Archive for May, 2013
This is the second part of a blog post series gleaning lessons from the direct marketing successes of four casinos that won the Romero Awards in 2012. Romero Awards recognize outstanding, accountable, measurable casino marketing.
In this post you can learn takeaways from Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs, Ark., and Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek, Fla.
A Scratch-and-Win Promo with an Anticipation Twist
Oaklawn Racing and Gaming learned there is emotional currency in creating anticipation. The casino had past success with scratch-and-win direct mail pieces and decided to play off of that by asking customers to not scratch their card at home but to bring that card into the casino on Saturday to scratch and redeem.
The response rate was more than previous efforts and the coin-in rate (money put through the slots and machines) was more than double the average of the previous four Saturdays.
SOURCE: Casinos Hit the Jackpot with Direct Mail, March 2012. Deliver Magazine.
According to Deliver Magazine, Oaklawn’s cost of the promotion was $34,894. The coin-in total grew by more than $1 million over the previous year and there was a visitor increase of 68%.
Penny Players Prove Direct Mail Test a Success
Seminole Casino wanted to learn if targeting specific denominational players would deliver better results than not factoring in which denominations players prefer to play. So they developed a list with all of their active players with more than 50% of penny play and added players who hadn’t played for up to 24 months.
The marketing piece had a dual message: that Seminole had increased the number of penny machines by 33% and were offering 1,001 spins on them. The promotion was basically the equivalent a $10.01 free-play offer.
Seminole then sent a press release and ran ads in newspapers and on billboards reinforcing the abundance of penny machines. A total of 49,882 pieces were mailed that earned a 33% response rate, including 18.8% from disengaged players.
Players appreciated the increased number of penny slot machines and the mailed offer.
This blog post is for you if you run a casino or similar business– hotel, entertainment venue, restaurant or a retail store. You can learn something from Gold River Casino in Anadarko, Okla., and Prairie Band Casino & Resort in Mayetta, Kan., if you need people in your establishment to earn revenue.
Turning a Slow Day into a Hay Day
Gold River Casino employees used to dread Sundays because the floor was barren and therefore food and beverage sales were slow, too. To increase Sunday play, Gold River put a reusable coupon into its monthly direct mail piece.
The additional free-play offer increased revenues more than $200,000 in just one month. After three months, revenues climbed to $300,000. This translated into an increase of 30% more visitors who drove food and beverage sales up nearly 50%.
SOURCE: Casinos Hit the Jackpot with Direct Mail, March 2012. Deliver Magazine
Sunday is now one of the property’s strongest days thanks to adding a food-and-beverage offer. The food piece draws in families who encourage their friends to come with them to catch up on life on Sundays.
Reengaging Disengaged Customers
Prairie Band Casino & Resort used a total escape package to lure guests back into the casino who hadn’t been in to play in up to three months. The package included a free night’s stay and free-play offer.
To promote the package, Prairie Band mailed a printed luggage tag as the direct mail piece and attention grabber. The results were a 19.1% response rate, an 80.8% lift in incremental guests, and a return on investment of 670.1%.
SOURCE:Casinos Hit the Jackpot with Direct Mail, March 2012. Deliver Magazine
Is there a group of your customers you need to reengage? How about a day of the month you could use a spike in customers? Direct mail works – when executed properly.
When Savvi Formalwear, a group of 35 independent formal wear retailers, wanted to connect with more soon-to-be brides, it chose the print and digital trifecta — direct mail, email and personalized landing pages.
All of Savvi Formalwear’s direct mail pieces were personalized using variable data printing (VDP), with coupons or incentives such as the two free airline tickets shown in the postcard in this post and a PURL that drives brides to a landing page with a store locator and Savvi Formalwear branding.
Savvi Formalwear is using the campaign to capture more of the $1 billion formal wear industry, that like other industries, has suffered because of the 2009-2011 recession.
