Data

What’s the Real Deal?

There’s a ton of information out there about multichannel marketing – and it can be hard to sift through. You probably often find yourself wondering, what’s real, and what’s myth? You’re not alone. Many marketers end up hindering their own multichannel efforts by believing a lot of these circulated misunderstandings, but with our help, you don’t have to. Today, we’re looking at three of the most common misconceptions around multichannel marketing, and – as experts in the area, letting you in on the real deal.

Myth 1: Multichannel Marketing is “Too Expensive”

There are a ton of marketers and organizations out there that have yet to try or implement multichannel marketing because it’s “too expensive” or “over budget”. It may cost slightly more than your generic, on-touch marketing, but it’s important to consider the benefits and weigh the cost versus the potential (and often guaranteed) ROI. There’s proof out there that many businesses end up getting much greater ROI from multichannel marketing, making the price worth it. Plus, it’s estimated that companies with optimal multichannel campaigns experience “customer retention rates of 89%, compared to an average of 33% for those businesses with weak multichannel engagement”. It’s all about how you use your budget, and allotting it to the marketing practices and programs that will yield the highest return.

Myth 2: Multichannel Solutions “Benefit Only the Customer”

It’s a common misconception that multichannel marketing is great for meeting customers at many touchpoints, but that it’s overwhelming and inconclusive for the company using it. This could not be further from the truth. Multichannel marketing is not just a one-touch process, and that’s what makes it unique and effective. Although it may seem like a lot at first (engaging with customers on several platforms such as direct mail, social, and website) it’ll be extremely helpful in forecasting and planning a company’s marketing strategy in the long run. Multichannel marketing benefits customers by providing them with relevant, personable, and consistent content, but also benefits your company by building brand awareness, loyalty, and trust within consumers and by compiling data and analytics for a complete picture of your audience’s customer journey.

Like we said, it may seem like a lot at first, but over time, you’ll get a clear picture of what channels and touchpoints work best for your company and reach the most customers, what channels and touchpoints don’t, and where and when it’s best to reach your target audience(s).

Additionally, multichannel marketing helps your employees improve customer service and build more personal and personalized relationships with customers. For example, while communicating with a customer at a certain touchpoint, your customer service representative can see exactly what contact points the customer has already accessed, as well as the information they’ve received or provided to your company. This relationship that multichannel marketing fosters not only creates less frustration and unawareness for the customer – but for the company as well. In turn, multichannel marketing reduces staff turnover, and ensures that you keep your most talented employees. It can also reduce staff errors and build a better brand reputation for your company as a whole

Myth 3: Multichannel Marketing is “Hard to Implement”

We’ve heard this one a lot. “Multichannel marketing is so involved,” or “I just don’t have time for all that.” Here’s the thing…multichannel marketing is only as hard as you make it. There are a lot of channels out there to reach your potential customers (website, in-store, catalog, e-mail, TV, text, blog, mail…the list goes on), but that doesn’t mean you have to use all of them. Plus, if you stick with your brand standards and ensure all of your touchpoints are connected and unified, you can use similar (if not the same) content, design, colors, and calls-to-action across channels, making the process much easier.

The best way to get started without getting overwhelmed is to create a plan. A great trick for quick planning is “RACE”; Reach, Act, Convert, and Engage. Make sure you’re hitting all of these parts of the process to ensure you’re connecting with and converting your audience, and getting the most out of your multichannel marketing.

Lastly, if you still feel you’re in over your head, or just really want to focus on other parts of your business, don’t hesitate to partner with experienced multichannel marketing experts. Research who you want to partner with so that you’re aware of what to expect and what they’ll expect from you in terms of budgets, end goals, and experience levels.

We hope we’ve eliminated some of your worries, answered some of your questions, and provided you with a bit of confidence in multichannel marketing. To get started on your next (or maybe your first) multichannel campaign, or learn more about how we can help, feel free to contact us.


Looking for more information on multichannel marketing and how to effectively launch a campaign? Visit our YouTube channel for quick tips and tricks from the experts at Strata.

From QR Codes to Concise Copy

Direct mail trends can be difficult to forecast, and even harder to use correctly and efficiently. However, you’re in luck, because as direct mail experts, we’re providing you with the top 10 direct mail trends – from QR Codes to concise copy – that have and continue to dominate 2021.

