Posts tagged direct mail marketing
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?
Other than identifying a known brand name and automatically knowing the size of the company, have you ever thumbed through a publication or web portal, become impressed by a company’s logo or tagline, only to learn that this company wasn’t nearly as large as you thought? It happens to me all the time.
I see polished ads or brands in business publications or at blogger sites. I then check out their web traffic at Compete, or look up their staff page on their website to see how large they are. I then acknowledge that they’re pulling off such a fabulous branding being the small fish in a big pond.
Moresource Plays Full Out with Ad Campaign
There is something very classy, catchy and memorable about an ad series done well. Moresource, a Columbia, Mo. based human resource company, gets my kudos for executing a successful ad series in the Kansas City Chamber business magazine, KC Business.
I liked that the owner of this three-person firm, Kat Cunningham featured herself with a client in each ad, used a QR Code®, included both a mention of Facebook and Twitter on her ad. She also stepped up by running a full-page ad, and obviously paid for a professionally designed ad and logo.
How Your Small Business Can Look Bigger than You Are
While it’s not always easy to win customers from larger competitors, technology has leveled the playing field and made it possible.
#1 Re-target your online ads vs. overspending for paid search.
Re-targeting lets you focus your ads exclusively on people who have already engaged with you online. You can re-target ads to people who have opened an email, searched for keywords or been on your site and left without buying anything. Site re-targeting is effective because these people are already interested in your products or services.
#2 Don’t cut corners on image or execution.
The quickest way to look small and amateurish is to put something into the marketplace that is poorly designed, poorly worded or filled with grammatical errors. If you’re going to send a postcard, make it the best designed card, on the best paper with the best call to action imaginable. If you’re going to run an ad campaign, make sure you develop the best creative, best frequency needed for results, and test all the back-end components such as the landing page URL, QR Code (that it scans and bridges your prospect to a site that further engages them), and best greeting upon their action. Does someone answer the phone before the third ring? Who is in the loop of the campaign and can answer questions intelligently? Does the eReport download without glitches once the prospect hands over the required lead info?
#3 Don’t build it, buy it.
You can launch a professional looking website quickly and without the absorbent costs of hiring programmers. Services such as Weebly or Yola have helped many businesses launch for a few dollars a month. Their drag, drop, type and upload technology further levels the playing field for all businesses and budgets.
Need an e-commerce store? Use Shopify.com or SquareSpace. Need to accept payments? Paypal is the answer. Want to provide live customer service online? Consider BoldChat. Chances are what you need already exists and can be accessed through open source, monthly lease, or shared software.
SOURCE:“Look Like a Big Company Without Spending Big Money,” by Scott Gerber, Nov. 30, 2011, Small Business Advocate.
#4 Don’t cut corners on your print collateral.
Find a graphic designer and print partner who produced the image materials of companies you admire and work with them to build your brand. Even in a digital world, you still need business cards, letterhead, pocket folders and mailing labels. Don’t short-change your business by trying to penny pinch you’re way through your collateral. If you and your three biggest competitors had materials sitting on the table in front of the customer of your dreams, who would they pick and why based on image alone?
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Mail is still first class in the eyes of 73% of consumers in America who still prefer to receive direct mail for brand communications. So despite all the press and pixels that social and email marketing get, direct mail is still tops in the eyes of consumers.
Despite the exposure of digital channels, direct mail is expected to grow 1.4% annually for the next five years to $13.8 billion.
Personalization Makes Direct Mail Even Hotter
Companies that gather data on customers who segment the information into relevant marketing communications delivered via variable data printing win big with double-digit responses.
If you are a marketing leader who invests in direct mail as a channel, do you consistently ensure what you send out is variably printed and designed? Consumers expect communications to be relevant across all channels, including direct mail.
Discover credit card company targets its list based on different customer attributes and then tags each piece with a personalized invitation number. “Direct mail is a great way for us to target consumers,” says Laks Vasudevan, Discover director of acquisition. “It’s our most targeted platform.”
Pull the Trigger
DSW sends personalized birthday postcards with offers to its 20 million plus rewards members. Who wouldn’t want $10 off a new pair of shoes as a gift to self?
And there’s something special about getting a real card with physical value versus a mass email with fashion tips, according to Kelly Cook, DSW’s Senior Vice President of Marketing.
When the company tested sending birthday coupons via email, it didn’t perform nearly as well as direct mail.
Give Your Customer What They Want When They Want It
Long gone are the days of sending one universal offer to everybody. For instance, I recently received a special offer for a college loan for my children from my bank. Yet, I don’t have children. I know the marketing team at my bank and I know they have access to some very sophisticated database tools to monitor my account activity and have done a lot of data mining, they failed to connect with me as a valued customer.
