Author Archives: jonmccoy858

Why the Digital Generation Loves Mail

You’d think that the first digital generation, Millennials, would stick their noses up at direct mail in favor of electronic alternatives, but the opposite is true. Millennials love mail! Studies show that Millennials are more engaged with direct mail than other generations. According to “USPS Mail Moments,” for example, Millennials are more likely than non-Millennials to do the following: 

  • Scan their mail (71% vs. 66%) 
  • Organize and sort their mail (45% vs. 40%)
  • Read their mail (36% vs. 35%)
  • Show their mail to others (24% vs. 19%)

Millennials also show a greater preference for direct mail over email in some key areas. For example, 64% would rather look for “useful information” in the physical mail than email, and while the average person spends 8.4 minutes sorting their mail, Millennials spend 9.2 minutes doing so. 

Why do digital natives love engaging with direct mail? In part, it’s because they are inundated with digital media. Physical mail stands out in Millennials’ otherwise electronic worlds. This generation is also geared toward visual content, and direct mail caters to the physical senses. 

If you are marketing to this audience, try connecting the physical world to the social media world to create relevance. For example, members of this generation are massive consumers of social media like Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, so consider designing to your direct mail be “Instagram-like” or “Snapchat-like.” Try incorporating print-to-mobile and print-to-video tools like QR Codes and augmented reality. Turn direct mail into an experience.

Even when direct mail graphics are static, use those graphics creatively. For example, one direct mail piece uses an image of a surfer riding a wave several stories high. At first glance, you might think this was for surf products or Caribbean cruises. In fact, it was for mortgage refinancing. The text read, “Ever feel like your home mortgage is like 60 tons of water ready to crush you and your family? We can help!” Instead of focusing on interest rates and mortgage terms, it used images to show what it feels like to be crushed under debt. 

When targeting Millennials, incorporate direct mail. But understand how this audience thinks, then design campaigns intended for this audience in a way that they are most likely to connect with. 

What’s Another Name for Personalized Print Marketing?

What’s another name for personalized printing? Relationship marketing! This is an approach that uses personalized printing to focus on nurturing long-term customer relationships rather than pursuing just the short-term sale. How does this work? 

Say you are a family-owned hardware store. Typically, a customer walks in, does his shopping, and you are available to answer questions and recommend products. You hope that your excellent service, quality merchandise, and expertise will maintain the customer’s loyalty. You might have special promotions or discounted merchandise in a bin at the front of the counter, as well. 

What might this look like if you decide to add relationship marketing? 

It looks a little different. Each time a customer walks in, you smile and greet them, but you also ask if they would like to be on the mailing list for your newsletter “Tips for Shop & Home.” If they say yes, you collect their name, address, and additional information, such as whether they rent or own, have children and their ages, and any specific home needs such as a garden, pool, or workshop.

Once a month, you send out a personalized newsletter addressing each customer by name. You customize the content, providing weatherizing tips, suggestions for ongoing home maintenance, and relevant offers based on what you know about their property. If they garden, for example, you might offer planting tips and discounts on seeds, berry bushes, or garden mulch. If they have a pool, you might offer winterizing or seasonal opening tips. 

To deepen the relationship, you find other opportunities to engage your customers, as well. This might include an occasional customer survey, feedback form, or contest (such as best recipe using home-grown vegetables or DIY project). This makes each customer feel valued and more deeply engages them with your store, while at the same time giving you more information to further personalize future mailings. 

That’s relationship marketing—and it’s one of the opportunities that make personalized print so powerful.

Data: You Can’t Market Without It

There is no getting around the increasing importance of data in marketing. In fact, according to Forbes Insights,[1] 64% of global marketers “strongly agree” that data-driven marketing is crucial to success within a hyper-competitive economy. Similarly, Gartner found that 69% of marketing leaders expect the majority of their decisions to be driven by data.[2]

Why do data-driven decisions matter so much? Even the best marketers can be misled by going with their guts. Think of some of the famous missteps in branding. Remember the disastrous introduction of “New Coke”? Or GAP’s infamous logo reintroduction that was universally hated by its customers? These were the result of great ideas not sufficiently backed up by data.

The same principle applies in marketing. If you are selling a new beauty product, do you need to create different messaging for women who are Gen Z versus Millennials? Are your customers more likely to respond to a call to action highlighted in yellow or red? Do response rates improve if you swap out images based on gender, age, or geographic location? These are the kinds of decisions that should be made based on data. 

Need to learn more about your customers? Here are three ways to do that: 

Customer surveys: If you want to learn more about what your customers think and what they value, ask them.

