Posts Tagged ‘Danielle Hart’

Mobile First Mentality and Testing will move your Organization Forward in Digital Marketing

November 4, 2013 Leave a comment

by Danielle Hart

At DMAW’s Digital Day, keynote Greg Kihlstom hit the nail on the head when he opened his presentation by describing how the world is growing more digital, mobile and segmented by niche markets. So what does that mean for the future of the Direct Marketing industry?

Now more than ever, customers and donors are expecting more local, personalized, and immediate interactions with brands and organizations. And they are expecting these experiences to be seamless. Whether the focus is on brand awareness or taking action, digital marketing interactions and digital fundraising efforts are building direct relationships with customers and donors.

In order to acquire and cultivate customers or donors, brands and organizations will have to build direct relationships. In order to build these relationships with customers or donors, in an age where everyone has a mobile phone or tablet, how will brands and organizations move forward with new marketing channels and evolving technology?

1. Putting the mobile mentality first

With consistent growth in mobile and tablet device usage, it’s imperative for brands and organizations to approach future campaigns from the mobile and experiential point of view, above all others. As Amy Gonzalez from Blueprint Interactive pointed out in her presentation “Beyond a Single Screen,” depending on whom your brand or organization is trying to reach and what you’re trying to do, it’s important to study the pros and cons of different mobile strategies before getting started.

For your brand or organization’s website, there are a few options to consider when making it mobile friendly. These options include using a mobile website redirect, designing a responsive website, or creating a mobile application. Every organization has different needs and will have to determine which strategy will be most appropriate and effective for their organization and audience.

  • Mobile Website Redirect – This website technique puts a redirect for all mobile website traffic to a separate mobile website ( or The unique mobile website allows you to completely redesign a website specifically for mobile devices. Don’t want a homepage photo slideshow to play for mobile users? Do want an uncomplicated website for web visitors on a mobile phone? The mobile redirect might be the answer for you. When using this technique, it is important to look into past website traffic analytics and consider traffic trends in your design, menus, and key website functionalities.
  • Responsive Design – Want one version of your website to look great across all devices? If your website needs to be consistent across multiple devices, a responsive website is the way to go. Responsive design allows a website to respond to the device viewing it and adjust itself accordingly to fit the screen. This technique optimizes search engine rankings since it is the same content across all browsers and is usually quicker to load. Responsive design also makes website updates easier since everything is in one place.
  • Mobile App – What’s better than an awesome app that connects with your audience? If your organization wants to engage “super-users” or “super-donors” and you can add value for your audience with a mobile app, then this is the right choice. Keep in mind that there are many extra steps in creating a mobile app — including creating multiple versions for different types of phones, deciding on pricing (paid or free with possible paid advertising/in-app purchases), writing the literature for download agreements, planning for updates, and getting approved by the Apple/Android store. Before jumping into creating an app, make sure you’ve spent quality time researching your audience and whether or not they’d use the app. And remember, a person will have to download this app, so there needs to be be an attractive reason for your audience to download it.

Now that your mobile-friendly website options are on the table, the next topic up for debate is mobile-friendly email. As Dan Caro, from Whereoware explained in his presentation “Making Your Emails Mobile Friendly,” the choices for mobile-friendly email are responsive design or using a mobile optimized, scalable template.

  • Responsive Email – A responsive email has multiple versions of certain pieces of code within one template. The CSS media queries trigger the different versions of code to render differently depending on the device being used to read the email. And while responsive design is better for a mobile and tablet heavy audience, it does require more technical resources and is more expensive. For large organizations that have a mobile-heavy audience, responsive design is the way to go.
  • Mobile-Optimized Email – A mobile optimized email is one version of code that’s scalable and renders well regardless of the device being used to read it. This includes buttons that are at least 44x44px, minimal text, and a clear CTA. For smaller organizations that don’t have the technical resources and budget, or the mobile heavy audience to justify a responsive design email, a mobile optimized email is the best option.

2. Never stop testing

Sure, your brand or organization might have found what seems like the be all end all best practice! But with technology changing constantly, what works one day, might be irrelevant the next. So how do you keep up? How do you evaluate what new trends and technologies can help your cause or brand? One word – testing.