Not coincidentally the majority of Savvi Formalwear stores are located on the west coast where nearly 20% of the formal wear transactions occur. In these 35 stores, Savvi Formalwear is trying to lure as many of the two million brides that get married every year to their stores and services as possible.
SOURCE: IBIS World Report, Formal Wear and Costume Rental in the U.S., May 2012
Savvi Formalwear’s campaign, named SavviOne, included weekly mail drops across the U.S. and Canada to promote formal wear to couples planning their weddings. Using the power of personalization, Savvi Formalwear significantly increased the engagement and conversions in its multi-channel promotional campaign, according to Mark Morrow, president of Savvi Formalwear.
SOURCE: Case Studies, www.montagedigital.com
Bride Puts Money Toward Print Pieces Not Cake or Dress
While most brides can spend the majority of their wedding budget on elaborate centerpieces, cakes and designer dresses, bride Robin Nelson, who works in the printing industry, invested her wedding dollars in a cross-media wedding campaign.
Nelson said the campaign enabled her to gather more information about each of her guests to organizing the wedding to taking advantage of technologies that count RSVPs and help brides budget for dinner, drinks, the rehearsal dinner and after-ceremony reception.
SOURCE: “Happily Ever After: A Cross-Media Wedding Campaign” by Robin Nelson, XMPie Blog, Oct. 12, 2011
With the use of variable data printing, there was no confusion on head count at Nelson’s wedding. Nelson attributes this to her guests who updated their RURL (Response URL also called PURL for personalized URL) especially in regards to how many children who would be coming with them).
The information Nelson got from her guests through the landing page they responded to allowed her to stay within budget, update her guest list and create a seating chart.
Nelson also downloaded the XMPie Marketing Console iPhone app that allowed her to provide final head counts and meal preferences to her caterer and vendors through report on-the-fly report technology.
So while some brides like the visual trimmings (cakes, bridesmaid’s gifts, etc.), savvy brides are tapping into VDP and digital technology to make their wedding planning less stressful and more personalized to all involved.
*QR Codes are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
When a Dallas-based advertising agency, VLG, needed to engage prospects, it opted to show off its interactive technology through a sitelet or mini-site. The sitelet used a mock company called Crescent Bluffs to demonstrate the amount of time VLG could engage the prospect in the demo.
I was engaged for 1 minute 41 seconds. I took VLG’s bait of virtually opening a hotel door to a room with a virtual key on the screen. I was then asked to meet them in the lobby and then in the restaurant to have a virtual lunch; and at the end of the lunch a virtual note appeared on the screen announcing how long our business courtship lasted. VLG then asked me on the screen if I would be interested in learning how to conduct my own sitelet campaign to create new business for my company.
VLG’s campaign, Accept the Invitation, began by mailing a hotel napkin and faux hotel key with a note that read, “Let’s Meet.” The note sent prospects to a mini or microsite for a faux hotel named Crescent Bluffs. You can walk through the prospect experience here.
Because of sitelet successes such as VLG’s, other agencies and companies are using sitelets to launch a product, provide support functions and for targeted advertising campaigns. By using a separate domain name, you can choose a unique descriptive URL that pertains specifically to the campaign.
Flash, online databases and advanced programming can be combined to create powerful customer support tools. It is possible to preload your existing offline data or structure an entirely new database.
Another key benefit of using a targeted sitelet approach is that you do not have to significantly modify your existing company website for a specific campaign. You will want to integrate links and content for maximum exposure, but this is significantly easier than modifying website navigation and page structure.
How can you use mini-sites to bring in business?
In How to Produce a Successful White Paper (Part I) you learned about the three types of white papers, how to launch a white paper like a new product launch and how the tone should be educational so as to position your company as a thought leader. In this follow-up blog, you’ll learn the pros and cons of gating your white papers behind a registration form rather than open access, your syndication options and if an ebook is the new white paper.
