Survey: Top Takeaways for Print Use

Every year, Target Marketing conducts its Media Usage Survey. In this survey, the magazine asks how readers are allocating their budgets, which channels are increasing and decreasing, and which channels readers prefer for a variety of activities, including acquisition and retention.

While this survey is not projectable to marketers at large, it does give us critical insights into the larger trends. Let’s take a look at three trends you need to know.

1. Marketing is multichannel.

One of the biggest takeaways from the survey is how multichannel marketing has become. When it comes to acquisition, for example, 83% of respondents are using email, 69% are using social media, 68% are using online advertising, and 58% are using direct mail. This reinforces both the importance of print and the need to incorporate a variety of channels to hit targets wherever they are.

2. Print remains a critical channel.

The biggest growth is in digital channels like social media and mobile. However, print continues to hold its own—even grow—in its importance to companies’ overall marketing and branding efforts. According to the survey, Target Marketing readers plan to allocate 28.5% of their budgets to print this year. This includes spending on direct mail, magazines, newspapers, and circulars. This grows to 33.9% when you include space advertising like billboards and signage.

Direct mail, in particular, is on the rise. For acquisition, the percent of respondents using direct mail has risen from 54% to 58% between 2015 and 2016. For retention, the percentage using direct mail has risen from 51% to 55%.

3. Print delivers strong ROI.

When asked which marketing method delivers the strongest ROI, direct mail was also strong. For acquisition, 16.3% of readers thought direct mail delivered the strongest ROI of all channels. For retention, 14.6% thought it was the strongest. In both cases, direct mail was second only to email in terms of perceived strength.

Want help incorporating direct mail into your next multichannel marketing campaign? Give us a call!


Don’t Ditch Your Data — Fix It!

Think you don’t own enough data to do personalized marketing? That might not be the case. Often marketers do own enough data, but that data is not centralized or is incomplete or inaccurate. If you fall into the latter category, the answer isn’t ditching your dreams of personalization. It’s fixing the problems in your data.

The first step is to figure out exactly where you are and what you need to do. This often involves contacting a data specialist who can analyze your data. While this sounds daunting, it’s really no different than taking your car to a repair shop. The mechanic hooks up the car to a machine that spits out a report telling you where the problems are. Data specialists do much the same thing.

One data specialist gives the example of a data profile it created for a Canadian retailer. The retailer had plenty of data and wanted to use it for 1:1 print marketing, so the data specialist ran a data audit. One of the most glaring challenges that immediately came to light was that the retailer had addresses for only 50% of its customers. It did, however, have phone numbers. The data specialist contacted a list house that maps phone numbers to names and addresses provided the retailer with the missing information.

In another example, the data specialist found that each one of the retailer’s stores was gathering customer data in isolation. Each retail customer might have two, three, even five different customer IDs, one for each store in which they shopped. Once again, telephone numbers came to the rescue. The data specialist used each shopper’s telephone number as a common point of contact to consolidate each shopper’s data from each store into a single marketing database.

Seemingly overwhelming problems often have simple solutions. A basic diagnostic test is often half the battle. So if you think your data needs a check-up, don’t panic. Let us coordinate the project so that you get just the solution you need.

Tap the Subconscious, Win the Sale!

Want to create direct mail that motivates to action? Take some tips from the advertising industry. These tips are based on human psychology that smart advertisers know.

1. Don’t miss out! People like to be part of something new. If something exciting is going on, they don’t want to be left behind. “Join the millions of Americans who have discovered…”

  1. Offer exclusivity. Consumers want their lives to be glamorous. They want to feel that they deserve something special. “Not everyone gets this deal, so apply today!” Exclusivity and insider status appeal to readers’ sense of pride and entitlement and can be powerful motivators.

3. Create value by association. Advertisers will often associate a product or service with something universally accepted as noble or being of great value. Jeep recently tapped this approach with its Super Bowl ads tying Jeep to the gritty images of the faces of America’s soldiers.

4. Appeal to charity or environmental causes. “Help us take care of America’s lost and abandoned pets. With every purchase, we will donate . . .” Who could say “no” to one of these sad-faced, abandoned creatures? No one, of course.

5. Give proof positive. Every marketer makes claims about their products, but when you back them up with statistics, those claims carry more punch. A mattress company might appeal to data from studies on sleep, for example (“Did you know that people who sleep soundly are 10% more productive at work?”) or a men’s suit company might talk about the percentage of executives who form opinions of job candidates within the first two seconds.

Consumers are motivated by a wide variety of factors, and many of them are subconscious. Tap into different motivators in your messaging and see which ones are most effective with your target audience.


5 Design Mistakes to Avoid

Graphic design is one of the great creative arts, and the possibilities of print and online layouts are limitless. But even the best graphic designers need to be reminded of simple design truths, too. Here are five design truths that every designer should know.