As Sean Powell from The Engage Group and Heather Marsh from ABD Direct described in their presentation “Testing Mayhem – Sustainer Pop Ups + New Responsive Design + Hitting your Budget = WTF?!?!” there are many tests that organizations can run to work towards better results for your cause or brand.

What are some example tests to try in an email campaign?

  • Ascending vs. descending ask strings
  • Dynamic vs. static ask strings
  • Open text box vs. no open text box ask string
  • Short vs. long copy
  • Square vs. horizontal imagery
  • Imagery vs. no imagery
  • Very little copy with large image vs. more copy with small CTA
  • Text vs. graphic CTA
  • Security seal vs. no security seal

But it doesn’t stop there. While A/B testing your control emails will give you insight on how to increase engagement and response rates within an email campaign, there are even more ideas and techniques to test. For example, testing imagery vs. inline forms for a website pop-up, testing mobile versions of forms with less vs. more fields, or maybe even testing different donation form intercept algorithms, are just some more examples of website testing your brand or organization may want to try. Just keep in mind that for a useful test, it’s important to only change one variable from the control in order to be confident that the results are coming from that specific variable.

Moving forward you want to consider your brand or organization’s mobile friendliness, and continue to test everything. Great, that’s enough to make any organization’s head spin! So now what?

While it’s important for brands and organizations to understand the importance of these practices, it’s also very important to know what you don’t know.  And as Greg Kihlstrom noted, with the industry becoming more data driven, real-time, predictive, and semantic, more agencies will have an increased need for specialization. Your brand or organization may not be able to specialize in every new marketing channel, data analytics platform, or technical advancement, so building relationships with agencies that are specialized will help your brand or organization stick to the core of your business or cause.


Danielle HartDanielle Hart doubles as an Online Fundraising Account Manager at The Engage Group and a Postal Logistics Account Manager at MailSmart Logistics. Danielle can be reached at

Think your marketing efforts are ahead of the curve? Think again.

July 31, 2013 Leave a comment

by Danielle Hart

Just as organizations are catching up with content marketing and big data, there’s a new wave of technology being ushered in at an incredibly fast and overwhelming rate. And contrary to popular belief, marketers are not prepared.

“The most exciting thing about the future is that no matter what, history matters, and what makes people loyal to brands stays the same,” explained Geoff Livingston at the July EdVent on contextual marketing. He went on to say that while new technologies and communications tools are developing more rapidly than ever, context and relevance to audiences remain most important to successful marketing.

Today and here on out, our news and the media being produced is so intertwined with big marketing money that it’s hard to say what’s real and what’s a marketing ploy. For example, did the Discovery Channel choose to cover Red Bull Strato’s live? Or do you think Red Bull was ponying up a pretty penny to have this aired? Just like Robin Thicke’s hit new song, there are some “Blurred Lines” when it comes to these situations. And customers are picking up on this.

When Geoff asked the room “who here still trusts CNN?” you could hear the crickets chirping. Where are the news stations getting their stories? They follow what’s trending on Twitter, what’s being shared on Facebook, what YouTube video has skyrocketing views, and what corporations have paid them to cover a story. This is crowd-sourced news in a nutshell.

With all of this readily available information, and the fact that the public no longer fully trusts historically dependable news stations, where are people consuming their media? The answer is: it depends. Some people look to Twitter, Facebook, blogs or other social media, while others still look to TV news stations or the radio to stay up to date. Some people consume media on their mobile phones or tablets, others on a desktops or TVs.

Overall, the way media is produced and consumed today has changed drastically in two ways:

  • Digitization in today’s society creates a media convergence. Paid media such as traditional ads, owned media such as corporate content, and emerged media also known as organic media, have blended together with marketing techniques like sponsored customers, press coverage, and promoted brand content to form converged media.
  • Consumers are using multiple devices to consume media – TVs, desktops, tablets and mobile phones. Shifting from one device to another, sharing screens, synchronizing devices, and using devices simultaneously are all nonlinear usage patterns of today’s consumers.

What does this mean for the future of marketing?

