Rising Above the ‘Noise’ of Digital Marketing With Direct Mail

As marketers, we have to ask ourselves how much “noise” we will be required to make to have our offerings heard against this cacophony of messages and how much our customers and prospects are willing to tolerate?

Remember in the 1960s when a direct mail campaign of a million pieces was a dream, but it was unlikely that even by combining house names, rentals, and trades, you could get your hands on that many names? (We hadn’t yet begun to call them data files or databases.)

And did you know what the abbreviations MM or M; B or Bn or Bil; T or Tn stood for? And if you did or could guess, it’s doubtful you could attach a specific number of zeros to each of them?

Things were quieter then, something like the quiet we have recently been experiencing in whole or partial lockdown. Admittedly, back then it was nice to hear the blare of trumpets on the Fourth of July holiday when the local brass band paraded through town, much nicer than the blasting sound of today’s boom boxes at full decibels. But paraphrasing the old saw, silence was golden.

Accepting that we are entering a totally different marketplace than any of us have experienced, it is fair to say that it is likely to be more boom box than brass band. According to the “Wall Street Journal,” WPP is forecasting “Political ad spending will total $9.9 billion in 2020…. up from $6.3 billion in 2016, when President Trump was elected.” That’s “B or Bn or Bil.” The same article projects the digital portion at “$2.8 billion, or 2.2% of total digital ad spending.”

If the spend was evenly divided among the 153.07 million registered voters, that would provide $6.53 each. But as we know, only about 30% of these, 9.5 million, are what are said by FiveThirtyEight to be potential swing voters and, if the spend was divided equally among them, it would allow $21.78 to bombard each of them with “electoral noise.”

As marketers, we have to ask ourselves how much “noise” we will be required to make to have our offerings heard against this cacophony of messages and how much our customers and prospects are willing to tolerate? We will need to contemplate whether the answer will be as T.S. Eliot wrote of the end of the world in “The Hollow Men”: “Not with a bang but a whimper.”

This may be one of the reasons why — along with the fragile and uncertain future of the U.S. Postal Service — so much recent interest has been generated by the resurgence of direct mail as a serious participant in the marketing mix.

Instead of being denigrated as “snail” (or worse) “junk” mail, the quiet “whimper” of a well-conceived and directed mailing, delivered in the mailbox, may single itself out and have greater impact than yet another loud explosion in the endless digital war for attention in the inbox.

Imagine Express put it succinctly:

“Direct mail provides companies with the commodity of time — time to communicate the message effectively, convey emotions and convert the customer.”

The “commodity of time” is often the secret asset missing from our frenzied marketing activities. It is so much faster, easier, even seemingly cheaper to fashion promotions for social media and digital than to weigh and choose all the interesting new options for direct mail, that this path of least resistance is the one chosen.

But wouldn’t be a good idea, especially now that we are emerging into new era, to revisit the past successes of direct mail as a major generator of leads, sales, and profits, and determine whether mail might make our messages raise above all the noise?

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.

How Passion Projects and Cause Marketing Can Power Your Marketing

Cause marketing can tie passion and product together and help you connect with your target audience on an emotional level.

It’s not news that your marketing can’t be all about you. To borrow a pop culture expression, your prospects just aren’t that into you. They’re into what you can do for them.

But once they’ve established that what you can do for them will address the problem they’re trying to solve, your prospects will want to know what kind of company you are and what it’s like to work with you.

Tie Passion and Product Together

A great way to do this is to get behind a cause that ties into your business mission. One of my favorite examples of this is Honda’s support for Project Drive-In, which is an effort to save the remaining drive-in movie theaters in the country.

It’s a fun project, it’s as close to controversy-free as can be imagined, and its automative focus ties in with Honda’s business.

“Sure,” you might be saying. “Easy for Honda. Cars and drive-ins are fun and interesting. Who wouldn’t love that?” That’s a fairly common refrain from those of us in less exciting businesses, particularly in the B2B world. There is, after all, no “Project Fax Machine” to save the last beeping, whirring, thermal-paper spitting wonders of the 1980s.

So anyone marketing copiers may have a little more work to do, but consider the approach of Skody Scot & Company. It’s an accounting firm. Not too sexy, right?