Pros and Cons of Gating Your Content
According to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rule of Marketing & PR, there are two marketing camps on the subject of requiring prospects to register before downloading a white paper. The first camp believes a registration form is necessary because it allows your company to capture an email address and convert that person into a sales lead. The downside is your registration/download numbers often suffer because people don’t like to give away their emails, get spammed or lose their autonomy.
The second camp believes it is best to make content such as white papers totally free because it increases the spread of the information and therefore the interest level in their product or service.
Now let’s look at some very interesting math that Scott used when he was arguing his preference for non-gated content with a HubSpot in-bound marketer, who is in the first camp.
|Gated Content with Landing Page||Totally Free Content (no form to fill out)
|10,000 people saw white paper offer (form)||10,000 people saw white paper (no form)|
|x 5% register and download content||X 50% downloads|
|+ Zero social shares||+ 10% shares and 5,000 more downloads|
|500 email leads captured, 0 shares, 0 links||10,000 downloads, 500 shares, 25 links|
As you can see above, the gated content only got downloaded 500 times, whereas the non-gated content received 10,000 downloads, 500 social media shares, and generated 25 backlinks to the company’s site or landing page. Of course you have to factor in that the free downloads may be less valuable than those willing to give their email address, but does the sheer volume and viral effect make up for this difference in your multi-channel marketing?
Perhaps you should test both in your next campaign and determine this for yourself. It’s worth a look because Scott says opening the gates to your content can increase download volume 16x what you were getting when it was gated.
Are You Syndicating Your White Papers?
Okay, so you’ve invested in a research firm, copywriter or journalist to write your library of white papers, which are posted on your site. Now what? According to Ryan Malone, founder of Smart Bug Media, you need to syndicate that white paper. Syndication generates additional leads and you can use both free and pay sites to maximize reach and interest in your product or service.
White paper syndication services exist in just about every niche, including banking, technology, business, and IT. Here is a brief list of syndicators to consider:
http://www.idgconnect.com (IT and tech)
http://www.knowledgestorm.com (business and IT)
White Papers vs. eBooks
No surprise that Scott thinks eBooks will eventually replace white papers. He feels this way because too many companies are churning out poorly written, researched and packaged white papers. He says too many white papers are more like warmed up sales sheets. Readers are becoming fed up with the bait and switch, giving companies their confidence and emails, only to be hammered by a hard sell or flamboyant hyperbole such as flexible, scalable, cutting-edge, mission-critical, world-class, etc.
Scott goes on to say that white papers still have a purpose, but because they can’t go viral because people won’t share them, they weaken your marketing efforts.
Ebooks, on the other hand, appear to be the more vogue and hip medium of business communications. Check out the top 10 ebook downloads on Ebook3000 and answer when the last time one of your white papers got download 22,548, 16, 639, or 13,821 times.
Principles of Corporate Finance (22548)
Guide to Financial Management (11006)
Principles of Macroeconomics (10941)
The One Minute Manager (10507)
Your homework is to go through your existing white papers and tweak headlines, copy, graphs, cover pages and then submit and redistribute them as a press release to a syndication site or directly to a media outlet to ask for an interview slot on an appropriate business channel or radio talk show. Tell us about your repurposed success in the comments below.
White papers originated from governments in the roaring 20s as a way to share government policy preference prior to the introduction of legislation. Fast-forward to the ‘90s and marketers began using white papers as a way to communicate research findings about their products, services or technologies.
Used as marketing tools, these papers allow companies to help their customers solve problems. The big distinguisher and reason they are so popular is that the information is presented with an educational rather than sales twist. Facts opposed to propaganda. White papers work because buyers want to make up their own minds, do appropriate research and not be sold.
The proper definition of a white paper is an educational document that is approximately five pages long and written in a straight-forward manner with factual, well-sourced copy and graphs that establishes the company or person as an expert or thought leader. There are three types of white papers
- The Backgrounder. Describes the technical or business benefits of working with a vendor.
