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The DigitalMailer Blog

January 4, 2012

DigitalMailer is back! And so is Winter…

Filed under: DigitalMailer,e-mail,e-Statements,electronic statements,email marketing,Marketing — 10:22 am

by Ron Daly

Brrrrr! It’s freezing out there!

We got through November and December of 2011 without a lot of scary Winter weather. Christmas was a cool-but-manageable 57º Fahrenheit here in town and everyone had a lovely holiday. But the first week of 2012 has seen a big shift. It was 19º on my drive in and won’t get much higher than that today. Yesterday, it blew down a blizzard for a few fleeting moments – not enough to stop traffic, but enough to get the attention of everyone here at DMI world headquarters.

But worry not, o faithful reader! We’re not letting Old Man Winter get the best of us. We’ve got plenty of hot coffee and a spiffy new set of offices that are temperature controlled to ensure you get all your problems solved, your statements loaded and your emails delivered.

We’re going to be making some additions to our site that will make it easier to spread the word about our company, our mission, and our passion for helping our clients. So please, tell a friend or a colleague about us. Tell them to sign up for our newsletter, a once-per-month collection of stories and talking points that goes straight to your email inbox. Tell them to check out the rest of our site, as well as our Facebook page and Twitter feed for more info.

Whatever you do, be sure to keep coming back to the DigitalMailer blog every week. Because no matter how cold it is outside, we’re determined to make 2012 our hottest year ever!

December 14, 2011

The difference between “Trash” and “Spam”

Filed under: e-mail,email,email marketing,Marketing,SPAM,spam filters,SPAM history.,technology,Twitter — 11:56 am

by Jimmy Marks

Yes, I get Spam. Even as a person who is very vigilant about where his email address goes when he signs up for things, I still get emails for pills, cheap software and videos of celebrities I don’t like doing things I don’t want to see them doing.

Usually, it goes in my “Spam” or “Junk” folder. Sometimes, it gets through to the top level, into my inbox. And then, I have a choice to make.

Do I hit “Trash”? Or do I hit “Spam”?

It depends. Let’s take an email from a certain online vendor named after a famous South American river. I get these emails a lot, and I get a LOT of these emails. Special offers, coupons, daily deals – I open them, I see what’s inside, I close them. Sometimes, I even buy something from the email. But not very often.

So, when I get an email from this “Famous River” website that doesn’t have an item I want inside, is it Spam?


Why not? Because I have a relationship with the company. They will let me unsubscribe if I want, but I don’t want to. Sometimes, I DO buy something, so I keep the emails coming. But if there’s something in the email I don’t want or need, I just trash it. I’m done with the email and that’s the end of the action.

Now, let’s try a different email. This one’s from some prince who’s emailing me from some country I’ve never heard of before. He wants to transfer money from his account to mine and sell me some cheap prescriptions and blah blah blah… this email is clearly Spam. So should I mark it as Spam?


I didn’t want this email, I don’t need this email, there’s no unsubscribe – it’s Spam. And I’ll treat it as such.

What’s the difference? Well, when you mark an email as “Spam”, you’re (typically) telling your email client AND your email delivery service how to process new emails from that sender. If enough people mark an email as “Spam”, the sender’s IP can be flagged and they’ll stop being treated like a real email not only on your machine and in your account, but across the web. This is a double-edged sword. If a legitimate business is sending emails to prospects or users and too many recipients mark an email as “Spam”, that sender can be blacklisted – no matter how “legitimate” their emails are.

So, remember – unsubscribe from a campaign/email series if you don’t like it. And if you can’t use it but don’t want to unsubscribe, send it to the trash. If it’s an unsolicited email from an unknown sender, that’s the right time to hit “Spam”. Keep in mind that this doesn’t just apply to email – Twitter and Blogs deal with a lot of “Spammy” followers and comments. Marking these as Spam helps Twitter and your blog host to determine which tweeters/commenters are gumming up the works. We’re all in this together – let’s get Spam out of the way so the real stuff can get through!

October 19, 2011

Waking up to Mobile Marketing…

Filed under: DigitalMailer,e-mail,e-Statements,email marketing,enrollment campaigns,eStrategy,On-Boarding,targeted marketing,technology — 9:49 am

by Greg Crandell

I recently attended a breakfast panel program hosted by our local metro area’s business and technology publication.  On the panel were folks intimately involved in mobile marketing, either as advertising and consulting services providers or as leaders in B-2-C companies.  They were asked a number of questions by the moderator regarding the current state of mobile marketing, and its impact on traditional marketing.  They were also asked to comment on some current trends in mobile marketing.  Their answers, and their observations, were well worth getting up early to hear.

