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
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

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.

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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Step Up Your Website’s SEO

Search Engine Optimization key words

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. 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. 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. You’ll start generating more traffic and more leads organically, 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

SEO title tag descriptions

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 person a question—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.” Web users may be looking for information related to the terms in the first example. But it isn’t user friendly and doesn’t tell you what the web page 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 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.

SEO meta description examples

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.

Google allows meta descriptions to be up to 320 characters long. But you may find a shorter description conveys your point more concisely. Like the title tag, meta descriptions 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. When your content can be easily reached through links on the homepage, it has greater value in a search result.SEO spider

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. Alt tags are also a critical piece of website accessibility, as they ensure visitors who can’t view the images can still understand what your content is about.

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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Get an Early Start on Your Year-End Fundraising

Year_End_Gift_Paw_Print_And_MailHoliday tunes, snowfall, and ringing in a new year—that all seems far away, doesn’t it? But whether we like it or not, the end of the year will be here before we know it.

The holiday season is busy for all kinds of reasons. If you’re involved with year-end fundraising for a nonprofit organization, you know how hectic the last few weeks of the year can be. Nearly 1/3 of annual giving occurs in the month of December, with 12% of all giving occurring on the last three days of the year.

This creates a lot of pressure for nonprofits, as things get down to the wire. Just a few days can mean the difference between meeting annual fundraising goals or missing the mark, and being unable to ensure your nonprofit can still offer the same programs and services it currently does.

But even though a large portion of fundraising occurs in a short time period, the strategic planning for year-end giving can start at any time, even as early as January 1st!

Over 50% of nonprofits begin their year-end fundraising efforts in October. But the earlier you begin asking your donors to contribute, the sooner you can make a compelling ask. And starting early gets you ahead of the flurry of appeals appearing in mid-Fall.

Whenever you decide it’s time to begin your year-end appeals, here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for this critical time.

Develop Targeted Fundraising Goals

It’s critical to have targeted benchmarks to refer to throughout your year-end fundraising efforts. Your goals can be focused on the amount you hope to raise, as well as which donors you’re looking to target. You may be looking to increase your average gift size or donor base, or better reach your recurring donors. It’s also important to nail down early in the game what channels you will use to reach your audience as well as how often they will be used.

Center your campaign around a specific number. This can be a dollar amount you hope to raise or the percentage of donors you hope to increase. These numbers are helpful for measuring the progress you make throughout the fundraising period. Knowing your numbers also signifies what adjustments you may need to make to stay on target.

Maintain a Consistent Marketing Sequence

Starting your campaign early gives you more time to develop a compelling sequence of appeals. It’s effective to connect with donors using a multi-channel approach, including direct mail, email, phone, and social media.

Though each of these pieces will be somewhat different, they should all echo the same theme, including colors, images, and key words. You want to inspire emotion in your donors. Frequently including an image and story of someone who has benefitted from your organization’s services could help tie your campaign together.

Donors often need multiple touches before they commit to a donation. Keeping your message and visuals consistent helps them stay connected to and develop a conversation with your organization, moving them along the path to making a gift. Using multiple points of contact over time allows you to introduce your fundraising plans without immediately asking for a donation, while still expressing your appreciation for your donors.

For some ideas of print appeals, check out our post comparing the use of appeal letters and greeting cards to connect with year-end donors.

Urgency and Personality

Two key ideas should be at the forefront when developing copy and design for your campaign. First, give your donors the sense that your message is vital and pressing. Second, instill the notion that that donor’s particular contribution is imperative to your nonprofit’s fundraising success.

To indicate urgency, write in short sentences using powerful verbs. It may seem like giving your donors as much content as possible will aid them in making the decision to give. But readers will get lost in large paragraphs of text. Your words should create an emotional connection and inspire them to take action.

As a fundraiser, you probably know that fundraising letters are all about the donor. But it’s not always easy to find the right combination of words that will make your letter donor-centered. It’s tempting to make your communications about the needs, successes, and goals of your organization, and donors will want to have information about those.

But, in order for a donor letter to accomplish its goal, it must lead to a gift. The letter should be focused on crediting the donor for your organization’s achievements. Play to what the donor believes in and wants to accomplish by giving to your organization. Using the words “you” and “your” many times throughout your donor communications is critical.

