5 Steps for Marketing Planning Success

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When it comes to marketing your business, you’re only as effective as your marketing plan. Without a set of concrete goals and detailed steps for achieving them, it’s difficult to stay on track and impossible to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

For many businesses, a new year is a natural time to plan for the year ahead and begin implementing new strategies and schedules. Whether you’re in the midst of planning your marketing for the year or are waiting for a slower time to plan, the following tips can help you begin to think about making this year the best yet for your marketing.

1) Look Back on Your Marketing

To plan effectively, you have to know where you stand. This is the time to compile the data available to you regarding all areas of your business, including:

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  • Customer demographics and purchase history
  • Website visitors and SEO strength
  • Social media strategy
  • Direct mail response rates

You may already have ways of keeping track of these figures, or you may want to invest in a software that helps to compile and analyze the data for you.

Also evaluate last year’s campaigns:

  • What strategies brought in leads and engaged customers?
  • What techniques missed the mark?
  • Are there strategies that used to generate business that are now dead ends?

Because there are so many aspects to marketing, and your time is limited, you may not be able or want to examine all areas at once. Sometimes, to be efficient and effective, you need to focus your efforts on achieving a few key goals or improving performance in one area. Whatever you decide to work towards this year, make sure you have all the data and information necessary to begin making thoughtful, achievable goals.

2) Set New Marketing Goals

Now that you’ve established where you are, where do you want to go? Before you enact any changes to your marketing, it’s important to set goals. In a marketing plan, goals are sometimes referred to as Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. Certain markets have KPIs that are recognized across the industry. However, when it comes to a KPI, specific is always best, and specificity means examining your business’s unique situation, separate from the market as a whole.

Whether you think of your desired outcomes as goals or KPIs, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself. Say your goal is to generate more repeat business from your current customer base. Consider:

  • What steps should be taken to achieve your goal?
  • Who within your company will be responsible for each step?
  • How will you measure progress towards the goal?
  • How often will you review progress?
  • How will you know you achieved the goal?
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Again, specificity is key. And make sure you are focusing on goals that are actionable and realistically achievable (whether they seem small or they’ll need a lot of work to achieve). Your efforts are best spent on a focused, targeted approach. Achieving a small goal this year gives you the boost to keep improving that metric next year.

And, let’s revisit the second point from above. It’s critical that each member of your team knows what their duties are and when they need to be completed. If everyone is on board, your path to success will be a lot smoother.

One last thing about goal setting…write your goals down!

3) Stick to The Plan

There will be times when following your marketing plan will be difficult, or even impossible. You may miss writing a blog one week or forget to post on social media for a few days in a row.

It’s likely this will happen, but don’t let it steer you off course. To truly understand the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, you must be consistent with it. Consistency creates expectation, so that potential customers see your content on a regular basis. If you’re producing compelling content, and distributing it on a regular basis (though email, social media, or direct mail) recipients will [hopefully] look forward and expect to hear from you. Having a detailed plan and executing those steps makes the entire marketing process easier, so that missed deadlines happen less often.

4) Don’t Wait to Plan During Slow Seasons

While there are benefits to using slower periods to plan or overhaul your marketing strategy, it’s important not to wait until a slow time to get started. The best time to start is now! Even if you aren’t able to execute a fully-fledged marketing plan during a busy season, try to keep one or two marketing strategies consistent. This will give you a solid foundation to work off from and allow you to maintain a consistent marketing presence in your community.

5) Plan Ahead!

Chalkboard plan ahead

If you’ve got an event planned 6 months from now, it’s easy to tell yourself you have plenty of time to get all the details right. Though you may be able to take your time, think of this as a chance to make your marketing materials the best they can be. You may need some design work, which can be time consuming, and which may need editing and approval from other members of your team or a board or committee before the go-ahead.

Giving yourself the greatest amount of lead time is also crucial when it comes to promotional products. Making the effort to identify the item that’s the best fit for your event, audience, and budget, as well as getting all parties on board with imprint and pricing, takes time.

Branded_Promotional_Products_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Order your promotional products early, to meet longer lead times and avoid rush orders.

While many promotional items have production times of between 5 and 10 business days, some items, notably more custom orders, can take over a month to fulfill. Adding to the lead time is shipping, which can take 5 business days depending on location. Since many blank and custom items come from China, the recent tariffs have increased lead times in terms of product availability. 