Give your customers the perks they want when they want and don’t delay. With today’s 24/7 marketing automation systems, there’s no excuse.
SOURCE:Direct Mail Advertising in the U.S., October 2012, research report by IBISWorld.
SOURCE:“Direct Mail, Evolved,” by Dianna Dilworth of Direct Marketing News, March 01, 2013.
Have you ever felt discouraged by data? Well never again! Today’s marketing is all about reaching your target market in an effective way. Whether that is by email, direct mail or social media, you need to target your communication and personalize it to the individual through data. However, collecting and analyzing data can be so overwhelming that soon you could be buried by it. So the big question is how do you begin collecting adequate data to reach your target market?
While you may aspire to have the marketing sophistication of P&G or an Amazon.com, there are steps you can take to get started right now. Jeff Hayes, President of Info Trends, shares 8 points.
1. Make an inventory of your customer touch points.
Look beyond your customers’ age and gender. Dig deeper to find what really makes your customers tick. Collect data on how often your customers shop, what their average purchase is per visit and how long your customers spend in your establishment.
2. Figure out what data you have, what data you need and how best to collect it.
All fantastic marketing campaigns start with a game plan. Establish what data is already being collected by your P.O.S. or other systems, and then analyze it. Once you know what you are collecting, it is time to establish what you would like to know about your customers and then devise a solution to collect that data.
3. Collect and compile your data for on-going analysis.
The more data a company can gather and know about their customers, the better! In the beginning, make sure you data is compiling accurately to your analysis system. You do not want to waste time or data by not being able to format it correctly.
4. Analyze your data and develop a market segmentation scheme.
“Developing a new market segmentation scheme requires a structured process that yields actionable results. A new market segment must respond differently to variations in the product, marketing, and distribution mix compared with other customers in the market.”
5. Test various messages and promotional offers, and measure the impact.
Survey or interview your customers. A company cannot reach their customers if they do not understand their needs or desires. Send out different types of flyers and discounts to measure the response rate to each promotion.
6. Continue to refine your data collection, analysis and messaging.
“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Hardly any project runs according to plan. Take the time to smooth out the bumps and get rid of the dead weight.
7. Get senior management involved – there will be cost and may be some internal “turf” issues that need to be resolved, plus you want their buy-in when the data challenges traditional assumptions.
The last thing you will want to do when working on a new campaign or project is to step on anyone’s toes. Talk through your plans and processes to make sure everyone is on the same page. This way the chances of a dispute are held to a minimum.
8. Consider working with an agency or consulting firm, especially to help you get started.
You don’t know everything and that’s okay. It is alright to reach out and ask for help. Smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from other people’s mistakes.
SOURCE: Market Segmentation, Info Trends, 2013
SOURCE: Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan, 2005
It’s tempting to skimp on segmenting because of the focus on results. Don’t. In a tight economy, or any economy, casting a bigger net doesn’t mean you’ll bring in more fish. It just means you’ll use more energy and use your resources ineffectively to cast that net.
Blanket broadcasting or mass marketing are gone, but companies still waste approximately 37% of their annual marketing budgets, according to a research study that analyzed one billion dollars in advertising spending.
SOURCE:Tim Suther, Dec. 2010, “From Broadcast to Narrowcast,” Direct Marketing News
Narrowcasting is about narrowly defining an audience and engaging them in a discussion that’s emotional and persuasive over time.
Chief Content Marketing Officer at Avaya, Mark Wilson, says narrowcasting works in the noisy environment to make your B2B programs work.
He suggests you narrow your audience to about 10,000 people who look similar. He says 10,000 is a round number that’s affordable to reach and manageable to physically and digitally communicate. You will see results with your marketing communications as long as the people you’ve selected are passionate about the topic.
SOURCE: Carla Johnson, Feb, 28, 2013, “B2B Content Marketing: “Create Intimate Conversations with Narrowcasting.” Johnson is a consultant to Content Marketing Institute, which published this article on its blog.
Segment, Segment, Segment
Do you really know your audience inside and out? It goes far beyond surface demographics. Do you know what makes this person tick as well as your spouse? What they think? Their behaviors, patterns, shopping inclinations, biases?
Wilson says at Avaya they target contact center businesses and know whom to contact down to every possible business title. They build a highly targeted, narrow prospect list using LinkedIn or Dunn & Bradstreet. Then Avaya crafts thought-provoking, compelling content that resonates with the prospect.
Anyone who has purchased pay per click (PPC) advertising knows narrowcasting versus broadcasting. Rather than broadcast your message across multiple websites much like you would by posting a corporate news release on 100 news syndicates, you only send the information to the specific websites that publish content relevant to your product or service (maybe The Motley Fool, Kiplinger, or the Money blog for a finance type message or product).
