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Resources

How exactly can you utilize local search engine optimization for your website? Here are the first few steps in integrating local SEO best practices for small businesses.

Great content marketing moves the needle, and blogging is the best place to start. Read these five tips for starting a successful blog for your business.

Commit to change with this handful of new approaches to your marketing efforts.

When it comes to marketing, most small businesses stick to the traditional tactics. But branching into areas where few businesses tend to go can come with high rewards and set your business apart—like publishing a book.

‘Tis the season of giving, but for your small business, that might be easier said than done.

An effective landing page is the backbone of any online marketing campaign. Draw in visitors, explain your value and generate leads for your business.

Improve your email address capture to boost your distribution list and sales.

Why Does Channel Selection Matter?

When it comes to choosing marketing channels, marketers can make many assumptions. Millennials always want digital, the Silent Generation wants print, but the reality is often far different. As marketers, if we don’t pay attention to how consumers want to engage with us, we can turn them off or leave them out in the cold.

“We make a lot of assumptions, especially about buyers,” notes Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing, CMO Council, speaking in a Target Marketing webinar “Channels of Choice.” “It’s easy to make big, bold statements. Millennials are all digital. They don’t know how to talk to each other. They are always on their phones. But consumers are funny, and generations often act outside our expectations.”

For example, Miller notes, it’s a mistake think the Silent Generation is just sitting at home not doing much. “They are out and about, engaging in living their lives,” she says. “Likewise, for every member of the Silent Generation we think doesn't want to engage digitally, we get someone who is [highly tech savvy]. In the same way, we will find a Millennial who wants their bank statement mailed to them because they think it’s more trusted and secure. For every assumption we make, there is a massive group of consumers that will buck it.”

The best way to avoid the errors of assumption, she says, is to ask consumers what they actually want. So the CMO Council conducted a global survey of 2,000 consumers in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and England. The questions involved bi-directional communication between the customer and buyer (direct mail, email, interactive social media, as opposed to single directional channels like magazine advertising or billboards). Here’s what they found: consumers want a blend of digital and traditional communications.

• 85% want a mix of digital and traditional
• 10% want digital only
• 5% want physical only

This was the case across all generations. The range of those wanting a blend of digital and traditional communications ranged only from 82% (Silent Generation) to 88% (Gen Z). The desire for a mix of digital and traditional communications is consistent across the board.

“You cannot get away with one-way only communications strategy anymore,” concludes Miller. “Consumers expect—not just want, like, or desire, but expect—a blend of physical and digital channels be offered to them as part of their customer experience.”

The takeaway? Want happy customers? When it comes to the channels of communication, give consumers a choice.

Learn what UX is and how to apply it to your company’s marketing, chiefly your website.

3 Ways to Sell More to Existing Customers

Think you have to go out and drum up new customers in order to increase your sales? Prospecting is an important tool for revenue generation, but there are ways to increase your sales from existing customers, too. Here are three simple, but highly effective ways to increase revenues from the customers you already have.

1. Bring ‘em back!
Revive lagging customer relationships. Identify those customers that used to order frequently but who have dropped off the map. Send them a note telling them you missed them. Ask them to fill out a survey to find out why they disengaged and offer a coupon encouraging them to come back.

2. Cross-sell and upsell.
While prospecting can be enormously profitable, your most profitable relationships are the people who already buy from you. Take advantage of these relationships to cross-sell and upsell relevant products. If you are an auto dealer and know a customer’s lease is about to expire on a Toyota Corolla, for example, send a personalized brochure appealing to all of the benefits of upgrading to a Toyota Camry.

3. Tap into loyalty.
Do you have a loyalty program? Why not start one? These programs encourage customers to maintain their relationship with you based on discounts, rewards, and deals. Sometimes benefits are things like discounts and free merchandise, but especially for luxury items, exclusive access and insider information can be powerful incentives, too. If you are a local winery, ask tour visitors to sign up for a wine club. Offer insider “deals” like exclusive wine tastings and access to lectures from local celebrities.

Need help maximizing your existing customer data? We’ve got great ideas. Just ask!

Even in the digital age, print's time-tested and proven effectiveness deserve to be part of your next campaign.

Without direct mail, customer acquisition falls flat. Sound like a bold claim? It is, but there’s a reason—it’s true. Many direct marketers can attest that, without direct mail, their customer acquisition efforts would be less successful.

What makes direct mail so powerful?

1. It is the only channel that can reach your entire target audience.

Did you know that 6% of consumers in the United States don’t have access to broadband? That 30% of Americans don’t use Facebook? Or that only 83% of U.S. adults have cellphones, and of those, 17% don’t text? Even the best email lists only reach 40–50% of your list. Postal mail is the only channel that can reach your entire target audience.

2. Direct mail lists have lower churn.

People change email addresses frequently, whether through preference or job change. By contrast, people may live at the same address for years, if not decades.

3. Personalization is more reliable.

Data used to personalize by demographic and psychographic can be readily cross-checked and validated. When purchasing or adding to a direct mail list, you can have a high level of confidence in its accuracy.

