Archive for October, 2011

What Happens When Digital Technology and Direct Mail Marry?

They live happily ever after because they both work at it.

Direct mail is like the mayo on a sandwich. The sandwich isn’t as good without it. Direct mail delivers the ROI zing while online marketing helps whet the palette.

However, direct mail often gets a bad wrap. The irony is that large scale marketers, high-tech, as well as consumer marketers, are mailing hundreds of millions—if not billions—of pieces because it’s one of the highest ROI channels out there.

Direct mail has the fundamentals that marketers need, especially direct marketers, to generate results. It is targetable so “you’re able to tell a lot, you’re able to sell a lot, you’re able to control its costs and most importantly you’re able to scale it,” according to the Kern Organization.

When it comes to new customer acquisition tactics, marrying traditional direct marketing with digital technology is highly effective. A neat trick that National Geographic Magazine employs in its pre- and post-emails is including an image of the physical mailing that will arrive in the consumer’s mail. Tests proved that emails with the image of the mailing boosted response rates. National Geographic Magazine has tested this over several mail cycles.

The pre- and post-emails focus on the offer, what you get, and the excitement of the brand. Everything you need to respond is above the fold (meaning you don’t have to scroll down a screen).

The pre-email’s subject line is, “Look for our Preferred Member Package in the mail!” The recipient immediately sees the price, the deal, the terms, and the image of the mailing. The recepient can order directly from their email.

As in a marriage, opposites attract. Research reveals that email and traditional direct mail have different strengths and weaknesses. That makes them most effective when used together. As you can tell by the graph below, direct mail is best at:

  • Making a better impression of the company
  • Being more professional means of communications
  • Grabbing prospects’ or customers’ attention (and hold attention)
  • Making customers feel more valued

While emails fall short in the above areas, they rate high in the areas below:

  • Better for sending reminders
  • Better for confirmation or follow-up messages
  • Easier to respond to
  • Better for communicating brief messages
Screenshot 1 e1319637970736 What Happens When Digital Technology and Direct Mail Marry?

Source: Quadrangles: Direct Mail & Email 2007, Direct Mail & Online 2007

Unfortunately, many marketers force the person to view their message through only one of the two most important channels: direct mail vs. email. That one-size-fits-all approach that leads to marketing oblivion can be avoided by direct mail in concert with email.

Response increases across the board when direct mail and email are combined in a multichannel campaign. If executed well, it should more than double! This two-ply marketing will strengthen your brand, especially if your marketing campaigns maintain a consistent look or theme across channels. You’ll gain mindshare, and that will lead to greater ROI.

So consider direct mail and digital marketing the perfect power couple. Let direct mail do the attention grabbing and complex communications and digital communications do the retention and closing. Putting print and electronic media together is greater than the sum of their parts.



Test to Make Sure Your Marketing Messages Are Served Hot Not Cold

Water Faucet

Always test the water to be certain your marketing message is just right..

Are your marketing messages hot, cold, lukewarm, or 86′d upon receipt? If you don’t know, you probably haven’t been testing.

When in doubt that your marketing messages are truly authentic or well received by your customers, do the trusted A/B split. People who A/B test their email or web campaigns get 11% better open rates and 17% more clicks.

Don’t forget to test your offers as well as your headlines, subject lines, and other copy.

The concept is simple. Take the first approved version of the email or web copy– called the champion — and send it to part of your list. Then take the second variable version – the challenger – and send it to the other portion of your list. The version with the most responses or clickthroughs, wins.

The math of A/B split testing is relatively straightforward. You simply pick a confidence level (how sure you want to be that one version is really better than another), and then wait to collect enough data. The length of the data collection depends on two factors: the traffic data rate to your pages, and the size of the conversion rate differences found in your test. Clearly superior versions of your site will “separate out” much more quickly than two versions with almost identical performance. Tracking you’re A/B test can be done with simple spreadsheet formulas or through reports in most A/B split testing tools.

With the winner of the A/B split test in hand, put it to the “So What?” test.

The “So What?” test isn’t scientific but a great tool for your marketing staff to do prior to starting any campaign.  It will save money in the end and increase response.

Read the piece out loud and ask is it possible that your intended audience could respond with… “So What?”… “Why do I care?”… or “What’s in it for me?”

If your message doesn’t tell your intended audience what solutions you are providing to address their issues/problems/challenges, and how it relates to the benefits they’ll receive from your services, then a “So What?” response is going to put the skids on your results.

