3 Marketing Tactics for Credit Unions to Win Over Millennials

Credit unions offer a better deal for Millennials than any other financial institution, but to win them over, your marketing must embody and convey those advantages.

Credit unions are doing worse with Millennials than any other generation, as this banking target market has flocked to fintech-driven mobile finance experiences that prioritize faceless convenience over the advantages of credit unions. But this disconnect is not the way it has to be.

Credit unions offer a better deal for Millennials than any other financial institution, but to win them over, your marketing must embody and convey those advantages.

The disconnect is a customer experience issue, but it’s not one that can be fixed by just improving customer service. You need to help these potential customers see what your brand represents throughout the lead generation process. If you amplify personalized direct mail with targeted digital marketing, you create an optichannel marketing experience that shows younger audiences you are both relevant to their world and able to deliver the individualized, convenient banking experience they’re looking for.

To attract digitally savvy, convenience-centric banking customers, credit unions must be able to deliver marketing that accomplishes three things at once:

  1. Convey a better customer experience
  2. Embrace technology and convenience
  3. Make a personal connection

1. Convey a Better Credit Union Customer Experience

This is the first taste these Millennials will have of your brand, so it’s important to show why it’s worth their time to bank with you. How does this marketing experience convey the things that will give them a great experience as customers? Is it relevant to what they’re interested in? Is it convenient? Is it personal?

Beyond the marketing experience, what aspects of the customer experience does it actually show? Does it showcase the mobile tools your credit union provides? Does it show how you make it easier for them to access funds and perform transactions? What other benefits do you offer? Do you integrate with their favorite fintech, like Venmo?

It’s the time to show why you’re the credit union that can help them live their active, technology-empowered lives and achieve their financial dreams. Make it clear why your institution is the financial hub Millennials should be choosing as the foundation to reach their goals.

2. Embrace Technology and Convenience

Mobile should not just feature in your customer experience, it must be an integral part of your marketing as well. Today brands can target individuals through data you already have about them or by building custom audiences on digital platforms. These ads must be targeted to social and mobile marketplaces, as well, to ensure that Millennials see your messaging where they live when they’re ready to engage with it.

Reaching out to your audience through mobile channels is only the beginning. The creative you send and the offers it presents must showcase mobile-enablement as well. These customers live on their phones, and you need to show them your credit union lives there, too.

3. Make a Personal Connection

Targeting and personalization go hand-in-hand. The data available today — both your first-party data and information vendors can provide — is a powerful tool for making marketing that connects. This goes beyond demographics. With the right data, you can target younger adults at times when they may be more open to changing banks or pursuing other financial products like car loans and mortgages.

Figure out what demographics and life events you want to engage with this campaign and design a direct mail campaign that addresses them and serves as your marketing catalyst. Then target that defined segment with complimentary marketing across the digital world.

Millennial Marketing Tech for Credit Unions

Credit unions have always marketed less than other financial institutions, especially through mass-market channels. Instead, the traditional credit union relied on word of mouth and brand reputation supported by local direct mail to build personal connections with its community customer base.

Those are all good tactics and credit unions should keep using them, but they aren’t enough. Today, a single direct mail campaign may be seen, but it’s too easily forgotten in the tide of advertising Millennials see all day. Not to mention, while Millennials have been shown to appreciate direct mail, this is not the demographic you want thinking that your brand is “old-school” — digital marketing and engagement channels are essential for getting and holding Millennials’ attention.

Just like your credit union isn’t their father’s financial institution, today’s optichannel marketing isn’t the direct marketing of 1990. With the data and tools available today, it’s possible to make a personal connection that sets your brand up for success with each customer you reach. Doing that in a way that embodies the customer experience your credit union provides is the key to winning Millennial bank accounts today.

The Grand Reopening of the U.S. Economy Will Happen, Plan for It

We are in uncharted territory, much as we were in previous economic downturns and recessions. Yet, do know, another expansion will follow … eventually. There will be a grand reopening of our economy, and as marketers, we need to plan for it.

I love defaulting to optimism – even in the darkest of times. It’s been part of my survival mechanism through all sorts of crises. That being said, we are in uncharted territory in this new normal, much as we were in previous economic downturns and recessions. “The Great Recession” of 2008-2009 was largely Wall Street born and Main Street slammed. But remember, the Great Expansion followed. A possible recession stemming from COVID-19, however, would be largely reversed, with millions of livelihoods suddenly denied, and both Main Street and Wall Street being slammed in tandem. Yet, do know, another expansion will follow … eventually. There will be a grand reopening of our economy, and as marketers, we need to plan for it.

