Category Archives: Uncategorized

Does Your Multichannel Strategy Need an Update?

When was the last time your print marketing strategy was freshened up? When was the last time you looked at your creative approach, value proposition, and media mix with fresh eyes? If it’s been a while, maybe now is the time. Here are three areas to consider.

  1. Does each tactic prove its worth?

Technology is cool, but don’t throw new things into the mix just for the sake of doing it. Test, evaluate, and incorporate new components in ways that create results.

Say you make your first contact with a customized postcard, direct mail letter, or self-mailer that drives the reader to a personalized URL.  Offer the option of connecting to the site by either entering a web address or scanning a QR Code.  Track your metrics to see which channel recipients do and do not respond to.

No matter which response mechanisms you use, be sure to look at more than top-line numbers. You might think that a response rate is “low” until you discover that it gets the most responses from a segment of your target audience that is particularly important to you.

  1. Demographics are important — go further. It may be tempting to base your marketing efforts on the most readily available information, such as gender, age, and income. For the best results, however, take it a step further. Seek to understand what your prospects care about.Today’s consumer wants to be an individual, not a segment.
  2. Track and measure your results. Which elements of the campaign do you track? How do you determine a “response rate”? Is it a click or a scan? Is it the completion of a form or a purchase? Connect your marketing goals with clear metrics, so you know which of your marketing efforts are working and which are not.

Marketing is about results, and consumers often respond to different tools and tactics at different times. Track, test, and measure so you can keep up.

 

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3 Tips for Maximizing Results with Print + Email

Combine direct mail with email is a great way to increase response rates. Here are three ways to manage the timing to turbocharge your results.

  1. Use email to follow-up to nudge response.

Email makes a great reminder for your direct mail pieces. Drop your postcard or letter. Then, while the piece is still fresh in people’s minds, use email to nudge them to respond. When one manufacturer wanted to invite customers to an in-house seminar, for example, it paired a dimensional mailer with two follow-up emails. The company received an 18% overall response rate.

  1. Use mail tracking to optimize email timing.

Using mail tracking services, you can determine when the mail piece actually arrives at the recipient’s home or office, then time your email to arrive at the time that testing has determined will be most effective.

One B2B marketer split its email blast into two groups and conducted an A/B test. The first blast arrived on a predetermined day regardless of when the mail piece actually arrived. In the second blast, the mail drops were tracked and the email was timed to arrive exactly one day later. The timed follow-ups showed a 4.7% lift in response.

  1. Send email first to save on postage costs.

Did you know that you can optimize your postal costs by sending an email first? Anyone who responds to the email blast can be removed from the direct mail list. This saves you print and postage.

In one alumni campaign, a university sent personalized emails based on area of study and graduation/reunion year.  It followed up with a direct mailer personalized with the same information, but only to people who had not responded to the email. Not only did the university save money on print and postage, but it achieved an 8.5% response rate.

Email makes a terrific partner to direct mail campaigns, whether sent in advance of the mailing or as a follow-up. Looking for ideas for making the ideal one-two punch? Give us a call.

Is Social Media Print’s New Best Friend?

While print and social media may compete for your marketing dollars, they don’t have to compete for your customers. In fact, using them together can make your marketing more effective. Let’s look at five ways print and social media can work together.

  1. Print drives traffic to social media.

How do you drive traffic to your social media sites? Often, it’s with print. Whether it is through direct mail, store signage, or company invoices, print is often your customer’s first exposure to your social media presence.

  1. More channels help you reach more people.

Even in today’s tech-driven world, not everyone uses social media or uses it on a regular basis. Use print to ensure that you are reaching the largest swath of your audience as possible. As the old adage goes, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

  1. Say it again . . . and again.

Consistently, studies show that reinforcing your message through multiple channels increases brand awareness, heightens engagement, and boosts response rates. The combination of print and social media, along with other traditional and digital media, is more effective than any single channel alone.

  1. Boost credibility.

Survey after survey shows that consumers still trust print more than they trust online media. A survey conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design in coordination with ExactTarget found that even Millennials are more likely to be influenced to make purchase decisions based on communications they receive by email and direct mail rather than through social media advertising.

  1. Print has staying power.

Your message on social media might stay for a few hours, then gets buried under the avalanche of other messaging. Print has staying power. Your direct mail piece might live on someone’s desk or bulletin board for weeks or months.

Using print and social media isn’t an “either or” proposition. Understanding when and where to use each channel is the key to getting the best results.

Paper 101: What Different Terms Actually Mean

When asked about the details of the paper stock you are choosing for a print project, do your eyes glaze over? Do terms like basis weight, points, and color cast sound like Greek to you? If so, here is a quick list of basic terms to help you better understand the process.

Basis weight is the weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of a paper at its basic size, or the size of the uncut sheet supplied to the printer. For example, the basic size of book paper is 25 x 38 inches, so a ream weighing 70 pounds would be 70-lb. paper. Sometimes metric is used: 70-lb. book paper is equivalent to 104 g/m2.

Cover, card, and other thick stocks are often specified in points, which refers to the thickness of the paper. This is often abbreviated “pt.”— for example, “8-pt. cover.” One point is 1/1000th of an inch, so an 8-pt. stock is 0.008 inches thick.