  1. Marketing efforts should no longer be single channeled. Stakeholders’ media consumption patterns should hold the decision-making power for which channels marketing resources should be allocated.
  2. Usage patterns are not linear – therefore marketing shouldn’t be linear. Transmedia experiences, allowing the user to move between media and devices, will result in a better experience and a happier customer.
  3. Content must be relative and contextual to the stakeholders. With an outrageous amount of content that’s constantly growing and growing, marketers will have to stand out from the crowded marketplace and connect to their stakeholders in order to sustain a relationship.
  4. Customer experience marketing is key. Because of content overload, recommendations and word of mouth marketing from stakeholders’ networks will be much more influential than paid advertising.
  5. On demand customer service will have to happen. With the customer’s ability to publicly complain about a brand in real-time for everyone to see, it’s imperative for organizations to handle customer service when an incident happens. If not, customers now have the ability to rally more people and potentially put a dent in the organization’s reputation; a much easier way to spread the word than in the past.

In addition to the future of marketing principles listed above, Geoff provided us with examples of cutting edge technology and how brands can take advantage of them to connect with their stakeholders.

  • Google Glass – a wearable computer that tracks location and uses applications similar to ones found on an iPhone.  Ex. Starbucks using Google Glass – Someone with the Starbucks app who’s wearing Google Glass and walking down the street could be sent a notification right on their screen for a free tall latte at the Starbucks store that is exactly 5 buildings down on the left.
  • Digital Ubiquity – a product being delivered as a service. Ex. Grocery store digital ubiquity – Setting up a virtual kiosk at a subway station so people can order food on the go and have it delivered by the grocery store to their doorstep for when they arrive home.
  • Face recognition – identification of an individual based on their physical attributes. Ex. An electronic advertisement at a bus stop that has a camera behind the screen can identify the gender and age group of the person standing in front of the advertisement and queue content targeted towards that specific market.

 Some other up and coming trends to consider in marketing practices are in-store pickups and voice input replacing typing on mobile phones. How will brands improve the experience for a busy person who wants to order an item online and pick it up immediately in-store? And will only the top positions in search engine results matter with voice input? These are a couple of questions along with many more that will need to be considered as the next waves of technology come crashing on shore.

With all of the new technology and the massive amounts of data being collected by organizations, the next big debate becomes the issue of personal privacy. The Millennials, growing up as kids in today’s society, will have a very different understanding of privacy than a Baby Boomer or a Gen Xer. How will brands leverage big data and not totally invade their stakeholders privacy? How far is too far? How specific is just plain creepy? It’s assumed the privacy opt-in policy will become much more important and relevant to stakeholders in the future success of marketing.

This month’s EdVent was truly an eye-opener for any marketer who thought they had everything under control. The exciting new wave of technology is upon us and it’s up to us marketers to use new technologies to connect with our stakeholders and create the best possible experience for our customers. Thank you Geoff Livingston for a fantastic presentation and for challenging us to think towards the future of marketing!


Danielle HartDanielle Hart doubles as an Online Fundraising Account Manager at The Engage Group and a Postal Logistics Account Manager at MailSmart Logistics. She can be reached at or found on her personal website at

Innovative Formats and Integrated Campaigns – Back by Popular Demand and Here to Stay!

May 2, 2013 1 comment

by Danielle Hart

On April 24th, direct marketers joined together for the re-introduced DMAW Innovative Formats and Integrated Campaigns Forum. Eleven presenting companies introduced their inventive direct marketing ideas and techniques. In addition to the presenting companies, there were bonus sessions that included a jam-packed fold presentation by Trish Witkowski (Chief Folding Fanatic at the FoldFactory), a premiums presentation by Cheryl Keedy (Senior Strategist of Direct Response and Marketing Formats at Production Solutions), and a keynote case study by Brenna Holmes (Director of Interactive Department at Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey).

The Innovative Formats and Integrated Campaigns program was chock-full of great presentations that included:

