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?

cartoon man looking through scope
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

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

target leads with marketing automation
Background vector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com

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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Get an Early Start on Your Year-End Fundraising

Year_End_Gift_Paw_Print_And_MailHoliday tunes, snowfall, and ringing in a new year—that all seems far away, doesn’t it? But whether we like it or not, the end of the year will be here before we know it.

The holiday season is busy for all kinds of reasons. If you’re involved with year-end fundraising for a nonprofit organization, you know how hectic the last few weeks of the year can be. Nearly 1/3 of annual giving occurs in the month of December, with 12% of all giving occurring on the last three days of the year.

This creates a lot of pressure for nonprofits, as things get down to the wire. Just a few days can mean the difference between meeting annual fundraising goals or missing the mark, and being unable to ensure your nonprofit can still offer the same programs and services it currently does.

But even though a large portion of fundraising occurs in a short time period, the strategic planning for year-end giving can start at any time, even as early as January 1st!

Over 50% of nonprofits begin their year-end fundraising efforts in October. But the earlier you begin asking your donors to contribute, the sooner you can make a compelling ask. And starting early gets you ahead of the flurry of appeals appearing in mid-Fall.

Whenever you decide it’s time to begin your year-end appeals, here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for this critical time.

Develop Targeted Fundraising Goals

It’s critical to have targeted benchmarks to refer to throughout your year-end fundraising efforts. Your goals can be focused on the amount you hope to raise, as well as which donors you’re looking to target. You may be looking to increase your average gift size or donor base, or better reach your recurring donors. It’s also important to nail down early in the game what channels you will use to reach your audience as well as how often they will be used.

Center your campaign around a specific number. This can be a dollar amount you hope to raise or the percentage of donors you hope to increase. These numbers are helpful for measuring the progress you make throughout the fundraising period. Knowing your numbers also signifies what adjustments you may need to make to stay on target.

Maintain a Consistent Marketing Sequence

Starting your campaign early gives you more time to develop a compelling sequence of appeals. It’s effective to connect with donors using a multi-channel approach, including direct mail, email, phone, and social media.

Though each of these pieces will be somewhat different, they should all echo the same theme, including colors, images, and key words. You want to inspire emotion in your donors. Frequently including an image and story of someone who has benefitted from your organization’s services could help tie your campaign together.

Donors often need multiple touches before they commit to a donation. Keeping your message and visuals consistent helps them stay connected to and develop a conversation with your organization, moving them along the path to making a gift. Using multiple points of contact over time allows you to introduce your fundraising plans without immediately asking for a donation, while still expressing your appreciation for your donors.

For some ideas of print appeals, check out our post comparing the use of appeal letters and greeting cards to connect with year-end donors.

Urgency and Personality

Two key ideas should be at the forefront when developing copy and design for your campaign. First, give your donors the sense that your message is vital and pressing. Second, instill the notion that that donor’s particular contribution is imperative to your nonprofit’s fundraising success.

To indicate urgency, write in short sentences using powerful verbs. It may seem like giving your donors as much content as possible will aid them in making the decision to give. But readers will get lost in large paragraphs of text. Your words should create an emotional connection and inspire them to take action.

As a fundraiser, you probably know that fundraising letters are all about the donor. But it’s not always easy to find the right combination of words that will make your letter donor-centered. It’s tempting to make your communications about the needs, successes, and goals of your organization, and donors will want to have information about those.

But, in order for a donor letter to accomplish its goal, it must lead to a gift. The letter should be focused on crediting the donor for your organization’s achievements. Play to what the donor believes in and wants to accomplish by giving to your organization. Using the words “you” and “your” many times throughout your donor communications is critical.

Printing and data techniques allow you to personalize your letters with names and send different letters to different mailing lists. Our digital printing capabilities at Paw Print & Mail enable you to personalize an appeal in highly detailed ways that demonstrate your organization’s connection with your donors. Metrics like giving history, ask amounts, program preferences, and pre-populating remittance coupons are all possible and will add an appreciable lift to your campaign response rates and revenue.

You can also look at your donor base using an RFM scoring system. This indicates how recently a donor gave, how frequently they give, and how much they give. This will help you to better target your messaging. To be extra personal, send personalized appeals to the top 1% of your donors. If they’ve given large amounts in the past they are likely heavily invested in your organization. It never hurts to show them how important they are to you and how you understand their hopes and objectives.