Printing and data techniques allow you to personalize your letters with names and send different letters to different mailing lists. Our digital printing capabilities at Paw Print & Mail enable you to personalize an appeal in highly detailed ways that demonstrate your organization’s connection with your donors. Metrics like giving history, ask amounts, program preferences, and pre-populating remittance coupons are all possible and will add an appreciable lift to your campaign response rates and revenue.

You can also look at your donor base using an RFM scoring system. This indicates how recently a donor gave, how frequently they give, and how much they give. This will help you to better target your messaging. To be extra personal, send personalized appeals to the top 1% of your donors. If they’ve given large amounts in the past they are likely heavily invested in your organization. It never hurts to show them how important they are to you and how you understand their hopes and objectives.

Make it Easy to Give

The purpose of your fundraising campaign is to raise funds. Your materials should make the donation process as easy as possible for donors. A multi-channel approach to fundraising includes the presence of digital resources that further educate your donor base and make giving simple.

Donate_Paw_Print_And-Mail

Digital sources should connect seamlessly to other communications, so that donors can easily transition from one source to another. Ensure your website is easy to navigate. Since donors are using mobile devices, you’ll want to use a responsive template for your website to encourage mobile donations, or at least make the text large enough to be readable on smaller screens. And keep the donation page simple, so that donors don’t have to think about what they need to do.

Any steps you take now to plan, create resources, and connect with donors will make things easier when December rolls around. If you have your year-end appeal strategy in order early, you can take more time to focus on events, personal visits with donors, and other end of year tasks.

We specialize in direct mail nonprofit appeal production. Contact Paw Print & Mail when you’re ready to develop your next fundraising appeal.

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Reaching the Elusive Millennial

Who Are Millennials?

What goes through your mind when you hear the term “millennial”? It’s a word that seems to be everywhere these days. But who are millennials? What makes them tick and drives their decisions? And how can you communicate with them?

group of young millennial people
Created by Javi_indy – Freepik.com

Understanding what a millennial is and how exactly you can reach them is an elusive concept. It’s one that is often frustrating to marketers who are trying to connect with this generation. You may have experienced this yourself. If so, I have both good and bad news for you. Since they are a very diverse group, no single marketing strategy is going to allow you to reach every millennial.

But the good news is, there are several approaches proven to resonate with millennials. And they’re not as hard to grasp as you may think.

Watch this video to get a clearer idea of who millennials are and what’s important to them:

Millennials have a different world-view, and need to be marketed to differently. They are a demographic that, in sheer numbers alone, is more populous than the baby boomers. This gives the millennial generation significant purchasing and decision-making power, a power that continues to grow annually.

Since millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020, it’s important that marketers understand the best way to reach this demographic. Though they cannot be defined by income, career choice, or marital status, there are a few generalities that can be made:

  • An individual born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s is a millennial.
  • As the first generation to grow up in the online era, they are used to digital communications and having more choices than previous generations.
  • Millennials are the most educated generation, though they also have more student debt.
  • Meaning, experiences, and causes are all important topics/ideas for them.

So, how can you successfully market to millennials?

1. Enhance Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Millennials are used to receiving information from many channels. They tend to be multitaskers, plugged in across devices and sharing content across media. Consistency across platforms is key for engaging millennial consumers with your marketing. Having a constant message and representation of your brand helps them to connect with your company.

Since so many millennials are accessing content on smartphones and tablets, you need to adopt a multi-channel strategy focused on mobile optimization. That may mean reworking your website into a responsive template. This will make it accessible and easily readable across devices of any screen size.

Millennials spend 48% more time watching video than the average online user. And 60% of them upload their own video, images, and blog content to the web. According to Hubspot, millennials are 247% more likely to be influenced by digital resources like blogs and social networking sites than previous generations.

That’s huge! And, it means that connecting with millennials requires you to develop a social strategy. Find the social media sites that work best for you and make them a part of your daily marketing plan. Adding a YouTube account or creating your own video content for Facebook or your website can also be effective. Millennials want to see helpful, informative content that they can engage with. Make sure your digital strategy offers them more than just what you’re trying to sell.

2. Embrace User Generated Content

The Baby Boomer generation relied on traditional forms of advertising, like radio and television ads. Marketers could expect that running an ad on TV would lead to many new sales and customers. Millennials, however, are much less likely to make a purchase decision from such an ad. What do they like? Brand interaction.