  • Multi-Channel Success with PURLs: Mail, Email, Mobile and Microsites! by Chroma Graphics’ Joel Kaufman and Direct Development’s Tony Fraga
  • A Multi-Component Self Mailer by Freedom Graphic Systems’ Pat McEvoy
  • Inline Package Innovation by RR Donnelley’s Philip Brown
  • It’s All About the Data – Hyper Personalized Direct Mail by Sourcelink’s Craig Blake
  • Direct Mail in a Sleeve by Japs-Olsen’s Charlie Mullin
  • Maven Social – Social Media with ROI by Metropolitan Technologies’ Tim Mishuk
  • Direct Mail to the Max by FoldFactory’s Trish Witowski
  • Magnet Mailer and Card/Fob Postcard by Membership Cards Only’s Richard Fuast
  • “Hail the Snail!” Snailworks launch by ProList’s Dave Lewis presented
  • The Browncraft envelope by Precision Dialogue’s Suzanne Maicke
  • Talking Cards – Direct Mail with Sound by Mail Pow’s Crystal Martin
  • Showcasing Innovative and Current Direct Mail Premiums by Production Solutions’ Cheryl Keedy
  • The Honor Card by Custom Print Now’s Willie Brennan
  • A Case Study from the Environmental Defense Fund Using Target Analytics – Connection 360 by Chapman Cubine Adams & Hussey’s Brenna Holmes

Throughout the day, the presenters brought an incredible energy to stage while they showcased their state-of-the-art direct marketing techniques and engaged the audience.  The presentations filled the room with new awareness of innovative concepts that the attendees raved about during and after the event. It was clear across all presentations that multi-channel campaign integration is a hot topic in direct marketing! Everyone left with an abundance of new direct marketing ideas and samples to take back to their teams.

Thanks to the hard work of the chairs of the event (Production Solutions’ Greg Albright, MMI Direct’s Elise Buck, and Red Engine Digital’s Liz Murphy), and the volunteer committee (African Wildlife Foundation’s Amy Barriale, The Mail Bag’s Teri Carlson, HSP Direct’s Colin Duffy, Bethany McConnell, and Nicole Hall, DR2’s Steven Fleshman, Mal Warwick Association’s Melissa Ford, The Engage Group/ MailSmart Logistic’s Danielle Hart, Production Solutions’ Cheryl Keedy, and Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey’s Shannon Murphy), the event was a huge success and had overwhelming positive feedback. DMAW Executive Director, Donna Tschiffely, announced at the conclusion of the day that the event will continue as a DMAW annual event. Needless to say, the entire room applauded.

Here’s a look into what some of the event volunteers had to say about the event:

“It was truly rewarding to hear so much positive feedback from participants who walked away with tangible new ideas to implement for their organizations and clients. And even better, I had a great time working with such fantastic veteran and first time volunteers. I look forward to working with them again!”

–Melissa Ford, Mal Warwick Associates

“Volunteering at the DMAW Innovative Formats and Integrated Campaigns event was a very rewarding experience. I met a lot of new suppliers, and I have a portfolio full of new formats that I am eager to share with my colleagues. I definitely plan on attending next year!”

-Bethany McConnel, HSP Direct

“New to the industry, volunteering for this event taught me more than I could have imagined about the direct marketing industry. Being involved in the event’s marketing, presentation selection process and all the way through to the debriefing has allowed me to learn, network, and find satisfaction in an overwhelmingly successful event. I suggest that anyone new to the industry volunteer for a future DMAW event!”

-Danielle Hart, The Engage Group / MailSmart Logistics

“Volunteering gave me a unique perspective on the innovative formats presented. It gave me an opportunity to brainstorm with other direct marketing professionals from around the industry—which adds a great deal of value to my day to day job!”

-Nicole Hall, HSP Direct

Do you want to meet new people, plan successful events, and gain industry experience? Volunteer for DMAW events!

To see photos from the event, click the image below!


Danielle HartDanielle Hart doubles as an Online Fundraising Account Manager at The Engage Group and a Postal Logistics Account Manager at MailSmart Logistics. She can be reached at or found on her personal website at

DMAW EdVent Recap: Post-Election Evening: Big Data = Big Dollars – How Did They Do It?

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

by Danielle Hart

On Thursday, February 21st, both left and right side direct marketing experts convened to hear two of the biggest names in political fundraising speak about their success with raising over a billion dollars during the past election. The DMAW presented Mike Conlow, the Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Obama for America campaign and Patrick Ruffini, Republican Political Strategist and President of Engage to provide the audience with their insight.

The panel discussion opened with the question “What was the major turning point in November’s election?”

Mike started the dialog by emphasizing how important the decision to invest in technology (analytics & data) early in the campaign was to the success of the Obama for America (OFA) campaign. The OFA campaign staffed over 200 people and invested early to overcome any problems they encountered before the campaign. Mike revealed that in the beginning of the campaign, the OFA staff tweeting was frowned upon, but by the end of the campaign the staff was given example messages that they had the choice to tweet in their own words.

