The New Era of Social Media: Private Messaging is The Next Frontier

By Tiffany Pack, Guest Blogger | 4.3.17

At their inception, traditional social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter gained wild, immediate popularity.

Why? Because they tapped into the basic human need to connect with other people and redefined how we do so.

Its spontaneity, with few controls and freedom from the intrusion of advertising we didn’t choose to see, spawned a second wave of social media channels such as Vine, Pinterest, and Instagram.

But, as with any new medium, platform owners and businesses began to lose sight of users and what drew them to social media in the first place. Users began to seek newer, more private messaging apps, hence the advent of Snapchat, Kik, and Facebook Messenger.


As a result, we are experiencing a shift, or rebalancing, of the social landscape that effectively serves the platforms and brands that are present on them, along with the users themselves.

Messaging apps are evolving quickly. As Facebook, Microsoft and Apple continue to innovate in this space, we are in an era of change unlike any experienced since Apple introduced the iOS platform in 2008.

The Rise of Private Messaging Platforms

As evidenced by Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 million in 2014 and its more recent unsuccessful bid to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in cash – and Snapchat’s recent IPO with a $33 billion market capitalization – private messaging is the next wave of social.

Last year, the number of monthly users of these messaging apps surpassed the number of monthly active users on traditional social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This exciting shift highlights what made social media so appealing to users initially: the ability for humans to connect with other humans authentically – free from control and brand messaging being imposed upon them. 

What does that mean for brands?

Now, reconnecting with users on these new messaging social media platforms is entirely possible and should be part of any complete marketing strategy.

Consider these features that users, brands and the platforms can find mutually beneficial:

Human Needs                Messaging Apps                   Social/Business Needs
Authentic platform           Pull vs. push ads                  Marketing
Fun/Spontaneous            One to close friends             Mobile
Simple/Convenient          Ease and convenience         Ads/sweeps
Unobtrusive ads              Privacy                                 Data-driven

For example, on Snapchat, brands can purchase lenses to help promote their products. For sponsorship fees of $450,000-$750,000, brands can reach a potential audience of more than 100 million daily users age 13-34, which is what X-Men: Apocalypse did effectively to support its release.

Facebook Messenger App uses AI bot assistants that enable users to purchase directly from 1-800-Flowers and Urban Outfitters without leaving the app.


Simple, user-friendly SMS interfaces let customers engage and purchase without having to navigate multiple apps. And, Facebook earns transaction fees from the brands providing measurable results.

The implication for brands is simple: private messaging is the new frontier and you should be there now.


Tiffany Pack
Tiffany Pack is director of strategy for Sparks Grove, a division of North Highland.


Ten Things You Should Know about NAMA

By Jamie Dunham, NAMA President-Elect | 12.29.15

top 10

I am a sucker for Top Ten lists, and 2015 has been a good year at the Nashville AMA chapter, so I thought it would be helpful to reflect on the Top Ten Things You Should Know About NAMA:

  1. Informed Marketing Insights
    Our members say that learning the latest marketing trends is one of the top member benefits. To ensure that learning continues, our NAMA Programming team spends hours juggling calendars, contacts, hot topics and research to bring us programming from informed leaders in their fields.Some of the topics from 2015 Power Lunches have included Experiential Marketing, Video Innovation, Non-Profit Marketing, Marketing to Women, Social Media experts and Sports Marketing leaders. Each speaker provided current information and insights not found by just reading blogs or reading books, and they were very generous in sharing their current experience in their fields.After the 2015 Super Bowl, we heard from Nissan on its approach to the Super Bowl campaign from enlisting top bloggers early-on to actual advertising and social media, and we were able to hear first-hand results.
  1. Shared Expertise
    At NAMA, we have hosted member-only events that provide shared expertise in a variety of subjects from how to hone your presentations to how to deal with clients. Karl Sakas, an agency consultant and business coach, met with us this month to provide his insights on creating great client relationships and how to deal with difficult client situations.
  1. Category Knowledge
    We have several special interest groups within NAMA that provide excellent programs targeted at specific categories – Business to Business, Healthcare Marketing, Non-Profit Marketing, Technology Marketing and our newest group Research. Our Healthcare group regularly brings in market leaders like Rebecca Climer, SVP of Marketing and Communications at Saint Thomas Health to discuss their marketing strategy. Research hosted a round table as their initial event this year.  And our B2B group brought in Gannett to talk about marketing strategy.
  1. Relationships
    NAMA is an extremely welcoming group. With the growth in the Nashville marketing community, NAMA provides a home for marketers where they can make peer relationships not available elsewhere. Getting involved, attending meetings and working on committees provide opportunities for marketing relationships that live beyond your current job.I have several close friendships with persons I have met through NAMA. These relationships have made my life richer and my professional life more relevant. I count on these friends for important advice, special insights and referrals to specialists I might not know.
  1. Inside Scoop
    I have a friend who always says, “What’s the scoop?’ Well, when you are involved at NAMA, you have inside information on business changes, corporate changes and new jobs. This information makes your cocktail conversation richer, and friends will look at you as the “person in the know.”
  1. National Perspective
    NAMA is part of the American Marketing Association, a national organization that provides an array of resources (also a top member benefit). Its website provides excellent resources, events, webinars, publications, and content helpful to marketers. Take a minute to read The AMA’s Top 10 Marketing Stories of 2015.
  1. Local Leaders
    Where else are you going to meet some of Nashville’s top marketing leaders? We host top leaders across all disciplines and brands. In our friendly and inclusive environment, we encourage NAMA participants to learn from these leaders. And, many times, these leaders are looking for talent. Win-win!
  1. Experience and Career Growth
    We encourage all volunteers and board members to add their NAMA experience to their resume and LinkedIn profile. NAMA is a great way to gain leadership experience and to build competency in a different marketing discipline. Prospective employers are always interested in your passion for your industry and participating in NAMA is a great way to exhibit that passion.
  1. Valuable Partnerships
    NAMA has been asked to participate in several other marketing events throughout 2015. We provided volunteers to Emma’s Marketing United Conference and the Fuel Lines New Business Conference.In exchange, discounts were available to our members. These conferences were highlights of the marketing year in Nashville and were enjoyed by our members.
  1. Networking
    I left networking for the end of the list. Most people say networking is an important benefit to participation in NAMA; however, I think participation is the key to networking.Just showing up at a meeting, collecting business cards, and pestering people for coffees and lunches is not effective networking.Networking comes from really engaging with fellow members, getting to know about them on a personal level and working/learning together provides the foundation for real and sustained networking. I’m confident that many of my fellow members will join me in this insight.Getting to know folks at NAMA is easy. We provide many venues – monthly coffees, monthly mixers, breakfasts, lunches and parties. So jump in!

If you are not currently a member of NAMA, 2016 might be a good time to join so you can enjoy more NAMA benefits. By the way, 95 percent of our members say they are satisfied with the NAMA membership.

Jan. 7 Power Lunch to Highlight Marketing Automation

By Melinda Scruggs Gales | 12.17.15 (Updated 1.4.16)

“That’s the car!

My son has just pointed out a Corvette (or Lamborghini, I’m never sure) whizzing by. He loves autos and is sure his first will be at least a BMW i8 Spider. Really?  Meanwhile, we’re patiently reminding him that his first car will have to suit his level of experience and his resources.

Your choice of marketing automation tools is no different.

Marketing Automation is being defined daily and consensus is that it consists of tools such as email automation (an early cornerstone of marketing automation suites) scaling up to MAPs (marketing automation platforms) featuring software that integrates into robust CRM (customer relationship management) solutions.