1. QR Codes

In the last few years, QR codes have really built a name for themselves. Not only because of their quick, digital nature, and the 2% postage cost break that comes with them, but because of their data-backed effectiveness. When a QR code is included in a way that makes sense- it provides a time-saving benefit to the customer while letting the company lead their customer exactly where they’d like them to go.

Although the year 2020 was detrimental for most industries and marketing tools, the QR code flourished. During a time where we didn’t want to physically touch anything, QR codes made up for physical marketing pieces like menus, signage, print ads, and flyers, leading customers from physical to digital – and quickly. The more QRs were seen, the more used to them we became (similar to our newfound familiarity with masks and hand sanitizer). And they’re still going strong in 2021.

Like we said, QRs lead customers to wherever a company would like them to go. They can provide helpful information, send the customer to a website, or even lead them to purchase.

2. Postcards on the Rise

Envelopes – they’re great and all, but let’s be honest, they add a few seconds (at least) to the time it takes to open (and read) direct mail. These days, it’s often better to send a postcard due to its more creative, eye-catching nature and faster access to information. Making it easier to read your call-to-action can often make customers more likely to respond to an offer or even visit a website or landing page for more information. Plus, they’re lower in cost – which means a better chance of higher ROI for your campaigns. As you can see below, postcards pushed past self-mailers and envelopes this year by quite a bit.

3. B2B Dimensional Mailers

These fun, three-dimensional, interactive mailers are the perfect way to stand out and cut through the clutter of everyday mail. “On the B2B side, dimensional mail is working well; because we all receive so many packages today, prospects want to open it and see what’s inside,” says Grant Johnson, Owner and CEO of Responsory. Although more costly and demanding in terms of postal handling, dimensional mail has the best B2B response rate at 8.51%. Check out our blog on the best secrets to a successful dimensional mailer campaign to get started on your own.

4. Better Segmentation with Data

“Accessing 1st and 3rd party data to further segment an audience will continue to play a huge role in a DM campaign’s success. If you’re able to align targeted messaging and great creative with those different segments, then that’s a recipe for increased response rates. Furthermore, surrounding that DM send with a similar message/offer through various digital channels will only add to that campaign’s success. Being able to hone in on delivery dates and putting an emphasis on speed to market are big contributors to making a direct mail/digital integration program thrive.”

– Mike Efstathios, Business Development at ICS Corporation

Data, data, data. It’s all everyone can talk about these days – and for good reason. Enriching your data qualifies your audience, and in turn, increases your ROI. And, if your marketing strategy is multi- or omnichannel, the customer experience becomes even more successful. While better segmenting your data may cause your audience to shrink, it will definitely cause your engagement to grow. Like we always say – it’s better to target the right people than all the people.

5. Increased Personalization

88% of marketers recently reported seeing better campaign metrics after using personalization in their advertising. More than ever before, the need for marketers to make human connections is extremely relevant, and some may even say necessary. The majority of our population feels they’ve lost personal connections and relationships due to the pandemic. Because of this, 2020-2021 has been the time to make up for lost connections by personalizing materials to bond with your audience and make them feel seen, heard, and human. Check out our blog on the best ways to get personal, here.

6. Higher Response Rates

Since the beginning of 2021, we’ve seen a rise in direct mail response rates. Why? More time at home means more time to go through – and even pay attention to, mail. And as the trend of working from home and staying at home has continued and even increased, response rates don’t seem to be dwindling anytime soon.

However, high response rates don’t just come from people staying put. They come from quality tracking, targeting, design, and audience awareness. For more tactics to increase response rates, visit this blog.

7. Interactive Direct Mail

In today’s world, we’re surrounded by technology. And with all of this technology, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be incorporating it into our direct mail efforts. 2021 brought new technology and an abundance of data that empowers companies when targeting audiences and crafting content. Next time you’re sending direct mail – think about how far you can go with it. Can it include a scratch-off? A game? A free kit or item? A contest? It’s pretty limitless.

8. Digital Prompts

Direct mail isn’t only a way to reach customers, but an excellent way to reinforce online efforts. Simply use social icons, QR codes, or other prompts to send customers to social platforms, websites, menus, forms, landing pages – you name it! Marketers are definitely catching on to this direct mail tactic, as usage of digital prompts has doubled in the last four years. Take a look at the chart below to see how the use of digital interactions has increased.

