Archive for October, 2012

Mail Service Update – Hurricane Sandy

139694739 250x187 Mail Service Update   Hurricane SandyThe effects of Hurricane Sandy seem incomprehensible and will impact a much larger area than just the Northeast. The damage we’ve seen from photos is extensive and it’s obvious that it will take a long time for everything to get back to normal again.

We are watching everything closely, not only as it relates to our employees’ friends and families that live in those areas, but also how it has disrupted our day-to-day business activity.

As you can imagine mail service in the affected areas will be impacted.  The US Postal Service has provided some insight for mail delivery and service for the Northeast.  You can monitor updates at the USPS Mail Service Updates webpage to see how your mail might be affected.

Consumers will be singularly focused on getting their lives back to normal. Please keep this in mind as you plan your mailing efforts.  Mail Print is happy to help in any way we can. If your mailing is not of a critical nature, you may want to consider segmenting your list so that the affected areas can focus on rebuilding.

If you would like to help you might consider making a donation to the American Red Cross to assist relief efforts.

Blend On and Offline Media For Optimum Results

blender, multichannel, cross channel, When it comes to marketing and branding, make sure not to forget the traditional methods that have worked for decades. Some customers still prefer the tactile experience of reading a direct mail postcard or printed piece. The more places you advertise and promote your business to your targeted audiences, the better your exposure and marketing penetration. Here are statistics and brand experts’ thoughts about blending social with traditional media.

  • Consumers are 50 percent more likely to buy or use a product when TV ads work together with Internet marketing. Source: ATKearney
  • Enhance your print advertising and direct mail campaigns, socially, by using QR Codes® to track how people are getting to your website. By using trackable URLs in social media posts, you can gain firm idea of your user entry points to your website.
  • Social media marketing and traditional marketing go hand in hand and should be blended, according to D. William Jones, social media enthusiast at Builtitz.com. By using social media exclusively and ignoring traditional media, you risk killing your market reach. 35 percent of US consumers still get their news offline. Advertising, TV, and direct mail are still extremely important and valuable.
  • Talk to your customers about how they want to be talked to. For some that will be via social media and for others that will be through traditional media. Many nonprofits such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Harvesters send their volunteers donor receipts through either the mail or email based on preference.
  • Nearly one in five smartphone users makes a purchase after scanning a QR Code®. Source: Print in the Mix
  • When consumers were asked about the acceptable channel for marketers to contact them, direct mail is the only channel where an unsolicited message isn’t viewed as inappropriate. In fact, it is preferred. Source: Print in the Mix
  • Nothing can beat the speed of response of a post on Facebook or Twitter, which makes these social channels ideal for responding to a crisis situation or angry customer. However, nothing beats the credibility and professional recognition of traditional media, which makes it ideal for branding and product believability.

“Our research into marketing-inspired purchase behavior illustrates that we live in a multi-channel world where brands that can execute campaigns across both mass and direct media will have a distinct advantage over their less coordinated competition. Today’s consumers are cross-channel communicators, and they’re ready to reward those brands that abide by the unique rules that govern each channel.” – Exact Target

What channels do you find mix for the best results?

 

*QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.

Netherland’s Retailer Personalizes 98% of Outbound Email

I recently read a case study on one Holland retail giant with 84 million web visits a year from 1.5 million customers, they did what some might deem impossible. Wehkamp.nl began having one-on-one conversations with all 1.5 million customers. By doing so the mega retailer infused relevancy into its marketing campaigns on a massive scale and were rewarded with a 271 percent boost in sales per email blast.

The case study, by Responsys, discussed how the company with more than 100,000 products and 5 million shipments a year addressed the gap between old and new school marketing. By partnering with data mining firms that could integrate its CRM data with core customer metrics,Wehkamp.nl was able to quickly and precisely send compelling content and product placements to customers based on their behavior and take it to a different level by aggregating the behavior of similar customers.

 

The Nuts and Bolts of Personalizing Emails

The email creative is built on a dynamic template. The VDP template eliminates the need to write and build hundreds of individual email versions. Relevant messaging and products are automatically filled into the header, call-to-action and body copy on a subscriber-by-subscriber basis at the time the email is sent.

The secret of the retailer’s personalization success is its ability to understand each customer’s motivations or needs and then build an automated targeting and personalization program around that insight. The program follows the standard site funnel: category or product list browsing (Browsed Overview Mail, or BOM), product detail browsing (Browsed Article Mail, or BAM) and product abandonment (Abandoned Cart Email or ACE). This approach is eloquently called “ACE, BAM, BOM.”

The data collection allows marketing to understand where a customer drops out of the purchase cycle and what that means. This information is used to reengage them. Layers of business knowledge are built into the system, therefore increasing the chance of conversion.