Patrick, representing the Republican side of the story indicated that technology was the difference between the outcomes of the two campaigns and that there was no tweeting policy for the Republican Party.

The two were then asked “What do you think will be the next technological advancement?”

Patrick was passionate in his response that the amount of social information will contribute to the success of future political campaigns. He predicts that the social graph will marry the political graph and the information people post on Facebook and other social media channels will allow campaigns to micro-target people based on their behavior.

Mike added that he believes the information about the competition’s marketing efforts will become more available and that Google might be the one to sell some of this information. He also predicts advancement in the ability to better target TV ads towards specific audiences.

The discussion concluded with the question “What is the most important tip to take away from this panel?”

Both panelists agreed on how important our networks are in today’s society. Whether it’s a cold call, a Facebook message, or a knock on the door, if it’s from someone you know, you will be much more receptive to the message. Leveraging this concept for campaigns and putting your message in the hands of someone that can influence your target audience will drive success for any campaign.

Throughout the discussion, both Mike and Patrick laughed at the lighthearted comments of opposing political party affiliations. After the discussion, the two fessed up that it was their first time meeting in person and they had only had Twitter interactions before the event. In the end, despite the political party Direct Marketers affiliate with, we can all agree that the lessons learned from Mike and Patrick will help us in future direct response campaigns.


Danielle HartDanielle Hart doubles as an Online Fundraising Account Manager at The Engage Group and a Postal Logistics Account Manager at MailSmart Logistics. She can be reached at or found on her personal website at

Building Trust with Squirrels Using Baskets

July 3, 2012 2 comments

(Photo credit: Gabi Lamerti)

After attending the DMAW Social Media Summit (learn more via the hashtag #DMAWsocial on Twitter) I have been enlightened on some of the most important marketing lessons we as online fundraisers and marketers should follow.  While building trust with squirrels doesn’t always sound like something we want to do, after this post you will understand why it’s important and how to do it. Now, please join me as I share the DMAWsocial secret to building trust with squirrels using baskets.

1. “DON’T ask before you say Hello!” As keynote Liz Strauss explained, building a trust relationship with your customers or donors is extremely important to being successful with marketing your product or asking for a donation. Whatever you are asking for should match the level of trust in the relationship. You wouldn’t ask a person you just met to sleep with you, and the same principle should be practiced while asking for a donation or selling your product. Take the time to get to know your customer or donor and build a level of trust through invitations before you start asking. For more don’ts, visit Liz’s blog.

2. Mobile users are squirrelly! Mobile users will only stay on your mobile campaign, rather it be an email, blog, website, etc., if it is easy to navigate and a one or two-step call to action. Jon-Mikel Bailey described how to capture this phenomenon by thinking through all of the channels consumers use to get to the final campaign goal. A great campaign can fail if it is not tested from the perspective of the end user, so it is important to take the time to try multiple different smartphones while testing the experience the user would have before launching a campaign. The plan of attack for mobile components of a campaign should include large buttons that have plenty of space around them, only the necessary facts, obvious direction for the user to follow, and an obvious call to action. With sufficient testing, this plan of attack will allow the squirrelliest mobile users to complete the campaign’s goal in no time without jumping to something else that’s shinier.

3. As Geoff Livingston detailed, marketing and fundraising campaigns should resemble a basket with many pieces sequenced and woven together. When the customer or donor receives all of the woven pieces, they should experience the basket. In other words, a campaign should be made up of integrated channels (the pieces of the basket) and delivered in a certain pattern (weaving the pieces together), so the end user experiences one effective campaign (a basket). The marketing and promotions through Facebook, Twitter, email, direct mail and mobile should all have the same look and feel and direct the consumer or donor down the funnel and to the call to action.

Now that you’ve read the DMAWsocial secret on building trust with squirrels using baskets, do you have any other techniques to build relationships with your squirrelly customers? I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to leave them below or contact me through any of my basket pieces.


About the Author: Danielle Hart is an intern at The Engage Group and student at Salisbury University studying Marketing and Environmental Studies. She can be reached at and found at


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