Direct Mail Newsletters – worth sending (again)

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

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

What’s the secret sauce?

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

Slow and steady wins the race

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

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

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

Describe your target audience?

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

Looking at these criteria:

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

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

Quick reads for busy people

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

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

People spend 30 minutes reading their mail

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

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

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

Physical mail leaves an imprint in the brain

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

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

People feel that direct mail is more personal than the internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Find More Clients like Your Best Clients

If you could attract and retain more major clients or donors, would that be of interest to you? If you had a way to quantify the traits and preferences of your top clients or donors in a way that helped you find more of the same, would you want to learn more? I suspect your answer to both of these questions is a resounding “yes!”

Target prospects with the most potential

You’ve heard it said, when it comes to direct marketing or fundraising, data is king. Some would argue that “content” is king, and while content is the stuff that brands are made of, if you’re not speaking to the right audience in the first place, your otherwise engagingly great content is falling on deaf ears.

The success of your marketing or fundraising campaign depends in large part on your ability to understand who your current clients or donors are. The Pareto Principle, best known as the 80/20 Rule, tells us that 80% of our sales or donations typically come from 20% of our clients or donors. If this rings true for your company or organization, does it stand to reason that if you could somehow clone your biggest and best clients or donors you’d increase revenue? The more you can zero in on prospects based on what you already know about our current clients, the better the return on your marketing or fundraising campaign investment.

Be smart about profiling your clients

So how do you go about increasing your knowledge of your existing clients or donors to improve your ability to target new prospects? Using the latest in intelligent data mining technology, one of the best methods is to apply a Demographic Overlay on your database or mailing list.

Working in partnership with Paw Print & Mail and our experienced list broker, and applying their standard Demographic Overlay package, we can append up to 21 demographic elements to your mailing list/database records. This information allows us to create a profile of your best clients. You are then able to leverage this information when making marketing decisions or procuring a new prospect or acquisition list rental for your next direct mail and direct response marketing or fundraising campaigns. Using a profile to target your list selections can result in increased response rates, and decreased mailing costs.

Benefits:

  • Get insight into common demographic characteristics of your clients and prospects
  • Identify traits of your best clients
  • Flexibility – append individual or multiple demographic selects and choose to match your files on name and address, or address alone

Some common demographic elements include: Date of Birth (Month and Year), estimated age (in ranges), current home value, dwelling type, fundraising contributor, gender, owner/renter, estimated household income, length of residence, mail order buyers, marital status, median income, children in home, pet owners, gardeners, outdoor enthusiasts, travelers, etc. Typical match rates range from 50 to 70 percent; however this varies based on the quality and accuracy of your house mailing list. Additional elements are also available. Please contact us to discuss your specific project.

Increase your Campaign ROI

Our response-based modeling will deliver reports on your prospects that have the highest probability to make purchases or respond. This intelligent system can compare two groups of data, such as responders and non-responders, renewals and cancels, donors or lapsed donors, or paid and unpaid. By profiling two unique groups, our modeling solutions uncover the highest probability responders, thus dramatically increasing ROI.

Acting on your client preferences

Understanding what makes your clients unique on a key activity like response, renewal, or payment can give your company or organization a competitive advantage. Our comprehensive report helps you learn what motivates your clients or donors and our consultative session gives you insight on how to increase response rates.

Contact us anytime to learn more or to take the next step toward improving your direct marketing results.

How to Create an Email Marketing Campaign

Paw-Print&Mail-lead-generation-email-marketingEmail marketing may seem like something only the big-wigs can afford to do (Apple, Google, eBay, you get the idea), but it can also be very successful for locally-owned businesses. Email marketing is a simple, affordable and effective way of reaching out to customers.

In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, the average business in 2011 made a $40 return on every $1 investment in email marketing. If your small business is interested in promoting itself through and gaining new customers, check out these tips and steps to creating an email marketing campaign.

1. Choose an email provider
The first step in building an email marketing campaign for your small business is choosing an email marketing service provider to utilize. For best results, it’s better not to use an email platform such as Gmail, Hotmail or Outlook, but rather a company specifically designed to support email marketing campaigns.

Companies which provide email marketing campaign platforms will allow your business to draft and send bulk emails, create and manage your database, offer customizable email templates and even campaign management software. These type of services allow your business to continue to check back on the campaign and follow its return on investment.

2. Build an email list
Next up: build your business’s email list of potential and current customers. Set up a database on your email platform with all of the email addresses available from clients. One easy way to add emails to the list is offering an “Email Signup” link on your company’s website, which will feed straight into your email database.

