Eco-Friendly Promotional Products Speak Volumes

What does it mean to you to be a Vermonter? One thing that has always been a piece of the Vermont brand, and that’s a part of my philosophy, is minimizing our environmental impact. Vermont is overflowing with locally produced items that breathe quality and sustainability. It’s an essential part of who we are as a community.

In the business world, it’s crucial that you can back up your claims.  You want your marketing, including promotional products, to accurately reflect your brand and its core beliefs. If your company has an eco-friendly focus and you’re looking to market your brand with promotional products, there are several options available produced with sustainability in mind.

Vegan Leather

black backpack made of vegan leather labeled with gravity logo in white ink
Several vegan leather products can be found, including bags, wallets, luggage tags, tablet covers and portfolios.

While leather has long been a base material for many apparel and accessory products, there are concerns regarding its ethical and environmental costs. Many consumers today are choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle, not only in what they eat, but also regarding the physical products they wear and use. Even those who aren’t committed vegans see the leather production process as problematic, for the animals, the environment, and the individuals who tan and cure the leather.

Vegan leather is essentially another term for faux leather. Non-leather alternatives have been on the market for a while, but vegan leather is now taking the accessories market by storm. Bags, watch bands, journals and many more vegan leather products are in high demand. Another factor in its favor is the cost—it’s more affordable than true leather options.

black purse vegan leather with tassel on left
The fashion industry has long been aware of vegan leather, ensuring the availability of several stylish products.

While vegan leather is a synthetic product, the apparel industry is getting smarter and pickier about the materials used to compose their vegan leather. This ensures that consumers can confidently purchase leather alternatives, knowing they are making an eco-friendly choice.

 

 

Biodegradable and Recycled Pens

black gold and blue pens made of paper and biodegradable plastic
These pens are made of recycled paper and a biodegradable plastic-like material made of corn.

Pens are a staple promotional product, for good reason. They’re inexpensive, useful, and great to give away. However, pens do have a short lifespan compared to other promotional products and are generally not reusable.

The good news is, the pen market is robust, and many vendors are concerned about the impact their products have on the environment. Several options are composed of either recycled paper, a corn-based plastic, or a combination of both. In addition to being composed of natural and recycled material, these pens are also biodegradable, and have a unique look and feel.

A Shirt Made from Soda Bottles

red haired woman wearing red t shirt and jeans
These blended tees are partially made with recycled plastic bottles.

Recycled options aren’t limited to promotional accessories—there are also eco-conscious options when it comes to apparel. Though only a small portion of textiles are currently recycled, we can expect that number to grow as more consumers are actively calling for greater sustainability in the apparel market.

Several vendors are producing clothing using a portion of recycled materials, including plastic bottles and fibers from other garments. These items maintain the quality of new fiber while giving consumers added peace of mind.

Refillable Portfolios

We may live in a digital world, but there are always times when we need to hand write notes.  A popular trend this year is the reusable portfolio. These items typically consist of a durable outer cover with removable and replaceable inner notepads.

vinyl portfolios three standing upright and two laying open on a table with a pen
These vinyl portfolios have a unique look and feel, and are composed of 100% recycled materials.

Composed of high-quality leather, faux leather, or recycled vinyl, these portfolios are a nice branding opportunity that consumers are sure to use again and again. They are perfect for debossing, which gives the piece a professional look and feel.

Are you interested in marketing with promotional products? We have a wide variety of items, including eco-friendly options, available in our online catalog. Contact us and start a conversation about how promo can help your business today.

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Hot Branded Products for 2018

2018 written with sparklers
donorlynk.com

What will 2018 be for you? At Paw Print, we’re looking ahead to a year of adventure, movement, and being outdoors. It’s no coincidence that Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2018, Ultra Violet, is described as a “thoughtful” and “forward-thinking” hue.

Expect this theme to carry over into promotional products this year. There are many items on the market encouraging exploration, environmental advocacy, and activity. You can ensure these descriptions come to define your business by incorporating related promotional products into your marketing strategy.

A key rule of an effective promotional product: it must be something your audience will use. Here are some items consumers will want to use, again and again.

Stainless Steel Water Bottles:

Let’s face it—we live in a world run by plastic. So many of the items we encounter daily are composed partly or entirely of plastic.

What’s a better alternative? Metal.

Metal water bottles give a sense of quality and class—this is not your average drink ware. Expect to see a preference for metal and glass bottles to continue through 2018. Metal water bottles, specifically those composed of stainless steel, are long lasting, durable, healthier and travel well. They’re at home at your office meeting or on top of a mountain.

Other benefits of stainless steel bottles include:

  • Don’t retain flavors: ensure a fresh taste with every drink
  • Toxin free: even BPA-free plastic can leach other toxins into your drinks
  • Keeps drinks colder and hotter for longer periods
  • Money saver: over time, using a reusable metal bottle versus disposable plastic will save consumers a significant chunk of change
  • Environmental benefits: most disposable plastic water bottles are not recycled, and require a lot of energy and fossil fuels to manufacture and distribute

two metal water bottles gray with blue and white logo and copper with white logo

 

A popular style on the market today, this 17 oz bottle can be ordered in a variety of finishes and colors. Composed entirely of stainless steel, the bottle includes copper vacuum insulation to keep your beverages cool or hot throughout the day. With a sleek design and quality materials, stainless steel bottles are sure to be popular with your customers and employees.

