Direct marketers turn to RR Donnelley for a complete range of innovative solutions. The goal of the RR Donnelley Direct Marketing Tip of the Day Blog is to provide strategic direction to marketers on trends and techniques that are currently working for a wide range of direct marketers.


House Committee Announces 2017 Postal Reform Bill

6a014e89d79f06970d01b8d25c012d970c-120wiOn February 1, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee leaders introduced H.R. 756, which is known as the “Postal Service Reform Act of 2017.”   Bipartisan cosponsors of the bill aim to make the Postal Service more efficient by cutting costs, streamlining mail delivery, and improving oversight.   On Tuesday, February 7, the Committee will be conducting a hearing on the bill.  


Click Here for more information regarding reform bill details, including 7 key provisions, access


PRC Releases Approval For USPS 2017 Price Increase

Postal Bld 2On Tuesday, November 15, 2016, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) issued its decision regarding the Postal Service’s 2017 Market Dominant Price Case.   The PRC approved implementation of the January 22, 2017 proposed price changes for: First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodical, and Package Service.   Concluding that, “the proposed classification changes for these classes are consistent with applicable law and regulations.”

However, the PRC did not provide its approval on Special Services.   This category includes services such as Address Correction, BRM, Shipper Paid Forwarding, and instead stated, “the Commission will address the proposed Special Services price adjustments and classification changes in a separate order.”

 Click Here for all of the information, or access




USPS Files for 2017 Price Increase

Post Office BldToday the U.S. Postal Service filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) a price adjustment notice associated with changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) on market-dominant products.   Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Postal Service has inflation-based price adjustment authority of 0.422% for First-Class Mail and Standard Mail, and 0.871% for Periodicals, Package Services, and Special Services.   Within the filing, the USPS is seeking approval on several structural changes as well as a name change from Standard Mail to Marketing Mail which it feels better aligns with its customer’s use of this mail class.


 Click Here for more information including a summary and chart of the proposed 2017 USPS postal price increases, or access



Increase Loyalty With A “Leg Up”

Consumer LadderReward programs are used by many different organizations to help drive consumer behavior and increase customer loyalty.   To help maximize the entry and effectiveness of your loyalty program, make sure you provide your members with a “Leg Up” by including instant progress or a head start into the program.

Consumer researchers Joseph Nunes and Xaiver Dreze tested the effect of loyalty cards that offered instant rewards.   The researchers distributed car wash loyalty cards, with stamps, that allowed users to get a free car wash after 8 or 10 previous washes.   Two different loyalty cards were provided to participants:

  • One card required 8 stamps to get the free car wash, but had no initial stamps, all of the stamp spaces were blank - 0 of 8 stamps, or 0% progress.
  • The second card required 10 minimal purchases, but two of the stamps were affixed as a “special promotion” and entry into the program. Eight washes were still needed to get the free wash - 2 of 10 stamps, or 20% progress.

In the end, the researchers found that only 19% of participants with the first card, no initial stamps, purchased enough times to get their free car wash … whereas 34% of participants with the second card, two initial stamps, made it to the free wash.   Nearly double the loyalty.

Researchers also discovered a decrease in the number of days between car washes for the group with the two initial stamps.   On average, this group had 2.9 days less between visits, and the time between visits decreased by 0.5 days on average with each additional car wash purchased.   The decrease in time between car washes pointed to the increase in effort as the participants got closer to the reward.

To maximize your loyalty program consider offering sign-up bonuses, initial stamps or extra points.   Provide a member incentive that communicates "instant" progress and steps forward towards completing their goal.   Your members will be more likely to stick with it until completion, reach their goal quicker, and in turn you will boost your member loyalty.



The Most Powerful Emerging Market

WomenWith incomes predicted to reach $18 trillion by 2018, control of an estimated 75% of discretionary spending, and power over approximately 60% of all online shopping … Women have quickly evolved into today’s most powerful emerging market.

