3 Key Shopping Trends You Need to Know for Your Marketing

In today’s changing and uncertain market, businesses want to be in tune with the most essential shopping trends. Here are three “must follow” trends that you need to know. These trends are not new. However, when things are in flux, it’s all the more important to focus on the basics.

1. Think mobile, mobile, mobile. Mobile has become a large part of the marketing equation, whether you actively promote your business via mobile or not. Sales via mobile devices have seen average year-on-year increases of 33.8% since 2016. But what many businesses don’t realize is that mobile is as important in-store as it is online. Whether before they visit the store or while they are in the aisle, shoppers are using their mobile devices to research shampoo as much as they are flat-screen TVs.

Need to create a better mobile experience?

  • Optimize your mobile site. According to Google, 53% of visitors will abandon a site within three seconds if it doesn’t load right away.
  • Use QR Codes or augmented reality (AR) to enable shoppers to interact with direct mail, packaging, or in-store displays.
  • Use mobile to provide shoppers with access to genuinely helpful content such as reviews or mobile coupons.

2. Incorporate User Generated Content (UGC). UGC is defined as content users create themselves. Examples include customer-posted reviews, photos, and videos. When retailers integrate visual UGC, BazaarVoice’s Shopper Experience Index reports the following results:

  • 111% conversion lift among shoppers overall.
  • 180% lift in revenue per visitor among lifelong shoppers.
  • Increase in basket sizes.

Even something as simple as reprinting reviews can be powerful. For example, “Great Food and Great Prices!” sounds good, but “Voted Best Family-Owned Restaurant by Your Neighbors!” sounds even better.

3. Personalize shopper offers, communications, and experiences. The trend toward personalization continues, and it’s more important than ever. Nearly all (91%) consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations relevant to them (Accenture) and more than half (57%) are willing to share personalized experiences in exchange for customized offers (Salesforce). So give it to them! But this personalization must feel authentic and accurate. Shoppers say that inaccurate or irrelevant personalization drives them to shop elsewhere.

If you aren’t already implementing mobile, UGC, or personalization strategies, let us help you create them. Ready to get started?

The Magic Behind the Color Curtain

Suppose you want great color, your selection of a printing partner matters. Whether you are looking for color that is soft and subtle or that pops off the page, it doesn’t happen by accident. Behind that color is a highly technical process, and the ability to manage that process is a differentiator from one printer to another.

Here are some of the factors in great color that many clients never see.

File set-up: Different types of images (GIF, PNG, JPG, TIFF) handle color differently, so it’s important to get them right. There are also multiple types of PDFs, such as PDF/X1-1 and PDF/4, each with different capabilities related to color.

Printing specification: Printers use a wide variety of industry-standard specifications, each of which has an impact on color, as well. These specs include (but are not limited to):

SNAP: Designed for newsprint-grade media.

SWOP:Designed for standard commercial offset printing. SWOP has multiple sub-categories to reflect the stock on which the job is printed.

GRACOL: Developed for high-quality reproduction. It, too, has multiple sub-categories that reflect the type of stock.

ISO: An earlier standard still in use today. It, too, is broken down into sub-categories, including ISO coated, ISO uncoated, and ISO newspaper.

Outside America, you have FOGRA 39 (coated stock), FOGRA 48 (newsprint), FOGRA 50 (gloss laminated), and in Australia, 3DAP (3 paper types). In Japan, you have Japan Color (4 paper types).

All of these standards give you different looks. It is the job of the printer to match the targets to each one.

Evaluation: How does the printer know that its presses hit the spec you are after? We print a color bar on the output, then measure the patches with a spectrophotometer. This includes gray balance, density, L*a*b* value, and more.

Lighting: How color is seen by the eye is influenced by the type of light under which it’s viewed. The appearance of color is impacted by factors such as:

  • Type of lamps used.
  • Color of the light (incandescent, fluorescent, LEDs).
  • Impact of metamerism (color looks different under different light conditions).
  • Any optical brighteners in the ink or substrate can react under fluorescent light and create a color shift.