‘Boring’ Industry Doesn’t Have to Mean Boring Marketing

Boring or not, Scody Scot is so passionate about its mission to help non-profits manage their financial reporting — it works exclusively with non-profits — that it provides its services free to any non-profit with annual revenues below $50,000.

Some of those firms are non-profits that are just getting started. Some will grow and eventually become clients. Others are simply small operations that will never grow — and they’ll never provide revenue.

What they do provide, though, is arguably more important: a concrete demonstration of Skody Scot & Company’s commitment to its mission of helping non-profit organizations.

Adding Cause Marketing to Your Marketing Mix

The trick for marketers is to find a cause that you and your team are passionate about, identify how it aligns with your message, and how you can support that cause. It may be a very personal approach, like that taken by Skody Scot, or a much more public effort, like Honda’s.

These kind of passion projects provide the perfect counterpoint to parts of your marketing that attract your target audience with a focus on how you can help them. By also demonstrating how deeply you believe in your work, you can deepen the emotional connection between you and your audience.

And if you really, really, really can’t find a cause to align your business with, it’s not because you’re in a “boring” industry. Chances are, you have a brand and positioning issue to solve before you can tackle you marketing questions.

Direct Mail Marketing Can Be a Pleasure, Not Just a Workhorse

Most marketers look at direct mail marketing as a must-do in their marketing mix; but really, direct mail can be fabulous with the right strategy. If you have been using direct mail for a long time, you may have reached the point where you continue to recycle the same strategy over and over again. This becomes less effective each time. So how can you rethink your strategy to get better results?

direct mail marketing
Credit: Pixabay by ElisaRiva

Most marketers look at direct mail marketing as a must-do in their marketing mix; but really, direct mail can be fabulous with the right strategy. If you have been using direct mail for a long time, you may have reached the point where you continue to recycle the same strategy over and over again. This becomes less effective each time. So how can you rethink your strategy to get better results?

Check out  these five creative direct mail strategies:

Turn a Standard Holiday Card Into an Adventure

SS+K changed from a traditional flat holiday card to offering a 360-degree virtual reality bobsled ride. Here is how it works: The folds will turn the 2D card into 3D VR glasses. With the cardboard glasses, the recipients get to take their seats in the bobsled. After sliding through banked turns, jumps, an upside-down loop and more jumps, the bobsledder will bash through a bank of snow at the finish line, where they are greeted by cheering polar creatures that they’ve encountered along the way.

Create a Memorable Experience With a Pop-up Cube Mailer

Schemmer, an architectural firm, wanted to reach out in a creative and memorable way to potential clients. The mailer arrived flat and, when opened, popped into a cube shape, highlighting images and messaging to get a response. How can you use a pop-up to grab attention an increase response?

Unique Invitations Are Fun

Enogarage created an invitation with a cutout wine glass sleeve. As you start to remove the invitation from the sleeve, the wine glass fills up. It is a great way to showcase the invitation in a fun and unique way. This is also a very cost-effective way to do something different.

Include Other Senses to Increase Engagement

Voyanga, a travel company, created a mailer that includes sound. You can listen to the sound of the sea coming from an image of a conch shell. This is a great way to get people to interact with your mail piece and share it with others. They tied in the message of travel well with the call for them to respond to the sea. Check out the piece at No. 10 on this list.

Playful and Interesting

For World Water Day in Belgium, a letter was sent out that could only be read when in water. It highlighted the importance of water and built more awareness.

One more marketing example to showcase having fun with direct mail marketing: Planet Kids created a hand puppet invitation that was a hit with both parents and kids. How can you incorporate fun into your mail pieces?

Conclusion

As you can see with the five creative examples, direct mail can be more than you have ever thought of before. Don’t limit yourself to what you have done historically, because that limits your response. One thing to keep in mind as you get creative is to make sure that you are tying the marketing creative to your message. Doing something fun while not incorporating it with your call to action and message is a waste of money, because it does not work. Well-crafted messaging with creative that supports it drives response. Your strategic mailing plan should address all the usual requirements, as well as how a more creative approach can increase response.

Not sure it will work for you? Try a test. Grab a segment of your list and send the new creative to them then check your results. Are you ready to get started?

