Merry_Law~by Merry Law, President of WorldVu LLC

Another year has passed and it’s time to dust off my crystal ball to make my global mailer predictions for 2017. It’s been quite a year for direct marketers and the marketing landscape is changing rapidly in the age of big data.  You can view my previous predictions for 2016 here, if you’d like to see how those turned out.  Now, lets get down to business for the new year!

Here’s what I see coming in 2017

  1. Postal reform legislation will be delayed again in the U.S.  It won’t pass Congress before the new Congress takes office in January, requiring a new beginning for the process.  Postal reform won’t be high on the priority list for either the new administration or the new Congress.
  2. The future President will carry out his campaign promise to end or renegotiate various trade deals, causing uncertainty in trade relations with other countries.   This will slow trade between the U.S. and the rest of the world.
  3. The international economy will remain uneven, with little or no further improvement in most sectors and regions.
  4. In the international postal world, costs for mailers will continue to rise.  USPS has not raised international postage but international fees are increasing.  Other postal operators and delivery services will raise their rates, too.
  5. Mail volumes will continue the trend of 2015 and 2016, with a leveling off in letter volumes and an increase in the volume of packages and parcels.  International package and parcel volumes will not increase tremendously, and may level off
  6. The Universal Postal Union’s Integrated Product Plan (IPP), passed at their Congress in 2016, will be difficult for international mailers and their service vendors when postal operators announce how they will implement the new requirements.  (Mail will be classified by contents—documents or goods—rather than by weight.  Small packages, under 2 kilograms or 4.4 pounds, will be in their own new class of mail.)
  7. Undeliverable international mail and its return, or non-return, will become a greater issue for mailers, as more packages and the marketing and transactional documents that accompany them are sent.
  8. Addresses based on discrete global grids (What3Words, GO Code, etc.) will be a subject of much discussion and publicity, but will not be implemented as part of any national addressing plan.  Some changes will, as always, occur to national addressing plans but will be based on current postal addressing models.
  9. Drones will be used for transport to remote areas but not as “last mile” solutions.  Successful trials of drone delivery for pharmaceutical and emergency supplies have taken place in southern Africa and trials elsewhere are also occurring.  These deliveries will become more common, although the “last mile” delivery will continue to be by current methods.
  10. Concerns about hacking and privacy will not slow the move toward more mobile, Internet and cloud-based services and data storage.  Consumers will continue to be concerned but accept the risk, with companies making apologies and providing credit monitoring when large attacks happen.  Privacy legislation in the U.S. will remain minimal.

We’ll see this time next year whether my crystal ball was too cloudy to see clearly.  Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!

~by Paul Harris, Sales and Marketing Assistant

Merry Law, Address Data Quality Expert

Global-Z recently had the opportunity to catch-up with our longtime friend Merry Law. Merry is the President of WorldVu LLC, the editor of the Guide to Worldwide Postal-Code and Address Formats and author of Best Practices for International Mailings.

Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Global-Z: Why is it so important to for marketers to have good address quality anyway? 

Merry: Correct addresses are important in two ways: delivery (of course) and perception.

For delivery, a completely incorrect address or one that can’t be understood is not deliverable.   This can mean an invoice, a marketing offer, or a product doesn’t arrive.  Each of those creates different problems and costs before the mailing (printing, packaging, postage) and after the item doesn’t arrive (following up, reshipping products or processing refunds, and so on.)

If the address is decipherable and gets delivered, it can take extra time to get there.  (That can means delayed payments with invoices, slow order streams with marketing offers, or customer complaints with products.)  A poor address also sends a poor message to the recipient about your company.  The company is not professional, is ill-informed, and doesn’t know what they are doing.

 

Global-Z: It’s almost comical to highlight the importance of mail being delivered correctly. Do you think many marketers are ignoring address data quality issues, or do they not have the resources/time to deal with it?

Merry: Yes, isn’t it! I think many marketers and other mailers aren’t aware of all the resources available for verifying and correcting international addresses or don’t know how cost effective those services can be.  Some mailers tell me that the cost of the address hygiene services are often made up for in savings from wasted printing, postage and processing required by undelivered mail.