When commenting on the current state of mobile marketing, the panelists spoke of the “always mobile, always on” state of today’s consumers.  They pointed out that up to 40% of mobile users are online, and mobile, while at home.  The mobile platform has indeed taken its place next to the landlocked Internet device, and may be on its way to supplanting it.

Panelists also felt that “automated marketing”, stuff that is done automatically based on the mobile users’ known attributes or device channel, was likely to be the most important activity marketers could engage in to keep marketing in the mobile mix.  More on automated marketing later, but what did the panelists mean when talking about keeping marketing in the mobile mix?

For these people, traditional marketing is a wounded activity.  They see consumer brands driven, not by traditional marketing methods, but by consumer endorsements.  And that means you can’t correct for a poor product or service by traditional branding exercises.  No amount of time and money can overcome a consumer groundswell of negative feedback online.  So efforts focused on convincing consumers are wasted in a world where consumers look to each other for ratings and advice.

But, even in a world moving toward brands driven by consumer endorsements, there is room to deploy traditional marketing tools such as email and direct mail.  There is evidence, according to the panelists, that younger consumers (millienials) see direct mail as valid when they can tie the company and product to favorable impressions gleaned online.  In other words, younger consumers react favorably to direct mail marketing that complements the work being done online, and in the mobile space, to promote endorsement and to drive interest.

The panelists said much the same thing about email marketing.  They perceive it as a way to reinforce beliefs and to promote already achieved endorsements.  For them, email is both a way to complement the “conversational layer” found online, and to bring “automated marketing” to the email inbox.

There is that term again – automated marketing.  Just what does it mean?  Well, for the panelists, and for us at DigitalMailer, it is a term that refers to all marketing efforts that use data to develop messages and uses automation to deliver them.  For us at DigitalMailer, automating onboarding campaigns for new members creates easy low cost means to deliver complementary messages to folks who have chosen to do business with you.  In the same way, emails that automatically operate within lending or new account platforms create the same easy to deploy and maintain marketing opportunities that once had to be scheduled and performed in ad hoc fashion year after year.

Online and mobile channels are the perfect place to automate your marketing, whether it’s messaging or surveying to learn how to serve better or to learn the messages needed to win endorsements for your worthy services.  And it is automated marketing that will keep marketers “in the mix” as word-of-mouth continues to grow its brand building presence.

July 26, 2011

Searching – How the Internet is Changing Finance’s Relationship to Consumers and vice-versa

Filed under: Credit Union News,Credit Union Tech,e-mail,email,email marketing,Marketing,targeted marketing,technology,web sites — 2:29 pm

by Greg Crandell

Research used to be a chore. If you were researching a broad topic, you had to go to your very expensive set of encyclopedias. If you wanted to know about something more modern and changing, you had to visit a library (gasp!). The Internet changed all that by making everything you could ever want to know easy to access and easy to act on, whether it’s on your computer or on your smart phone.

The more our lives are made simple by the Internet, the more we come to lean on it and the more frustrated we get when we don’t have it. While these past twenty years have seen great strides forward for the Internet, banks and credit unions stay behind the curve. Many financial institutions don’t realize how much information is out there and how far removed their websites and marketing efforts are compared to the billion dollar institutions that drown search engines in traffic and links.

As Terry Jones of wrote about in a recent CU Times article:

Over 50% of U.S. retail will be affected by Internet search in just two years. And that has changed the world of marketing.

Marketing used to be a one-way street–the brand talking to you. Now marketing is a two-way street as consumers are involved and engaged with blogs, wikis, shared video and social networks. And perhaps this is why Yellow Pages sales are expected to decrease 40% during the next four years.

One of the best ways to build trust with a prospective client is to tell them what other people think. Online retailers do that with reviews. In your world, testimonials serve the same purpose. Testimonials are a very powerful way to begin to build trust.

Once a client has purchased, use email to effectively deepen your relationship. Email can cross sell, introduce new products and keep you top of mind.

Good points, all. I wrote a response to this article as a letter to the editor, an excerpt of which is below.

Today’s credit unions must keep up. That means developing a strong online presence, a personalized email messaging program, a system to offer mobile access and notifications, and an interactive, two-way marketing focus. Credit unions need to be available and make information easily accessible 24/7. It’s what today’s members expect.

We are an industry that was built on personal relationships. But even in a relationship business – and I would argue especially in a relationship business–connecting with today’s members using traditional and digital means is a smart strategy for success. The time to make a commitment to digital is now.