The One About the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference

Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, the brainchild of my people here at Target Marketing, goes live on June 23. Please, take it from the girl who’s been adding every speaker, session, sponsor and giveaway to the website: This year’s show is inSANE.

Join us at #IMV15 !We’ve dipped our toes into June, and lots of exciting things happening already. Election things, hockey things, Starbucks’s new cold brew vanilla coffee, lots of equally important and life-defining events. And since a good marketing coordinator never misses out on the opportunity to subtly self-promote (aka blatantly announce when she’s about to do so) I thought I’d add one more notable event to the June pool.

Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, the brainchild of my people here at Target Marketing, goes live on June 23. Please, take it from the girl who’s been adding every speaker, session, sponsor and giveaway to the website: This year’s show is inSANE. Every time I think we can’t possibly have another huge name or more impressive content, I get a notification in my inbox that it’s time to update the site again. With eight live sessions, 10 on-demand sessions, more than 20 speakers (and counting!), this is the biggest and most comprehensive IMV to date.

Wanna join the party? Click here

The up-to-the-minute agenda is here, and it all looks incredible, but for today’s post I thought I’d just give a shoutout to a few sessions that might be of particular interest to the copy/creative-focused marketer.


Messages That Move: How Video Should Play In Your Marketing Mix and Content Strategy

Starts: 12:00 pm | Ends: 12:40 pm

Video killed the radio star, and now it’s back to dominate the internet. But what makes a video a successful cog in the marketing machine? Learn it all in this session, featuring Jon Mowat, the owner of Hurricane Media — the UK-based video production and content marketing agency taking the world by storm (ha HA!!!!!!).

Jon will address points like:

  • How to adopt a “video” mindset
  • Trends in how marketing videos are being watched
  • Types of video marketers are using, and how to make them
  • How to make use of video across channels

Get ready for your closeup.


Online Marketing Strategies That Work

Starts: 12:55 pm | Ends: 1:30 pm

Self-explanatory title? You bet it is. You do marketing? Check. Online marketing? Check. Want it to work?

I’m guessing … check?

For this session, we’ve got Anne Ahola Ward, CEO of CircleClick and O’Reilly Media Author, to share how to make the sale with Image-centric content marketing, simple and mobile-centric messages, diverse social media usage and retargeting.


The Content Show That Never Ends: Repurposing Like a Media Company

Starts: 1:35 pm | Ends: 2:10 pm

You’ve probably heard of Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at Content Marketing Institute. He’s kind of a big deal. We’re thrilled to have him at IMV this year, presenting a session titled after a Lamb Chop song.

We all know how key good content marketing is in the current landscape. Successful, solid content marketing pieces can continue to grab attention, inform and inspire long after their premiere. Feel like your assets might be stuck in a spin cycle, losing value and getting those nasty little sweater pills with each re-use? Carve out a half hour and join Robert in this session. He’ll share a new approach to building a content marketing media asset that never goes stale.


AR for Marketers: How to Implement Augmented Reality into Your Marketing

Starts: 2:15 pm | Ends: 2:50 pm

Okay, even though I pretty much know what Augmented Reality is at this point, to me it still absolutely sounds like it belongs in the Doctor Who universe. Like the TARDIS is bigger on the inside because of Augmented Reality, no??

If you’re like me, or even better, if you’re not like me and actually have a handle on the reality of Augmented Reality, how it can pump up your print and direct mail marketing, this will be an engaging and worthwhile session. Cindy Walas, Principal of Walas Younger Ltd., is leading the charge to discuss the latest and greatest in the AR world, and all the “how-to’s” you need to know to create and launch a killer AR program.

I’m still banking on alien involvement.


There you have it, just four of the eighteen sessions that will be available to you at the show on June 23. Plus, for the first time, the virtual conference will feature several on-demand sessions spotlighting marketing issues and know-how in several specific industries like travel, media and entertainment, and healthcare.

The opening and closing keynotes feature superstars Jay Baer (President of Convince & Convert) and Dr. Jerry Wind (The Wharton School,) and word on the street is attendees to their sessions can win a copy of one of their best sellers.

And so friends, here is where I leave you The Link, and bid you adieu.

