Archive for June, 2010

Seven “Dullishish” Copywriting Tips for Variable Data Communications

writing VDP 199x300 Seven Dullishish Copywriting Tips for Variable Data Communications

Copywriting for variable data communications is lot like learning to write for the first time.

“Uestarday I playd my conpudar. It was fun. I had dinar. It was dullishish. Thin I had a popsicol.”

- As written by my 5-year-old son in his Kindergarten journal, translated as: “Yesterday I played my computer. It was fun. I had dinner. It was delicious. Then I had a popsicle.”

Copywriting for variable data communications is lot like learning to write for the first time. At first it seems uncomfortable and the result can be clunky copy that is readable, but doesn’t flow well. With practice, variable data copywriting takes less effort, becomes more impactful, and the copy flow smooths out until you don’t notice the use of variable information.

A few quick tips to quickly adapt to including variable data in your writing projects:

  1. Know your data
  2. Include the use of variable information in your Creative Brief
  3. Focus on relevancy to the recipient
  4. Incorporate variable data only where it improves the communication
  5. Employ a great editor
  6. Have another great copywriter review your work
  7. Don’t forget to utilize the data to create relevant imagery

Copywriting for variable data communications requires a skill set that goes beyond typically copywriting. And as my 5-year-old would write, “If yu wont 2 be gud, yu hav to praktis.”

80,000 Things Ferrellgas Can Teach You About Distributed Marketing

Ferrellgas Case StudyManaging the marketing needs of over 800 locations is no small task. Ferrellgas has done an excellent job of it, driving revenue and results on a local level. Last year they realized that they could improve their localized marketing and make their personnel more efficient with a marketing communications portal (to some of you, this means Marketing Asset Management, Marketing or Print Automation, or Web to Print.)

The effort to consolidate vendors, learn a new process, or simply loading a platform with the multitude of marketing materials and assets can be daunting. Although some companies become intimidated by the initial work it takes to launch a Marketing Communications Portal, Ferrellgas never batted an eyelash and tackled it head-on.

Today Ferrellgas can give you 80,000 reasons why that implementation process is well worth it. They will save at least $80,000 in their first year of using Mail Print’s marketing communications portal and were recently featured in Aberdeen’s report “Marketing Asset Management, Managing Brand Compliance in Distributed Marketing Environments.” The results have been everything they expected and more.

“It was an immediate, overnight turnaround, with far shorter production times, less repetitive effort, and more consultation and guidance being provided to the field offices,” said Brian Mater, Marketing Manager at Ferrellgas.

If you’d like to read more of the Ferrellgas story, check out our online Ferrellgas case study.

DMA Releases New Direct Marketing Response Data

business graphThe Direct Marketing Association released their annual Response Rate Trend Report this week, including some interesting findings about direct mail, email, paid search ads, Internet display ads, and telemarketing:

  • “Response rates for Direct Mail have held steady over the past four years. Letter-sized envelopes, for instance, had a response rate this year of 3.42 percent for a house list and 1.38 percent for a prospect list.”
  • Response rates for B-to-B campaigns were generally higher than for B-to-C campaigns.  Lead generation and high-end average sale campaigns also had higher response rates.”
  • “Email to a house list averaged:
    • a 19.47 percent open rate
    • a 6.64 percent click-through rate
    • a 1.73 percent conversion rate
    • a bounce-back rate of 3.72 percent
    • an unsubscribe rate of 0.77 percent”
  • “Paid search had an average cost per click of $3.79, with a 3.81 percent conversion rate. The conversion rate (after click) of Internet display advertisements was slightly higher at 4.43 percent.”

Perhaps the most interesting stats involve the costs of producing a lead or sale via different marketing channels. Many companies and marketers focus more on the per-piece cost of the different channels, instead of the end game of actual sales, which may account for the flood of marketing emails in my inbox/spam filter.

According to the report: “Catalogs had the lowest cost per lead/order of $47.61, just ahead of inserts at $47.69, email at $53.85, and postcards $75.32.”

What kind of response and conversion rates are you experiencing? What marketing channels are performing best for you? Share your insights by clicking the comment button.

What Jelly Teaches About User Adoption of Marketing Asset Management

57302955 300x300 What Jelly Teaches About User Adoption of Marketing Asset Management

Providing too many options in a marketing asset management solution may create a decision process that is too intense and complicated.

Years ago, Columbia professor, Sheena Ivengar ran an interesting consumer test.  She set up a “free samples” table in a super market and proceeded to test the difference between sampling 6 jellies Vs. sampling 24 jellies.  The net result: when 6 jellies were presented, 40% of the shoppers stopped to sample, and 30% bought jelly.  While 60% of the shoppers stopped to sample from the 24 choices and only 3% actually bought jelly.

So we like the shopping experience, but struggle to make a decision when faced with too many options. I buy that.

So what does that have to do with Marketing Asset Management user adoption?

Users of marketing asset management systems are frequently distributed sales forces, marketing departments, franchises, retailers or local stores.   They use these systems to download logos and ads, and create brand-controlled, yet customizable marketing materials.

Having many options creates a great “shopping” experience and initial usage, but if too many customization options are given, over time the users may become stressed by the system.  This results in fewer ads being downloaded, fewer email and direct mail campaigns being initiated, and ultimately a decrease in the amount of marketing done by your users or locations.  Even worse, they may instead go outside the approved system and create materials that are not within branding standards.  All this can happen simply because designing or creating the marketing materials is a taxing decision process.

When this logic is applied to companies who utilize an online ordering application for marketing asset management and marketing automation, a hypothesis begins to form:

When it is important that users repeatedly use an asset management system, having too many options decreases the frequency with which they use the system.

At this moment I have no facts to prove this hypothesis, but it is something I have witnessed for the past six years working with our communications portal. I am not hopeful that I can convince a client to perform a test and actually share the results as this is not a measurement that marketing departments are interested in proving out.  So for now, we just have to be wise marketers and consider the decision process of the user when establishing how many “jellies”, asset or options are the right amount for an online marketing asset management system.  And by all means, if usage of your asset management system is declining, consider testing the number of assets and options you provide your users.  You may find that less is more.