Posts tagged Marketing Management

10 Tips for a Higher R.O.I Using VDP for B2B Marketing

125162794 250x170 10 Tips for a Higher R.O.I Using VDP for B2B MarketingCreative Variable Data Printing Services

If you are looking to increase response rates and cut costs, we have some creative ideas in which you can use Variable Data Printing. Before saying something like, “We already use data printing services”, ask yourself a few questions – How well is it working for you? Are you receiving great response rates, and are you getting an enormous return on your investment? If not, then you might be missing out on something.

Getting your message across and creating a lasting impression is important. Including an element of creativity, trust, and interest in your company is vital in order to make a connection through direct marketing in variable data printing.

Using Variable Data Printing in 10 Better Ways for a Greater R.O.I.
  1. Variety – Use different content, not just different words.
  2. Emotion – Find out everything about a prospect or client. Appeal to the emotions most important to the prospect or client. Make sure that your brand triggers an emotional response.
  3. Personalize – Make sure that you include their name, company name (when b2b marketing), address, and anything else that might be relevant to your message.
  4. Build an Alliance - Let your prospect know that your company wants to be MORE than just a place to make a purchase. Many companies are looking for good partners, they are trying to make connections for networking, and are focused on power building strategies.
  5. Graphics and Color – Use pictures that are true to your brand. You will be remembered as a company who understands delivering the total package. Every company must show themselves as worthy to be remembered, and relevant graphics can help.
  6. Check Your Content - It’s so easy to push a potential client away by glorifying our own company. Make your content easy to read. Ask the reader questions, and appeal to emotion. Focus on your reader.
  7. Usefulness – What does your reader need? When does he need it? If you show that you have paid attention to his needs in the correspondence that you send, he’d be very intrigued, but he might also be inclined to put more trust in you than before. Trust is a great marketing technique.
  8. Detail - Make the recipient feel as if he was your only customer. You can send out bulk mail and tailor-make each individual piece by using specific details. Research specific information about current and potential clients, and surprise them by including it in your direct marketing techniques.
  9. Focus on Brand - Every customer/company has different personality features.These features make up their specific brand. It goes much deeper than color, design, and logo. Research the motto, mission statement, and vision statement. Tailor your content to these specific variables.
  10. Experiment – Experimentation is vital for direct marketing. Keep trying until you find the right technique. Using different color schemes and designs may help reach different people who you never expected to reach. Just because you accidentally appeal to a market that is outside of your target range, doesn’t mean you can’t continue to do so.  This strategy may lead to a whole new market segment.
Practice Makes Excellence

Practice shouldn’t ‘make perfect’, it should create excellence. If marketing techniques were ‘perfect’, then we’d never learn how to be creative. Don’t aim for perfection, aim for excellence. Expand your mind beyond what others are doing, and surpass them. You will get it just right, and then realize that it needs to be changed once again. This is part of our fast paced society and there’s no avoiding it.


VDP, Changing the Design of Direct Marketing

153002732 250x250 VDP, Changing the Design of Direct MarketingThe evolution of variable data printing (VDP) has significantly changed the landscape for the designers of direct marketing pieces. No longer are they forced to craft pieces that will appeal to a broad range of potential clients and hope for the best. Instead, they can utilize data captured from emails, web pages, surveys, phone calls and in-person interviews to create individualized direct marketing pieces to more accurately target the needs of their clients.

The Market – At its core, variable data printing is still a direct marketing strategy. As such, it relies on having data on your clients and prospects. This data can be self-generated by your company or purchased from third-party vendors. Lists are available in a range of options and can be tailored to your exact needs. In short, VDP combined with the right data is an excellent marketing option for clients as diverse as charitable organizations and casinos to insurance agencies and college alumni departments.

Individualized Pieces – The secret to a variable data printed piece is in how the information and artwork is integrated. While the name and address are from one database, the customers stated preferences are also utilized so that the right copy and artwork is also included. This process allows the designer to incorporate pre-written copy and preselected pictures about the best choices of product for a customer.

For instance,  a casino might know that certain customers preferred “FREE Dinner” while others wanted their hotel room comped. With non-VDP, the designer is constrained into sending the same piece to both customers with an offer for a meal and/or a room. With VDP, the designer can send two or more meal offers to one customer and room offers to the other – complete with appropriate photos.