THE LINK. CLICK THE LINK. YOU DO LIKE THINGS THAT HELP YOUR MARKETING, RIGHT? OF COURSE YOU DO.

Hope I’ll see you on June 23 — say hi to me in the networking lounge or info booth!

Adieu!

3 Charges for Direct Marketing in 2015

The New Year represents a time to reflect on how to recharge direct marketing approaches and strategies. If 2014 results were disappointing, or worse, a decline from the previous year, here are three charges to examine and consider for 2015. But I should warn you: If you’re a long-time direct marketer like myself, accepting some of these charges might not come easily.

The New Year represents a time to reflect on how to recharge direct marketing approaches and strategies. If 2014 results were disappointing, or worse, a decline from the previous year, here are three charges to examine and consider for 2015. But I should warn you: If you’re a long-time direct marketer like myself, accepting some of these charges might not come easily.

  1. Cultivate Your Platform
    Long-term success is a result of creating a platform of raving fans, prospects and customers. Your platform is your revenue source. You must grow and cultivate it, whether you’re an established organization or a start-up. And you nurture your platform over time by positioning your organization as a trustworthy leader with authority in your market.

    If you haven’t already, reexamine your organization’s persona—how you’re perceived—in the market. You can build your organization’s persona in the marketplace with content marketing tools such as producing videos, writing blogs, and engaging both existing and prospective customers via social media. Even direct mail can include a content writing component with reports, research, and long-form, content-rich letters.

    As direct marketers, we’ve had it ingrained in us for generations that every marketing effort we use must deliver a measurable response. Cultivating and investing in the development of a platform of prospective customers, before making a sale, is counter to the culture of direct marketing. We expect every marketing effort to produce a measurable result.

    A challenge is accepting that content marketing, which normally doesn’t deliver a measurable sales response, does in fact contribute to long-term success. As prospects comb the Internet, you must meet them where they are—whether it’s at their mailbox, filtering through email, reading a magazine, watching TV, or online while checking social media, viewing video, or multi-tasking all of the above.

  2. How Do You Make Them Feel?
    After you meet your customers where they are physically, you must engage them emotionally using a methodical creative process that tracks what is happening in their mind.

    In the first step, you were charged with looking at your organization’s persona. Now, imagine the personas of your prospects and customers. The knowledge of who they are dictates how to stir emotions and calm the mind with your solution’s message. By establishing who you are with your position—your leadership and unique selling proposition—and using storytelling, you can embed new memory grooves. When the time is right, you interpret your offer for the metaphorical “left brain” part of the mind. The tipping point comes when you intensify the desired emotional “right brain” feeling so they give themselves permission to respond.

    As you consider how to create feeling in your selling message, heed this quote from Maya Angelou:

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    Make your customers feel good and connect with them at a level they will always remember.

  3. Strategically Monetize
    With the charge to cultivate your platform and intensify the emotional feeling in your creative processes, never lose sight of the need to strategically monetize. Your efforts to create fans and followers must have an endgame plan that moves them to become paying customers.

    One challenge, for example, is measuring the value of content marketing in the total marketing mix of positioning leadership, establishing authority and building trust. It may mean that you have to look at the total effect of your numbers in a different way. Your budget may have to blend in the cost of marketing efforts you can’t track and average out a cost per order based on all activity. Perhaps you carve out a separate budget for content and other hard-to-track efforts. You might look at those costs as a branding expense or as part of overhead.

    Whatever makes sense in your organization, 2015 may be the time to view some types of marketing activities as contributing to your overall success without specific attribution to a sale. By my own admission, as a classically trained direct marketer this has been a tough concept for me to accept.

If 2014 was a banner year for you, stay the course, but remain vigilant for trends and tools that may prove valuable. But if response was lackluster or declining, consider that the days of profitably casting out a pitch to buy a product that’s unknown, without trust, credibility or authority, have passed for more and more organizations.

Your success includes the charge to build and cultivate a platform. The charge includes communicating a deeper, more cerebral approach that impacts memory and swells the emotional feelings inside your prospect’s and customer’s mind. And the charge for 2015 suggests that to calculate bottom-line profitability, you may have to rethink how you budget and monetize.