The same is true of the time element. The amount of time a staff is involved in dealing with returned and undeliverable mail can be greater than the staff time required by the address hygiene process.   And, the old issue of who pays for the hygiene comes up, although we know that the artificial silos between marketing, IT, and other departments on issues like address quality are counter-productive.

There’s sometimes an issue of convincing top management to invest in address hygiene.  Companies like Global-Z help demonstrate how you will benefit from address hygiene.

 

Global-Z: In 2013, you made predictions about the future of marketing. Looking back, which trends do you think will continue this year?

Merry: I think my predictions from last year have held up pretty well, although the growth in international has been a bit slower than I expected.  The restrictiveness of Canada’s legislation on email privacy was a surprise but I don’t think we will see other countries follow this path.  Indeed, the Canadian government is seeing some problems with the strictness of the regulations.

The exploration of big data and integrated, multichannel marketing (by any name) will, I think, be the ones that get the most attention from marketers this year.  The USPS discount offers for qualifying mailings that integrate digital into a mail piece are a wonderful development.  These have now been continued and expanded.  (See here for details.)

 

Global-Z: How would you describe the current state of the direct mail industry?

Merry: While there’s been a tremendous shift  to move away from mail over the last decade, there seems to be a recent move back to direct mail.  Mail works.

Internationally, there are generally fewer legal and practical limitations on sending mail than there are on email marketing.  Mail also reaches everyone, everywhere.  Studies suggest that people spend more time looking at a piece of printed mail than they do looking at an email.  As all marketers know, those seconds matter to the response rate.

 

Global-Z: What’s new at WorldVu? Are you working on any new projects that you are excited about?

Merry:   I have been doing more writing and speaking.  I am speaking more often on best practices for international mailing.  I recently presented a paper on The Value of Addresses, discussing their economic and financial value, at conferences in France and the U.S.  It’s an interesting topic that’s often neglected by both companies and by governments.  Perhaps if addresses were a balance sheet asset, top management would better understand the need to spend on address hygiene and maintenance.

Geoff Downer, InsightStream Co-Founder and Director, Solutions

~by Paul Harris, Sales & Marketing Assistant

Recently Global-Z had the opportunity to speak with Geoff Downer, Director and Co-founder of Insight Stream Ltd, a data-driven marketing service company that specializes in helping clients (especially B2B) enhance and manage complex marketing projects.

Geoff works in the United Kingdom and has over 30 years of experience in all aspects of data-driven marketing and the application of marketing automation, bridging marketing and IT.

We hope you enjoy our interview with Geoff.

Global-Z: You’ve made a career out of data-driven marketing. How do you know that the data you use to enable decisions is indeed accurate?

Geoff: This is a very good question.  We say it’s really easy to obtain data, but the difficult thing is to obtain good data. We have developed a network of suppliers whom we now trust. We have taken data files from them, enhanced the address data, cleaned them, matched them to other business data reference sources. Often times, we also have added emails and pinged them before committing data to campaigns. Although we can never know that the data we use is 100% accurate when we start, we can do everything that is ‘best of breed’ in the industry to ensure it is.

Global-Z: What are the common challenges your clients face when they work with you on data-driven marketing campaigns?

Geoff: That’s a very interesting question. The most common challenge is not usually a lack of data, as most clients have far more data then they realize. The most common problem is finding and gaining access to the data from the many different systems that support the various divisions of their companies and operations. For example, sales and marketing  has multiple data sources but also does customer service, warranty, production and so on. Very often we will start with a discovery exercise to help our clients identify, and (if possible) analyse all the data sources available to them. We try to make the best of the data they’ve got before we start going to external data sources to enhance or to find additional prospects.

Global-Z: When a marketing campaign is global, how does that a change your strategy when you make data-driven decisions?

We do deal with global campaigns for clients, and we can source data when required on a worldwide basis. We also can provide our clients with international data processing and enhancement services.  Provided the marketing objective has been correctly defined, I suppose the main impact of going global on a data strategy is upon practicalities such as the different data protection requirements in different regions.  It’s absolutely essential to ensure that in each marketplace, the campaign is meeting local requirements.