Ready to plan your marketing strategy yet? Paw Print & Mail can help make marketing easy. Contact us today for assistance with print collateral, direct mail fulfillment, graphic design, promotional products, and more!

5 Key Digital Marketing Trends for 2019

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New Year’s resolutions have a reputation of being short-lived. Make a resolution for 2019 that you’re sure to keep—a commitment to marketing your business better! These 5 trends are on our radar for the coming year. Incorporating any one of them into your digital marketing strategy can help 2019 be the best year yet for your business.

1) Keep Creating Killer Content

Advertisements used to rule the marketing world. But consumers today are skeptical: 42% of Americans believe brands are less trustworthy than they were 20 years ago.

This doesn’t mean you should stop using ads altogether. It does mean your business should maintain a focus on creating content that is less ad-heavy and more information-based. The more informative, engaging, and helpful your content is, the better. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing generates 3 times the leads of paid advertising.

If you’re already a content marketing king or queen, keep up the good work! If you don’t know a lot about content marketing, or want to up your game, try one of the following:

  • Start a blog page, sharing content about your industry, how customers can make best use of your products, and related topics
  • Develop a social media strategy to post more regularly
  • Begin using video marketing
  • Start a podcast
  • Add email marketing to the mix

2) Video Marketing

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If you’re on social media regularly, you’ve seen that video tends to dominate our news feeds. Videos regularly outperform content that is just text or a mix of text and imagery. This is because videos have high entertainment value, and as a result tend to be more engaging than a text-heavy article (though those are effective, too!)

A 2017 study reported that 64% of consumers were influenced in their purchasing decisions from viewing a marketing video on Facebook. And, 75% of millennials watch video on a social media site daily. Video is a major opportunity to get your brand in front of a large audience, with the potential to have a significant impact on sales.

If you’ve never created a video before, don’t be intimidated. Working with a professional video production company can be an effective route to take. But even simple content can be engaging. If you have a smart phone, you can easily take short videos of what’s going on with your business. Live video is growing in popularity, allowing you to easily stream from any location at any time. Or, you can take a personal approach and speak directly to the camera about a new development you’re excited about or helpful tips you want to share.

Take a look at this infographic and article for helpful information on how video marketing will be used in 2019.

3) Voice Search

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I’ve recently begun to use voice search, and I’ve got to say, it’s handy. It’s certainly faster than typing in a long search query. And, my phone will read the result to me, so I can keep working on whatever I’m doing while getting the information I need.

It’s estimated that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. That’s huge, and it’s important for marketers because a voice search reads differently than a text search. If I want some sushi, I might type into Google, “sushi restaurants Burlington.” But, in a voice search I might say to my device, “Hey Siri, what sushi restaurants are near me?” or “Okay Google, where can I order sushi now?”

Voice searches tend to be longer and take more of a conversational tone. That wording difference is a big deal for SEO. If you’ve optimized for keywords that people type into a search bar, you may not be optimized for words that would be used in a voice search.

To fix this, think about the phrases a potential customer might speak when voice searching for your product or service. Then, work to incorporate those phrases/words into your website, whether through meta content, blog posts, or a FAQ page where you can type out those questions in full.

4) Chatbots

When it comes to a business, nothing beats having a face to face conversation with an employee. But in some cases, when your customers are regularly ordering online and you’re receiving a lot of orders, chatbots can be a solution. A UK research group, Juniper, estimates that chatbots could help save businesses up to $8 billion annually by 2022.

A chatbot acts like a human but is not meant to be one. It can be used to answer repetitive, data-based questions, schedule appointments, and find products, among other tasks. The intention of a bot is meant to make each website visitor’s experience more personalized, as well as smoothing the path to a sale. Thought not yet at the level of human communication, bots are improving quickly, allowing them to connect with potential customers in an increasingly conversational way.

5) Artificial Intelligence

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Last on our list, but certainly not least, is artificial intelligence. Chatbots are a form of AI technology, but artificial intelligence has abilities that go beyond chat functions.

When we hear the phrase “artificial intelligence,” we may envision a futuristic world where robots live alongside us, performing many of the tasks we do currently. But AI is already at use in many areas of our lives. Think of Amazon’s Alexa, a personal assistant that understands what we say and learns our preferences—over time, assistants like Alexa come to anticipate our needs. And, ever heard of Tesla? The self-driving cars are another example of AI.