The goal is to “automate repetitive tasks” all triggered by specified criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes that are interpreted, stored and executed by software which reduces human error. And in theory, this enables you to increase ROI by being more personal, timely and impactful in your outreach ultimately increasing sales.

marketing automation

Selecting the right marketing automation products is a challenge and not unlike the search for my son’s first car. You must evaluate the potential investment by looking at features, functionality, usability, vendor viability (will they still be in business next year), and most important, their service and support.

Two good resources for looking at the full solution MAP option include the white paper from SiriusDecisions and the website — both offer nice comparison charts.

If you can be in Nashville, TN on Thursday, Jan. 7, the Nashville Chapter of the American Marketing Association (NAMA) is offering a Power Lunch panel on “Marketing Automation for Lead Generation” featuring Patrick Brunner (Oracle/Eloqua), Christopher Lester (Emma) and Julie May (Bytes of Knowledge). The discussion will be moderated by Virsys12’s Tammy Hawes (Salesforce Consulting Partner), and there will be Q&A.

Jan7th logo

This is a great way to get some detailed understanding of how these leading solutions differ and where your need might be best met. Kind of like going to a car show, talking to other owners and test driving a few. This one will sell out so register here.

Is your company ready for a MAP? Maybe you are not ready for a luxury ride, but using some level of automation is essential for success in this loud and chaotic world as consumers/buyers look for 8 – 10 proof points (or 7-13 according to some) before they become a qualified lead. The work can be exhausting without automation working with you.

Can automation do it alone? Not on your life.

Before you invest in any level of automation be sure you have qualified leadership in sales, marketing and brand to be sure you are integrating your human-driven and automated touch points so that your brand is consistent.

I’m not ready to turn my son over to a self-driven car yet, but I’m open to seeing how that develops in his lifetime. The roadmap to tomorrow is sure to include more automation.

Melinda Scruggs Gales is Chief Brand Strategist for Nashville-based consultancy GALES NETWORK; bringing discipline to brand in healthcare, entertainment and technology.

How to Create A Direct Mail Test Matrix

 by Justin Crowley | 8.28.15

While A/B testing has become very popular in the digital age for testing the design of webpages, it also can  be very effective for testing direct mail campaigns. Direct mail is still an effective way to sell products and services. If you are going to run a direct mail campaign as part of your marketing strategy, testing the elements of your direct mail campaign will give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to save time and money.

In this post by Bob McCarthy on, you will get a quick run through of not only how to A/B split test two elements of direct mail, but several elements using a test matrix and how to reduce mailing costs while doing it.

direct mail testingTesting is the path to success in direct mail.

Generally, testing involves just two elements – testing one item against another … such as two different mailing lists, or two offers, or two formats or two messages or two of anything else.

This is known as an A/B split test.

You select the two items that you want to test, then mail half with the first item, and the other half with the second item.  The key is to keep everything else in the direct campaign exactly the same.  In that way, you know for sure that any difference in response is the result of the testable item.

You’re not limited to two items of course.  If you want to test 3 lists for example, you split your mailing into three groups and conduct an A/B/C split test.

Read more here.

7 Steps to Incorporating Your Direct Mail with Your Digital Campaign

Direct Mail 1

by Melinda Hudgins Noblitt | 8.25.15

We’re living in quite the digital world these days. As consumers, we’re being bombarded by advertisers on Instagram and text and everywhere in between. And as marketers, well, we’re the ones doing the bombarding.

Whatever happened to direct mail?

It’s all digital, digital, digital—much like that episode of The Brady Bunch where Jan is annoyed at all the awards Marsha gets at school.

However, the two can coexist. In fact, they complement each other perfectly in terms of touchpoints and tracking, says Chuck Harter.

He leads business development with Plan Left, a full-service advertising and marketing agency based in East Nashville that focuses on integrating technology into marketing plans.

We already know digital marketing can be targeted to consumers based on specific demographics or psychographics, but direct mail targets those same consumers, too.

The key is using them in tandem, and we’re here to show you how to make that happen in 7 Easy Steps.


