Direct Mail Tracking & ROI Success Indicators

Smiling woman removing mail from mailbox

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

phone scanning qr code
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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!

Direct Mail Works: Enhance Your Fundraising Appeal

woman reading mail at deskOne of the biggest reasons people don’t give is from a feeling of futility—how can my contribution really make a difference?

To turn this feeling around, you must show a donor how important they as an individual are to your cause. A personal way to do so that continues to get results is direct mail. A direct mail piece that sends the right message, to the right recipient, at the right time, is a compelling and effective way to connect with your target audience.

But what makes a powerful mail piece?

Let’s look at a recent appeal mailing from Giffords PAC, an organization working to end gun violence founded by former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords.

Part 1: Personal Letters

The contents of the mailer include two personal and visually powerful letters. The first is from Gabby Giffords herself, and the second is from her husband, Mark Kelly.

direct mail fundraising lettersThere are several tactics that make these letters compelling, starting with the opening sentences. In Giffords’ letter, her lead-in reads,

“The man who tried to kill me shot 18 other people that morning.

Six died. One of them was a nine-year-old girl.”

There is no build up to this, no context, which makes it more powerful. The true story on its own is enough to catch and hold our attention, as well as bringing us right into the issue central to Giffords PAC.

Kelly begins his letter with his own visually compelling and personal story. “I always thought I had a risky job” he states, going on to tell us of his 39 Desert Storm combat missions and four trips into space. To the average person, that’s risky stuff, and it helps to pique our interest in Kelly. But he continues on to root risk in the everyday world. Most of us will never travel to space. But the “more present danger” that Giffords faced, that of being shot, is, unfortunately, very real.

The openers are different for both letters, but they work to convey the same message in a compelling, personal way – gun violence is real, mass shootings are happening, and we are all at risk.

Data

Both letters also make powerful and effective use of data to send their message. In Kelly’s letter he states that “every year, 34,000 people are killed with guns” which is a horrifying statistic. Giffords cites the same statistic, but she says, “this year, 34,000 people will die from gun violence.” It’s a powerful statistic for both letters, but the language Giffords uses makes it feel more urgent—these people “will die” due to the current state of gun control, which I feel is a powerful motivator to support the call to action later in the letter.

Throughout the rest of Kelly’s letter, he incorporates statistics in a way that helps to build the story. It’s easy to get bogged down with numbers. And, it’s also easy to fall into an overly emotional tone without evidence to back you up. Kelly is effective at using data to strengthen his story and make a compelling case. His story is better because of the data, and the data is more compelling because of his story.

3 C’s of Marketing

Kelly and Giffords invoke the 3 C’s of Marketing in each of their letters: Context, Community, and Clarity. Their lead-ins set the context of the mailer and the mission of the organization. They build the body of the letter by developing a community-centric tone. Kelly writes that “right here in our country,” “simple every day events” make us question the safety of our homes, schools, and communities. Gun violence is a national issue, but it impacts Americans on a local scale, shattering communities. Kelly successfully creates the sense that GIffords PAC is a community of concerned Americans that aren’t just looking for financial support. They truly want the donor, as an individual, to become a part of their community. “Gabby and I are counting on you,” Kelly says at the end of his letter.

As for the last C, Clarity, it’s clear what Giffords PAC is counting on the donor to do. The issue and the facts are clearly stated, as are the successes they’ve achieved, their long-term goals, and what you as the donor can do and stand for.

Donor-Centric

While both letters talk about gun control and Giffords PAC, they are centered on the donor. The letters make liberal use of the words “we,” “our,” and “you,” the last of which is a critical piece. Using “you” helps the letters speak directly to the recipients. In Giffords’ letter she writes, “now more than ever, I need you.”  And Kelly tells us “our voice will be so much stronger if you’ll be there beside us.” Both poise the donor as pivotal to the solution.

P.S.

P.S. to letter

Did you know that the P.S. is the second most read part of a letter after theopening sentence? Kelly includes a P.S. at the end of his letter that succinctly summarizes his main ideas, and emphasizes that we, as Americans, are the only ones who can enact change by demanding better gun control laws from our elected leaders. Even if a reader skipped over the body of the letter, this P.S. clearly states the issue at hand with a call to action that makes the reader a pivotal piece of the solution.