Tracking and metrics: Use barcodes, redemption codes, cookies, and other forms of response tracking. Don’t just ask people what they think. Watch what they do. 

Purchase data: You can learn a lot about your customers by purchasing insights such as their interests (based on purchases, magazine subscriptions, etc.), contributions to charities, and other third-party data. 

Your marketing is too important to base it on guesswork. Use data as your “eyes” to make sure you are getting it right. If you need help, just ask!


[1] Data is derived from a survey of 162 U.S.-based senior executives conducted by Forbes 

[2] Gartner Marketing Analytics Survey (2018)

Want More B2B Accounts? Try This!

Marketing to businesses can be tricky. Unlike marketing to individuals or households, where there might be only one or two decision-makers, in businesses, decisions are often made by committee. In fact, “Chief Marketer” notes that, on average, B2B accounts have 13 influencers involved in the process. Thirteen! This is why successful B2B marketing requires a different approach. How can you run a successful B2B marketing campaign? 

1. Use multiple touches every time.

According to BrightFunnel research, it takes an average of 18 touches to close a B2B deal. Combine that with 13 influencers, and you have a complex decision-making process that requires a coordinated approach targeting multiple people in multiple areas of the company.  

Multiple touches are also necessary because individual stakeholders may need distinct types of information at each stage of the sales journey. Different channels have different strengths, so the channel you use to bring your product to the company’s attention may not be the same as the one(s) used to drip more detailed information along the way. 

B2B campaigns require multiple channels and multiple touches at different stages of the process. 

2. Get to know who all of the influencers are. 

Getting in front of influencers requires knowing who those influencers are. Sometimes, they can be hidden. If you are selling IT equipment, for example, you might know that you need to contact the directors of IT and finance, but the purchase decision might also be influenced by people in marketing, sales, and customer service. Find out who all of your influencers are because, at some level, you need to be marketing to all of these people, too. 

3. Get fresh data.

The more you get to know your influencers, the more you can motivate them with relevant messaging. There are many effective data suppliers out there, so don’t be afraid to try something new. When a single account may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s worth the effort to find new sources, test their effectiveness, and make sure you are reaching the right people with the right message at the right time. 

Need help navigating the labyrinth of B2B sales? Let us help!

When It Comes to Profits, It’s Time to Sort Your Customers

Let’s face it. When it comes to profitability, some customers are worth more than others. That’s why, before deploying any marketing plan, you need to know who your most profitable customers are. 

Understanding Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), or how much a customer is worth over time, is a critical part of the equation. One customer may spend $250 with you initially, but then never order again. Another customer may order only $150 the first time, but then become a loyal (and far more profitable) customer who orders thousands of dollars’ worth of products over time. 

This is why in order to understand the true profitability of your customers, you need to look at campaigns from a broader perspective. If you were to look at the ROI of the above campaign in the short term, you would think the first customer netted the highest ROI. But it was the second who was the most profitable. 

How do you determine CLV? First, you need to decide which measure (or measures) you are going to use. 

  • Do you want to determine CLV based on revenue generated? 
  • Do you want to use profitability? 
  • Do you want to include hard dollar values only? 
  • How about the frequency of purchases? Is having consistent, predictable revenue streams more critical than larger, less consistent ones? 
  • How important are other factors, such as social media influence, to your calculations? 

You also want to consider your customer acquisition cost (CAC). If you use static direct mail combined with generic email, you may spend less but net fewer customers. Or you can run a short-run, highly targeted campaign that costs more overall, but acquires more customers and has a lower CAC that results in a higher CLV. Customer Lifetime Value is an important calculation, but its value to your marketing strategy depends on the accuracy of the numbers you put in. Talk to us about creating accurate CLVs for your customers

Little Known Ways to Boost Your Mailing Results

Did you know that direct mail recipients purchase 28% more items and spend 28% more than non-direct mail recipients?1This is excellent news for marketers. But with increasing pressure on marketing budgets, you still want to make every direct mail dollar count. Here are three overlooked ways to boost your mailing results and maximize your investment. 

1. Keep addresses current with public and private address correction sources. 

Most mailers know about the National Change of Address (NCOA) service offered by the U.S. Post Office. However, did you know that only 60% of actual address changes get filed with the USPS? Or that NCOA only catches moves filed within the past 18–48 months? By using private address correction services in conjunction with NCOA, you can find moves not reported to the USPS and can often correct address changes as far back as 15 years. 

2. Get addresses right in the first place. 

It’s a simple principle, but it is too often overlooked. If you don’t get the address correct on the envelope, the mail won’t be delivered. 1234 Bay Avenue is not the same as 1234 Bay Street. Use professional address correction services to ensure that your mailing addresses are accurate and complete, so your mail pieces arrive as intended. 