1. Limit your fonts.

Today’s layout software gives you seemingly unlimited options in font choices. But as in most things, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Most experts use the rule of thumb of a maximum of three fonts per layout.

2. Don’t over-kern or over-track.

Tracking and kerning allow you to adjust the spaces between letters and words in a paragraph. This can be a convenient way to pull up widows and orphans and fix awkward line breaks, but use these techniques sparingly. If done right, adjustments shouldn’t be noticeable. You don’t want to end up with words that look like they’ve been slammed between two concrete blocks or stretched like salt water taffy.

3. Use vector format for graphics.

Save graphics in vector format, especially if you will be enlarging them. Digital images are made up of millions of pixels. If you enlarge graphics too much, they will become pixelated. Vector format allows you to adjust sizing without losing crispness. No matter what channel you use—print, email, mobile, online—your graphics should look great.

4. Avoid over-use of stock photography.

Using royalty-free (or even free) images can keep costs down, but they tend to look “stock” and without creativity or uniqueness. Some images are so generic that you see them being used multiple places. You don’t want yours to be one of them!

5. Don’t crowd!

It’s tempting to try to cram as much information into the layout as possible, but remember that white space is your friend. White space is clean and inviting. It draws the eye in. Instead of using heavy text, tell your story through graphics, bulleted lists, and pullouts. This makes information easier and faster for people to read and retain.

Graphic design is an art, not a science, but these simple steps will ensure that your print, email, and online designs look clean and professional every time.


3 Ways to Make More of Your Data

One of the biggest misconceptions about 1:1 (personalized) printing is that marketers don’t have enough of the data to create personalized, highly relevant campaigns. This might be true in some cases, but you might also be overlooking ways to do more with the data you already have.

Here are three ways to maximize the use of existing data:

1. Revive existing customer relationships.

Find those customers that used to order frequently but who might have dropped off the map. Send them a note telling them you missed them. Ask them to fill out a survey (to find out why) and offer a coupon encouraging them to come back.

2. Cross-sell and upsell.

While prospecting is an important part of marketing, your most profitable relationships are the customers who already buy from you. Take advantage of these relationships by proactively cross-selling and upselling relevant products of use to them. If you are an auto dealer and know a customer’s lease is about to expire on a Toyota Corolla, for example, send a personalized brochure appealing to all of the benefits of upgrading to a Toyota Camry.

3. Start a loyalty program.

Ask existing customers to join a loyalty program. These programs encourage customers to maintain their relationship with you based on deals. Buy nine, get the tenth free. Earn discounts and free stuff based on shopping frequency or referrals. Sometimes loyalty program benefits are discounts and free merchandise, but especially for luxury items, exclusive access and insider information can be powerful incentives, too. If you are a local winery, ask tour visitors to sign up for a wine club. Offer insider “deals” like exclusive wine tastings and access to lectures from local celebrities.

Need help maximizing your existing customer data? We’ve got great ideas. Just ask!

Consumers Say, “Target Me!”

Would it surprise you to know that 78% of consumers say they would be “more likely” to purchase from a retailer again if provided with offers targeted to their interests, wants, and needs? It shouldn’t. Here are some other eye-opening data on how willing consumers are to provide personal data if it provides them with a financial benefit:

  • 71% of consumers would be more likely to purchase from a retailer again if provided with offers targeted to their individual location.
  • 45% would be willing to trade “some privacy” for incentives tailored to their individual shopping habits.
  • 43% don’t mind if mobile apps track their smartphone’s or tablet’s location if it means they will receive ads or promotions targeted to their local area.
  • 57% would be “more likely” to purchase from a retailer again if the retailer kept them updated on new offers and service by social media.

Although these data come from a study of digital marketing, they are critical to the world of print. This is both because print is one of the primary methods of driving digital data collection (direct mail, posters, signage, in-store displays) and because, as marketing becomes increasingly multi-channel, print is relying more and more heavily on the data gathered through digital channels by sharing the same centralized marketing database.

Need help combining digital and print channels to deepen customer engagement? Give us a call!

Source: Engaging with Digital Consumers (Infosys, 2013)

5 Steps to Keeping Your Customers

Why do customers leave? For any number of reasons. They may choose a competitor because of price or dissatisfaction with your company. They may feel they get a better deal somewhere else or just want to try something new. Customers can be fickle. Here are five ways to retain them.

Plan and budget. Customer retention must be given proper attention in your marketing plan and budget. Develop a comprehensive plan that includes tried-and-true print as well as social media. Retention programs often have a better ROI than customer acquisition campaigns.

Start retention efforts early. After the first sale, mail a “thank you” note with a satisfaction survey. Provide an easy response form that captures the client’s product and service needs, as well as the anticipated date for the next purchase. This will provide insight into your company’s strengths and weaknesses and give you key intelligence regarding what it will take to keep your customers coming back.