 

glass water bottle with steel lid decorated with orange and pink dunkin donuts logo

 

If glass is a better fit for you, this 20 oz option includes a steel cap and full glass body. Though perhaps not the best choice for more strenuous adventures, glass still offers an environmentally friendly solution and is a great branding opportunity. You can imprint all water bottles with the logo of your choice.

 

Doohickey:

silver and black carabiner tools

Have you ever looked at an unidentifiable item and wondered, what’s this doohickey? The official doohicKey brings many doohickeys into one. You can measure, cut, tighten hardware, and open bottles, all with one tool.

I can think of several occasions where I knew exactly what item I needed, but just didn’t have it. You’ve probably been in similar situations, as have your customers. The doohicKey is a multi-functional tool for on-the-spot action. It’s made of stainless steel, so it’s sure to last. And it can be engraved with your logo, so you’ll stay top of mind with your audience. They’ll be prepared for anything!

Socks:

When you get dressed in the morning, there’s a pretty good chance socks are included in your outfit for the day. If you work in a corporate position, there may be a dress code that makes it hard for you to express your personality. But you can often add a bit of character to your outfit with fun socks.

colorful sock on foot depicting corporate logo

Now you can give your company some extra personality with socks branded with your logo. Create a fun and functional promotional giveaway with both full color print and embroidery options.

two striped socks embroidered with business logos on cuff

When I was a kid, socks were a bit of a disappointing gift; but now, I always look forward to receiving a fun new pair for my collection. Fans of your brand will be eager to wear your socks wherever life takes them.

Want to add energy and excitement to your branding? Incorporating fun promotional items like these into your marketing strategy is sure to turn some heads. At Paw Print & Mail, we can help you find just the right promotional products to promote your company. Stay tuned next week for our top picks for apparel in 2018!

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Color Trends: The History of Pantone

smoky purple background with white text color of the year 2018 pantone ultra violet

Provocative. Thoughtful. Forward thinking. What do these words mean to you? They’ve been used to describe the 2018 Pantone Color of the Year: Ultra Violet.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the shade, Ultra Violet has been chosen as the most fitting color for the year ahead, and we’ll likely be seeing it everywhere. But what is Pantone, and how does a color become the Color of the Year?

The Power of Color

When you think about a brand, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many consumers, it’s color. We tend to make judgments about products within 90 seconds of first seeing them. And, up to 90 percent of our decision is based on color alone.white head with colorful arrows pointing outwards

Color is an essential piece of branding. To ensure a color is associated with your brand, you need to be consistent with it. This means that for uniformity, the exact shade must be used across marketing: the same shade of green for every Starbucks sign, the same red for each Coke bottle, and the same yellow for each imprint of McDonald’s’ golden arches. A color can even be trademarked if it is determined to be a critical distinguishing element of your brand.

The easiest way for printers to ensure color consistency is by using a color matching system, where each shade, tint, and hue is assigned a unique number. There are many variations of “light blue.” But with a color matching system like Pantone, any printer anywhere can recreate the exact shade of blue you’re looking for just by knowing its numerical ID.pantone color wheel

Pantone isn’t the only system of its kind, but it is the most well-known. In the 1960s Pantone was a printing company that produced, among other things, color charts for different industries. But at that time, colors were printed based on color name, which led to reprints and inefficiency. Pantone employee Lawrence Herbert bought the company and released the first Pantone Matching System (PMS) guide in 1963, to reduce variability in color printing.

At Paw Print, we use Pantone regularly to ensure the color side of the printing process goes as smooth as possible. Knowing the PMS color of your logo makes it easy for us to guarantee color consistency across all your print materials. With over 1,800 colors defined for printing by Pantone, we’re sure to find the right shade for your brand.

Color on Trend

Over the years, Pantone has expanded its market to provide color standards for other industries as well, including interior design and fashion. Because of this, Pantone is more tuned-in than ever to the color trends that consumers are looking for—and they’re setting trends themselves.

In 2000, they launched their first Color of the Year, a Cerulean blue. Cerulean was associated with optimism, which reflected the cultural pulse and current events of that time as we prepared to enter a new century.

With each color since, Pantone has followed the same process: paying attention to world events and gauging current emotional and cultural trends. Every December, they release their chosen color for the following year. The color is especially important to designers, as it sets trends for apparel, home décor, and other consumer products that will be followed throughout the year to come.four mugs printed with pantone colors

In addition to releasing the color, Pantone produces licensed products like mugs and suitcases, which are popular with a broad market. Earlier this year, they released “Love Symbol #2,” a purple shade created to honor music icon Prince. They’ve also worked with Sephora to develop makeup palates focused on the Color of the Year, showing how important color is for personal as well as corporate branding.

What do you think of Ultra Violet? How would you use this color? Let us know!