Listening to the U.S. President talk about getting parts of our country back to some semblance of normal by Easter may seem wild-eyed and some might say irresponsible. In reality, China is reportedly already back on line – after six-to-eight weeks of paralysis. Does this mean a possible “V-shaped” recession (very short), a “U-shaped” one (mild), or an “L-shaped” one (long term)? We don’t know.

It’s always dangerous to make prognostications, but we can learn from patterns elsewhere in the virology. With the United States now the most afflicted nation in sickness, we yet have a massive fight ahead to control viral spread. And doubt and fear have taken hold as two debacles have come about, one public health and one economic.

Unfortunately, there is no “on/off” switch for the viral crisis. Even when its spread is curtailed, which will happen, we’ve been shaken and edginess is going to remain. That’s only human.

Patterns of consumption will not resume as if nothing happened. Unemployment shocks will not reverse as easily as they came. So there will be a “new” normal.

However, a reopening is coming. You might say that’s my optimism, but folks – we are going to be okay in a time. It may not be of our choosing, as Dr. Fauci faithfully reports, but one that will be here nonetheless. As marketers, let’s get ready for it.

Look to Your Data to Prepare for What’s Next

Recessions are actually good times to look to the enterprise and get customer data “cleaned up.” The early 90s recession gave us CRM, and database marketing flourished. The end of the Internet 1.0 boom in 2000 brought data discipline to digital data. And the Great Recession brought data to the C-suite.

So let’s use this time to do a data checkup. Here are four opportunities:

  1. Data audits are often cumbersome tasks to do – but data governance is a “must” if we want to get to gain a full customer view, and derive intelligent strategies for further brand engagement. Quality needs to be the pursuit. Replacing cookie identification also is a priority. Understand all data sources to “upgrade” for confidence, accuracy, privacy, and permissions.
  2. March 15 might be a good date to do an A/B split with your customer data inputs – pre-virus and during-virus. What new patterns emerged in media, app usage, mobile use and website visits? Are you able to identify your customers among this traffic? If not, that’s a data and tech gap that needs to be closed.
  3. Customer-centricity or data silos? It’s always a good time to tear down that silo and integrate the data, yet sometimes healthy economic growth can mask this problem. Use the recessions to free up some time to actually get the work done.
  4. Test new data and identity solution vendors to increase match rates across your omnichannel spectrum – to better create a unified view of audiences, both prospects and customers. I’ve already seen one of my clients come up with a novel offer to analyze a subset of unidentified data to drive a substantive lift in matches.

As we work remotely, it’s important to understand that this current state of crisis is not a permanent state. Only once the virus is conquered, on its weaknesses not ours, can we really have any timetable to resume the economy. That being the health science, it just makes great business sense now to “stage” your data for that eventual Grand Reopening.

Optichannel Marketing Campaigns Get an Additional Boost With Direct Mail

Not every brand has a big brand’s marketing resources. Here’s are two case studies in how optichannel marketing is being used at a more reasonable level of investment by real, medium-sized businesses to increase campaign effectiveness and bottom-line results.

Not too long ago, we looked at how some of the biggest companies in the world — including Disney and Neiman Marcus — use optichannel customer experience strategies to deliver great marketing ROI. Even among big brands, though, the customer experience magic of Disney may be out of reach. So let’s take a look at how optichannel marketing is being used at a more reasonable level of investment by real, medium-sized businesses to significantly increase campaign effectiveness and bottom-line results.

Response-Lift Modeling Finds New Campers and New Revenue for Summer Learning Initiative

The hard part of operating any business focused on school-age children is the built-in rate of attrition. Students grow up, graduate, and otherwise age out of your programs every year. It’s likely that at least 25% of your customers won’t be back the following year due to matriculation alone.

To refill those seats without breaking the bank, these institutions must focus marketing on lead generation and new customer acquisition — two of the most expensive goals in marketing. It’s challenging to do that and still find a way to market profitably.

One such program is Galileo Learning, which operates 75 children’s summer camps across parts of California and Chicago, Ill. Age limits on the program mean that large portions of the customer base graduate out every year.

Finding a way to replace those students quickly becomes prohibitive. Summer Erickson, head of marketing for Galileo Learning, saw that many direct mail strategies were becoming too expensive for the ROI. The answer she found was to combine a very effective mail piece with tight customer models built on the data of current customers.

“The customer modeling tool was a game-changer for us,” says Erickson. By using response-lift modeling to identify prospects on external lists who were highly likely to respond, Galileo was able to market much more efficiently. They used the savings to create better mail pieces that would also drive better-than-normal response, and the mailers were localized to each of their nine markets where Galileo operated camps.

The results, Erickson says, surpassed her most optimistic expectations. The campaign brought in 155 new campers and $66,000 in new revenue. And she expects even better success from a wider program launched later in the year.

