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March 31, 2014

Getting Your Customers to See the Value of World Backup Day

Filed under: My Virtual StrongBox,World Backup Day — 11:33 am

World Backup Day

Today is World Backup Day, a day to remind even the most stubborn or forgetful of us that we need to back up our computers, phones, tablets and everything else in our digital world.

Backups are important for any business, but they’re even more important for our home computers and gadgets. Sure, you’d be sad to lose all your email contacts on your work computer, but wouldn’t you be even more depressed at the thought of losing the video of your child’s first birthday? What about all those great pictures of your mom and dad’s anniversary? How about that music collection it took you years to perfect? All your software, all your apps, all your documents – gone, in the blink of an eye.

Regular, routine backups are the solution. Saving your computer’s contents to an external drive or to a secure online space will help you recover from the loss of your computer quickly and thoroughly. It’s important to share that same sentiment with customers, members and clients, as well. Why?

  1. Most people don’t think about data loss. It’s the reason about one-third of all people have never backed up their computer…ever. That statistic is heartbreaking when you consider how easy it is and what’s at stake if the proper action isn’t taken.
  2. We have a duty to our customers and members to guard their interests as their trusted partner. How many shred days have you hosted? How many lectures have you given about safety and password updates? These are important to us and they should be important to our customers and members. We can be a big partner in helping them make good decisions for the benefit of technology.

So what should we do? How can we impart good habits on our clientele, not just today, but every day?

  1. Consider giving away hard drives as part of a “data security special promotion”. These are relatively inexpensive and promote good backup habits.
  2. Offer a secure online storage portal for your customers’ most important documents.
  3. Create a page on your website that focuses on data security and how members can protect their data and prevent data loss.

Head over to the World Backup Day website and take the pledge. Then, think of new ways you can help the people that trust you for financial protection and good advice. Together, we can keep all our important moments and memories secure.


March 19, 2014

Who needs the Sweet Sixteen? We’re a Fabulous Fourteen!

Filed under: DigitalMailer — 10:39 am

While we prepare our brackets for the big dance, we take a few minutes from thinking about the “Sweet Sixteen” and focus on the “Fabulous Fourteen”. DigitalMailer turns 14 years old today!

Wow, what a whirlwind fourteen years we’ve had. We began in 2000 with only three employees and a simple idea: to find new ways to increase efficiencies and cut costs by growing virtual branches. We’ve never shied from that mission and we’re always looking for new ways to make big things happen for our clients.

We thank each and every one of the partners, clients and people that have helped us along the way and we’re very excited about what’s to come in the next fourteen years…and beyond.

Now, to enjoy a piece of cake and finish filling out these brackets…

Picture: Will Clayton, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.


March 5, 2014

You Clean Up Nicely!

Filed under: email marketing,eStrategy,Marketing,smart marketing — 12:39 pm

Clean up!

by Jimmy Marks, Creative Media Director

It’s time I confessed something to you, dear reader: I’m a clutter-bug.

I’m a scatter-brained, right-handed mess-maker. My desk, where I sit and write these words you’re reading now, is littered with papers and books and coffee cups and knick-knacks. There are pens and markers and paper clips and phone chargers and pictures everywhere. And this is how it looks when it’s in a state I like to call “organized”.

I’m not the only one, though. According to this nice article about messy desk and genius (ahem), Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Alan Turing, Alexander Fleming, and Steve Jobs all shared my “messy desk syndrome”. And while I like to think I’m as big a genius as the men behind penicillin, the theory of relativity, Tom Sawyer and the iPhone, I could probably benefit from a thorough tidy-up day. So, why not today?

I start by making a few little piles. One is “stuff that needs attention,” one is “stuff I should hold on to, but probably don’t need right now” and one is “garbage.” I take a look at all the paper on my desk, piece by piece, and I figure out where it should all go. When all my piles are stacked up, I take care of each according to their importance.

It’s a nice little exercise and it helps you figure out where your projects are in terms of process. Better yet, it can be repeated in many ways. I did the same thing to all the files on my desktop, then all the files in my documents folder, then all the files in my downloads folder. The old stuff, I set aside. The new stuff, I checked over. If it wasn’t needed, I sent it to recycling. If it was needed but not right away, I saved it to a separate storage drive.

These occasional clean-ups and purges help me and help everyone in my organization. When I can find what I need at a glance or with a simple pull of a file drawer, I save them the time and trouble of waiting around for me. I give them what they want and I know just where to find it.