Make it Easy to Give

The purpose of your fundraising campaign is to raise funds. Your materials should make the donation process as easy as possible for donors. A multi-channel approach to fundraising includes the presence of digital resources that further educate your donor base and make giving simple.

Donate_Paw_Print_And-Mail

Digital sources should connect seamlessly to other communications, so that donors can easily transition from one source to another. Ensure your website is easy to navigate. Since donors are using mobile devices, you’ll want to use a responsive template for your website to encourage mobile donations, or at least make the text large enough to be readable on smaller screens. And keep the donation page simple, so that donors don’t have to think about what they need to do.

Any steps you take now to plan, create resources, and connect with donors will make things easier when December rolls around. If you have your year-end appeal strategy in order early, you can take more time to focus on events, personal visits with donors, and other end of year tasks.

We specialize in direct mail nonprofit appeal production. Contact Paw Print & Mail when you’re ready to develop your next fundraising appeal.

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Reaching the Elusive Millennial

Who Are Millennials?

What goes through your mind when you hear the term “millennial”? It’s a word that seems to be everywhere these days. But who are millennials? What makes them tick and drives their decisions? And how can you communicate with them?

group of young millennial people
Created by Javi_indy – Freepik.com

Understanding what a millennial is and how exactly you can reach them is an elusive concept. It’s one that is often frustrating to marketers who are trying to connect with this generation. You may have experienced this yourself. If so, I have both good and bad news for you. Since they are a very diverse group, no single marketing strategy is going to allow you to reach every millennial.

But the good news is, there are several approaches proven to resonate with millennials. And they’re not as hard to grasp as you may think.

Watch this video to get a clearer idea of who millennials are and what’s important to them:

Millennials have a different world-view, and need to be marketed to differently. They are a demographic that, in sheer numbers alone, is more populous than the baby boomers. This gives the millennial generation significant purchasing and decision-making power, a power that continues to grow annually.

Since millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020, it’s important that marketers understand the best way to reach this demographic. Though they cannot be defined by income, career choice, or marital status, there are a few generalities that can be made:

  • An individual born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s is a millennial.
  • As the first generation to grow up in the online era, they are used to digital communications and having more choices than previous generations.
  • Millennials are the most educated generation, though they also have more student debt.
  • Meaning, experiences, and causes are all important topics/ideas for them.

So, how can you successfully market to millennials?

1. Enhance Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Millennials are used to receiving information from many channels. They tend to be multitaskers, plugged in across devices and sharing content across media. Consistency across platforms is key for engaging millennial consumers with your marketing. Having a constant message and representation of your brand helps them to connect with your company.

Since so many millennials are accessing content on smartphones and tablets, you need to adopt a multi-channel strategy focused on mobile optimization. That may mean reworking your website into a responsive template. This will make it accessible and easily readable across devices of any screen size.

Millennials spend 48% more time watching video than the average online user. And 60% of them upload their own video, images, and blog content to the web. According to Hubspot, millennials are 247% more likely to be influenced by digital resources like blogs and social networking sites than previous generations.

That’s huge! And, it means that connecting with millennials requires you to develop a social strategy. Find the social media sites that work best for you and make them a part of your daily marketing plan. Adding a YouTube account or creating your own video content for Facebook or your website can also be effective. Millennials want to see helpful, informative content that they can engage with. Make sure your digital strategy offers them more than just what you’re trying to sell.

2. Embrace User Generated Content

The Baby Boomer generation relied on traditional forms of advertising, like radio and television ads. Marketers could expect that running an ad on TV would lead to many new sales and customers. Millennials, however, are much less likely to make a purchase decision from such an ad. What do they like? Brand interaction.

User generated content is one of the top ways that millennials make purchase decisions. They want to read honest reviews from customers who have purchased a company’s products or utilized their services. A study by Bazaarvoice found that 84% of millennials are influenced by user generated content when making purchase decisions. And 73% believe it is important to read others’ opinions before making a purchase.

Traditional ads are all about getting consumers to pay attention. Utilizing user generated content in your business is about building trust, which is high on the list of what millennials want from businesses. They like to do business with brands that are authentic and human. And they want to be able to interact and have a conversation with those companies.

What does this mean for you? Make it as easy as possible for public discussions about your brand to happen. Whether it’s on your website, a blog page, or your social media sites, get customers talking about your brand.