Holiday Direct Mail Adds Optichannel Targeting, Gets 6X More Impressions, $200k-Plus in Donations

Sometimes you need to break out beyond a single channel to get the best results. Meals on Wheels (MOW) in the Diablo Region of California spurred $230,000 in new donations by doing exactly that with its holiday donor appeal campaign.

The campaign broke with MOW’s traditional strategy in two main ways:

  • They built three audience segments defined by demographics and customer look-a-like modeling.
  • MOW added targeted digital advertising to amplify its direct mail, which made sure the target audience saw 6X more campaign impressions that they would have in a mail-only strategy.

First, much like Galileo, MOW and its agency starting working from the donor database, using existing data from real donors to identify three list segments who would be most responsive to this campaign: current donors, lapsed donors and prospective donors. Although the names sound straightforward, the segments were developed by examining the demographic and engagement data of known donors across dozens of factors.

Each person on the list received a personalized donor appeal letter with infographics highlighting the benefits of donating to MOW and a coupon CTA to make a donation.

Overall, the campaign blanketed the audience with 75,000 pieces of direct mail alone. But that was just the beginning of the campaign.

In addition to those 75,000 mailpieces, MOW built email, social media, and online display advertising to amplify the direct mail message. Together, this added 467,542 additional marketing impressions for the campaign — more than a 600% increase in overall brand exposure, compared to a mail-only control group.

The results were impressive for MOW, even for a holiday appeal: $230,000 in donations, 43% new donors, and donors from the optichannel campaign averaged 169% more than donors in the control group who only received direct mail.

Direct Mail Planning for Your 2020 Marketing Goals

As we start the new year, direct mail planning is essential. The strategies we used in 2019 need updates to be more effective in 2020. According to the DMA, direct mail had an average response rate of 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists. How do your response rates compare?

As we start the new year, direct mail planning is essential. The strategies we used in 2019 need updates to be more effective in 2020. According to the DMA, direct mail had an average response rate of 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists. How do your response rates compare?

Looking at more than just response rates, how did your other metrics do this year? Starting with the worst performing ones, devise a different strategy to increase performance in 2020.

About 66% of mail is opened and reviewed. Direct mail not only cuts through the daily marketing clutter, but has been proven to drive digital activity and influence online purchasing decisions. Are your direct mail campaigns as effective as they can be? In the digital marketing arena email fatigue, ad blindness, and the increase in ad blocking, have combined to result in stagnating and sometimes declining performance. Direct mail should be combined with these types of channels in order to boost overall performance. Are you taking a multichannel approach for 2020?

Direct Mail-to-Multichannel Marketing

We live in an interconnected world, your customers expect you to communicate with them through the various channels they use. The companies that do this effectively see the best results. When you use campaigns that include both digital and direct mail, you, on average, receive 39% more attention than a digital-only campaign. Research shows messages delivered via direct mail can be powerfully motivating, with 92% of people driven to digital activity and 87% influenced to make an online purchase. Are you planning how to be more effective at this for 2020?

Personalization

Are you using the true power of direct mail? Personalization through variable printing is powerful. You can alter copy, offers, and even images, based on each person in your list. There are even ways to utilize more information, such as demographics, geographies, psychographics, and behavioristic data to go beyond a regular piece to a truly specialized one. When you are able to do this, you drive response much higher than before. What are you going to try in 2020?

Retargeting

Want to try something new for 2020? What about retargeted direct mail? What do we mean by that? You can retarget online activity by reaching out with direct mail. Some of the most common ways retargeting works are: for abandoned shopping carts; people who visited your website, but did not purchase; contacting lapsed customers; or creating new customers. So how do you get the mail addresses for online contacts? You can take a list of email addresses and append mail ones, or you can take a list of IP addresses that have visited your site and append mail addresses to it, or you can use mobile devise owner information to append mail addresses.

Mail Formats

For 2020, we need to think outside of the box and try new things. If all you have sent are letters or postcards, try a new format to gain more attention. Consider sending larger pieces, because they get higher response rates. If you are selling a high-priced item, consider using dimensional mail in order to drive more sales. These are more costly to send, but the ROI is much better.

Get creative and have some fun planning out your 2020 direct mail strategy! Are you ready to get started?

Why Include Direct Mail In Optichannel Marketing?

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing.

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study, “Multichannel Marketing Maximizing Program Engagement and ROI”. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing and the power of intentional, coordinated marketing efforts.

The goal of the study was to collect data to identify best practices and help marketers know how to reach specific audiences, and when to use particular tactics within their multichannel campaigns. The results indicate that direct mail needs to be a part of your optichannel marketing strategy.