Part 2: Action Steps

In addition to the letters, this mailing included two pieces tied to direct action. The letters make the case for Giffords PAC and are followed up with action-oriented content.

yellow call to action slipThe first is a yellow slip with a bold headline: Washington Must Find the Courage to Take Action! It echoes the tone of the letters—we will not stand by while gun violence happens, and we demand that leaders act. Then follows a list of clear steps that elected leaders can follow that Giffords PAC believes would achieve greater gun safety.

Part of what makes this piece of the mailing strong are the details. This slip cites specific actions for leaders to take and specific legislation that should and should not be a part of solving the crisis of gun violence. It gives the impression that this organization is clear in its goals, understands the situation, and has identified clear solutions. There is no passive language here. Action-oriented words are key to making this slip work.

donation slip direct mail fundraisingThe second action piece in this mailing is the donation slip. Again, the purpose here is clearly stated to help reiterate what your contribution will do. The recipient’s name and address are printed on the slip as well. All a donor has to do is check the box indicating the amount of the gift.

Another effective and personal touch is the photo of Giffords and Kelly that appears in the upper right corner. It is always helpful to put a face to a name and better know who you are supporting and working with. This slip offers multiple ways to give, too. You can mail this slip back to Giffords PAC or “put your money to work right away” at the web link printed on the bottom.

Letters to political leadersBeneath the donation slip itself are three letters to the President, Speaker of the House, and the Senate Leader for donors to sign. Giffords PAC takes on the work of ensuring these reach these government leaders. It’s an easy way to start making donors feel involved in the cause.

Part 3: Remittance Envelope

remittance envelopeIncluding a remittance envelope in the mailing makes the process one step easier for recipients. The envelope requires no additional postage to be mailed. Many donors today choose to give online. However, including a remittance envelope is a nice courtesy that makes it convenient for recipients to take action.

Need help with your direct mail or fundraising campaign? At Paw Print, we specialize in direct mail appeal production. Contact us to start reaching more donors today.

5 Ways Direct Mail Enhances Digital Fundraising

Emails with young woman holding a tablet

Are your fundraising campaigns multi-channel yet?

Digital developments are changing the way many non-profits fundraise. If you aren’t making use of digital channels to reach your donors, you risk falling behind.

While digital is vital to success, the most effective fundraising campaigns make use of direct mail and digital resources to create a cohesive donor experience, increase gifts, and be more impactful.

Here are 5 reasons to implement digital strategies into your next fundraising campaign:

1) Increase Your Reach

Direct mail is popular because it’s personal. There’s a lot to be said for being able to hold something in your hand, especially when it’s been personalized to you. We are inundated with so many emails throughout the day, and it’s easy for your message to get lost in the shuffle. At the same time, we’re receiving fewer pieces of physical mail. When we do receive mail, it gets our attention. According to MobileCause.com, donors are 3 times more likely to give online due to receiving a piece of direct mail versus an email.

man with megaphone to communicate
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Direct mail is effective for making a connection with donors. And it’s even more effective when combined with other methods of communication. It’s likely that your donor base is a diverse group that wants to receive communications in different ways. Donors may be more likely to give online after receiving direct mail. But they also are more likely to act on direct mail if they are getting your message across multiple channels.

2) Create a Cohesive Experience

Because you have so many channels at your disposal, and you know that receiving messages across platforms increases giving, it’s important to be consistent with the look and feel across platforms. That means the same language, tone, imagery, color scheme, message, etc. should be reflected in each piece of fundraising material that you produce.

If you want to make online giving a part of your strategy, start by creating a landing page on your website consistent with your mailing. You can use the mailing to get the donor’s attention. Then, drive them to go to the landing page to learn more, engage with you, and ultimately make a donation. You can continue the theme throughout your email, social media, and other print communications.

One way to make the donor experience more compelling is to have a story at the core of your message. Maybe it’s a specific individual or group who has benefited from your organization. You can tell their story through video, imagery, and quotes, using these throughout your communications and campaign period. The repetition of these elements also helps to instill a sense of familiarity with your organization.