A few things I’ve learned about dealing with file clutter, both on paper and with electronic files:

  • Break down files into folders by type. For those Adobe Creative Suite users out there, make one file for Photoshop files, one for Illustrator files, one for InDesign files, and so on. Save the outputs into files based on the project you’re working on, but keep all the .PSDs in one place and you’ll never have to wonder which project the templates were kept in while you were working on them.
  • Don’t be afraid to save the iterations of campaigns and ideas. If your email campaign started as a sketch in your daily work book (…you do keep a daily work book, right?), make a copy of that page and stuff it in a file with the other updates, changes, edits and revisions. It helps you keep track of when changes were made and why and it will show others how your creative process goes from start to finish.
  • Staples, tape, paper clips, chewed gum…if you need to stick a couple of files together for posterity sake, do it by any means necessary. (You might want to avoid the gum thing, though…at least at work.)
  • Go through your inbox and find all the “rotten tomatoes” – things that seemed ripe and fresh when you got them but are now just making things stinky. These include notes from colleagues about what lunch is that day, coupon offers that have long expired, and any email where the body is the word “Thanks!”. Delete them with vigor.
  • Got a lot of stock art options? Organize them by theme. “Families”, “cars/auto loans”, and “vacations” are all stock images we use a lot of here at DigitalMailer. We can get to them all because we’ve got them saved in a central folder that the marketing team can access collaboratively. We only copy files out of that folder and we never, ever modify them in the root folder.

What are some ways you’ve improved your workflow with a little extra organization? Let us know about it in the comments.

(Image credit: emilyrides, via Flickr. Used under attribution license.)


February 13, 2014

Bringing the Romance Back to Your Emails

Filed under: Banks,Credit Unions,email,email marketing,Marketing,marketing on a budget,technology — 11:51 am

Forming the "Love Connection" via Email

Sure, getting an email from your bank or credit union isn’t the same as getting a bouquet of roses or a fancy steak dinner. But emailing your subscribers is more than just “sending an email” – it should be part of building and maintaining a relationship.

It takes so little to make subscribers feel special. What are some steps you can take today to “show the love”?

1. Start Personalizing

Throwing in the first name or preferred name of your recipient makes a big difference in your open rates. Making the reader feel like he or she is the only one the email was meant for makes them feel special and encourages them to read thoroughly and take action.

2. Respect Boundaries

Who wants an email from their financial institution every day of the week? Make sure you’re sending on a regular time frame that’s not too intrusive or hard to manage. That way, your readers will be less likely to think of your emails as a chore and more likely to see them as a special benefit.

3. Figure Out Their Heart’s Desire

A regular newsletter email? That’s fine. An email sent to a prospective borrower with a pre-approval offer and all the info they need to take the next step? That’s an email with potential. Forget about “big data”…all you really need is a little extra information and an email address and you can come up with a list of subscribers that will not only love to get your message, but will love you for the money you save them on loans and personal banking services.

Valentine’s Day is upon us. Show your subscribers that you really care – start building relationships!


January 27, 2014

Our Recent Update: A Change of Makeup

Filed under: Banks,Credit Unions,DigitalMailer,e-Statements,email,web sites — 2:23 pm

Makeover

by Jimmy Marks

In September of 2013, it was decided that our website was due for a makeover. I sat down, brainstormed a few changes to be made and started doing a rough sketch of the layout. One thing led to another and I put the refresh in my “to-do” pile.

In October, I was in Nashville for a conference and I got an email from Greg Crandell, our EVP of Sales and Marketing with the subject line “Focus.”

“I want to talk about creating FOCUS,” the email read. “We have three, maybe four, service focuses but we show 25 services on our site. You and I are going to define focus.”

When I got back from my business trip, I sat in a conference room with Greg and Ron and we started drilling down on what really mattered to us.

I was slowly but surely realizing that this latest update was going to mean more than a change in style – it was going to mean a change of makeup. Not like lipstick and rouge, mind you — “makeup” as in the DNA of the website itself.

First Thing’s First: Focusing

Greg’s email was right. We had too much “stuff” – pages for services that were sub-sections of other services and sub-sets of sub-sections of blah blah blah…it was just overstuffed with information.

In our meeting, we took a hatchet to the current content. We were brutal. “Dump, dump, roll up into EDMS, dump, roll up into ARB Plus, dump. Moving on to the second section…”

It took me by surprise how quickly we moved through every section of the website and cleaned house. It also surprised me how little certain pages were being visited in a twelve month span and how much more efficient it would be to combine certain sections and cut others loose.