Global-Z: Social media marketing is a hot topic conversation for B2C marketers. I’m wondering what your thoughts are about the usefulness of social media marketing for B2B companies?

Geoff: I think there’s no doubt that social media marketing is becoming a reality for B2B as well as B2C. As with the traditional marketing channels though, we feel it is important to regard this for what it is – a new and exciting real-time marketing channel, but not something that is so different it should be treated in a separate way. It’s important to integrate your social media marketing with other channels and to plan for its use in your overall marketing strategy. One of the key ‘watch outs’ for B2C’s and B2B’s is that it is really important to recognize that social media marketing is interactive. You must have a resource dedicated to spending at least a part of the day monitoring your communications and responding as necessary.  You can then use any feedback to inform and influence other communications across all the channels you use.

We work with a very interesting social platform that combines social listening capabilities with event trigger campaign management functionality. The communication to our clients’ customer and prospect base can be timely and triggered by the issues that are of common interest.

Global-Z: What excites you about the future of data-driven marketing?

Geoff: I’ve been doing this work for very long time and I still enjoy it! What excites me most is the growing understanding of the importance of data to both sides of a customer supplier relationship. Secondly, I’m excited by the growing understanding that different customer touch points are all part of the overall relationship between the customer and the supplier. By centralizing all interactions and analyzing the data to inform future stages of the communication cycle, we can ensure that the customer is provided with the information they need when they need it.  Overall, helping the business process become more efficient while creating a more satisfying experience for all parties. Long may it continue!

Jeff Couture

~By Paul Harris, Sales & Marketing Assistant

Recently, we had an opportunity to interview Jeff Couture, Executive Director of the Vermont Technology Alliance (vtTA). The vtTA is a business association focused on supporting, promoting and expanding technology companies and jobs in Vermont. Through that role, Jeff has experience in association leadership, organization and membership development, event planning and advocacy. Previously he was a communications manager for IBM, serving at the primary spokesperson for IBM in Vermont.

 Global-Z- Why did you start the Vermont Technology Alliance?

Jeff- The Vermont Technology Alliance started as the Vermont Software Developers Alliance in 2004. It grew out of a gathering of software companies in the greater Burlington area who realized there was a large number of software and tech-related businesses in Vermont, but that this business sector was not always recognized or visible.  The organization was formed to encourage collaboration, share expertise, and provide a unified voice for Vermont’s software industry.

As the organization grew, Vermont companies in other tech business segments identified common needs and joined the Alliance. In 2012, the Vermont Technology Alliance name was adopted to better reflect the organization’s expanding membership and its mission to represent and support the state’s growing number of technology companies.

Global-Z- In our digital age, most all businesses use some form of technology to function. This can make the definition of a “tech company” become a bit ambiguous. How do you define a technology company?

Jeff- Our definition of a technology company is fairly broad, in recognition of the many types of businesses that create, use and manage technology.  It often focuses on companies involved in information technology, and encompasses the use of digital tools, networks, applications, data and analytics to create or deliver a product or service. For our organization, this includes software development and consulting, web design and development, information systems management and data processing, telecommunications and networking, game and app development, technology manufacturing, biotechnology, energy, technology-related sales and marketing, and others who support or do business with Vermont’s technology sector.

Global-Z- Why should anyone consider a career in Vermont if they want to work in the tech industry?

Jeff- Vermont has a strong reputation as a great place to visit and to live. Tourists flock here for the state’s recreation, beauty, small communities and downtowns. Vermont regularly makes national lists for its quality of life. What if you could live here and have a great tech career?  Well, you can. Vermont is home to a number of dynamic, fast-growing, innovative technology companies who are leaders in their fields and doing business worldwide. Many of these companies tend to fly under the radar – they’re not as well-known in the state as Ben and Jerry’s or are not located in a typical corporate high-rise – but they’re here, they’re successful and they’re hiring.

Global-Z- Recruiting good “techies” who want to live and work in Vermont can be a challenge for business in the state. What can businesses do to help build Vermont’s reputation as a technology state?

