Direct Mail Tracking & ROI Success Indicators

Smiling woman removing mail from mailbox

Personal. Reliable. Trustworthy. Useful. These are all words that have recently been used to describe direct mail. Direct mail is a powerful marketing and fundraising tool. A key to its success lies in tracking response and measuring results. If you have no way of knowing what a recipient does once they receive your mailer, you can’t know the true value that mailer holds for your target audience. So, what do we measure? And how do we make mail trackable and measurable? The following measurements and tracking strategies can apply to for profit businesses and nonprofit organizations alike.

4 Key Measurements

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As with any marketing strategy, it’s best to begin your direct mail campaign by defining your goals. In a general sense, you’re likely looking to increase business or generate leads. But it’s important to be specific when targeting the message of your direct mail piece. Do you want to increase traffic to your physical storefront? Are you looking to drive recipients to a landing page on your website? Or, are you working to encourage event attendance?

Say you send out a direct mail campaign advertising your company as a service provider. Soon after, you start to see an uptick in business. This is the result you want, right? But it may be impossible to tell what effect your mail campaign had on growth of business or if the piece accomplished what you wanted it to.

And, if you don’t know how successful or unsuccessful your direct mail campaign was, it’s impossible to plan or improve your strategy in the future.

Once you know what you want to achieve, the following indicators can be used to calculate the results of your mail campaign.

Response Rate

This refers to the percentage of recipients who responded to your mail piece. Simply divide number of responses by number of mail pieces sent to get the response rate.

Conversion Rate

This is the next level up from Response Rate. More people are likely to respond to the mailer than those who eventually convert to customers (or donors.) Depending on what you’re selling, the conversion rate may be low, or it may take a longer period of time to achieve a conversion from your mailing. Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of actual orders you receive by the number of responses you got.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

CPA refers to the amount it cost you to obtain each new customer. Divide your campaign cost by the number of orders you received to determine CPA. You may find it helpful to compare the CPA for your direct mail campaign with that of your other marketing endeavors, as it will allow you to understand which channel achieves the most business for your market.

Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI is the baseline for your campaign—how financially successful was this mailing? ROI is calculated by subtracting the cost of your campaign from the revenue generated and then dividing by the campaign cost.

As you get deeper into the measurement process, there are several other metrics you may want to measure.

6 Tracking Techniques

Now that you know what you’re measuring and how you’ll use your data, let’s look at 6 ways you can implement tracking into a mail piece.

1) Coupons

direct mail postcard hair cut couponsEveryone loves to feel that they’re getting a good deal. Depending on the nature of your business, a coupon offer can entice prospects who may not otherwise have visited you. I can think of several occasions when food coupons I received in the mail led me to a restaurant, sometimes one I was familiar with and often somewhere completely new. Your mailing could be a single coupon, or it could include several offers, allowing you to see which resonates most with your mail list.

If your business has several locations, it may be helpful to include a coupon code so that each location can process the coupons the same way, and you’ll accurately collect data for that mailing. Codes also make online purchases and purchases through apps easier to implement and track for coupons.

2) The Mail

Like coupons, where the recipient could bring the physical coupon in to your business, you could require recipients to bring in the mailer itself to receive the offer. For instance, you may be offering a free consultation. The recipient can only receive that free consultation when they bring the postcard along on their visit. That way, you’ll know exactly who responded to the campaign, since they’ll be handing over the addressed piece.

3) URLs

If you want to drive traffic to your website, you can create a landing page and URL specific to the mail campaign on your company’s site. Then, print that URL prominently on your direct mail piece. Visitors will come to the page directly from the mailing, so you can accurately track how effective the mail piece was at achieving your goal.

Personalized URLs (PURLs) are another option to explore. PURLs are customized to each recipient on your mail list. For example, for a contractor, a PURL could look like this: www.contractors.com/jane-doe. The content Jane would see if she goes to her PURL would be customized to her, with her name and offers specific to her needs and interests.

4) QR Codes

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You can use a QR code in the same way as a URL. Print a QR code on your mailer that, when scanned, brings recipients to a landing page customized to the mailing. When you track how many people visited that landing page, you’ll know how many people responded to your mailing.

5) Customized Phone Number

It’s also possible to create a custom phone number for your mailing campaign, if you’d prefer recipients call in to talk to someone at your business regarding the mailing offer. You can make it a point to track when a call comes in regarding the mailer. However, you’re likely receiving several calls throughout the day regarding all aspects of your business. To make it easier, you can set up a number separate from your regular business number that will forward to a separate line. Then, you’ll know any calls coming through that line are specific to your mailing campaign.

6) A/B Split

digital artwork two open laptopsIf you’re looking to track what resonates with your recipients, an A/B split can be helpful. Design your mail piece, then create a second version that differs by just one element, such as the headline, image, or language in the call to action. Split your mailing list in half, mailing version A to the first half and version B to the rest. You’ll need a way to track responses to determine which version that respondent received. This strategy can give you a sense of what language, offers, message, etc. connects with your audience, allowing you to plan and execute better targeted campaigns.

Tracking and measuring data from marketing campaigns provides you with invaluable information about your marketing strategy, your prospect list, and your prospect’s response to your product/service offerings. Sometimes an offer you thought would be a home run falls flat, while a mailer you weren’t expecting to stand out receives an overwhelming response. Any relevant and legitimate data that you collect from measuring will help you to better reach your audience with more personalized, compelling offers in the future.

Ready to step up your direct mail campaigns? From list work and design to printing and mail fulfillment, think Paw Print. Give us a call at 802-865-2872…we make it easy!

5 Ways Marketing Automation Delivers Qualified Leads

Generate Qualified Leads with Marketing Automation

woman holding card reading wanted: more leads

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to marketing your business? According to HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Report, 63% of marketers say their top marketing challenge is generating traffic and leads. Even if your company is doing a robust business now, it’s important to think ahead. Always have strategies in mind for how you will generate future leads and sales.