So, how can AI be used for your business? One helpful way is by analyzing data. An AI program can be used to examine a set of data or a customer list, identifying similarities and indicating which individuals you should market to. It can also look at data from social media, blogs, and internet searches to give you a better understanding of how customers are finding your business, what they are searching for, and how they interact with your marketing content.

While certainly not the only trends to keep an eye on in 2019, these 5 are getting increasing attention, with results to back up the hype. Follow the Paw Print blog for tips on keeping your marketing fresh in the coming year!

Build Trust with Education-Based Marketing

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Are you tired of sales pitches? Do you hate feeling like you’re being sold to? So do I. Like many consumers today, I want more from the companies I choose to do business with.

There are two key things you need to know about consumers today:

  • They make purchases and do business based on trust
  • Purchases are made on their own timetable, whether or not it aligns with your business

In other words, traditional marketing styles no longer have the impact they once did. Consumers are more discerning and focused on the value your company can give them rather than simply the products or services you provide. If traditional marketing is sale-based, today’s approach is education-based.

What is Education-Based Marketing?

An education-based approach to marketing means moving away from a typical sales pitch and messaging. Instead, you’re providing consumers with valuable information related to your industry or products that allow them to make confident, informed purchase decisions. By providing consumers with a wealth of information related to your market, you establish yourself as an authority in that field. You show that you are knowledgeable about what you’re selling. You know what you’re talking about, and now your customers will, too. In creating this sense of authority, you build trust with your audience.

Education-based marketing is also a long-term strategy in that it allows consumers the freedom to learn about and purchase when they want. With an education-based approach, you create content that can then live on your website, so that consumers can access it whenever they like. It allows you to have a constant pipeline of prospects accessing the information without you having to seek those prospects out.

Know Your Stuff

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To implement an education-based approach to your marketing, you’ll need to know your product and your customer well. Consider what a customer who purchases your product would want to know about the product, its uses, and any problems that often come up. Speak to their specific challenges and goals to develop a message that will resonate with your target audience.

Depending on what industry you’re in, lack of knowledge can be a significant hurdle when it comes to making a purchase. If a consumer feels overwhelmed at the thought of encountering your service, providing them with clear, concise information in various forms can help to ease that fear, making the consumer feel more comfortable with your industry. This article from Forbes outlines an effective example of using education-based marketing in the financial sector, to educate retirees.

Trust typically takes time to build up, and you won’t create trust with every consumer overnight. However, consistently providing potential customers with helpful, informed content will help to build trust faster than you may think.

How to Implement an Education-Based Approach

With any marketing campaign, you’ll need multiple touches before a consumer will engage with you. Education-based approaches are no different. Once you’ve identified your prospect and your message, put content out on all channels available to you. Make sure your message, tone, and imagery are consistent to make each touch point meaningful.

Some effective ways to provide educational content include:

  • Regular blog posts
  • White papers
  • Hosting a seminar for potential customers
  • An e-book
  • Short, informative videos
  • Webinars
  • Emails with links to relevant content

A Compelling Example: Carpet Cleaning

 

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In this podcast, business strategist Tony Robbins talks with the late Chet Holmes about the power of education-based marketing. Holmes discusses a carpet cleaning company that he worked with to increase sales using an education-based approach. In this case, the company worked to fulfill a need after they established what the problem was.

 

First, the company took research from the EPA regarding indoor air quality. The study found that in buildings where the carpets were vacuumed daily, there were still high levels of bacteria and other unwanted organisms in the carpets. When the carpets were removed from the building, people got sick 4 times more often than before. Essentially, this research concluded that carpets act as a filter to keep harmful bacteria out of our bodies. But to maintain a healthy level of bacteria, a carpet should be cleaned every 6 months.

When they presented the facts, people were pretty grossed out. The company was marketing to clients who typically had their carpets cleaned professionally once every 3 years. The company established a problem which consumers didn’t know they had, but immediately wanted to solve. Then, this company was poised to offer the solution.

By presenting the research alongside a membership plan that offered twice yearly cleaning at a better than average rate, this company, which had been around for 100 years already, found a new way to grow their business. The final tally? Business increased by 100%.

You may not see quite as dramatic growth when you add education-based marketing to your business strategy. However, over time, incorporating educational content alongside traditional marketing techniques will help to build your company’s reputation and value for current and potential customers, giving you a competitive edge.