Facebook gives you the option of allowing reviews on your page, and this can be a great place to showcase what people are saying about your business. They might not always have good things to say. But a public forum is a place where you can show your willingness to resolve issues and take customer suggestions. Potential customers will see this, and it will help you to appear more human in their eyes.

Millenial giving 5 star review
Business image created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

Customers that love your brand will want to say so. They will become brand ambassadors by talking to their friends and family about their experience. This group is more likely to respond to a peer review than a pop-up ad. You can also invest in influencer marketing, essentially building relationships with individuals that have influence over your customer base and can reach them through mediums like social media, in ways that your brand may not be able to.

Try giving customers a chance to bring their personality to your brand and be a part of brand decisions. For instance, Lays has given customers the ability to choose the next chip flavor. Coca-Cola ran a campaign asking fans to get creative and interpret what the brand means to them in an artistic medium of their choice.

3. Personalize Direct Mail for Millennials

Millennials are used to digital marketing channels, and they rely heavily on what their community has to say about a brand. However, this does not mean that online methods are the only way to reach your millennial audience. US Presort, a direct marketing company based in New York City, conducted a surprising study about millennials and direct mail. Check out some results:

  • 84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email.
  • 50% of millennials ignore digital ads, while only 15% ignore direct mail.
  • 90% of people between 25 and 34 believe direct mail is reliable.
  • 77% pay attention to advertising through direct mail, and over half have made a purchase from a direct mail offer.

Those are some pretty compelling statistics in favor of using direct mail to market to millennials. As we learned above, millennials like to hear personal stories when considering a brand. One of the reasons direct mail is so popular is that it can be extremely personalized based on categories like purchase history, interests, and geographic region. Printing technology is also considerably advanced. You can add to the tactile benefit of direct mail by incorporating creative folds, colors, and textures that will make your mail memorable.

4. Increase Millennial Engagement & Market an Experience

Millennials feel trust when a brand’s values align with their own. Those values often include a desire to support a cause or charitable mission. Nearly half of millennials are more willing to purchase from a company if that company supports a cause, and 37% will pay more for a product or service if it will help a cause they believe in. Philanthropy adds to the human side of your brand that is so important for millennials. If your business supports a cause, make sure people know about it.

Being able to give back while conducting business with your company changes the brand experience. For millennials, experience carries more weight than a physical purchase. 78% of millennials prefer spending money on experiences rather than purchasing an item. Over half are spending more on events and experiences now than they ever have.

This may seem hard to work with if you’re in the business of selling a product. But it’s all about how you market it. Millennials are very receptive to storytelling in advertisements, and you can use that to your advantage. If you sell tents, for instance, make your ad about the experience of camping, how it allows you to relax, have fun, and connect with friends and family, rather than focusing on the physical and monetary benefits of the product.

You can also hold an event to get prospective customers more excited about the buying process. Attending the event heightens the experience of shopping, It’s also a great opportunity for millennials to connect to the personality and human face of your business.

We recognize that crafting a marketing plan can be a challenge. Contact Paw Print & Mail and let us help you find the right strategy to market your business to millennials, or any demographic you are trying to reach.

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Letter vs. Card Appeal – Which is Best for Fundraising?

smiling woman opening mailAs much as we wish warm weather would stick around, summer is winding down, vacations have been taken, and a new school year is about to begin. If you’re involved in fundraising for a nonprofit, you’re probably looking ahead to the next few months as you prepare fundraising campaigns to meet end of the year deadlines. Nearly 1/3 of annual giving happens in the holiday month of December. A year-end appeal is critical for achieving fundraising goals. It’s never too early to plan your holiday fundraising strategy. One of the most basic questions to ask is, what format should I be using?

Fundraising at its core is like any other marketing effort, in that it relies upon making a connection with your donors. Since 70% of Americans find direct mail communication more personal than digital forms of communication, a personalized mailer is an obvious choice for achieving maximum donor impact. Millennials like direct mail too, with over 90% considering it a reliable source of information. You can be sure a direct mail appeal will allow you to reach a wide audience.

Printing has evolved considerably over the last few years, giving you many format and personalization options. Two of the most popular forms of direct mail fundraisers are appeal letters and greeting cards. Which one should you use for your campaign?