These statistics may prompt you to look at your own marketing efforts and come to the conclusion to “target more women!”    And it would be great if it was as easy as creating and implementing a single marketing strategy.   But, marketing to women is a complex venture.   The truth is, every woman is an individual and to truly benefit from this powerful group thought needs to be given to demographics, lifestyles and preferences.   These factors strongly influence the type of content and engagement that will resonate with women.   For example, industry research shows that a woman under 40 is more likely to check her smartphone first thing in the morning, whereas a woman over 40 is more likely to check her computer and/or watch TV … and preferences change if the woman is employed full-time or if she is a homemaker.

Use these 3 guidelines to create brand experiences that will help draw women to your brand:

  1. Analytics, segmentation and testing are valuable tools, use these tools to help you discover and address distinct preferences within this market
  2. Seek to engage and build a relationship with your female audience using messaging that empowers her, and helps her strike a balance between time, money and well-being
  3. Remember, a woman can be an influencer, buyer, owner, and user, so help her to fully understand your product or service benefits so she can make an informed decision

When marketers get it right, the female consumer can have a multiplier effect through her social sharing and sales referrals.  

The women’s market is a driving force!   Targeting and tailoring communications to women that empower and meet her individual needs can help deliver more profit to your bottom line.



Details Inside

Envelope SEnergize and pique your reader’s interest with the outer envelope.   Adding copy to an outer envelope, especially if personalized, can lift response by 30% on average.   Try using references to landmarks, local geography, postal service, speed, or urgent call to action.

For difficult subjects, for instance laser eye surgery?

Remember the big ideafocus on specific benefits.   Appropriate copy on the outside of the envelope could be -  “Thread a needle … Count the freckles on your child’s nose … Never squint at the TV again … details inside.”



House Committee Approves Postal Reform Bills

Capital Bld 2On Tuesday, July 13, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted unanimously to approve HR 5714, the Postal Reform Act of 2016.   The Committee also approved HR 5707, the Postal Financial Improvement Act of 2016.   Washington insiders are hoping to get both bills to the House Floor for a vote in September 2016.

Click Here for more information including important points of interest to mailers, or access



Time To Get Emojional - World Emoji Day This Weekend!

Emoji - Party Popper - MedWorld Emoji Day, is July 17th  

Emojis have the unique ability to convey a wide variety of emotional feelings without words and with only one small picture character. Emoji Smile - vsm Around since the late 1990s, the emoji has truly become one of today’s current phenomenons.  

Industry experts estimate that last year alone, tens of billions of messages with emojis were sent, and according to Twitter, more than 110 billion emojis have been tweeted since 2014.   Emojis have spread throughout Unicode’s blocks of numeric codes and the Unicode Consortium continues to add characters every year.   They are even used by the White House. Emoji - US Flag - vsm These emotion packed graphic characters have a remarkable year-over-year campaign usage growth of 777%, a month-over-month growth of over 20% … and increasing.   Industry sources report, email alone has seen a year-over-year increase of 7,100%.

To further underline emojis prevalence in today’s society, in 2015 for the very first time, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year was a pictograph – or emoji. Emoji - Face with Tears of Joy - vsm Officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’, it was chosen as the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.  

As marketers we understand the value that comes when brands connect with consumers at an emotional level.   Which emoticons may resonate with your audience and message Emoji - Exclam - vsm – consider these finding from one industry study:

  • Happy faces at 44.8% are the most widely used emoji Emoji Smile - vsm - Sad faces account for only 14.3%  Emoji - Sad Face vsm
  • Individual vs Brand usage:
    • Individuals using emojis in their own Tweets frequently use face emojis
    • Brands use more eye-catching emojis and those that evoke emotional responses
    • There are about six emojis that are common among both groups – these tend to convey emotion and build rapport -  Emoji - Heart - vsm Emoji - Thumbs-up - vsm  Emoji - Monkey - vsm  Emoji - Music - vsm  Emoji - Smile - vsm  Emoji - Peace - vsm

  • Americans love royal themed emojis - they tend to use emojis such as the crown or princess more than twice their British counterparts  Emoji - Crown - vsm
  • Mobile marketers are using emojis more often in their push messages
  • The retail & commerce industries have seen the largest growth in emoji usage, peaking during the holidays