Finally, do the X’s and O’s test (especially with the last letter you wrote). Mark an X every time your marketing piece mentions your name, company name, or the words “I” or “me”. Mark an O every time it mentions the prospects name, company name, or the word “you” or “your”. If the X’s outnumber the O’s, rewrite it before using it again.

In Summary:

  • Improve your marketing message or incentive by putting the piece through a “So What?” test so it will get a higher return. To make this work most effectively gather a group of people you can trust to give you very honest feedback. You’re not looking for proofreaders, but individuals who will give you honest, frank feedback.
  • Do the X and O test to make sure your marketing message is focused on them (your customers) not you.

As marketers we tend to be creative and intuitive. Don’t let these attributes get ahead of testing your messages. Just because it’s creative doesn’t mean your customers are going to buy into the sizzle unless you’ve asked them, tested, and tweaked accordingly.


How to Make Your Direct Mail Marketing Results Spike

Are your direct mail marketing numbers spiking or splatting? If you want to bring in at least three new projects from your existing clients in the next 60 days stop selling and start solving. Solution selling is the quickest way to move from being a bother to being a trusted advisor in your customer’s mind. You’ll see a turn for the better in your numbers by making this adjustment.

So for the next two months, put one marketing or sales project on hold to give your staff time to ask your customers what big business problems they are wrestling with. Nothing engages customers faster than addressing their pain and fears.

What Keeps Them Awake at Night

pain funnel, direct marketing, sales process


Learn the three biggest worries that are keeping each CEO awake at night if you’re a B2B business or frustrating or enraging each A-level customer if you’re a B2C business. Then develop a solution to each problem each month and you’ll be delivering gold while also increasing your company’s revenues.

Start by segmenting your customer database to assemble a round-table, a CEO summit, or series of focus groups with pivotal customers to gather the specifics you can build a plan around. Better yet, send your sales force out to talk to your customers through a pain funnel one-on-one. This effort should uncover pertinent, fresh info to act on as well as improving customer relations. It will also help you hone your marketing copy.

When an appliance company did this exercise, it learned women were feeling guilty for not keeping up on their domestic chores but didn’t feel comfortable hiring outside maid services. In response, the appliance company crafted a direct marketing campaign for its robot vacuum that boosted sales 20%. Its female customers gave a big nod affirming the pain driven home in the postcard that read:

  • Does vacuuming take up too much of your time?
  • Do you shudder with frustration every time you look at the dirt on the floor?
  • Are you frustrated by all the arguments you have with your spouse about vacuuming and wish it could be different?

Women rushed to purchase the robot vac because it solved their immediate problem — taking away the pain and guilt of a dirty house without adding time or additional tasks to their to-do list.

After you have a true understanding of your customer’s pain, you can fine-tune your marketing messages and, more importantly, add value by providing your customers more pain remedies through white papers, eBooks, and webinars. Delving deep to take away their pain is the perfect way to position your company as the go-to expert.

Intensify Their Pain

When your sale is low on a customers’ priority list, it is because they believe they have bigger problems to focus on. You can compress the sales cycle by getting them to experience the consequences of the problem in advance of it happening. You want to make this problem feel real in the present moment through story telling.

LifeLock moves the threat of identity theft to the forefront of its customers’ minds through stories. LifeLock drives home that the bad news is your data is out there, but the good news is they have your back.

My husband and I have had to deal with fraudulent use of one of our credit cards no less than 3 times over the last few years and it was a pain to deal with each time, but not nearly as much of a hassle as it would be to prove fraud if one of us had our identity stolen. I’ve heard the horror stories from victims of identity theft who were out thousands of dollars and countless hours of time trying to battle against this crime. It is comforting to know that I am able to take proactive steps to prevent this type of theft from occurring and if it does occur, I have an ally on my side, ready to help battle against it, through LifeLock’s protection plan.

Tamara Walker, R.N


“My husband was skeptical, but I signed us up, and forgot about it. A couple of months later, on a family vacation, my husband received a phone call asking if he was applying for a new credit card. Someone was trying to steal his identity. LifeLock had stopped the thief cold. We continued on with our vacation knowing we were safe.”

Kim Barnes

When St. Jerome pulled the thorn from the lion’s paw, therefore removing its pain, Jerome gained a loyal friend and protector for life. When you remove the pain from your customer’s paw, you’ll gain business and loyalty for life, too. Find that thorn.

Want to know another trade secret to spike your sales?  Variable Data Printing.