Archive for September, 2011

Match Direct Mail Frequency to Purchase Frequency

direct marketing frequency, email marketing triggers and timing

Don't waste your marketing efforts with poorly timed offers. Know your customers and increase your ROI.

Why waste precious marketing dollars sending direct mail or email marketing to your customers weekly when they purchase from you monthly? Not matching your mailing frequency with your customers’ buying frequency makes your messages go from ripe to waste. Companies that hammer customers with repetitive offers may make them feel stalked, not catered to.

If your company truly knows its customers, you also know their shopping cycles. This information allows you to match your mailing frequency with their buying cycles. It’s counterproductive to promote to them above and beyond those buying cycles regardless of your CEO’s sales goals. If two mailings equate to $500 dollars, four mailings doesn’t necessarily equate to $1000. Unfortunately the math doesn’t work that way because of an element called free will.

Costco mirrors its customer buying cycles beautifully. Each month it mails its customers an information-rich lifestyle magazine called Costco Connection and an envelope of coupons good for the last half of the month. Why?  Because Costco knows that its members spend $94 every 2.5 weeks. So to assist its members with their quest for value, Costco mails its specials through the mail twice a month. Brilliant.

Timing is just as important as frequency though it is often called marketing’s stepchild. When you target the right people with the right message at precisely the right time, you position your direct mail campaign for much higher response rates, particularly when you calculate frequency with recency and monetary value (revenue received), otherwise known as RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary).

Because frequency can be a misleading time metric, it’s best combined with recency and monetary value (revenue received) to optimize the timing of marketing campaigns. RFM turns out to be the most popular segmentation method used today, primarily because it helps hone buying-cycle matching and is easy to calculate. RFM helps you identify the very best and the very worst customers (the top 10 percent and the bottom 10 percent).

Let’s look at three RFM masters and see how they tie their mail drops to what’s going on in their customers’ lives:

  • Proctor & Gamble mails promotions about “pull-up” diapers to parents when their child is about to start walking. P&G knows because of collecting customer histories.
  • AARP sends its membership offer to folks who are about to turn 60 and enter into retirement.
  • Farmers Insurance, among others, sends personalized birthday cards to each customer from his or her own agent. Collecting birth dates is easy and a great way to increase loyalty. Sending this message in a variable data format would be even better and more effective.

Birthday mailings can be one of six touch-points. It is recommended that small businesses reach out to the customers at least six times a year with relevant messages and offers.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, the best months for direct mail are February through May, and September. “OK” months are January, August, and October. The absolute worst months for direct mail are June and July.

Local mailings should get mailed out on Fridays, this generally gives enough time for the mail to be sorted and delivered on the best days of the week, which are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Lowe’s coupons arrive in customers’ mailboxes just when they need them thanks to its Realtor cross-promotion.  Rather than pummeling people with coupons, Lowe’s clairvoyantly mails to couples who have just purchased a home.

Lowe’s also ramps up marketing during the summer season, when it brings in $15 billion in sales and allocates marketing dollars tied to calendar events like Cinco de Mayo as it pursues the Hispanic market, according to its 2010 Media Plan.

Companies and customers win when aligning the frequency of mailings with buying habits. If your company finds itself omitting some poorly timed and irrelevant mailings, dollars saved can be shifted to another marketing campaign, or better yet, boost the voltage of your less-is-more mailings with multi-channel marketing.

Don’t forget to make sure you’re mailing to people who are still doing business with you and clearing out the people who aren’t spending money with you. It’s amazing how many small and large businesses don’t data cleanse and continue to mail promotions to people who haven’t bought from them in decades. If you haven’t received a recent order, it’s the perfect chance to call and re-engage that customer or remove them from the database.

Mail Print can help with all the above complexities, laws, and steps necessary to execute a well-timed, frequency-correct direct mail program. Once in place, the rewards and increased ROI will make you our customer for life.

WYS Is Not WYG in Email Marketing

Things aren’t always as they appear. Perception is not always reality. What you see is what you get.

variable data printing, email marketing

Be sure your email messages are hitting the bulls-eye.

We’ve heard these phrases before. But do they always prove true? Of course not.  And especially when it comes to direct marketing

The acronym known as WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) describes a system in which the content (text and graphics) that’s displayed onscreen during the editing process appears exactly as it would when printed or displayed as a finished product, whether that be a printed document, web page or slide presentation.

What you see is not what you get. WYS is not WYG. In email, anyway.

Whatever software you’re using very well could try to emulate the end result in order to get as close as possible to WYSIWYG. However, the biggest benefit of WYSIWYG is the ability to be able to see exactly what you are producing.

When it comes to email, be aware that different email clients serve emails differently. What you think you may have designed and are sending out may not actually be what your audience is seeing.

Some applications offer multiple WYSIWYG modes with different levels of realism, such as:

  • Composition mode—in which you can see something that’s somewhat similar to the end result, but with additional information that’s useful while composing, like section breaks, and uses a layout that is more conducive to composing than to layout.
  • Layout mode—in which you see something very similar to the end result, but with some additional information useful in ensuring elements are properly aligned and spaced, such as margin lines.
  • Preview mode—in which the application attempts to present a representation that is as close to the final result as possible.

However, it’s important to note that 67% of email users have their images turned off. Yes, you read that correctly:  a whopping 67% … turned off! (source: Marketing Sherpa, 2010)

So how can you ensure your email is still hitting the mark with or without your images?