It’s those personal, powerful connections, combined with instant access to information and very little breakage/confusion that are going to pull the smart credit unions along while others fail. Having an online banking product, a website, and emails that stand out and make a case, not to every consumer but to the individual will mean everything.

Financial institutions also need to learn that “searching” is a two-way street. Yes, customers and members can look up information about you and your competitors all they want. Your information about them is, likewise, very powerful. Take a look at this article from Roger Ahern of Experian:

Critical decisions regarding creditworthiness, fraud prevention or lifelong customer loyalty can be made (or lost) with each transaction. Increasingly, these transactions are as anonymous as a drive-through order box. With more and more Net-savvy customers conducting business online or via mobile devices, the window for up-selling or making critical risk assessments is open very briefly.

Instant prescreening becomes even more critical when used as an upstream filter to prevent fraud, increase revenue and minimize losses on applicants with the highest risk. Using powerful decisioning capabilities, the instant prescreen process accesses current credit information in real time via a “soft” inquiry (which doesn’t impact the customer’s credit report) and calculates predictive variables as well as fraud and risk scores.

The process then provides an assessment of whether a candidate should be prequalified and, if so, which specific offer best fits the customer’s needs. These scoring values can be set to adjustable thresholds depending on the value of the offer or the acceptable risk tolerance.

In short, yes, being easy to find and easy to use is important. But it’s just as important to find all the information available to you about your consumer and market smart, not hard.

September 27, 2010

Monthly News or Monthly Snooze? Keeping your eNewsletter from lining an eBirdcage.

Filed under: Credit Union News,e-mail,Uncategorized — Tags: — 8:04 pm

by Ron Daly

I read a great article from about email newsletters called “Five Reasons Why No One is Reading Your Email Newsletter”. It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart as both a person that helps businesses put together their newsletters and a person who’s responsible for a newsletter every month. You want to make something that people will read and not just trash the minute it comes in.

The five reasons (or “mistakes” as they’re called in the article):

1) Your newsletter isn’t helpful

I strive to include articles each month that help businesses and financial institutions manage their online information in a better way. Maybe it’s as simple as an article about improving calls-to-action in emails, maybe it’s about making better banner ads- whatever it is, it’s a little advice I’m willing to give away for free.

Sean D’Souza, author of the post, had this to add:

“You know very well that non-stop shameless self-promotion doesn’t exactly endear you to others, and of course you’d never make every single newsletter into a pitch…yet most folks can’t help themselves. They mean to write something useful, they mean to be helpful, but they end up being self-promotional because it’s easier.”

2) Your voice isn’t particularly compelling

This is a tough thing for non-writers to master. When everyone’s taught the same rules for writing in the English language, we wind up with unimaginative writing from people who never took the time to break those rules and establish a “voice” of their own. Does your writing sound like you would sound if you were sharing information with someone face-to-face?

And maybe more importantly, since I know it’s mostly finance folks reading this – is someone writing your newsletter? Is it coming from one person or a team? Is there an expert on a topic writing about their topic or is it one person covering “current events” in general? Keep that in mind.

3) You’re not telling stories

We love stories. When we sit down to put together our own newsletter month-to-month, we ask ourselves “where’s the story?” Which business benefitted from our knowledge that month, and how can we share their story with others who might be in the same situation?

Sharing the story of NWFCU’s collection program got more people interested in collection reminders via email. Telling people about Reg E successes from credit unions around the country got the attention of other folks interested in regulatory compliance packages. As D’Souza said in the same article, “…nothing gets your readers engaged like the color and drama of a good story.” The drama’s already there, because what one bank or credit union feels, the others feel…you just need the details to flesh it out.

4) You have a half-hearted call to action

D’Souza makes it seem pretty simple. His theory: you have to walk readers through their next steps with your calls to action. Want them to comment on a blog post? Ask them to do so. Want them to buy something? Tell them that’s what you want.

5) You don’t have a specific frequency

Going back and forth with content is easy to do online – you’re not pegged to deadlines as you would be in print. Making sure you send your newsletter around the same time each month and sticking to it will create a schedule in the mind of your reader and they might even start to look forward to it. Too frequently or sent at varying times might mean readers become detached and dislike your newsletter.

Treat it like any other monthly task – take the time to do it and do it well.

Hopefully, you’ve taken a look at your newsletter and have decided to make a few changes. If you want to start evaluating your ROI and your newsletter penetration, the Automatic Relationship Builder can help. Go to our ARB page to learn more.

Our newsletter is monthly, handy and free! Click here to sign up.