User generated content is one of the top ways that millennials make purchase decisions. They want to read honest reviews from customers who have purchased a company’s products or utilized their services. A study by Bazaarvoice found that 84% of millennials are influenced by user generated content when making purchase decisions. And 73% believe it is important to read others’ opinions before making a purchase.

Traditional ads are all about getting consumers to pay attention. Utilizing user generated content in your business is about building trust, which is high on the list of what millennials want from businesses. They like to do business with brands that are authentic and human. And they want to be able to interact and have a conversation with those companies.

What does this mean for you? Make it as easy as possible for public discussions about your brand to happen. Whether it’s on your website, a blog page, or your social media sites, get customers talking about your brand.

Facebook gives you the option of allowing reviews on your page, and this can be a great place to showcase what people are saying about your business. They might not always have good things to say. But a public forum is a place where you can show your willingness to resolve issues and take customer suggestions. Potential customers will see this, and it will help you to appear more human in their eyes.

Millenial giving 5 star review
Business image created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

Customers that love your brand will want to say so. They will become brand ambassadors by talking to their friends and family about their experience. This group is more likely to respond to a peer review than a pop-up ad. You can also invest in influencer marketing, essentially building relationships with individuals that have influence over your customer base and can reach them through mediums like social media, in ways that your brand may not be able to.

Try giving customers a chance to bring their personality to your brand and be a part of brand decisions. For instance, Lays has given customers the ability to choose the next chip flavor. Coca-Cola ran a campaign asking fans to get creative and interpret what the brand means to them in an artistic medium of their choice.

3. Personalize Direct Mail for Millennials

Millennials are used to digital marketing channels, and they rely heavily on what their community has to say about a brand. However, this does not mean that online methods are the only way to reach your millennial audience. US Presort, a direct marketing company based in New York City, conducted a surprising study about millennials and direct mail. Check out some results:

  • 84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email.
  • 50% of millennials ignore digital ads, while only 15% ignore direct mail.
  • 90% of people between 25 and 34 believe direct mail is reliable.
  • 77% pay attention to advertising through direct mail, and over half have made a purchase from a direct mail offer.

Those are some pretty compelling statistics in favor of using direct mail to market to millennials. As we learned above, millennials like to hear personal stories when considering a brand. One of the reasons direct mail is so popular is that it can be extremely personalized based on categories like purchase history, interests, and geographic region. Printing technology is also considerably advanced. You can add to the tactile benefit of direct mail by incorporating creative folds, colors, and textures that will make your mail memorable.

4. Increase Millennial Engagement & Market an Experience

Millennials feel trust when a brand’s values align with their own. Those values often include a desire to support a cause or charitable mission. Nearly half of millennials are more willing to purchase from a company if that company supports a cause, and 37% will pay more for a product or service if it will help a cause they believe in. Philanthropy adds to the human side of your brand that is so important for millennials. If your business supports a cause, make sure people know about it.

Being able to give back while conducting business with your company changes the brand experience. For millennials, experience carries more weight than a physical purchase. 78% of millennials prefer spending money on experiences rather than purchasing an item. Over half are spending more on events and experiences now than they ever have.

This may seem hard to work with if you’re in the business of selling a product. But it’s all about how you market it. Millennials are very receptive to storytelling in advertisements, and you can use that to your advantage. If you sell tents, for instance, make your ad about the experience of camping, how it allows you to relax, have fun, and connect with friends and family, rather than focusing on the physical and monetary benefits of the product.

You can also hold an event to get prospective customers more excited about the buying process. Attending the event heightens the experience of shopping, It’s also a great opportunity for millennials to connect to the personality and human face of your business.

We recognize that crafting a marketing plan can be a challenge. Contact Paw Print & Mail and let us help you find the right strategy to market your business to millennials, or any demographic you are trying to reach.

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Enhance Your Sales With Marketing Automation

marketing automation graphic
Be more effective with your marketing. Image created by Freepik.

As a business owner, staying in touch with your customers is the key to solidifying vital relationships and growing your business. You want to be able to have a conversation and convey your brand so they’ll return to you for their needs, rather than go to your competitors. But penning a personal message to a customer (and being able to anticipate when you might need to) can consume a lot of time.

