Author Archives: bebtexas

Preparing Your Business for What Lies Ahead

These are uncertain times. Our daily life has suddenly changed and in a dramatic fashion. One certainty lies before us. Rough times are ahead. Remember, smooth seas don’t make skilled sailors. Economic downturns are part of the natural cycle of business and if you take time to prepare, your business will not only survive – it can flourish.

Sailing through an economic storm is an endurance test. You will need to manage your business through big waves and battle crew fatigue. People often get nervous and become distracted when business slows down. Distractions can cause errors or reduce quality output. You can combat this by being open with with your employees. Let them know what you anticipate without painting a bleak picture, Operations should never be slow in the traditional sense. Make housekeeping a priority during downtime. Every business can use a good spring cleaning and busy employees with a purpose are usually happier.

Look for opportunities amid the crisis. This is the perfect time to solidify relationships with existing clients. Be sure that the lines of communication are open between you and your valued clients. Listen for their pain points and think out of the box. You may find a means to service their needs in ways that had not been considered before.

For over 70-years our business has focused on serving our customers with deliberate and precise execution combined with flexibility to support our clients  in multiple ways. Simply translated, agility and nimbleness are essential. The downturn environment is constantly changing, which means your clients needs are in a state of flux. Make sure your business can manage the ebb and flow of needs to solidify partnerships with your clients and vendors.

Published by North Sails, an international sail maker, I recently read a blog that outlined how to safely sail through a storm while at sea. The author wrote a conclusion that mirrors exactly what a business should do during an economic storm.

“Although everyone will remember it differently years later, a long, wet, cold sail through a storm can be miserable. As skipper, you need to make the best of it: watch over your crew, offer relief or help to those who need it, and speak a few words of encouragement to all. “This is miserable, but it will end.”

Take the time to marvel at the forces of nature, and at your ability to carry on in the midst of the storm. Few people get to experience the full fury of a storm. It may not be pleasant, but it is memorable.”

 

2020 Census – How it Works

You will receive an invitation in the mail on or between March 12 – 20, 2020. Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone.

Depending on how likely your area is to respond online, you’ll receive either an invitation encouraging you to respond online or an invitation with a paper questionnaire.

Letter Invitation

  • Most areas of the country are likely to respond online, so most households will receive a letter asking you to go online to complete the census questionnaire (or to respond by phone).
  • The US Census will work with the USPS to stagger the delivery of the invitations over several days so they can spread out the number of users responding online or over the phone.

Letter Invitation and Paper Questionnaire

  • Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with their invitation. The invitation will also include information about how to respond online or by phone.

THE TIMELINE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every household that hasn’t responded by the request dates will receive reminders and will eventually receive a paper questionnaire. It doesn’t matter which initial invitation you get or how you get it – the Census will follow up in person with all households that don’t respond.

For more information click here.

Direct Mail Case Study

The power of direct mail is amazing. Let that sink in for a minute.

We hear about the might of marketing on digital channels through social media, search words, and email; and all of those channels are excellent resources for making sales. Combine those resources with the super power of direct mail and you will see simply amazing results.

We were asked to help one of our client’s research the ROI on a marketing campaign conducted last spring. At the start of the campaign, we were invited to help research and identify criteria of their ‘perfect’ client.  This customer is a membership-based organization, and once we were clear on the demographics; we went to work on obtaining a multitude of databases (including their own house list).

The mailing list is hands down, THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT of a direct mail campaign.

The client put together some beautiful graphics and powerful messaging combined with a CALL TO ACTION and we were ready to launch.

We used 14 different lists including the client’s lapsed member list, shared lists and seven purchased lists from a wide variety of sources.

The mailing was sent to 330,000 people and produced over 5,200 memberships (1.6%). They collected over $780,000 in membership revenue and 29% of that came from new members which represents projected additional earnings of  $650,000 over three-years.

The entire job including postage cost approximately $98,000 to produce and netted over $780,000 in revenue. That represents a 698% return on the investment.

The power of direct mail is amazing.

 

YouTube – 10 Things You May Not Have Known

Using a combination of public opinion surveys and large-scale data analysis, Pew Research Center studied YouTube in recent years to better understand the content that gets posted to the site and how the U.S. public engages with it.