But not all leads or lead generation strategies are created equal. It may seem like the best way to increase business for your company is to send your message through the most channels. That way, it will be seen by the largest number of people possible. However, this method will spread your efforts too thin. It will likely end up costing you money rather than increasing sales.

The secret is to direct your digital and direct mail marketing so that you are specifically targeting fewer, more qualified leads. When you are able to more personally connect with potential customers that you know are or have been interested in your services (based on things like past purchase history, or tracking visitor activity on your website), you enhance the effectiveness of your communications.

Targeting qualified leads in a personal and timely manner is essential. But it can be hard to keep up a consistent strategy when you’re working on a case-by-case basis. Marketing automation allows you to generate qualified leads in an efficient and effective manner.

What is Marketing Automation?

At its most basic, marketing automation is the use of a software platform that replaces repetitive manual processes with automated solutions. It can be used across channels, including direct mail, email, and social media, to help to provide information to and maintain contact with leads and customers for a variety of marketing purposes.

When someone completes a certain action, such as opting in to an email list or searching your website, they will trigger the automation system, which will automatically send a message to them. Think of the last email newsletter you signed up for, or the last web purchase you made. You probably got a welcome or thank you email pretty fast, right? That was thanks to marketing automation. You can learn more about the specifics of marketing automation in this post.

Since you aren’t personally sending out these kinds of communications yourself, you create greater efficiency and have more time to focus on high-gain activities. Another major benefit is that you will be generating qualified leads to enhance your sales process.

Why Use Marketing Automation for Lead Generation?

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Say you’re in the apparel business, selling inexpensive, fun clothing designed for teenage girls and young women. You likely have a list of current and past customers, and maybe an email list. You want to send out a mailing advertising a sale. You’ll provide an exclusive coupon or sales offer to get customers in the door.

If your goal is to increase brand awareness and find new leads, you need to expand your mailing list. But how will you decide who to mail to? If you have the ability to mail to every household within a 5-mile radius of your store, it’s easier to do that than to manually sort through a gigantic mailing list looking for leads.

But it doesn’t make sense to send a campaign targeted at young women to every person in town. It isn’t relevant to many people and will be disregarded. Marketing automation software will solve this problem for you. It can easily sort through a mailing list, to only send your mailing to female recipients. You may also have enough information to further pare it down by age. And if you’re selling products for multiple demographics, it’s easy to segment mailing lists. You can then send two selective, targeted campaigns rather than one large generic one.

And what’s the purpose of targeting a more specific audience? Qualified leads increase sales.

Benefits of Marketing Automation for Qualified Lead Generation

1) Automate Your Marketing on Schedule

Time is truly of the essence in marketing. When a lead is looking for information or considering making a purchase, you must connect with them in a timely manner to retain their interest. You need to be able to contact your leads with information when it is most relevant to them. This is hard to do if you are personally sending out every communication.

With automation, you can schedule out communications so that when a lead completes a specific action, such as signing up to your email list or creating an account, they will automatically be sent an email. Even with a scheduled system, you can make your communications personal.  Leads won’t feel they are being contacted by a robot.

2) Know Your Prospects

Before you begin any kind of marketing campaign, you need to know your prospects. It’s helpful for you to dig deep and understand the demographics, needs, and wants of your prospective customers. That way, you can make your marketing message most effective at connecting and driving action.

However, this is just a first step. Once you know your message, you need specific individuals to communicate with.  Marketing automation brings it all together by helping you to identify these individuals. The software provides you with comprehensive information about prospects. Targeting becomes much easier when you know your prospect’s location, purchase history, and when they last purchased from you.

3) Segment Communications for Relevance

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Because automation can give you such in-depth information about leads, you can specifically identify where leads are in the sales process. Your leads will be at all different stages, so sending them all the same message doesn’t make sense.

When you send more personalized and relevant information, you increase the chance that your lead will respond. Automation software makes it easy to segment communications so that smaller groups of leads are receiving content tailored to them. You can easily craft a more compelling and specific message or call to action for each of the segmented groups you’re reaching out to.

More comprehensive automation software helps you generate leads through website visitors, traffic from pay-per-click advertising, email responses, and any other inbound marketing that you’re using. This will help increase your number of qualified leads while providing you with specific information, such as what pages they visited, to help personalize your messages to them. You’ll always be finding new leads who were interested specifically in a product or service provided by your company.

4) Deepen Relationships with Leads and Customers

When you have business coming in, you need to focus on fulfilling those commitments and working with those specific customers. But once a sale has been fulfilled for a customer, they don’t disappear from the sales cycle. And they shouldn’t vanish from your radar. Your best customers are going to be those that frequent your business. You need to nurture your customer base just as you would any other group of leads.

Marketing automation takes some of the stress out of this process by identifying when past leads and customers should be contacted again, and offering them content to enhance their experience with you. For instance, once a lead has made a purchase, automation can be used to send them information on how to get the most from the product they purchased. Down the road, automation can suggest similar products they may be interested in. This helps to deepen the customer’s relationship with you, especially as personalization is the preferred way for leads to receive communications from brands.

5) Save Money While Targeting Better Leads

Automation processes make sales more efficient. Rather than spending money across channels on a wide reaching but low target message, you’re spending less and sending out fewer communications. Because these marketing messages are highly targeted and sent to a specific audience, you are reaching out to leads that are better qualified to make a purchase, and are sure to see results.

At Paw Print & Mail, our marketing automation services are capable of effectively using cross-channel touches, like email and direct mail, together in harmony to put your message in front of your customers and prospects in an orchestrated fashion. To learn more about the specifics of marketing automation and how it can generate leads for your company or organization, contact Paw Print today.

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7 Reasons You Should Be Mailing Postcards

Sampling of Paw Print postcardsDo you receive a lot of emails? Too many? I know I do. The average American receives 88 emails per day, with office workers seeing over 120. Even if an email is full of worthy content, it can be hard for it to stand out from the rest.

What about direct mail? Some days, my household doesn’t receive any. So, when I do find something in my mailbox, I tend to remember it, and I certainly notice it.