1. Determine your goals (and budget)

What do you want to achieve with this marketing initiative? Drive traffic to a new website? Engage consumers via social media? Increase online sales? Figure out where you’d like to go, then map out a course of action that fits within your financial parameters.

While digital marketing is cheaper per ad, the national click-through rate average is .09 percent. Meaning only 1 in 1,000 people are going to click on a display ad.

“[Direct mail] is still the most targeted and still the most effective per impression when it comes to direct cost,” Harter said.


2. Define your audience

Who exactly are you trying to reach? Whether you’re targeting consumers based on specific preferences or past purchases, narrow (or broaden) your focus accordingly. This is where lists come into play. Find yourself a solid list broker or develop one based on current clientele.

Keep in mind: direct mail isn’t the answer for every marketing campaign.

“If it’s a general branding opportunity, then I find that direct mail will not be recommended first and foremost,” Harter says. “If it’s directly tied to a conversation or call-to-action, then direct mail is a great way to put an action in front of a decision-maker.”


3. Develop your digital marketing campaign

If you have experience with digital marketing, this part can be fun! If it’s all Greek to you, then reach out to a colleague (or fellow NAMA member) for an agency reference.


4. Decide direct mail touchpoints

Harter noted the value of snail mail actually has increased, because most junk mail gets caught in our email inboxes. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love receiving mail? If it’s pertinent and valuable to consumers, they’ll open it, read it, and (hopefully) follow the call to action.

“With digital advertising, I can definitely focus in and hyper-target down to lifestyle—if someone likes Coke or Pepsi or subscribes to a poodle magazine—and I can target that same person physically,” Harter explains. “If I want to hit them with all assets, I can hit them on Facebook and have a piece in their mailbox, as well.”

Direct mail also is going to be more relevant to an individual consumer if you’ve done your homework.

According to Harter, “For direct mail, the impact is a lot higher, and it can still be just as targeted, compared to radio or billboards, which are going to be advertising based on location or location and lifestyle, not on need or ask.”

That said, radio and billboards can be key to your campaign, especially if it’s a branding initiative (see Step 2), but that’s an entirely different blog post for a different day.


5. Delve into creative

Creative is loads of fun! Again, it may look different for each piece, based on your audience(s). Plus, technology has become incredibly advanced in terms of variable data printing, which allows collateral to be hyper-personalized.

Address the piece directly to the consumer, and forget the formalities; it’ll be much more personal without Mr. or Mrs. in the greeting. NAMA member Emily Fay discussed printing techniques in a previous blog interview that mimic handwriting with a ballpoint pen, and it’s not by Lucinda. (That’s a font joke, in case you didn’t catch it.)

“That means we can have a direct mail campaign with six different fonts and do a split testing on which font was more responsive,” Harter says. “And that’s not even taking into consideration the graphics.”

And if your team can’t decide on one graphic, try a couple, and test away! Which leads us to Step 6 …


6. Don’t forget to track your results

Assuming the client has an engagement that leads somewhere from the direct mail piece like a phone number or website, Harter says he can track every move.

Tracking marketing initiatives can be difficult, but it’s absolutely necessary (if not a little on the creepy side).

“I can give target-specific URLs or QR Codes, or have them link directly to social media with specific coupon codes, and I know exactly what person opened it in my campaign,” he says. “It really comes down to how important those tracking pieces are for a client. Yes, the more tracking, the better because we could refine that piece and make it more effective the next time.”


7. Do your research for future campaigns

So where is direct marketing headed? Harter says augmented reality is emerging quickly.

You’re probably familiar with one of the most popular forms: Shazaam, a mobile app that works as a music (and TV) identifier.

Experiential marketing also can include visual components that lead to video or other actions. (Stay tuned to the NAMA Blog in September for more on this topic.)
“That’s the next touchpoint: kicking them back to the digital world,” says Harter.


