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How Strong Is Your Direct Mail Foundation?
Designing a new direct mail campaign? Let the creativity flow! However, the basics still need to come first. Before setting your designer loose, take a step back and make sure you’ve covered the fundamentals.
1. Mailing list
Is your mailing list current? Are you mailing to the right people? Are the names up to date? Are there duplicates (or even triplicates) that need to be culled?
Whether or not you are doing full personalization, your mailing should still use basic segmentation. If you’re selling homeowners insurance, for example, you’ll speak differently to families with children than you will to retirees.
3. Data accuracy
Especially if you will be personalizing, it’s a good idea to cross-reference your data. You can assume that customers purchasing infant formula have young children, but maybe they are grandparents picking up necessities for their grandchildren, too. If customers subscribe to “New Baby” magazine, however, you can have confidence that they have young children at home.
4. Call to action
Too many mailings suffer from not having a call to action. CTAs are critical to moving people to action, so make the CTA visible. Make it bold, or use brightly colored lettering. Readers can’t respond to a CTA they don’t see.
5. Multiple response mechanisms
Consumers’ lives are cluttered and over-scheduled. The more ways you can give them to respond, the more likely they are to do so. If you are using personalized URLs, include a personalized QR Code in case they want to respond via a mobile device. Give people a general URL, but also a tear-out card and a phone number. Pre-fill as much information as you can.
6. Bullets and white space.
Busy consumers don’t have time to read. When designing for direct mail, think “infographic.” Use bullet points, numbered lists, and graphic elements—anything that makes the information accessible with a quick visual scan.
7. Include a PostScript
Did you know that the P.S. is the most read part of a letter? Use this area to reiterate your key points and CTA. If people don’t read anything else, they’ll read that.
Need help crafting a great direct mail campaign? Let us help!
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Keeping the Customer Experience Seamless
In today’s world, customers want easy. Whether it’s shopping, researching products, or hearing about products for the first time, they want everything to be seamless. Yet for many, the process is still fragmented. How can you connect the dots so that your customers receive a consistent, relevant message regardless of the channel? It starts with having complete data.
There are three data types you can draw from:
First-party data: This is the data you own. It includes your mailing list, your email list, data from your CRM system, and anything else, including data gathered from social media interactions with your company.
Second-party data: This is data you rent, purchase, or exchange with another company. This might be from a data house or noncompetitive company with which you have a strategic relationship.
Third-party data: This is data you gather from third parties, including websites and social media.
What does this look like in action? Here are some of the places an airline, for example, might mine data to define its target audience:
• Members of its loyalty program (sourced from CRM)
• Customers who frequently purchase travel online (sourced from its website)
• Consumers in the market for travel credit cards (sourced from a third-party data provider)
• Customers or prospects exhibiting high engagement with its monthly newsletters (sourced from email)
• Consumers posting/tweeting about travel credit cards (sourced from social media)
Gathering and consolidating this data not only helps the airline define a highly targeted audience, but also more closely customize and target its messaging.
Other market verticals can use similar strategies, mining information from their own loyalty programs, website inquiries, and email newsletters, as well as third-party data such as specialty credit card inquiries, magazine subscriptions, andcatalog purchases.
Once this data is gathered, it can be centralized so it’s all in one place. You clean it up, analyze it, and fill in any gaps. Then you can begin incorporating it across marketing channels to provide customers with a seamless, personalized experience.
Need help? Call us. That’s what we do!
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Do you already have a direct mail provider? Have you been working with the same company for years and think, “Things are going just fine. Why make a change?” If you are happy your current provider, great! But it’s always worth asking the question, “What else could I be getting? Am I leaving opportunities on the table?”
Whether you’ve been in direct mail for years or you’re just getting started, here are five things you should expect from your direct mail provider, even if you’ve been working with them for years.
1. Lowest possible postage. Most direct mail houses help you get discounts on your mail, but not every direct mail house is certified to get the lowest possible postage rates and discounts based on volume, drop-shipping, and mail design. That’s where a “best in class” provider comes in. Best-in-class providers are able to offer all discounts for which you qualify and have the knowledge, technology, and experience to help you capitalize on them. Some companies, like the Goode Company, go even further. We drive trucks daily to the local entry points at no charge, reducing your costs even further. Plus, we have unique international mailing capabilities that get you dramatically lower international postage.