Key findings:

  • When direct mail is personalized and tightly integrated into the channel mix and campaign technology: Average response rates improve significantly, with a 62% increase in those reporting good or very good response rates. The ROI of multichannel campaigns improves significantly, with an 80% increase in those reporting good or very good ROI.
  • Just over half of this study’s participants include direct mail in their multichannel campaigns, and 80% of them report that direct mail improves multichannel campaign performance.
  • The executive, or C-Suite, audience is the most sought after by study participants. Events and direct mail are the most effective channels to reach them.
  • While postcards are the most frequently used direct mail format, the dimensional format does the best job of representing the brand.
  • More channels produce higher response. Respondents using seven or more channels in their mix are 26% more likely to indicate their multichannel programs produce good or very good response.

Respondents use a multitude of channels that include:

  1. Email: 91% usage
  2. Social Media: 81% usage
  3. Events: 73% usage
  4. Display Ads/Remarketing: 60% usage
  5. Direct Mail: 56% usage
  6. Search/PPC: 51% usage
  7. Outbound Business Development/Sales Development: 47% usage
  8. Content Syndication: 35% usage
  9. Other: 5% usage

Most marketers are using between three and five channels on any given campaign, but results show that you should consider adding more channels. When marketers use seven or more channels, they report a 77% “very good” or “good” response rate. The report also found that marketers are not consistently using the most effective channels. The top three most effective channels are: events at 83%, integrated and personalized direct mail at 78%, and Search/PPC at 73%. What are you using?

Direct Mail Needs More Attention From Marketers

The report shows that marketers are most familiar with postcard and letter formats, and report that they use those formats most. Postcards are the least expensive direct mail format. Many marketers favor postcards because there is nothing to open: the message is easily visible. Dimensional mail formats are a close third in usage. This format includes pieces that are not flat, like the other types, but have an element of depth to them. A dimensional mail piece is often sent in boxes or tubes, and its very form invites opening it. These pieces evoke natural curiosity and tend to drive higher response rates. Have you tried dimensional mail?

According to study participants, direct mail clearly enhances multichannel campaign performance. In this study, 52% report a moderate to major improvement in campaign performance when direct mail is one of the channels. When direct mail is part of the channel mix, campaigns have slightly better response rates. Personalized direct mail generates significantly better response rates to multichannel campaigns. Are you using direct mail enough?

As you can see, adding direct mail to your optichannel marketing campaigns is significant. The more personalized and integrated it is, the better your response rate is going to be. Are you ready to get started with more personalized direct mail?

The Secrets Behind 3 Great Optichannel Experiences

How can any business build a positive brand relationship with its consumers? The only way to do that in 2020 is to create awesome optichannel customer experiences. People don’t remember your marketing; they remember how it feels to do business with you.

In 2020, every consumer will be interacting with marketing content across a thousand channels all the time — by some estimates, they already see as many as 5,000 ads each day. It’s a cacophony of impersonal, untargeted media that barely makes an impact. But if everyone is bombarded by marketing media constantly, how can any business build a positive brand relationship with its consumers? The only way to do that in 2020 is to create awesome optichannel customer experiences. People don’t remember your marketing; they remember how it feels to do business with you. And the optichannel experience is what leaves them with a positive or negative feeling.

Here are three companies that have made a science of optichannel customer experiences, and what your brand can learn from them.

Leverage Identity Like Neiman Marcus

Customer identity crosses into the retail-online threshold, but not enough brands use it to improve the customer experience. Neiman Marcus does.

It starts as soon as customers enter the store. Interactive directories and “Memory Mirror” smart monitors allow them to have a digitally enhanced fitting room experience. Meanwhile, the retailer’s app enables users to take pictures of outfits in the real world and then use augmented reality to match them with similar looks from its catalog. This comes together to create an award-winning omnichannel retail experience that empowers consumers and removes barriers along the buying journey.

Neiman Marcus also leverages that information to personalize the e-commerce, email and direct mail experience of every customer. “Identity is the core of personalization,” says VP of Customer Insight and Analytics Jeff Rosenfield, “and if you don’t get it right, you’re not talking to the entirety of that customer.”

The retailer put these ideas into practice with several CX features. For example, when you search for specific sizes on the Neiman Marcus website, your visits will start using those sizes by default. Email and printed direct mail pieces then feature items you looked at, and sales offers are tied to your user data.

What Makes Neiman Marcus’s Optichannel Strategy Successful

Identifying visitors and targeting them with optichannel marketing across social networks, online ads, direct mail, and email is within every business’s reach. You just need to dive into the data to make it happen.

The first step is to resolve customer identity. Ideally, you should have a way for them to log-in to the website and a good incentive for them to stay logged in. Loyalty programs and member discounts are great ways to do this. The insights you glean from logged-in user sessions should be collected and used to optimize your overarching strategy as well as that individual’s user experience.