9. Concise Copy

It’s one thing to know what you want to say, but knowing how to say it is the real key to direct mail effectiveness. Throughout 2021, we’re seeing shorter sentences, smaller paragraphs, fewer bullet points, and obvious CTAs. Your audience’s attention span is only so long, so catching the ears and eyes right away is crucial.

Below is a great example of how Amazon has practiced this and changed their copy to be more concise and clearer. Even at just a quick glance, the message is less overwhelming and more approachable.

Need some help with your direct mail copy? We’ve got a blog for you on ways to write action-inspiring content.

10. Investing in Direct Mail Tools

Although it’s not always top of mind, the right tools are one of the most important components of great direct mail. If you haven’t looked into or invested in marketing and data tools, you should be, because they can take your direct mail from general and stale to effective and exciting, and in turn, save you time and money. Instead of targeting the wrong contacts or using the wrong design elements, the right tools will ensure your mailer looks great and is sent to people who will actually open and engage with it.

Consider changing your format, ink, paper, or finish. Update your branding, content, or calls to action. Or, try technology like USPS Informed Delivery to reach consumers in a modern way.

So, there you have it! 10 effective direct mail trends that took off this year. If you’re interested in learning more about enhancing your direct mail, feel free to contact the experts at Strata. We’re happy to get you started with some great direct marketing materials.

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:

Data Ethics

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.

Ethical Targeting

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.

With the Top 10 (Other) Best Rebrands & Refreshes

We can’t believe we’re already celebrating the one-year anniversary of Strata’s brand refresh. It’s been quite a year (to say the least). But we can honestly say that, with all of the struggles of 2020-2021, our brand refresh wasn’t one of them. If it did anything (and it did a lot), it definitely brought us together, made us more confident, and better showcased our personality, vision, team, and solutions. The brand refresh catapulted Strata into 2020, helping us solidify our style and services, attract new talent, and stay inspired.

When we decided we needed a new look – we had to pick between a full rebrand or a refresh. For us, the answer was easy. A complete rebrand would have required scrapping our identity and starting from scratch, where a refresh allowed us to keep our main identity and strategy intact. Our brand was strong with our current clients and we had a great reputation as problem solvers and solutions experts – so a refresh was perfect for what we needed to do.

With any rebrand or brand refresh – “consistency across all channels is key”. Over the past year, we’ve ensured that all our materials – from website to print, are on-brand.

Since we now have a bit of rebrand and refresh experience under our belts, we wanted to take a look at the top 10 best company rebrands and refreshes (in our eyes) besides Strata’s, of course.

Our Top 10

Dropbox

Dropbox refreshed its brand in 2017, and it was nothing short of successful. The company worked with design studio “Collins” to create a cleaner and simpler logo and lots of illustrative elements to better connect with their primarily creative and collaborative audience.

Airbnb

Airbnb did a full rebrand in 2014 with Design Studio, sending their team of designers to 13 cities to truly immerse themselves in Airbnb’s offerings, community, and mission. It resulted in a beautiful brand that differentiated Airbnb from its similar competitors. The CEO of Airbnb even stated, “When I look at this brand, I suddenly realized everything I’ve been trying to say, now we have a way to express it.”

Walmart

“There are very few companies in the world that managed to change the public perception of their brand as successfully as Walmart did.” In 2008, Walmart made this change to get away from their “always low prices” slogan that often-made customers feel like it was also “always low quality”. They also wanted to steer clear of the questionable corporate practices they were called out for in the early 2000s. So, Walmart did a complete 360 with a whole new brand from redesigned stores to a new look and personality.

Southwest

We love this brand refresh because it reminds us of ours. Without a complete overhaul, Southwest changed its look and logo to showcase their humanity and heart – literally.

Guinness

Good old Guinness. Many love it, others don’t, but it always holds true that Guinness makes us feel like we’re back in the olden days, sipping a brew in the pub. Instead of following the crowd of flat logo designs, Guinness actually added detail to its logo in 2016, working “with real harp makers to breathe new life into the legendary logo” that “could be built into an actual harp that would work properly and be in tune.”

Starbucks

Starbucks is loved by many – and dare we say it – is mainly successful because of its brand (although we do love it a latte). They’ve made slight changes over time to the brand, always increasing their user experience and recognizability with a “distinctive color scheme, typography, and illustrations.”

Taco Bell

You may not have really noticed Taco Bell’s brand refresh until now – but its cleaner, simpler look has helped it stay relevant among its many fast food and taco chain competitors. Along with this well-done refresh, Taco Bell has been named “one of the healthiest fast-food chains in America,” so, they’re doing quite well.