2. Expert mail consultation and design. Saving money also means avoiding unnecessary costs. Best-in-class mail providers look for problems that might delay your mail or result in unexpected surcharges. For example, is the indicia placed correctly? Did you know you could use your own branded indicia if your mailer has USPS “mail anywhere” status? Are the folds placed so that the return address falls into the right place? We can’t count the number of times we’ve helped clients save thousands of dollars by identifying out-of-compliance designs or tweaking details before the piece goes into the mail.
Note: You might be mailing non-compliant pieces and not even know it. Even if you have been mailing non-compliant mail pieces until now, that doesn’t mean that someone at the post office won’t suddenly decide to be a stickler tomorrow!
3. Sophisticated data management. Best-in-class direct mail providers can help you save money by managing your mailing list to remove duplicates, stay up to date with address changes, and fix noncompliance issues. They provide data services including NCOA, merge/purge/de-dupe, CASS certification, presort and ACS updates, return files to eliminate physical returns. They even offer mail tracking so that you know where your mail is in the postal stream and the exact day each piece hits.
4. Expert campaign development. No matter who you work with, you want the best results. Best-in-class mail providers help you identify what your ideal prospect looks like and using demographic searches can expand your database to get to know your customers, and can help you use this information to design highly targeted mailings. This can include sending direct mailers automatically based on triggers that you set. Best-in-class providers also help you collect detailed metrics (so you know your campaigns are working) and do A/B testing to refine your campaigns based on real-life results.
5. Detailed tracking and reporting. The more tracking and reporting data you have, the more you can plan your timing around other aspects of the campaign. For example, once delivery of your mail has been confirmed, your salespeople can start making calls immediately. You can also time follow-up emails and reminders, and if you know that mail takes longer in certain ZIP Codes, you can optimize your mail drops to ensure that you hit your target windows. You can even schedule complementary channels, such as radio advertising and social media campaigns, to begin the desired number of days after your mail is in-home.
Working with a best-in-class direct mail provider is more than making sure your mail is delivered on time. It means working with someone with deep knowledge of the postal regulations and with deep data, mail design, and consultation expertise who can get you the best results.
Does your mail house do all that? If not, let’s talk.
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Print + Email: The Combination That Delivers
There are lots of things that are better together. Abbott and Costello. Peanut butter and jelly. Converse and high socks. In the world of marketing, it’s print and email. Print is a powerful channel all on its own. Why would adding email to the mix make such a difference?
Let’s look at three reasons.
• It’s a sign of engagement. Not that providing the email address, in itself, makes the customer more engaged. It’s because these customers are more engaged that they are more likely to provide this information. Willingness to give an email address can be an indicator of engagement—and that’s really useful to know.
• Email providers are self-selecting themselves as more likely to buy. By providing their email addresses, customers are telling you that they want to hear from you. This makes them more open to your messaging and, therefore, more likely to make a purchase.
• Customers who provide their email addresses are more open to additional marketing “touches.” More touches means more results.
We see this two-step process approach generating results every day. By combining personalized printing with email and an online registration process, one association, for example, was able to triple the attendance at its annual summer conference. In another example, a software manufacturer sent a follow-up email to non-responders to a print campaign, personalized using the same rules as the print mailer, and sales of its targeted products jumped 81%.
Of course, this “one-two punch” is not the only element of a successful direct mail campaign. Still, it is a key aspect. It’s no wonder that direct mail with email follow-up has become almost the de facto standard in multichannel marketing today.
Why not talk to us about expanding your next campaign to include email?
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Color Makes an Envelope Shout “Open Me!”
As human beings, we are naturally drawn to color. When most mailings are in black-and-white, doing something as simple as adding color to the outside of your envelopes can make your envelope scream, “Open me!”
An early mail openability study conducted by NFO/Pitney Bowes found that mail recipients were more likely to open an envelope if it contained a teaser, especially a teaser printed in red. The value of color was reinforced by a later Leflein Associates study, which found that 69% of people are more likely to open a mail piece with color text and graphics on the front than they are when the envelope is plain.
Because adding color makes it more likely that recipients will open the envelope, making this investment for your next campaign can significantly boost your ROI.
Here are six places you can add color to your envelopes if you’re not already doing so:
• Add your company logo
• Use four-color marketing images
• Test bright banners and borders
• Play with fun, colorful backgrounds
• Add colorful indicia
• Test outlines of the state in which they live
• Use color everywhere — try a colored envelope itself!
When was the last time you added color to the outside of your envelopes? If the answer is not in a long time (or never), what are you waiting for? Let us help!