Cookies and user session data will allow you to note where they went and what they did on your website. Even in a retail store, you can still note what customers bought or what they asked your salespeople about and add it to a customer profile. When that customer interacted with your brand, what did they do? Did they focus on one product category? One set of sizes? Are they moved by certain discounts or occasions?

Identifying these kinds of user behaviors and supplementing them with demographic data creates a predictive-marketing tool you can use to improve your campaigns. Follow-up emails can feature products in their favorite categories and discounts on the things they looked at most. Instead of sending the same mail piece to every address on your file, you can use customer segmentation based on demographics and behavior to create targeted mailings for each segment that specifically leverage their buying factors.

These tactics are viable in industries with more complex sales cycles than retail, too.

Bring the Magic to Life Like Disney World

Walt Disney World gives its customers the automated equivalent of white-glove concierge service across every touchpoint of the optichannel journey. Families move from booking on a mobile-responsive website to planning trip details on the My Disney Experience app to a next-generation resort stay powered by “magic band” technology. The magic bands use NFC tech to act as tickets, wallets, line-cut free passes and more.

Each step is personal and empowering. Disney recognizes its customers from the first touch to the last and uses everything it knows to deliver an ultra-convenient vacation experience. The resort truly creates optichannel magic by empowering its customers across every channel.

What Makes Disney World’s Optichannel Strategy Successful

You may not be able to give every customer a piece of technology as cool as magic bands, but you can connect the dots of their activities across channels and use the data to deliver white-glove concierge experiences of your own.

Try to remove as much frustration from the buyer’s journey as possible. Whether a “visit” happens on a website, phone or face-to-face, try to capture where they came from and what they did. Use that data to identify what they want and to make every future experience with your brand easier and more magical.

What that looks like will vary by brand, but the key is to understand the customer journey and smooth out the steps that cause friction. Is it hard for customers to find items they looked at previously? Try to bring them back up if they revisit the site, or perhaps promote them via targeted web and social media ads. Can you position follow-up emails so they speak to the products they looked at and remove buying obstacles? Can you identify special offers based on user behavior that will make it easier for them to say yes? Are there come customer behaviors that indicate a sales phone call would be welcome?

Make Local Personal Like MB Financial

There are more than 430,000 small businesses in Chicago, where MB Financial had 86 local branches. However, MB was not connecting with any of those businesses. To these prospects, the bank was just another old, faceless institution. So it set out to put the real managers from those branches on its  “MB Is Me” optichannel campaign to create personal connections and generate leads.

The campaign ran print, radio and digital media ads throughout the area featuring four messages: MB Financial delivers the personal attention you want, the banking services you need, business advice you can use, and business connections you wouldn’t expect.

Those ads set the stage, but the real conversion piece was a localized direct mail campaign that featured the local branch managers talking directly to the small business owners they served. Using customer propensity models — like response lift modeling — the bank identified 30,000 small businesses that were likely prospects and sent postcards to each of those businesses from the manager of the closest branch.

The postcards were versioned for each branch’s business area. They featured professional photos of the branch manager, a personal message, and an invitation to call their direct phone numbers. There was also an offer to get up to $550 in bonus cash for opening an account and/or line of credit.

The optichannel campaign built trust in MB Financial’s commitment to small business banking needs, and the direct mail piece converted a 205% increase in sales leads.

What Makes MB Financial’s Optichannel Strategy Successful

This is the only campaign we’ve discussed that specifically focuses on lead generation and customer acquisition, but it shows the power of optichannel experiences in generating qualified leads.

By extending optichannel strategies to outbound marketing, MB Financial created personal connections in a faceless marketing environment. Customer modeling, personalized creative and strategic channel execution all work together to form your next customer’s impressions.

Every prospect experiences your brand as an optichannel phenomenon. The campaigns they see shape the reaction they will have to your direct marketing.

MB Financial tied those pieces together. It didn’t need to be personalized to the individual level, just versioned so every prospect business was able to personally connect with and recognize their local branch managers.

From public messaging to targeted engagement to a personal experience: That’s how optichannel marketing continues to change the game.

WWTT? Philadelphia Cream Cheese Exposes Thanksgiving Cover-Up in New Ad

For Thanksgiving, Philadelphia Cream Cheese worked with independent advertising agency Gut to create a new omnichannel campaign in the U.S. to creatively “expose” the Thanksgiving cover-up that has gone on for decades.

Thanksgiving is next week in the U.S., and many of us are already sorting out the logistics of holiday travel, planning menus, and writing out shopping lists. If cream cheese isn’t on your shopping list — you know, to make the traditional Thanksgiving cheesecake — then it appears that you, too, have succumb to the Thanksgiving cover-up.