Mastercard

In 2016, Mastercard conducted a refresh with Pentagram to emphasize “simplicity, connectivity and seamlessness.” It’s simple and sleek look of just the famous two overlapping circles is surprising, but logic-based. “The change follows research by Mastercard that found that more than three quarters of people asked were able to identify the brand from the two interlocking circles alone.

Burger King

For the first time in 20 years, Burger King conducted a brand refresh with a new logo, uniforms, and packaging – and we love its nostalgic look. The new logo is actually very close to BK’s logo design from the 70s-90s. The creative agency on the project wanted to “pay homage to the brand’s heritage with a refined design that’s confident, simple and fun.”

Intel

Last but not least, Intel’s 2020 refresh caught our eye because of its subtle hints to past logos. Again, it refers back to their past while being currently relevant. “This new logo includes elements of both (past logos), but in a much more subtle, minimalist way.”

To take a more in-depth look back at our brand refresh, visit our original refresh blog, here. If you’re looking to make your branding and marketing communications more effective and efficient, give Strata a call.

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.

First-Party Cookies

Simply put, first party cookie technology is usually installed or authorized by a website’s owner and only tracks that user across that specific website. First-party cookies are set on the publisher’s server or on the JavaScript loaded to the website. Their defining technical feature is that, for the most part, only the domain that created the cookie can access it, thus they are seen as less invasive and are more welcomed by users.

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.

Third-Party Cookies

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.

The Proof is in the Numbers

At Strata, it’s pretty obvious that we love (and believe in) direct mail and its marketing power, and think it’s an important touchpoint in any multichannel campaign. We could go on and on about why we think it’s great, but we understand that sometimes it takes some hard facts and solid numbers to seal the deal and make you believe in direct marketing, too. You’ll see – the numbers simply speak for themselves.

The Stats

  • For every 36 emails you receive (on average), you get 1 piece of mail in your mailbox.
  • The average lifespan of an email is 17 seconds, compared to direct mail’s average lifespan of 17 days.
  • 59% of US respondents say they enjoy getting mail from brands about new products.
  • Up to 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20-30% of emails.
  • Per USPS, 98% of people check their mail daily and Americans spend upwards of 30 minutes with their mail on a single occasion.

Source for stats above: Compu-mail

  • 73% of American consumers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read or review the information at their leisure.
  • 41% of Americans of all ages look forward to checking their mail each day.
  • 60% of catalog recipients visit the website of the company that mailed them that catalog.

Source for stats above: Bolger

Direct Mail Stats Infographic

Sealing the Deal

More generally, we believe in direct mail because it’s:

Tangible

Everyone opens mail. Even if you don’t have access to television, internet, or a cell phone, as long as you have an address, you’re reachable through mail. Opening mail is a part of the daily routine for many, and neglected by very few. Direct mail seamlessly integrates into our lives and rituals, so we see it as welcomed rather than intrusive.

Targetable

With direct mail, you can target by geographic location and send your piece to all residences within your selected zip code(s). You have the ability to organize your mailing list by demographics, such as age group, income level, parenthood, pet ownership and more.

Customizable

There are never-ending possibilities when it comes to organizing and developing your content in an effort to present your message to your target audience and lead them to take action. You can use your pieces to inspire immediate purchases by including limited-time offers and copy that conveys a sense of urgency.

Measurable

Incorporating a special offer, online promotional code, or even a website questionnaire into your campaign can make it easy to track responses and measure success. After all, direct mail is proven to be one of the most quantifiable advertising platforms.

The Bottom Line

Direct mail is effective because of its seamless integration into our lives, yet strong presence on our counters. It catches our attention while giving us control as to what we’ll do next as a current or potential customer. That’s why we think, well…we know it’s one of the most effective marketing tactics for reaching large groups of consumers.

Ready to get the most out of your direct mail? Contact us to create a highly successful marketing campaign that incorporates the latest direct mail tricks and trends.

How to Put Big Data to Work Without it Feeling “Creepy”

Big data has gotten a pretty bad rep at this point – and it’s not for nothing. Over the past few years, the fear of data “creeping” further and further into our lives, and machines “listening in” on us, has some feeling a little nervous, to say the least. But, from a somewhat bias perspective of a marketing company, we don’t think it’s all bad and don’t think you should either. When used correctly, big data can help companies target the right customers, at the right time with the stuff they want, and more importantly, the stuff they need.

