remember and fun to read. When your message rhymes it resonates more with recipients. Have some fun with your messaging. The best part about rhyme is that you can subliminally coax people with your message.
  5. Brand: Your brand is how people identify you. If your message conflicts with your brand people will not believe it. They will not trust your message and may even get angry about it. Take the time to craft your message to your brand.

Think about the last direct mail piece you received and really looked at. What about that messaging was intriguing for you? Usually you can pin point a few key words that stuck out to you. Using that information, how can you tailor your message to do the same thing? What words will grab attention and stand out to them?

All the words you place on the mail piece need to work together toward your goal. Is your goal for them to visit your website? Come to your store? Call you? Or something else? When you have a clearly defined goal it makes it easier to craft your message. Not every mailing will have the same goal, so make sure that when you carry messaging over from other campaigns that you carefully edit it to fit your new goal.

Remember that recycling the message from previous campaigns is good for recognition, so you want to do it. Just make sure that when you do, you are integrating it into the new campaign well. Some wording will need to change and you may need to highlight different key words. Crafting your messaging can be really fun, so take some time and get inspired to be creative.


By Summer Gould
Target Marketing Magazine

HOW TO GET DONORS TO RIP OPEN YOUR NEXT MAIL APPEAL

October 12th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Fundraising

Getting the envelope opened is more than half the
battle in fundraising.

Here’s how to make that battle one you can win.

Size up your envelope:
No. 10 envelopes abound. To change things up, consider larger No. 11 and No. 12 envelopes and smaller Monarchs. Try different colors and textures too.


Write the address:
A handwritten mailing address (or one that looks handwritten) will almost always outperform one in a standard font.


Window or no?
If you usually use window envelopes, try closed face. They cost more but often increase response.


Consider the corner card:
The corner card is the return-address area. People instinctively look there to see who the letter is from. So vary it. Try it without a logo. Try just the director’s name and address, without the organization name. Try no return address. Changing things can generate interest.


Think in reverse:
Try additional messaging on the reverse side of the envelope. Donors often look at both sides before deciding to open the envelope, so an extra prompt usually boosts response.


Make the teaser tease:
Don’t tell the whole story with your teaser. Instead, ask a provocative question, hint at gift inside, refer to an intangible benefit like changing a life or doing good, play off of a current event, and so on. Arouse curiosity. On the other hand, if you have a matching grant, a multiplier, or other specific offer, say so clearly. These are proven motivators. Teasers are tricky, though. An envelope without a teaser will usually beat an envelope with one.
By Jeff Nickel
August 2015
Hilborn Charity Newsletter 

When Direct Mail Whups the Pants off Email

September 14th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Fundraising
In 1984, Peggy and I launched a niche business — the newsletter and archive service on direct mail — Who’s Mailing What!

I still adore direct mail, while email bores the hell out of me.

[Check out the media player where the first image compares a Bill Jayme/Heikki Ratalahti envelope vs. my dreary inbox.]

What triggered this column was a simply spectacular direct mail package from the Danbury Mint. The offer:

A two-sided pendant necklace with diamonds on the front.

On the back were Peggy and my names personally engraved in gold with the message:

MARGARET
I
LOVE

YOU

DENNY

 

As you can see, in images two through four, personalization was everywhere:

  • Our names (Margaret and Denny) appeared 10 times each in the various elements.
  • The personalized pendant photograph with our engraved names appeared five times:
    • Outside carrier front
    • Outside carrier back (with name and address)
    • Carrier inside
    • Lift piece
    • Order form

Simply dazzling!

One other mailing that matches this for inventiveness (and cost!)—the American Express Platinum Card launch, 28 years ago.

 

Takeaways to Consider

  • Direct mail is tactile — not virtual.
  • You cannot click it out of your life. It must be handled.
  • You can use dazzling graphics and personalization.
  • If you are launching a new product or service, think long and hard about using off-the-page advertising or the Internet. These are public forums. Your product can be seen by Chinese thieves who replicate your offer and put you out of business in hours.

Target Marketing magazine
 

 

To QR Code or Not to QR Code?