According to  Philadelphia Cream Cheese, cheesecake was the “true” dessert sitting on the Pilgrims’ tables in 1621. And with the help of the Cheesecakers Society, some true crime docu-drama flair, and the creative assistance of independent ad agency Gut, Philadelphia Cream Cheese is ready to shed light on this Thanksgiving cover-up.

https://youtu.be/x8LaejzifRk

Megan Magnuson, associate director of marketing for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, spoke to Campaign about the Thanksgiving cover-up:

“At first, we were hesitant about the theory. But once we saw the evidence and the original paintings, it was clear to us. Cheesecake is 100% the original Thanksgiving dessert. We think. We fully support the honorable Cheesecakers Society in their quest to restore cheesecake to its rightful place at the Thanksgiving table.”

Of course, Magnuson is just playing along with the fun of this “Thanksgiving cover-up” because there’s no way there was cheesecake on the first Thanksgiving table — no one had access to the ingredients!

Philadelphia Cream Cheese has leaned into the campaign heavily on Twitter, posting polls like the one below, and including images that “clearly” show that cheesecake was the dessert of choice back in 1621 (again … it wasn’t!)

Conspiracy silliness aside, Philadelphia Cream Cheese did include an offer via social … according to the tweet below, individuals could like the tweet, and they would be sent a cheesecake recipe (sadly, I think I missed the cut off, but would be intrigued to see the recipe … for science, of course.) It’s a smart item to include, especially if someone wants to experiment with baking a cheesecake. A sweeter deal would have also included a coupon for cream cheese, but now I’m just getting greedy (or hungry?)

According to Campaign, this omnichannel campaign from Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Gut includes the short documentary-style Cheesecakers Society video, social media mentions, digital, as well as billboards and print — all sharing the truth about this cheesecake conspiracy.

While this Thanksgiving cover-up campaign is totally silly and absolutely not supported by any real facts (again, cream cheese was not a staple in the new world in the 17th Century), Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Gut went all in to become front-of-mind for consumers this holiday. As of Nov. 21, the video has more than 2.5 million views on YouTube, and it will be interesting to see if sales get a bump.

Marketers, what do you think of this campaign? Tell me in the comments below, and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving next week if you celebrate!

Omnichannel Marketing Is Preferred by 85% of Consumers

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with Liz Miller, SVP of Marketing from the CMO Council. She shared findings from a recent study done by the CMO Council in partnership with Pitney Bowes titled “Critical Channels of Choice.” The study surveyed 2,000 consumers across five generations (Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation).

According to Miller, “Everyone assumes that Millennials and Gen Zers are all digital and that is the best way, and in some instances the only way, to communicate with them. The most critical finding from the study indicated that the channel of choice was in fact, omnichannel.” Consumers expect a seamless shopping experience, whether they’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick and mortar store location.

When asked to describe their communication preferences, consumers overwhelmingly agreed that one path to the brand simply isn’t enough … they want them all. Some 85% of consumers surveyed agreed that their ideal channel is actually a blend of channels, opting for a mix of both digital and physical experiences (Figure 1).

According to survey respondents, consumers prefer to have omnichannel marketing efforts directed toward them.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

Miller explained that print is alive and well. She said, “Perhaps most telling of this openness for omnichannel is that printed mail, considered by some to be one of the more ‘traditional’ channels in today’s marketing mix, is essential. It continues to be a highly valued channel of choice. One out of every three consumers surveyed expected printed mail to be part of their ideal communications mix. Brands need to reevaluate how they are leveraging and deploying all of the tools available in an omnichannel toolkit.”

While you might expect a divide across generations in terms of channel preferences, that isn’t the case. The research found that all respondents, regardless of age demographic, prefer a blend of digital and physical channels to pave their communications journey with a brand (Figure 2).

Based on key findings, there is a preference for a blend of digital and physical communications in marketing efforts, regardless of age.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The study also pointed out that the deciding factors for channel usage by consumers include convenience, reliability, speed, personalization, and trust (Figure 3). Whether it is print, social media, or email, consumers are looking for channels that meet their expectations.

Critical attributes of must have channels.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The Bottom Line

Given the drive for a seamless omnichannel experience, your customers will be looking for partners to help deliver the solutions consumers want. Print will continue to be integral to the marketing mix, but your offerings will need to be blended with social, mobile, and online channels, as well as brick and mortar point of purchase solutions. Service providers need to evaluate the role they want to play in an omnichannel world.

4 Mistakes Multichannel Marketers Make and Lose Customers

Most businesses today understand the importance of multichannel marketing. They invest in SEO, PPC, social media, and even trade shows and conferences. However, if your hard-fought marketing budget is not able to increase your customer base or pool of prospects consistently, then you can be sure your funnel has developed a few holes in the wrong places.

