Direct Mail

5 Updates to Freshen Up Direct Mail

Are you looking for ways to spice up your direct mail campaigns? Even if your response rates remain high, are you looking to freshen things up? Here are a few ways you can update your direct mailings and give them new appeal.

  1. Update the package.

Are you using the same envelopes you have for years? If so, change the color. Change the size. Add a personalized teaser on the front (“John, check this out!”). If you are selling high-value products, consider dimensional mail or novelty envelopes that look like UPS packages or USPS Priority Mail.

  1. Tweak your text.

Still using the same marketing text from last year? Try a new approach. If you’ve been using an informational style, insert some humor. If you’ve been sending punchy one-liners, try adding more educational text.

  1. Freshen up the images.

How long have you been using that same picture of your headquarters? Is your headshot on the back of the postcard from the 1990s? Take a new company photo. Upload a current headshot with a fabulous smile. Or maybe you just want some new images as backgrounds or illustration.

  1. Add a new variable.

If you are personalizing your mailings, why not add a new variable? If you’ve been personalizing by name and gender, add age bracket or income. If you’ve been personalizing by ZIP Code and household income, refine by life stage.

Look for fresh, new ways to relate to customers and increase the relevance of the message.

  1. Try a new offer.

What incentive have you been using to get people to respond? 15% discount? If so, try 10% or 25%. Go crazy and try BOGO. How are you encouraging people to log into their personalized microsite? Entrance into a sweepstakes for a gift card? Try a set of concert tickets instead.

Mixing things up can be a great way to stay fresh and relevant, even when sending to the same audience. So get creative. Step outside the box and see what happens.

Need some ideas? Contact us. We can help!

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Good QR Code, Bad QR Code

QR Codes have been called the marketing tool that marketers love to hate. Why? Because so many seem to provide absolutely no value.

Perhaps you scan a QR Code and it doesn’t go anywhere at all. Perhaps you get an error or the page to which the code points doesn’t exist. Perhaps you see a QR Code on a product you are interested in, so you scan the code and end up at a manufacturer’s non-mobile website where you get lost in a maze of links so dense that you forget why you went there in the first place.

Does this mean that QR Codes are a waste of time? No. It means not enough thought was put into creating them.

When you are thinking about creating a QR Code, the first thing you should do is ask yourself, “What purpose do I want this code to serve? What do I want the person scanning it to get out of it?” If you don’t have a good answer, wait until you do.

A great example of QR Code use is Best Buy. When you enter a Best Buy store, all of the products have QR Codes. When scanned, the codes take you to products specs, customer reviews, and other information not available on the shelf talkers or product packaging that will help them make a purchase decision. The QR Code puts the information in the customer’s hands at the very time that they need it — as they are making the decision. That’s a QR Code used well.

Contrast that with a QR Code placed on a lawnmower that takes you to the manufacturer’s corporate site. Or a QR Code on a “house for sale” sign that takes you to the realtor’s entire inventory. Those are QR Codes used poorly. It’s not the QR Code that’s the problem. It’s the lack of thought behind it.

When creating QR Codes, think about the end use!

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Multi-Channel Leads Marketers’ Strategies

If you like multi-channel marketing, here is some good news. According to a survey conducted by WoodWing Software, you’re about to get more of it.

In a survey of publishers, advertising agencies, and in-house marketing departments, WoodWing found that in terms of their marketing mix, 59% favor a combination of print, web, mobile, tablet, and social media.

Which channels do publishers look to first?

  • 22% favor a print-first strategy
  • 6% favor a web-first strategy
  • 5% favor a mobile-first approach
  • 2% favor a social-media-first strategy

Respondents’ main reasons for using social media? Brand awareness. When it comes to communicating the marketing message, however, print remains king.

Why does print remain the dominant form of marketing? Perhaps for a reason no more complicated than people still like going to the mailbox. Unlike email inboxes, which can fill up with hundreds of emails in a single day, the mailbox delivers a handful of mail that most people enjoy sorting through. It’s like a treasure hunt. You never know what’s in there.

Unlike an email subject line, envelopes deliver interest and engagement before they are even opened. Colors, windows, and on-envelope messaging and personalization all offer forms of engagement. Then there are the benefits of other mailing formats, such as postcards, trifold mailers, and three-dimensional mail, which offer even more engagement.

The takeaway? For best results, use social media for branding. Tap into email for reminders, follow-ups, and short-term offers. But keep print as the foundation and bedrock of your marketing.