SEO: A Changed and Changing Discipline

SEO should play an important role in the marketing department; however, the death of SEO is frequently decried and its obituary written. This is because its role and fit in the overall marketing mix has changed and evolved. Once viewed as a technology play, organic search is often still considered the province of technicians, and is separated from the strategic marketing effort. Given that search often provides the tip of the spear for getting new business, this separation is a huge mistake. Today, SEO must be aligned with and guided by the overall marketing goals. This alignment can be best achieved when the SEO expert is part of the strategic marketing team.

SEO should play an important role in the marketing department; however, the death of SEO is frequently decried and its obituary written. This is because its role and fit in the overall marketing mix has changed and evolved. Once viewed as a technology play, organic search is often still considered the province of technicians, and is separated from the strategic marketing effort. Given that search often provides the tip of the spear for getting new business, this separation is a huge mistake. Today, SEO must be aligned with and guided by the overall marketing goals. This alignment can be best achieved when the SEO expert is part of the strategic marketing team.

SEO itself has changed. Once upon a time, SEO experts were characterized as techies focused on how to beat each new search engine algorithm change. As they say, that game is over. Google claims to have more than 200 ranking elements in play. No matter how good the SEO expert is, accurately determining all 200 elements and interpreting the valence given to each is in the realm of fantasy. Gone are the cat-and-mouse games. Today, SEO is real roll-up-the-sleeves marketing.

Technical SEO still exists, for a site must be found in the search indexes for it to drive traffic from search. Today, technical SEO experts are expected to identify what is preventing a site from being indexed. It may be as simple as a situation that I encountered where a site had been pushed live from the development environment with a robots.txt file still in place that directed search engines not to index the site. Once this block was removed, the site performed just fine. Most situations are far more complex. These are puzzles that require the SEO expert to review the site’s code and understand the total technical environment in which it runs. Given the complexity and technical depth required to do this, it is tempting to consider the SEO expert a technician, but this is just one area of SEO expertise. Today, some SEO experts do nothing but audit sites and troubleshoot what is creating problems.

Organic SEO experts are often characterized as keyword manipulation specialists. Once upon a time, this was a big part of the SEO toolkit. Today, as Google’s processing technology has shifted from keyword matching to a more sophisticated interpretation of the query and how it relates to the user’s intent, the SEO expert has had to look beyond keyword matching. Because Google no longer provides keyword data in the analytics, the SEO expert has to take a different approach. Searchers still use words in their queries, so keywords are far from gone as part of the discipline. Interpreting page and content relevancy are replacing the more simplistic keyword approaches. The SEO expert has evolved into an expert on online user intent: “What did the user really want to find with that query, and is the site relevant?”

With the explosive growth of social media and the realization that users value the opinions of peers more than marketers, the search engines have added elements to their algorithms that allow them to determine whether one site is more trusted and trustworthy than another. This is a potential game-changer, because bad reputation and negative customer ratings are not just an SEO problem. The SEO expert is expected to understand how to enhance the positive and deemphasize the negative. Poor reputation is a marketing problem.

Gone are the days of the SEO expert as just a technician and a traffic driver. Today’s SEO practitioner should be a valuable part of the total marketing team and a key player in the development of the marketing strategies and tactics that will lead the business to success. Is your SEO expert still waiting for an invitation?

USPS Exigency Becomes a Political Toss – and a Punishing Farce

With the sole exception of Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) swinging for the United States Postal Service ratepayer (you and me), January 2014 was a dismal month for those who advocate direct mail in the marketing mix … and in February, I’m definitely looking for some love. Will we find it?

With the sole exception of Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) swinging for the United States Postal Service ratepayer (you and me), January 2014 was a dismal month for those who advocate direct mail in the marketing mix … and in February, I’m definitely looking for some love. Will we find it?

First, there was January 26 … the day new postal rates took effect, full-on. “The 6.0 percent postage increase—three times the rate of inflation—will not help the Postal Service shore up its financial base,” said Peggy Hudson, senior vice president, government affairs, Direct Marketing Association, part of a coalition which filed a court appeal to halt the exigency portion of the rate hike, 4.3 percent. “It will simply drive mail from the system, which harms the financial viability of both the Postal Service and its business customers. It is a lose-lose proposition.”

