CRYSTAL BALL TO DIRECT MAIL
Do You Have a Crystal Ball?
Direct Mail is not going away any time soon, but there is no question that it is changing. Over the next several years, we can expect that direct mail will allow us to greatly increase the connections we build today. We will engage our audiences in ways we never realized.
Our focus on changes in the industry is usually based on what the market is asking for. Henry Ford once said as he was building his first automobile, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” He didn’t see any faster horses in his crystal ball.
There’s one thing you can count on in our industry; the pace of change will only accelerate faster from here. The direct mail industry is undergoing constant change; you can bet that industry mail leaders will continue to avail themselves with every available tool to deliver the most dynamic, most welcome, and most personal communications possible.
That said, when I look into my crystal ball, here’s what I see:
- Every mail piece will start as a plain piece of white paper, and every component, from the envelope, letter and insert, will be digitally printed and assembled as part of a single in-line operation. Software advancements will make it possible to make automatic real-time decisions on content and page layout based on the recipients’ potential ROI.
- Marketers already recognize that direct mail is a visual media – but the most compelling sales pitches will utilize bold, personalized imagery. Mailers will take advantage of more relevant, more targeted messaging and imagery on envelopes—with equally convincing relevant content inside that designed to please the recipient.
- With the volume of available data doubling every 18 months, analytics will take center stage in targeting. Direct mailers will be crunching data right up until the moment a mail piece is produced—continually fine-tuning models to pinpoint most likely responders. Tracking information will feed directly into centralized communication dashboards, providing the insights to make instant adjustments that will improve ROI.
- Mail will be linked to online experiences—through widgets and apps that have not even been invented yet—they will serve to increase the impact of mail. The explosion of digital communications will extend the life and value of a printed mail piece in many ways, opening the door to an infinite array of videos, online content, demos and information—each tailored, customized and targeted to the individual mail recipient.
- Targeted mail lists are already getting smaller. We can look forward to a day when single-piece jobs may well become the norm.
- All of these capabilities will provide for a new level of intimacy with prospects and customers as mailings can be produced and delivered in direct response to actions and events.
In conclusion, some of you will view the next few years as a time of challenges and frustrations. Others will see innovation, growth and higher profitability.
So the question is: What’s in your crystal ball?
Until next time!
To Your Success!
ATLANTA—A study carried out by research company Campbell River on behalf of the non-profit advisory body, Dunham+Company, found that people were more than three times as likely to donate after being contacted by direct mail than by e-mail.
The researchers asked people making a donation what had prompted them to make a contribution to the charity. The portion of people who were donating after receiving a direct mail appeal was 17 percent, more than three times higher than the 5 percent who had been prompted to donate by an e-mail.
Rick Dunham, CEO of Dunham+Company, described the results of the study as “a bit of a shock.” Dunham notes that recipients pay more attention to a physical object that comes into their mailbox than e-mail, which he points out is easily deleted.
According to the study, donors in the 40-59 age categories are the most responsive to direct mail—47 percent of them responded to receiving a letter by making a donation in 2012, which is a dramatic increase from 34 percent in 2010. Donors over the age of 60 also respond well to direct mail—24 percent of them donated in 2012 after receiving a letter, an increase of 6 percent since 2010.
Printing Impressions Magazine, 2012
Display advertising (banner ads) with Google and now Facebook etc. have been the obvious choice for years to drive traffic to your site but is it really effective? Many web surfers have learned to tune ads out. Recent studies show that only about 1 in 1,000 web surfers clicks the average display ad. You may have recently heard that as many as 75% of Facebook users don’t click ads. Webtrends reports their response rate to be more like 1 in 2000.
Unsolicited postal mail generates a response rate many times higher, according to published industry numbers. The USPS states that response rates to direct mail average about 1 to 2 in 100. Now these numbers sound great compared to banner ads but given the cost per response from direct mail compared to banner ads what is the better choice? Quite simply put, both. Each can reach potential customers the other may miss.
If you currently buy banner ads and it is working great! Keep doing it, but consider also adding direct mail to reach those you miss online. The statistics show that it will drive traffic if your mail list is refined and your offer is strong. If you are just using direct mail consider trying pay per click or email and more. You could capture people that you may be missing. The media options to search for new business are now so numerous and growing that there really is no one place to find all of your best potential customers. This is why a cross media approach is so important today.
If you are unsure what to do, consider speaking with a marketing professional. Consider someone with broad experience across multiple media so you can have the benefit of someone looking at the big picture for you. An experienced cross media marketing professional can take the guess work out and help you to target your dollars more effectively using the right mix of media gaining higher ROI for your budget.
Now its your turn. What are your thoughts on effectiveness of banner ads, direct mail and more?
Until next time!
To Your Success!
I am sure many of you receive online statements from credit card companies, banks, utility companies and more. You also get lots of direct mail or “junk mail” advertisements just as I do. How often do you see companies touting “green” initiatives as their reason for pushing us to online statements and email communication?
I sure want to do my part to protect the environment and save the earth. I recycle, reuse, bike and walk when possible. I teach my children to do the same and why it is important. So, in our collective rush to do the right thing might we be getting misinformation? Might we be making poorly informed choices?