The biggest, boldest change: the addition of the “Virtual Branch” section. We wanted to show our visitors what happens when you take your “small data” (customer basics – name, date-of-origination, credit scores, etc.) and combine it with our various communication and e-document products. The results: more loans offered and taken; more engagement with key demographics; operational efficiencies that save money and energy and replace complex processes with simple, down-to-earth solutions.

Lighter, Brighter, Travel-Ready

As we move into a new era, mobile-friendly web experiences are going to mean more to your average user. The site was built from a responsive boilerplate and then modified to suit our needs. I gathered my stock images and worked them into our theme to show shiny, happy people using technology and managing their money. I then decided to set up color schemes for each “service section” – crimson for marketing, hunter green for documents, a nice rich purple for virtual branch, etc. I tested and retested and pushed and pulled until I found the perfect mix.

Why bother with all the lightening, brightening and tightening? Because there are all kinds of users and all kinds of learners. Some folks (like me) need images. Some folks (like…well, not me) need words. We had to try to find the right balance between the “lookers” and the “readers” in a way that would encourage both types to keep reading, looking, and learning.

Testing and Being Okay with the “Leave-Behinds”

I took a little time to test against a variety of browsers. It looked okay in all of them, with one big-ugly set of exceptions. Yep, you guessed it – Internet Explorer, versions 7 and 6. Believe it or not, we have a handful of visitors that use IE7 and IE6 for their day-to-day browsing experience. I thought about digging in on how to make those changes when the following thought occurred to me: keep moving. IE 6 has been cut-off by Microsoft . It will never be updated again. If people don’t get the “full-experience” with an IE6 browser, it’s not my concern. It can’t be. I have to keep moving. They need to upgrade their browser to get the “full effect.” And even then, the information’s the same – it’s just not going to look as beautiful as it does in IE 9 or IE 10.

But “leave-behinds” doesn’t just pertain to the user – it also pertains to me, as the site designer and administrator. If I find out a few months from now that a certain new addition isn’t working, I’ll make a change. I’m not going to sit around pouting about how my perfect little spider-web got ruined – I’m going to roll up my sleeves, make a smart change and move on to the next issue.

So, what have we learned?

The new site’s been getting great buzz and people are really enjoying it. Our viewers are getting information and, when they need more, they’re seeking out our white-papers, webinars and info sessions. And they’re getting all this information more quickly, with less clutter.

As you move forward into 2014, start asking these three questions about your own web experience:

  1. Is it easy to figure out what we’re doing here, and how what we do can help our target audience?
  2. What could we cut loose that our audience would never miss? Would this section work better if merged with another section?
  3. Does this site travel well, and does it suit our ideal audience in their ideal reading environment (mobile, desktop, tablet, etc.)?
  4. Most Important: When something isn’t working, how long am I going to wait to make a sensible change?

When you can answer all those questions succinctly as a group, you and your web team can start making the changes that will bring your website forward. And you can give your site a very nice makeover, knowing your makeup is much improved.

Image: Flickr ( by _Frankenstein_, some rights reserved)


December 23, 2013

Turning the Page: A Special Message from Ron Daly, President/CEO

Filed under: DigitalMailer,Special Reports — 10:24 am

The lights are up at my house. The tree is trimmed, the house is warm, and all the gifts are hidden away, waiting to be wrapped for Christmas morning.
As I sit writing this, I take a quick peek at my calendar. For the last few days, I’ve been a little curious about what 2013 looked like as I turned the pages back from December, right up to January.

2013 brought us a ton of new, exciting product developments and great suggestions to work on in 2014 from our client focus groups. These new innovations and solutions will be a major boost to our clients and will help deepen their customer relationships.

Not only did our suite of services grow, so did our company. We’ve added 7 new full-time employees to our staff — so many that we needed a whole new suite of offices at our Charlotte location.

I’m always happy to add another eager worker to our family. I’m also happy when a product we worked on for months comes together and goes to work. But neither warms my heart as much as the great feedback and stories of success we receive from our partners and clients, week after week. This business was founded around the idea of helping our clients connect with their customers online and grow their business. All indications are that they’re right on target to meet these goals and save money in the process.

I can’t begin to thank the entire DigitalMailer family enough for their hard work and dedication this year. I want to thank my own family as well, for letting me continue to do what I really, truly love. To our partners, thank you all for seeing the value in what we do and for growing with us, collaboratively. To our clients, both new and long-lasting, we give our unending gratitude. We literally could not do all of this without you.