- Numbered List. Presents a number of points, questions or tips about a business issue.
- Problem/Solution. The classic case study format is used to walk a prospect through a solution to their nagging business problem.
Written correctly, white papers remain the most relied on content tool used by B2B marketers today. A good paper is laser-focused, clear, understandable and sanitized of any propaganda or sales speak.
“White papers remain the most effective piece of marketing collateral, with 86% of respondents finding them moderately to highly influential in the purchasing decision,” according to a Eccolo Media study reviewed inB2B Magazine.
Headlines and Wording for White Papers
The headline is imperative in your cross-channel marketing. Make it easy to scan and understand. Save your cleverness for your advertising pieces because a play-on-words doesn’t go over well in white papers, according to Marketing Sherpa. Five pivotal pieces of advice Marketing Sherpa offers are:
1. Use clear, but non-salesy wording
2. Shorter is better
3. If you must use a long headline, break it into a headline and sub-headline
4. Add “ing” to your titles. Prospects want to achieve something such as eliminating, preventing, defending, implementing, ect.
5. Run some marketing searches and statistics before naming your white paper
Think Like a Product Launch with your White Paper
Here is Malone’s 7-step launch process that he says will make your white paper a smashing success:
1.Create a strong landing page
2.Share your white paper in press release format on the wire
3.Distribute pitch letters to reporters
4.Get it placed in a publication as a bylined article
5.Pitch speaking opportunities
6.Syndicate your white paper (covered in Part II of this blog here)
7.Leverage social media
Make sure to read our Part II of this blog coming later this week, which goes into the pros and cons of giving your white papers away vs. gating them behind a form and what experts say about the effectiveness of a white paper compared to a blog.
Nine times out of ten, a donor receives a letter that starts with, “Thank you for your generous donation.” Because giving is an emotional response, it deserves an emotional thank you with more pep and personality than a typical, status quo thank you. Read Shannon Doolittle’s 22 Delightful Ways to Say Thank You.
Here’s a sample of humorous ways Shannon suggests saying thank you so you can delight, not bore your donors.
- You = awesome. Me = grateful.
- Move over Gates and Buffett, there’s a new philanthropist in town.
- Our clients have started an unofficial fan club. You should start practicing your autograph.
And according to an article in Forbes, Don’t Thank Your Donor with a Gift, a great thank you is far superior to giving donors gifts, which can be counterproductive.
Foreshadow Good Things to Come Thanks to Their Donation
Beyond saying a great thank you, help connect the dots for your donors by telling them what’s happening. Something like, “Your donation pushes us to 90% of goal. Soon we can give all local children the nutrition they need on a daily basis”
A nonprofit named Charity:Water did an excellent follow-up video of a 9-year old girl’s donation of $240 that spurred $1.2 million more in donations following her tragic death in a car collision. Watch Charity:Water’s video about the little girl who could, Rachel Beckwith.
People who give to Donors Choose are greeted with an evolving thank-you screen on the home page where kids thank them for each specific gift – be it a computer or projector. They even mail hand written letters from the kids that benefited from the donation to the giver in order to say thank you in a very personal way.
Good cause marketing is all about great ongoing storytelling packed with emotional triumphs and challenges everyone can share in.
Timing, Format, and Other Loose Ends of Donor Thank Yous
When money comes in, a thank you letter or email needs to go out within 48 hours – the industry standard for courtesy, appreciation, and the chance to encourage more giving in the future from this donor.
The alleged bible for writing donor letters is Donor Centered Fundraising by Penelope Burk. In it, you’ll find many samples and formats to try and tweak within your organization.
Finally consider picking up the phone and calling to say thank you. Penelope Burk says her research shows that 90% of donors never receive a phone call from their favorite charities unless they’re asking for money. What an opportunity to turn that around to building a stronger relationship.
Are you inspired to polish your fundraising now?