8. Dinner celebration (bonus!)

Hooray, you did it! Now pat yourself on the back for a job well done and celebrate with some local fare. Nosh on tasty dishes from Holland House or enjoy a handcrafted cocktail with the hipsters at No. 308. Bonus points if you invite Chuck Harter to join you on the East Side.






Are You Making These 7 Direct Marketing Mistakes?

Direct Mail Samples


Direct marketing is one of the oldest types of marketing. While the Internet has changed the way marketers use direct marketing, many continue to make the same common mistakes that they made years ago.

Reducing even a few of the common mistakes will result in a better return for your marketing dollars.

There are too many common mistakes to discuss in one blog post. I will focus on a few that can make a real impact in your direct campaigns.

  1. Renting or buying a list

    One of the most common mistakes is that direct marketers look for an easy way to find and target an audience. With some small exceptions, list rental is a bad idea. It’s important that you grow your own list using inbound marketing tactics. To expand your list the right way, use predictive analytics to find “look-alike” prospects.

Read more here.

The Psychology of Direct Mail

by Jaylyn Carlyle | 8.14.15

It’s easy to believe that, as marketers, we’re just sellers. Peddlers of products, ideas, and, most of all, solutions.

But make no mistake, you’re a psychologist.

Despite not having the plaque and those all-defining letters after your name (or maybe you do), this industry demands the study of human behavior and thought processes. It’s our job to understand people.

As this Target Marketing Magazine article by Summer Gould discusses, even the placement of an image or a simple word choice can determine a buyer’s decision. Though this is a brief discussion on the topic, I think it’s a great place to start when considering how to develop direct mail collateral.



You may think that direct mail is pretty straightforward. You send an offer to someone who hopefully wants it, and they respond. Well actually, when you look closely, really good direct mail uses psychology. Before designing the layout or writing the copy, taking the time to dig deeper into your audience can be a big payoff. Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context. So if we want to create direct mail that the recipients can’t help but respond to, we need to get into their minds.

Let’s break down how best to profile your audience:

  1. Identify Their Pain/Pleasure Points – this is the driver of human behavior
  2. Find a Novelty – something new or unknown to them
  3. Find the Why – show them how great it can be
  4. Make it Easy – easy to read, easy to understand and easy to respond
  5. Find What Makes Them Curious – when you spark curiosity they make more of an effort

Once you have all of the information above, you can start to create designs and copy that appeal directly to your audience. In many cases we are targeting different segments at the same time, so create separate designs and copy for each segment. Let’s look at both design and copy while focusing on psychology.

Read more here.





Image Source:


What Exactly Does a Full-fledged Direct Mail Campaign Look Like?


by Melinda Hudgins Noblitt

Now that you believe us when we say direct mail marketing is alive and well (or if you still need convincing, click here), it’s time to start planning your campaign.

Gone are the days of sending out catalogs to the masses. Not only is that method costly, it’s usually not very effective.

There are two main firsts, explains NAMA member and Remar, Inc. marketing manager Emily Fay, who possesses extensive experience in direct mail fundraising.

Determine your budget and your audience.

Both will help determine the type of direct mail that makes sense for your brand.

Also, know what you want out of the campaign, says Fay. Have clear, set goals and a key call-to-action response. This will help track results and, ultimately, ROI.

While working as an account manager with a direct mail company whose major clients were hospitals, Fay found that fundraising pieces had higher open rates when they were designed to look like medical bills.

Not only can those be personalized to each patient (or former patient), but new printing techniques can mimic a ballpoint pen, which appears even more hand-written than a run-of-the-mill script font.

In her current role, Fay works more with oversized postcards and advises viewing the direct mail piece as a mini-billboard. The average motorist has 3 to 5 seconds to see, read, and comprehend a billboard, and the same goes for a collateral that is competing with a cluttered desk.

Think: text, image, call to action.

It needs to be pretty simple, because the receiver will determine quickly if it should be tossed into a trashcan, or if it has value and should remain on his or her desk.

