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Will We See You at the 2017 National Postal Forum?

We are looking forward to attending the 2017 National Postal Forum (NPF), which is being held at the Baltimore Convention Center next week from May 21–24. NPF has partnered with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to present the premier event in the mailing industry. The Forum focuses on mailing and shipping trends and promises a comprehensive educational program. If you are interested in expanding your knowledge on postal topics, this is an event you won’t want to miss. Many of Production Solutions’ key mailing and logistics partners will be onsite to network, listen to keynote speakers, and participate in the thought-provoking workshops. We’re particularly interested in hearing what the experts have to share on the following topics: Leveraging Informed Visibility Data Informed Visibility Data will enable mailers to get real-time mail piece scan data and start the clock visibility. Much like you can track an Amazon package on its way to your home, the USPS is moving in the direction of sharing the location of your mail pieces throughout their entire network. Mailing In a Secured World & The Impact of Data-Security Requirements Here at Production Solutions, we take ensuring the security of our clients and their donor information very seriously. We continually keep an eye on the direction of this topic so we are two steps ahead of the status quo in terms of our data protection strategy. We’re looking forward to hearing more from the mailing industry around how they’re managing the increasing emphasis in this area. Informed Delivery Rollout An important initiative we have for our clients is consistently looking for ways to integrate cross-channel...

Innovate and Invest to Grow Your List and Community

Smart fundraisers and nonprofit marketers are always looking for effective strategies to grow their organization’s supporter base. Despite our best efforts to engage lapsed donors, the truth is that some amount of list churn is inevitable. Nonprofits need to prioritize list growth to grow and to account for this attrition.  According to the 2017 M+R Benchmarks report, the average email list churn for nonprofits is 14%. This means that in order to simply maintain their current list size, nonprofits need to continually invest their time, money, and energy into acquiring new supporters. Without investing in growth, your list of subscribers and potential donors naturally gets smaller each year. If you’re not swimming,  you’re sinking. Fortunately, there are many tried and true strategies to grow your list as well as many emerging tactics and effective technologies worth testing. Let’s dive in! Leverage Your Website It may be obvious, but your website is a great source of new subscribers you may be missing. Retargeting – Many potential constituents may not subscribe the first time they visit your website. They may have come to your site to read an article that a friend shared, searched for your site after reading an op-ed from your Executive Director, or found your site while searching for information about an issue your organization focuses on. These people may just be stopping by on the first visit to your website, but don’t let that be the end of their introduction to your organization. With retargeting campaigns from Facebook, Google, and other advertising networks, you can continue to engage these site visitors with information about your organization and...

Marketing Automation is Almost Here. Is Your Nonprofit Ready?

You’ve probably heard someone throw around the term Marketing Automation (MA). Most likely you nodded, agreed it’s a game-changer, but truthfully weren’t even sure what it was. If you went so far as to Google it, then most likely you really got confused. Frankly, MA isn’t the easiest thing to define. This is because it is both an entire form of communication, as well as a platform for different channels of communication. In other words, MA replaces email, but it turns out that email is also one of the components that makes up marketing automation. Still confused? (Don’t worry, I was too.) Here’s a quick way to get your head around it – MA takes what a great fundraiser does and automates it. Imagine every potential donor receiving a satisfying, unique experience with your nonprofit as if they were catered to specifically. MA can do this by doing what a fundraiser does – reading their mood to decide what action to take next. After each interaction (whether that’s email, text, or social media) MA gives you the option to use a prospect’s behavior and interactions with your organization (from clicking on emails to visits to the website) to then decide what’s the best way to engage with them next. At its apex MA is the first system that can achieve the dream of providing a true 1:1 experience between nonprofits and prospects. Today’s systems can’t do this which means: Prospects that clicked on an email aren’t treated differently from those that didn’t open it – with MA they can be. Prospects that visited several pages on your site aren’t...