Fundraising “Letter” Campaign

illustration of mailbox with envelopes
Created by Freepik

Though the days of hand-writing detailed, personal letters to communicate with personal and professional contacts is long gone, there are still times when sending letters can be effective. One of those occasions is when sending direct mail nonprofit appeals. Letters are still viewed as a personal form of communication. They offer a chance to speak to your donors in a candid and enthusiastic way.

Letter Tips:

1) Appeal To Established Donors

Appeal letters are most effective for continuing your relationship with established donors. Since they have given previously to your organization, they are more likely to read an appeal letter. They have shown their interest in your nonprofit and made an investment. Now, they’ll want to learn about the developments you’ve made and the goals you plan to achieve with their contribution.

2) Encourage Larger Gifts

Your best audience for an appeal letter is the group who you expect will make a contribution, likely a significant one. Regular donors can usually be counted upon to give the same amount from year to year. They are also more likely to increase their gift than to decrease it. Giving this group a more extensive explanation of your campaign provides them with information upfront that would impact their decision to donate and shows the value of continuing to support your cause.

3) Letter Mailings are Flexible

A minimum mailing includes an envelope and letter. But you can include other pieces of content to contribute to your campaign success. The letter can guide your donors through the rest of the mail piece, which could include images, a pamphlet or brochure, remittance envelope or a reply card with a return envelope. You’ll want to tailor your content to what your donor base expects and has worked well in the past, what they would find most useful, and what makes it easy for donors to give. Personalizing any part of the mailing with each donor’s name and address is easily done with today’s print technology.

4) What’s Your Frequency?

Your donors, especially your consistently loyal donors, enjoy hearing from you throughout the year. There’s a reason these people support your organization. You represent a part of them that feels needed and appreciated at the same time. People love to help and support causes that are meaningful and close to them. Mid-October through December is the signature holiday fundraising season, accounting for more than 30% of annual charitable giving. However, 2-3 additional appeals throughout the year, (for example, one per quarter), increase your ability to stay top-of-mind with your donors and reach your annual fundraising goals. 70% of people believe they receive too many emails. But when it comes to direct mail donor correspondence, including appeals for virtually every touch, you cannot mail too often.

Fundraising Greeting Cards

nonprofit appeal thank you cards

A personalized appeal letter is an effective fundraising tool. But it’s not the only format for a direct mail appeal campaign. A greeting card style appeal can be effective by triggering more visual cues when compared to a letter. Greeting cards allow you to connect with donors by reminding them of your organization while emphasizing the importance of each donor’s individual impact in a more visual way.

Greeting Card Tips:

1) Strong Visual Potential

While an appeal letter can include visuals, an image is a main component of a greeting card, and the first element a donor will see. Choosing a strong visual will grab the reader’s attention immediately. Recipients are going to spend time looking at it. If the image sticks in their mind, your organization will also be remembered. A card is also a great place to feature images of or artwork created by individuals who benefit from your organization’s services.

2) Make it Extra Personal

As with letter mailings, today’s digital printing technology allows a greeting card style mailing to be personalized as well – from a salutation to start the message, to variable text in key messaging locations, and even using variable imaging.

3) Special Treatment for Major Donors

Often, 80% of donations come from 20% of the donors – your major donors. Crafting a card, hand writing a short sentence or two, and signing your name can go a long way towards making a positive impression on your donors. You could have your staff all sign the card. Or send it from an individual rather than the organization to add even more of a personal touch. Sending a more personal card to fewer donors can have more of an impact than sending to a larger audience.

4)  Appeal to Leads and Current Donors

Greeting cards can cost less to produce than an appeal letter depending on the project specifications. Because they can be personalized for each individual, you can use them to connect with a donor who is at any stage in the giving process. A generous message thanking a lead who has shown interest in your organization but hasn’t yet given could be just what is needed to ensure a gift is made. And it never hurts to thank those who have given for the difference they’ve been able to make.

5) Keep Your Message Concise

Engaged donors will read the more specific details and story of an appeal letter. Greeting cards may more readily grab the interest of a donor who’s scanning the mail piece. Again, no one format is necessarily the most read for any given donor, so it is worth experimenting with different methods.

6) Stand Out From the Crowd

Many nonprofits send holiday cards, and it’s likely your donors will receive more than one this holiday season. The month of December is the most popular time to send holiday cards. Try sending a card during the Thanksgiving or New Year’s period to make your message stand out. You could even send a card during a different time of year, like Valentine’s Day, when nonprofits aren’t regularly mailing cards.