Wehkamp.nl’s leadership says the 98 percent personalization they’ve achieved with each customer drives immense value back into the business and sets the bar high for distance sellers and online retailers.

online retail, eretail, email, ecommerce, personalization

Personalization Results for Retailer

Wehkamp.nl’s personalized multi-channel program consistently performs at a 23 percent higher open rate than standard promos, a 68 percent higher click-through rate, a 67 percent lower opt-out rate and a 271 percent higher sales-per-send ratio.

To overcome the issue of precise targeting vs. volume marketing, Wehkamp.nl taps its weekly intelligence of its email customers by compiling it into a Sunday circular, which features the best content and products of the week. Nearly two times the sale-per-send than standard promotional mailers demonstrates the effectiveness of this effort.

 

SOURCE:  IBM

 

Proven Ways to Get Your Email Opened and Your Phone to Ring

Direct marketing is about driving response.  It is about getting your emails or direct mail pieces opened, links clicked, and phones ringing.  As you work on your next direct marketing campaign follow these insights to drive your recipient to action.

How long is too long?

You work diligently scripting and coding your email campaign only to look at your analytics and sigh with disappointment. A meager open rate makes your heart sink. What can you do better the next time around?

You can try a different list, offer, subject line, or send time.  Most email experts recommend starting with examining the subject line. According to Marketing Charts, the length of an email’s subject lines plays a big part in earning a high opening rate. Subject lines of less than 10 characters earned a 58% open rate while subject lines of 50-59 characters earned a 42% response rate in March.

MarketingChartsEmail Proven Ways to Get Your Email Opened and Your Phone to Ring

Survey-related emails had the highest click rate (33.39%) while appeal-related emails had the lowest (14.63%), according to information supplied by Informz. Emails sent in the morning had the highest open rates based on metrics collected from more than 600 million emails sent by more than 700 companies. While emails sent in the morning had good open rates, they also had the lowest click rate.  (Source:  Pure360)

Most importantly, “Tell it, don’t sell it,” according to the researchers at MailChimp. You gain trust and credibility by telling the recipient what’s in his email rather than trying to be clever and sell him. A subject line that reads “April Newsletter from Martha Stewart” will more likely be opened than one that reads, “The Easter Bunny Might Skip Your Home This April.”

You can try a different list, offer, subject line, or send time.  Most email experts recommend starting with examining the subject line. According to Marketing Charts, the length of an email’s subject lines plays a big part in earning a high opening rate. Subject lines of less than 10 characters earned a 58% open rate while subject lines of 50-59 characters earned a 42% response rate in March.

 

Dimensional Mail Gets the Phone Ringing

As featured in the Aug. 2012 Deliver magazine, financial advisor Phillip Board of 1 on 1 Financial got 75% of 40 affluent investors with at least $500,000 to invest to call him based on a 3D direct mail piece he co-produced with his agency, Echo-Factory.

These soon-to-retire A-list prospects, received a black box with a note that read, “We haven’t heard from you,” printed on the outside flap and “We figured your phone must be broken,” on the inside flap. The box contained a cell phone with 20 minutes of talk time on it and Board’s number programmed when the prospect pressed “1.”

The cost of the mailing was more than worth the business earned, according to Board. He was spending up to $7,000 to earn one to two clients and this more targeted, customized, personalized approach was much more cost-effective.

Are you making it nearly impossible for your prospects not to open your emails or pick up the phone because of the offer or what they received in the mail? If not, follow suit with these tips and ideas. Highly targeted, relevant, offer rich emails and direct mail campaigns should be nearly irresistible.

Key Direct Marketing Trends for Nonprofits Revealed

Marketing, Trends, Data, variable, Ethan Boldt, Chief Content Officer of Direct Marketing IQ, the research division of publisher Target Marketing, surveyed and shared the results of direct marketing trends for nonprofits in 2011 with glimmers of trends in 2012. In case you missed his direct marketing trend video post, here is what Boldt shared.

  • Personalization, including Variable Data Printing (VDP) has grown by 6% in all sectors.
  • Freemiums slipped by 14% because of rising postage costs. In 2011 labels were the No. 1 freemiums; stickers were the No. 2 freemium and notepads were the No. 3 freemium.
  • Premiums shifted ranks with the tote bag no longer being the No. 1 giveaway by nonprofits. Now books are No. 1; totes No. 2; and DVDs are No. 3.

Variable Data and Other Nonprofit Marketing Trends in 2012

According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), social media and mobile giving continue to influence campaigns. The AFP shared these additional 2012 fundraising trends for marketers to build the most effective campaigns on and offline.