Direct Mail Works for You

In our increasingly digital world, direct mail is often seen as an outdated and ineffective marketing strategy. But there are many statistics in its favor:

  • About 80% of direct mail is opened
  • 70% of Americans believe mail is more personal than digital communications
  • 56% of consumers have tried a new business, and 70% have renewed relationships with businesses, after receiving direct mail from them

And that just begins to scratch the surface of the powerhouse that direct mail can be for your business. It’s even more effective when used as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. Direct mail is also a versatile medium, allowing you to be extremely personal with your audience and adding interest with a range of colors, textures, and shapes.

One of the most popular direct mail formats is the postcard. 56% of postcards are read by direct mail recipients, the most read of any direct mail piece. If you haven’t included postcards in your marketing strategy, here are 7 reasons you should consider doing so.

1. Strong Visual Potential

Postcards are attention-grabbers, standing out among the typically white envelopes that fill our mailboxes. A challenge of direct mail is enticing recipients to open an envelope, but with postcards, everything is immediately visible. Your message is right in front of the reader, increasing the chance that your audience will read your content and follow through on a call to action (CTA). It’s an opportunity for you to get creative, with exciting visuals, colors, and shapes.

2. Concise Content for Consumers

There are many media and marketing messages competing for our attentions on a daily basis. Consumers are short on time, and must be selective in the content they read and watch. Postcards don’t offer a lot of room to get technical, so they require you to be concise with your message. Short, compelling copy combined with attractive visuals effectively gets a message across to your reader, striking their interest and leaving them wanting more.

3. Postcards Save Time and Money

Direct mail is a versatile medium, and each type of mailing has its purpose. More costly mailings can be very effective. But postcards are an affordable option that allows you to cut down on costs while still delivering a compelling marketing message. Postcards are also faster to produce than other mailings. They require no folding or envelope stuffing. You can eliminate the need for labels by printing the address right on the card.

4. Craft Targeted Campaigns

Other traditional forms of advertising, like television or print ads, allow you to reach a wide ranging but not highly targeted audience. With direct mail, you know exactly who will receive your message, and you can craft that message accordingly. Since postcards are relatively easy and inexpensive to produce, you can create different versions to send to segmented audiences based on demographics like location or past purchase history. Messages that are more targeted toward the recipient are more likely to be acted upon.

5. Pursue More Leads

Additionally, postcards are a better direct mail format for pursuing leads. Current customers are likely to be more receptive to receiving in-depth communications from you. If a recipient doesn’t currently have a relationship with your company, you have to work harder to pique their interest. Since postcards are inexpensive and visually engaging, they can be used to introduce a prospective customer to your company in a visually compelling way, and encourage them to connect with you.

6. Measure Mail Effectiveness

Direct mail campaigns are more meaningful when you measure how effective they are at compelling your audience to act. A postcard with a concise CTA is easier to measure, especially when your CTA includes a coupon or special offer. As recipients use the coupon or take you up on your offer, you’re able to see whether your mailing had the result you were hoping for, or whether it fell flat. You can easily adjust your postcards to do an A/B test, sending multiple versions at one time to find the offer that most effectively converts your customers.

7. Encourage A Conversation

Postcards are a great format for promoting events, as you want lots of visuals and color to encourage people to attend. And, though postcards can be personalized, the format encourages them to be shared in a way that a letter wouldn’t be. A postcard may be viewed by multiple members in one household. This increases the reach of your message and generates a conversation.

At Paw Print & Mail, we’re specialists in direct mail marketing strategies and fulfillment. Contact us today to enhance your direct mail marketing strategy.

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The Best Way to Add Value to Your Direct Mail

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Personalizing our direct mail letters and envelopes shows potential clients you have experience working with experts in their field.

Direct Mail [Still] Works

When you reflect on the different ways to get your message in front of your intended audience, you may be thinking about marketing emails, social media strategy, or hosting an event. All of these are essential to a well-rounded marketing plan. But a piece is missing. You’re forgetting direct mail.

“Snail mail” may not seem like it fits in with our technology-driven world. But direct mail has proven itself as a vital piece of any marketing strategy. Consider the following statistics:

  • 56 percent of consumers believe print is the most trustworthy form of marketing
  • 59 percent of U.S. consumers like to get mail from brands regarding new products
  • 40 percent of consumers will try a new business after receiving a direct mail piece

While direct mail is most effective as part of a multi-channel marketing approach, it holds real potential for boosting your business. One thing that helps direct mail stand out is the personal touch it can bring. Here’s another statistic: 70 percent of Americans believe that mail is more personal than the internet. There is so much competition for consumers’ attentions. You need a way to show consumers that you value them as distinct individuals and can satisfy their individual needs.

Personalizing your mail changes the emphasis of your campaigns from what your company does to who the consumer is and how your company can fulfill the consumer’s needs. Your goal is to make a connection with the recipient, whether you are contacting them for the first time or are maintaining an existing relationship.

Personalization Techniques

In an InfoTrends Growth Survey, 55 percent of respondents said personalization of a mail piece increases the likelihood that they will open it. If your goal is to get your message in front of more consumers, your strategy should include personalization. While it takes time to segment your mailing list and create more specific content, you’re going to see an increased rate of recipients opening and acting on your mail piece—a significant return on investment.

One of the most basic ways to personalize a direct mail piece is to use each recipient’s name. It can be placed in the salutation (i.e., Dear Bob) and throughout the piece. Names should certainly be used over addresses such as “Dear Friend” or “Dear Supporter.”  These aren’t wrong. But the less personalized your mail piece is, the less likely the consumer will be to open and to act on it. General terms like “friend” are inclusive. However, it gives the sense that the recipient is one of many, rather than a specific individual that you wanted to reach out to.

Depending on how much you know about the members of your mailing list, you can customize your mail pieces to be as specific as you want. For prospective customers, the information you have will vary based on what you’ve managed to gather. At the very lest, you can segment your list by geographic location.