Marketing is a core function of any business or nonprofit organization and it should be high on the list of your resource investments. But that doesn’t mean it has to consume all of your work time. An effective way to keep communication open while consuming less time is through the use of marketing automation.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Wikipedia defines it as the use of an automation platform to streamline sales and marketing efforts by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions. Essentially marketers can do more in less time, with greater efficiency, allowing them to focus on high gain activities while the technology delivers effective marketing results. Most marketing automation solutions today are cloud-based applications that enable marketing professionals to seamlessly integrate off and online media, such as Direct Mail, Email, Web, SMS (text messaging), Social Media, and Mobile, to create highly personalized and unified experiences across multiple channels.

With an automation campaign, you develop content that the application sends to your customers when it is most effective to do so. The technology allows you to give your messages a human touch and make them as personal as you’d like them to be, so your customers will feel connected to your brand.

The components inherently built into a typical automated marketing campaign include:

  • A trigger, most often an email, direct mail piece, or both.
  • A campaign-branded landing page, with one to a few qualifying questions, either with or without a download deliverable like an eBook, white paper, or other offer of value.
  • Thank You or follow up touch(es) to continue the conversation or close the loop. Throughout the entire process, personalization is employed to greet and engage.

This process gives marketers keen insight into the level of interest and/or stage in the buying cycle the customer or prospect is at. The qualifying information gathered forms a higher level lead for your sales team to evaluate and act on. This saves companies and nonprofits time and money by focusing on leads that have a higher probability of advancing in the sales or donor cycle. Whatever goals you have for your business, marketing automation can help you meet them through the development of targeted campaigns that will get you results.

Marketing automation is also a means of scaling your marketing outreach by being able to reach all or segmented parts of your contact list at once in a highly personalized fashion. This allows you to accomplish your objectives of building brand awareness, educating your customers, prospecting for leads, asking for referrals, and client nurturing.

Marketing automation is an effective tool that you can use as part of your marketing mix to not only generate leads, but generate QUALIFIED leads… and this is an important distinction to understand. Since the number one goal of most marketers is demand generation for their sales organization, one of the key opportunities of investing in marketing automation is to be able to develop well-executed lead nurturing programs. The added capability to create rule-based multi-touch drip marketing campaigns, leading to improved results, is one of the reasons why marketers embrace the solution.

Employing this strategy, the marketer is able to deliver “Sales Ready” leads to sales for immediate follow-up, while the remaining prospects are nurtured until they move to the “Sales Ready” category. This approach leads to significantly improved revenue results and marketing ROI. In fact, Forrester Research reports that companies leveraging this approach generate 50% more sales-ready leads (key revenue producing opportunities), at 33% less marketing cost.

4 Essential Benefits of Marketing Automation

While automation is a complex and layered process, here are four main reasons to invest in it.

1) Do More in Less Time

While setting up your automation software takes time upfront, once you have developed your content, you’re saving time in the long run. Rather than crafting emails individually, the software contacts customers and leads for you, leaving you with more time to focus on high-gain activities and develop new areas to market and grow your business. You’ll be able to generate more revenue, from increasing the number of leads who convert to customers as well as the extra time you’ll have to enhance your marketing strategy. 

2) Target Leads More Specifically

Customers and prospects will receive content in a timely manner that is targeted to their needs, interests, and content preferences. You can reduce the quantity of cold calls by generating a supply of qualified leads. 

3) Increase Action

Since content is specific to where each customer is in the sales process, it increases the likelihood of that person taking the intended action. 

4) Enhance Communication

Being in contact with your customers more often and more specifically increases your connection with them and can help to create more of a dialogue, as you learn customer preferences, needs, and behaviors.

Marketing automation is essentially using applications software to automate your marketing efforts. It is a digital tool that executes a predefined marketing campaign that, once the launch button is pressed, so to speak, delivers your marketing message in a systematic, consistent, and timely fashion.

While not all automated marketing campaign applications are created equal, the more robust applications, like those employed as a service here at Paw Print & Mail, are capable of effectively using cross-channel touches, like email and direct mail, working in harmony to put your message in front of your customers and prospects in an orchestrated fashion. Contact us to get started on marketing automation for your business.

 

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6 Key Statistics: The Stickiness of Promotional Products

Branded promotional products collageAs I waited in line at an event this weekend, my gaze settled on the back of a man standing a bit ahead of me. His black shirt featured the intriguing name and logo of a brewing company I hadn’t heard of before.  I was instantly curious—what’s the story here?