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Thursday, February 20th, 2014 Going Postal: News You Need No Comments

Personalized Print Beats Online in 18-34 Demographic

Think you’re being more effective by switching from traditional to digital media? Especially in the 18–34-year-old demographic? Think again! A study from ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting, suggests that 1:1 printing may be more effective even among this coveted age group.

A study titled “Finding the Right Channel Combination: What Drives Channel Choice,” ICOM surveyed over 2500 U.S. and 2200 Canadian households. It found that consumers overwhelmingly preferred to learn about marketing offers via print media than online sources.

While we might expect this from older consumers, this survey targeted 18–34-year-olds. In every category surveyed (with the exception of travel), these younger, more tech-savvy consumers overwhelmingly preferred print over online media for marketing communications.

Why? One reason is trust. According to the survey, 36% of U.S. respondents across all age groups trust the mail more than email. In a previous edition of the survey, 19% said online information “can’t be trusted.” This time, the percentage increased to 25%.

Even personalization cannot overcome this mistrust. While email and online can be personalized, consumers often complain that online advertising is ubiquitous and inescapable. The use of cookies to track their behavior can also result in highly irrelevant suggestions (“Other people who bought Natural Remedies for Headaches also bought Dancing with the Stars Cardio Workout!”). The result is a high level of mistrust and annoyance.

By contrast, the intentional, highly targeted use of personalization in print is non-intrusive and the relevance is clear.

Type of Offer Prefer Mail Prefer Online
Personal care 62% 22%
Food products 66% 23%
Over-the-counter medication 53% 21%.
Insurance services 43% 21%
Financial services 44% 19%
Travel 34% 42%

Source: “Finding the Right Channel Combination: What Drives Channel Choice” (ICOM)

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Friday, February 14th, 2014 Going Postal: News You Need No Comments

Effective Communication Breeds Customer Loyalty

If your company has high levels of customer satisfaction, they are likely to remain loyal, right? Wrong.

In a recent customer satisfaction study of 10 major industries, an average of 72% of respondents indicated that they were highly satisfied with the products or services received. Yet 88% of the customers surveyed said that they were willing to switch providers for any reason!

Many of your competitors likely offer a quality product and service with prices and delivery standards that are similar to yours. In this fiercely competitive environment, how can you continuously attract and win new customers while fostering loyalty among your current ones?

All things being equal, your customers will naturally go where they consistently feel well treated and appreciated.

You care about your clients, but what matters to them is how you show it. Demonstrating their value to you requires more than quality service and good prices. It requires strategic planning. It requires ongoing attentiveness and creativity in the quality of your communication.

Direct mail is often viewed as a way of winning new customers, but its effectiveness as a customer loyalty tool should not be overlooked. It is powerful, relevant, and has a tangible cost. Sending direct mail (especially personalized mail) says to your customers, “You are worth the effort.”

Consider settting up a series of “nurturing” mailers throughout the year. Make it a continuous client contact program that will demonstrate at regular, pre-planned intervals that you are sincerely are grateful for their business and care about their relationship with you.

Use the data you’ve collected to communicate, cross-sell, educate, survey and grow your relationship with these customers. Offer useful tips, and send newsletters, press releases, case studies, company brochures and timely incentives that remind clients of your commitment to service, value, quality, innovation, and loyalty.

Direct mail isn’t just for customer acquisition marketing anymore. It is a critical part of effective customer retention efforts too.

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Friday, January 10th, 2014 Going Postal: News You Need No Comments

QR Code Use Continues to Rise

The use of QR Codes, or those square-shaped mobile barcodes in print and email marketing that provide instantaneous access to online videos, coupons, and other marketing content, continues to grow.

According to Scanbuy, which processes 21 million of the 105 million mobile barcode scans each year, QR Code scanning is up 1300% from one year ago (Q2 2013 vs. Q2 2012). Consumers are now scanning at a rate of 3x per month on average, up 22% from one year earlier.

What are they looking for? According to Scanbuy’s “Q2 2013 Mobile Barcode Trend Report,” consumers are most likely to scan for video, app downloads, product information, social media, and the latest news.

Food and beverage, wireless, retail, print, and toys are the most likely market verticals to have QR Codes scanned. Of course, QR Codes are powerful tools in every vertical, but if you’re in one of these, take special notice!

QR Codes cost nothing to produce, and you can add them to your print and online marketing just like any other image. The trick to success is understanding how and when to use them and how to pair them with the right content on the back end so that viewers turn into buyers who take action.

Need help? We’d be happy to discuss the best use of QR Codes for your marketing projects.

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Monday, December 23rd, 2013 Going Postal: News You Need No Comments

InfoTrends Report: Personalization Works!