Building a Better Direct Mail Campaign
Narrowcasting works in direct mail campaigns, too. By using prospect modeling services such as Snapshot® or VisualIQ®, you can refine your mailing list to the tightest possible scope– shaving mailing costs and reaching only your most ideal prospects in your particular segment.
The days of spray and pray mailing are over. So if you’re still basing your direct mail programs on age, gender and income, you’re missing the mark. Go deeper by sorting with additional indicators such as psychographic, lifestyle, brand loyalty, etc.
No audience is static. So narrowcast and rerun your modeling reports frequently to capture the ideal prospects for your business.
The article below is admittedly a personal review of some direct mail I received. I am not privy to the strategies of any of these pieces or to the metrics associated with the return on investment for these campaigns. As a direct marketer I know that all that really matters is the testing matrix and campaign ROI; neither of which do I have any knowledge of. With that said, let’s critique!
After sorting through a huge box of direct mail I collect, I was amazed to find such poor use of the outer envelope for pain-filled call to actions (CTAs). Out of this 20-pound box of direct mail, I only found one organization that was nailing pain-focused CTAs while dozens of others were missing the mark completely – most failing to have a CTA on the envelope at all.
You can see by the two outer envelopes below that the Salvation Army clearly understands driving response through pain and strong CTAs. Pella Windows and JCP on the other hand, do not. These for-profit giants neglected to include anything on the outer envelops to persuade the recipient to take the next step and open the envelope. No CTA, no compelling photograph, no pain. Zero. Zip. Nada.
Many organizations have found that raising the level of a pain surrounding a problem to the point that the inflicted one wants a solution and is willing to act on it is a viable messaging tool.
With all the pain in today’s trauma filled world and with overfilled email boxes, getting to the pain via an envelope with a strong call to action may be the best route to new customers or donors.
Pella’s Envelope Is Void of Pain
We are certain that Pella Window’s marketing department has tested their envelope copy strategy to the hilt, but we spent a little time playing with possible headlines… Tell us if you think these are strong:
- Did you know windows can leak 25% of your heat during the winter? That’s a lot of heat.
- Daddy always complained about heating the outside.
- Might as well just leave the window open, don’t you think?
When we look at Pella Window’s letter we also feel like we want more. We would love to see some content on a replacement cost vs. return on investment calculation to demonstrate how quickly a homeowner can recoup his costs over time just through energy efficiencies throughout all seasons.
Not sure it would work, but it might be worth a test, but imagine retrieving an envelope out of your mailbox with the photograph above on it if you just got an extremely high gas bill earlier that month and the thought of new windows was in the back of your mind. What if the envelope had, “Quit making your family wear down vests and stocking caps to watch a movie in your drafty house.” Would you open the envelope to read more?
JCP Counts CEO Clout to Earn the Open
Lucky me, I received a letter from JCP’s CEO Ron Johnson! I wondered what’s up. Opening this generic, highly digitized very personalized letter, I learn that JCP is making changes in their store to bring back the fun of shopping. If you know me, you know I don’t really enjoy shopping.
Fun of shopping, huh. Funny, this envelope and letter aren’t very fun. In fact, they’re kind of boring.
Johnson goes on to say he doesn’t want me to have to wait for a sale or coupon so I’ll now find low prices every day, which sounds a lot like Wal-mart, but wait. There’s a $10 coupon at the bottom of the letter if I get to JCP in the next few days. Isn’t that kind of a mixed message? No more coupons but here is a coupon?
And here’s another kicker, the letter from the desk of Ron Johnson is signed Ron – now not really. It’s just his typed name. No signature blue ink, cursive writing. Just a corporate looking letter, with a convoluted message and a non-personalized signature at the bottom and no pain or CTA on the outer envelope.
Come on JCP – if you’re trying to be warm, value driven, fun and shift from a couponing strategy to every day value you are delivering numerous conflicting messages.
Now keep in mind, they did send me this letter to my work address. I wonder was the appeal of one more formal letter supposed to get through to me and entice me to use a $10 coupon because I absolutely had to run out in the next four days and buy something.
Add to the confusion. I’m not a JCP shopper. Frankly, I don’t remember the last time I walked in to a JCP. I don’t have kids so I’m not in that “holy grail” of consumers. I rarely use coupons. Heck, I rarely even remember to use the gift cards I get for presents. Bigger problem for JCP – they are spending money with a strange message to try and lure me to their store.
With all these comments I’ll admit the marketer in me is uncomfortable sharing my anecdotal observations. I would love to see the data. I would love to see the testing matrix. I would love to see the ROI and consumer analytics reports, but alas I get to sit back and observe my experience with a mail piece.
I guess this is what a Monday morning quarterback feels like.
Have you received anything from an organization that made you want to take action because it had a great CTA, personalized URL, or magnified some pain that drove you to take action? Let me know in comments.