  1. Around three-quarters of U.S. adults (73%) say they use YouTube.
    • And among 18- to 24-year olds, 90% say they use it.
    • The only other social media platform that approaches YouTube in terms of its reach among Americans is Facebook, which was used by 69% of U.S. adults.
  2. YouTube channels generate a massive amount of content every week.
    • As of January 2019, nearly 44,000 YouTube channels had at least 250,000 subscribers.
    • They uploaded 48,486 hours of content and received over 14.2 billion individual views in the first week of 2019 alone.
    • The average video was 12 minutes long and received nearly 60,000 views in the seven days after it was posted.
  3. The Most popular YouTube channels don’t produce content in English.
    • During the first week of 2019, 56% of popular YouTube channels uploaded at least one video. Of those that did, just 33% uploaded a video in English.
    • Across all of the videos these channels uploaded during the week, just 17% were completely in English.
    • Large majority of videos from popular YouTube channels came from a small share of producers
  4. A small number of channels produce the majority of content, and a small number of videos generate the majority of views.
    • Among channels with at least 250,000 subscribers, the most active 10% were responsible for uploading 70% of all of the videos produced by these popular channels during the first week of 2019.
    • Across all of these videos, the most popular 10% drew 79% of all of the views during the week.
  5. Videos about video games are especially popular – and lengthy.
    • About 18% of English-language videos posted by popular YouTube channels in the first week of 2019 focused on gaming.
    • The median number of views for videos about video games was 34,347, compared with 11,174 for videos focused on other topics.
    • These videos were 13 minutes long at the median, compared with 5.2 minutes for other videos.
  6. Children’s content and videos featuring children are also very popular.
    • While just 4% of all English-language videos posted by popular channels in the first week of 2019 were clearly aimed at children under the age of 13, these videos received more views than other videos. And videos that featured children who appeared to be under the age of 13 – regardless of target audience – drew even more engagement, averaging more than three times as many views as other types of videos.Videos featuring children under the age of 13 were associated with more views and more channel subscribers, regardless of target audience.
  7. Roughly eight-in-ten parents with children age 11 or younger (81%) say they at least occasionally let their child watch videos on YouTube, including 34% who say they do so regularly.
    • Among parents who let their young child watch videos on YouTube, 61% said they have encountered content they felt was unsuitable for children. The survey did not ask parents whether they allowed their child to watch the standard YouTube or YouTube Kids, which is a special product with greater levels of parental control and monitoring.
  8. Most YouTube users in the U.S. say they at least occasionally encounter false or troubling content on the platform.
    • Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adult YouTube users (64%) say they at least sometimes encounter videos that seem obviously false or untrue while using the site.
    • A similar share (60%) reported at least sometimes seeing videos that show people engaging in dangerous or troubling behavior.
  9. Many Americans use YouTube to stay informed and learn new skills.
    • Half of U.S. adults who use YouTube say the site is very important when it comes to figuring out how to do things they haven’t done before.
    • It’s also common for Americans to get news on YouTube. In a 2019 survey, 28% of adults said they get news there, behind only Facebook (52%).
  10.  YouTube recommendations push users toward progressively longer videos.
    • Around eight-in-ten adult YouTube users in the U.S. (81%) said in the 2018 survey that they at least occasionally watch the videos suggested by the platform’s recommendation algorithm.
    • In a study of the algorithm itself, we found that YouTube recommends progressively longer videos – at least when it lacks information about the viewer needed for more personalized recommendations.
    • After a chain of just four video recommendations, the algorithm was likely to suggest a video more than five minutes longer than the one it originally started on.

Why is Instagram Hiding Likes?

Last November, Instagram began a test to hide “likes” for U.S. users, and announced that it will be rolling out the change everywhere in the world.

This upset some (really) big influencers including Nicki Minaj who tweeted that she was going to stop posting on the platform because of the decision. She hasn’t posted on her Instagram account since then either.

Based on a survey of 502 consumers poled from The Mainfest, more than half (55%) said they don’t have an opinion regarding Instagram’s decision. About 20% of people supported the decision to hide likes, while 25% oppose the decision.

Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri  says the move to hide likes is to reduce stress and anxiety on users. They want to try and depressurize the platform and make it less of a competition by giving people more space to focus on connecting with people they love and things that inspire them. Creators will still be able to see like counts on their own posts, but Instagram will not display those publicly.