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Direct Mail Tracking & ROI Success Indicators

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

4 Key Measurements

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

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

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

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

Response Rate

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

Conversion Rate

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

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

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

Return on Investment (ROI)

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

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

6 Tracking Techniques

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

1) Coupons

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

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

2) The Mail

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

3) URLs

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

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

4) QR Codes

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

5) Customized Phone Number

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

6) A/B Split

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

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

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

Boost Your Marketing Power with Storytelling

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Storytelling is an essential and ancient part of human communication. Before the advent of writing, detailed stories were told orally, passed from generation to generation. Stories hold meaning for cultures, reflecting their histories, beliefs, and customs. We tell stories to learn, build relationships, and make sense of the world around us.

In fact, our brains are programmed to recognize patterns and find meaning in those patterns. A story is a kind of pattern, and stories are an effective marketing tool that you can use to build connection with your audience.

There are good stories, and then there are great stories, the ones we remember. But what makes a compelling, memorable story?

Elements of an Effective Story

1) Be Memorable with Emotion

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Facts and figures are essential to marketing—you need data to understand and relay your progress, as well as understand the state of your business. But numbers alone don’t inspire strong emotions. According to communications specialist Rob Biesenbach, 63% of people remember stories, but only 5% remember statistics.

There’s science behind this notion as well. When we are exposed to facts, two parts of our brains are activated, to take in information and to process. On the other hand, a story activates several areas across the entire brain.

And, these areas aren’t just accepting information—they’re experiencing the story. Think of the last book you read. Maybe the main character slipped into a cool lake on a scorching hot day or felt full of fear before giving an important speech. Did you feel the relief of that cool water, or find yourself growing anxious on behalf of the character? That’s the power of a good story. And it reflects the fact that when we hear a story and when we have a physical experience, the same areas of our brains are activated—the brain doesn’t differentiate between a story and an experience.

Know the Emotions of your Customer

Stories can be emotional in and of themselves, so that most of us who hear the story feel the same emotions. You can also tap into your potential customer’s emotions by telling a story you know will resonate with a specific fear or desire they are experiencing.

Say Sally has always wanted to play the piano. You’re selling a system that will help your customers learn to play the piano fast, efficiently, and well. You can tell a story with the main character flawlessly playing a piece on the piano, finishing to a round of applause. Poise your product as the solution to that specific fear or desire in the story, and potential customers will be flocking to your brand.

2) Show Your Unique Side

Unless you’re selling a never-before-seen product, you’ve got competition. And even if your business is exclusive in what you offer, you’re still competing against countless other businesses and products for a consumer’s spending dollars. Why should a potential customer choose you?

Stories help you out here. Even if your business offers the same services as several others, only yours has your unique story. Telling the story of how you founded your company, developed your product, or helped a customer shows the special, human side of your business that separates you from the crowd and helps you connect with consumers on a personal, human level.

3) Inspire Action!

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When we feel positive emotions, we want to do what we can to ensure those feelings continue. And when we feel negative emotions, like anger or fear, we want to act as soon as possible to stop those feelings. Because stories can make us emotional, they can also spur us to action. If your story inspires relief in consumers—finally, here is a solution to my problem—they’ll want to act to obtain that relief as soon as possible. They may have been searching for this solution for a long time. But your story raises the stakes—act NOW and your problem will disappear.

Stories also make us more likely to act because they can increase the perceived value of a product. A study called the Significant Objects Project found that when inexpensive items were marketed along with a story, the perceived worth of the objects increased, and buyers were willing to pay more for them than the object itself was worth. In this experiment, the purchasers knew the stories weren’t true—even still, the narrative gave buyers more of a reason to purchase.

4) Connect with Values

Consumers, especially Millennials, make purchase decisions as extensions of their values and identity. If a company doesn’t align with those values, consumers are more likely than ever to look elsewhere for their needs.

When you tell your story, you have a great opportunity to highlight what is important to you, what your company stands for, and your ultimate goals. Whatever those goals may be, they’ll likely resonate with a specific audience. This makes them more likely to purchase from you and to feel a greater connection to your business.

5) Make Use of Visuals

A story is built on compelling words. But sometimes, words aren’t enough. A captivating visual can say a lot, which is why the best stories make use of words and visuals to convey a message. Whether you’re talking about a specific individual, event, or circumstance, make sure to include visuals relevant to the story.

6) Personalize

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It helps to tell your story from a particular point of view, whether it’s your own, someone in a similar situation as your potential customer, or someone who was helped by your product. This helps to put a face to the issue. Your product may have helped thousands of consumers. But being able to put a face and truthful, personal words to it can make all the difference.