3) Make it Easy to Give

According to Nonprofit Source.com, 25% of donors complete their donations on a mobile device. And, 51% of high-wealth donors prefer giving online. Statistics consistently show that online giving is growing from year to year and that donors appreciate the ease of giving digitally.

However, simply having an online giving platform doesn’t mean you’re creating the best possible giving experience for your donors. Put yourself in their shoes, and go through the process of donating through your site or app.  If there are many steps to making the donation, or your platform does not work for mobile devices, you may want to make some changes. Look into using QR codes or text to give to make your donors’ mobile experience even more user-friendly.

4) Step Up Response Rates

Would you be surprised to learn that annually, 1.3 billion pieces of mail fail to reach the intended recipient? Or that 20% of addresses on nonprofit mailing lists are outdated? This means that 1/5 of the direct mail pieces you send out have the potential to be a dead end, with your message not reaching the recipient.

List hygiene digital data That’s why list hygiene is so important. Mailing to bad addresses not only decreases your reach. It also costs you money and gives you a lower campaign response rate. Plus, it’s simply ineffective. Having a smaller, more accurate list ensures that you’re investing your resources more wisely.

One effective investment to make to improve the quality of your mailing list is to add an Ancillary Services Endorsement on the mail piece at least once per year. By adding “Return Service Requested” to the mailing panel, the post office will return both undeliverable and change of address pieces for you to update your list from. You’ll pay the going postage rate for the returned pieces. But considering the money wasted on undeliverable pieces you are not aware of, this is money well-spent.

You can use digital communications to encourage donors to update contact and address info throughout the year, while keeping them apprised of the goings on at your organization.

5) Provide Value

Donors give because they feel a connection with your organization or mission. This means that your communications with them must be more than just an ask.

Send direct mail simply to stay in touch with donors and provide them with updates about your nonprofit. You can use digital resources to engage donors beyond the giving process. Create a blog for your organization that encourages donors to comment and share. A blog also helps to establish your authority when you write about topics that affect or are related to your nonprofit’s mission. You can direct donors to your blog through both direct mail and digital channels, helping them to understand the goals you’re working to achieve and creating more motivation to give. Blogging is also one of the best SEO strengthening tools in your digital marketing and fundraising toolbox.

Ready to make direct mail a part of your fundraising strategy? At Paw Print we specialize in direct mail fundraising appeal campaign production, taking your mailing from design to print to fulfillment. Contact us today to start the conversation.

Make Your Appeal to Out of State Donors

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Donor acquisition is one of the most important functions of nonprofit fundraising. Your donors make the good work you do possible. Without a regular and tactical practice of enlisting new donors , both socially and financially, your organization would be challenged to stay afloat.

It goes without saying that stewarding your current donor base is essential—they’re the ones who’ve continued to champion your cause and are more likely to give consistently, and grow their gifts, over time.

Conversely, compelling new donors to give is more difficult than maintaining a relationship with a regular donor. However, it’s important to not leave donor acquisition efforts for hard times. Your donor base is constantly changing, and your approach to acquiring new donors should be constant as well.

Connecting with Out of State Donors

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Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

A significant component of attracting new donors, and maintaining current donors for that matter, is conveying a clear value proposition that you deliver. What ties them to your cause? Your organization? Your purpose? How you talk to donors depends largely upon what messages they are receptive to.

For nonprofits that serve a local community or an entire state, it’s likely that the bulk of your donors live locally. However, over time your donor base will change as people change employment, retire, and transition to out of state residence, either full-time or seasonally.

You may currently have or want to reach out to donors who you determine have ties to your service area. A good place to start is with former residents and also part-time residents who regularly visit your area but live elsewhere seasonally.

It’s easier to determine motivation for contributors who live near your organization. You may see them at events, and their contribution could be a natural desire to create a better community where they will live and work.

But out of state donors can be more elusive. And the message you use to reach them will probably need to be different than those of local constituents. Determining their connection to your organization or location is a critical piece of that message.