I lost track of this individual in the crowd. But his shirt stuck with me. I did a search for the brand on Google, and decided to bring along some of this beer next time I get together with friends. Without any commercials, traditional advertisements, or over-the-top marketing campaigns, this brewery earned itself a customer.

If you look around your desk right now, it’s likely you’ll find a promotional product or two. Any item printed with the logo of an organization you support or company you do business with falls into this category. These promotional products may be a part of your daily routine. Consider the coffee mug you carry to work, the pen you write notes with, or the shirt you wear to the gym.

The use of promotional products is an increasingly popular method of growing brand awareness. As the brewery shirt shows, putting branded promotional products out into the world can help your fans become brand ambassadors. In doing so, you’re creating more fans (and paying customers) for your business.

Investing in Promotional Products for Your Business

You’re probably using traditional forms of advertising to market your business. These efforts are vital to maintaining your sales strategy. Combining current methods with promotional product advertising can help to take your marketing to the next level. 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.

A major reason for investing in promotional products is to create increased brand awareness, especially in ways that resonate with your customers.

Want some compelling statistics?

  1. A study by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) found that 76.2% of people who received a promotional product in the past two years could remember the product, the company it came from, and the message behind the item
  2. 80% of consumers own at least one promotional product, and over half of them use a promotional product at least once per week
  3. 60% of consumers keep promotional products for up to two years
  4. Including promotional products in advertising increases the effectiveness of other marketing by 44%
  5. In the PPAI survey, 52% of respondents did business with an advertiser after receiving a promotional product
  6. Promotional products create a more positive impression of the advertiser 53% of the time

Targeting Your Customers

Consumers like to receive promotional products. As the numbers show, these products can have a big impact on spreading brand awareness and bringing in customers. But how can you ensure that your promotional products will do the same?

Think usefulness. You may have a fantastic idea for a promotional product. But if consumers don’t make use of it on a regular basis, its potential impact diminishes. It’s also important to consider the longevity of the product you’ll give away. Can it be used up in a month or two? Then it’s probably not the best choice for making a significant long-term impact.

Make yourself familiar with the term environmental targeting. This simply means giving away items to be used in an environment where your company’s services would be required. For instance, USB drives are a popular promo item. If you’re a tech or software company, it makes sense to give away USBs branded with your logo.  When consumers are using your USB at their computers, they’ll be reminded of your company. Since they’re working in an environment in which your services would be called upon, they are more likely to make the decision to invest in your business.

If possible, it’s helpful to give your customers a choice between a few different promotional items, to ensure that the items will actually be used. A survey by BPMA found the top four categories of promotional items were: the USB stick, electronic items, writing instruments, and mugs. Another way to speak to your customers is to give them an item personalized with their name or business, rather than just your logo.

Extend Your Advertising Reach

promotional products statistic graphicPromotional products can reach across time and space in ways that other forms of advertising can’t. Consumers tend to keep promotional products around for long periods of time. This creates the potential to make many more impressions of your brand than would come from a one-time newspaper or digital advertisement. A customer could wear your shirt while traveling somewhere outside of your advertising area, giving a new audience exposure to your brand.

And it’s also a good thing if consumers give away promotional items. Here’s a bonus statistic: 63% of consumers will pass along promo items they no longer want rather than throwing them away.  Sharing promo generates opportunities for new people to be exposed to your brand and, hopefully, become customers.

Giving away a promotional item can be a great way to break the ice with a potential customer in a way that a cold call could never do. And, a gift often creates an unspoken obligation on the part of the customer to do business with you. Some consumers are even willing to switch to a different brand to receive a promotional gift. The relatively small investment you make in creating the product could lead to a valued relationship and a lot of sales from that customer down the road.

Promotional products are a great way to increase the impact of your advertising, and we’re here to help. Contact Paw Print & Mail today to start increasing your brand awareness, or visit our promotional products and branded apparel online store to shop ideas for your company.

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The Best Way to Add Value to Your Direct Mail

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

Direct Mail [Still] Works

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

“Snail mail,” as it’s often called, may not seem like it fits in with the technology-driven world of the internet in which many of us communicate. But direct mail has proven itself as a vital piece of any marketing strategy. Consider the following statistics:

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

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

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

Personalization Techniques

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

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

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

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

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

P.S.