Increased Response – As you can imagine, this type of marketing better targets potential customers and produces a superior response rate. The most basic use of the process returns double the response rate while more sophisticated campaigns can yield a response 15-20 times greater than a static direct marketing campaign.

Lowered Costs – The vast majority of work in a variable data printing campaign is in the development of the text, graphics and images so that they align with the available data. In addition, the collection of data can be time consuming. However, once this effort has been made, a VDP campaign can be customized to fit any budget.

The campaign can affordably be run over and over again to a select group of clients or to new pools of prospects as they are generated. In addition, VDP allows a marketer to experiment on a small test group before committing resources to a larger campaign. Lastly, you can even build in “fail safes” to exclude customers who have never responded to a certain number of offers.

Customized Follow-Up Campaigns – Similarly, as more data is captured on responsive clients, further enhancements to the campaign can be made. More info can be sent on selected products or the piece can be modified to address what stage of the “buy-cycle” the customer is in.

The Bottom Line – As you can see, variable data printing can have a huge effect on the direct marketing campaign of a forward looking marketer. The technology is available and your company most likely already has all the data it needs. Now, you just need to a take that leap of faith and combine the two.


Can You Recover from Major Marketing Gaffes?

mistakes, errors, marketing, businessPolitical gaffes follow a candidate from one campaign to the next. The campaigns of Romney, Biden, Clinton, Quail and Bush all confirm this. Remember Bush’s premature use of the phrase “Mission Accomplished”, Quail’s misspelling of “potato?” or even Clinton’s more famous situation that isn’t appropriate for this posting. A misspoken word or an entire scandal can take an entire mission off focus.

The same can be said for the million dollar blunders made by the five marketing giants below.

Turner Broadcasting

One of Turner’s cartoon networks launched a guerrilla marketing campaign in 2007 that involved putting LED signs throughout the city of the flashing cartoon man. A Boston resident thought it was a bomb and called the police, which resulted in the shutdown of public transportation system and a $2 million fine requiring Turner Broadcasting to compensate the city for its emergency response time.

Gap & Coke

In 2010 Gap updated its logo design in an effort to appeal to a hipper audience. Gap switched back to its original logo within two days because of the backlash from its true audience of people who love their basics and aren’t trendy people. Who knows what the logo change and change-back cost Gap, but it probably was at least a million-dollar lesson to stay true to its loyal customers.

Gap’s gaffe proves that history does repeat itself. Remember Coca-Cola’s similar gaffe in 1985? Coca-Cola launched New Coke in an effort to keep Pepsi from gaining market share, only to enrage its loyal customers who began hoarding the original Coke formula and selling it on the black market for hefty prices.

Timothy’s Coffee

To extend their social reach, Timothy’s offered a coupon or a free sample for following them on Facebook or Twitter. The campaign was so successful, Timothy’s ran out of k-pak cups and later posted that free samples would be given out on a first come first serve basis. This went over like a cup of truck-stop coffee and despite an apology video; they were unable to recover from the gaffe of not being prepared to fulfill their published offer.


When Pepsi chose to pursue the International market of China, it failed to check the translation of its tagline, “Pepsi brings you back to life.”  The phrase translates to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” You may be laughing, but the marketing department and CEO of Pepsi weren’t. They were humiliated for not pre-flighting the phrase with native speaking Chinese customers. The cost of reprinting point of sale banners, signage and advertising cost just a hair more than the disgrace of Pepsi’s international gaffe.


Marketing Gaffe Prevention

While to err is human, there’s plenty of ways to reduce the margin for error. Here are a few suggestions to implement before you make history with a mega-marketing blunder.

Check your list twice

Don’t hit “send,” until you’ve checked your send-to list two or three times. Remember the agency employee who accidently dropped the F-bomb on Chrysler’s Twitter channel, thinking he was sending to his own peeps. Whoops.

Engage more eyes

Despite spell check and proofing, mistakes slip into marketing pieces because the individuals working on the piece go blind to their copy over time. Put a multi-tiered proofing team in place, as well as a pre-flight process for all your printed pieces and posts.