All of this is goes to say why you should not trust your color to just anyone. The methods, standards, and press practices we use is the “secret sauce” that makes our production unique to us. It is a process that you can trust!

3 Things You Didn’t Know Fonts Could Do

What is the value of a font? These stylistic tools do more than communicate words on a page. Some are fancy, others are plain. Some are playful, and others are spooky. But all of them do more than create words. Like mood lighting, fonts set the tone for your communications in ways that you might not expect. Let’s look at three things you might not realize that fonts do. 

1. Communicate brand. 

You may not think about fonts communicating your brand, but they play this role more than you think. Just look at The New York Times. You can pick out the Times on the newsstand from two blocks away. Why? The font is distinctive. You aren’t going to mistake The Times for another publication. Select fonts that you feel represent your brand and consistently use them across all marketing materials, whether print or digital. 

2. Set the mood. 

What’s the mood of your communication? Edgy? Thoughtful? Urgent? While selecting the right images, graphics, and colors are critical to communicating mood, selecting the right fonts is important, too. Want to create a piece that is lighthearted and playful? Try Architect’s Daughter or Chalkboard. Want a romantic feel? Try a cursive script or handwriting font. Fonts can help elicit a variety of emotions, so experiment!

3. Instant credibility. 

Fonts can tap into positive associations to project a sense of trustworthiness and credibility. Helvetica, for example, is used on government documents. Courier is used on vintage books. Using these classic fonts can communicate authenticity. Even if you are using less traditional fonts, once people begin to associate your documents with a specific type style, this visual consistency will authenticate your materials, as well. 

While fonts can reinforce branding, set mood, and establish credibility, they are ultimately intended to be read. So balance creativity with readability. 

Want to learn more about fonts? Let our designers guide you!

Online Bounce? Lure Them Back with Direct Mail Retargeting

When someone says “retargeting,” many people tend to think of digital ads used to entice a customer or prospect back to a marketer’s website after they visited without making a purchase. But did you know that retargeting can be done with direct mail, too?

Say a 30-something trail runner lands on the webpage of a retailer selling outdoor gear. She is looking for a new pair of shoes for a race coming up in a few months. She looks at several pairs, but before she can make a purchase, she gets pulled away to help her kids with homework. She never gets back to her search.

Now imagine she goes to the mailbox a few days later—and lo and behold! A postcard featuring the pairs of shoes she spent the most time looking at, along with a coupon for 10% off. Imagine the effect!

When we think about retargeting channels, we tend to think of banner ads and pop-up ads in social media newsfeeds. However, today’s consumers have come to expect that type of retargeting and often tune out all but the most enticing offers. With the explosion in ad blocking software, some may not see retargeted ads at all. That is where direct mail becomes so powerful. Direct mail can get through where digital advertising cannot.

Website-to-direct-mail retargeting does require some level of opt-in, such as a shopper having previously given the retailer permission to contact them (e.g, they are an existing customer) or by filling out enough of an online form to provide the necessary information.

Does retargeting work? One commonly cited statistic is that, when marketers use this approach, 26% of online shoppers who did not complete the checkout process come back and make a purchase. Retargeting takes a few extra steps, but with numbers like that, it is worth the effort. Especially for high-value products like insurance, financial services, and real estate.

Want help creating a direct mail retargeting campaign? Let’s talk about whether it makes sense for you.

Why Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Is Hot in B2B

It’s the classic approach: Bring enough people into the sales funnel, and you’ll sell a lot of products. In the B2B environment, however, marketers are increasingly moving to a different approach, account-based marketing (ABM). Account-based marketing refers to targeting an account (a company) rather than an individual. Let’s look at how it works. 

1. Pick the right accounts. Account selection is the foundation of any ABM program. If you select companies outside your market or have little chance of winning, you’ll have low-percentage results. That’s why successful ABM starts with getting the right accounts into your funnel to begin with. How do you do that? Analyze your customer base, competitors, employees, revenues, and geography. Find your highest and lowest performing accounts, then score prospective accounts based on what you learn. 