Then, there is an unpalatable compromise brewing in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (Compromise always deals with some distaste, or else it wouldn’t be a compromise.) On our behalf, Sen. Baldwin was attempting to strip “offensive” Section 301 from the legislation, which would have abandoned the inflation consumer-price-index peg for annual postal rate increases, and replace it with a new CPI+1 percent index—adding potentially 10-percent higher rates over a decade than would happen under existing law.

Last week, one of the primary sponsors of the current postal reform bill—Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)—offered a deal: Essentially, Carper would keep the CPI index mailers crave in place but, in return, the exigency (4.3 percent hike) would be included in the baseline for future annual hikes—thereby removing the 2-year limit on the exigency imposed by the Postal Regulatory Commission in its oversight of the rate hike and making the exigency permanent. Further, the PRC’s oversight role on postal rate changes would be kept intact—something the current language of the bill is attempting to strip. Sen. Baldwin asked for a mark-up delay, no doubt to consider the offer with her constituents.

What a farce: An exigency made permanent? Now that’s a paradox—and an audacious one at that. We can see the Postal Service getting much of the would-be CPI+1 back over the next 10 years, assuming there’s no more crises forcing USPS management, the mailing community or both clamoring for another postal reform bill within 10 years’ time.

Is keeping the CPI index so important to us now that we’ll hold our noses on this compromise? A mark-up on the bill—a Committee vote—has been moved to February 6 As of January 31, DMA is still asking its members to weigh in here to get Section 301 tossed.

There is a disturbing pattern here. The Postal Service is our business partner, for sure—and there’s nearly universal support for that partnership across the board. But if it (USPS management, USPS labor, and the both of them) keeps fighting its customers with higher postal rates, and running to Congress with mock exigencies or new rate-setting formulae that undermine fiscal discipline, then the financial reality of that partnership gets sadder by the day. Lose-lose ignites a dying cycle.

Mailers have suffered through recession. Marketers deal with digital migration. They have had to endure cost-cutting, price-cutting and layoffs to make it to 2014—and they’ve relied on invention to survive and thrive. What they have not been able to do is take their customers for granted, by passing along hardships in higher prices.

“Business-like” USPS policy and operations remain marred in politics—exigency is another sadly perfect example.

Geo-Targeted Mobile Marketing Is Not a Trend

Video accounts for 50 percent of all mobile data. Experts are predicting that geo-targeted mobile marketing will be the hottest trend for 2014. A large majority of mobile advertising focuses on location, as this is one of the biggest advantages to utilizing this type of marketing. Along with geo-targeting comes a ton of great reasons to include video into your marketing mix if you haven’t yet

Video accounts for 50 percent of all mobile data.

Experts are predicting that geo-targeted mobile marketing will be the hottest trend for 2014. A large majority of mobile advertising focuses on location, as this is one of the biggest advantages to utilizing this type of marketing. Along with geo-targeting comes a ton of great reasons to include video into your marketing mix if you haven’t yet. This week’s blog will give you some insight on some of the benefits of using geo-targeted mobile marketing.

Remember the first day of college when you tried to get to your classes by reading a map? Remember the embarrassment of entering the class late? If you could have had a more efficient way to navigate to your classes, I’m sure you would have used it. If you were an administrative decision maker for the same school, you would find data used by those same lost students helpful in planning the flow of traffic for your next event.

Businesses inside of malls are now offering banner related ads in part of their targeting. Many of these retailers are including a directory to the their searched stores making them easy to find as well as dangling a bunch of carrots in front of their retail noses. You can forget about having to look for the kiosk that shows the “You are here” arrow. Mobile marketing not only helps with ROI, it also helps maintain customer retention by offering easy-to-find sales and store location, the shopping experience just got easier.

Apps like Vine and SnapChat are making a killing on posts with advertising. Businesses like the Gap encourage their visitors to use these types of apps to shout out “cool” finds while visiting their stores. With the idea that you can send and receive information about sales while you’re on the go it seems that this is really going to make some waves at the cash registers.