To acquire these non or semi-local donors, you need to dig a little deeper to try to make a connection with them due to their removed primary residence. Why have they decided to pay additional property taxes to maintain a presence in your locale? An important set of data for acquiring donors near and far gets personal. Ask questions such as:

  • What social values are important to you?
  • Why do you give?
  • What does it mean to you to contribute to your community?
  • What is unique or memorable about the community you once resided in before moving?
  • Do location, community, financial, family or other qualities influence your decision to have a second home here?
  • What does “making a positive difference” mean to you?

These kinds of questions can be asked of both current and potential donors to better understand your out of state donor base and where you fit into their lives. You may not ask these questions in such a direct manner. But you’ll want to get people thinking about these topics in a way that initiates a response with the information you’re looking for.

Acquiring Donors with Direct Mail

woman reading mail at desk

So how do you do this? As with any campaign, you first need to know what you want to achieve. Evaluate past data to set clear, specific goals.

Do you want to acquire a specific number of new donors? Do you want to increase donor acquisition by a percentage from year to year? Even if you’re seeing positive trends regarding new donors, it’s important to keep improving. When you have a goal in mind for a campaign, it’s easier to judge whether the campaign was effective. Goals also allow you to understand how your data is changing over time.

Whether you’re looking to acquire new donors or bring lapsed donors back into the fold, the easiest way to determine what matters to them is to simply ask. While much of your fundraising content may focus on asking for a financial gift, you could approach this kind of campaign without addressing that angle.

Instead, use direct mail as the basis for an introduction or reintroduction to the potential donor. If you can, acknowledge their connection to you and to your region. Maybe they own property here, or have business and investments tied to the region. Also speak to your role. What do you do for your community?

Use that connection to promote a compelling reason/purpose for these individuals to give. Develop a short series of questions that will help you to better understand what matters to these potential donors and what your organization means to them. A best practice with this kind of campaign is to create a landing page on your website tied to the direct mail piece, where recipients can go to submit their responses.

You can build upon this initial mailing with subsequent mailings to engage the donor, build awareness and trust, and make the ask for financial contribution.

Building a list of potential donors and effectively reaching them with a compelling campaign takes time. Donors will interact with you multiple times before making a gift. It’s important to keep up a consistent strategy, so that your message is sure to be heard.

At Paw Print, we specialize in nonprofit fundraising appeal production. Contact us today to start reaching and acquiring more donors for your organization.

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7 Reasons You Should Be Mailing Postcards

Sampling of Paw Print postcardsDo you receive a lot of emails? Too many? I know I do. The average American receives 88 emails per day, with office workers seeing over 120. Even if an email is full of worthy content, it can be hard for it to stand out from the rest.

What about direct mail? Some days, my household doesn’t receive any. So, when I do find something in my mailbox, I tend to remember it, and I certainly notice it.

Direct Mail Works for You

In our increasingly digital world, direct mail is often seen as an outdated and ineffective marketing strategy. But there are many statistics in its favor:

  • About 80% of direct mail is opened
  • 70% of Americans believe mail is more personal than digital communications
  • 56% of consumers have tried a new business, and 70% have renewed relationships with businesses, after receiving direct mail from them

And that just begins to scratch the surface of the powerhouse that direct mail can be for your business. It’s even more effective when used as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. Direct mail is also a versatile medium, allowing you to be extremely personal with your audience and adding interest with a range of colors, textures, and shapes.

One of the most popular direct mail formats is the postcard. 56% of postcards are read by direct mail recipients, the most read of any direct mail piece. If you haven’t included postcards in your marketing strategy, here are 7 reasons you should consider doing so.

1. Strong Visual Potential

Postcards are attention-grabbers, standing out among the typically white envelopes that fill our mailboxes. A challenge of direct mail is enticing recipients to open an envelope, but with postcards, everything is immediately visible. Your message is right in front of the reader, increasing the chance that your audience will read your content and follow through on a call to action (CTA). It’s an opportunity for you to get creative, with exciting visuals, colors, and shapes.

2. Concise Content for Consumers

There are many media and marketing messages competing for our attentions on a daily basis. Consumers are short on time, and must be selective in the content they read and watch. Postcards don’t offer a lot of room to get technical, so they require you to be concise with your message. Short, compelling copy combined with attractive visuals effectively gets a message across to your reader, striking their interest and leaving them wanting more.