July 22, 2010

Short, Sweet, To-The-Point: The Twitterfication of American Business

Filed under: Credit Unions,e-mail,email,Twitter,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — 2:17 pm

by Ron Daly

Just read an article from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council, “Reach Members in 140 Characters”. They have a lot of great examples of small businesses and community businesses using Twitter to draw interest and save on marketing. They address a lot of what new users wonder about Twitter, specifically:

  • Listen to the “static” and the negative/critical talk, because you can. Nobody’s stopping you from finding out what Twitter users think.
  • Spice it up by making your messages sharp and memorable – don’t just “robo-tweet”.
  • Use your Twitter stream as a focus group/Q and A channel for curious parties.
  • Start small and stick with it!

Many of the folks I talk to in the credit union industry wonder how you manage to talk to anyone about anything in 140 character spurts. According to a recent article from LifeHacker, phrasing the first sentence in an email can increase the chances that the email gets read. We all know that a solid subject line gets a reader’s attention, but what about the preview line? For example, you get an email:

Re: Business Collaboration Opportunity

Hi, John – I got your email recently and I’m curious about a possible collaboration between our business and your busi…

The subject line lets you know that A) The person writing is replying to your email and B) they want to talk business collaboration with you. It’s simple and direct. But then there’s your preview line that gets cut off without saying anything else to compel your reader. Want to make it pop?

Re: Business Collaboration Opportunity

We would love to discuss a collaboration with you. Please call me today.

Hammer down a few lines with a hard return or two with extra details and let that first sentence say everything that needs saying. With practice, it can turn your business communication on its ear and make it stand out to your readers.

Start making it short, start making it sweet.

June 3, 2010

When does nine equal eighty?

Filed under: Credit Union News,e-mail,email,email marketing,Reg E,targeted marketing — Tags: , , , , — 3:28 pm

by Ron Daly

Two plus two equals four. A negative times a positive equals a negative. Nine is equal to…eighty?

I found that hard to believe, too. But it’s all right here in this month’s Transaction News. According to the article, titled “What Banks Should Know About Consumer’s Thoughts on Reg E” (click here to read the article), only nine percent of bank customers contribute eighty percent of NSF fees.

I’ve been extolling the virtues of targeted marketing for years now. Why bother blasting? If there’s a target that’s clearly defined, aim for it. This is the perfect example of a market that’s easy for you to see and reach out to via email and calls.

17% of all households are listed as “very likely” or “extremely likely” to opt in to overdraft protection, whereas 51% of households have NO intention of opting in because they have never had overdrafts on their accounts and don’t intend to do so.

So, it seems to me there’s a little math to be done at your credit union or bank. You find out what percentage of your members has had overdrafts on their accounts. You find out which percentage had more than one. As the article says, 29% of users with previous overdrafts are likely to opt in. So that’s 29% out of that 49% you’re chasing – what about the other twenty?


April 28, 2010

Ready for Arbor Day? Don’t Miss Out on your Green Check-Up

Filed under: Budget Stretching Ideas,Credit Unions,DigitalMailer,e-mail,e-Statements,electronic statements,enrollment campaigns,technology,Uncategorized,web sites — 5:20 pm

by Ron Daly

Arbor Day is Friday, which means it’s time to talk trees.

Statements, notices, newsletters, postcards – it’s a lot of information coming from your credit union to the members. It’s also a lot of paper. Credit unions spend quite a bit of money mailing all this information and quite a few trees suffer for it. So, in preparation for Arbor Day, we’re giving you a chance to learn how green you really are.

As recently featured in the Credit Union Times, DigitalMailer is offering a “Green Check-Up” to credit unions that want to know how many trees – and how much money – they save with eStatements. Go to and enter your number of members, eStatement users, email addresses and online banking users. See how many trees and how much money you’re saving (or COULD be saving) with eStatements and online communication.

You’re wondering, “how much money could I possibly be saving with eStatements?” The answer might surprise you. Read this segment of our interview in the article “E-Statement Market Matures, Offers ‘Whale’ of a Savings” from

Ron Daly of DigitalMailer said his company has delivered more than 16 million e-statements since it started off with its first client, his former employer Northwest Federal Credit Union in Virginia, about 10 years ago.

He estimates that the nation’s credit unions with more than $50 million in assets have a total of about 12.5 million e-statement users who each generate 50 cents to 75 cents per month in savings. That added up to $75 million a year in industry savings, “and that’s a very conservative estimate,” he said.