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

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

Envelope Tips

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

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

You can also make your direct mail more interesting by creating a teaser, an image or phrase to print on your envelopes. The hard work you’ve done to personalize your direct mail piece will be lost if the mail is unopened. Your envelope has to be enticing enough for the recipient to become curious about what’s inside. A teaser could include your logo, and it should suggest what is inside without revealing too much or falsely representing what the recipient will find if they open the envelope.

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

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

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A Top Way to Increase Brand Awareness

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Business card vector created by Freepik

 

With so many marketing channels available to spread your company’s message, and so much competition, your business needs something to help it stand out from the crowd. One strategy you can adopt is to develop promotional products.

What are promotional products?

Promotional products have a rich history in America, dating back to 1789, when a commemorative button was created for George Washington’s campaign in the presidential election. Since that first button, the promotional products business has grown into a booming industry with an annual revenue of over $20 billion.

Why are so many businesses jumping on the promotional products train? Because it’s effective. Including promotional products in your marketing strategy can increase overall marketing success by up to 44 percent.

Promotional products are essentially another form of advertising. This category consists of any item featuring your company’s name, logo, or slogan. You probably have many of these kinds of products around your home or office: t-shirts from events, a branded stress ball, and numerous pens from all the businesses you frequent.

Why should you use promotional products?

Giving promotional products to your existing or potential customers is a great way to increase brand awareness, grow sales, and improve your return on investment. According to SAGE, one of the top promotional product companies in the U.S., using promotional products creates a more favorable impression of your company over 50 percent of the time. In one case, 55 percent of people did business with a company before receiving a promotional product, while 85 percent chose to work with the company after receiving the product.

Plus, 8 out of 10 consumers own at least one promotional item, and 89 percent of consumers can remember the advertiser of a promotional product they’ve received in the last two years. Often giving something for free to a consumer creates a sense of obligation that will make them more inclined to return the favor and do business with your company. It’s all about brand awareness, getting your name out there so more consumers know who you are and what you do.

What kinds of products?

One of the most important factors in the development of promotional products is how useful they are to the consumer. SAGE reported that 77 percent of consumers cite usefulness as the top reason for keeping a promotional item.

Keeping the item also means keeping your brand close to the consumer, so it’s important to consider who your audience is and how they will be using the products you give them. You can use environmental targeting, giving out items to be used in situations where your company’s services would also be called upon. That way, your logo will be right in front of a consumer when they’re looking to make a purchase. Think mouse pads if you’re a tech company, water bottles if you’re in the fitness industry, or dog bandanas for a pet store. If you have the resources and opportunities, you can develop a few different products. That way, the consumer can choose what is useful to them, making them more likely to use the item and more likely to remember your brand.

When developing these products, time is an important factor. In general, you want products that can be used repeatedly over a long period of time. If a consumer can use up your promotional product in a short amount of time, it won’t have the impact or sales potential of a more lasting product. The longer your promotional product is around, the greater the chance of increasing brand awareness for a wider audience.

Branded Apparel

A great way to start marketing your promotional products is to have your employees use them. Some of the most popular branded products on the market right now are branded apparel items. Depending on what services your business offers, clothing featuring your brand can be made to sell or give away at events, or to be worn by your employees.

Branded apparel helps to build an image of your company that fosters positivity for both employees and consumers. Having employees wear branded apparel nurtures brand identity and creates a sense of unity among your work team. Unity promotes communication and a stronger connection and dedication to the company mission. This sense of team spirit can increase productivity and grow revenue. And it’s another chance to spread awareness of your company as consumers interact with your employees.

Consumers tend to associate branded apparel with professionalism. In the consumer mindset, these are companies that can be trusted, produce high-quality work, and are authorities in their fields. Designing and creating a high-quality apparel product can go a long way toward creating a favorable and memorable public opinion of your business.

If you’d like to make promotional products a part of your marketing strategy, contact Paw Print & Mail, now offering branded apparel and promotional product services.

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Practicing List Hygiene to Better Reach Your Audience

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If you’re interested in the best possible return on investment in your direct marketing efforts, start by cleaning up your contact lists.

Keeping Contacts Connected

In the marketing realm, there have never been more ways to connect with your audience, and tested methods like direct mail and email campaigns are still holding their own. An integral part of these campaigns are your recipients. Sending direct mail and marketing emails can bring a lot of attention to your organization or business, but this will only work if you are reaching and connecting with your intended audience. If you aren’t taking the time to maintain your contact lists, the success of your campaigns could be in jeopardy.