Jeff- One of vtTA’s goals is to draw attention to the number of tech companies that are based in Vermont – it’s one of the state’s best kept secrets. That’s why vtTA sponsors the annual Tech Jam trade show and works with state government to encourage marketing Vermont as a home for tech. There are a few large tech firms in the state, but many are smaller firms that have great opportunity and growth potential. As a business association we try to spotlight the collective strength of the industry as a whole, and communicate to job seekers that if you come to Vermont to work in tech, you can find opportunities.

Global-Z- What are your goals for the future of vtTA?

Jeff- We will continue to expand our membership, which today includes more than 150 companies and entrepreneurs, and to connect with tech businesses throughout the state.  We will continue to work with the Legislature and state Commerce Agency to support and promote the value of Vermont’s tech business sector. We’ll continue to provide and promote opportunities for the tech sector to network and collaborate. Among our planned projects this year is production of a third edition of our Tapping Tech publication, which highlights the positive impact of Vermont technology companies on the state’s economy, and a “Tech Summit,” to share ideas, address issues and plan for the future of Vermont’s digital economy.

Gary_Palmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~By Paul Harris, Sales & Marketing Assistant

Recently, Global-Z had the unique opportunity to speak with Gary Palmer, Director of Information Alchemy ltd, an independent marketing information consultancy and services provider which helps organizations take control of their data resource and extract from it maximum value through data-driven marketing and customer insight.

Gary works in the United Kingdom, and he has twenty years of experience in getting real business value from data resources. He spoke with us about the impact of bad data quality, information management and the future of data-driven business decision making.

We hope you enjoy our interview with Gary.

Global-Z: Why do so many organizations have a hard time starting a data governance program?

Gary: Part of the problem is that data is pervasive, and responsibility for it diffuses. Very few organizations have assigned a clear accountability for managing data. What they should be doing is finding the particular functions within the context of their own company and industry who stand to gain most or suffer worst according to the state of the data. Then they should back this vested interest with a strong official mandate to establish and maintain governance over this vital resource.

Global-Z: Has the European economy had a negative impact on businesses ability to finance and focus attention on data quality issues?

Gary: It has been proven enough times that firms who maintain marketing budgets are the ones that assume strong positions as the recession ends. Good data quality  can enhance and unleash one of the few remaining sources of unique competitive advantage. After all, only you have your customer data. Sadly, the economic conditions have become an easy out for organizations wary of what is, to be fair, a relatively new discipline. The brave few acting now will reap the benefits.

Global-Z: Let’s pretend you are a CEO of a large direct marketing company, where would a data quality initiative fall in your list of business priorities?

Gary: Poor data quality is invariably a symptom of broken business processes – so fixing that would have to come pretty high. Then an initiative to leverage the potential of the cleaned data set to deliver unique customer insights has to lie at the core of strategy for any direct marketing driven organization.

Global-Z: In the future, how do you think data analytics and tracking will affect the consumers experience when buying products and services?

Gary: In the past, marketers have had a bad habit of using analytics to spot the next opening for launching new promotions or products. This is like talking to a person who is mentally rehearsing their next utterance rather than actually listening to what you are saying.

In the future, I hope we will  see a switch to using tracking and analytics to genuinely listen to customers with the aim of readying the organization to service their expressed needs.

Global-Z: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Gary: The most challenging part of my job is overcoming the idea that data is arcane, nerdy, boring or not worthy of anyone’s attention.

Data is a resource inevitably generated by all organizations that can be a source of friction or fuel, heat and light. When data is used properly,  it can turbo charge any organization.

Global-Z: What do you like most about your job?

Gary: I like seeing organizations discover and use new capabilities based on the clean, well maintained data resource they have after I finish a project with them!

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~By Grace Epperson

Chances are good if you’re reading this article, you already understand the value of globalizing your marketing efforts. The benefits are simple but powerful.

Whether it’s finding new customers for your products (those that are your homeruns or those that just need a new home) or experiencing higher response rates and less competition, going global is a sound way to diversify your customer base.

Marketing to multiple geographic areas helps protect you.  A few months ago you may have wondered what you might need protection against. Today, it’s glaringly obvious – protect yourself from markets that may take a steep downturn due to economic, political or other environmental factors.