September 4th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Fundraising

Does a QR Code add value to direct mail? Well, yes it can. However, before you go put a QR Code on every direct mail piece you send out, let’s discuss what works and what does not. Before you even start down the path of adding QR Codes, what are you trying to do? Why would a QR Code help you do it? If your answer is because you think you should, well, you better rethink that.

When to use a QR Code on direct mail:

  • Drive online engagement
  • Facilitate a phone call
  • Provide a coupon
  • Provide access to additional information
  • Place an order

If you are placing a QR Code on a direct mail piece and it is not doing one of the four things above, is it really benefiting the recipient? What is in it for them to scan it? When you are planning out your QR Codes, make sure to look at it for the recipient’s perspective. QR Codes have good scan rates when used correctly. Another thing to consider when designing your QR Code is to have a little fun with it. You can use color as well as an image or logo to make it stand out.

Best Practices:

  • Instructions: Always include instructions on how to scan and why the recipient should scan it.
  • Buffer Zone: Include 1/16 inch of white space around the QR Code
  • Size: For direct mail, keep your QR Code between a ½ inch and 1 ½ inches for easy scanning and placement
  • Small URLs: Use a URL shortener to keep scanning time short.
  • Mobile Landing Pages: Since the user is going to be using a mobile device to access your content make sure that the landing page is setup for mobile use including the checkout page.
  • Test It: Scan the code in all different types of lighting and using many different mobile devices as well as scanning apps. You want to spot problems before recipients get them.

QR Codes will not be right for everyone. Look at who your recipients are, not just what you want to do. Sometimes they may surprise you, so test one out with a good offer and see what response you get. Many times QR Codes are used in conjunction with PURLs, that way you are providing two ways for them to access the landing page. They can scan the code or type in the URL. This also gives you a chance to see who prefers what method. You can use this information for future mailings.

Your mail service provider can work with you to create a mail piece that incorporates both QR Codes and PURLs. They can also help you with tracking. Compiling reports for your mail delivery dates, QR Code scans and landing page hits are easy and extremely helpful. It’s time to create your direct mail with QR Codes and track your results.


By Summer Gould
Target Marketing magazine

Direct Mail Makes a Comeback, Becomes More Like Digital – Partner Voices

August 17th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Marketing

According to the Winterberry Group, direct mail spending will continue to grow in 2015 to a $45.7 billion market, and it is increasingly looked to as a higher impact channel that cuts through the clutter of digital marketing.

There are a couple ways digital has advantages over print, one of them being the ability to personalize and target digital ads. However, as inkjet printing is becoming more common and affordable, that advantage is evaporating.

Inkjet printing enables personalized direct mail pieces through the use of variable data — e.g., name, gender, location, preferred products, buying habits, current stage in the customer journey, etc. With this type of personalization available, marketers can realize the goal of delivering the right message to the right person and at the right time — in print.

The benefit in this is that it’s been proven that personalized marketing messages outperform standard messages:

  • Personalized color direct mail was found to generate a 6.5 percent response rate, three times higher than the usual 2 percent response rate that occurs as the result of non-personalized direct mail (Melissa Data).
  • When compared to static direct mail pieces, personalized direct mail pieces yielded a 24.5 percent increase in conversion, 31.6 percent overall profit increase, 36 percent increase in response rate, and a 48 percent increase in repeat orders (InfoTrends/Cap Ventures).

Furthermore, inkjet helps brands become “multichannel” through the use of techniques that belong to digital alone, such as personalized URLs and QR codes, which allow inkjet to continue to drive higher response rates in marketing campaigns across channels. This allows you to link print to the web so that content, and your relationships with customers, remains fresh.

“The technology (i.e., inkjet) is there,” says Judith Maloy, director and CEO at Polaris Direct, “to overlay online and POS data with your mail file to create meaningful one-to-one communications with customers through the efficient use of data.”

Done right, technology like this can bring some of the targeting finesse of digital to higher impact, almost universally opened and read, direct mail.


By Polaris Direct
Target Marketing magazine