3. Postcards Save Time and Money

Direct mail is a versatile medium, and each type of mailing has its purpose. More costly mailings can be very effective. But postcards are an affordable option that allows you to cut down on costs while still delivering a compelling marketing message. Postcards are also faster to produce than other mailings. They require no folding or envelope stuffing. You can eliminate the need for labels by printing the address right on the card.

4. Craft Targeted Campaigns

Other traditional forms of advertising, like television or print ads, allow you to reach a wide ranging but not highly targeted audience. With direct mail, you know exactly who will receive your message, and you can craft that message accordingly. Since postcards are relatively easy and inexpensive to produce, you can create different versions to send to segmented audiences based on demographics like location or past purchase history. Messages that are more targeted toward the recipient are more likely to be acted upon.

5. Pursue More Leads

Additionally, postcards are a better direct mail format for pursuing leads. Current customers are likely to be more receptive to receiving in-depth communications from you. If a recipient doesn’t currently have a relationship with your company, you have to work harder to pique their interest. Since postcards are inexpensive and visually engaging, they can be used to introduce a prospective customer to your company in a visually compelling way, and encourage them to connect with you.

6. Measure Mail Effectiveness

Direct mail campaigns are more meaningful when you measure how effective they are at compelling your audience to act. A postcard with a concise CTA is easier to measure, especially when your CTA includes a coupon or special offer. As recipients use the coupon or take you up on your offer, you’re able to see whether your mailing had the result you were hoping for, or whether it fell flat. You can easily adjust your postcards to do an A/B test, sending multiple versions at one time to find the offer that most effectively converts your customers.

7. Encourage A Conversation

Postcards are a great format for promoting events, as you want lots of visuals and color to encourage people to attend. And, though postcards can be personalized, the format encourages them to be shared in a way that a letter wouldn’t be. A postcard may be viewed by multiple members in one household. This increases the reach of your message and generates a conversation.

At Paw Print & Mail, we’re specialists in direct mail marketing strategies and fulfillment. Contact us today to enhance your direct mail marketing strategy.

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The Best Way to Add Value to Your Direct Mail

customized direct mail personalization letter and envelope
Personalizing our direct mail letters and envelopes shows potential clients you have experience working with experts in their field.

Direct Mail [Still] Works

When you reflect on the different ways to get your message in front of your intended audience, you may be thinking about marketing emails, social media strategy, or hosting an event. All of these are essential to a well-rounded marketing plan. But a piece is missing. You’re forgetting direct mail.

“Snail mail” may not seem like it fits in with our technology-driven world. But direct mail has proven itself as a vital piece of any marketing strategy. Consider the following statistics:

  • 56 percent of consumers believe print is the most trustworthy form of marketing
  • 59 percent of U.S. consumers like to get mail from brands regarding new products
  • 40 percent of consumers will try a new business after receiving a direct mail piece

While direct mail is most effective as part of a multi-channel marketing approach, it holds real potential for boosting your business. One thing that helps direct mail stand out is the personal touch it can bring. Here’s another statistic: 70 percent of Americans believe that mail is more personal than the internet. There is so much competition for consumers’ attentions. You need a way to show consumers that you value them as distinct individuals and can satisfy their individual needs.

Personalizing your mail changes the emphasis of your campaigns from what your company does to who the consumer is and how your company can fulfill the consumer’s needs. Your goal is to make a connection with the recipient, whether you are contacting them for the first time or are maintaining an existing relationship.

Personalization Techniques

In an InfoTrends Growth Survey, 55 percent of respondents said personalization of a mail piece increases the likelihood that they will open it. If your goal is to get your message in front of more consumers, your strategy should include personalization. While it takes time to segment your mailing list and create more specific content, you’re going to see an increased rate of recipients opening and acting on your mail piece—a significant return on investment.

One of the most basic ways to personalize a direct mail piece is to use each recipient’s name. It can be placed in the salutation (i.e., Dear Bob) and throughout the piece. Names should certainly be used over addresses such as “Dear Friend” or “Dear Supporter.”  These aren’t wrong. But the less personalized your mail piece is, the less likely the consumer will be to open and to act on it. General terms like “friend” are inclusive. However, it gives the sense that the recipient is one of many, rather than a specific individual that you wanted to reach out to.