Then and Now

In the past, a lot of marketing departments probably were a little overzealous about the concept of data, and went a bit too far with personalization, taking an “anything goes” mentality. This approach can and has felt like it crosses the line, often making customers feel transparent, and even “spied” on. No one wants to feel like someone is watching their every move, I mean…that’s what scary movies are made of. In the past, customers didn’t know who, when, or where data was being collected about them, and in turn, felt mistrust for anyone or anything trying to get their information.

More recently, tech companies have realized that customers feel over-encroached upon, and are making steady improvements to be less sneaky and creepy, and more transparent. They’re more overt about the data they’re collecting, and allowing for customers to be more aware and have an increased say (which seems a whole lot more ethical, if you ask us).

The Fine Line Between Cool and Creepy

With this said, similar to an unwanted encounter at a bar, there’s still a fine line between cool and creepy when it comes to big data, but, if used correctly, it can have major benefits for both marketer and customer. After all, sometimes a (non-creepy) pickup line can lead to a happy marriage. It’s all about saying the right thing at the right time, which is what big data makes happen.

Good Data

The more “good” data that you put into your digital advertising campaigns, the more likely they are to reach the right person at the right time. Thankfully, the days of marketers defining rough, segmented target audiences in hopes that randomly placed ads would lead to a purchase are now GONE. Instead, today we’re using social media feeds, purchasing habits, browsing trends, content consumption, and other tactics to reach the right audience, at a welcomed tune. With good data, we have the ability to know exactly who we’re talking to and how we should be targeting them. It ensures we’re following leads and people, not just metrics and trends, and, at the end of the day, it helps cut down on waste and improve ROI.

Cool Stats

If we haven’t convinced you that good data cuts down on waste, we have some stats to back it up. Currently, the growth in global ad spend is projected to reach $793 billion by 2022. Yet, marketers today estimate that they waste approximately 26% of their budgets on unproductive digital strategies. And, to make things worse, studies show that 76% of marketers fail to use behavioral data for online ad targeting. When looked at all together, most of these downfalls point to one central problem: failure to pull accurate insights from marketing data and to apply them toward strategic decision-making. That’s where the power of good data comes in. It not only provides insight, but helps drive your strategy.

Not All Data Vendors Are Created Equal

That’s right, we said it, and we’re not taking it back. Data vendors are invaluable, but they’re not all created equal. If you think your vendor is leaving the “cool” territory and approaching the “creepy” zone, there are a few important questions to ask them, like, “Is your data properly permissioned?” or “Are your audiences sourced from ‘known’ data signals?” Find more useful questions in this article, and you’ll be better prepared to decide if you’ll accept their pickup-line, or give them the old, “it’s not you…it’s me (but it’s really you)”.

Wishing You Good (Data) Luck

Now that you know how cool (not creepy) and important data is when it comes to digital advertising, let’s put it to good use! If you decide to work with Strata, we’ll help you make actionable insights, plan and strategize, and take your next digital advertising initiative to the next level. Want us to turn your good data into targeted messages geared towards the right people at the right time? Contact us today.

Say Goodbye to Duplicates and Hello to Increased Campaign Success

As marketers, we do everything we can to streamline our campaigns to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. In the never-ending quest for peak performance, one of the most consistent frustrations we deal with is data quality.

We all know bad data is frustrating to deal with, but beyond that, the reality is that bad data represents wasted effort, and wasted effort represents a loss of money.

We have access to a ridiculous amount of data, and in many ways, that’s a good thing — more data translates to more targets, a better understanding of those targets, and more avenues by which we can interact with them.

The problem is that all data is not created equal. In addition to generally corrupt data, duplicate data is prevalent, including name and address, household, and family (if multiple families live at the same address). 

So, how do we ensure that in a world of abundance, we’re separating the wheat from the chaff?

Step 1: Educate Yourself with Regulative Processes

It’s worth doing some exploring and familiarizing yourself with postal address regulations and how they affect your deliverability rates. Luckily there are numerous services and mail management software that can help you through this.

For example, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) is a USPS developed software that ensures mailing addresses are complete and accurate. In other words, it determines if an address actually exists. CASS also standardizes an address into a format the USPS prefers, which is an invaluable tool for creating easily comparable data points when checking for duplicates.