Take people out of the process

The beauty of print automation, is you do all the testing and proofing upfront (perhaps even for six months), but after that, all the data is pulled directly from your CRM or database and goes directly into the brochure, catalog, coupon, or direct mail piece, which eliminates the chance of human error. Print errors can cost a company millions. Verify your data, and partner with a company well versed in print automation if you need the assurance of 100% accuracy in your mailings.

In Philip B. Crosby’s book, Quality Is Free, Crosby estimates that the cost of quality for any company is 25 percent of revenue. Certainly far from free, but his book led to the “zero defects” movement that later was replaced by the Six Sigma movement because companies realized perfection was impossible. Six Sigma organizations are a bit more realistic, allowing an error rate of one in 1 million or less.

Whatever movement you’re following or quality assurance practices and systems you have in place, an error is costly to a company’s profits and reputation. Share your marketing blunders and any that you’ve headed off at the pass in the comments below. We’re all in this together.

Source:  Hubspot


Everything You Wished You Knew Before You Built Your CRM Database

crm, architect, building, customer relationship management, database, dataBusiness databases have moved beyond name, address, city, state and zip. Today’s savvy customer relationship management gurus capture purchase history, lifestyle, lifecycle, and lifespan info that enables them to engage, re-engage, and even dis-engage (that’s a fancy word for fire) customers when necessary.

Customer information that goes deep and reveals the lifetime value of that customer is imperative to long term business growth.  To capture and record this data, a good software package is needed, but selecting the appropriate tool can sometimes be confusing. There are a ton of SaaS (software as a service) solutions that may make sense.  Look into, Sugar CRM, or Microsoft Dynamics.  Plus, don’t forget to study industry specific packages.  Be wary however of forcing the sales process to fit the CRM system.  A good CRM solution should be flexible enough to fit your processes.


Who Should Manage Your Database?

It depends. If you’re a small business with a seasoned marketing person on staff, you probably can manage it in-house. The bigger your customer base the bigger the task.

The job of the database manager is to (1) build or buy a database that can capture and contain the needed data fields you wish to monitor (2) modify the database to add new areas of interest or products as your business grows (3) backup the system regularly (4) update customer info, purge customer info or initiate re-engagement campaigns as customers go dormant.

The best B2B relationship management (CRM) databases will allow you sophisticated functionality like multi-level SLA support, customer satisfaction surveys, timer-based escalation rules that are driven by complex criteria and automated issue re-assignments.

Your CRM system should also allow you to integrate with other software tools like your ERP or software, business management solution, website software, email tool, and even your accounting package.


What is the Most Important Data You Must Know or Might Forget to Collect?

A good customer database includes these four basic areas:

  1. Financial: Revenue generated from the customer’s transactions.
  2. Demographic: Describing customers in terms of their personal characteristics, such as age, sex, professional activity, etc.
  3. Geographic: Describing customers in terms of their physical location.
  4. Psychographic or Behavioral: Describing customers in terms of their preferred activities and actions.

A great CRM database plan allows you to collect and monitor competitor price, market share, and product features. It also allows you to collect data on the number of customer transactions, stores visits, and why they leave.

As you can see, you must plan well to collect the metrics that will guide your business. Businesses that don’t have a good database system or customer relationship management system are at a disadvantage in today’s world. Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, once said that “Datarati are companies that have the edge in consumer data insight. There has been and will continue to be an increased focus on data analysis as companies continue to invest in measuring social media, understanding customer value and modeling customer behavior.


What Should You Do With the Data?

Put it to work! The information you have gathered can be used to a great advantage. Look at what Amazon does with the data it collects as you shop their store.  Each time you search for items Amazon tracks and knows what is of interest.  Then, when you return, you are presented with items most likely to interest you.  That level of data capture is huge in working to drive a business.

Other organizations use that data to personalize their direct mail with Variable Data Printing (VDP) a method of printing personalized promotional material using your database. The effect of customers seeing their names and preferences in promotions can give you a higher response and purchase rate. This response rate has been estimated to be as high as five times greater than with traditional static advertising.


