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Looking back before leaping forward

I don’t think there’s anyone who will put forward an argument that 2016 was boring.

From the arts (RIP Bowie, Prince and others) to global politics (refugees, Brexit, U.S. election) it was a wild one, with enough twists and turns for a really unbelievable novel.

Beyond what did happen, let’s think about what didn’t.

The Canada Post “near-strike”

In Canada we narrowly avoided a postal strike. It seems like small potatoes compared to some of the things mentioned up top, but try to imagine how disruptive this would have been to the economy. Bills going unpaid, cheques, mail and packages sitting in warehouses. Even with a “near-strike” there were layoffs in the industry and we came to a near complete production halt in July. And that means many of our customers, including not-for-profits who count on the mail for donations, will have felt the effects of a near-miss too.

It’s been so long since we had a strike in the postal services (five years) that most of us have forgotten how disruptive that would be. But in two years, when the current short agreement runs out, we might be back in a “near-strike” situation again. So 2017 might be a time to plan what a 2018 disruption might do to your business or not-for-profit fundraising efforts.

Beyond the near-strike, Canada Post’s future is also under scrutiny by the Federal Government. I’ve argued that Canada Post’s future is strong. But who knows what the Task Force findings will lead to? There’s been a recent report back from a Parliamentary Standing Committee based on their work. This seems like a more political approach to Canada Post’s future. The introduction on the Canada Post Review main web page states that they’ve consulted Canadians about their need for services.

In their report I did not see the mail producers like Prime Data, or mailers like banks, fundraising not-for-profits or small businesses (who represent some 800,000 jobs in the sector and pay a good part of the $6.3 billion dollars in revenue in the way of postage) mentioned by the committee.

Would you review the future of McDonald’s restaurants without consulting diners?

Would McDonald’s restaurants undertake a major revamp of its menu without giving high priority to the diners who pay to eat there? Of course not. But the current committee’s approach to the future of Canada Post is doing just that. The people who pay the most towards the service aren’t being heard.

I’m simplifying here for effect, but you can sense my disappointment in how the future of this corporation, owned by Canadians, might be mismanaged because of political motives.

Instead it should continue as an agile and innovative platform to deliver communications and parcels effectively…and deliver profits again to Canadians, the shareholders.

Your favourite blog posts from 2016

Before I go I’d like to thank everybody who has read, shared and liked our posts over the past year. You’ll see some of the past years’ most popular posts below. Not only are they just as relevant today as they were when they were first published, I believe they tell the story of our industry in the last 12 months. I hope you enjoy them — and even share them again! I had fun writing them and am gearing up for another year of blogging. Stay tuned.

Using trigger events in your marketing automation

One of the great things about data is the amount of information available to marketers and fundraisers. At no point have we known so many details about individual customers and their buying and giving patterns.

In the past if you were going to launch a direct mail campaign, it meant creating a single direct mail piece and sending it to a defined mailing list after a lengthy planning and production cycle.  Also the cost per piece went down with volume so larger campaigns almost always seemed to be the right way to go.

But this approach is like blindly firing buckshot in the general direction of a forest and hoping a deer happens to be passing by.

Read the whole post here.

The smart way to eliminate an abandoned shopping cart

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the most significant metrics tracked by ecommerce sites.

According to the Baymard Institute abandonment rates generally shake out to be between 60 and 80% with an average of 67.91%.

Moving the dial a few points one way or the other can make or break a quarter. So ecommerce sites are always trying new tricks to gain some sort of advantage.

The problem is that they only know what they know. So the solutions they come up with are generally separated into two categories: complicated technical tricks and more complicated technical tricks.

Read the whole post here

Variable Print and Digital Marketing: two pieces of the same puzzle

I’m a big proponent for breaking down the silos between online and offline marketing and communications efforts.  In fact, finding the value in the physical, or analog was the the topic of a book launch I attended last night in Toronto, for David Sax’s, Revenge of the Analog.  He writes about renewed appreciation for things like print, vinyl records, moleskine notebooks and the like

As a marketing technology company Prime Data knows that donors and consumers have feet firmly planted in both worlds. And we encourage our partners and clients to take a holistic approach that brings everything together.  It seems we are in the infancy of this movement but it is becoming more clear that it is a necessary development.

Read the whole post here

Print is still the 800lb marketing gorilla

Print marketing is dead. Newspapers are finished. Physical books should be used for fuel as we read our Kindles by the light of books’ glowing embers in the fireplace.

I’ve been in this business a long time and I’ve heard it all over the years.

But as Public Enemy once rapped, Don’t Believe the Hype. (For further effect you can click to play this tune while you read.)

Read the whole article here

Turn your receipts into a responsive marketing channel

Fundraisers are always trying engage with donors. And for many the go-to solution is a drip email campaign that automatically starts after the first donation is processed.

Email may be cheap, but…

This might have been a great tool, but people today have a lot more in their inbox. A generic drip campaign sent via email is easy to spot and easier to ignore or delete. Sure, it’s cheap — but not very effective. I recently gave an in-memoriam gift to a university and immediately received a generic email message of thanks that did not mention the directed gift and left me a bit cold. A purely transactional email.

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