What brand stories do you remember? Let us know! And, if you need help telling the story of your business, Paw Print offers copywriting as a service.

Now, go on. Tell me a story.

Does Your Multichannel Strategy Need an Update?

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

1) Does Each Tactic Prove its Worth?

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

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

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

2) Go Further with Demographics

It may be tempting to base your marketing efforts on the most readily available information, such as gender, age, and income. For the best results, however, take it a step further. Seek to understand what your prospects care about. Today’s consumer wants to be an individual, not a segment.

3) Track and Measure Your Results

Which elements of the campaign do you track? How do you determine a “response rate”? Is it a click or a scan? Is it the completion of a form or a purchase? Connect your marketing goals with clear metrics, so you know which of your marketing efforts are working and which are not.

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

Ready to create a marketing campaign that will get people talking? Paw Print & Mail can provide you with the design, print, mail, and promotional product components to develop a truly memorable marketing experience. Contact us today!

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Experiment With Your Marketing

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Picture your marketing strategy 10 years ago. It probably looked a lot different than your strategy of today. Now imagine you were still using the same marketing content and tactics from 10 years ago. Do you think you’d be successful?

Probably not. Marketing is constantly changing, as new technologies are introduced, new trends appear, and younger generations enter the market. To be effective, your business must change, too.

Recognizing the need to change your strategy is the first step. But change isn’t always easy. How do you know what to change? And how do you make it happen?

Experiment for Excellence

One of the best ways to enact change is to experiment with your content marketing. You can’t know which strategies will best fit your business without some testing.

Experimenting can be a fairly simple process, but it’s important. By now, you likely have routines you’re comfortable with when it comes to marketing. But sticking with a long-standing strategy that’s no longer performing, while it may be easier, can only hurt you in the long run.

Doing a major overhaul of your marketing can be expensive and may be impossible to coordinate. The good news is, you can improve marketing success with smaller, incremental changes, just as much as with big ones. In fact, smaller changes can be the key to significant growth.

Data Driven

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So, you’re ready to experiment. Great! Before you get too far, it’s essential that you examine your data. You cannot effectively improve your marketing if you don’t know where you’re starting from. To truly measure the success of a campaign, you need to have a goal. And not a vague goal either, but a specific, numerical goal that you can strive for.

We’re all working to achieve a 100% response rate and double our sales, right? Marketing success can be astronomical, but usually it takes longer periods of time to show steady, significant growth. You want to set goals that are achievable for your business. If you’re seeing a 12% open rate on your emails, work to consistently have 15%, then 20%. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but always keep an eye on data and metrics.

However you go about collecting and reviewing your data, your analysis will likely reveal areas in which you want to improve. These areas are where you can start some experimenting.

Making One Core Change

You’ve identified a marketing goal. Now, it’s time get to work. It’s possible to run experiments across a variety of platforms. But what you change, and how much, is of key importance.

When it comes to improving your marketing, you’re trying to understand what resonates with your specific audience. There may be times when a sweeping change is necessary and welcome, whether you’re unveiling a new website design or new application for your business. But on a day to day scale, experimentation is all about making small tweaks to fine tune your strategy.

Here’s a core tip: change only one element per medium at a time. Let’s take email again as an example. If you’re incorporating a new template, adding a CTA button, and drastically changing up your subject lines, you may start to see some change in open and click through rates. Hopefully those rates are increasing—they could decrease instead. Either way, it will be impossible to pinpoint exactly what caused that change if you make several changes at one time.

However, say you change one element of your email marketing—replacing a hyperlink in your email template with a bright, eye-catching button. If you start to see an increase in the click-through rates of your campaigns, you can attribute that change directly to the addition of the button. Once you’ve established the button as a consistent part of your emails, and are seeing a consistent click-through rate, you can adjust another email element to continue improving.

A/B Testing

digital artwork two open laptopsA/B Testing is one of the most popular forms of experimenting. An A/B test involves creating two versions of a piece of content that differ in just one element. For email marketing, A/B testing is frequently used to test subject lines. The entire body content of the email will remain the same, but you’ll create two different subject lines. Split your email list in half, so half receive the email with subject line A, and half with subject line B. Whichever email is opened more has the best performing subject line. Read here for what makes a compelling subject line.