If you’re mailing to current customers, you can draw from information such as past purchases or how long it’s been since they’ve placed an order. This will affect both the type of mail you send to them as well as the wording and content of the mail piece. In one example, Target sent personalized direct mail to a group of customers who had spent over a certain amount on their Target credit card. The mailing included coupons based on customer purchase history. Target saw a 50 percent increase in response over non-personalized campaigns they had run in the past. Having the data to be able to identify distinct groups to target can have a big advantage for your marketing strategy and generate more sales.

The end of a direct mail piece offers a final way to personalize the piece. Thinking in terms of a letter format, have the letter be from an individual at your company. Have that person sign the letters for a personal touch.

P.S.

Research shows that one of the most important parts of a sales or fundraising letter is the P.S. Very often people will look at the opening of the piece, then turn to the back to see what the offer is. If there’s a P.S. there, they’ll often read it before anything else.

So make sure you always put an appealing P.S. that reiterates the most important points of your sales pitch. Remember, you want every part of your piece to work hard for you. Make sure your P.S. is doing everything it can to convert the sale.

Envelope Tips

Another way to bring personalization into your mailing is to hand address envelopes. This may be ineffective for bulk mailings. But if you have a smaller mailing and can take the time, hand written envelopes could be the personal touch that encourages a consumer to open your mail piece.

Envelopes are important to consider for any mailing. You may want to give some thought to the appearance of your envelopes if you are using them for your direct mail piece. Traditionally, window envelopes have been used for mail like bills. Using them for your marketing mail can have different effects. Because they appear like a bill, these pieces are almost guaranteed to be opened; however, the recipient may be unhappy if they perceive your use of the envelope as a deception.

You can also make your direct mail more interesting by creating a teaser, an image or phrase to print on your envelopes. The hard work you’ve done to personalize your direct mail piece will be lost if the mail is unopened. Your envelope has to be enticing enough for the recipient to become curious about what’s inside. A teaser could include your logo. It should suggest what is inside without revealing too much. And, never falsely represent what the recipient will find if they open the envelope.

As with any marketing strategy, you’ll want to test different approaches to personalizing your direct mail campaigns. The basic tenet of incorporating personalization in your direct mail pieces is to show value. Including aspects that are personal to a recipient gives them the sense that you value them as a unique customer.  By using your direct mail to speak to consumers’ individual needs, you are also helping to show the value your business can hold for the consumer. This gives them a reason to look for you for their next investment in goods or services.

Direct mail services are a big part of what we do at Paw Print & Mail. Contact us today to make your next direct mail piece the best yet.

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5 Steps for Attracting More Qualified Leads

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In a perfect world, there would always be people seeking out your business, in need of the services you provide. You’d have so much business that you’d never have to worry about generating new leads.

Real life is rarely like that. Even if you’ve got a solid client or donor base and your services are in demand, it is a good idea to have a focus on generating leads as part of your marketing strategy.

If you want to increase sales or fundraising for your business or organization, as well as engage new people in what you have to offer, you’ll have to develop a strategy to connect with those who know little to nothing about your company. And while your efforts may seem unsuccessful at first, time and practice will help your business to grow.

In 5 Steps to Growing Sales Automatically, I outline a five-step process for enhancing your marketing strategy, steps I have put into practice to enhance my own business, that work! A recent way I’ve successfully connected with new prospects is by developing a mailing packet to send to a particular vertical market.

Generate Leads in 5 Steps

Step One:

In order to increase growth in your business, you need to have a solid understanding of where your current sales are coming from. Did you know that 5 percent of your customer base can provide over 50 percent of your sales? Often there is a trend among these customers that you can focus on when marketing. It may be where they are located, the size of the business, or age of the consumer. Whether you are a B2B business or a B2C business, there are ways you can find your “perfect customer” to better tailor your marketing efforts. When you’re ready to upgrade your marketing strategy, we can help you find your perfect customer.

Developing our marketing packet began with examining our customer base to determine who is utilizing our services the most. Examine your sales from the past year to find out who is making up that top 5 percent. Then, define those customers. Since we work from a B2B perspective, we asked questions about company size, location, annual revenue, and market niche, to create a picture of the perfect customer. Once you have that definition, you can better determine your sales focus, with a clear picture of which leads you should specifically market to.

Step Two:

Once we determined that we wanted to reach out to more of these particular customers, we identified what kinds of services they need from us—what we can provide them with to best match their goals and objectives. To do this, focus on why current customers that fit the perfect customer niche are using your company. Ask them what services they are happy with, as well as what they may need more of from you. This can benefit your current client base, too. Their answers can help you to reach out to new customers. And, you can improve the experience clients are having with your company, which will in turn boost revenue.

Knowing the kinds of services our current niche clients utilized, we wanted to provide prospective clients with marketing materials that would highlight how we could best meet their needs and help them to meet and grow beyond their expectations.

Step Three:

You know who your perfect customer is and, in general, what they will want from you. Now, you have to figure out the best way to find and connect with them. There are many marketing channels to choose from. The ones you ultimately use will depend on the demographics of your target audience. Using multiple channels, with a consistent message across the board, can be an effective method.

We made use of data channels in order to find perfect customers to market to. We were able to take the criteria that make up the perfect customer, and find businesses which fit those categories.

Step Four:

Increasing sales can seem complex, but can be broken down into a formula:

The perfect customer + a targeted message + the right marketing media = more qualified leads

One way to bring all of these elements together is through the use of direct mail. Since Paw Print & Mail is a printing company, using direct mail and including examples of what we could offer potential customers was how we chose to reach out to new prospects for our particular campaign. 56 percent of direct mail recipients feel value from a piece of direct mail, and showing potential customers both that you can offer them value and that you value them is a major factor in turning a prospect into a client.

Our direct mail piece makes use of personalization to show value. The packet consists of a padded folder holding a pad of graph paper personalized with the company’s logo and contact information. There is also a letter addressed directly to the prospective client, an insert detailing our services, and a business card so they can contact us for more information.