Depending on how much you know about the members of your mailing list, you can customize your mail pieces to be as specific as you want. For prospective customers, the information you have will vary based on what you’ve managed to gather. At the very lest, you can segment your list by geographic location.

If you’re mailing to current customers, you can draw from information such as past purchases or how long it’s been since they’ve placed an order. This will affect both the type of mail you send to them as well as the wording and content of the mail piece. In one example, Target sent personalized direct mail to a group of customers who had spent over a certain amount on their Target credit card. The mailing included coupons based on customer purchase history. Target saw a 50 percent increase in response over non-personalized campaigns they had run in the past. Having the data to be able to identify distinct groups to target can have a big advantage for your marketing strategy and generate more sales.

The end of a direct mail piece offers a final way to personalize the piece. Thinking in terms of a letter format, have the letter be from an individual at your company. Have that person sign the letters for a personal touch.

P.S.

Research shows that one of the most important parts of a sales or fundraising letter is the P.S. Very often people will look at the opening of the piece, then turn to the back to see what the offer is. If there’s a P.S. there, they’ll often read it before anything else.

So make sure you always put an appealing P.S. that reiterates the most important points of your sales pitch. Remember, you want every part of your piece to work hard for you. Make sure your P.S. is doing everything it can to convert the sale.

Envelope Tips

Another way to bring personalization into your mailing is to hand address envelopes. This may be ineffective for bulk mailings. But if you have a smaller mailing and can take the time, hand written envelopes could be the personal touch that encourages a consumer to open your mail piece.

Envelopes are important to consider for any mailing. You may want to give some thought to the appearance of your envelopes if you are using them for your direct mail piece. Traditionally, window envelopes have been used for mail like bills. Using them for your marketing mail can have different effects. Because they appear like a bill, these pieces are almost guaranteed to be opened; however, the recipient may be unhappy if they perceive your use of the envelope as a deception.

You can also make your direct mail more interesting by creating a teaser, an image or phrase to print on your envelopes. The hard work you’ve done to personalize your direct mail piece will be lost if the mail is unopened. Your envelope has to be enticing enough for the recipient to become curious about what’s inside. A teaser could include your logo. It should suggest what is inside without revealing too much. And, never falsely represent what the recipient will find if they open the envelope.

As with any marketing strategy, you’ll want to test different approaches to personalizing your direct mail campaigns. The basic tenet of incorporating personalization in your direct mail pieces is to show value. Including aspects that are personal to a recipient gives them the sense that you value them as a unique customer.  By using your direct mail to speak to consumers’ individual needs, you are also helping to show the value your business can hold for the consumer. This gives them a reason to look for you for their next investment in goods or services.

Direct mail services are a big part of what we do at Paw Print & Mail. Contact us today to make your next direct mail piece the best yet.

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The Effectiveness of Multi-Channel Marketing

Mail_vs_Email_Paw_Print_And_MailSince the emergence of email in the mid-1990’s, much has been expressed comparing traditional direct mail to email marketing. Dubbed snail mail, the ensuing years have seen a decline in direct mail and a corresponding explosion of the use of email.

This is no wonder given the ease of deploying email. With a couple of extra clicks, you can increase your reach from only one recipient to hundreds or even thousands. It may seem like email campaigns are the most efficient method of reaching your audience—wide ranging and instantaneous.

The use of email marketing is compelling and both popular and effective in its own right. But it suffers a bit from its own success. And while direct mail is not as prevalent as it was for decades, its inherent differences and qualities compared to email find it making a comeback.

Direct Mail vs. Email: The Numbers

Would it surprise you to learn the average lifespan of an email is only two seconds? According to Proactive, a UK marketing firm, while digital communications have a lifetime of mere seconds, the average lifespan of a direct mail piece is 17 days.

And, Proactive found that 75 percent of people could recall a brand directly after receiving a piece of direct mail, while only 44 percent of people could after viewing a digital ad. Consider, too, that prospects are 10 to 20 percent more likely to convert to a brand or business due to a direct mail offer than an offer by email.