Paper grade refers to the end use of the paper. Bond is used for letters and documents, book paper is used for books, offset is used for offset printing, and so on. Digital presses generally have their own grades. Thicker grades include cover, bristol, tag, and index.

C1S and C2S refer to coatings. Paper is often coated during manufacture, which improves the reproduction of fine halftone screens and color fidelity. C1S means “coated one-side,” which is useful for labels, packaging, and other materials destined for single-sided printing. C2S means “coated two-sides” and is preferred for two-sided commercial printing.

Brightness refers to the percentage of light reflected from the sheet’s surface. Basic white copy paper has a 92 brightness. Brightness by component wavelength (red, green, or blue) is also determined, as paper can reflect different amounts of certain colors, imparting a color cast to a printed piece if you’re not careful.

Paper can bring life, texture, and beauty to your projects. Want to learn more about how different choices complement different projects? Let’s talk!

5 Considerations for Creating Standout Mail Pieces

When we think about great direct mail results, we tend to think about the list, the message, and the call to action. However, things like the size, shape, and texture of the piece play a key role, too. Let’s look at five considerations for creating standout mail pieces.

  1. Trim size. If you want the lowest possible postage cost, go with a standard 3.5 x 5” postcard. Choosing a nonstandard size will cost more in postage, but it will make your postcard stand out. “Why is that one different?” the recipient wants to know. It might even be the first piece they pick up. What’s that worth?
  2. Weight. Consumers tend to associate the weight of the stock used in the mailing with the quality of the brand and, by extension, the product being marketed. Heavier weight stocks command respect and attention.
  3. Texture. In a sea of smooth envelopes, mailers with textured finishes get noticed. From high gloss and spot varnish to specialty processes, there are lots of options to choose from.
  4. Personalization. Even the use of someone’s name on the front of a card will engage the recipient more than a static card. This engagement might only last for an extra fraction of a second, but sometimes, that is all you need.
  5. Color. Why use a standard white background when you can pick from a range of vibrant colors? Use knock out type, graphics, and images on dynamic backgrounds to get your mailer to jump out of the box. If you carry in a sea of white envelopes and one bright red one, which one would you pick out first?

There are lots of ways to get your direct mailer to stand out from all of the others. Why not try something you have not tried before? You just might love the results!

 

 

Print in 5 Dimensions

One of the great things about direct mail is the many ways it engages the senses. This is something that cannot be replicated in the digital world and continues to make print an indispensible piece of the marketing puzzle. Here are 5 “dimensions” of print that you can use to engage and delight your audiences.

  1. Texture. Paper stock comes in many textures—from sleek coated stocks to classic cottons, linens, and laids to the raw, earthy feel of uncoated, unbleached stocks. Use texture to help tell your marketing story.
  2. Scent. Scent marketing is a growing industry that uses aroma as a subtle but highly effective marketing tool. Scents like coffee, cinnamon, and pine can be used to trigger emotion. When included inside the mailing envelope or direct mail piece, it can trigger positive associations and increase sales.
  3. Color. The use of color goes beyond ink on paper. Consider how colored envelopes and stocks can be used to make your message pop. Want to create a particularly dramatic effect? Consider the impact of white text and graphics on black stock. POW!
  4. Video. There are many ways to send recipients to video in a printed piece. You can use augmented reality (AR), QR Codes to mobile video, even embedded video screens in the piece itself. Print and video go great together.
  5. Dimension. Nothing stands out in the mailbox like a piece of dimensional mail. Whether it is a thick envelope, a beautifully printed box, or a pop-up cube, anything beyond the typical flat mailer draws immediate attention and shouts “OPEN ME!” Recipients can’t wait to see what’s inside.

Print isn’t just four-color ink on plain stock anymore. It offers a multi-sensory experience that excites and engages your audience. Which one of these sensory experiences would benefit your next marketing campaign?

Get More for Your Money

Consumers love to hear how they can get the most out of their money. It’s a great marketing tactic, and it’s no different when it comes to your marketing budget. Here are a few ways get the most bang for your buck.

  1. Use our “house” paper. Paper prices fluctuate often, so if you haven’t standardized on a specific paper, ask about less expensive options. If your piece doesn’t demand a specialty paper, opt to use our house paper. We purchase this paper in high volume, so it’s almost always the least expensive option.
  2. Print four-color in gang runs. The most expensive way to print four-color is for us to run the job by itself on the press. However, with a “gang run,” we run multiple jobs at the same time, then trim them down to size. This can be a great way to get excellent results for less money.
  3. Avoid bleeds. If color needs to go to the edge of the page, you can often get a similar effect less expensively by printing on colored paper. Without bleeds, your project might also require less paper or be able to be run on a smaller press.
  4. Clean and de-dupe. It’s not the most exciting job, but cleaning and de-duping your mailing list can drop your costs dramatically. With a clean list, you are only printing pieces that end up at their intended destinations. Thus, you aren’t sending multiple pieces to the same home or business.
  5. Try new formats. Just because you have always done a brochure for a particular promotion doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Experiment with a postcard or other format and see whether you get a better response rate. A little creativity can go a long way toward saving money.

Need more ideas? Let us brainstorm ways to help you get great results and the most from your budget.