Building or Buying a CRM System

There are so many great systems available, it’s really not necessary to reinvent the wheel. However, shopping for the right one for your business can be daunting. So much like going to Consumer Report for research, you can go to CRM Vendor Comparison and download the 2011 CRM Vendor Comparison Chart that shows 40 hours of research and a comparison of 30 CRM systems that range in web application prices from $40 to $100 per month for usage rights.

Once you pick and install one, staying in sync with your customers’ buying habits through their lifecycle and creating alerts to build that relationship can steady your company in poor times and send it through the roof in peak times. It is important to be aware of clients who are increasing their spending, as well as those who are coming back less and less. In such cases, the database can create an alert to cue marketing to develop a bounce-back campaign.

Knowledge is power. Storing it in a pliable database gives you power and strength. Why? To compete, you will need to know more about your customers and use the information to talk, engage and interact with their customers more often and more meaningfully in new and innovative ways (including dynamic content, blogs to social media networks).

If you don’t talk to your customers in an engaging, intelligent way, your competitor will.


5 Ways to Get Your Social Media Campaign Rolling

marbles, ball, rolling, marketingSocial networks began on college campuses. It didn’t take long for them to become part of our daily lives. A few years later, we were connected with friends on the other side of the world. The networks then went through a commercial revolution, where companies realized their connectivity, and how many prospective customers they could reach.

The brains behind social networks realized companies would pay to place advertisements on their networks. This led to the marriage of social networks and business. That marriage led to the birth of social media marketing. Social media marketing has grown up from the awkwardness of adolescence. Gone are the days of lamenting about adolescent issues (like competition for popularity and learning who can be trusted).

Social media marketing now is into adulthood. It knows its role among its peers (print marketing, websites, etc.), is aware of its importance in society, and knows that it has expectations to live up to.

But how does all of this impact companies?

Here’s a little secret – social media has always been social. For years, many companies bypassed this unspoken principle. They simply repeated a strategy they’ve used in other forms of marketing – promoting the company, its products and services. This strategy worked for a short time on social networks.

But social media currently is undergoing a renaissance, returning to why social networks started in the first place. Social media is getting back to social.

It sounds sexy – renaissance. But to companies still trying to understand social media, it’s probably intimidating. Why should your company be more social on social media? Social media helps companies connect on a personal level to gain the trust and loyalty of their customers.

Rhetorical question alert: Does your company want more trusting, loyal customers?

The good news: A social media marketing strategy that gets your company “back to social” can be implemented with just a little time and a few tweaks to an existing social media campaign.

Here are five ways to get you started.

1. First, step back — Look at your current strategy. If you’re posting information only about your company, you’ll need new content. Some ideas for getting back to social:

-Pictures from a company social event

-Blogs about client accomplishments

-Videos of your staff doing volunteer work in your community

-Information about community social events

2. Plan — You must have a social media marketing plan that includes the who, what, when, where and why of your company. Who will your company target and who will implement the plan? What content will you post? Where will this content come from? Where will you engage with your audience? When will you post? Why are you doing social media marketing?

3. Have some fun — Just like social gatherings, social networks are built for fun. Social media is the place to shake the corporate jargon and use terms like “LOL.” Sometimes a situation will arise that requires a more serious response, but most of the time, have fun.

4. Engage — If your company only talks about itself on social media, congratulations, you’re officially on a Soap Box. Instead of telling your social media followers about your company, ask them questions, listen, and then respond. It’s a great way to get to know your followers, and it makes your company seem more personable. People buy from brands they connect with on a personal level.

5. If they don’t come to you, go to them — Social networks are filled with gatherings of people with similar interests (LinkedIn Groups, Facebook pages, etc.). If your company finds it difficult to attain social media followers, go out and get them. Begin with geographic groups based on your home city. Start conversations with your target audience where they already hang out online, and they’ll come to you online.

The social media renaissance has begun. Get your company back to social and experience the opportunities and rewards of social media marketing.


Think Like a Great Architect to Design that Historic Campaign

marketing plan, business plan, marketing, multichannel marketing, marketing strategyMarketers wear many hats to design campaigns that earn loyalty, likes, sales, or donations. To start your next project with a zero-based obstacle point of view, think like a great architect. How would Le Corbusier design the rollout? How would Karl Rove remove the competition from the campaign, and how would Julia Morgan (first woman licensed to practice architecture in California) approach the challenge to design a resort complex that would become a movie star destination and national landmark?