  • Online and new media channels continue to expand. Online fundraising is up 40% in 2012.
  • Peer-to-peer engagement is vital. Nonprofits should tap into their most vocal supporters who are most likely to influence the giving of their sphere, associations and friends.
  • Donor fatigue is building. Tailored communications directed right at a donor is imperative as information overload builds in the land of social media.
  • Integrated marketing will rise to new heights. Strategic communications harnessing the power of multi-channel marketing is the fuel that makes future fundraising campaigns take flight.
  • Personalization is a must. As Boldt noted, one size fits all approaches are so 80s. Personalized newsletters, direct mail that taps digital printing and emails show supporters you know them.  By showing that you know their preferences in giving and you are able to better ensure your message won’t be deleted or thrown in the trash. See a great personalized nonprofit solicitation below where one fraternity uses the alumni’s name twice as well as pulls in photos that include the alumni.

Personalization, nonprofit, variable data, vdp, donations, fundraising, donor receipts

  • Quality data should take front and center of any nonprofit campaign. He who gathers, scrubs, segments and keeps his data current, meets the fundraising mission fastest, according to Karen Zapp of Pkscribe.com – a nonprofit copywriter. This includes targeting groups on social media, using social analytics, and executing micro campaigns

Want more insights? Click here to read how Mail Print helped one nonprofit clients achieve outstanding ROI for their fundraising campaigns.

 

A few more points from Boldt

An analysis of 40 months of data, from January 2009 through October 2011, demonstrates the growth of personalization/VDP in the direct marketing and mailing process*:

  • In 2009, 28% of direct mail pieces were personalized.
  • In 2010, the number of personalized mail pieces increased to 34% — a 21% increase from the prior year.
  • In 2011, seven of the 10 months recorded saw even higher VDP usage – another 21% increase from the prior year and a 46% jump from the 2009 levels.

*Source: Target Marketing, Nuts & Bolts – Trends: 2011 Direct Mail Trend of the Year: VDP, March 2012.

 

QR Codes that Lead Prospects Down the Road to Abilene

It still amazes me how much money marketing giants spend on flawed campaigns. This week I’m going to analyze three companies that ran full page, full color print ads with strong call to actions that lead their prospects down “the road to Abilene”.

The Abilene Paradox is when a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that takes them where no one really wanted to go in the first place. The concept was formed by Jerry B. Harvey who used this analogy to describe it.

A family is comfortably sitting on the front porch playing dominos until the father-in-law brings up taking a trip to Abilene (53 miles away) for dinner. The mother-in-law says that would be nice. The daughter and her husband agree. Four hours later they return exhausted and each confess this was a trip that not one of them really wanted to take.

 

Three Guilty Companies Lead Prospects Down the Wrong Road

This week, I pulled full page ads ran by UPS, SAS, and Reach Marketing. Each ad was well designed, eye catching, mostly benefit vs. pain front loaded and contained a QR Code®*.

The advertisements were artistically correct but imperfect in other areas beyond where the QR Code led prospects. Here is where each advertisement fell short.

 

reach, qr code, quick response, 2d barcodeReach Marketing

The headline “Reach for Success” is not original; in fact some might consider it lame.

Putting the eight faces of Reach Marketing’s salespeople on the ad probably stroked their egos, but I wonder if it made the phone ring.

Finally, the fact that the QR Code lead prospects to a webpage with multiple options of signing up for a newsletter (Oh boy), testing the prospecting database or reading a bunch of bullets and copy is fairly vague. What do you want us to do, Reach Marketing? Focus on the SINGLE action you want your prospect to take. Take us there, not to Abilene.

 

UPS, qr code, qr, quick response, 2d barcodeUPS

Hurrah UPS for using the power of three. They quickly offer up three proven ways to generate customer loyalty in the growing online shopping world with an emphasis on their ability to ensure easy returns – a big hot button for online shoppers.

The UPS ad is clean and uses white space brilliantly. The eye is immediately directed to a tempting QR Code right after you absorb the three benefits of working with UPS. Unfortunately, the QR Code leads you to a place worse than Abilene. It leads you to this message, “The server understands the request but is refusing to fulfill it. Error 403: Forbidden.” I think we’ll all agree on this one, that’s the wrong message for a fulfillment and shipping company.

 

SASSAS, qr code, quick response, 2d barcode

SAS used the David Ogilvy philosophy of, tell a compelling story in your ad and the prospect will read and respond regardless of the length of the copy. The headline “Big Data” ties to the custom URL “SAS.com/BigValue,” which leads me to believe there will be a big price tag for their services.

Nevertheless, I love the meaty callouts on the right side of the ad that show big time results of reducing calculation times from 96 to 4 hours and optimize pricing down from 30 hours to 2. That screams tell me what you can do with my bloated database.

So I was happy to scan the QR Code and be taken to a YouTube video featuring a Bank of America executive, Jim Goodnight, giving a testimonial. Unfortunately Mr. Goodnight nearly put me to sleep with his dull, all-talk, no-graphics presentation. However, of the three companies, SAS’ QR Code was the closest to not leading me down the road to Abilene.