As a marketing consultant helping my clients navigate the myriad of options available, I am often asked about social media, email, mobile marketing and more. I make recommendations based on my clients goals and use all of these when and where appropriate and effective. Print, paper and mail though seem to now have a stigma as being synonymous with polluting the earth. This is due in part to companies, trying to reduce their costs, pushing us to email and the web. They do this by making us feel we are harming the earth by choosing paper and print.
“Please consider the environment before printing this email”. “Save a tree and go paperless with e-statments”. There are many more examples I am sure you can think of and they all have one common theme: Paper and print are bad for the environment. Well I am here to say ENOUGH of this misinformation. Lets get down to the TRUTH.
Regarding Paper, Did You Know?:
- The paper industry plants 3 times as many trees as it cuts. There are more forests in the US today than 20 years ago.
- Forestry is the most sustainable of all primary industries that provide energy and materials.
- 11% of the world’s forests are used for paper, with the majority of wood fiber used to produce paper coming from waste products like wood chips, sawmill scraps and recycled paper.
Dr. Patrick Moore early member at founding of Greenpeace stated “To address climate change we must use more wood not less. Using wood sends signals to the marketplace to GROW MORE TREES!” From an environmental perspective the paper industry is a model for all others. The print industry too is following suite.
Regarding Print & Mail, Did You Know?
- The U.S. print industry generates more than $100 billion in annual revenue and provides U.S. jobs for more than 100 million Americans. That is bigger than the US auto Industry we bailed out recently.
- Print and mail drive commerce, provide jobs and educate our youth.
- Studies show you’ll read printed information up to 30% faster while retaining more information than reading on a screen.
Now that you have heard the truth all I ask is this: Please don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for using paper or print to communicate with your customers, coworkers, friends or family. It is still the best option in many cases and is environmentally and socially responsible.
Please pass this information along and do your part to save the environment and spur the economy.
For more info on environmental responsibility of the print and paper industry please check out these links…chooseprint.org Video paperbecause.com acculink.com/greenInitiative
Until next time!
To Your Success!
Your customers and prospects have never seen anything like this! You thought it was just an envelope but…
Incredible, intelligent and attention grabbing. InteliMailer is used as a stand alone mail piece or integrated into complete cross media marketing campaigns that feature full color personalized letter packages, pURLS, custom landing pages, QR codes, mobile messaging and more. Watch this and see for yourself.
Contact me to learn more.
Until next time!
To Your Success!
With a multitude of online print companies to choose from, for ordering a variety of print items, through a desktop order interface, many have said the days of the print CSR (customer service rep) are numbered. Many of these online companies provide only email or IM support. The products they offer have become standardized and commoditized. After all, where is the value in paying for real person to person interaction. Wouldn’t we all be better off just choosing from what these companies offer us and accepting that we likely payed the lowest price possible for our business cards, brochures, postcards etc.? What do you think?
The company I represent builds and hosts web based print order storefronts. Clients appreciate the ease of ordering that they bring. The benefits are many and problems are few when used appropriately. Our storefront offering is actually fully customizable unlike the standard web printer which restricts you to set paper stocks, sizes and finishing options. When used for appropriate applications this automation can be the best way to order print. So what is the problem?
Technology will continue to create efficiencies but the needs of most clients will continue to fall outside the parameters of a fully automated workflow. Most will want to work with experienced knowledgeable people to help create the channels and products to communicate their message and stand out from their competition. I don’t know of many visionary business people that are happy to always settle for Choice A, B or C.
Automated online workflows are perfect for repetitive jobs with set variables and predefined spec options however most of my client’s jobs/projects introduce some new variable not accounted for in that pre-built workflow. I’m not talking about business cards, letterhead & envelopes. I’m referring to:
*Multi-component products that include multiple operations and involve a complex dance of scheduling to meet deadlines.
*Complex cross media marketing campaigns with many moving parts, schedules and components that can change while in progress.
*Clients that demand something different resulting in material or process changes that affect workflow and scheduling.
I believe that automated workflows will continue to create efficiencies but we are far off from eliminating the CSR from the equation. Our clients (even those with online order systems we created) count on our CSRs every day to masterfully handle the unanticipated changes caused by, changing needs, equipment, material availability and more. The CSR is able to somehow perform a dance that makes it all work out more often than not and make us shine as a company in the eyes of our clients. Until we can build that into an automated workflow we better keep in mind that businesses are made up of people. Technology is a tool. A tool without people is really just an obstacle to our goals.
Until next time…
To Your Success!
QR Code business cards. Undoubtedly you have seen these but how do you keep the contact info in your QR code current when your info changes and you need to print more cards? You have to throw your old cards away now right? Wrong! www.B2Vcard.com This site allows you to create a QR code business card and a profile that you can update as your contact info changes. This means that as things change even your old business cards with outdated contact info have a QR code that pulls in your current V-card info when scanned. You can still hand out your business cards and the barcode will scan with your current correct info. This is great if you need to hand out cards before your new ones arrive. Just tell the person you hand it to to scan it for your current contact info.
You can then upload your own PDF artwork for the card or use one of the existing templates to set your own and they will be printed as you specify and shipped to you anywhere in the world. You can insure that your QR code always scans with the most current contact info by updating your profile for free any time the info changes.
Use www.B2Vcard.com to produce QR code business cards for your customers and yourself. Allow recipients of your cards to add your contact info to their address book without all of the typing. Best of all the prices are really cheap for this great technology.