For nearly 28 years, Julie Morgan was given all the money, creative leeway, and support she needed to design William Randolph Hearst’s Casa Grande in San Simeon, CA. The finished product is 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways.

Consider the similarities of the planning complexity to some of the multi-channel marketing campaigns you must architect.

Imagine the multi-channel marketing campaign you could create if you had all the time, all the money, and all the creative reign you wanted to make your mark in the world. What would you build and what would its impact be on your company, your career, the world?  Would you go down in marketing history with the same notoriety of Steve Jobs, David Ogilvy, Sir Richard Branson, Seth Godin, or Jack Trout?

“Marketing is not a battle of products, but of perceptions,” says Jack Trout

As a master architect of great buildings, Morgan can teach us much about pulling off the seemingly impossible and delivering on a large scale.


Plan Everything In Advance

When designing a great campaign or castle, plan everything in advance. Don’t put a stake in the ground or purchase a URL until you’ve designed the whole project. This will help you see potential glitches, move pieces around before you become committed to a direction, channel, theme, headline, call to action, or timeline.

Planning everything in advance will insulate and protect your budget from unforeseen blunders. The Hearst Castle cost $4 million dollars to build in the early 1900s. Too many buildings (and marketing projects) go way over budget because of poor planning or poor communications or both.


Optimize Every Square Foot

Though Morgan had hundreds of acres to work with, she designed the estate down to the trim on the baseboards. In the marketing realm, use everything at your disposal by working every channel into the marketing mix. When you time your direct mail to land between correlating emails it can yield double the response rate of email alone and have the best conversion.  And when you time your sales representatives to make contact following a drop, they’ll be much better received.


Make it Personal

Ms. Morgan created intimacy among the grounds, guests, and guest houses by weaving in Hearst’s art collection. You can create intimacy by weaving in personalization, most importantly looking in your database for data points that allow you to create highly customized and personalized messages.


Leave a Legacy with Your Artistry

Ms. Morgan designed a Mediterranean Revival style castle that is reflected in the main house and three guest houses. The towers of the main house, or Casa Grande, take their design from a Spanish cathedral. The estate is now a national park for the State of California with thousands of visitors each year. Are you thinking like an architect when you design your campaigns?

Will your campaign be deleted, acted upon, or game changing in your industry? It’s easy to churn out standard email copy, typical landing pages, and to-be-expected self mailers, but how are you stretching your skills as an architect to design something unforgettable, undeniable, viral, fruitful, and your legacy?


Build it So It Captivates

Building your campaign with a strong foundation, it sets the groundwork for your next multi-channel masterpiece. The rebar you need to strengthen your foundation, is multiple methods to capture any and all activity such as surveys, contact forms, landing pages, 800 numbers, social share buttons and comment boxes.

Be sure whatever response mechanism you use is monitored and responded to by a team that can act quickly. Also make sure each channel has its own landing page so tracking is pinpoint accurate.


Finally, don’t forget to make your campaign speak directly to your prospects with intelligence, integrity, and interesting copy so they’ll be more apt to open your campaigns when they arrive. It’s easy to get focused on the technical aspects of the digital campaign that the human aspect suffers.

I hope these best practices resonate with you and give you a baseline of where to focus your efforts on your next multichannel campaign. If you’d like more ideas for building a campaign, review the 10 Greatest Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns of All Time. Between this list and the designing of the Hearst Castle, you should have dozens of fresh ideas to leave your thumbprint on your next campaign.

Ring in the New Year by Conducting a Marketing Audit

direct marketing solutions

Over lunch my friend described the duress his associates were going through because of a switch from a fixed- to zero-based budgeting. In essence, department heads could no longer use last year’s budget adjusted for inflation. They instead had to cost justify each expenditure line item by line item. These are the signs of tighter times where ideally every dime spent brings in a return.

Regardless of which accounting system your company uses, be a good corporate citizen this year by conducting a marketing audit. December is a great month to reflect and plan given business-as-usual stalls due to the holidays, vacations, and in some cases inclement weather.