When it comes to email marketing, you can also test:

  • Imagery
  • Button Use/ Button Color
  • Time of day/ day of the week you send the emails
  • Who the email is sent from (a company vs. an individual)

While popular for email, A/B tests can also be implemented throughout marketing, on landing pages and in direct mail campaigns. It’s important to remember that you’re focusing in on what your audience responds to. Certain words or tactics that work for some audiences may not resonate as strongly with others, so it may take some testing to determine what your recipients favor.

Time is of the Essence

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Office vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Think back to your science classes. Often, an experiment would be run for a set amount of time, whether several minutes or several days. You should run your marketing experiments on the same principle.

Let’s look at an example. Say you want to add a banner to your website’s homepage using a Call to Action (CTA), with the goal of increasing conversions through the site. To measure the effect of the banner, take a set period, like one month. Place the element on your homepage at the beginning of the month. At the end of the month, examine how conversions varied from the month before.

And, don’t change anything else on the page until your experimentation period is over. This is important, because any other changes you make during that time will make data regarding the effectiveness of the CTA void. Was it the CTA or another element that brought in those leads?

Analysis

The results are in! Whatever you discovered from your campaign, take note of how the process went, what you learned from it, and what the data tells you. Analyzing your results is key to determine the effectiveness of your experiment and to plan your next steps, as you continue to improve your marketing and increase sales.

How Inbound Marketing Generates Leads

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Imagine a marketing system that works in the background of your business or organization attracting leads to your door. Imagine this same process not only attracting leads, but building a fan-base of prospects who are both enthusiastic and qualified leads, the best kind of lead!

Have you heard of inbound marketing? Do you know how it differs from traditional marketing? If it’s all a bit fuzzy to you, you’re not alone. Inbound marketing is a core strategy for generating leads through content creation. Here’s what you need to know to start using inbound marketing for your business.

Outbound vs. Inbound

For many companies, marketing has long been about using strategies to reach out to potential customers in hope of a response. Termed “outbound marketing,” these methods include direct mail, email marketing, cold calls, TV and online ads, and event attendance. In these instances, marketers are actively bringing their brand to the prospect, whether by paying for an ad to appear on a webpage or mailing a postcard directly to the recipient’s front door.

These traditional marketing strategies have been practiced for years. And in many cases, they do work. But in a crowded marketing climate, it’s easy for your message to get lost among the flood of content vying for your prospect’s attention.

That’s where inbound marketing comes in. Inbound strategies focus on creating content that “attracts” leads to your business in a non-intrusive way. While you are still putting content out, you are doing so to attract leads to come to you, rather than you directly contacting them. Customers can engage with you at their point of need, placing you at the forefront of their minds as having the answers to their needs.

How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

According to HubSpot, an inbound marketing application developer, there are four main stages of inbound marketing: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Simply put, this means that your inbound marketing strategies have the goal of:

  • attracting visitors to your website,
  • using various methods to convert them to leads,
  • closing the sale,
  • and turning one-time customers into repeat customers and brand ambassadors.

content marketing lead generation
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A major reason that inbound strategies work is based on the type of content you generate at each of these stages. While each step requires different content, it should all have value for the potential customer. The main way to draw visitors to your website is by generating valuable, informative content. An advertisement is meant to draw attention, but a well-written blog post is meant to inform. It’s the way you can break out from the crowd. Provide consistent, helpful content, and you’ll keep qualified leads coming back to you for more.

Attract

To start the inbound marketing pipeline, you must be generating content that shows leads you know what you’re doing and can help them solve problems. The bulk of this work should be done through blogging, with help from social media. Leads can find your content two key ways: through seeing social media posts, and due to online searches. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also key to invest in, so that when an individual searches for a topic you’ve written about, your posts will appear higher up on the list of search results, making them more likely to be read.

Convert

Getting visitors to your website is essential, but it’s just the first step. Make it an easy transition for a visitor to contact you or share their info. Try including a sign-up form, using live chat tools, tracking site visitors, and making your contact information visible on every page of your site.

Close

When you have a group of qualified leads, now it’s time to close a sale. Part of this step requires you to stay relevant. Determine which pages or topics on your site are attracting the most interest, so you can continue creating content around those themes. Then, you can incorporate outbound methods like direct mail and email to provide those leads with content that is relevant to their interests and stage in the buying cycle. Segmenting your contact lists can be helpful here, as you target specific groups with specific messages. Again, try to keep your content focused on value.