As I put the final touches on this letter, I realize that 2013 is going to be a tough year to beat. But I’m willing to give it a try.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and we’ll see you next year.

signature.png

Ron Daly, President/CEO of DigitalMailer

PS – Please take a moment to remember our troops this holiday season. Their commitment to cause earns them a special place in all our hearts.


December 9, 2013

Meet the New Passwords, Same As the Old Passwords

Filed under: eStrategy,Financial News,security — 2:26 pm

by Jimmy Marks

Convincing people that a bad idea really is a bad idea is tough. Just ask anyone who went into a barber shop back in the 80′s and said “Give me the ‘Flock-of-Seagulls’, please.” Or anyone that invested in Blackberry and didn’t sell before October of 2009. Or anyone that uses a “guesstimate” when it comes to cooking poultry. Just use a meat thermometer, guys.

Here’s a really bad idea: Using the word “password” as your password. When someone’s striving to get into your online accounts, a good first move is to guess your password. If your password is “password”…well, mission accomplished.

“Oh, that’s just common sense,” you say. Normally, I’d agree with you. But a recent study by security expert Mark Burnett found that “Password” and the number string “123456″ are the most frequently-used passwords, or are components thereof.

To back that up, a recently discovered cache of stolen passwords (about 2 million or so) was data mined by a security company. Their discovery? Most passwords were the number string “123456″, with “password” not far behind. Worst of all, these were the same worst passwords last year, in the top 1 and 2 slots.

What is it with people? Why do they continue to do this to themselves? Maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe the real question is, “What can we do to help?”

Some ideas:

  1. Require your users to have complex passwords, and explain why. There are plenty of ways to practice what we preach here, including an “evaluation scale” that tells users how secure their password is as they enter it for the first time.
  2. Offer up a list of security best practices for your users. Make them readily available and update them as needed. Help your users avoid phishing scams, viruses and other online threats by helping them recognize a bad email when they see one.
  3. Require password changes and updates from your staff. Protecting internal information is important and asking staff to change their passwords is an essential part of keeping that data safe. Make certain your staff understands the importance of information integrity and demand they take it seriously.

And, as always, vary your passwords. Don’t use one password for every service.

The easiest way to protect yourself online is to make just a little more effort on your own behalf. As more services offer online interaction, users of all experience levels need to stay vigilant. A little bit of planning goes a long way. Not using “password” or “123456″ in your actual password goes even longer.


November 26, 2013

What We’re Thankful For

Filed under: DigitalMailer,Special Reports — 1:38 pm

by The DigitalMailer Staff

We asked our employees a simple question: “What are you thankful for?” Their answers were touching, surprising, heartfelt and inspiring. 

“I am truly thankful for the new family I have become a part of here at DMI, the great relationships I have built with my clients, and last but not least…my family and friends both at work and outside of work! I am truly thankful to be sitting here today, surrounded by a great team who is on a mission to do great things!”

Indrit Greblleshi,
Account Manager

“I am thankful for all the people in my life. Without them I wouldn’t be who and where I am today, just showing me that they care is thanks enough.”

Sejal Patel,
Creative Services Consultant

“I’m thankful for the sweet smiles and unsolicited hugs I receive from my children, the gratitude from my husband and the unconditional love from all of them. Without this, all the worldly possessions and other comforts in life would seem empty and meaningless.”

Tina Murray,
Office Manager

“I’m thankful to have friends and family who have supported me through all of the changes this year has brought me and making my move from Virginia to Texas easier than I thought it would be.”

Colleen Williams,
Sales Associate

“I’m thankful for [my boyfriend] Steve! And for Chipotle. It gives people happiness.”

Sam Thrift,
Sales Associate

“I am thankful for our freedom. Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted but with all that is going on around the world, and even within our own borders, we have many reminders that Freedom is not Free.”

Scott Smith,
Software Engineer

“My son Ryan joined the Army National Guard in September and will finish training in February. I am thankful that he’ll be home for Christmas.”

Stephen Mattson,
Operations specialist

“I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to start a new career here at DigitalMailer. I had been working temporary jobs with no direction for over a year, and now finally have a new career path. I am also thankful for my family. My kids, wife, and dog have kept me on track to becoming the person I want to be. My family is the reason I am on my current path and I owe everything to them for it. My kids are teaching me patience and to always put family first. In today’s world, it is easy to get side tracked and forget that family will always be there for you when you need them.”

