Saturday, January 23, 2010

Surprising Results from a Recent Study - Students and Young Professionals are Influenced by Direct Mail

Like all marketers, we are constantly evaluating which channel seems most appropriate in delivering our offer. Here at MGI, we’re finding that targeting specific niches using multiple channels with multiple touches dramatically increases response rates.

We’re also always hearing about the demise of direct mail. Well, if you take to heart the results of a 2008 study reported by Exact Target, you’ll realize that direct mail is still a strong channel through which you can deliver your message – even to younger audiences.

You’ll see that its not about using anyone channel in so much as it is about using the right channel.

Here is a summary of the results, as reported in Exact Target’s 2008 Channel Preference Survey of 1500 internet users age 15 to 65+ who were asked questions about their attitudes and usage of one-to-one communication channels. Given the age span, researchers were able to cluster responses by age and reported the results by 6 “Personas:”

1. Wired – young males ages 18 to 34, no children, college educated with a minimum annual income of $35,000. Spend an average of 8 hours/day on their computers with high internet and email usage. Use of text messaging, social networks and IM are above average. Big concurrent media users. View different channels by perceived level of urgency: SMS for financial alerts and travel changes; email for promotions, account updates, etc. They tend to use phone and email first when communicating for personal reasons. Avid on-line shoppers and influenced to shop through email. Ads and messaging through social networks are not appreciated. Favorable attitude toward direct mail.

Marketer Takeaway – use the right channel for the right communication.

2. Young Homemakers – young women between the ages of 18 and 34 who consider “homemaker” to be their primary occupation, with annual household income of at least $35,000. Primarily use email for personal communication (58%), but also use text messaging and IM to a much lesser extent. Some concurrent media usage. They do participate in social networks and don’t seem to welcome advertising through this channel. Over 72% have been influenced to purchase by direct mail.

Marketer Takeaway – personal communication and control is a big thing. “Build opt-in relationship with this group for email, or leverage their affinity to direct mail with relevant, helpful information…” (pg. 6)

3. Retired – exclusively retirees and includes both men and women, but skewed toward men (57%). 80% attended college and 41% received at least a Bachelor’s degree. Spend seven hours a day on average watching TV. Not big concurrent media users. Spend a “significant amount of time” (pg 6) reading newspapers and books. 2.5 times more likely to call than to write. Small percentage (3%) have adopted text messaging and IM as primary communication tools. 81% have purchased online. Direct mail has influenced 90% to make a purchase. 73% reported to being influenced by email to make a purchase.

Marketer Takeaway – stay with direct mail but now use email.

4. College Students – primarily 18 to 24 years of age (but 10% of the sample were older). Big concurrent media users, with heavy internet usage as well as spending “considerable time reading books, listening to music and watching movies” (pg. 7). Heavy social network users (64% reported that they regularly participate) and use IM and texting. College women are 9% more likely to purchase online than average. Direct mail and email have influenced 55% and 50% respectively to make a purchase. Permission is a big deal for this spam-savvy group.

Marketer Takeaway – keep personal and business promotions separate.

5. Teens – high-school students between 15 and 17 years of age. Big screen-based media users, usually accessing multiple channels concurrently (I can personally attest to this as I do have a 16 year-old). Big users of text messaging, IM and social networking sites. Interesting note that “female teens spending more time on email and males spending more time with IM” (pg 9). Surprisingly, “Teens see direct mail as the most appropriate channel for marketers to communicate with them. 58% say they have been influenced by Direct Mail to make a purchase” (pg. 10).

Marketer Takeaway – teens are more likely to be influenced to make a purchase by direct mail than any other method.

6. Established Pros – professionals employed full-time, age 35+, annual income greater than $75,000. “…moderate media consumers” (pg. 10). Online many times a day, typically more often at work than at home. Prefer the telephone when communicating with friends. Most frequently use email to communicate. When compared with other groups, use of digital media is low. Big online shoppers. 94% have made a purchase as the result of a direct marketing campaign. 90% have been influenced by direct mail.

Marketer Takeaway – “…it’s about email and direct mail…and that’s it” (pg. 11).