Another great resource is the National Change of Address (NCOA) registry. The NCOA is a dataset of permanent address changes filed by individuals, families and businesses, and can be important for weeding out which address to keep — and which to toss — in your datasets containing multiple addresses for the same customer.

Step 2: Double Check Mail List Data for Common Errors — By Hand

While it’s easy to be lulled into the convenient trap of relying too heavily on software solutions, it’s important to comb through your data — yes, manually — for common errors. Even the most advanced mail management software still requires human interaction and understanding for optimal outcomes.

How? It’s not uncommon for things like commas, missing spaces, or data simply entered in the wrong field to throw CASS off. Simple mistakes can cost you big when it comes to getting rid of duplicate data sets.

Once you’ve used software to get your data into a great starting point, it’s important to remember that that’s all it is — a great starting point. It’s up to you to do the manual work and ensure the data is uncorrupted beyond that.

Step 3: Remove Excess Info from Your Files

Since we’re solely talking about mailing, it’s important to remove as many variables as you can from your mailing lists, and that means dumping the excess information.

This excess information includes things like email addresses, phone numbers, revenue, years in business, etc., all of which aren’t pertinent to your direct mail vendor.

In short, avoid the clutter and dump the details for your mailings. Keep it simple and save that info for later.

Step 4: Choose Your Direct Mail Vendor Carefully

Much like data sets, not all vendors are created equal, and some will prove to be nightmares to work with. This speaks for itself. You want to consider attributes like experience, referrals, and knowledge of the postal regulations.

A good tip? Make sure you’re working with a vendor who proactively takes initiative when it comes to cleaning lists.

Step 5: Enjoy A Job Well Done

Cleaning and getting rid of the duplicates in your mailing list can be a process, but one that is well worth the effort. When it comes to direct mail campaigns, remember: the better the data you put in, the better the data you get out.

Need a hand with your direct mail marketing? We have the knowledge and experience to help you every step of the way. Contact us to see how we can help you design and execute and effective direct mail program.

How We Plan to Exceed Sustainable Business Standards


I spend a lot of time in the outdoors. I always have.

Whether it’s hiking, fishing, diving or something else, the outdoors has always been a defining presence in my life — a presence that has allowed me to see some of the best of what our natural world has to offer.

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen many ways in which we’re failing our environment. Regardless of one’s political and institutional beliefs, I think we all can agree that we only have one planet, and caring for it makes the same “sense” as caring for our homes or our children. In fact, for me, this is mostly about caring for our children.

I believe we’ve reached a tipping point, a crossroads — whatever you want to call it — where the choice is simple: take action to protect our planet now or accept a future of grave uncertainty and limited possibility.

Those of us in business are on the front lines of environmental impact, and now more than ever, we must act as leaders.

For too long, businesses have simply chalked up environmental activism to donations or the purchase of energy credits.

These are both fine things, but cutting a check and carrying on, “business as usual,” has become nothing short of insufficient.

Looking inward, sustainable business practices have always been somewhere on Strata’s agenda. We offer eco-friendly options, we’re careful with our byproduct disposal and make efforts to reduce waste wherever it’s created.

This too is not enough.

Going forward, effective immediately, Strata is implementing an aggressive eco-first strategy to not only meet widely recognized standards for sustainable business but exceed those criteria to the point of setting new industry benchmarks. We’re going to look carefully at the science and our environmental impact, and address each part of our operation to reach a goal of being carbon neutral by 2025 and environmentally neutral by 2030.

To start, we will develop, articulate and implement more responsible internal and external practices. We will allocate ten percent of company profits towards eliminating our footprint. We will participate through company-sponsored volunteerism in environmentally impactful ways, and together, see just how far these actions take us in attaining our goals. As these things come into being, we will re-evaluate and adjust.

We’re creating this blog series to lead by example, taking our readers along with us as we move towards new levels of sustainability. Throughout, we’ll be exploring what environmental responsibility means to our business and what kind of changes we’re making to see a real, measurable impact.

We are not certain where this journey will take us. Some of the concepts and technologies we will need to reach our ultimate goal are not even fully developed or available, yet. However, we have a chance to take adversity and channel it into opportunity. It is a challenge that we meet with optimism.

We’re excited to share our journey with you, and hope you’ll follow along, both as readers and business people committed to sustainability. We look forward to seeing what one small, for-profit business can accomplish.