4. Mail stands out in the mailbox.

It is not unusual for the average person to receive hundreds of emails in a single day. Even the best, most personalized email may still never be seen. By contrast, with consumers’ mailboxes less full than they used to be, well-designed direct mail pieces jump out and command attention.

5. Direct mail is visually compelling.

HTML email utilizes many of the benefits of graphics and personalization, but direct mail offers a level of tangibility and visual appeal not available in any other channel. People respond to the richness of color, the depth of imagery, and dimensional techniques such as coatings, dynamic folds, and eye-catching die-cuts.

Customer acquisition is critical to your business. To achieve success, you need the right tools. While going multichannel with print and digital marketing is a “must have” approach, direct mail remains the most predictable, effective way to reach the widest number of consumers. Don’t miss out!

You’ve heard about content marketing, but is it right for your business? Here are three approaches to ensure investing in this strategy pays off.

Keep the Conversation Going!

When do you engage with your customers? Is it only when you want to sell them something? If so, consider extending the conversation. Customers are more loyal when they feel that you care about them personally, not just the bottom line, so here are three ways to keep the conversation rolling.

1. Touch base . . . just to touch base.

Send personalized notes and postcards at critical anniversaries. Celebrate customers’ birthdays, but also significant business relationship anniversaries, such as the date someone first becomes a customer. Some companies make these touches by email, but personalized cards and letters have far more impact. There is something more powerful about a beautiful personalized message that arrives in a printed envelope than “Happy Birthday!” in an 8-point subject line.

2. Provide valuable information.

If you continue to receive real estate postcards even after you’ve purchased a home, it’s not that your realtor forgot to take you out of their database. It’s part of a growing trend of long-term customer retention that all market verticals can learn from. Realtors often send postcards every few months or at the change of seasons. They might offer suggestions for improving the curb appeal of your home, tricks for spring decluttering, or ideas for winterizing your garage. When your friends are looking for referrals or when your children are looking to purchase their first home, they want to be the first one you recommend. Maybe they are onto something. How could you use this strategy to your advantage?

3. Don’t let them get away.

Do you know when customers are starting to fade away? Maybe they buy fewer products from you, or maybe they do so less frequently. Perhaps they stopped engaging on social media or changed their email address and didn’t re-up with your newsletter. Pay attention to which of your customers remain engaged and reach out to those who are not. This allows you to re-engage lagging relationships before it’s too late. Once a pattern of non-engagement becomes entrenched, it’s much harder to change.

Everyone wants to be noticed and cared about, and your customers are no different. Love your customers beyond the sale, and they will love you back.

Surveys give your customers chances to voice their opinions, and your company can take them into consideration so you can better serve your customers.

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:

1. 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.

2. 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!

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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!

You want it to become recognizable in the eyes of both current and potential consumers. To help, we’ve come up with some tips to consider when designing your brand’s logo.

Outdoor advertising is more than just billboards; it can include any medium from benches to buses to window displays. Let us tell you all about the benefits of outdoor advertising.

Here are just a few benefits you might discover when you join a professional organization.

Are You Giving Your Mailing List Enough Love?

Quick! If you had to identify the most important component of your marketing, what would you say? Did you say your mailing list? If so, make sure it gets enough love. Let’s look at some basic steps you should be taking regularly to keep your list in top shape.

1. Address correction. If you do bulk mailings, the United States Postal Service requires you to run your list through NCOA within 90 days of every mailing. Even if your mailings don’t fall under the “bulk” category, using NCOA on a regular basis is just a good idea.

2. Enhanced change of address. NCOA is only about 80% effective. It only works for people who file their change of address with the Post Office, and it is only accurate for those who have moved within the past four years. Enhanced change of address services tap into the data from third parties and can yield 20¬–40% more matches than NCOA alone.

3. Address accuracy. You should be running your list through CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) on a regular basis, as well. This corrects and matches street addresses to postal specifications.

4. De-dupe names. It’s easy for duplicates to sneak into your mailing list (for example, Jane Smith and Jane A. Smith may be the same person), but it’s just as easy to remove them.

5. De-dupe households. Unless you are selling to businesses in which multiple practitioners may be at the same location (such as an office building), why send multiple direct mail pieces to the same address?

6. Deceased suppression. This is another mailing service that may be unfamiliar to many marketers, but it should be a regular part of your routine.

7. Service endorsements. With service endorsements, you are asking the Post Office to let you know if mail cannot be delivered because of an incorrect address. If a new address is available, the Post Office will provide it. If not, you can remove the name from your list.

How many of these services do you use on a regular basis? If you need help with your mailing service and maintaining your list, we’ll be happy to help.

If you’re looking to redesign your website or simply improve the performance of your homepage, keep reading for our list of must-have homepage elements.

Before you ditch yours, check out our reasons why you should still be using one to navigate the business world.

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.

It can be difficult to stay on top of all the words and phrases marketers need to know. We’ve compiled a handy list of definitions you can reference anytime.

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