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, and 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

While a minimum mailing includes an envelope and letter, 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 be remembered also. 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, while 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, if 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.

When 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. If you’re 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 (which nearly 75 percent of people have come to expect).

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

Over time, 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

Direct_Mail_Paw_Print_And_Mail
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,” as it’s often called, may not seem like it fits in with the technology-driven world of the internet in which many of us communicate. 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. With 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, in the salutation (i.e., Dear Bob) and throughout the piece. This is a good start, and 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, but in 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, but you can at least 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, and it should suggest what is inside without revealing too much or falsely representing 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 will give 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

Marketing_Strategy_Paw_Print_And_Mail
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 lead generation 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.

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 taking a look at 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 who 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:

Now that you know who your perfect customer is and, in general, what they will want from you, you have to figure out the best way to find and connect with them. There are many marketing channels to choose from, and 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, and demonstrates 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, and it is 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. Though it takes more time, work, and money up front to develop and implement a campaign like this, 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?

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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_Paw_Print_And_Mail

 

If you’re 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, and 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 both 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, and 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, which you must either pay to resend once you have the correct address information, or put 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 by printing fewer mail pieces and having fewer 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, so 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. Since 40 million Americans will change their address every year, 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

Though there are no added postage and processing fees as with returned direct mail, 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 issues like 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, but it can have 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.

  • 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.
  • 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 will strengthen your contact list.
  • Try segmenting your lists into sections that will receive different content based on their interests and affiliations. One way to do this is by sending a survey to subscribers, asking what content they are interested in receiving from you. Sending people information relevant to what they want to see will increase the likelihood of your emails being read and interacted with.

The unsubscribe button is an important part of any email campaign. While you hope everyone will want to receive what you’re sending them, 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, but sending emails to a user that has unsubscribed can be detrimental if people have negative things to say 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, finding 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 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 Marketing, Alpha Romeo Style

Alfa-Romeo-mailing-panelWhat’s the most powerful and effective way to engage your clients and prospects in your marketing message? Speak to them one-on-one. Communicate in such a way that each person you mail to knows, or better yet feels that they are special to you; that you have something to say that they’ll be eager and enthusiastic to hear about.

One of the best ways to do so is by using one simple word… “You”.

The following real-life example and images are used to illustrate just how valuable it is to speak to your target audience when conveying your brand in your sales and marketing messaging.

And by “brand”, I don’t mean just the logo, which is only one graphical representation of your brand; but your BRAND – that special something about your company or organization that defines who you are, what you do, and how you do it. It’s what attracts customers to your company, converts them to customers, and prompts them to spread the word.

I’m a car guy. I am a big fan of sports and performance cars, both vintage and new. Back in the day, I drove a bright yellow 1973 Triumph Spitfire; one of those teeny-tiny British 2-seat roadsters that helped define the classic wind in your hair (when I used to have some) description of top-down motoring. To this day I’m still an enthusiast and enjoy driving cars for more than mere transportation. My current Audi has a manual transmission with a stick shift that for me, is simply fun!

So when this mailer arrived in my mailbox from Berlin City, the local Alfa Romeo dealership for this Italian car manufacturer’s reintroduction into the US market, they had done their homework by identifying me as a member of their target audience – someone with an interest in fun sporty cars.

Let’s breakdown this mailer… Alfa-Romeo-mailing-panel

First, the iconic Alfa logo and branding is front and center on the outside of the mail piece. They don’t design logos like this much anymore.

 

Alfa-Romeao-Greeting-Paw-Print-and-MailI turn the piece over to find the headline at the top that reads:

YOU ARE INVITED TO EXPERIENCE THE ALL NEW 2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA.

This could have easily been written to read: CHECK OUT THE ALL NEW 2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA INSIDE; and while I still would have been curious, the actual headline speaks to me by using the word “YOU”.

They also used another very powerful word in this headline… EXPERIENCE. Let’s face it, the fundamental function of a car is transportation; carrying people and things from point A to point B. Any car can do that and for many people, that’s all they need, want, or expect out of a car. But for the driver of a hot Italian red car like this, the point, or more aptly the unique selling proposition, shifts from utility to emotion, and the experience you see, hear, and feel when behind the wheel of this automobile.

Alfa-Romeo-Direct-Mail-Paw-Print-and-MailNext, I open the mailer and the very first thing I notice are the letters VIP – with the “V” creatively crafted using the V-shape of the Giulia’s classic signature Alfa Romeo front grille.

We’ve been trained through language and marketing to put a high value on the letters VIP, and it works every time. Then, right below the VIP is the coupes de grace… the Call-to-ActionSchedule your personal Test Drive Experience, employing an equally influencial derivative of the word “you”… “your”.

Alfa-Romeao-OfferPaw-Print-and-MailYes, there’s more throughout the mailer that visually shows off the car, along with an attractive lease offer, but the REAL call-to-action is the invitation to experience driving this car; because Alfa Romeo and the dealership are pretty confident that once driven, the sales process gets much easier from there.

People buy on emotion

So THIS is a great example of the power and attraction that direct mail has and will continue to have so long as marketers know how to use it and apply direct mail marketing’s three fundamental best practices:

  1. Know your target audience and focus your time and budget on them
  2. Include a compelling offer that speaks to the person and evokes emotion
  3. Design the mail piece to be relevant and attractive to the target audience; integrating personalization and the word “you” whenever appropriate.

For the best experience and results for your direct marketing projects, Contact Paw Print & Mail to discuss your objectives and needs with us.

Direct mail works for Amazon too

Amazon-Envelope-direct-mail-paw-print-and-mail-vt

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.