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Why You Should Add Philanthropy to Your Business

gift box wrapped with dollar bills and red bowIt’s the season of giving, and as you celebrate the holidays with family and friends, you may be feeling a renewed sense of generosity and goodwill. At this time of year many of us give not only to those on our gift lists, but also to those who may be struggling to feel the same good cheer that we’ve come to expect during the holiday season.

Many companies choose to give back during the holidays as well. Your business can make an impact by making charitable giving a part of your business model, not only seasonally, but year-round. This kind of altruism isn’t just good for the spirit—it has important benefits for your business as well.

How Charitable Giving Helps Businesses

Giving Motivates Your Employees

While the good vibes of giving a gift may fade after a short while, long-term involvement with a charitable organization has lasting and powerful effects on employee satisfaction. A survey earlier this year by Great Place to Work found that employees who had a positive experience of giving back at their companies were 4 times more likely to give extra to get a job done, more likely to be brand ambassadors, and more likely to want to stay at their companies long-term.

business people seated on couch surrounding open laptop
Business image created by Freepik

Another study by the Cone Cause found that employees involved in causes through their company were 28% more likely to be proud of their company’s values and 36% more likely to feel a strong sense of loyalty than employees who were not involved. Philanthropy can also help employees bond as they work together for a cause, building a strong sense of teamwork and morale.

Generate Positive Vibes for Your Brand

When you make a long-term, involved commitment with a charitable organization, awareness of your brand spreads throughout the community. At the same time that you’re doing good, your community is learning who your brand is and what matters to you. You’re building connections with members of your community, and your name will be talked about in the community in a positive light. And, because word-of-mouth is the top way that consumers make decisions about brands and products, you’ll be generating positive conversations about your brand that will lead consumers to look to you for future needs.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Since not all companies are going to incorporate charitable giving, doing so differentiates you from your competition. The Cone Cause found that in the last year, 41% of Americans bought products because those items were associated with an issue or cause. Consumers, especially millennials, are more willing to purchase products or services from companies that support causes. There is an added sense of trust and of humanity that is present when a brand’s values align with those of consumers—which leads to increased customer loyalty.

Tax Deductions

Sometimes donations of funds, items, and some volunteer expenses can be deducted from your taxes. Ask your accountant for more specific information on how you might do this.

Walk the Talk

First, consider why you are giving back and what cause you will give to. The more personal your causes and reasons for giving are, the more genuine you will come across and the easier it will be to share your story. Maybe you or a loved one was helped by a cause, and you want to support others experiencing similar situations. Or maybe you recognize certain opportunities or advantages you’ve had and want others to have those same opportunities. It’s not the size of the gift but the sincerity of your giving that matters most.

Also think about how your chosen cause ties in with your company. If you sell pet food and supplies, you could support local pet shelters. At the same time you’re helping animals find loving homes, you’re creating potential customers for your business who will need to shop for their new pet. Or if you sell women’s clothing, you could sponsor a fundraiser for breast cancer research. Many of your customers may have had experience with cancer or know someone who has, so you’ll be deepening the connections you have with them.

Other Ways to Give

  • Have a portion of overall profits or overall proceeds from a certain product or service go to a charity.
  • Design a product or service specifically for the cause you want to support. You don’t have to give 100% of profits to the charity, but you can market the product as created with the intention of supporting a specific group or cause.
  • Market products as buy one, give one—consumers know each item they buy will be matched and given to someone in need.
  • Set up scholarships to help students succeed. If you’re a tech company, you could support a scholarship that allows students access to special opportunities like coding classes or workshops.

Whichever strategy you decide to use, it’s essential that you are consistent in what you give and when you give. Maybe you decide to give quarterly, so you can tell your customers that in the last 3 months you were able to give a specific amount with their support.

Take Action

man and woman volunteers posing
Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

Contributing financially to a charity is admirable. However, giving money alone will not have the same impact on your employees or your community as getting involved. Encourage employees to participate in events, serve food at a food shelf, or personally drop off donations. Some companies incorporate days into their annual schedule that employees can take off to volunteer. Consider closing the office for a day and being present to support your cause at a big event.

Being more deeply involved increases your company’s connection to your community, is more meaningful and enjoyable for employees, and helps build your story. Your contributions to an organization are more meaningful and impactful if they grow and evolve over time, and if you personally interact with your cause, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of who your cause is helping and how they are benefitting from its services. The deeper that understanding, the better you’ll be able to share your story and gain more support for the organization and for your business.

So, let’s put this subject into action! For every like on this article, Paw Print & Mail will donate $2 to the local Meals on Wheels program at Age Well, up to $100. Thank you for your support.

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Consider the Subtle Branding Approach

Branding-paw-print-and-mailEach morning as I prepare for work, I gather up the essentials: keys, phone, lunch, and travel mug. Whether I’m in the mood for coffee or tea, starting my day with a hot beverage is part of my routine, and it’s probably part of yours too. My mug gets a lot of use, but it’s not only functional—it also makes a statement. With a bright colored body and bold logo, my mug shows that I’m a proud graduate of my college. I’m not just drinking coffee; I’ve become a brand ambassador for my school.

While I could use any mug, I chose one that makes a statement with bold branding because the connection to my school is an important part of who I am. However, such branding is not the right fit for every product or every customer. Sometimes a subtler branding approach may lead to more engagement from a prospective customer—and more sales and leads for your business.

