Tips for Mailing on a Budget

Postal costs are one of the most substantial items in a marketer’s direct mail budget. But even if your budget is tight, don’t compromise this critical customer contact and retention tool. Don’t mail less. Mail smarter. Here’s how:

Keep your list up to date.

The most reliable way to reach your target audience is to use postal mail, but people still move. According to the United States Postal Service, 14% of Americans change addresses annually. Use change of address tools like the NCOA (National Change of Address) database and “enhanced” NCOA (which adds the use of third-party data) to make sure your mail reaches its destination.

Get addresses right.

Ensure that your addresses are deliverable. This means they have been checked, updated, or “certified.” The National Deliverability Index (NDI) rates the percentage of deliverable addresses in a list. Know your number!

Remove duplicates.

For every duplicate you mail, you are wasting money. Bob M. Jones might be the same as Robert Michael Jones and B. M. Jones, so make sure to find out. Lists need to be “scrubbed” to ensure that each individual or household only receives one piece of mail.

Select your audience carefully.

Mail only to recipients most likely to buy. One family-owned automotive company, for example, was regularly getting less than 1% response rates to its mailings, so it invested in creating a demographic profile of its best customers. Once it knew what its best customers looked like, it targeted new customers that looked just like them. The results? Response rates tripled, and the mailing brought in 33% more revenue per customer.

Be relevant.

Only mail information of relevance to your audience. Instead of mailing promotions on lawn care to everyone within a specific ZIP Code, for example, only target people who own standalone homes with yards. Don’t waste money mailing to people in condos with no need for your product.

Need help optimizing your postal costs using one or more of these techniques? Let us help!


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Print and Digital: Complements, but Not Interchangeable

In the marketing world, we regularly hear about print and digital marketing being used together. Digital and print media reinforce one another, so rather than seeing the two as competitors, marketers are encouraged to integrate them. However, integration doesn’t mean that the two channels are interchangeable, as one new survey shows. Consumers still want a choice.

The Data

A survey commissioned by Two Sides North America reveals that U.S. consumers are unhappy with corporate initiatives forcing them into digital-only communication and eliminating paper-based options. Many of the questions related to bills and statements, but the results apply to marketing communications, too.

Consumers want to be able to choose whether to receive paper bills and statements, and they don’t want to have to pay extra to do it.  For example, 79% of respondents want the option to continue receiving printed information, and 77% would be unhappy if they were asked to pay for it. More than three-quarters (79%) felt that paper options were easier to read compared to screens.

There is also suspicion about the motives of companies forcing their customers to go paperless. Overwhelmingly (85%), consumers agreed that cost savings is the main reason companies use claims such as “Go Paperless—Go Green” or “Go Paperless—Save Trees.” More than half (57%) question the truthfulness of such claims.

The Point

So use digital and print-based communications wisely. Use email when you need to touch base quickly, such as sending company news, alerting customers to a flash sale, or offering reminders. Use print where digital communications are not as strong, such as for . . .

  • In-depth communications.
  • Contacts that contain highly personal information.
  • Mailings that involve brand or personal trust.

Studies also show that information is easier for people to understand and recall in print, so use print for “weightier” topics and messages that require attention to detail. If you want to move customers to digital communication, ask first. Don’t make the decision for them.

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Is Your Print Project Really Finished?

Any marketer has access to high-quality printing, but far fewer take the time to invest in high-quality coating. For those that do, the extra time can make the difference between buyers seeing your project as “a nice piece” and a really great, memorable one. Let’s look at three reasons you might want to add a coating before your project goes “live” into the hands of your target audience.

  1. Protection.

    Sometimes a project needs that extra level of protection to keep it looking its best. Printed pieces can be exposed to a wide variety of harsh environmental conditions, including mailing equipment, high levels of moisture and dirt, high-traffic conditions (such as retail signage and displays), and constant handling. Coating provides an important level of protection that keeps the piece looking its best. If you need full waterproof properties, you may want to consider a laminate.

  2. Gloss.

    Shine adds sparkle and impact. It instantly conveys the impression of value and quality. When you print or mail a piece with a high-gloss coating, you are telling recipients, “You matter!” UV coating offers the hardest coated surface and the highest level of brilliance and sheen.

  3. Special effects.

    The number of options for specialty coatings is exploding. Spot varnish, for example, highlights specific areas of the printed piece for visual interest and impact. (Think lips popping out on a lipstick ad.) Soft touch creates a printed piece with a velvety finish. It produces a wonderful tactile feel, with the added benefit of offering fingerprint resistance, as well. Some specialty varnishes can be enhanced with effects such as glitter, tint, and scents. If you want to use a laminate, you can even get holographic effects.