Most businesses today understand the importance of multichannel marketing. They invest in SEO, PPC, social media, and even trade shows and conferences. However, if your hard-fought marketing budget is not able to increase your customer base or pool of prospects consistently, then you can be sure your funnel has developed a few holes in the wrong places.

Unfortunately, both B2B and B2C businesses are guilty of making sales-killing mistakes again and again; oftentimes, putting off customers without realizing it. These simple blunders could cost your business big-time, hurting growth opportunities and diminishing returns from existing customers.

Here are four pitfalls you should be wary of while implementing an integrated, omnichannel marketing strategy, so that you don’t lose any targeting opportunities. All of these tips apply to the technology, methods, and tactics that are currently used by entrepreneurs, companies, and marketers, cutting across industries and geographies.

Preferring Safe Over Sorry

Taking risks is a big part of running a business, and something that many entrepreneurs are used to. However, once they start experiencing success and growth, many begin to shy away from taking chances.

In the long run, many business owners admit that playing it safe was one of their biggest mistakes. In terms of marketing and sales, going the safe route can actually hurt your brand. Why? Because it is simply boring.

According to a study by Adobe, 54% of marketing experts know that they should be taking more risks, and an alarming 82% of companies believe that they need to reinvent their branding in order to succeed. Remember, your customers’ needs and mindsets are constantly changing. If you rely on the same tactics, the same advertisements, and the same marketing messages, people will eventually get bored and your results will diminish.

multichannel graphic
Credit: Adobe on SlideShare.com

Reassess the methods and tools you use for audience analysis, and take a look at how the demographics have shifted over the years. Compare your past results with your current numbers to see if there are any noticeable differences. It may be time to take some risks, try something new, and see what happens.

Relying on Imperfect Bots

Saving on customer support by passing on the majority of your customer service workload to an automated chatbot system sounds like a dream come true. If used correctly, these bots answer customer inquiries, resolve issues, and even make sales. This is why the AI-powered chatbot has exploded in recent years, with 15% of consumers reporting that they have used one to communicate with businesses over the past year, according to Drift’s 2018 “State of Chatbots” report. (Opens as a PDF)

However, just because this customer service channel may be working for some businesses, it does not mean that it is a one-size-fits-all solution. When creating a chatbot, the overarching goal is to solve the cognitive puzzle that fills in the gaps between a bot conversation and a human conversation. When a conversation is initiated, in any capacity, there is an exchange of data that sheds light on emotional engagement between the two parties. Take away the emotional exchange, and empathy is unachievable.

Programming an online bot to handle all sorts of customer queries and interpret exactly what someone is looking for does require a bit of technical knowledge and understanding, despite what off-the-shelf chatbot sellers will have you believe. A poorly programmed chatbot could easily result in lost revenue.

Just one bad or frustrating experience with a chatbot will likely push away 73% of customers forever. If a bot is simply not answering their question or simply offering irrelevant information, then it is doing your business far more harm than good.

multichannel chatbot
Credit: SherpaDesk.com

In order to determine whether or not your chatbots could use some help, take a look at some important metrics. Has your sales cycle lengthened? Are fewer leads moving down the buyer’s funnel? Are you facing an increase in helpdesk escalations, despite an improvement in response times? An effective sales bot should be boosting conversions — or at least micro-conversions — so if numbers are shrinking, that’s a definite red flag.

You can also try adding a short satisfaction survey at the end of each chatbot conversation to gather some customer feedback and help identify any weak points that are killing the customer experience.

Ignoring the Micro-Influencer

It seems like everyone and their grandmother is “leveraging” influencer marketing these days, trying to reach the promised (read, purported) 11-times ROI of other digital marketing methods. It is easy to get blinded by the numbers; especially in terms of “reach” and “engagement.” Just because an influencer has a huge following doesn’t necessarily mean that their promotion will help your business.

Micro-influencers (accounts with 100,000 followers or fewer) actually perform better, in terms of audience engagement and actual “influence” — purchase rates. In fact, these smaller accounts generate over six times more engagement than influencers with massive followings. Customers are also more likely to buy a product that is recommended by a micro-influencer than they are to purchase something recommended by a person they know. Additionally, the cost per lead and cost per acquisition is lower than paid ads and regular influencer marketing.

multichannel chart
Credit: Mavrck.com

If your brand has dabbled with big-name influencers in the past, it may be time to consider a partnership with a micro-influencer to reach more relevant audiences. Because these accounts have smaller followings, they tend to be niche-focused, meaning that their content is highly pertinent to their audience’s needs and interests.

Obsessing Over Any One Stage of the Sales Funnel

Marketers love to talk about the importance of the sales funnel and creating marketing plans designed to “nudge” customers through it. While the sales funnel is definitely a great blueprint to guide your strategies, getting caught up in any one phase could spell disaster for conversions.