What good is advertising when you are physically on the move? The cell phone is the perfect solution to people on the go who don’t want to carry a ton of direct mail, newspaper coupons etc., while they shop.

This type of data is collectable and can be monitored, measured and maintained with the help of Google Analytics.

While they have been predicting the use of mobile marketing as the hottest tool next to the Ginsu Knife, this year will prove to be one of the biggest uses of mobile marketing.

Optimizing Your Video: Expert Answers to 10 Important Questions

Marketing is pivotal to increasing the virality of your video content. Businesses are using video more as a integral part of their marketing mix. However, what good is video if no one knows where to find it? You can spend a million dollars producing the most cinematic 30 seconds of your career and only get 20 views on YouTube if you don’t optimize the video. In this post, digital marketing specialists Jose Victor Castellanos and John D. Saunders from Unity Digital Marketing, took the time to answer some very important questions on optimizing video.

Marketing is pivotal to increasing the virality of your video content.

Businesses are using video more as a integral part of their marketing mix.

However, what good is video if no one knows where to find it?

You can spend a million dollars producing the most cinematic 30 seconds of your career and only get 20 views on YouTube if you don’t optimize the video. In this post, digital marketing specialists Jose Victor Castellanos and John D. Saunders from Unity Digital Marketing, took the time to answer some very important questions on optimizing video.

Q. Why is it important to optimize video once you’ve posted it on YouTube or your website?
A. Catellanos: “Because the Search Engines are designed to read and index HTML on web pages, not electronic files (video). Video without a title and description will not index well on the Google and Yahoo search engines

Q. How do you properly backlink your videos, podcasts and screencasts?
A. Catellanos: YouTube has a feature in the Video Manager drop down when you edit the video known as Annotations. This feature is excellent for maximizing your video’s marketability, so be sure to read this section carefully.

Q. Is it important to use proper grammar and spelling? Is it okay to abbreviate or use acronyms?
A. Saunders: Proper spelling is crucial. If you have misspelled a word, the search engine’s may not find your video. Perform a spell check, and have someone else read what you’ve written.

Q. What happens if you have a broken link for your video?
A. Catellanos: In the event that you have a video posted on your website that was embedded from YouTube, once you delete that video from YouTube, you should replace it with another video. (Don’t forget to remove the code.) If someone is searching for video on your website and they aren’t able to view it, they may leave or “bounce.” The Bounce Rate is something that can greatly affect your ranking. A little maintenance will go a long way.

Q. What does the Google Keyword Planner do and how is that different from the YouTube Keyword Tool?
A. Catellanos: Google’s Keyword Planner is geared for Google searches. YouTube’s Keyword tool is just for searching within YouTube. When you are filling out the description use the keywords most used in Google. This will get better results unless you are looking for a YouTube following.

Q. Is it necessary to include a location or your geo targeted market?
A. Catellanos: “Only if you are a small business that wants to do business locally or within a certain area. Be careful if your target market is worldwide or nation wide, posting your immediate area can limit you.

Q. Does the number of times that you use a keyword make a difference? What is the proper amount and does the length of content matter?
A. Saunders: The number of times a keyword is used can be vital to the success of any video marketing. Your keyword should be included in your title as well as your description. Your keywords should take up approximately 3 percent of the text. Be careful not to overload your content with the keyword too much.

Q. Does refreshing your content help?
A. Catellanos: “This can depend on what you are doing. Sometimes updating the content can cause the search engines to think it’s new, and therefore longevity and amount of interest (number of views) tends to give you seniority in the search ranks. Be cautious when updating if you take down a video or replace it with something new.

Q. Is it important to title your video exactly the way someone would search for it on Google?
A. Catellanos: Yes. The closest you can come to how someone would be looking for your product or service the better. Exact matches heed better results.

Q: If you get penalized as being a spammer, can that affect how Google ranks you in other areas of the Internet?
A. Saunders: Yes, you can be flagged and they can block your YouTube account. They can also put blocks on other social media sites that you are associated with.

If you’re going to spend time and money creating your videos and you want to make the best use of them, follow these guidelines and your video marketing will be far more useful. You want to remember that it’s a video, not text. Search engines are designed to read text not watch a video. While it’s great to create video it’s only effective if you have the video optimized.