So what happens in times like today, when practically all the world’s markets are impacted?
The answer is still diversification.

Here are five quick tips to consider when it comes to diversifying your marketing. These are recurring themes for me, particularly these past few months, as we hunker down and wait for an economic upswing.

1. Target countries or regions with currencies stronger than your own.

Even as the values of currencies fall, it’s all relative if you find the exchange rates that work to your advantage. For instance, the British pound is currently one and a half times the value of the US dollar. Now, that seems to pale against six months ago, when it was two to one, but it’s respectable nonetheless. What does that mean for you?

Well, if you price and process your offers in local currency, it means you’ll get 50% more revenue for each product that you sell. In my experience, as long as the promotion is strong and the product is applicable, there’s no reason why you can’t sell a $39 product for £39 and benefit from the exchange.

2. Don’t forget your neighbor.

Depending on where you’re marketing, there is likely a neighboring country or two to consider. There are lots of economies of scale, including but not limited to, printing, fulfillment, call center services and marketing support. The US and Canada are a natural fit. Australia and New Zealand go hand in hand. The list goes on. This tip seems pretty obvious, but I’m always surprised by how many companies discount testing and expanding into a neighboring country.

3. Can’t develop new product? Develop strategic partnerships instead.

This is a big one. Perhaps your budget has been cut and you’re not able to develop that next hot new product. You may want to consider pursuing a joint venture with a partner who has a product that’s fresh to your list and a perfect fit. You can even go so far as to white label it as your own. It’s a win-win situation that maximizes opportunity and minimizes risk on both sides. The deal can work both ways too, as you can then promote your product to their list. With all factors being equal, you typically work out a 50/50 split of profits.

4. Stay in the mail.

Well, if at all possible, stay in the mail. Here are some tactics that may help.

  • I’ve found that vendors, namely printers and mail shops, are hungry for business – a prime opportunity to really shop around, negotiate and lower your marketing costs.
  • You may also want to approach those list owners with whom you have longstanding rental relationships to see if they are interested in net name arrangement. This way you only pay list rental on names that make it out of the merge.  Or exchange – every list you don’t pay for could lower your costs dramatically.
  • Mail more of your house names. They’re free to mail and generally very responsive.  It may be smart to include more of them than you normally would, thereby subsidizing your prospecting in the short term.
  • Overprint and do smaller mail drops. You’ll have better control without sacrificing the economy of printing in a larger volume.

Remember, your competitors may be taking this time to play it safe and regroup, so now may be the ideal time to stay in front of your prospects.

5. Focus on making a friend (not a sale). 

Even if your offer has always been cash with order, if the response isn’t there, you may need to rethink your strategy. It may work out better for you to have 100,000 prospects versus 100 paid customers. Offers that I have seen work include:

  • Offering something for free along with your paid product offer. In publishing, this works particularly well when you promote a paid subscription and/or allow prospects to sign up for a free e-mail newsletter.
  • Delaying charging the customer during a free trial period where they can preview the product.
  • Selling a high-priced product by breaking up the price into manageable payments that are automatically charged.

In all of these scenarios, even if you don’t make the sale up front, you’ve significantly increased the number of prospects – all of whom you can put through a rigorous backend marketing program focused on conversion.

 

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Global-Z is pleased to introduce Grace Epperson, Managing Director of DM360° Inc., to GZ News subscribers. With over eight years of international marketing strategy, business and project management experience, Grace will be contributing future articles to GZ News. Stay tuned to learn more from Grace’s expertise in online marketing and an integrated multi-channel approach to complement direct mail campaigns.

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~by Grace Epperson

With continually rising print, postage and other direct mail related costs, email is a viable alternative or counterpart for direct marketers looking to acquire new customers, deliver content, fulfill product, and more…

Arguably, email makes the biggest impact to your bottom line through the successful execution of a profitable email newsletter, where the focuses are cultivating a relationship with the reader, converting prospects into paid customers, and monetizing the value of the entire readership. Email newsletter marketing is particularly attractive to international marketers, who typically spend more to acquire a single customer, as it allows you to fully maximize that customer’s lifetime value.