Remember, every visitor, prospect, lead, or target must go through several steps, go back, forward, and run around in circles before they become a full-fledged customer. They must be introduced to your brand during the awareness stage, learn more about your business and products during the interaction phase, get interested and place their trust in you, and ultimately make and stick to a decision to buy from you.

However, many marketing teams tend to forget this trajectory and get caught up in either building brand awareness so potential customers grow bored, or spend too much time promoting sales jargon that people totally disengage, due to advertising fatigue. If your customers are unfamiliar with your business (thanks to a lack of top-of-the-funnel marketing), the pressure to “Buy Now” will be ineffective.

Keep in mind, it might take up to 13 interactions with a brand before a lead can even be classified as a sales-qualified lead (SQL). Focusing on any one section of the sales journey can narrow the funnel significantly, meaning that fewer people flow through.

Focus a good chunk of your efforts on educating and raising brand awareness. Once people start tuning in, give them more specific information about your content and everything you offer. As you gain serious interest, then it’s time to start talking about price points, deals, and how potential customers can take proper action.

Most importantly, you need to place emphasis on the transitions between stages. They need to be smooth and organic if you want your sales funnel to function properly.

Fix Your Strategy, Fix Your Sales

Selling is an art form that no one has truly perfected. There are so many ins and outs, little details, and psychological factors that play into it — making it a deeply complex and ever-evolving practice. Online sales add another layer of complication by removing that up-close and personal factor. However, once you’ve plugged the leaks in your sales funnel, you’ll see a larger number of customers coming in and coming back. Good luck!

3 Martech Tools to Optimize Direct Mail Campaigns

The powerful targeting of direct mail can help you punch through all the marketing noise people are exposed to each day. Martech tools provide ways to make an even greater impact with your campaigns by cross-pollinating between channels.

The powerful targeting of direct mail can help you punch through all the marketing noise people are exposed to each day. Martech tools provide ways to make an even greater impact with your campaigns by cross-pollinating between channels.

Many marketers find this to be cumbersome and expensive, but what if there is a better way? Check out these statistics:

  • Companies that use multichannel marketing experience three-times higher effectiveness rates than those that use non-integrated campaigns (source).
  • 23X higher rates of customer satisfaction are experienced by companies with omni-channel strategies (Aberdeen Group)
  • 89% of customers are retained by companies with omnichannel engagement strategies (Invesp)
  • 45% of marketers feel they lack the necessary talent, technology, and processes to master omnichannel brand marketing (CMO Council)

So how can you harness these stats to improve your direct mail response rates? You know that on average it takes eight to 10 touches with a prospect to convince them to buy from you. So when you create campaigns using multiple channels, you make a bigger impact and provide more opportunities to convert them. You want your marketing to create engagement that leads to sales. Direct mail is a key component in your marketing strategy, but it is not the only one. So how can you easily pull together a multichannel campaign? Here are some options.

3 Platforms to Enhance Your Direct Mail

  • DirectMail.io: They offer an integrated omnichannel marketing program. Their services include data management, direct mail, email, live call center, SMS solutions, social media, and Amazon and Google voice assistant integration. This platform has flexible software that combines data, marketing, communications, and analytics, all in one place. DirectMail.io provides a simple solution that seamlessly integrates over 12 inbound and outbound marketing channels, allowing advertisers to launch, manage, and track all of their marketing efforts in one place.
  • SnailWorks: SnailWorks tracks mail using Informed Visibility from the Postal Service, which allows them to track each individual piece of mail to delivery, and then uses that delivery to trigger other marketing efforts, such as email, telemarketing, web advertising, and more. They take all of these disparate channels and tie them into a single campaign along with a web-based dashboard that shows real-time results and distributes leads for the campaign. Recently, SnailWorks added Direct2Digital ID to its service offerings. Direct2Digital ID provides mailers with an easy way to participate in the new Postal Service Informed Delivery program.
  • DirectMail2.0DirectMail2.0 suite uses seven different technologies, timed in such a way as to result in the best possible lift in a direct mail campaign. These seven technologies seamlessly track, enhance, and prove attribution on any direct mail campaign. It does this through incorporating Mail Tracking, Informed Delivery, Call Tracking, Online Follow-up, Social Media Follow-up, Social Match, and LeadMatch technologies. No need to be an expert in multiple types of digital technology. Just upload a processed mailing list with an ad or two and the platform does the rest.

As you can see, there are great platforms to choose from to enhance the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns. In 2019, your customers and prospects expect to engage with you on multiple channels. Create more powerful direct mail campaigns by integrating them into a multichannel experience. Become one of the statistics above. Marketing experiences really matter and can make the difference between an okay campaign and a fabulous one. Are you ready to be fabulous? Get started on integrating your direct mail with other channels.