Interesting that Instagram that is continuing to make follower counts public which is arguably an even more important metric for gauging popularity and traction.

Some believe that Instagram is hiding likes because user engagement has been waning and that the change stems from core business reasons.

Some believe that by hiding likes, Instagram will help alleviate the negative backlash that comes from declining organic engagement on a platform over time as well as protect their reputation as Facebook’s more engaging social media platform. In addition, by making likes private, Instagram will control the flow of that data.

Facebook IQ, What Is It?

Facebook IQ is a culmination of a year’s worth of research and insights. The team explored thousands of topics from January 2018 to June 2019 on Facebook. Where patterns emerged, they looked to third-party research and media sources to inform and validate their findings.
New in 2020, they reported trends beyond the US to 13 new countries in four regions:
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the
Philippines, Sweden, Thailand and the UK.
For each topic of conversation, they relied on aggregated, anonymized, country-specific data from January 2018 to June 2019 for people ages 18 and older who use Facebook. All topics chosen to be featured grew from June 2018 through June 2019. The topics are presented in the original language as they appeared in their data set.
The analysis covers trends across six categories: Art and Design, Beauty and
Fashion, Entertainment, Food and Drink, Mind and Body and Travel /Leisure.

Facebook IQ 2020 Annual Topics Report delivers insights to understand consumer
behavior, drive more effective marketing and transform the way your business
reaches people. Learning from the billions of people on their platforms and
the millions of businesses that advertise with Facebook, the report provides insights into
behaviors across generations, markets, devices and time.  Click here to read the report.

 

NADA 2020

We are getting ready to head to Las Vegas over February 14 -17 for the annual National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) Show!  Consumer Bankruptcy Data is an essential component of marketing within the auto industry, and we have a wide client base there.

Each year industry leaders, manufacturers, exhibitors and other key players convene to learn the latest tools, tactics and trends.  Watch for us on social media during the show.

Learn more about our Consumer Bankruptcy database here.

The Bureau – January 2020 Edition

Houston, TX– Happy New Year! We hope that 2019 was a successful year for you and hope that the coming year is your best yet.

For me, 2019 was like “driving in the fast lane”. The year passed at surprisingly accelerated speeds.
Overall it was a fantastic year for us. However, we had some unusual challenges too.

When tropical storm Imelda caused the North Houston Post Office roof to collapse; timely mail delivery within the city took a big hit. As late as mid-November we were seeing local delivery standards crawl between 8-12 days which had a negative impact on many clients.

Information from USPS HQ regarding mail acceptance, contingency plans, and progress to re-open the facility was slow to be shared. It was frustrating because the focus was on national super volume mailers. Invitations to calls with information updates weren’t extended to most of the local Houston mailers, printers or fulfillment houses. Many were left to secure information through the grapevine or other resources. Our involvement with local and national trade organizations really paid off during this timeframe. We were able to sit-in on many of USPS HQ calls and stayed current with progress.

Our partnership with Leo Raymond of Mailers Hub and Tom Glassman of Ricoh; both MTAC (Mailers Technical Advisory Committee) members, were critical and we appreciate their help with getting us included in the loop.

Also, we made a point to share the updates with as many local businesses as possible (even
competitors), through our blog, email blasts, and social media platforms.

It is these types of situations that remind us of how important it is to seed your mailing list and how tracking can help manage a campaign through a crisis and still be successful. Direct mail is a marketing powerhouse and still produces higher returns than its digital counterparts.
It drives people to websites, social media platforms and converts prospects into buyers.

Fortunately, local marketing mail delivery has since improved significantly. As of the first of 2020, our studies show local delivery times are (on average) between 4-6 days. We anticipate a return to a 3-5 day delivery by the end of January.

In November, we headed to Dallas for (the first ever) Printing United show. What a show it was! Over 30,000 attendees viewed print and mail equipment covering 724,000 sq feet at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. We were simply amazed by the technology presented by companies from all over the world. As a result of the show, we made some capital investments that will continue to expand our in-house capabilities and service offerings. We will share details with you in our spring newsletter.

We anticipate this year to be filled with change. For example, starting on January 1st, the CCPA
(California Consumer Privacy Act) went into effect. This represents the start of the US attempt to protect an individual’s privacy as it pertains to data collection. It’s similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was enacted in May of 2018 by the European Union.