Why Use Promotional Products?

Branded promotional items are everywhere these days. It’s likely you have several yourself. Promo marketing includes the basics, like branded apparel, mugs, and pens, and also things like golf balls, kitchen items, and car accessories. You could even get a branded toaster, if you wanted. Your options for promotional products are nearly unlimited. But what is the real benefit to using them?

According to the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA), advertising with promotional products directly correlates with improved brand recognition and increased sales. It’s also been shown to have a higher return on investment than other marketing strategies.

Including promotional products in your larger marketing strategy increases the effectiveness of your other marketing methods by 44%. And a study by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) found that 52% of survey respondents did business with a company after receiving a promotional product from them. Promotional product marketing increases brand awareness and gives your company an edge over the competition.

Where Do I Start?

Target-Branding-Paw-Print-And-Mail
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

The key to effective promotional products is that they must be useful to your audience. An item like a pen will get widespread use, but to make the most of promo marketing, you have to think deeper about your customers. Even if you create a quality product, if your target audience doesn’t regularly use that item, your marketing will not be as effective.

So, if you have a fitness center, you could have branded water bottles or t-shirts. Or, if you’re in the technology field, try mousepads or USB drives. If your customers not only use the products, but use them when they’re making decisions related to the products or services you offer, you’ll stay at the top of their minds.

Functionality is essential, but another factor to consider is the branding itself. Sticking your logo all over an item may not always be the answer. How much branding is too much branding?

The Subtle Branding Approach

Promo-product-stat-paw-print-and-mail

There are a number of ways to include promo products in your marketing. You can give them away at events, you can sell them, you can wear them, and you can include them in a mailing package to reach out to prospects or to thank current customers.

Each of these approaches connects you with a different audience. One way you can differentiate is to choose a level of branding that corresponds to your audience’s level of brand awareness.

In the example of my mug, I want to be a brand ambassador and use a product that promotes and reminds me of my college. That level of branding appeals to me in this instance, but it won’t appeal to everyone. It may seem that placing your logo on an item your audience regularly uses would be a win-win—they’ll use the item, and your business will be promoted. But if you go overboard with branding, it could be too much for people who aren’t already affiliated with you, and you run the risk of your item not being used at all.

The more personal and/or professional a promotional product is, and depending on how, when, or by whom it may be used, the subtler your branding on that item can be. For example, a journal or portfolio binder are items a professional may enjoy receiving. But, will they tend to use it if your logo is splashed all over it? Such an item is more “yours” than “theirs,” so consider this when designing and purchasing certain types of promotional products.

You could choose to keep your branding, but tone it down. Maybe you convert your colorful logo to a neutral black or gray. You still include it on a promotional item, but make it smaller and place it on a sleek, quality product that will impress your audience.

Another way to be subtle is to include branding that is not specific to your company. You can position the promotional item to elicit a concept or best practice that your audience can relate to. Say you’re a company focused on energy efficiency. You could have promo items like an eco-friendly water bottle or journal decorated with an image, phrase, or artwork that your customer base (environmental advocates who support clean, efficient energy practices) will relate to. It represents your company more subtly than a basic logo.

If I were a long-time customer of your energy company, I may be likely to use a product branded with just your logo, because I support what you do and want other people to understand your mission and utilize your services. But if I were a prospective customer who was just learning about you, a product emblazoned with your logo is more likely to end up collecting dust. If you can connect with your audience based on a concept they relate to, you’re taking a step towards making them customers and brand ambassadors.

What’s your take—should companies use more or less branding on a promotional product? What branded products have you received and love to use? Let us know!

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Have You Gone to the Mailbox Today?

Rethink Direct Mail

Mail_Automation_Paw_Print_And_MailThink about the last purchase you made. What did it take to bring you from prospective customer to committed buyer?

Prospects typically need multiple touches before they commit to a purchase—over 7, according to the Online Marketing Institute. While it’s relatively easy to send out lots of emails or post on social media, we’re in an age where many of us are experiencing digital overload. (The average office worker receives 121 emails per day!) In such a crowded digital space, it’s hard to make your voice heard. If you’re not getting the kind of response you’d like from your marketing campaigns, it may be time to add direct mail to the mix.

Direct mail consistently rates as being more trustworthy, more memorable, and read more often than email. It provides a personal touch and the kind of experience digital just can’t deliver.

Direct mail may seem limiting if you have limited experience with it. However, printing has advanced considerably, giving you a wide range of options for texture, color, shape, design, and personalization.

As with any marketing communication, direct mail works best when it is relevant to the recipient and tailored to your audience. Just like digital communications, you can automate your direct mail to make the process more efficient.

What is Marketing Automation?

The basic idea of marketing automation is to use software to replace repetitive manual processes with automated actions. You can find, target, and contact prospects effectively and efficiently. The automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists and target specific audiences with tailored messages, leading to increased sales for your business. Automation delivers you more qualified leads and makes your marketing more efficient, so that you can focus on high-gain sales activities for your company.