So which is more effective, a letter or a greeting card appeal mailing? As with all marketing and fundraising efforts, it depends, and there is no silver bullet. There’s more than one way to tell your story. Both formats possess their respective strengths for making a connection with donors. What IS recommended is experimenting with nuances on each campaign to build your own database of knowledge and measuring results.  Your best choice may be to mix it up and try both, measure and compare the results, and use the newfound data to plan future campaigns.

If you’re looking to incorporate direct mail pieces as a way to enhance your fundraising strategy, contact Paw Print & Mail today.

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The Power of One Drop

drip campaign graphic water droplet coming out of pipeThink of water dripping out of a faucet. Each droplet seems minuscule, like it would never be enough to make a difference. But if your faucet dripped all day, you’d have quite a bucket full of water. In the natural world, a trickle of water can take a wall of rock and turn it into a canyon that stretches for miles. Never underestimate the power of a single drop of water. When many drops come together, they can make quite a difference.

Drip Drip Drip…

But how do drops of water relate to marketing? Drip campaigns are a marketing strategy you can use to connect with leads. You may have heard other terms like “autoresponder” or “marketing automation.” A drip campaign is essentially another name for this kind of marketing plan. It can be used across marketing channels, including direct mail and telephone marketing, and is very popular when used as an email approach. You can combine content from different channels into your drip campaign, connecting them in ways that are most appropriate for your audience.

In a drip campaign, you can connect with leads on a schedule, and follow them throughout their relationship with you. Each piece of content they receive, each drip, will add to their experience and knowledge of your company, helping to build them into full-fledged customers.

Right as Rain

A big benefit of this kind of campaign is relevance. When someone subscribes to your email list or qualifies for your direct mail campaign, they could be anywhere in the sales process. They may have already invested in your company’s products or services, be in the process of exploring your options, or are still deciding between your business and a few others. Because of this, the content you send them, while informative on its own, may not be relevant to where they are on the sales timeline. You want to stay in touch with leads throughout their relationship with you. But sending them a stream of content that doesn’t fit with their interests may drive some leads away.

Drip campaigns are intended to provide your audience with content tailored to the specific actions they are performing in regards to your company. You can track this activity and send emails to potential or existing customers with appropriate content at an appropriate time. For example, you can tell someone has been exploring a product or an upgrade page on your website. You could use the drip campaign to send them an email outlining the benefits of the product or upgrade you are offering.

Implementing a drip campaign can have significant benefits for your business. Targeted emails were found to bring in 18 times more revenue and have 119 percent higher click rates than more generally broadcast emails. And when you nurture leads with relevant emails, they make 47 percent larger purchases than non-targeted leads.

Say a lead is on the fence about making a purchase. Offering them more specific information or offers related to the product or service will give them more knowledge going into the purchase and make them more likely to buy. After a purchase is made, your drip campaign should continue. You want to keep your customers coming back, after all! Based on your knowledge of the customer’s purchase, you can offer insightful content about how to make the best use of the product or service as well as similar offers or promotions they may be interested in. Drip campaigns are also a great way to reengage customers who haven’t purchased from you or used your service in a while, to confirm reservations or renewals, or to transition from a trial to premium membership. You can use them for almost anything!

Liquid Asset

Drip campaigns can help you find stronger leads and bring in more revenue. Worried about the extra work this kind of strategy would require within a marketing plan already stressed for time? Never fear! Another advantage of a drip campaign is that it works great when automated. First you develop the kind of content you want leads to receive, like a well-written welcome email. Then you can set it up so that every time someone subscribes to your email newsletter, they automatically get a letter of welcome. (In fact, nearly 75 percent of people have come to expect this).

And it doesn’t have to end there. You can automate your system so a few days after the welcome email, the lead receives a series of emails. These could encourage the lead to utilize resources on your website or explore new product features.

As you build profiles on leads and customers, you can make your drips even more targeted, increasing the campaign’s success. Automation will remove the need for you to personally send each drip to a lead or customer. But you’ll still want to make sure you’re segmenting and targeting your audience groups, determining a schedule for contact, and evaluating overall campaign success.