Sure, a few sheets of paper and half a dollar in postage might seem like a small expense, but  over time it’s a significant savings. Why not get started today? Email us at for more information on how you can get started with eStatements.

April 12, 2010

Measuring Emotional Unsubscribers

Filed under: Credit Union News,e-mail,email marketing,Marketing,member enrollment — 2:01 pm

by Ron Daly

[Note - This story originally appeared in the DigitalMailer monthly newsletter. Email us today to get signed up and learn all about what DMI has to offer.]

You’ve done a good job of developing and managing a solid list of opt-in email subscribers at your organization, creating a valuable email database. But what do your subscribers do when they receive your messages?

Too often, email marketers review the number of unsubscribes to determine how many customers are disengaging from their messages. But this strategy overlooks the “emotional unsubscribers” – those who don’t hit “unsubscribe” or report your message as spam.

Some consumers report they set up multiple email accounts to help them organize the messages they receive from various companies, using one for those they want to keep and another for those they want to ignore. Others use a message’s sender name and the subject field to determine if they want to read it when it’s received. If not, they may delete it, ignore it, or move it to a folder of unwanted emails – actions more difficult to track.

To help measure your emotional unsubscribers, watch their “open and click” behaviors: Did they open the message? Did they click on a link or visit a website mentioned in it? Have they opened any of your messages in the last three or four months? If any of your subscribers fall in these categories, they’re probably disengaged.

It’s important to regularly analyze the messages you send. Some customers are turned off by messages that are overly familiar if they don’t know you. Some that assert they are informational are really thinly disguised sales pitches. And some are irrelevant to your customers. Look for trends or patterns along these lines to see if customers may be disengaging from them.

Building a meaningful list of opt-in email subscribers takes time and effort. Protect your investment by not only monitoring their unsubscribe levels, but by carefully evaluating how they respond. For help in planning your email marketing strategy or for more information on DigitalMailer’s certified email system, visit or call (866)  994-4900.

February 12, 2010

Got Snow?: What our company (and our clients) learned from The Blizzard of 2010

Filed under: crisis communication,e-mail,email,snow,weather emergency — 3:22 pm

by Ron Daly
Call me an optimist, but I’m going to call this storm “THE blizzard of 2010″, in the hopes that it’s not just “A blizzard of 2010″.

It’s been an interesting week here at DigitalMailer. In case you missed any news outlet of the past week, the DC/Metro area got almost THREE FEET of snow dropped on us in the span of a week. Many of our account managers, operations staff and marketing department had to work from home for the entire week – and one of our staff members won’t be dug out until days from now. Hang in there, Steve!

When the snow hit, we made it a point to send out reminders to all our clients about our limited support capacity, letting them know when we’d be out of the office and how they could reach us. Our clients had the same idea – DigitalMailer sent out over 300,000 emails regarding closings and delays to members. Clients from all around the DC/Metro area were able to get the word out ahead of the storm and in the thick of it.

The Value of Email

For our clients, email is not just about marketing. It’s a communication channel that members know to look out for because it’s a channel the CU is eager to use. Whether it’s a weather crisis or a financial crisis, our clients use our email engine to reach members, provide support and comfort, and let them know what happens next.

Fellow blogger and all-around CU-wizard Anthony Demangone from the NAFCU Compliance Blog had these four pieces of advice to offer on his own blog about the blizzard:

  • You need to plan.
  • You need good people.
  • You need technology.
  • You need to communicate to your “users.”

To read all the particulars, go to the NAFCU Compliance Blog Post.

Anthony hit the nail right on the head with these four points. See the crisis coming, have a staff you can count on, have the right technology and communicate consistently.

Send us your blizzard stories and pictures – either here or on our Twitter feed – and tell us how your CU or Business communicated with members/customers during the storm.

We can get you started with a fast, effective message delivery system right away. All you have to do is give us a call. 866 994 4900 extension 102 or

We wanted to give you some idea how much snow we’ve been dealing with – take a look at these pictures.Me, in front of a snow bank in a ski jacket that’s REALLY come in handy. To give you some scale, I’m 6’2″ tall – that snow pile is just about 7’2″.

The above picture was taken before the “dig-out” period by our Creative Media Director Jimmy Marks. That’s his car – beneath 24 inches of snow!

The snow piles easily tower over even large SUVs. Makes me wonder if maybe there are some other cars buried out there under the big snow piles!

Operations Specialist Steve Mattson lives in a more rural area of Northern VA. Good news? He has a small tractor and snapped a few pictures. Bad news? He’s STILL stuck at home! Hopefully we’ll see you Monday, Steve!

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