Direct_Mail_Automation_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Business image created by Dashu83 – Freepik.com

Automation often relies on a trigger system, where a prospect completes a certain action, such as opting in to an email list, that triggers your software to send an email to them. Automation is regularly used for digital marketing processes, and the benefit of digital automation is that you can reach prospects instantaneously, increasing the chances of a sale. However, direct mail can be automated too, and it gives recipients something more: a physical and personal experience that stands out from a cluttered email inbox.

Some examples of direct mail automation campaigns include:

  • Seasonal promotions
  • Exclusive offers based on past purchase history
  • Mailings to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or to thank
  • Promotional packages, featuring branded products

Case Study: A Real-Life Campaign

Prospects_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

An essential factor of any automated campaign is to know your audience. Automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists to find the best audience for your campaign. You can define your best customers and the key demographic and psychographic factors they have in common.

If you’re working in a B2B context, you may find that a certain industry uses your services more frequently than others. If this is so, it makes sense that you’ll want to engage with similar businesses to find more customers that are like your best customers.

A recent mailing campaign we did followed this model. We identified an industry we frequently worked with, and set out to create a campaign to attract more leads from this group. Having worked with this demographic before, we were able to anticipate common pain points, needs, and desires they face, and create content with those factors in mind.

Before contacting anyone, we put together a compelling direct mail marketing package that was personalized to the recipient, showing our knowledge of their industry and reaching them on a personal level—we know your problems and desires, and we can help you to solve and achieve them.

The packets included a letter personalized with the name, address, and institution of the recipient, a functional portfolio folder featuring content customized for the recipient’s business, and a description of our services specific to that audience, all packaged in a custom envelope.

While we were able to create a personal touch with our content, automation allowed us to find and connect with these prospects in a timely, scheduled manner. We purchased data lists that we then compared to our current customer list to exclude our customers from receiving a prospecting packet. Once we identified a qualified list of recipients, we automated the mailing by consistently sending out 10 packets per week and following up with a structured phone and email schedule.

We created a personalized and industry-specific mailing and used automation to identify, mail to, and follow up with qualified recipients. We were able to generate business by creating an impression with our direct mail package, so that it stood out amongst the myriad marketing messages these businesses received on a daily basis.

At Paw Print & Mail, we specialize in direct mail marketing. Let us help you design, print, and automate your next direct mail campaign, so you can generate qualified leads for your business.

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The Essentials of Email Marketing Automation

Email_Automation_Paw_Print_And_Mail205 billion. That’s the number of emails sent every day around the world.

Some days it seems like I receive a billion or so myself. If you’re actively using email for work and to receive information from companies that interest you, your inbox is probably pretty full, too.

Two of the largest complaints consumers have about email are that they receive too many emails (44%) and the emails aren’t relevant to them (37%). Even when an email has relevance for a consumer, it’s easy for it to get lost in a crowded inbox.

To market your business effectively, your emails have to offer timely information that resonates with the recipient, and must be compelling enough to be opened over the dozens of other emails in an inbox. So, how can you make email marketing work for you, connecting with clients on a more personal level?

There’s a lot of talk about marketing automation these days, and for good reason…because it works. At its most basic, email marketing automation allows you to create and schedule emails to be sent out when they are relevant, saving you time, making your communication strategy more efficient, and generating more leads or sales for your business.

How Does Automation Work?

Effective automation requires tracking and analyzing data so that your communications reach customers at the right time with the right message. Marketing automation can track prospective customers from their initial visit to your website all the way to post-purchase and beyond. When you track the behavior of leads and customers, it makes it easier to see which of your marketing strategies is most effective, what the typical path from search to sale looks like, and what triggers customers to convert.

You can set up your automation to contact potential customers throughout the sales process. For example, if they’ve spent time searching for a product or service but haven’t yet purchased, automation software could trigger an email that will remind them of their interest and highlight the benefits of what you’re offering. Once they’ve made a purchase, you could send information about how to make the best use of the product. Down the road, your automation could suggest similar products that may interest your customer or upgrades to their current memberships or subscriptions. One name for this kind of triggered marketing campaign is a drip campaign.  Personalized emails generate 6 times more revenue than non-personalized emails, and this can have real benefits for your business.

The core of the effectiveness lies in the trigger. You can craft emails that are specific to what the lead is doing and what you hope them to do in the future. It’s kind of like a “choose your own adventure” book: each action a lead takes brings them further down their own path, and that path may be slightly different than everyone else’s.

In addition to sending emails on a trigger system, you can segment your email lists based on demographic factors like location, age, or sales history. This will help to increase sales and generate leads, as your audience will be receiving more relevant content. You can also use automation to ask your contact list what their content preferences are, to further target them with the right content.

A key point to remember is that automation is aimed at engagement. With automation, you are contacting prospects and customers when it is most relevant to them, with the goal of them completing an action so they will further engage with your company.

Types of Automated Emails

If you want to send automated emails but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some examples:

Welcome: A welcome email is one of the most basic forms of email automation. You may even have come to expect such an email once you’ve signed up for an e-newsletter or opened an account. It’s a great first touch, and you can use it to express gratitude or include a special offer. Craft the email to encourage the recipient to take some further, immediate action, with a “Shop Now” button, or a link to a compelling piece of content on your site.