Interested in using this creative tactic?   Consider testing usage of the Party Popper Emoji Party Popper - vsm, Sparkles Emoji - Sparkle - vsm, Thumbs Up Emoji - Thumbs-up - vsm or Wrapped Present Emoji - Wrapped Present - vsm to highlight or emphasize a communication.   If you decide to try other emoticons make sure you understand any hidden meanings, and overall placement within the context of your greater creative to confirm it contributes to the brand’s message and does not impair image or relevance.   Emojis are most effective when they are used strategically and with intention. Emoji - Money Bag - vsm Used successfully emojis can be a powerful tool for a marketer, they provide emphasize in a tone that you just can’t get with words alone. Emoji - Thumbs-up - vsm



Customer Engagement Matters

Shopper 1It is important for businesses today to recognize that just satisfying a customer doesn't have the same effect as engaging them.   Customer interactions, across many different touch points, are shaping the degree of engagement a customer feels with a company or brand.   Fully engaged customers are emotionally attached to you and fiercely loyal.   They are true brand ambassadors, and as such, are the companies most valuable and profitable customers.   According to a Gallup report fully engaged customers on average can mean a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth as compared to an average customer.   On the other side of the spectrum, a disengaged customer represents a 13% discount in these same measurements.

When marketers provide engaging and meaningful experience their customers desire, businesses can realize greater rewards in terms of loyalty and profits:

  • Retail Banking – fully engaged members drive 37% more annual revenue, posses more products and have higher deposit balances.
  • Consumer Electronics – engaged shoppers make 44% more visits per year, purchase more items than intended and spend $84 more per shopping trip as compared to disengaged customers.
  • Insurance - policy owners that are engaged purchase 22% more types of products than disengaged owners.
  • Hospitality - fully engaged guests spend 46% more than disengaged guests.
  • Restaurant – engaged casual dining customers make 56% more visits per month, fast food customers, 28% more visits per month.

While it may be easy to view customer engagement as another marketing campaign, it is important for businesses to rethink their audience strategies.   To take engagement to the next level, use data and analytics to target and speak to your audience with highly personalize and compelling communications.   Keep your communications and content relevant, delivered in the right channels for the message, and consistent throughout the customer experience to really exceed customer expectations.

If your customers are not "fully engaged", your company risks surviving based on a price relationship alone … and may never hit profitability and growth objectives.



Mobile Optimization May Seem Like A No-Brainer

Mobile CoupleIn today’s active on-the-go environment, email opens on mobile devices have increased by an estimated 30%.   In fact, Forrester Research states that currently 53% of US smartphone owners send or check personal emails on their mobile phones daily, and 78% do so monthly.   However, with all of the mobile activity only 46% of surveyed marketers regularly use email optimized for mobile devices.   The net result – a reported 69% of mobile users delete emails that are not optimized for mobile.

To align with real customer needs and avoid systematic deletions from consumers, consider these 5 best practices to amp-up your email efforts:


  1. Use responsive design and short emails - Improve overall design and readability by using responsive design email templates instead of mobile friendly emails.   Keep your emails short digestible bursts of information since email readers typically only have a few minutes to skim an email or two.


  1. Keep your call to action front, center … and above the fold - The top 2 to 4 inches is considered prime real estate in an email, and in particular the top left corner receives the most eye attention from readers.   Calls to action should be clear, concise, and above the fold – content that is above the fold gets 84% more attention reportedly than below the fold.


  1. Combine context with personalized targeting - Design your message directly to your audience at the point of need.   Shift your approach to contextually relevant content with personalized targeting to remain relevant and adapt to the constantly changing context of your customer.


  1. Harness data to optimize and not just measure - Use a systematic analytic and multivariate testing approach to optimize your email performance.   This will help you understand how subject lines, images, content blocks and calls to action perform across different devices.


  1. Trigger email communications from audience actions – Send smarter, release your communication when your recipients are most likely to take the action and engage.   Email automation is both personalized and highly relevant, which can lead to higher conversion rates.