The packet itself is eye-catching, due to its size and originality. In constructing it, we put together our knowledge of what we know these companies need. The folder itself is a useful and relevant tool for this audience, as is the personalized pad. The pad, business card, and insert show that we know what clients in that line of work need. These items also demonstrate the quality of the work we produce here.

Even if it seems like direct mail is not the right method for your business, don’t discount it. No less than digital giants Google and Amazon are two of the top users of direct mail!

Step Five:

The culmination of all this work is a contact follow up plan. If you are inconsistent about when and how you follow up with prospective clients, it’s hard to know if your strategy is effective or not. We have developed a strategy and schedule for mailing and contacting our potential clients. It’s important that your business or organization make a plan and have everyone on board before you begin your campaign.

Our campaign has gotten a positive response, because we tailored the value proposition to what these clients need and understand. It takes more time, work, and money up front to develop and implement a campaign like this. But you can greatly increase your response rate and ROI while making a strong first impression on potential clients.

Contact us to make an appointment to discuss and strategize a plan to generate more leads for your business or organization.

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Practicing List Hygiene to Better Reach Your Audience

list hygiene cartoon

 

Are you interested in the best possible return on investment in your direct marketing efforts? Start by cleaning up your contact lists.

Keeping Contacts Connected

In the marketing realm, there have never been more ways to connect with your audience. Tested methods like direct mail and email campaigns are still holding their own. An integral part of these campaigns are your recipients. Sending direct mail and marketing emails can bring a lot of attention to your organization or business. But this will only work if you are reaching and connecting with your intended audience. If you aren’t taking the time to maintain your contact lists, the success of your campaigns could be in jeopardy.

To make your message as effective as it can be, you’ll want to practice list hygiene. It’s impossible to ensure that every email or piece of mail you send out will reach the person you intend. However, practicing list hygiene is an effective way to improve delivery rates so that you are reaching as much of your audience as possible.

If you’re using a multi-channel marketing approach, you’ll have a direct mail list and an email list to keep updated. Both can benefit positively from list hygiene.

Direct Mail List Maintenance

Direct mail campaigns are an effective marketing tool, even in our increasingly digital age. In addition to giving recipients a feeling of personal connection with your business, direct mail pieces are opened by 70 to 80 percent of recipients, even when they consider it to be junk mail. That represents a big opportunity for your business to connect with potential customers.

In order to get the highest possible response from your direct mail campaign, you want to ensure that the names and addresses you have on file are current. Annually, 1.3 billion articles of mail fail to reach the intended recipient. Every piece that is returned to you costs an average of $3 to reprocess and resend. That can really add up if your list isn’t up to date.

Incorporating list hygiene practices can be a way for your business to save money. Improving deliverability of your mail reduces the number of returned mail pieces. You must either pay to resend these once you have the correct address information, or put them down as lost revenue if the information cannot be found. If you’re environmentally minded, sending mail that you know will be delivered means saving resources. You’ll be printing fewer mail pieces and fewer will return to you unopened.

Here at Paw Print & Mail, two practices we use to ensure the success of our direct mail services are the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) and NCOA (National Change of Address).

CASS Certification is a software which standardizes addresses in your database so that everything is spelled and formatted correctly. It will also remove any addresses that lack information or are likely to have an issue being delivered. According to PitneyBowes, there are errors that could impact deliverability on 23.5 percent of mail. You’ll want to thoroughly check the addresses on your list.

NCOA connects your mailing list with a USPS database, so that your list will have the most current address information. 40 million Americans will change their address every year. So, keeping up to date with a program like NCOA is essential to ensure what you send will be delivered to your intended recipient.

Email List Maintenance

With email, there are no added postage and processing fees as with returned direct mail. However, there is always a risk that your marketing emails will bounce back. Like postal addresses, email addresses change as new accounts are created and old addresses abandoned.

A bounce can happen for a number of reasons. Hard bounces are due to the recipient blocking your emails, deleting their email address, or sending to a domain or address that no longer exists. Or it could be a soft bounce, caused by a full inbox or trouble with the size of your message. If you’re getting a bounce, you should delete those emails from your list. And if you’re finding a group of subscribers that never open or interact with your emails, consider taking them off the list too. Not only is including them ineffective. It also has a negative impact on your email metrics, such as open and delivery rates.

You can also make sure you are mailing to an actual person. Generic company or organization emails are not as likely to interact with your content as email addresses that belong to a specific individual.

But, wait! Before you take out a large chunk of your email list, there are a few things you can do to try to keep these contacts in your audience.

Re-engage

Send out emails specifically to re-engage inactive members of your audience. Such an email could contain options to keep receiving emails from you, to change the type of emails they prefer to receive, or to unsubscribe entirely. Even if many choose to unsubscribe, it’s worth taking the time to respectfully reach out in this way, as there is always a chance recipients want to stay aligned with your brand.

Email Confirmation

Give your mailing list a second chance to opt-in to your emails. You could include a special offer in the email to pique interest. Having recipients confirm that their email is correct and they are interested strengthens your contact list.

Segment Your List

Try segmenting your lists into sections that will receive different content based on their interests and affiliations. Send a survey to subscribers, asking what content they are interested in receiving from you. Sending relevant information increases the likelihood of your emails being read and interacted with.

The unsubscribe button is an important part of any email campaign. You hope everyone will want to receive what you’re sending them. But, this is rarely the case. If you include the option to unsubscribe, it’s important to follow through. Emails can help build positive associations with your brand. Sending emails to a user that has unsubscribed can be detrimental, generating negative feelings about your practices.

You can use a third-party service like those for direct mail to help make email list maintenance easier. Such systems can automatically filter out addresses that are incorrect or always bounce, monitor your metrics, and schedule different kinds of campaigns.

The success of list maintenance lies in being proactive with your strategies. Find ways to make your list more efficient and effective, rather than being reactive, struggling to revamp your campaigns with a stale and outdated contact list. Consistently following good list hygiene practices will increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and make connecting with your audience more fruitful.