Another method is by using direct mail marketing to approach clients and prospects with a call-to-action on a postcard or in letter that encourages them to take advantage of your special offer, receive your white-paper or e-book with valuable information they can use, or again, sign up for your online newsletter.

And yet another way to build your email list is by applying all the same tactics via your social media channels and ads to encourage and incentivize your audience to engage.

When promoting your email signup, be sure to include all expectations and benefits customers can have from following campaigns. Items such as “Exclusive offers and promotions” and “A free sample!” are great incentives for clients to see before signing up for your email list.

3. Decide on campaign objectives
Once you have a significant email list of existing and possible clients, decide on any objectives you have for the campaign. Why are you sending the emails? What do you want them to accomplish? How do you want to demonstrate your business to subscribers?

Once you have these questions answered and outlined, and your specific goals established, you can start building your physical campaign, focusing on the specific goals. Outlining your campaign objectives beforehand gives your promotions a clean, crisp and specific purpose that’s easy for customers to see and follow.

4. Draft an email
Now comes the fun part: drafting your email! Many email marketing campaign providers will have templates available for you to choose from for your email, but it’s important to still keep these content tips in mind:

  • Use a strong subject line. The stronger the line, the more likely people are to open the email.
  • Grab their attention. Get your readers interested with an attention-grabbing headline.
  • Remember text/image ratio. Have a good mixture of text and images to keep people’s interest.
  • Emphasize call to action. What do you want your readers to do? Tell them!
  • Personalize it. Try personalizing your emails with the recipient’s name.

5. Send it out
Finally, now comes the time to officially send out your email marketing campaign. Consider the best day of the week to send your emails, best time of the day, most responsive subject lines, how best to personalize your emails, etc. The more practice you have, the more efficient your business will become and the more income you will generate!

When it comes to marketing for your small business, consider an email marketing campaign to engage customers and drive sales. Not only will you save money, but your business will prosper and grow in effect.

Marketing 101: What to Avoid

reinvigorate-your-marketing

When marketing for your small business, there’s a number of things you should do. You should hire a designer to do graphic work, you should define your own brand, you should develop a campaign plan and so on and so forth. However, you’re not often told what you shouldn’t do.

The truth is, when it comes to marketing savviness, there’s a variety of practices to definitely avoid. These can be common mistakes or specific scenarios, but they all fall into the category of Marketing 101: WHAT NOT TO DO. If you’re still unsure about what you should avoid while marketing for your small business, check out these top categories.

Lack of Self-Promotion
The idea “My small business doesn’t need any marketing” is a long and archaic concept which should be erased from your brain database indefinitely. The fact is any business wanting to make money should have a marketing and promotion strategy.

You may believe your product or service can speak for itself, and people will naturally come through word of mouth. While this may be partially true, nothing is going to bring in customers more than your own promotion. In other words, your business should sell your business.

Undefined Target Audience
Consider your ideal customer. Someone who fits your business values perfectly, who loves every single product and who would be willing to spend quite a bit of money with your organization. What do they look like? How do they act? How would you define them?

If you’re not sure who your target audience is, develop a plan as soon as possible. An undefined target audience can make your marketing campaigns appear scattered and uncertain, leaving your business looking unorganized and unreliable.

This is particularly applicable to direct mail marketing which carries the investment in graphic design, printing & mailing production services, and postage. Direct mail can be very effective as part of a multi-channel marketing mix when mailing to a targeted audience.

Social Media Ignorance
There’s no way around it: social media is here to stay. That means if you want your business to stay, then social media marketing needs to be a staple. Help your organization out by avoiding social media ignorance.

This means creating a Facebook page for your business, and depending on your target audience, a Twitter or Instagram as well. Not only will you be meeting your customers on a more personal level, but you gain free promotion and increased search engine rankings.

Aggressive Email Blasts
If your small business utilizes email marketing, wonderful. Keep it up! According to Entrepreneur.com, email marketing for mid-size businesses offers a 246% return on investment. However, make sure to be careful about how the emails go out.

An unregulated email blast to all of your subscribers can leave customers feeling more isolated than engaged, and before you know it you have consumers leaving your list. Practice audience segmentation of topics and avoid overdoing timely emails.

False Promises
Above all, when marketing for your small business, avoid making any false promises to customers or clients. False promises can negatively affect your company’s response rate by clients and brand affinity.

For example, if you advertise fast and effective service but fail to treat customers in the same way, potential clients will be unconvinced your business can come through for them. When developing a marketing plan, be clear and concise, while avoiding any confusion or falsity.

Marketing is an important part of any small business plan, so make sure to take it under careful consideration. Decide on what your marketing strategy should consist of, but be reminded of what it shouldn’t as well. Then you can be certain of your business success.