What Makes Data Good Data
We always, always appreciate conversations with customers. Especially those that make us think more thoroughly about our services. We’re constantly open to changing and evolving to provide the best offerings possible for loyal and new customers alike. Recently, we’ve had quite a few conversations about data, and have realized that it’s important for us to provide some insight into our somewhat unique data philosophy, specifically as it relates to direct mail. We’re all about the best data – not always (and not usually) the most data.
Our Direct Mail Data Philosophy
Direct mail may not be the cheapest form of marketing – but it’s often one of the most effective. In fact, 61% of customers find direct mail influential in making purchasing decisions. Compared to email’s average lifespan of 17 seconds, direct mail can last 17 days. We could go on and on about why we love direct mail, which is why we made a complete blog with tons of other eye-popping stats.
While direct mail is very effective – it’s only as effective as the data behind it. We believe it’s important to reach the right people, which is not usually all the people, and this can sometimes be puzzling to our customers. Our philosophy? We’re more worried about and interested in the success of your campaign rather than the number of people we send to. Plus, while we appreciate business income, we more highly value long-lasting business relationships built on trust (which primarily comes from a good track-record). In short – quality over quantity, always.
When we pull our data, you’ll notice that compared to others in the industry, we don’t always end up providing as many contacts. This may look and seem like “less”, but it’s really providing you with “more”. We won’t give you more contacts than necessary, we won’t waste your time with leads that are dead on arrival, we won’t waste your money on mail that ends up in the trash, and we will deliver higher ROI. Many others in the industry will provide you with a bigger list, but one with a portion of people who will trash your direct mail – wasting your time and budget. So, next time you see a long list of “prospects”, don’t let it knock your socks off before diving into who those people really are, what they want, and whether or not they’ll actually respond to you, and, more importantly – become a customer.
Why Our Data is Strong
Strata has years of experience as well as many great connections within the industry. Our data compilation process is rigorous, and one that we’ve worked on for years to define and strengthen. To ensure it’s effective and valuable, we continually evaluate our data sources time and again, never assuming they’re “good as they are”. And similar to how open we are to customer feedback, innovation, and change, we’re always open to changing and improving our data sources so that data we provide, again, will actually return ROI.
Interested in working with Strata to get the most out of good data? Contact us.
A Strata YouTube Channel Original
Multichannel campaigns can be complicated to create, and once you create them, even more work needs to be put in to make them as effective as possible. In the last YouTube video of our Multichannel Marketing series, we’ll go through how to optimize your multichannel campaign for the best success and highest ROI.
What’s an Optimum Multichannel Campaign?
An optimum multichannel campaign is a campaign or workflow that converts every possible campaign member. Keep in mind – that doesn’t mean every person in the campaign, as there will always be some members that are truly impossible to convert. Why? Things happen. People start new jobs, financial positions change, people move, etc. The list goes on. The point of optimization is to optimize for what can be controlled, and in this instance, that’s the customer journey or workflow.
Two Categories of Multichannel Campaign Optimization
- Theoretical: This category happens before starting your campaign. It’s the last but usually the most time-consuming portion of actually building your workflow. It’s done through effective use of assumptions and historical data from similar campaigns. The steps to do this? Assign estimate conversion rates to each of your workflow components and then use them to calculate expected conversions – taking the output of one component as the input of the next. Although it’s very time consuming, it’s worth it in the end. Theoretical optimization helps you optimize both your campaign and create stronger projections for your campaign’s performance.
- Empirical: This category happens while the campaign runs. Instead of using historical data from other campaigns, you’ll use historical data from this campaign. So, factors like audience and creative can be held constant. You’ll still go through the same process – assigning your empirical conversion rates to each of your components, and going through the calculations to more accurately predict overall campaign outcomes. Measure your component’s KPIs while simultaneously updating projections based on the changes to your workflow.
To hear from our Director of R&D, Harrison, on what else you’ll want to do, as well as what tools you can use to optimize your campaign, click on the video below. Or, if you’d like to discuss multichannel marketing optimization with one of our experts, contact us today.
A Strata YouTube Channel Original
Figuring out your multichannel campaign workflow can be difficult (at first). At its core, a workflow should be a living, breathing thing, and you most likely won’t come up with the optimal flow right from the get-go, and that’s alright, you’re not really supposed to. When building a workflow, your goal should be getting to a point where you’re tweaking it throughout the campaign, not reengineering it. That said, in our most recent YouTube video of our Multichannel Marketing series, we go over best practices for creating this flow, and the ways in which you can make it work well for you and your company.
Are All Workflows the Same?
The answer’s no. Look at the construction of your workflow as an iterative process. Something you sit down with, leave, come back to, leave for another cup of coffee, come back to and test out, make calculations for, leave, come back to, leave for more coffee, etc. Go in with the expectation of optimizing it a handful of times. Remember, it’s personalized to you and your company’s goals.