Enhance the Purchase: While a simple “thanks for your purchase” on its own doesn’t hold much engagement value, you can make this type of email into something more. A key purpose of content marketing is to offer customers information and value. In a thank you email, you can include links to tutorials, guides, blog posts etc., which will help customers to get the most out of their purchase, drive traffic to your site, and position you as an authority in your field.

Customer_Review_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Business vector created by Freepik

Feedback: Another effective way to step up a thank you email is to ask customers for feedback. Encourage recipients to answer one simple question about purchase experience, satisfaction, or what they hope to get from the purchase. An email like this will get recipients to engage and provide you with valuable info.

Complete a Sale: The internet is a prolific resource for shopping, but there is also a lot to distract us. I can think of many times I’ve shopped around or filled a web cart, but not completed a purchase. You probably have, too. Whatever your business, there will be visitors who come to your website and consider a purchase, but don’t follow through. These are very qualified leads, who may need just a little push to commit to a sale. Automation software can easily track these visitors and abandoned carts, and send emails to the individuals to bring them back to your site and continue on.

Renewals & Expirations: Retaining current customers is much easier than searching for new ones, and automation will make this process easier. Automation software can keep track of when renewal payments are required or subscriptions are due to expire, and send your customers an automatic reminder.

Birthdays: People love special attention on their birthdays, and you can use this occasion to offer something extra to your customers. The software will track birthdays and send communications accordingly, giving a fun and personal touch to your emails.

Appointment reminders: If your business schedules recurring appointments on a regular basis, email automation can help you to remind customers when they are due for their next appointment. You won’t have to call each patient or customer individually, and you’ll be encouraging your current customer base to return to your business.

Events: Automation works great for event reminders. Once someone signs up to attend an event you’re hosting, you can periodically send them emails with date reminders, additional info they’ll want to know, and other events they may be interested in based on the one they’ve registered for.

Tips for Email Marketing Automation

Write Enticing Subject Lines: It’s as simple as this: if you don’t have a compelling subject line, your email will not be opened. Take the time to hit just the right note.

Have a Clear Call to Action: Automated emails are specific to the customer, and you need to be specific in what you’re asking them to do. Have one clear goal for each automated email, and make sure it is obvious what response you are looking for from the recipient.

Write Compelling & Concise Copy: Connect with your readers using persuasive and engaging copy, and keep it short. Most readers will scan for relevant info, so make use of bullets and bold text to get your message across.

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Infographic vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

Measure, Measure, Measure: Like any marketing strategy, automation can and should be tested. You can split test your email message content to see what is more effective. And it’s essential to analyze your data (like open and response rates). Though marketing automation is meant to operate on its own, it will still require adjustments on your end to ensure your content is performing the way you want it to and is aligned with the marketing goals you have for your business.

Let Subscribers Manage Preferences: The worst thing you can do is offend or annoy your audience. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they want to see from you and how often they want to see it. Having them engage less is better than an unsubscribe. But this being said, make sure every email includes a visible opt-out link.

Start Simple: As you can see, there are many different ways to implement marketing automation, and a lot of opportunities you can make use of. But if you’re just starting out, don’t try to do it all at once; rather, focus on only one or two automation campaigns in a comprehensive fashion.

Don’t Forget Your Purpose: Always remember you are looking to engage and nurture relationships, and ensure your emails are consistently doing so.

According to The Direct Marketing Association, segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue, which is huge! While this is a great reason to use marketing automation, we recognize that it can be hard to get things started. Paw Print & Mail is fully equipped to help you develop an automated and multi-channel marketing strategy. Contact us to get started on your marketing campaign.

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5 Ways Marketing Automation Delivers Qualified Leads

Generate Qualified Leads with Marketing Automation

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

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

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

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

What is Marketing Automation?

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

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

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

Why Use Marketing Automation for Lead Generation?

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Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Marketing Automation for Qualified Lead Generation
1) Automate Your Marketing on Schedule

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

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

2) Know Your Prospects

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

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

3) Segment Communications for Relevance

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Background vector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com

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

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

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

4) Deepen Relationships with Leads and Customers

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

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

5) Save Money While Targeting Better Leads

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

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

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Step Up Your Website’s SEO

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I don’t know about you, but when I think about buying something, I like to do my research. It’s important to me to know a bit about the company I’m doing business with, and to see if their product or service is truly the best option. And with a world of information available just a click away on the internet, it’s easier than ever to find the information I’m looking for.

According to HubSpot, 81% of consumers do online research before making a purchase, especially for larger investments. And, 64% of web traffic comes from organic searches, rather than ad clicks. It’s critical that consumers are able to find your website during a web search, and you can drive more traffic to your site using search engine optimization (SEO).

What is SEO?

SEO involves strategies to ensure your website will be visible in search engine results. It’s usually possible to find the information you’re looking for in the first page or two of search results, and consumers aren’t going to go through multiple pages of results if they don’t have to. Sites that appear higher up in a search are going to have the most visitors. How do companies get their sites to appear first? They’ve implemented SEO.