Different finishes have different benefits and drawbacks. They also have different ranges of cost. Talk to us about the differences between coating types and ask to see samples. Then use coatings to make your next project shine.

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Lead nurturing is the process of drawing prospects into the sales funnel, then “dripping” relevant information to them via print, email, or other channels to keep them moving through the funnel until they make a purchase.

Lead nurturing is a powerful tool, but it is a process unfamiliar to many marketers. According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. It’s worth learning!

Let’s look at five types of lead nurturing campaigns and how they can boost your bottom line.

Product-focused campaigns

Once someone “raises their hand” to show an interest in your products, your job has only begun. Now you can begin feeding them content such as case studies, white papers, and data sheets. Give them enough information, and the right information at the right stage of their buyer journeys, to make a purchase decision.

Overcoming objections

Part of a customer’s journey is asking questions, so feed them information that anticipates those questions and answers their objections. This might include technical papers, customer testimonials, or analysis from industry experts. A comparison/contrast with competitive products might be in order.

Lead Nurturing re-engagement campaigns

At some point, prospects can become disengaged from the process. Maybe they were wooed away by a competitor. Maybe they handed the project off to someone else. Or maybe they just got busy. Blog posts, case studies, and customer testimonials are great ways to renew their interest.

Promotional/closing campaigns

After a prospect has been exposed to escalating “drips” of relevant content, it is time to close the deal. Send a promotional offer or specific, personalized call to action to get them to pull the trigger.

“Top of mind” campaigns

Even once someone becomes a customer, don’t stop pursuing them. Keep that relationship going with a welcome letter, postcard, or information kit. Make new customers feel valued and appreciated, then stay top of mind with educational newsletters, tips and tricks postcards, and regular “drip” emails to keep them engaged until they are ready to make another purchase.



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You want to keep your most profitable customers, right? Right! According to research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. You can double your profitability just by keeping the customers you already have. So how do you do that? Here are five tips for keeping your customers coming back.

  1. Go holistic. The more you know your customers, the easier it is to know what to do for customer retention. Start by tying together all the data you have on each customer to get one holistic view. For example, John W. Smith in your mailing database may also be Johnny Smith Jr. in your email list and J.W. Smith on Facebook. Most customers need help tying these databases together. If so, contact us, and we can help.
  2. Make it easy. Reduce barriers to communicating with you. Give people more options, whether it’s via chat box or Facebook Messenger. Make it easier to buy and make repeat purchases. Something as simple as pre-filling response cards and subscription forms can improve the customer experience.
  3. Treat them like real people. Customers don’t like feeling like a number. Take what you know about them and personalize text and images, whether in print or email. Invest in expanding your database to include new variables that will increase relevance.
  4. Listen. Are you only pushing information out and not listening to feedback? Respond quickly and appropriately to comments sent to you through email, your company blog, and even social media.
  5. Take the long view. Forget the gimmicks and quick fixes. Prizes, sweepstakes, and “experiential events” can get results, but they are short lived. As one strategist has put it, “Get to the trenches, examine how your customers live and use your products, and then design a complete meaningful solution for them across all touchpoints.”

There are no quick fixes for customer loyalty. It requires developing a strategy, making a commitment, and investing in an ongoing relationship with your customers that includes listening, as well as talking.
Need help? Give us a call!

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Donations Need a Boost?

Are you a not-for-profit looking to increase the engagement of your donors and increase your donations for your not-for-profit organization? Enhance your efforts by tapping into people’s hearts. Whether you are mailing postcards or blasting an email, here are three tips for getting the most out of your appeals.

Don’t be afraid to ask.

People want to help, so don’t be scared to put your “ask” front and center. Put the appeal at the top, center, and bottom of the page to help increase your donations. Use brightly colored donation buttons. Even if money is tight, it’s hard for people to say “no” to a request for emergency supplies for earthquake victims or fresh drinking water for villagers in developing countries. Make it easy for them to help.

To Increase Your Donations, Tell the story of “one.”

People identify with people, not causes. Donors are more likely to give when they can identify with a single, identifiable beneficiary. You can talk about hunger affecting 15.3 million children in the United States, but people are more likely to donate if you include a picture of one hungry child staring into the camera. You can sound the alarm that 2.7 million pets are euthanized every year, but recipients are more likely to open their wallets if they see the soft brown eyes of a fox terrier poking its nose through the bars of a metal cage.

Peer pressure can be a good thing.

Donors give because it makes them feel good, and positive peer pressure can encourage them to dig deeper. If donors had planned on giving $25, if you tell them that their peers are giving an average of $75 each (make sure it’s true), they are likely to rise to the occasion, or at least give more than they otherwise would. Another way to use positive peer pressure is to add checkboxes with predetermined gift levels. When people are presented with pre-set gift options of $25, $50, $100, or some other defined amount, they will often select a more substantial gift than when the request is open-ended.