Having the most effective campaign from the get-go is one thing, but building a workflow and truly thinking through a theory for that workflow is another. It allows you to better test and evaluate your campaign’s goals. If you begin to see a disconnect between your campaign goals and what you currently have after constructing a workflow and calculating your multichannel KPIs, you have a problem. But, the good news is that you can work to solve it before spending money, and possibly disrupting your reputation. This is one of the main reasons workflows are important to have – so you can catch any kinks before launching your campaign.
When starting to create your workflow, there are a lot of framework options you can build upon. The video that we’re referring to in this blog is for building a ‘base’ workflow, but, for information on how to tweak your ‘final’ workflow, check out this video when you find some time.
A commonly used workflow strategy formulation starts with defining the highest and lowest levels of the marketing funnel that you want to address. You can have as many ‘funnel buckets’ as you want, and they’ll vary based on your industry and business model. Here are some basic ones that can be used:
We recommend laying these out as lanes in a flowchart. It helps to visualize the different stages of engagement for your campaign members.
To see next steps for building your multichannel workflow, click on the video below. You’ll hear our Director of R&D, Harrison, go through best practices and tips and tricks for getting yours set up. Or, if you’d like to discuss this concept with one of our multichannel experts, contact us today.
A Strata YouTube Channel Original
In this ever-changing market, not even a marketing genius can accurately gauge performance of a multichannel campaign without organized, analyzed data across channels. That is why setting and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is very important. Follow along as we walk you through a few things to keep in mind when establishing and understanding KPI’s for your multichannel campaign.
What’s a KPI?
Like we said above, KPI stands for key performance indicator. It’s a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a specific goal. In this case – that goal is multichannel marketing success. KPIs lay out marketing goals in the form of specific milestones to calculate progress and insights, and these insights help marketers make better decisions. In order for KPIs to be successful and helpful, a marketer or team of marketers needs to handle and record analytics from several touch-points. Without KPIs there’s no way to accurately and effectively measure the efficiency of your multichannel performance.
KPIs at Their Core: Layer One
There are two levels of KPIs for multichannel campaigns. The first layer is the component layer, and it’s used to analyze the individual components of a campaign. This layer helps establish realistic goals for the campaign and provides low level insight to analyze and optimize as your campaign progresses. Conversion rates vary by standards like industry and medium, which are easily researchable.
Yet, actual conversion rates have huge ranges based on the nature of your call to action – like your messaging, imagery, and your audience, and which segment of the funnel they’re in. If your campaign’s messaging can be considered “industry standard”, save yourself some time and use an average conversion rate, even if it looks low.
Further into KPIs: Layer Two
Want to learn about the second layer of KPIs, and how to establish them for your next multichannel campaign? Click on the video below and hear more from our Director of R&D, Harrison. Or, if you’d like to discuss this concept with one of our multichannel experts, contact us today to get your next (or maybe your first) multichannel campaign started.
Let’s Get Ethical
Marketing ethics has always been a never-ending conversation, especially considering the ongoing changes in our technology and the way we market. Today, we’re talking about ways your business can promote ethical marketing, and how to apply these practices in your next campaign while navigating through the Information age.
Advancements in Ethical Marketing
At first glance, marketing ethics can come off as simple – often viewed as just being honest with your advertisements and not promoting scams. But with the integration of digital marketing, there are much more complex, ethically charged dilemmas at hand that marketers come across on a day-to-day basis. If handled incorrectly, these dilemmas can hurt your brand’s reputation and cost you customers. Recent surveys show that 35% of consumers have stopped buying from brands they perceive as unethical, even if there’s no substitute available. That said, there are many approaches your company can take to tackle these ethical dilemmas and promote brand integrity.
Here are some common ethical dilemmas of the information age:
How you obtain and use your data is everything when it comes to marketing tactics and campaigns. Surveys show that around 1 in 4 employees are uncomfortable with not only how their companies buy their data, but how they use it. This leads to the conversation of data ethics and establishing goals within your company to promote ethical data use. Data goals look different for every company in terms of tracking, reporting, and level of controls. This requires internal transparency and accountability, as there aren’t clear universal rules. A good start is to design your programs from the start to be transparent, for everyone in the company, and for consumers. There should also be equal expectations for data usage with your partners, suppliers, and publishers.
Privacy & Transparency
Privacy is another concern that’s always on consumers’ minds, and we can’t talk about its standards and rules without mentioning the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR is by far the most comprehensive set of data protection regulations in the entire world, and provides clear digital marketing guidelines on consent, data transfers, breach reporting requirements, and limits on automated data processing. While 47% of people say they have greater trust in companies because of GDPR improvements, providing security to ensure your consumers’ data is not at risk should always be a priority. Since 84% of customers say they’re more loyal to companies with strong security controls – it’s safe to say (no pun intended) that an extra security spend is worth the cost. Ultimately, privacy boils down to being transparent with your consumers while keeping their data and information confidential.
Advancements in digital marketing have enabled marketers to target their advertising campaigns around specific user data and demographics, which can lead to several different ethical dilemmas. The American Marketing Association spoke about these targeting issues best, by saying, “While there are some good ways to target by group, targeting or excluding by race, sex, sexual orientation or other immutable traits is largely ineffective and, at worst, unethical.” This leads to the concept of ethical target marketing, where companies will research consumers to see what ways an individual might purchase a product without taking advantage of their information. While companies can advertise to certain groups, there needs to be an emphasis on making sure the message isn’t offensive or discriminatory.