To make your message as effective as it can be, you’ll want to practice list hygiene. It’s impossible to ensure that every email or piece of mail you send out will reach the person you intend. However, practicing list hygiene is an effective way to improve delivery rates so that you are reaching as much of your audience as possible.

If you’re using a multi-channel marketing approach, you’ll have both a direct mail list and an email list to keep updated. Both can benefit positively from list hygiene.

Direct Mail List Maintenance

Direct mail campaigns are an effective marketing tool, even in our increasingly digital age. In addition to giving recipients a feeling of personal connection with your business, direct mail pieces are opened by 70 to 80 percent of recipients, even when they consider it to be junk mail. That represents a big opportunity for your business to connect with potential customers.

In order to get the highest possible response from your direct mail campaign, you want to ensure that the names and addresses you have on file are current. Annually, 1.3 billion articles of mail fail to reach the intended recipient, and every piece that is returned to you costs an average of $3 to reprocess and resend. That can really add up if your list isn’t up to date.

Incorporating list hygiene practices can be a way for your business to save money. Improving deliverability of your mail reduces the number of returned mail pieces, which you must either pay to resend once you have the correct address information, or put down as lost revenue if the information cannot be found. If you’re environmentally minded, sending mail that you know will be delivered means saving resources by printing fewer mail pieces and having fewer return to you unopened.

Here at Paw Print & Mail, two practices we use to ensure the success of our direct mail services are the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) and NCOA (National Change of Address).

CASS Certification is a software which standardizes addresses in your database so that everything is spelled and formatted correctly. It will also remove any addresses that lack information or are likely to have an issue being delivered. According to PitneyBowes, there are errors that could impact deliverability on 23.5 percent of mail, so you’ll want to thoroughly check the addresses on your list.

NCOA connects your mailing list with a USPS database, so that your list will have the most current address information. Since 40 million Americans will change their address every year, keeping up to date with a program like NCOA is essential to ensure what you send will be delivered to your intended recipient.

 Email List Maintenance

Though there are no added postage and processing fees as with returned direct mail, there is always a risk that your marketing emails will bounce back. Like postal addresses, email addresses change as new accounts are created and old addresses abandoned.

A bounce can happen for a number of reasons. Hard bounces are due to the recipient blocking your emails, deleting their email address, or sending to a domain or address that no longer exists. Or it could be a soft bounce, caused by issues like a full inbox or trouble with the size of your message. If you’re getting a bounce, you should delete those emails from your list. And if you’re finding a group of subscribers that never open or interact with your emails, consider taking them off the list too. Not only is including them ineffective, but it can have a negative impact on your email metrics, such as open and delivery rates.

You can also make sure you are mailing to an actual person. Generic company or organization emails are not as likely to interact with your content as email addresses that belong to a specific individual.

But, wait! Before you take out a large chunk of your email list, there are a few things you can do to try to keep these contacts in your audience.

  • Send out emails specifically to re-engage inactive members of your audience. Such an email could contain options to keep receiving emails from you, to change the type of emails they prefer to receive, or to unsubscribe entirely. Even if many choose to unsubscribe, it’s worth taking the time to respectfully reach out in this way, as there is always a chance recipients want to stay aligned with your brand.
  • Give your mailing list a second chance to opt-in to your emails. You could include a special offer in the email to pique interest. Having recipients confirm that their email is correct and they are interested will strengthen your contact list.
  • Try segmenting your lists into sections that will receive different content based on their interests and affiliations. One way to do this is by sending a survey to subscribers, asking what content they are interested in receiving from you. Sending people information relevant to what they want to see will increase the likelihood of your emails being read and interacted with.

The unsubscribe button is an important part of any email campaign. While you hope everyone will want to receive what you’re sending them, this is rarely the case. If you include the option to unsubscribe, it’s important to follow through. Emails can help build positive associations with your brand, but sending emails to a user that has unsubscribed can be detrimental if people have negative things to say about your practices.

You can use a third-party service like those for direct mail to help make email list maintenance easier. Such systems can automatically filter out addresses that are incorrect or always bounce, monitor your metrics, and schedule different kinds of campaigns.

The success of list maintenance lies in being proactive with your strategies, finding ways to make your list more efficient and effective, rather than being reactive, struggling to revamp your campaigns with a stale and outdated contact list. Consistently following good list hygiene practices will increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and make connecting with your audience more fruitful.