In addition to defining your audience, it’s best to determine a specific point of contact. For example, if you’re pitching new TVs to area hospitals, target the purchasing manager with direct mail.

This is where lists come into play. Fay mentioned using list brokers who can help you reach a core group of people. In fact, this hyper-specific marketing is what differentiates today’s direct mail from that of 20 or 30 years ago.

So, you’ve targeted your audience, determined the point of contact, created a good looking piece of collateral, and you’ve sent it off.

Now what?

Follow up, of course!

Fay says her company sends a follow-up email about a week and a half after the direct mail is distributed. Then, for good measure, sends out another piece of direct mail a week and a half later.

Follow-up is key, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Fay explained how clients would request new letters or updated creative, but that isn’t necessary. Most of us can’t remember what we ate for lunch yesterday, much less what we read six months ago.

Repetition can be good, especially if it’s working, and it helps save on printing costs to boot.

While direct mail can be more expensive, it oftentimes results in higher ROI because it is so hyper-targeted.



Image Source:

Seven Reasons to Make Direct Mail Part of Your Digital Marketing Plan

by Jaylyn Carlyle | 8.7.15

Do you find yourself walking back from the mailbox paying more attention to all of your mail, including those pesky direct mail pieces? I know I do. I’m not the least bit interested in redoing my hardwood floors, still I read over the collateral. As Kevin Lee breaks down in this article we found on ClickZ, in a digital world, direct mail really does have its own place and can be used to bolster your digital marketing plan.

By Kevin Lee

As the world becomes increasingly more digital, postal direct mail stands out, both for the novelty factor and because it comes without digital pitfalls like viewability and bots.

Postal direct mail – in the era of Facebook, Google, and Amazon – may seem to the digital marketing enthusiast to be a remnant of the past. There’s nothing “cool” about direct mail: no IPOs, APIs, or the kind of “hacker marketing culture” we find in SEO and social media.

At the same time, however, it’s clear that the digital marketing ecosystem has its share of problems, some of which can be alleviated by a smart use of postal mail. Bot traffic is rising (56% in 2014, according to anti-spam vendor LavaSoft). Ad viewability remains an issue. Response rates from e-mail remain in decline, thanks to the efforts of Gmail and other email providers’ to auto-route commercial emails to hidden areas behind the “promotional” tabs. Even content marketing – a sound strategy for many – remains an uphill battle in an environment in which the supply of content exceeds the supply of human readers.

Read more here.

25 Direct Marketing Statistics Prove Direct Mail Works

by Jaylyn Carlyle | 8.4.15

Sometimes the truth is best found in the numbers. Check out this article by Brenna Donovan, originally posted at which provides serious support to direct mail. 


by Brenna Donovan

With the rise of email and social media, many leap to declare print and direct mail “dead.” But don’t let them fool you! These 25 Direct Marketing Statistics prove that direct mail is still alive and well, and is above all a profitable and worthy component of your integrated marketing strategy.

With the rise of email and social media, many leap to declare print and direct mail “dead.” But don’t let them fool you! These 25 Direct Marketing Statistics prove that direct mail is still alive and well, and is above all a profitable and worthy component of your integrated marketing strategy.


  1. Direct mail continues to be used heavily, with a 43% share of total local retail advertising.1 Tweet this.
  2. Young adults, 24 years and younger, are among the most direct mail responsive.2Tweet this.
  3. 92% of young shoppers say they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions.3 Tweet this.
  4. An International Communications Research survey found that 73% of consumers actually prefer mail over other advertising methods.4Tweet this.
  5. 59% of U.S. respondents and 65% of Canadian respondents agreed with the following statement, “I enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products.”5Tweet this.
  6. 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing.6Tweet this.

The Bottom Line – People love to get mail! That’s right, tangible mail in their mailboxes. Even younger generations, those constantly seen on social media and email sites, like and prefer classic direct mail. Give the people what they want, and receive the benefits of this popular medium.

Read more here.