You can also increase SEO value with paid advertisements and by sharing content on social media, but today we’re going to talk about how you can make changes on your website to achieve a higher SEO ranking, to start generating more traffic and more leads organically and without the expense of a paid search.

1) Track Web Visitors

To get the most value out of optimizing your site, you’ll want to keep track of the numbers. You can use software like Google Analytics to determine how many web users visit your website, how long they stay on the site, as well as what pages they visit the most. If you know before making any adjustments to your SEO what kind of traffic your page sees, it is easier to measure the effectiveness of your efforts, and test different words and phrases to get better results.

2) Use Title Tags

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The title tag appears in two places. In a search result, it’s the headline text that you see and can click on. Once you click on the link, the title tag also appears in the tab at the top of the web browser.

A title tag should be a concise and accurate description of what the webpage is about. For instance, our website’s homepage title tag is “Printing & Mailing Services, South Burlington, Vermont | Paw Print & Mail.” The title tag picks up on key words that a prospect is likely to put into the web search bar.  If someone were to search “printing services Burlington Vermont” the search platform would pick out those words from our title tag, and our website would appear higher in the search results.

When creating a title tag, you’ll want to keep it under 60 characters so that it is easy and quick to read. Also make it readable, as if you’re speaking or asking a question to a person—a list of keywords won’t do. Instead of “SEO title tag keywords web search,” or something along those lines, try “How to Optimize SEO with a Title Tag – ABC Company.” While web users may be looking for information related to the terms in the first example, it isn’t user friendly and doesn’t tell you what the webpage is actually about or who created it.

Another important tip is to give each of the pages on your website a unique title tag. This increases the phrases and keywords associated with your site and the chance that your site will appear in a search results.

3) Write Meta Descriptions

This is the text that appears below a title tag in a web search. It’s usually a sentence or two that gives users an idea of what they’ll find on your site, so keywords are important here too.

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While not as closely tied to a search result ranking as a title tag, the meta description allows a web user to determine if your site is relevant to what they’re searching for. It can be the factor that leads someone to click on your site, or not. Using action oriented words and phrases in the meta description will help compel a web user to go to your site and take action.

Meta descriptions are strongest when under 160 characters, and like the title tag, should be different for each page on your site. A generic meta description for every page on your site decreases the relevance for web searchers, as it is not descriptive enough.

4) Add Internal Links

Internal linking means including links on each of your pages to other pages on your website. You can include them in the main navigation bar and throughout the copy. Your home page has the most SEO value of any page on your site, so when your content can be easily reached through links on the homepage, it has greater value in a search result.Search_Engine_Spider_Paw_print_and_mail

Think of it like a spider crawling through your site. A web search sends out spiders to every search result. The spiders are happy when they can easily crawl to the bulk of your site’s content just by accessing the home page—like a well-designed web! The happier the spider, the more search value your site will have.

Make it easy to navigate your site, too. Clear headers in your navigation bar and a consistent layout on each page will allow visitors to quickly find the information they’re looking for. When your website is easy to navigate, spiders will like it, and so will your prospective customers.

5) External Links

These are links that go to any site or domain other than your own. Search engines place greater value on links that lead to separate sites than internal links to your own site. External links add to the authority of your site, especially when you link to a reputable source, and add to the relevancy of your content in the search engine’s eyes.

Linking to another site can also help you to develop a relationship with that site. By sharing their content, you make them aware of your webpage, and hopefully they will see you as a source to link to for the future.

External links are enhanced when you focus on the words you are using to hyperlink, the anchor text. Rather than hyperlinking the words “click here,” make your anchor text descriptive. If you’re linking to a source about increasing SEO value, your anchor text could be “top ways you can increase SEO value.” These are the kinds of keywords people will use to search for information about the topic, and it helps give a sense what the link is about.

6) Generate Fresh Content

The marketing climate today demands that companies be producing fresh content on a regular basis. In addition to supplementing your overall marketing strategy, new content can help to increase traffic to your webpage. One of the best ways to do this is by regularly publishing a blog. Writing about topics that your audience is interested in and searching for will allow you to appear in a wider range of search results, giving web users greater exposure to your brand. Blogging also builds your authority as an expert in your field or industry.

7) Include Image Descriptions

Images are a key part of a website’s content, but a web search looks for text only. “Alt” tags are a way to add SEO value to the images on your site. Including a tag for each image can help increase the search ranking of your site, especially when you write it with SEO in mind. The alt tag should be specific and include key words but, like the title tag, should be a readable/conversational phrase.

8) Test Your Loading Time

While not directly related to search results, the time it takes for your website to load can also be a factor in the level of traffic you’re seeing. 40% of people will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load, and the longer the site takes to load, the higher that percentage gets. Make sure that your prospects can not only find your site, but can get to it as well. Try some of these strategies to speed up loading times.

9) Create Search Friendly URLS

Create a standard system for naming your page URLS. Often when a page is generated, it will be a random mix of letters, numbers, and symbols that are not attractive to a search engine. If you sell apparel, for example, a friendly URL could be “www.apparelcompany.com/women/tshirts.” The search engine will put that site high in the search results when someone looks for women’s t-shirts.