2. Identify the right people within those accounts. Get to the right people within your target accounts. Yes, we said, “people.” Most B2B accounts have more than one decision-maker, and you often have to find all of those decision-makers and bring them over the finish line as a team. 

3. Keep dripping information. B2B sales often require a continuous educational effort that occurs over time. Use a steady stream of communications to bring awareness to your products or services, communicate their value, and answer questions. It takes time, but if you do it right, this can open doors to a phone call or in-person meeting. 

4. Use all of your tools. Use all of your marketing tools—direct mail, email, events, webinars, social media, and all forms of advertising—to keep those leads warm (and getting warmer) until your audience is ready to buy. 

5. Give ‘em swag. Although promotional items often get the proverbial eye roll, they work. First, 3D objects grab attention. Second, when you give people something for free, buyers tend to feel an obligation to respond. It’s called “reciprocity.” You may find that you’ve been hitting an account for months with no response, then you send a promotional item, and the next time, they pick up the phone. Try it! 

Need help developing an ABM strategy? Give us a call!

5 Steps to Planning Your Way to Print Project Success

Most successful printing projects don’t happen by accident. They start with a good plan. How can you create the kind of plan that comes in on time and budget? Start by asking these five questions: 

1. What’s your end goal? Smart planning works backward. You don’t want to find out too late that certain design elements bring unwelcome surprises. For example, you might not realize that some binding options can take extra time or that a specific trim size might increase the cost of the project. 

2. Who is the audience, and how will they use the piece? What are the lighting conditions under which the piece will be viewed, and how will that impact your color choices? Will the piece need to be lightfast or water-resistant? Also, older audiences may have different needs in terms of readability (font style, size, contrast) than younger ones. Make sure your design choices match the needs of your target audience and the conditions under which your piece will be viewed and used. 

3. How many suppliers are involved? How will the schedules of any outside service providers impact the timeline? If you are using a freelance illustrator for direct mail design, what is his or her availability? If you’re placing your printed piece on a product, such as a label on a bottle, do you need to coordinate with the bottle supplier to ensure that the bottles are available when you need them? 

4. When does the piece need to arrive? Make sure you plan backward from the delivery date so we can schedule your project appropriately. Because we juggle many jobs at any given time, we need planning to make sure that your project gets to press on time. Especially with more substantial jobs, if there is a delay in getting us the files, it can be more challenging to reschedule. 

5. What’s your “fudge factor”? Always add in buffer time to accommodate slippage in the schedule. The larger the project, the more buffer you will need. 

With the right project planning, you can keep everything on track and running smoothly. Especially when everyone is working toward the same goal and communicating effectively, you are more likely to be rewarded with a project that comes in on time and budget.

5 Ways to NOT Lose Your Customers

You work hard at gaining your customers, and you need to work just as hard to keep them. Customers can be fickle, and without a little extra effort, they can defect to a competitor. Here are five ways to keep your customers happy and loyal to you.

1. Be proactive. Customer retention takes planning. Sit down and create a comprehensive plan that includes tried-and-true print as well as email, mobile, and other channels. Retention programs often have a better ROI than customer acquisition campaigns.

2. Start early. Don’t wait until customers have been with you for a while to work at retaining them. Start these efforts right away. After the first sale, for example, mail a “thank you” note with a satisfaction survey. This will provide insight into your company’s strengths and weaknesses and give you insight regarding what it will take to keep your customers coming back.

3. Personalize. All of your marketing channels can be personalized to different degrees and in different ways. Speak to customers by name. Understand their habits. Create relevant, targeted communications that show that you pay attention to them and don’t want to waste their time.

4. Re-engage lapsed customers. Lapsed customers = great opportunities. Win them back. Remind former customers to see why they bought from you in the first place. Sending “we haven’t heard from you lately” postcards is a low-cost way to re-engage.

5. Cross-sell and upsell. Happy customers don’t always need special offers to continue using your product or service. They already like your company, so continue to engage with them and show them new and related products that are relevant to them and that they want to see.

Customer retention is a necessary and profitable element of your marketing strategy. You’ve worked hard to gain those customers. Now keep them!

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)