Delight

Successful marketing isn’t about attracting a high volume of one-time buyers. It’s about creating a positive customer experience and getting to know each customer, so that they’ll continue looking to you to solve their problems and meet their needs. Respond to any questions or concerns with timely, helpful content. And craft content meant for each stage of the customer journey. Different customers require different calls to action. Keep track of who your customers are, what they are purchasing from you, and how often they are doing so, so that you can provide the right content at the right time.

Importance of Tracking

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Infographic vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

As mentioned above, it’s important to keep track of data regarding your customers. It’s impossible to truly understand the direction of your marketing if you don’t know where you are and where you want to be. And, you can provide your customers and leads with more relevant, timely information if you know certain metrics. Consider which pages are most visited on your site, the number of unique visitors, and time spent on your site.

This applies to social media as well. When you know which content is your best performing content, you can modify your strategy to include more of it. Tracking also allows you to follow each customer’s journey. That way, you can better serve your client base and determine which strategy converts best.

With the world of content available on the internet, consumers are becoming better educated and changing the way they make purchase decisions. To stay top of mind with consumers, marketers must adapt to focus their strategies toward relevant content generation and providing value for the customer. In doing so, your brand will build trust and a sense of authority, helping to grow your business and turn more leads into repeat customers.

Interested in trying or strengthening your inbound marketing? At Paw Print, we offer content marketing and copywriting as a service, to help you on your way to generating more leads. Give us a call when you’re ready to take your content to the next level.

Is Social Media Print’s New Best Friend?

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

1. Print Drives Traffic to Social Media

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

2. More Channels Help You Reach More People

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

3. Say it Again . . . and Again

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

4. Boost Credibility

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

5. Print Has Staying Power

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

Using print and social media isn’t an “either or” proposition. Understanding when and where to use each channel is the key to getting the best results. If you’re ready to add printing or direct mail to your marketing strategy, contact Paw Print!

Scorpion Marketing 101

scorpion on white background
Get your prospect’s attention with a Scorpion Marketing Strategy!

Ever feel like you’re beating your head against a wall trying to sell to the unsellable, qualify the unqualified, or get responses from the unresponsive?

You are not alone. As a sales professional and/or a business owner, much of the anxiety, frustration and weariness that happens in growing sales and a business is directly related to these activities.

Are you comfortable, if not jazzed, to have conversations with clients and prospects but discouraged with how difficult it is to get people to engage?
What if you could increase the ROI on your sales and prospecting efforts with a non-intrusive strategy to engage and generate more leads?

Consider Scorpion Marketing

If you walked up to your desk and found a scorpion looking up at you, would that get your attention?! Probably safe to say you might even jump back… whoa!!!

There are certain things that happen in life – and in business – that GRAB our FULL attention and cause us to act on the situation at hand.

Scorpion Marketing is an ACTION designed to get a REACTION. It’s a tactic that’s guaranteed to get your intended audience’s attentions despite the competing forces vying for those persons’ attention.

Putting People First

Growing a successful business is all about seeking and establishing relationships with people who have a need for your product. Virtually all sales and marketing investments and efforts are born with the intent of generating leads. Leads are the spark of opportunity for prospects to build familiarity and trust with you, your company, and your product. Generating a viable lead is the cornerstone toward meeting a prospect’s need and converting a sale.

But sales and prospecting is tough work! You may have the best product and service to meet someone’s need. But until they fully understand and experience your offering, you’re just one of the pack. And even before that, until you get face-to-face with a prospect to fully understand the problem they are trying to solve, you’re at a loss as to how and even if your value proposition is relevant to them.

All of this brings us back to the importance of generating a qualified lead to trigger your business development process. That’s where Scorpion Marketing comes in.

How Does Scorpion Marketing Work?

At Paw Print & Mail, we’ll design a strategy utilizing an attractive and relevant direct marketing package and follow up process that’s guaranteed to get the attention of your key prospect or client. Like reacting to the scorpion on your desk, our Scorpion Marketing process will set you apart from your competition and exponentially increase your ability to directly connect with your prospects and begin the relationship building process.

Above all… Scorpion Marketing spurs the engaging activity that leads to sales. Scorpion Marketing is prospecting on steroids, which is more fun and rewarding than the typical prospecting you’ve done (and dreaded doing) in the past.

To learn more about our Scorpion Marketing service, contact Tom at tbrassard@paw-prints.com or call Paw Print & Mail at 802.865.2872.