Writing compelling web copy isn’t easy, and Paw Print & Mail is here to help! Contact us today and ask about our professional copywriting services.

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5 Steps to Writing Compelling Web Copy

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Infographic vector created by Freepik

When you write something good, you feel proud. You want to share it with the world, and you hope everyone will read it.

In a business environment, compelling copywriting is critical, as is a well-built website. When you combine the two, you create an effective lead generation tool that will increase your company’s sales.

But how much of your copy is actually being read? According to Hinge Marketing, visitors only read an average of 28% of the words on a webpage.

The good news is, this is an average, and won’t be true for every website. While some websites aren’t user-friendly, your site doesn’t have to be one of them. You can increase the percentage of words read on your site, generate more traffic, and drive more sales using these 5 tips.

1) Know your SEO

Driving traffic to your web page is the first step, and it’s an important one. In order for this to happen you’ll want to know a bit about search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO involves implementing strategies on your website so that it will appear higher up on a list of search results. It’s based on how search engines like Google use words on a webpage to locate the content you’re searching for.

Some places to implement SEO are:

  • Title Tag: Text that appears in the tab when a page is open in a web browser.
  • Meta Title: This is the clickable link that appears in a search result.
  • Meta Description: Text that appears under the meta title in a web search.
  • Page headlines
  • Keywords sprinkled throughout the page

Check out this site for some helpful tips to better understand SEO.

You can also use software like Google Analytics to track the number of visitors to your site, including what pages they are looking at, what links they are clicking on, and how long they are spending on your webpage. And you can test out different title tags, headlines, etc. to see if it affects the traffic being driven to your page.

2) Concise Content Converts

Next time you’re on a webpage, consider how you’re reading it. It’s highly likely that you’re skimming the content, looking for key words and important points.

The reality is, most web users skim. They are generally not going to read dense paragraphs of text, as it is time consuming and they are eager to get at the facts.

The layout of your page is key for ensuring the content is read. Too many words and not enough spacing will give you low read and response rates.

Strong copy relies on brevity. Make your web copy concise, removing unnecessary words and breaking it up into short paragraphs. Start with a solid lead, the most compelling and interesting sentence, so that readers will want to continue down the rest of the page.

You should use headings and bullet points to make it easy for visitors to find the information they’re looking for as they’re skimming. And present key terms you know your audience is looking for in bold so they will stand out.

Also include links to other pages on your site that offer in-depth information. While you help grab a visitor’s attention with short copy, they will eventually want more information about a product or service you’re offering, and links will bring them directly to what they want to know. External links are also helpful, as they can bring credibility to your claims.

3) Speak to the “Experience”

Copywriting is all about selling an experience, and that’s critical to your web copy, too. You may be tempted to write copy that focuses on the intricacies of your company and its products/services, because it’s what you’re dealing with every day. However, your website should have an outward focus rather than an inward focus.

Why? Web users take between 10 and 20 seconds to decide whether or not to stay on a webpage, which means you have to communicate value to them fast. Your prospect is searching for an answer to the question, “how will this site help me?” If they’re not finding answers right away, they’re going to look to another website, and another company, to solve their problem.

Make your copy about the prospect and the experience they are going to get from your product or service. Simply listing the features offered is not going to keep the reader’s attention in the same way as showing the value the product offers, how it will give the prospect what they want.

This is a great place to include a link to a separate page with more details about the features and benefits of the product. Once you’ve emotionally hooked the reader with your initial copy, they’ll be looking for more information to rationalize why your product is a good buy.

4) Know Your Audience

Any copy you write needs to be understood by your audience. Your website is no exception. When you know your prospects and can visualize who will be visiting your website, you can write web content with that demographic in mind. What words are they using? What ideas/concepts are important to them? And why are they searching for your product or service?

Most businesses use internal, industry-specific language to refer to their products and processes on a regular basis. It may be easy for you to talk and write about your company this way, but technical terms mean little to your audience. Think about the search terms your prospects will use to find your page, and incorporate that kind of language into your copy, rather than writing jargon-filled sentences that are likely to confuse and lose visitors.

You also connect with your audience better when you write like you talk. While keywords are an essential piece of driving traffic to your site, overusing them or using them in a manner that reads awkwardly will make prospects stop reading.

5) Always Include a Call to Action

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Business vector created by Freepik

While some of your web pages, like blog posts or an About Us section, are meant to inform, your website’s main function is to generate leads and sales. Every page that includes a product or service you are selling should include a call to action (CTA). You don’t want your prospects to read your web page passively—you want copy that intrigues them and language that compels them to take action and make a purchase.

You should also make it easy for the prospect to take the desired action. Create a button in a contrasting color with text like “Order Now” or “Learn More.” You can make the CTA more compelling by adding value—try “Order Now to save 20%” or “Get Your Sample in 24 Hours.” A CTA becomes stronger when your webpage includes testimonials and reviews, guarantees, and/or generates a sense of urgency (buy now or miss out!)

Well-written copy is essential for your website, but it’s challenging to find the time to give writing the attention it deserves. Paw Print & Mail offers professional copywriting services, so contact us when you’re ready to give your writing a boost.

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