Looking for proof that personalization works? An InfoTrends study of the marketing communication needs (including printing and variable data) of various businesses finds that marketing efforts featuring a higher level of personalization complexity results in a higher return on investment.

The survey of over 1,000 large businesses across 10 different vertical industries found that more than 60% of respondents’ campaigns were personalized or segmented.  Response rates went up as the campaigns included more channels and become more complex.

Print-only campaigns achieved an average response rate of 6.0%, while print combined with personalized URLs achieved an average response rate of 7.6%.  Adding email increased response rates to 8.2%. Adding mobile increased them to 8.7%. Evidence that more channels = more results!

The report also found that conversion rates were higher in a multi-channel mix. Print alone achieved an average conversion rate of 16.2%, while the combination of print, email, personalized URLs. Mobile achieved an average conversion rate of 19.0%.

The takeaway? If you want better results, personalize your marketing message. If you want outstanding results, use multiple channels to sweep non-responders into the sales funnel and reinforce the message over time.

Campaign Response Rate Conversion Rate
Print Only 6.0% 16.2%
Print and Email 7.6% 18.3%
Print and PURLs 7.6% 15.3%
Print, Email and PURLs 8.2% 16.5%
Print, Email, PURLs and Mobile 8.7% 19.0%
Source: InfoTrends, 2012
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Postal Leaders Beat the Drum for Reform

by: Al Urbanski, Senior Writer – Direct Marketing News

The United States Postal Service (USPS) recorded a loss of $740 million in this year’s third quarter versus a loss of $5.2 billion this time last year, but top agency officials told a news conference today that it is still in need of substantial legislative reform to survive.

Though losses for the first nine months amounted to $3.9 billion, CFO Joe Corbett indicated that an earlier forecast of a $6 billion loss for the year was still a possibility. “Without comprehensive reform legislation, we will continue to experience large losses,” Corbett said. “We are operating with low levels of cash, and that will worsen in the fourth quarter when we will make a $1.4 billion payment for workmen’s compensation. At that point we will have only five days of cash on hand.”

“Five days of cash in October,” added Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, “is as much of a crisis as we’ve been in.”

Donahoe hailed growth in package and standard mail revenues during the quarter, but continued to bang the drum for reform. “I’m pleased with the progress we’ve seen, but we’ve got to get the legislation finished,” he said.

On one score, at least, Donahoe’s idea of reform does not jibe with that of direct mailers. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), included a provision in their new bill that would remove the Consumer Price Index rate cap and give control over rates back to the USPS. This raises the specter of an exigent rate increase that could severely hamper the activities of business mailers.

Donahoe says the USPS needs rate-setting power in order to react to marketplace conditions. “We’ve been on the record saying that setting prices and the timing of those prices should be done by the [postal] board of governors,” Donahoe said. “We think that it would be very effective to act as an after-the-fact review, like a public utility. Speed is the name of the game in this business world and that’s what we need.”

Corbett noted improved operating numbers for the quarter owed much to an improvement in interest rates that reduced expenses by $918 million compared to last year. He also pointed out that a $7.8 billion decrease in losses for the nine months ending June 30 could be explained by USPS making only one $5.6 billion healthcare fund prepayment this year versus two in 2012.

Still, both Corbett and Donahoe expressed optimism that new revenue streams and cost-cutting measures were moving forward in the face of a steady decline in First-Class Mail. Revenue from the USPS’ largest and most profitable mail segment declined by 1% on a 3.4% volume dip, but shipping and package revenue increased 8.8% on a 7.1% volume increase and standard mail receipts were up 3%.

Cost reductions in the quarter came from the consolidation of 104 processing facilities reduced operating hours at 7,397 post offices, and more than 1,000 postal routes consolidated or reduced.

“We expect some stability, contingent on a healthy economy,” Corbett said. “Assuming GDP will grow, the investment in capital goods will grow and employment levels will improve. The package business is tied to that and e-commerce. But the decline in First-Class will continue and that’s three times greater than any other decrease.”

As for reform, Donahoe and Corbett may still be waiting for legislative salvation as the year comes to a close. Senate and House members are expected to hammer out differences in their proposals before either bill is brought to a vote. With healthcare bills expected to dominate fall sessions of Congress, postal issues are likely to be back-burnered until 2014.

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The Zip Code Turns 50!

It took an ad campaign to sell Americans on its value

From Time.com – By Josh Sanburn @joshsanburnJuly 01, 20130

1963 was a momentous year in America: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington and, somewhat less heralded by all but the most fervent postal historians, the ZIP code was introduced.