Additional research from the Direct Marketing Association shows the value of including direct mail in your campaigns. They found…

  • Direct mail is acted upon immediately by 79 percent of consumers
  • Direct mail generates a 4.4 percent response rate
  • And it has a 34 percent rate of attracting new customers

Versus:

  • Email is acted upon immediately by 45 percent of consumers
  • Email generates a .12 percent response rate
  • And, email has a 24 percent rate of attracting new customers

Yet, email marketing continues to grow in use and numbers. There are many factors in its favor: ease of use, low cost, and expansive reach potential. All very compelling for sure. But all this meteoric success comes with a price: 70 percent of those surveyed by Proactive felt they received too many emails. And, 57 percent of abandoned email addresses are due to users receiving email overload on those accounts. You don’t want a potential customer to remember you as the company that sent them too many emails.

As for email’s reputation of being a low cost medium, surprisingly, email was found to be more expensive per lead than direct mail ($55.24 vs $51.40).  However, the return on investment, or ROI, for email is higher for email marketing. For every $1 spent in an email campaign, Proactive found a return of $38 to the company, with a $7 ROI per $1 spent for direct mail.

This highlights the different ways that email and direct mail can work. Direct mail has a lower ROI, but it is less expensive to acquire a new customer. Proactive’s survey takers used the words “important,” “formal,” and “personal” to describe their feelings about direct mail.

Keeping it Personal with Multi-Channel Marketing

“Personal” is a word you should take note of. Making a personal connection with a potential customer can set your strategy apart from the crowd. And if it’s your first interaction with them, that connection can make a big difference between the customer deciding whether to build a relationship with you or pass you by.

How do you think the survey-takers described email? The above statistics show that direct mail has many positive aspects. If you’ve come to view email from an either/or perspective, you might think “impersonal” or “unimportant.”

But, some of the most common words associated with email were: “informative,” “interesting,” and “smart.”

What should you take away from this? It’s “smart” to keep email as a part of your marketing strategy. Use direct mail to connect with new customers and email to reinforce that connection and keep the interest in your company alive.

Direct mail and email both have an important role to play.

Customers in the survey agreed there is a need for both forms of communication. Items such as brochures/catalogs, welcome packs and loyalty rewards are preferred in mail form. General news and updates, confirmation messages and reminder messages are best received by email.

Because customers react differently to different forms of communication, it’s important to use direct mail and email in conjunction with each other. Of those surveyed by Proactive, 51 percent preferred the combination of mail and email, and 65 percent want to be able to explore a physical and an electronic source before making a commitment or purchase.

And when a business uses direct mail and email to market their products or services, customers will spend 25 percent more than a marketing strategy that uses just one method or the other.

Proactive found that 56 percent of respondents felt “valued” by direct mail, while only 40 percent felt valued from an email. “Valued” is a world like “personal” that you should keep in mind when developing your multi-channel marketing strategy. A personal connection can make the customer feel valued, and in turn, your company will be valued by the customer.

Despite statistics that show direct mail is effectively outperforming email in many areas, email can be successful in gaining awareness of your brand and making your other marketing strategies more effective. Both direct mail and email can and should be considered parts of an effective multi-channel marketing mix.

If you want to make direct mail a more compelling part of your marketing strategy, contact Paw Print & Mail so we can help you to maximize your potential.

Direct Mail Marketing, Alpha Romeo Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People buy on emotion

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

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

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

Direct mail works for Amazon too

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

I had an unexpected surprise in my mailbox a couple of days ago. Included in my personal mail was an envelope addressed to me from Amazon. I have to admit that this got my immediate attention, putting aside the other mail pieces, curious to see why Amazon was mailing me.

I found myself wondering why this elicited such a strong response. Curiously enough, I think it’s because of the relationship I have built with Amazon that gives their brand a seat at my table. I mean, who hasn’t purchased something on Amazon.com – the quintessential online retailer of “everything”. And, for anyone who’s an Amazon Prime member (that be me), I’m continually impressed by how easy they’ve made buying stuff; to the point where I don’t think much about it; quick search, 1-click checkout, arrival at my door 2 days later.