Arguing For and Against Lightboxes

“What’s a lightbox?” That was my reaction when I first heard the term. I’d learned to write code back when they were called modal windows and were used to display warnings and errors. If you haven’t heard the term before, don’t worry, I’m starting a movement to bring it back, while proudly wearing my I Heart Visual Basic t-shirt. Let’s fast forward to today, where PS Digital has seen (and implemented) our share of lightboxes across countless websites. We often recommend a lightbox as a basic tactic to lift conversion, especially during the year-end giving season. On average, donations via lightboxes contribute 25% – 30% to our clients’ campaign results; and studies from the public broadcasting sector (as well as Unbounce) show that a lightbox can increase conversion by 80% – 100%. So, a lightbox is a great tactic to interrupt the experience of your website visitors and make an immediate ask. However, if overused, it has its downsides. At PS Digital, here are the questions we ask before recommending or implementing a lightbox: What are the benefits and risks? A lightbox is the digital equivalent of a stop sign on your website. It forces visitors to pause and take an action before continuing to engage. If your site has a large percentage of returning visitors, the lightbox becomes an annoying popup they have to dismiss time and time again, and if overused, it can cause an increase in page bounces. PS Digital uses the following tactics to reduce these risks for our clients: Adding a delay to the lightbox. Studies have shown that a delay of 7-9 seconds...
Spring Fever and #17NTC

Spring Fever and #17NTC

If you’re a nonprofit tech nerd like me, you spent the first spring weekend in March, not enjoying the glorious cherry blossoms that DC is famous for, but in a Woodley Park hotel at the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference hosted by NTEN, sharing and learning the latest in digital marketing and technology strategies from the best practitioners from across the US and Canada, all 2300 of them! From IT gurus, to social media scientists, to online activists and email marketing mavens—there was something for everyone and more than enough great information to go around. Here are a few things I remember from the whirlwind three days of sessions… Donors Carry Mobile Wallets Etore Rossetti from Save The Children, along with Kimbia and PayPal shared a wealth of learnings in the session Welcome to the Future: Mobile Wallets, Payments, and Philanthropy. Save the Children has been at the adoption forefront of mobile wallet technology, ranging from PayPal to Apple Pay, and even Bitcoin. The advantages of mobile wallets and payment technologies are clear: Convenience. Your donors can give immediately when your mission moves them. Security. The technology associated with mobile wallet solutions ensure that the transaction is authentic and secure, reducing risk to both the donor and your organization. Even if your organization isn’t as large and sophisticated as Save the Children, you should plan on adopting PayPal and Apple Pay this year (if you have, congrats!). With a little planning, you can enable your donors to channel their passion for your mission into an immediate gift, wherever they are. “As a first time attendee, 17NTC was a great experience...

What It Takes to Be a Great Mentor

  As seen in the March 2017 edition of DMAW’s AdVents newsletter. There is a great deal of personal satisfaction that comes from watching someone you care about reach their full potential. But, mentoring goes far beyond that. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to mentor employees and industry colleagues with varying experience levels and have benefited from mentors who are exceedingly smart and generous people. My mentors took risks and provided me with valuable guidance to develop professionally and navigate my career path.  The importance of a great mentor-mentee relationship is clear to me every day. I wouldn’t be in my current position without the personal investment my mentors have made in my professional success. From my experience, here are the characteristics that I see the best mentors possess: Investment in the Mentee An effective mentor views his or her mentee as a potential superstar, not just an employee or industry colleague. It is about recognizing an eager spirit and making a true investment in the growth of the mentee.  Being a mentor is not a one-time or short-term commitment.  When you offer to help someone, you need to follow through with the commitment by being there for them fully along the way. An important mentor in my professional life, George Lizama, my former partner of PS | PS Digital, embodied these characteristics when he invested in my younger self. During a time when most people were too busy or were not willing to take the time to guide others, George saw raw talent and empowered me to take on new challenges and experiences that have led...

Top 3 Takeaways from DMAW’s Innovative Formats Integrated Techniques Seminar

Several members of the PS|PS Digital team attended the DMAW’s Innovative Formats Integrated Techniques (IFIT) Seminar on March 7th to join presentations on a variety of topics ranging from static clings, magnets, tokens and variable data match mailings to telemarketing efforts and augmented reality.  With many of our supplier partners presenting their formats, based on innovative technique and format, cost-effective production and measured success amongst donors or customers, we’re here to share with you our top 3 takeaways from the day: What’s old can be reinvented as new, or at least repurposed. If you are looking to update a notecard package without converting to a heavy premium package, this might be your solution! As an alternative to a 5-card traditional 5×7 card format, a mini notecard may give a lift to a more mission-based package. Mini notecards mail out at letter rates, which equates to significant savings on postage and inserting. Another example that was shared at the seminar was a variation of the traditional name & address label sheet. An integrated label sheet incorporates the letter and label premium into one form, which would eliminate match mailings between the label and letter form – another potential cost savings opportunity. Get it opened!  You know the hurdle – step one: getting your recipient to open your mail piece. To combat this, IFIT provided a sampling of unique stocks, inks, and varnishes that can work to engage your donors’ visual and sensory interests – and may make your package stand out in a stack of mail ready to be disposed of. The latest technology in versioning and variable data printing...

