Setting Expectations for Personalized Print

There is not doubt — we love personalized print. We love it because it works. What’s important, however, is understanding why it works. Personalized print doesn’t boost response rates simply because it’s driven by data.

When you look at the case studies and Webinars for these campaigns, you will often see phenomenal response rates.  In one report, they ranged from 6% to 75%, with an average of 21%. These are some powerful numbers. However, in order to understand why and how individual campaigns achieve such high numbers and whether yours is likely to do the same, you need to ask certain questions.

  • What was the application? Different applications tend to bring different response rates.
  • What kind of mailing list did the marketer start with? Highly targeted, moderately targeted, or undifferentiated lists will yield different results.
  • Did recipients have a previous relationship with the company?
  • What is the value of the product?
  • Did per-order value go up with personalization, and if so, by how much?
  • How is the marketer evaluating success (on a campaign-by-campaign basis or lifetime customer value)?

The answers to such questions can have a dramatic impact on ROI. For example, if you are asking respondents to log into a personalized URL to fill out a survey or provide information to a company they already do business with, you can expect higher response rates than if you are doing a prospecting campaign.

So before setting your expectations for your next personalized print mailing, talk to us about your goals, your expectations, and the data you are working with. Setting realistic expectations is a critical component to making your 1:1 print program a success.

Multi-Channel Leads Marketers’ Strategies

If you like multi-channel marketing, here is some good news. According to a survey conducted by WoodWing Software, you’re about to get more of it.

In a survey of publishers, advertising agencies, and in-house marketing departments, WoodWing found that in terms of their marketing mix, 59% favor a combination of print, web, mobile, tablet, and social media.

Which channels do publishers look to first?

  • 22% favor a print-first strategy
  • 6% favor a web-first strategy
  • 5% favor a mobile-first approach
  • 2% favor a social-media-first strategy

Respondents’ main reasons for using social media? Brand awareness. When it comes to communicating the marketing message, however, print remains king.

Why does print remain the dominant form of marketing? Perhaps for a reason no more complicated than people still like going to the mailbox. Unlike email inboxes, which can fill up with hundreds of emails in a single day, the mailbox delivers a handful of mail that most people enjoy sorting through. It’s like a treasure hunt. You never know what’s in there.

Unlike an email subject line, envelopes deliver interest and engagement before they are even opened. Colors, windows, and on-envelope messaging and personalization all offer forms of engagement. Then there are the benefits of other mailing formats, such as postcards, trifold mailers, and three-dimensional mail, which offer even more engagement.

The takeaway? For best results, use social media for branding. Tap into email for reminders, follow-ups, and short-term offers. But keep print as the foundation and bedrock of your marketing.

Finishing: The Difference Between Good and Great

Marketing specialists are not short on tips for boosting direct mail response rates: effective copywriting, targeted marketing, data mining, good list management, and so on. While these are crucial elements to any marketing campaign, don’t overlook the physical aspects of the printed piece itself.

One especially underutilized technique is the creative use of postpress or finishing options to add decorative enhancements to a printed piece. Let’s look at a few.

At minimum, you should consider the value of varnishes or coatings. These can be applied either during or after printing. They are used to protect or add gloss and sheen to make a printed piece “pop.”

  • Spot varnish can be added to certain portions of a printed piece, such as a particular image or bit of text, accenting those areas and providing contrast.
  • Aqueous coatings are water-based and more environmentally friendly than other varnishes and coatings. They can also be more expensive.
  • UV coatings add greater levels of sheen and protection than varnishes or aqueous coatings.

Varnishes and coatings are also available in a range of gloss levels.

More elaborate finishing techniques can make your printed piece even more eye-catching. Embossing, for example, uses dies to create raised (or “relief”) areas that make images or text literally pop out. Debossing creates depressed portions of a printed piece. Foils and specialty inks can be added to embossed regions to add even more special effects. Foil stamping applies metallic foils like gold or silver to the substrate, also going a long way toward highlighting text and images.

Just as you would rarely make a cake without considering icing and other decorative touches, so too shouldn’t you think of creating a printed product without considering the available finishing options. We can help you decide on the best options for your specific job.

Writing a Better Sales Letter

You know your business offers first-class products and services, but how do you convince existing and prospective customers of that? When it comes to communicating your sales proposition, an effective sales letter is one of your best resources.

Here are some tips for turning your letter from good to great:

“What’s in it for me?” Recipients must be able to immediately recognize what specific benefits they will get by taking the actions instructed in your letter. Be specific and to the point. Focus on the recipients, not you or your company.

Establish credibility and trust. Back up your claims. Customer testimonials, success stories, and bulleted points are highly effective ways to achieve this.

Maximize visual impact. The use of colors and even shapes can help make your letter stand out from the numerous other pieces of mail your audience receives.

Warm it up. Ditch the stiff business jargon. Your letter should read like a personable, one-on-one conversation with the person reading it.

Build relationships. You want to sell products, but offer recipients meaningful information first. Communication based on value, not a hard sell, often leads to long-term sales relationships.

Call to action. At the end of the letter, tell recipients what you want them to do. Make a phone call? Sign up for a seminar? Prompt them to action. Making a time-sensitive offer will often increase response rates.

“P.S.” Read me! One of the most often read parts of a letter is the P.S. This is an excellent opportunity to reinforce your offer and increase your response rate.

Whether you’re sending out a mass mailing or just a single letter, measure your results after the letter goes out. Make small changes with each mailing you send, such as altering the call to action, the P.S., using case studies versus bulleted points, and so on. See how this affects results.

Happy mailing!

3 Steps to Data Mining

Data mining. It is the foundation of great personalized marketing, but it strikes fear into the hearts of many marketers. The reality is that this fear is unfounded since data mining is well within the grasp of any sized marketer.

Let’s break it down into three simple steps.

1. Find out what’s in there.

The first step is to understand the field headings in your database. Most databases have basic information like name, address and purchase history. Are you also capturing information such as age, gender and home ownership? What data do you actually have?

2. Ask questions.

Knowing what data you have tells you the types of queries you can run. Running queries simply means asking questions of the data. If you are a retailer you might ask, “Which customers purchased hardwood flooring last month?” If you know that these customers are also likely to purchase area rugs and floor conditioning products, this gives you a great start.

3. Look for relationships.

The next step is to run data sorts. Is there a relationship between hardwood flooring and gender? How about income? Are customers more likely to purchase hardwood flooring at different times of year than others?

Even basic software like Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access provides sorting capabilities. Or you might want to purchase add-on data mining modules or third-party software. If you need to outsource, there are plenty of companies that specialize in this process for very reasonable costs.

Get Curious!

So get curious. Take a few hours to run a variety of sorts just to see what you can find.

Once you know what’s in your data, you’ve asked questions of your data, and discovered relationships within the data, it’s time to act on what you find. That curiosity could make a big difference to the bottom line.