So notwithstanding Amazon’s association as the quintessential online transaction experience, I’m now holding a piece of mail from the largest digital presence in the universe. And, I suppose, therein lies the power of this particular piece of mail.

  • It’s unexpected
  • It stands out
  • It’s physically in my hands – I’m touching it, inspecting it, and ultimately opening it; something digital cannot do

Amazon-direct-mail-enclosure-Paw-Print-MailI open the envelope and pull out the piece inside that’s a folded enclosure with a little heft to it. On the outside cover of the enclosure is a phrase “Expect more smiles…” I’m intrigued. What could be inside that will bring a smile to my face?

I open the envelope and on the inside of the flap is the phrase Amazon-direct-mail-Paw-Print-Mail-VT…in unexpected places.

So, not only am I looking forward to something that will make me smile, but it contains something I’m not expecting; in other words… I’m about to experience a nice surprise!

I quickly see that this mailing is about my Amazon Rewards Visa card. THUD!! All this buildup for a credit card solicitation? Yes and no. Yes, it’s about my credit card, but no, it’s not a solicitation but rather an announcement of expanded benefits. Whew… all good!

Amazon-direct-mail-Paw-Print-VermontThe next thing I see is the cover letter which quickly grabs my attention and keeps this mailing from crashing and burning by succinctly and clearly announcing to me the special benefits and rewards upgrades to my Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card. AND, because I’m an Amazon Prime member, these additional benefits are automatic… no action required!! (these words evoke a similar pleasure to the word FREE!)

Shuffling through the balance of the enclosures, I find a colorful travel benefits brochure, a handy FAQ sheet, and lastly, a sheet of legalese about the Amazon Rewards Program (this IS a financial services notice after all).

What are some of the key takeaways here that you and I, as a business owner/manager and marketer, might apply in our own efforts?

1. Relationship is everything. Over the past few years, I’ve established a consumer, business, and lifestyle relationship with Amazon. (along with AMEX, Audible, South Burlington Audi, Skirack, Pandora, Target Marketing and Road & Track Magazines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nespresso, Motley Fool, and the local nonprofits I support – to name a few) I’ve become part of these brands’ target market so that when they knock on my door, I open it. Huge.

2. Identify, connect with, and nurture your target audience. Again… relationship. Your target audience and client base is your most valuable asset .

3. Approach your target audience how they prefer to be reached. In this example, it’s direct mail. What I’m real curious about for this campaign is what other channels, if any, Amazon used to connect with the various age ranges of their target audience.

  • Was this entirely a direct mail campaign or were other channels employed?
  • Did I receive this by mail because of my age? (let’s just say I watched the Beatles United States debut on the Ed Sullivan show in real time)
  • Did their millennial members receive the same mail piece or contacted digitally?

I don’t know, but I do know direct mail works for me and others similar to me in their target audience.

As for younger folks, ongoing studies and data reveal that Millennial’s are surprisingly responsive to direct mail as well. InfoTrends research found that:

  • 63% of Millennial’s who responded to a direct mail piece within a three month period actually made a purchase
  • 25% of 25-34 year olds say they opened direct mail because of the print and image quality
  • 25% of Millennial’s consider reading direct mail a leisure activity

4. Looks count. The look and feel of the mail piece can make or break a direct marketing campaign. Relevance, interest, and clarity of design are essential to make the instant connection that’s needed for success.

5. Content is the Holy Grail. You’ve only got a brief moment to engage the recipient or not. The focus of the content must to:

  • Tell the recipient what you do or why you’re contacting them – be specific and clear
  • Sell benefits not features and why the benefits are important to them
  • Provide an action device or call-to-action

Paw Print & Mail specializes in direct mail marketing and nonprofit appeal campaign production. Contact us to discuss your next project to maximize your response rate and ROI.

Direct Mail Newsletters – worth sending (again)

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

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

What’s the secret sauce?

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

Slow and steady wins the race

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

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

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

Describe your target audience?

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

Looking at these criteria:

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

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

Quick reads for busy people

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

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

People spend 30 minutes reading their mail

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

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

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

Physical mail leaves an imprint in the brain

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

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

People feel that direct mail is more personal than the internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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