The Making of a Conference Theme

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I hadn’t given much thought to themes — conference themes, that is. It certainly hasn’t been why I have chosen to attend a conference, yet there the theme was front and center headlining all the marketing materials and woven subtly throughout the event. How are conference themes originated? Why do you even need one? I’ve come to realize that a conference theme is important because it gives your event a unified objective. A centralized theme gives content direction, energizes your audience and creates buzz. When I became co-chair of the Bridge Conference, coming up with a theme was one of our first tasks. It’s easier said than done. My Bridge Conference co-chair, Michelle Powers Keegan, and I sat down and talked about what we hoped attendees would experience. We wanted to: Surprise and delight conference goers Bring people together in new and different ways Shake it up and disrupt the status quo We then brought these goals to the marketing committee and started generating ideas. I’ll be honest–we had some misfires. At one point we had settled on a theme and were excited about it only to discover after multiple art rounds that it was difficult to depict graphically. Ahhh… why didn’t we think about that to begin with? So we went back to the drawing board. But like all savvy marketers we did some more brainstorming only to come up with something bigger, bolder and better (warning: foreshadowing theme here). We’re very excited about where we landed. It signifies why this conference is held. It’s about challenging attendees...

Ready to Disrupt DC at the 2017 DMANF Nonprofit Conference

The theme for the 2017 DMANF Washington Nonprofit Conference is “Disrupt: Change yourself. Change your organization. Change the world.” And we are ready to do just that. With the conference just a day away, we are gearing up to join hundreds of fundraising and marketing professionals to explore information-packed sessions on all aspects of direct marketing. To get a glimpse into what to expect, we sat down with our very own Business Development Director, Joseph Gomez, as he shares what he hopes to gain from this year’s conference: The conference is almost here! What are you looking forward to most?  Networking with the sharpest fundraisers across the globe. Beyond the fantastic sessions, this conference is about connections. There will be people you sit next to or have lunch with who are currently going through a problem you will face next month or next year. Getting to know that person now will allow you to reach out for answers in the future and vice versa. You have been attending this conference for 10+ years. What are you hoping to get out of the conference this year? I am always looking for learning opportunities. This year I’m looking to expand my knowledge on digital fundraising. It is the future of direct response marketing and we continue to see more and more clients looking for success in this area.  Also, the keynote speaker, Mara Liasson, is a perfect fit for this year’s conference. As the national political correspondent for NPR, she will address how the new administration will influence current fundraising methods. Which sessions are you looking forward to attending the most? There...

Highlights of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017

On January 31st the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee leaders introduced H.R. 756, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017. The bill addresses unfunded liabilities of the USPS®, makes reforms to keep mailing costs affordable for consumers, and encourages innovation, all without additional borrowing capacity from the U.S. taxpayer. The legislation is outlined under four main sections; Title 1 – Postal Service Benefits Reform Title II – Postal Service Operations Reform Title III – Postal Service Personnel Title IV – Postal Contracting Reform Title I Postal Service Benefits Reform focuses on three significant employee benefit programs; the Health Benefit Program, Retiree Heath Care Benefit Funding Reform and Pension Funding Reform. Of significance is that the Postal Service Retiree Health Care Benefit Funding Reform Act addresses the prefunding schedule established in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. Title II Postal Service Operations Reform allows the Postal Service to increase postal rates for market-dominant products by 2.15%, 1 cent, for a First-Class stamp. Of significant importance in the Nonprofit Mail Industry is that this Act eliminates state and national political committees’ eligibility for non-profit mail rates. In addition Title II includes: Language around the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) Rate Review which requires the PRC to complete its full review of the market-dominant rate system by January 1, 2018. It also establishes priority factors for consideration in the PRC’s rate review, including the Postal Service’s financial stability, the effect of rate increases upon users of the mail, the reliability of delivery timelines and service standards, the available alternative means of communicating and sharing information, and the requirement that all...

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