There are a number of software programs that offer marketing automation services for your drip campaign. Or you can do some legwork on your own if you have the time to do so. Check out this helpful infographic for more details about running a drip campaign:

Drip_Campaign_2_Paw_Print

Turn On the Faucet

Interested in learning more about or getting assistance for a drip campaign for your business or organization? Paw Print & Mail can help you with that. Contact us for a free one-hour marketing discussion and consultation.

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The Best Way to Add Value to Your Direct Mail

customized direct mail personalization letter and envelope
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

illustration of ways to generate leads
Background vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

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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What’s All the Buzz About Data?

illustration of data maps and charts
Logo vector created by Freepik

We live in a world where technology is advancing faster than ever. Making use of technology has allowed information to spread and be gathered on a previously unseen level. Though info has long been collected for many reasons and across many industries, “data” is now a buzzword that has taken on new meaning. We worry about protecting data and recovering from leaks, analyzing data and paying to access it. Data has become a cornerstone of economics. 40 percent of companies around the world are using big data analytics in their marketing strategy. We create data with every web search, every phone call and every purchase.

But what does data mean for business owners? And how can all this information be used to make a business more successful?

Where Does Data Come From?

According to Falon Fatemi, CEO of data intelligence company Node, “without data intelligence to prescribe the right prospects, creatives and number crunchers are stuck in separate worlds.” However, bringing data into the equation can create “a powerful revenue machine.”

Data has strong potential to strengthen your current marketing strategy. Having this information to work from can be an integral part of finding your target audience and increasing ROI.

One way to help target your marketing campaigns is to directly reach out to your audience. Allowing those you’ve already built a relationship with to determine their preferences for the type and amount of content they receive from you can be a way to strengthen the relationship and ensure their continued interest in your company. This data can be used to target specific content to more specific audiences.

It is also possible to develop a database based on information you already have about your clientele. Keeping track of what services or products your consumers are utilizing can be valuable data. It allows you to more deeply consider who may be interested in what, as well as how your services could be altered and improved to generate more interest.

Making use of data for direct mail and email campaigns can lead to a higher response rate. By using it, you are focusing on an important term: relevance. Data can tell you which recipients will likely be more interested in your particular campaign, based on how relevant it is to their situation. By streamlining your campaigns, sending to fewer, more receptive members of your audience, you can save money by not sending to uninterested clients. And, you can increase response rate and potential results, as you market to those who most need or want your services.

Business is also about generating leads. There are external sources from which you can gain access to data. You can pay certain companies for access to lists containing information about consumers and businesses that can be used to find new prospects and areas into which to expand. All of these techniques allow you to segment your marketing content into variables like interest level, gender, and geographic location. You can even separate businesses by size, annual revenue, and trade.

Data has power when it comes to marketing, and it has power under the law, too. Issues related to privacy go hand in hand with data. It’s important to respect both the laws surrounding how you can use data and the promises you make to your customers about how their information will be used. Do keep in mind that, according to a BlueVenn study, 81 percent of marketers only collect strictly necessary data. But 61 percent of consumers would be willing to give up some of their privacy in exchange for better products and services.

How Else Can You Use Data?

There is an obvious benefit to using data to increase campaign response rates and better connect with your audience. But it can also have benefits when it comes to the internal workings of your company. It is possible to collect data about almost anything to do with your business, and this is a valuable tool.

However, it is just as important to know how that information can be used as it is to collect it. Depending on your industry, different information will be gathered about different things. But according to a study by BARC, the Business Application Research Center,  there are four main benefits of data analysis. These include being able to make better strategic decisions, improving control over operation processes, understanding customers better, and reducing costs.

Once you know what the data is telling you, it is important to consider it in light of how the information will improve your business, and what you are going to do with it. You may want to use software that can better help you to visualize the data you are collecting and determine how internal data can be used with external, client-centered data to strengthen your company as a whole.

The BlueVenn report found that 64 percent of marketers in the US and the UK believed they should collect customer data, but shouldn’t analyze it on a daily basis. 51 percent of marketers felt data analysis took too much time away from the more creative aspects of marketing. Just as it is important to find a balance between how much personal information you divulge and make use of, it is important to find the right balance between analyzing your data and implementing the knowledge you have gained from your analysis. If you’re looking to make data analysis a larger part of your business, consider hiring an expert or training your staff to make the most of the information available to you.

Data collection and analysis can be implemented across any industry and any size company for a variety of purposes. It will continue to add value to your company as tools and processes become more streamlined.

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.