Honoring & Upholding Commitments
This may come off as obvious, but it’s important to place integrity on your company’s end when marketing a product or service. Make sure your commitments within marketing statements are both upheld and correct, and that you’re actively deleting loopholes within your advertisements and contracts. Then, ensure that all content presented is not misleading and easy to follow. Provide complete information on product features or service specifications.
We know there are a ton of moving parts when it comes to marketing ethics – and it can be overwhelming. That’s okay. At the end of the day, what’s most important is putting your consumer’s needs, privacy, and safety first – and letting everything else fall into place.
Feeling informed and motived? Contact us today to learn more about how we can take your next (ethical) marketing campaign to a whole new level.
Get to Know These Tracking Treats
Within the world of marketing, there’s a lot of buzz around the topic of cookies and what the future holds for tracking website visitors and generating personalized advertisements. While the topic’s relevant, not many people are completely informed on what cookies are and the impact they have on our ability to create better customer experiences. In this blog, we’re going over what cookies are, the differences between first-party and third-party cookies, and the future of online tracking.
So, What Are “Cookies”?
Although many of us are “foodies” here at Strata, and could talk about a good dessert all day, this blog isn’t about Oreo or Chips Ahoy. We’re talking about web “cookies” – text files put into a user’s browser page while they’re visiting a website. Cookies are known by several names – web cookie, internet cookie, browser cookie, or HTTP cookie, but they’re all the same, and in general, they track and log browsing activity against identification data such as IP addresses. Why is this information useful? Primarily, cookies help save information about a user in order to personalize their website experience and the advertisements they’re shown.
While cookies have enjoyed a childhood free of regulation, their “free-willy” time is coming to an end with recent regulatory initiatives driven by an increase in public concern over internet privacy. The first major change came when General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) made consent mandatory in order to track visitors on a website. To give you a feel for the impact of GDPR – about 11% of users click to “accept all cookies”, 76% of users ignore the banner completely, 12% close the cookie banner, and 0.5% of users actually open up cookie settings, read through terms and agreements, and sometimes make adjustments. These numbers are misleading, however – what GDPR essentially did was force the user to choose between viewing the desired content and accepting cookies OR (with exceptions) leaving the site entirely. So, while it looked good – almost all of the visitors in the stats above were still being tracked.
At this point, you might be thinking that we need to eradicate the cookie – if so, hold that thought. Cookies almost always make your experience on the web better – they’re your friend, not your enemy. To solve privacy concerns – which is the intent of all privacy-centric regulation – we’ll need to jump down a level. There are two major types of cookies – First-Party and Third-Party. Both contain the same pieces of data and technically can conduct the same actions, but they’re created differently, used differently, and have different benefits for distinctive situations. Let’s get into each one.
These cookies allow website owners to collect analytical data, remember individual user settings or content (remembering what’s in a user’s shopping cart, their language preferences, or their username and password), and perform useful functions to provide better user experience. That last part is important – first-party cookies primary purpose is to deliver more relevant, user-friendly experiences to individuals. If you’d like to see the difference they make, just clear your browser cache and visit some of your favorite websites.
Contrasting first-party cookies, third-party cookies are not created by the domain of the website the user’s currently visiting, and therefore, can often seem intrusive and un-welcomed. This type of cookie is placed by another site, such as an advertiser or social media platform like ad.doubleclick.net – and is separate from the home domain. These cookies are usually used for online advertising purposes, and are added through a script, code, or tag to track a user across several websites. Enabling these cookies can help users see relevant discounts and catered advertisements, but can also possibly involve them in a breach of privacy. For this reason, third-party cookies are blocked by many browsers, and are currently being chastised as unethical.
Phase Out of Third-Party Cookies
In February of 2020, Google announced its phase out of third-party cookies by 2022. When this occurs, it will cause 56% of web browsers (the percentage that use Google Chrome) to block their use automatically. As stated by Google, their reasoning for forcing this phase out is to increase security and protect the user. You have to wonder, however – are ethics the driving principle here, or is this a strategic move to further corner the digital advertising market?
All-in-all, this change won’t make as much of a difference as you’d think, as a 2017 study showed that 64% of tracking cookies were already being blocked as users surfed the web. Those at Google seem to think that third-party cookies will not be replaced by another resource due to increasing privacy concerns, but they’ll continue to “support first-party relationships on our ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with their own customers.”
What’s Next for Cookies?
No matter what the circumstances with third-party cookies, first-party cookies are definitely here to stay. If configured correctly, they’ll continue to function within most browsers – even if those browsers block third-party cookies. So – fear not – first-party cookies will provide marketers hindsight and insight on your website visitors for the foreseeable future – even if you might now be forced to use Google to reach them.
Now that you know a bit more about cookies, you may be motivated to improve and optimize your next digital marketing campaign. If so, contact us today.