Try out these tips:

  • Use email preview engines/emulators to give you an idea of how the email will look for different recipients
  • Prepare for the inevitable: “images not displayed”
    • Put as much text as possible in the code, not images
    • Add alt tags for any images
    • Create a text-only version of your email

Take a look and see what you can do to ensure your message is getting across and looks good in the process, no matter how it’s viewed. As a last resort, if you absolutely need your message to reach your target with the proper images/design displayed correctly, consider mailing a physical piece. There’s something to be said for tangible items. And with everyone getting inundated with email messages these days, it might just serve as a welcome surprise …

Ideas for Using Personalized QR Codes

QR Code. 2d barcodeWe’ve been talking a lot about QR Codes®  It’s because they seem to be the latest and greatest marketing trend. However, few are slow to try it, even when intrigued. So, let’s dive in and explore exactly how they work, especially the personalized capabilities, because the ROI could end up being huge.

Missed some of our previous blog posts? Get caught up:

QR Codes® (Quick Response codes) are barcodes used in advertising and marketing to allow smartphone users to get more information on products and services, just by taking a picture. QR Codes usually take the user to a web page that has more information and functions.

The Codes add a new dimension of interaction and are considered to be the least expensive new technology being used today. Why? Because they are the link between print and online communications. It’s how you can take a once generic message and make it incredibly personalized.

The barcodes can be designed with variable or personal data to drive the user to personalized landing pages, shopping cart functions, automated social networking and more.

Personalized QR Codes® offer a highly interactive and personal way to interact with your target audience because they give the recipient the power to decide if they want to engage.

Use personalized QR Codes® to help you reach mobile customers through:

  • Personalized urls (PURLs)
  • Links to Members of Sales Team
  • Tracking
  • Coupons
  • Video Access
  • Contest Entries
  • Surveys
  • Contact Information
  • Online Shopping
  • Direction/Maps
  • Marketing Promotions
  • Mobile Website Access
  • Travel Sites
  • Way Findings
  • Real Estate Listings
  • And More …

Using a variable QR Code® is just the beginning. Personalizing your site or landing page is next if you want to drive real direct marketing results. Let’s review some options you can use in your next campaign:

QR Code often used in direct marketing campaigns

Personalized QR Code for "Kristina Smith." Scan the code with your mobile device to view the personalized, mobile-friendly landing page.

  • Pre-populate your landing page forms to improve user experience and completion rate
  • Deliver targeted offers, track promo codes and redemption
  • Push customized contact information to the mobile device
  • Make it easy for recipients to save contact information to their mobile device
  • Engage customers on a new level through polls, e-newsletters, blogs and video
  • Make purchasing faster and easier by simple routing and personalization
  • Go viral by providing links to share on social networks

By applying segmentation, profiling and other targeting tools to your campaign, you can tailor the initial experience and the online event to improve engagement and the connection between you and the recipient.  After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Editor’s Note:  Not everyone has a smartphone or access to a QR Code scanner, and some just prefer to visit websites from a computer. Be sure to include the address of the PURL as well and build it to automatically detect each visitor’s device and route them to the mobile or non-mobile version of their personalized site.

QR Codes are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.

Spice Up Your Marketing with Variable Infographics

variable data printing, variable data inforgraphics

What if you could create personalized graphs for your customers based upon their individual data? ...Well, now you can!

Making your points in copy only is one-sided and sometimes boring and methodical. Because numbers, research and data usually part of any marketing piece, look fresh ways to present this data.

Infographics – or information graphics – are visual representations that can present complex information quickly and easily. They illustrate information that would be unwieldy in text form and act as a visual shorthand for everyday concepts. It’s a visual language.

Infographics surround us practically everywhere we go and in all sorts of media. But over the past year, with the start up of many infographic websites, we’re starting to see the usage just skyrocket … which actually makes sense, since it is so much easier to digest data when it’s presented in an infographic.

While charts and statistics can very well communicate data, infographics are what turn data into actual digestible information through the use of pictures. Companies that use facts, figures and data to try to sell their value to prospective audiences can find that the use of infographics can be very impactful.  (We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again.) Because there’s nothing like an intriguing picture to pull in the reader and help them learn more.

This is great, too, for those who are visual learners. Well-done charts, graphs and illustrations help engage the target audience, such as with a piece of marketing collateral. But you can take it a step further by personalizing your infographics using variable data. This means your marketing contains information or imagery that changes from piece to piece … information that is truly personalized to each recipient.

Today’s technology allows for the use of variable data, meaning (with our help) you can personalize communications using database information and open up more opportunities to improve marketing relevance and response. You can:

  • create customized statistical pictures by combining print automation and variable data printing to deliver personalized infographics
  • help your customers and prospects better understand the data by incorporating dynamic charts and graphs
  • increase the relevancy, response and ROI of your direct marketing and transpromo communications

So, next time you have a bunch of relevant information to share but don’t want to overwhelm your audience, give infographics a try. Then, consider making even more of an impact by using variable data.

Learn more about data-driven charts and how to overcome common implementation challenges, and see examples of how dynamic charts and graphs are used for:

  • Non-Profit / Fundraising Marketing
  • Financial Services / Wealth Management
  • Download Data Driven Chart ReportSales Management Reports
  • Employee Benefits Documents
  • Customer Loyalty Programs

in this free report:  Powerful Data-Driven Charts for Mail and Email Marketing.

Have you used variable infographics before in your marketing? Tell us more! Share your story in the comments section.