Whether by direct mail or email (or a combination of both), increase your donations with fundraising that taps into the heart. Use pictures, get personal and don’t be afraid to ask.

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One of the reasons marketers love online marketing is that it’s easy to track. Who clicked through the link on my email? How many people reacted to my social media post? But response and return on investment (ROI) can be tracked in print, too. Here are five tools you can add to your direct mail, print advertising, and other print marketing to track their effectiveness.

1.Tracking Codes to measure Print Return on Investment

Add personalized tracking codes.With digital presses, you can generate and print unique tracking codes for each recipient. If respondents are asked to bring in coupons or hand in response cards, for example, you can tie those responses back to a specific campaign.

2. Specific Phone Number to measure Print Return on Investment

Use a campaign-specific phone number.If you are asking people to respond by phone, send them to a phone number used only for that campaign. When tracking calls, be sure to remove duplicates to ensure the response rate is accurate.

3. Specific Landing Page

Create a campaign-specific landing page. Just like phone numbers, landing pages can be created to be specific to your promotion. For example, www.bobslandscaping/january17offer. Be sure to watch for unique visitors rather than just clicks, since people may log onto the page more than once.

4. Personalized Webpages

Capitalize on personalized webpages. With personalized webpages, you can do more than just track who responds to your offer. You can greet them by name, provide them with personalized content, and even gather more information through surveys or online forms. These pages also allow you to track “soft” leads, or people who land on the page but don’t follow all the way through.

5. Online drop-down forms.

Try using a drop-down form on your website to ask where people heard about you. Did they hear about you through an online search? TV ad? Direct mail campaign? Be sure to list each campaign by name and keep your list up to date.

These methods are effective, not just in tracking response rates, but for tracking all the way through conversion, sales generated, and ultimately, ROI. Try them—and discover just how effective your print campaigns really are.

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Colour is a critical element of any marketing program. In fact, a new study from Go Inspire Group found that, increased design vibrancy produced an overall revenue increase of 20%.[1] But colour isn’t just for images. With a little creativity, you can find great new ways to grab attention and draw your customers’ eyes to places in your printed materials that you want them to look. Here are five places to get started.

  1. Eye-popping envelopes. Unless you are sending a postcard, the outside of the envelope is the first thing people see. If your envelope is a bright, vibrant colour in a sea of white envelopes, it will be the first one people reach for.
  2. Make the offer stand out. Place text in brightly coloured call-out boxes or use coloured or highlighted text inside the body copy. Use colour to say what it does best, “Look at me!”
  3. Highlight the call to action. Place your call to action (CTA) in a strategic location and use colour to draw your reader’s eye. Place the CTA in a starburst or use an oversized font in a bright “can’t miss me” colour.
  4. Add a teaser. By using teaser copy on the outside of the envelope, your message gets seen before readers even open the flap. Think “10 days to save!” or “Save 25% today!” You can add teasers to the white space around the body copy of the inside letter, too.
  5. Add a Postscript. Studies show that the postscript of a letter is what most people read first. Seize the opportunity by using coloured text to reinforce the key elements of your message. Be sure to include the offer and the CTA. People often read postscripts when they don’t read anything else, so grab even more attention by making it in colour.

Vibrant colour is a powerful tool for your branding and marketing. Are you leaving opportunities on the table?


Photo by Hamed Daram on Unsplash

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How critical is direct mail timing? Hitting the right window can make the difference between recipients saying, “That’s me!” and the piece being rejected out of hand. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in this tale of two campaigns.

Here are the similarities between Company A and Company B
Both Companies:

  • sell snow-clearing services to businesses, schools, and other professional organizations.
  • use free ice melt as an incentive to grab attention and encourage responses to their marketing messages.
  • mailed short-run targeted postcards to facilities directors and operations managers in their local areas.
  • used a clean list, with updated names and addresses.

Here is where the direct mail timing differed:

Company A sent its direct mailer in November. This mailer landed on recipients’ desks in the start of the snowy season. Company B sent its mailer in July. This mailer dropped in the heat of the summer months before most people even think about the first snowflake beginning to fly.

Which company got the timing for direct mail right? Company B—the one that sent its mailer in the summer. Among facilities and operations managers, decisions regarding snow clearing are made in July and August, well in advance of the cold weather.

To the average person, a direct mailer sporting ice-covered trees and automobiles encapsulated in snow drifts might seem out of place and totally ill-timed in the heat of the summer. But to the target audience, the message was loud and clear: this company knows my business.

How well do you know your target audience?

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