In addition to best practices, like adhering to legislation and regulations governing your marketing territory, following are five fundamentals for developing, launching and managing a successful email newsletter program.

1. Strategic List Building

It all starts with the acquisition of email subscribers – the ones who convert and continually purchase. To achieve a mix of quality and quantity with regard to list building, paid search (pay-per click or PPC) is a most effective method. PPC campaigns that focus solely on promoting a free sign-up to an email service, perhaps through offering a free report as a premium, are a rapid way to grow your list. Even if the goal of your marketing efforts (online or offline) is always a sale, be sure to offer the free sign-up, as it gives your ‘maybes’ an opportunity to convert down the road.

Search engine optimization (SEO), which increases the volume of traffic to your Web site is also a practical means for increasing your list size. By featuring regular, relevant and fresh content on our Web site, you’ll continue to rank high in organic search results, driving qualified traffic to your Web site. Be sure to feature the sign-up to your free email service prominently on your homepage.

Co-Registration, or co-reg, is another way to quickly build your list. Co-reg is a process where you offer prospects the opportunity to sign up to your email service while they are registering for or purchasing a complementary product or service. You do this by providing pre-checked or unchecked boxes that allow them to opt into or opt out of your service. For more qualified leads, unchecked boxes are the way to go. You can find co-reg sources by seeking out sites and email services that are non-competitive but share your same prospective customer.  As you can imagine, these names can individually be less valuable, however, when list building there’s an important balance to be struck between value and volume.

2. Value-Adding Editorial

To build a large readership, your email newsletter should be a free service, but just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it should be cheap. The content should be valuable, fresh, relevant, timely and engaging. Depending on your subject matter, the tone may be personal, where the reader connects with the editor in a very one-on-one manner. Or, you may choose more of a magazine-style approach, where readers can easily navigate and pick what information they want to digest. With either format, when applicable, construct your editorial to support your advertising efforts. For instance, if you’re launching a new product, have your editor(s) start to casually mention it in the weeks, potentially even months, leading up to the big debut.

3. Dollar-per-Name Focused Advertising

Base your ad planning on which products generate the most revenue, even if other metrics like open rates and click through rates indicate otherwise. You want to have the right mix of products, including ones at different price points, and an influx of new products.

The quantity of editorial content is a good dictator of how much advertising you should offer. Emails dedicated solely to promoting a product should be used more sparingly and for offers that are truly special. Advertising that appears near the top of an email broadcast generates the most sales, so reserve those premium spots for the best products.

The Golden Rule: If something performs strongly, run it again, and very soon! The same people who opened it the first time may not necessarily be the ones who open the resend, so more of your file will be exposed to the strong offer. Plus, the resend may convince those who were on the fence the first time around.

4. Disciplined Testing

Email is an excellent testing ground, as it’s easy to segment and track. Spend the majority of your efforts testing factors that are known to affect response – such as, subject line, overall design, headline and lead, length of copy, and of course, the offer.

You should also use email to test new promotional creative to see if it’s direct mail worthy.  In the current mailing climate where testing, especially in small volume, is outrageously expensive an email test is both cost effective and the results are immediate.

5. Welcome Series

Since most unsubscribe requests occur within weeks, in some cases even days or hours of the initial sign up, creating a series of emails that welcome new subscribers is critical for successful retention. The fact is, most people are inundated with email, and you must give them a reason to stick around. Sending a welcome series is an opportunity to explain who you are, what they can expect, and provide a sample of your best content.

At this point, you may also want to introduce your products and services, but definitely with a “soft sell” approach. The welcome series is also a great time to send a message from your customer service manager, letting the reader know what your anti-SPAM and privacy policies are, as well as, who to contact for help and support.

Finally, every broadcast in the welcome series should directly ask subscribers to “white list” you, which put simply is, the reader adding your ‘from’ email address to a list of approved senders to ensure uninterrupted delivery.

In closing, email newsletters are everywhere these days. You want yours to stand out among the crowd. In addition to these tips, subscribe to as many as possible. Then, watch and learn. Two of my favorites are The Daily Reckoning and Early to Rise.