The #1 Factor in Email Marketing Success

Drowning in EmailEmail_Subject_Lines_Paw_Print_And_Mail

It’s Monday morning, and you’ve just opened your email inbox. A slew of new messages awaits you, from organizations you follow, stores you have shopped at and accounts you have signed up for.

Chances are, you’ve got a lot to read and little time to do so. With 83 percent of B2B marketers using email in their content marketing strategy, that amounts to a lot of content reaching each consumer. Because of this, 70 percent of email users feel they receive too many emails.

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Despite this, email is an important part of marketing strategy, and is particularly effective when used as part of a multi-channel approach, incorporating your message through direct mail, social media and other outlets.  A PEW research study found that 92 percent of adults who are online use email, most on a daily basis.

But when faced with a full inbox, it’s easy for messages to get lost in the shuffle. How do you decide what merits reading?

On the flip side, if you are using email as part of your organization’s marketing campaign, how can you best ensure your content will be read?

The answer to both of these questions is the same: write a compelling subject line.

A strong subject line is critical. It can make the difference between your email being opened and read or ignored. When you’ve put effort into something, you want to share it with your audience. And, you want your message to come across as intended. Even if you work hard to craft the marketing emails you send, neglecting to add a captivating subject line can mean your efforts were for naught.

What Makes a Strong Subject Line?

Length

You’re limited to one line to make your pitch. It’s essential you make it well. Generally, lines with 30 to 50 characters are ideal. The prevalence of email access through mobile devices means that your message will first be seen on a mobile device 40 percent of the time. Smaller screens mean less room for your subject line to be read in its entirety. Also, 50 characters or less results in a 12 percent higher open rate and a 75 percent higher click-through rate.

Personality

Many emails, including spam, come from a generic company email. For consumers, this is impersonal and results in a lower open rate. An email from [company name] suggests a robot. Connecting your audience with a real person by sending your emails from an actual person’s account is important, as 68 percent of Americans decide to open an email based on who it is from.

Including each recipient’s name or location in the subject line adds another layer of personalization that can increase the open rate. Using the words “you” and “your” can also draw readers in and make the subject line more compelling.

Keywords

It should be easy to understand what your email is about. You can use words that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity. If it is the “last chance” the recipient will have to donate or purchase, they are more likely to act immediately than if they do not feel they have limited time. There is a 22 percent higher open rate for subject lines that incorporate urgency and exclusivity. The use of action verbs at the beginning of the line brings that sense of urgency, asking recipients to envision themselves answering your call to act.

Incentive

Your subject line is the incentive to open the email. You want recipients to find value in what you are offering. Convince them that your email will in some way be an improvement in their lives or their business.

Trust

Never use language in the subject line that will mislead your audience. Email can be a way to build consumer confidence in your brand. Any kind of false promises will only lead recipients to unsubscribe and retain a negative vibe from your organization. And always check for typos!

Email Marketing Style Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to use humor, as long as it is inoffensive and will be understood by your audience.
  • Never use all caps, or excessive exclamation points—nothing points to spam quite like those.
  • Using numbers shows the specific benefits your email is offering. Try “increase donor retention by 50 percent” versus “how to increase donor retention.”
  • Phrasing your line in the form of a question leads recipients to want to answer that question, and open the email to see how they compare.

A last tip is to test your subject lines. Depending on what your company or organization has to offer, some strategies will be more effective than others. Tracking the response rates of your different subject lines will reveal which methods work best for reaching your audience.

Email can be incorporated into any marketing strategy. And it’s proven its effectiveness. 47 percent of recipients will open an email based solely on the subject. A strong subject line is an essential part of ensuring your email marketing is communicating your message.

The Effectiveness of Multi-Channel Marketing

Mail_vs_Email_Paw_Print_And_MailSince the emergence of email in the mid-1990’s, much has been expressed comparing traditional direct mail to email marketing. Dubbed snail mail, the ensuing years have seen a decline in direct mail and a corresponding explosion of the use of email.

This is no wonder given the ease of deploying email. With a couple of extra clicks, you can increase your reach from only one recipient to hundreds or even thousands. It may seem like email campaigns are the most efficient method of reaching your audience—wide ranging and instantaneous.

The use of email marketing is compelling and both popular and effective in its own right. But it suffers a bit from its own success. And while direct mail is not as prevalent as it was for decades, its inherent differences and qualities compared to email find it making a comeback.

Direct Mail vs. Email: The Numbers

Would it surprise you to learn the average lifespan of an email is only two seconds? According to Proactive, a UK marketing firm, while digital communications have a lifetime of mere seconds, the average lifespan of a direct mail piece is 17 days.

And, Proactive found that 75 percent of people could recall a brand directly after receiving a piece of direct mail, while only 44 percent of people could after viewing a digital ad. Consider, too, that prospects are 10 to 20 percent more likely to convert to a brand or business due to a direct mail offer than an offer by email.

Additional research from the Direct Marketing Association shows the value of including direct mail in your campaigns. They found…

  • Direct mail is acted upon immediately by 79 percent of consumers
  • Direct mail generates a 4.4 percent response rate
  • And it has a 34 percent rate of attracting new customers

Versus:

  • Email is acted upon immediately by 45 percent of consumers
  • Email generates a .12 percent response rate
  • And, email has a 24 percent rate of attracting new customers

Yet, email marketing continues to grow in use and numbers. There are many factors in its favor: ease of use, low cost, and expansive reach potential. All very compelling for sure. But all this meteoric success comes with a price: 70 percent of those surveyed by Proactive felt they received too many emails. And, 57 percent of abandoned email addresses are due to users receiving email overload on those accounts. You don’t want a potential customer to remember you as the company that sent them too many emails.

As for email’s reputation of being a low cost medium, surprisingly, email was found to be more expensive per lead than direct mail ($55.24 vs $51.40).  However, the return on investment, or ROI, for email is higher for email marketing. For every $1 spent in an email campaign, Proactive found a return of $38 to the company, with a $7 ROI per $1 spent for direct mail.