3. Suppress bad addresses.

Sometimes boosting results isn’t just about targeting people who are most likely to respond. It is also about not targeting those who won’t. Suppression services flag records in your list that are highly unlikely to respond because they have registered for the Direct Marketing Association’s “do not mail” service, have an address in a prison or extremely low-income area, or are deceased. In one analysis of five client mailings, for example, BCC Software saw an average return on investment of 300% by using deceased suppression alone.2

Don’t leave money on the table. Talk to us about standard address correction and the private address correction and suppression services available. You work hard to develop your list. Get the most out of it!

 “Mail: Convert Browsers into Online Sales” (USPS)

2 “Find the 5 Bottom Line Impacting Items Hiding in Your Data” (BCC Software)

3 Tips for Keeping that Project on Time

How the marketing world has changed! Whether you are being asked to produce projects in print, email, mobile, or for your website, schedules are compressed. There are more channels to integrate. Everything is more urgent. How do you keep everything running on time and on a budget? Here is a quick guide from Workfront, a project management platform, for simplifying the project management process. These steps apply whether you use third-party project management software or not. 

1. Improve the intake process. Most marketing departments have requests coming in from multiple directions. How do you keep track of how much work is coming in, what the expectations are, and what the priorities should be? 

  • Create a single funnel for all work requests. Whether it’s one person, a dedicated email address, or a software program, create a single point of contact. No more sticky notes, text message requests, or “desk flybys.” 
  • Develop a template that gathers the details of each project. What is the scope? What is the timeframe? Collecting all (and we mean all!) of the information upfront in a systematic, standardized way allows you to prioritize and manage projects effectively. 
  • Set up a response protocol. How many times do people submit a second request because they think the first one fell into a deep, dark hole? Respond to each request within a set time frame. 

Step 2: Set up a standardized workflow. Have weekly kickoff meetings with all of the stakeholders. Get agreement on timelines and details. You don’t want anyone coming back later and saying, “I didn’t agree to that.” Or, “That’s not what we discussed.” Ensure that everyone is in alignment with the scopes upfront (no scope creep!). 

Also answer questions such as: 

  • Who will be spearheading each project? Someone must be ultimately accountable for moving the project along. 
  • What is the schedule for updates? With regular, detailed updates, things stay on task, and people are held accountable. 
  • Are any of these projects repeatable? Whether it’s direct mail, a landing page, or an email blast, setting up templates for a similar and ongoing project can save you tons of time. 

Step 3: Streamline approvals with digital proofing. Establish a clear understanding of who needs to review and approve work. When does that work need to be approved? When possible, collaborate in a digital tool that gives everyone visibility into the process. 

It doesn’t take specialized tools to improve the project management workflow. It requires stakeholders working through a centralized point of contact, in a centralized environment, so everyone stays in the loop. Set up protocols, communicate expectations, and stay consistent. Then watch things move along more smoothly. 

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!

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.

 

3 Tips for Creating a Visual Brand

Top brands have key written marketing strategies, but they have visual strategies too. Think about some of today’s most iconic brands—Nike, McDonald’s, Disney. Just one glance and the entire brand—its core messages and key products—rush into your mind. Do you have a visual brand? If not, how can you create one?

  1. Be consistent with brand colors.

There’s a reason top brands place such importance on their brand colors. Think Tide Orange and Coca-Cola Red. Not only are these brand colors used for products and logos, but they infuse every aspect of these companies’ marketing, both digital and print.

Even if you don’t have an official brand color, identify colors that are consistent with your company message and image. Use them consistently throughout your materials. Color can be a consistent presence in all of your marketing materials that triggers visual memory.

  1. Tell your story in pictures.

What’s your brand story? How can images of your products tell that story? For example, from a branding perspective, Harley-Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles. It sells independence and freedom. Visuals of the open road are as important as the motorcycle itself. Likewise, Lexus doesn’t sell cars. It sells prestige. Its advertising shows cars driven by men in expensive suits or by women dripping with luxury.

What feelings do your print materials need to evoke? Are your products designed to give people financial freedom, make them better moms, or boost their social standing? If so, what images will reinforce those messages?

  1. Go professional.

Stock imagery works in a pinch, but it tells a general story, not yourstory. Try hiring a professional photographer and using pictures of your storefront or corporate offices, your employees, and your products in use (rather than just house shots). Build a visual identity based on real people, places, and things associated with your company.

 

Visual branding is a powerful tool — use it!