If you’d like a copy of this whitepaper, go to

Friday, January 15, 2010

Email Marketing Metrics

I am often asked if there are benchmarks for open, click and bounce rates, which we can use to evaluate the effectiveness of email as a channel to deliver our promotions and messages. I recently found a study published by Silverpop ( which presents a "...classic list of email marketing benchmarks..."

While I have not yet found anything relating directly to association marketing or membership marketing, I think that you'll find the following interesting and useful as a reference.

In a recent study published by Silverpop (International Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study, Silverpop, 2009), the acclaimed e-mail marketing company pulled a random sample of 7,000 email messages generated in July of 2009, which equated to approximately 50,000,000 emails delivered to 188 countries.

Here is a summary of those benchmarks.
1. Open Rate (Unique Opens)
Average Median
Overall 22.20% 19.40%
US 21.30% 18.30%
UK 22.50% 19.80%
Germany 24.90% 23.00%
2. Open Rate (Gross)
Average Median
Overall 42.10% 29.70%
US 41.20% 27.30%
UK 38.30% 29.70%
Germany 44.30% 35.70%
3. Click Through Rate (Unique)
Average Median
Overall 4.50% 2.40%
US 4.50% 2.30%
UK 4.80% 2.70%
Germany 5.00% 2.80%
4. Click-To-Open Rate
Average Median
Overall 18.50% 15.00%
US 19.10% 15.10%
UK 19.20% 16.20%
Germany 17.80% 13.80%
5. Bounce Rates
Average Median
Overall 5.50% 2.40%
US 4.10% 1.80%
UK 3.60% 1.30%
Germany 4.40% 1.70%

In regard to methodology, the authors write:
"This study examined messages generated in July 2009 by Silverpop's Engage client base. Researchers pulled a random sample set of 7,000 email messages, delivered to a minimum of 50 recipients in the United State, United Kingdom and Germany. Approximately 50 million emails were delivered across the messages to 188 countries."

"A broad set of email message types was included in the study, from promotional to content-based newsletters sent by companies in a variety of industries. Email campaigns and newsletters comprised the message content examined for the study."

"...researchers analyzed various metrics for bothe the Overall category (all 188 recipient countries, including the US, UK and Germany) and country by country for the US, UK and Germany. We did not perform individual country analysis for any of the 185 remaining countries."

As always, the best benchmark to measure YOUR current programs against are YOUR previous programs. However, we're often asked if there are industry standards that we can at least include in our evaluation of a campaign. In light of that reference, I hope that you find the above useful.

This was only a brief summary of the results. If you are curious, I recommend that you go to to learn more.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Do you know what your members "biggest need" is? It should be your biggest asset!

I am reading the 1/10 issue of ASAE's Associations Now and came upon an article (pg 24 if you are so inclined) entitled "Tune In to Your Members' Wavelength" by Tracy Krughoff, Director of Event Communications at the Biotechnology Industry Organization here in D.C. Occasionally, someone writes or says something in such a clear and simple way that it makes you stop, shake your head up and down, and say...


That's what Tracy's article just gave me. "Sweet."

While the article focuses on an apparently very successful event, what Tracy pointed out really drives home what Tony Rossell, Kevin Whorton, Roger Harris, Dean West,...yes, and me, have talked about all during this recession.


Here it is: Your members' biggest need must be your biggest asset.


This is profound in its simplicity.

Dare I say it?..."Sweet."

Some of you are most likely saying "big deal, Erik. Nothing new here." But I beg to differ with you. I still see associations using the same 'value proposition' that they used 2...5...10 years ago. Same language. Same look. Same offering.

They have little to no idea what their members are going through and they are not trying to find out.

They blame the recession or the industry for the errosion of their membership or non-dues revenue.

But the simple fact changes.

What worked then may not work now. Five years ago, a timely publication that offered unique insights into an industry might have been enough. Maybe it still is for your industry. But, given the recession, changes in communications and technology, and several other society-wide variables, most likely it isn't anymore.

So here it is. Ask yourself if your association's value proposition addresses your members' greatest need? If it does, cudos. If not, find out what your members need and get it for them.