Casey Succolosky,
Account Manager

“What I am most thankful for is having the opportunity to live life to the fullest. When the year began I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish and for the most part I’ve been able to accomplish them. Along the way I’ve done some incredible things (Skydiving, black diamond, etc…) and met some incredible people (everyone I didn’t know before). It’s kind of corny, but life itself is the greatest gift you can have or give and I am thankful for anything and everything I am able to accomplish.”

Viv Chiware,
Account Manager

“I’m thankful for having a job that I get to work with people that I enjoy being around.

I’m thankful for having a healthy family that has more ups than downs.

And I’m thankful that Ron thought of me 13+ years  ago when he thought of DigitalMailer.”

Amy Baldi
Research Group Lead

“I’m thankful for our great staff, our awesome clients and all the folks that make our world go round.

And after last night’s game, I’m thankful the Redskins’ season is almost over.”

Ron Daly,
President/CEO

_________

We wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

 


November 13, 2013

Are You Sticking with the Old or Doubling Down on the New?

Filed under: Credit Union News,DigitalMailer,economy,My Virtual StrongBox,technology — 10:04 am

by Ron Daly

We had a great time last week in San Diego at the CUES CETNET conference. The weather was close enough to perfect for us Virginians (the California folks seemed to think that a 70° day was a little chilly) and downright hot to the Wisconsinites. But better than the weather were the many discussions, talks and breakout sessions we attended.

One that sticks with me, a man trying to extol the virtues of “going digital”, was the opening general session. Rita McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School, gave a talk about the “End of Competitive Advantage”. I took a lot of careful notes because what she was talking about is something that DigitalMailer deals with a lot. Her talk started with the comparison of two companies in the same field – one of them Fujifilm, the other, Kodak.

In the 1980′s and on into the 90′s, the writing was on the wall – digital photography was coming and film would soon stop being the key component of picture taking. Kodak knew it. Fujifilm knew it. The two companies had a difficult choice to make:

  1. Stick with film, the old technology that had been the key to income for both companies for years, or
  2. Double down on digital and find new buyers and new markets for the chemicals required to make undeveloped film.

Kodak picked option 1, Fujifilm went with option 2. Today, Kodak’s bankrupt while Fujifilm thrives. Rita McGrath laid all of this out beautifully and talked about this “tipping point” in the life cycle of both companies. One company let go of its advantage to focus on the future. The other enjoyed a brief moment of triumph but spent billions trying to play “catch-up”.

Hard not to take that to heart, isn’t it?

Consider your product offerings and ask yourself  ”where are we going with this?” When will “checking accounts” stop meaning something to the average consumer? When will lending slip out of our hands? When will the market start demanding more and will we be able to provide?

Are we going to stick to the old or double down on the new?


October 24, 2013

The Good News (and the Bad News) – Unsubscribe Numbers are Small

Filed under: Banks,Compliance,Credit Unions,DigitalMailer,e-mail,email marketing,eStrategy,Marketing,technology — 10:27 am

by Greg Crandell

I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.

The good news is: very few people unsubscribe from email campaigns.

The bad news is: very few people unsubscribe from email campaigns.

Scratching your head? So was I, until I thought it over for a while.

A low unsubscribe rate is good news because it indicates that people are interested in what your email have to say. Some of our competitors put the average rate for “finance emails” at about 0.20%. Our study of our own clients’ statistics* suggest that the number is closer to 0.08%. In either case, very few subscribers click “unsubscribe” in their emails. This can be a good sign – a low number of unsubscribes means people are still eager to read your email messages.

Or does it?

Unsubscribing means a user has taken action. Granted, it’s an action that stops them from seeing your message – but were they reading it anyway? Are they sending it directly to the “Trash” folder? Are they browsing, then moving along? Unsubscribes are one way of finding out how engaged your audience is, but there are others:

  • Look at the stats of those that opened a given campaign in the past few months. Are there folks that haven’t opened a campaign in the past six months? In a year?
  • Who’s clicking through? Check your click-through rates on your subscription list. This will show you how frequently your emails stir someone to an action inside.
  • Are you sending more than one campaign? Compare your stats for each. See how different campaigns work on different audiences. What’s happening in the one that performs with higher open and click-through rates?

I’m also concerned that certain senders don’t make unsubscribe links easy to see or use. We advocate that all our clients include clear, easy-to-read links to their unsubscribe pages and forms. That keeps your emails both CAN-SPAM compliant and moving toward an audience that’s eager to read them.

Interested in learning more email marketing tips? Email us for our whitepaper, “Build a Better Email”.

[*Based on a study of the top 10 clients; stats reflect the past 12 months of sends and campaigns]


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