This highlights the different ways that email and direct mail can work. Direct mail has a lower ROI, but it is less expensive to acquire a new customer. Proactive’s survey takers used the words “important,” “formal,” and “personal” to describe their feelings about direct mail.

Keeping it Personal with Multi-Channel Marketing

“Personal” is a word you should take note of. Making a personal connection with a potential customer can set your strategy apart from the crowd. And if it’s your first interaction with them, that connection can make a big difference between the customer deciding whether to build a relationship with you or pass you by.

How do you think the survey-takers described email? The above statistics show that direct mail has many positive aspects. If you’ve come to view email from an either/or perspective, you might think “impersonal” or “unimportant.”

But, some of the most common words associated with email were: “informative,” “interesting,” and “smart.”

What should you take away from this? It’s “smart” to keep email as a part of your marketing strategy. Use direct mail to connect with new customers and email to reinforce that connection and keep the interest in your company alive.

Direct mail and email both have an important role to play.

Customers in the survey agreed there is a need for both forms of communication. Items such as brochures/catalogs, welcome packs and loyalty rewards are preferred in mail form. General news and updates, confirmation messages and reminder messages are best received by email.

Because customers react differently to different forms of communication, it’s important to use direct mail and email in conjunction with each other. Of those surveyed by Proactive, 51 percent preferred the combination of mail and email, and 65 percent want to be able to explore a physical and an electronic source before making a commitment or purchase.

And when a business uses direct mail and email to market their products or services, customers will spend 25 percent more than a marketing strategy that uses just one method or the other.

Proactive found that 56 percent of respondents felt “valued” by direct mail, while only 40 percent felt valued from an email. “Valued” is a world like “personal” that you should keep in mind when developing your multi-channel marketing strategy. A personal connection can make the customer feel valued, and in turn, your company will be valued by the customer.

Despite statistics that show direct mail is effectively outperforming email in many areas, email can be successful in gaining awareness of your brand and making your other marketing strategies more effective. Both direct mail and email can and should be considered parts of an effective multi-channel marketing mix.

If you want to make direct mail a more compelling part of your marketing strategy, contact Paw Print & Mail so we can help you to maximize your potential.

Direct mail works for Amazon too

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I had an unexpected surprise in my mailbox a couple of days ago. Included in my personal mail was an envelope addressed to me from Amazon. I have to admit that this got my immediate attention, putting aside the other mail pieces, curious to see why Amazon was mailing me.

I found myself wondering why this elicited such a strong response. Curiously enough, I think it’s because of the relationship I have built with Amazon that gives their brand a seat at my table. I mean, who hasn’t purchased something on Amazon.com – the quintessential online retailer of “everything”. And, for anyone who’s an Amazon Prime member (that be me), I’m continually impressed by how easy they’ve made buying stuff; to the point where I don’t think much about it; quick search, 1-click checkout, arrival at my door 2 days later.

So notwithstanding Amazon’s association as the quintessential online transaction experience, I’m now holding a piece of mail from the largest digital presence in the universe. And, I suppose, therein lies the power of this particular piece of mail.

  • It’s unexpected
  • It stands out
  • It’s physically in my hands – I’m touching it, inspecting it, and ultimately opening it; something digital cannot do

Amazon-direct-mail-enclosure-Paw-Print-MailI open the envelope and pull out the piece inside that’s a folded enclosure with a little heft to it. On the outside cover of the enclosure is a phrase “Expect more smiles…” I’m intrigued. What could be inside that will bring a smile to my face?

I open the envelope and on the inside of the flap is the phrase Amazon-direct-mail-Paw-Print-Mail-VT…in unexpected places.

So, not only am I looking forward to something that will make me smile, but it contains something I’m not expecting; in other words… I’m about to experience a nice surprise!

I quickly see that this mailing is about my Amazon Rewards Visa card. THUD!! All this buildup for a credit card solicitation? Yes and no. Yes, it’s about my credit card, but no, it’s not a solicitation but rather an announcement of expanded benefits. Whew… all good!

Amazon-direct-mail-Paw-Print-VermontThe next thing I see is the cover letter which quickly grabs my attention and keeps this mailing from crashing and burning by succinctly and clearly announcing to me the special benefits and rewards upgrades to my Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card. AND, because I’m an Amazon Prime member, these additional benefits are automatic… no action required!! (these words evoke a similar pleasure to the word FREE!)

Shuffling through the balance of the enclosures, I find a colorful travel benefits brochure, a handy FAQ sheet, and lastly, a sheet of legalese about the Amazon Rewards Program (this IS a financial services notice after all).

What are some of the key takeaways here that you and I, as a business owner/manager and marketer, might apply in our own efforts?

1. Relationship is everything. Over the past few years, I’ve established a consumer, business, and lifestyle relationship with Amazon. (along with AMEX, Audible, South Burlington Audi, Skirack, Pandora, Target Marketing and Road & Track Magazines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nespresso, Motley Fool, and the local nonprofits I support – to name a few) I’ve become part of these brands’ target market so that when they knock on my door, I open it. Huge.

2. Identify, connect with, and nurture your target audience. Again… relationship. Your target audience and client base is your most valuable asset .

3. Approach your target audience how they prefer to be reached. In this example, it’s direct mail. What I’m real curious about for this campaign is what other channels, if any, Amazon used to connect with the various age ranges of their target audience.

  • Was this entirely a direct mail campaign or were other channels employed?
  • Did I receive this by mail because of my age? (let’s just say I watched the Beatles United States debut on the Ed Sullivan show in real time)
  • Did their millennial members receive the same mail piece or contacted digitally?

I don’t know, but I do know direct mail works for me and others similar to me in their target audience.

As for younger folks, ongoing studies and data reveal that Millennial’s are surprisingly responsive to direct mail as well. InfoTrends research found that:

  • 63% of Millennial’s who responded to a direct mail piece within a three month period actually made a purchase
  • 25% of 25-34 year olds say they opened direct mail because of the print and image quality
  • 25% of Millennial’s consider reading direct mail a leisure activity

4. Looks count. The look and feel of the mail piece can make or break a direct marketing campaign. Relevance, interest, and clarity of design are essential to make the instant connection that’s needed for success.