In a financial audit an accountant or analyst tears the books apart and helps the company put things back together in a more systemized order. In a marketing audit, chief marketing officers, and preferably an independent consultant, evaluate your company’s marketing assets, programs, and results. An audit answers the question, “ Have marketing goals been met?” “Why or why not?” “Which marketing channels are working best for us and why?” “Where do we need to put the bulk of our budget next year in direct mail or variable dating printing?”


“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.

Thomas Edison


My recommendation is to secure a conference room and pin each piece of each multi-channel campaign around the room with index cards pinned beneath with the results of that campaign, advertising push, PR blitz, or cause marketing piece.

The immediate visual of seeing your work pasted on four walls will tell you:

  • if you were consistent with style and brand
  • if you built in ample lead pull into your campaigns
  • if the call to action hits you between the eyes or was weak
  • if the drop and delivery dates made for a cohesive story or diluted your efforts
  • if your direct mail pulled more than your email or vice versa
  • if your PURL copy clinched the sale or fell flat
  • if you could combine campaigns for more oomph or if you are running so few campaigns it’s a wonder that you can generate any calls or sales

I guarantee you will see things you missed during the campaign. Then invite some friends and colleagues in to review your work – feel free to call me, I’m happy to review your campaigns – no charge and no strings.  With the help of outside perspective you will definitely gain views you can use next year. The single best way to spend wisely and increase ROI is by doing a marketing audit and revamping your 2012 budget with the lessons learned. May you have a Happy New Year filled with rocking marketing campaigns.

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.


Assessment Guide: 10 Questions to Uncover Ways to Increase Marketing Efficiency

marketing efficiencies, variable data printing

Is it time to evaluate your marketing routine and dispose of obsolescence?

Last Week we discussed the results from a CMO Council Research entitled “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimal Marketing Supply Chain“.  This overview pointed out four key actions marketers could take to Obliterating Obsolescence:

While those are basic strategies any business can employ, we also know that before going down that path it makes sense to do some straightforward self assessment.  Spend some time with the questions below and answer openly and honestly.  As a marketing leader you are always looking for ways to ensure your organization gets better and better.

Marketing Operations Self-Assessment

  1. What inventoried items have become obsolete?  Why?
  2. What regular processes do members of your marketing team do that are wastes of time and skill set?
  3. If you could change the way you buy ads, deploy email, manage printed materials, trigger direct mail, hire talent, create copy, or plan your next move, what would that look like?
  4. How could you streamline your workday?
  5. What marketing processes have failed in the past?
  6. Do you ever cross your fingers, hope, and pray that nothing goes wrong when deploying a campaign?  If the answer is yes, it goes on the list.
  7. Would it improve your results if marketing campaigns could be deployed faster?  If so, what does an ideal timeframe look like?
  8. Is the work flow in your department planned, or hap-hazard?  How about between departments?
  9. What have you done more than twice this week?
  10. If you could waive your magic wand and have everything in your marketing department run smoothly and perfectly what would it look like?  What technology would be in place?  What people would you have on your team? What results would you be reporting to your superiors?

I personally love question #10.  Question #10 allows you to create the perfect world and once you can envision that world you can start to impact the day to day reality.  Spend lots of time on #10.  Create a real vision for what you can do and start chipping away.

My daddy always said if you don’t know where you are going then it doesn’t really matter what road you take.  Question #10 is where you are going AND what road you will take depends on your resources and how you answered questions 1-9.

Now comes the challenging part.  If you aren’t sure what your answer would be to #10, call us.  At Mail Print we have helped many companies realize great results implementing new marketing technologies and procedures that they didn’t even know were possible.  Read below about a nationally known, multi-million dollar company that has utilized a Marketing Asset Management system to unify their marketing message and cut-out obsolescence.

Ferrellgas Thumb Assessment Guide: 10 Questions to Uncover Ways to Increase Marketing Efficiency Ferrellgas, a Fortune 1000 energy provider, needed to manage marketing for their 900-plus locations more quickly and efficiently. In addition, they needed to increase the speed of their direct mail marketing production to ensure their time-sensitive messaging reached customers on time. Learn how Mail Print’s Marketing Communications Portal helped Ferrellgas reduce management time by 300 hours per month and speed production times from 10 days to 24 hours.