Personalize your message. Print newsletters and postcards enable you to deliver a customer-centric message based on buying preferences or past purchasing behavior. Customized offers and targeted content create personal connections.

Wake up dormant customers. Re-establish the conversation and help former customers see why they bought from you in the first place. Sending a “we haven’t heard from you lately” postcard is a low-cost way to re-engage.

Create a competitive advantage. Your most valuable asset is your customer list. Happy customers are open to upsells and cross-sells. They don’t always need special offers to continue using your product or service because they’ve already accepted your value proposition. Plus, they attract other customers through word of mouth and referral programs.

Customer retention is a necessary, cost-effective and profitable element of your marketing strategy. Through adoption of the right customer practices, you can keep those customers where they belong—in your pocket.

Take Your Paper Greener

Did you know that paper is going green? Actually, paper has been green for some time, but paper manufacturers are making it even more so. Let’s look at some trends in paper manufacturing that will be pleasing to the Earth.

Paper is going lighter. As postal costs have gone up, paper stocks have gotten lighter. While some print projects will always demand a heavier grade of paper, for documents that will end up in the mail stream, lighter paper just makes sense. This translates into less energy used to harvest and process the fiber, less energy used to produce the paper, and less fossil fuel used to distribute the final product.

Paper mills use renewable energy. Much of the energy consumed in paper manufacturing comes from renewable energy sources, including biomass (treetops, limbs, bark and other manufacturing by-products) and water. For some mills, as much as two-thirds of the energy used in their paper production can come from renewable sources.

Paper mills are going carbon-neutral. Non-integrated mills may not be able to produce their own energy, but an increasing number purchase carbon credits instead. Many paper companies now claim to be entirely carbon-neutral.

More 100% postconsumer paper. There are a growing number of recycled papers using 100% postconsumer (PCW) fiber. This used to mean significantly higher prices, but the costs have dropped to be more in line with those of other recycled papers.

More environmental certifications. Most paper mills offer environmentally certified papers these days. With environmental certification, the entire paper manufacturing process, from the harvesting of the trees to the production of the paper, is strictly monitored so you can be sure that it is conducted with the highest levels of environmental integrity.

As the paper industry continues to deepen its environmental commitment, it is becoming easier to take your print marketing green. Combine that with best-in-class mailing practices such as keeping your mailing list clean, de-duped, and up to date, and you’ve got a powerful recipe for environmentally friendly print marketing!


3 Reasons Print Matters After All

Maybe it’s the thinning volume in the mailbox. Maybe it’s marketers’ drooping results after focusing on e-marketing as a replacement for print. Whatever it is, we’re seeing it more and more. Marketing experts are talking about the benefits of keeping print in the mix.

Most recently, Marketing Profs published an article titled “7 Reasons to Use Print to Win More Business.” Here are three of them. If you want more, you can click through to the rest.

1. Print still has authority. Digital marketing is cheap, and people know it. There is something about putting a brochure, a physical coupon, or a direct mail piece into their hands. It carries weight.

2. Print is gaining a following. Marketing Profs pointed to studies that show that the younger generation is still attracted to print. “Magazines, for example, based on particular subjects, from fashion through fitness, have seen an upswing in younger readers, age 18-24 years.” We might also point to the return of print catalogs this past holiday season after retailers saw lagging sales with digital-only marketing.

3. Print keeps your focus. Readers get easily distracted using digital media, and they lose focus on the message. Whether it’s college students doing their studies, a casual reader at home on the couch, or a targeted recipient reading a piece of direct mail, print holds attention and promotes recall more than digital media.

These are just three of the reasons, but you get the point. (Read the rest of the article here.) Digital media have their place in a well crafted multichannel marketing campaign, but they don’t replace print. Want results? Keep print in the mix!




How Marketing Guru Got Called a “Brown Noser

How do you get called a marketing brown-noser by your boss? You create powerful online market segmentation and get an 82% increase in conversions.

This is what Kathy Hecht, former marketing executive at American Greetings Corporation (now vp marketing and business development for Silver Star Brands), did.

Hecht created a test on American Greetings’ website. First she created a basic set of profile for the types of Easter cards customers might be interested in. She created three buckets: Passover e-cards, Easter cards, and Easter Bunny cards. When customers logged into their accounts, they saw one of the three options based on their profile. The company saw an 82% increase in e-card sends.

“On the first day of the program, my boss called me and said, ‘OK you brown-noser, what are you doing?” recalls Hecht in a white paper from Direct Marketing News. So Hecht asked her boss to experience it for himself. He logged in as a customer and was exposed to a Passover e-card banner. Then she logged in and received the Easter card banner. The company hasn’t done business the same way since.

While this example relates to online commerce, the principle applies to print, as well. Break your target audience into segments, then send more targeted, relevant material and response and conversion rates will soar.

Want to experience similar results? Let us help you create targeted customer segments and relevant marketing materials to go with them.