Some of the things the CCPA allows (for California residents) include the right to know what personal information is being collected about them, if their information is being sold and to whom. They have the right to say no to the sale of their personal information and are allowed access to it.

As it is written today, our Consumer Bankruptcy data file is not subject to the CCPA. All Consumer Bankruptcy data is public information which is gathered by the federal courts and is exempt. Go to our online privacy policy page for details.

Privacy is important. However, government regulated consumer data collection could cast a negative impact on the marketing industry as a whole. Data collection goes far beyond social media sites and has been the backbone of our industry since its infancy. Over 20 other states have introduced bills attempting to regulate how data is collected and each bill has their own
idiosyncrasies which will make data compilation and compliance an enormous challenge in the
future.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the bureau. And, as always, we sincerely thank you for your business and partnership. Happy New Year.
Sincerely,

 

 

Ron Royall, CEO

 

California Consumer Privacy Act

Over the past two years, there are two regulations that have had a major impact on digital marketers – GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). As you probably recall, the EU law went into effect in May 2018 to ensure data protection and privacy for all individuals citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European
Economic Area (EEA) and companies doing business in those areas.
This year, we’re all gearing up for the CCPA. The Act came into effect January 1, 2020, and is reported to be among the most stringent data protection privacy laws in the U.S.
Focusing on the privacy rights of individuals, CCPA regulates the way marketers handle personal
information of California residents. If a business has over $25M in annual revenue, processes (buys, sells, receives, or shares) 50,000 or more California consumer records each year, or earns 50 percent or more of its annual revenue from selling personal information of California residents, it must comply with CCPA. CCPA also applies to companies that share common branding (name, service mark or trademark) with a business that meets the criteria. This includes marketing agencies, online payment processing vendors, and digital marketing
technology companies, for example. If your business doesn’t fall within the criteria outlined above but is a service provider to a company that does fit the criteria, you should still be
knowledgeable about CCPA requirements.
While GDPR’s roots are European and CCPA’s are in California, both regulations have had a ripple effect on businesses around the globe, forcing businesses to provide greater transparency and institute more stringent business processes around customer data.
It’s no wonder when you look at the fines. The fines for failing to comply with GDPR range from 10 million euros to four percent of the company’s annual global turnover, which could add up to billions for some companies. Businesses that don’t comply with CCPA can face a maximum fine of $750 per consumer or violation. For example, if a business collects data from 1,000
California residents without complying with CCPA, they can face fines of up to $750,000. Also, if a business doesn’t meet certain data security requirements, consumers can demand that it be fixed within 30 days or the business risks legal action. Some might think it’s easy to just suppress California contacts from a campaign list but that’s short sighted. Let’s not forget that with a population of 39.5 million, California is the world’s sixth largest economy according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Both GDPR and CCPA have driven digital marketers to update back-end systems, review privacy
statements, update third party contracts, audit contact lists, and confirm subscribers. While these actions can be time consuming and costly, they create opportunities for digital marketers to elevate their presence in customers’ inboxes.
CCPA is the latest example of the rising demand for transparency of collection and management of customer data. We can likely expect other states to follow suit with CCPA and institute even more strict regulations and fines to protect consumers.
Maryland, Mississippi, New York and North Dakota have similar legislation in the works. Though a majority of the new laws copy the structure of the CCPA, there are some notable places where they diverge, which will complicate prospective compliance efforts. The most critical area is
enforcement. CCPA provides a private right of action only for the unauthorized disclosure of
unencrypted, sensitive data.  Massachusetts would extend the private right of action to any violation of its privacy law. Three of the state laws (Mississippi, New Mexico, and Rhode Island) extend a private right of action to any unauthorized disclosure of personal information, regardless of sensitivity of the data and potential risk to consumer.
Similarly, while all these new state laws try to protect consumer privacy, the degree of specificity and format requirements vary, which will likely increase criticisms that privacy policies are written in legalese and too difficult to understand.
The result is that businesses may have to implement multiple layers of protection in privacy policies for consumers in different states, even when the underlying data practices are the same nationally.
The Consumer Bankruptcy database we compile is considered public information which is gathered by the courts and is not subject to the CCPA. The BK data is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and we are not Credit Reporting Agency.
We will keep you abreast of the ever changing data collection landscape as it continues to unfold.