5. Content is the Holy Grail. You’ve only got a brief moment to engage the recipient or not. The focus of the content must to:

  • Tell the recipient what you do or why you’re contacting them – be specific and clear
  • Sell benefits not features and why the benefits are important to them
  • Provide an action device or call-to-action

Paw Print & Mail specializes in direct mail marketing and nonprofit appeal campaign production. Contact us to discuss your next project to maximize your response rate and ROI.

Direct Mail Newsletters – worth sending (again)

Direct-Mail-is-PersonalI met with one of my nonprofit clients today for our annual first quarter review of the fundraising production services we performed for this organization in 2016, and also to get an idea of the results of their fundraising efforts.

The Executive Director announced with much pride and a big smile that 2016 was a very successful year for their fundraising efforts; generously exceeding the goal they set at the beginning of the year! Music to my ears!

What’s the secret sauce?

When asked what they attributed to their success, her response was being in front of their constituency on a regular basis. For the past four years, in addition to the various digital marketing channels they employ, this organization committed to printing and mailing 3-4 newsletter-style publications per year to tell their stories and engage with their clients and donors.

Slow and steady wins the race

Similarly, two of my longest running for-profit clients in Paw Prints’ 26 years so far, continue to print and mail their monthly newsletters without fail; for the past 20+ years and running.

Why do these and other organizations and businesses elect to print and mail a newsletter instead of relying solely on email? Because direct mail works for their business model and client base.

While good for some, is a direct mail newsletter right for your business or organization? Like many marketing strategies, the answer is it depends. It depends on who your ideal client/donor is.

Describe your target audience?

  • What are the demographics of your target audience? Criteria such as: age, income, education, occupation, lifestyle, client buying/donor giving history
  • What is your product or service? Small or low-priced consumer item? Large ticket item? Discretionary income item?
  • What is the lifetime value of a client?
  • Do you sell a value-added product or service, or a commodity?
  • Is the product space you’re in subject to constant and/or rapid change? Or subject to nuanced consistency?
  • What percentage of your revenue is derived from what percentage of your client base?

Looking at these criteria:

  • If you derive 80% of your revenue from 20% of your clients/donors
  • If you sell a high-value product or service
  • If the lifetime value of acquiring and retaining a client is relatively high
  • If your offering or organizational mission is somehow unique, technical, progressive, personalized, and subject to changes in the marketplace
  • If 80% of your target audience fits within a content-engaged demographic profile
  • If your target audience is engaged with the story you have to tell

… Then adding a direct mail newsletter to your marketing or fundraising mix is something to consider. Yes, you can handle all this with an email newsletter, and you should, but including a printed and mailed newsletter as part of a multi-channel approach is arguably a most effective strategy.

Quick reads for busy people

I’m a sucker for good content on the internet; for all the things I’m interested in and wish to accomplish in my personal and professional life. And, there is no lack of amazing content on every conceivable subject from smart people all over the globe.

So I subscribe, and subscribe again, and subscribe some more thinking that “it’s only a short read” and that I’ll get to every one of them. But reality and practicality is a different story! Even my most relevant and desirable eNewsletters get readily deleted when I’m crunched with work and projects – which is pretty much most of the time. When I’m staring at a constantly replenished list of emails in my inbox every day, I find my delete button gets quite a workout. Herein lies the bane of email marketing’s existence – along with overzealous spam filters.

People spend 30 minutes reading their mail

If a potential customer spends a few minutes on your website, that’s considered a good amount of time. What if we told you that they spend 10x more time with their mail?

According to the USPS, Americans spend an average of 30 minutes reading their mail on any given occasion. When it comes to magazines, they spend 45 minutes turning the pages.

Email newsletters are inexpensive to publish but increasingly challenging to be read. With a direct mail newsletter, the recipient has to physically lay their hands and eyes on the piece before deciding to read it or not, typically initiated with a quick “skim” of the content. With a captive and relevant design and headlines in place, the benefit of a physical piece is that it can be saved to be read at the recipient’s discretion and time-frame, away from the competition, clutter and chatter of all our digital media.

Physical mail leaves an imprint in the brain

Millward Brown, a research agency, found that physical media left a “deeper footprint” in the brain than digital media did. If people can touch and see a piece of direct mail, they’re likely to be more engaged with it.

A printed newsletter is tactile, triggering more of the 5 senses: touch, sight, and sometimes even smell (ink on paper is classic) that email simply can’t evoke. eNewsletters do the have the advantage of including links, videos, social network connections, etc., which is what makes email so powerful, but on its own, is easily lost or discarded.

People feel that direct mail is more personal than the internet

There’s something about receiving an email that can feel impersonal. It can take a long time for images to load, or they won’t load at all. With so many messages coming into your inbox, it’s hard to feel like any of them are special.

Direct mail, on the other hand, feels personal. According to USPS, 69% of people feel that mail is more personal than the internet. You’re receiving something tangible–like a ‘thank you’ card vs. a ‘thank you’ email.

Today’s digital print technology is impressive in its ability to personalize a document using variable data printing (VDP) applications. Here at Paw Print & Mail, we’ve employed sophisticated levels of VDP for many years, from simple mail-merge to personal URLs (PURLs) that integrate print and digital automation into a campaign that arguably rivals any multi-channel campaign.

Roughly 66% of people have bought something because of direct mail

According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA), nearly two-thirds of people have bought something because of a direct mail piece. Additionally, 70% of customers have re-started a relationship because of direct mail.

So what’s the justification and value proposition for considering direct mail for your newsletter marketing? I’ll bring it back to my nonprofit client’s comment at the beginning of this article… being in front of your constituency on a regular basis. The more ways and the more often you can share your brand and value proposition in a creative and relevant manner to your target audience, the more leads you will generate, deals you’ll convert, and money you will raise. Period. Slow and steady wins the race.

Care to talk more about your particular needs and challenges? Contact us at Paw Print & Mail for a chat.