Since its founding in 1775, the post office relied on hand sorting based on local addresses to get mail where it was supposed to go. A piece of mail often went through 10 postal workers before making it to its recipient. But by the 1940s, the then-named Post Office Department realized its sorting system was not keeping pace with the growing population of the country it served.

In 1943, as a way to streamline mail sorting for the biggest American cities, the post office began placing one and two digit numbers between the city and the state to help clerks wade through the increasing volume of mail, which was then around 20 million pieces per year.

By the early 1960s, the post-war population boom and continued western growth led to even greater use of the postal service. Mail volume doubled between 1943 and 1962, putting further pressure on the post office to sort mail efficiently. On July 1, 1963, on the recommendation of an internal advisory board, the post office introduced the Zone Improvement Plan Code, which divided the entire country into coded delivery areas. The first two or three numbers told carriers to which states mail was being sent. More populous regions like New York were given five digit numbers starting with 10-14, for example, whereas less populous areas like Montana received five-digit numbers. These new ZIP codes helped the post office better pinpoint where mail was headed while allowing it to expand machine-based sorting systems that could quickly read digits. But many Americans were reluctant to adopt the new system.

“People were concerned they were being turned into numbers,” says Jennifer Lynch, a U.S. Postal Service historian. “They thought it was depersonalizing them.”

To get people on board, the post office began an extensive marketing campaign centered around Mr. ZIP, a friendly looking cartoon mail carrier. A folk group called The Swingin’ Six sang about ZIP Code usage in a lengthy public service announcement video. “Put ZIP in your mail” ran in magazines across the country, including TIME, while a series of short TV ads showed postal workers drowning in a sea of letters and used slogans like “Only you can put ZIP in your postal system.”

Evidently the ads were persuasive. In 1966, three years after ZIP Codes were introduced, 50% of Americans said they used ZIP Codes. By 1969, 83% said they did, according to a 1969 study conducted by Roper Research Associates.

In 1983, the post office expanded the ZIP Code to nine digits to identify which side of the street the mail was being delivered to, as well as particular office buildings. Today, ZIP codes are translated into “automation-readable barcodes” that are placed on pieces of mail when sorted and contain 31 digits of information that tell the post office everything from whether it was presorted, if the mail is first-class or a periodical, and even which business sent it. It also allows the U.S.P.S. to track virtually every letter and package around the country.

The post office estimates that increased efficiencies for both large mailers and the postal service itself add almost $10 billion of value to the U.S. economy a year.

Today, 50 years after the ZIP code debuted, the postal service’s Office of the Inspector General is recommending that they be linked to digital geographic information systems based on latitude and longitude to further increase delivery accuracy. This time, however, Mr. ZIP will stay in retirement.

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Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 Going Postal: News You Need No Comments

Making Drip Marketing Work for You

One of the topics we are hearing a lot about these days is drip marketing. Drip marketing is the practice of conveying your message by sending gentle marketing touches over time rather than trying to hit your customers or prospects with a single offer all at once. Especially when paired with cross-media marketing, the results can knock it out of the park.
Here’s how it works.

One marketer wanted to increase sales to affluent customers, so working closely with its print production and marketing partners, it devised a three-step, cross-channel marketing campaign that would build name recognition, develop trust, and bring in sales.

In its first phase, the company sent an eye-catching, high-gloss trifold mailer that would grab attention inside the mailbox. Once recipients opened the mailer, they were greeted with name personalization, highly relevant text, and a personalized URL that allowed them to enter an email address and download a free, high-value white paper, as well as fill out an optional survey giving the marketer more insight into their individual needs.

The second mailing went only to people who did not respond to the first. This phase capitalized upon the name recognition built by the initial contact, but the styling of the mailer was tweaked to differentiate the two. Like the first mailing, the piece included a personalized URL that allowed recipients to download a white paper and fill out an optional survey.

After the second mailing, the marketer was swamped with responses — so much so that the third mailing was delayed for several weeks so that the response team could keep up.

In the third phase, the names of those who responded to the first two mailings were removed from the list. For this mailer, the marketer used an invitation-style A7 envelope with full-color brochure insert, personalized note, and personalized URL. To sweeten the pot, respondents were offered the chance to win a sporting package or high-end coffee brewing system.

The results? The company exceeded its sales goals by 400% and achieved more than 1400% ROI!
What made this program such a success? This marketer understood that, especially when mailing to a new list and prospect base, sometimes it takes more than one contact to build name recognition and trust. Each piece builds upon the next, and in the end, you gain results not possible with a single marketing touch.
Want to tap into the power of drip marketing to reach new customers and cross-sell to existing ones? Give us call, 215.464.0111 OR EMAIL LFormica@fmidm.com.

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