Where are your QR Codes taking your prospects?

 

*QR Code is a licensed trademark of Denso Wave

 

Keep Your Marketing Strategy Alive as B2B is Proclaimed Dead

B2B, Business to Business, Business to Consumer, B2C, business, marketingWhen marketing icon Rick Segal argued B2B marketing is “dead” in his speech at a B2B conference in Berlin over a year ago, those in the industry were stunned. How could the president of the global marketing firm gyro make this statement? After all, his entire business of the past 30 years has been founded on business-to-business (B2B) marketing, a concept he’s helped cultivate since 1981.

But if B2B is dead, does this mean businesses will no longer do transactions with each other?

“It’s not that salespeople or sales support have become irrelevant, it’s that so many of the messages they are carrying to the marketplace are humanly irrelevant,” Segal says. “The myth that has been busted is that business decision making is entirely rational. It’s not. It’s exceedingly emotional, and as living, breathing human beings have been empowered with computing and telecommunications technology on their persons, their emotional needs matter more than ever.”

The view of B2B being based on logic and selling to a faceless company is dead; instead, B2B is shifting to be more about selling products to the people in a company, seeing the company as not one uniform entity, but as a being comprised of individuals with individual needs and emotions. Segal’s approach emphasizes tapping into the human need, igniting emotions in the business decision makers, to create effective marketing.

B2B Revived with a B2C Approach

B2C (business-to-consumer) has always focused on the human relevance aspect of marketing, especially understanding testimonial selling, to keep up with a fast-paced market and keep consumers engaged. The B2B world also is moving with network velocity, and to keep its professional consumers engaged, it needs to integrate B2C concepts.

Billy Mitchell, president and senior creative director for B2B marketing agency MLT Creative, believes B2B marketers can gain a lot by utilizing B2C marketing tools, including design standards, production values, storytelling techniques, creativity, and smart examples of social media marketing. So should B2B marketers transform into B2C marketers? Mitchell says no: “I don’t think a company should do that. In fact, they should embrace an enthusiasm and passion for B2B marketing. B2B can be just as creative and engaging as B2C.”

A recent example of engaging B2B with B2C flair was General Electric’s 2012 Super Bowl Ad.  GE boasts, “We make the power that makes the beer.” The commercial speaks to both consumers (the beer lovers) and businesses (the beer brewers), as both benefit from GE’s services. By saying we’re all in this together, GE shows the human relevance to their business.

“B2B marketers can certainly learn from and be inspired by B2C, but they must deeply understand B2B,” Mitchell says. “If you don’t enjoy meeting with your inside and field sales teams, understanding your customers’ businesses and your customers’ customers, etc., you may not belong in B2B marketing.”

B2B + B2C = H2H

The key element in both B2B and B2C marketing is connecting and building relationships with both current and prospective customers. Again, it comes down to selling to a person with a unique face rather than just a company name.

At many social media conferences, Mitchells says the current word is that it’s not about B2B or B2C, it’s about H2H, human-to-human.

“It seems that world-class marketers everywhere have awakened to the fact that, today, we are communicating with living, breathing human beings with aspirations, spirits and emotions,” Segal, president of gyro, says. “We’ve always known that business-to-business, at the end of the day, was person-to-person.”

This is where marketing tools such as direct mail, email, and variable data printing come into play, personalizing messages that will speak on a professional level but include the needs of the individual business buyer. Or perhaps creating pURLs or QR codes designed specifically for the B2B customers, using elements of the ones created for B2C audience but with different elements, which customize the interaction to be specifically B2B.

Or tell a story, like GE’s commercial, showing how our company helps your company helps the customer. By showing how each business positively affects the other, how each contributes to a bigger picture to help the consumer, the focus is on the human aspect, not just making a sale. Combine both B2B and B2C perspectives in your social media content, and your marketing will be more effective.

Segal agrees, “…what the world’s savviest marketers seem to have appreciated quickly is that personalization was the last best practice. No longer is it enough to understand the requirements of a person in a job title to be successful in influencing him to make a purchase consideration. No longer is it enough for an advertising planner to get into the head of a business decision-maker. With the amplified voices and the new organizational empowerment of these humans at work, successful marketers must get into their hearts.”

B2B Reborn

Whether or not you agree B2B is dead, it’s critical to note that the industry and its consumers are changing – and so are their needs.

“Change brings unexpected opportunities. With so many tools now available from B2B marketers, I can’t imagine why any business wouldn’t always be looking for opportunities to improve their marketing,” advises Mitchell. B2B marketers must adapt a “never quit learning, always be testing” mindset to keep up with an industry that never sleeps.