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!

Case Studies: Consumers Use QR Codes

QR Codes give shoppers and other consumers access marketing or product information from their mobile phones, but do consumers actually prefer them? Will they scan these codes when other ways to access the information are available? For many, the answer is yes!

Let’s look at three real-life examples:

1. One marketer sent a holiday card to its customers with an invitation to login to a personalized URL to select a charity to receive a donation in their name. Of those responding to the campaign, 11% chose to log in by scanning a QR Code rather than typing in the personalized URL.

2. An online educational institution serving the high school market wanted to boost enrollment. It sent a promotional campaign inviting students and their parents to log in to a personalized URL to learn more about online education and enter a sweepstakes to win an iPad2.  More than one-third (37%) of the logins came via QR Code.

3. In order to refresh its retail location, an herbal supplements and vitamin company wanted to find out what products and services its customers were looking for that might be missing from its existing mix. To find out, it sent a survey via personalized URL to nearly 20,000 contacts. QR Code scans accounted for almost 20% of all PURL visitors.

We could give lots more examples, but you get the idea. People love mobile, but they don’t love typing in long web addresses. If you provide them with a way to skip right to the content they are looking for, they’ll very likely to take it, especially when they are responding to a personalized URL campaign. That’s a huge benefit of QR Codes.

This can also lead to an elevated response rate to the overall campaign. Why? Because the easier it is to respond to a marketing message (including multiple ways to respond), the more responses you’re going to get.

 

Measuring the Effectiveness of Print Campaigns

You can extend the concept of return on investment (ROI) to your print marketing efforts, measuring profitability versus cost. Leading corporations use intensively data-driven approaches to report the economic benefits created from marketing investments. You can develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of your printing expenditures even if you don’t have a full-time staff of business analysts.

Set specific goals for your print campaign. Do you want to increase total revenue and profits? Or is the purpose to increase sales of a particular product or service or expand into a new market? Perhaps you need to spur seasonal sales to offset fluctuations in demand. Or your goal might be less tangible, such as increasing brand awareness or improving your company’s image. Tailor your evaluation methods to these defined goals.

Crunch the numbers. Customize this basic print ROI model with your own assumptions to determine whether your campaign will be successful.

ASSUMPTIONS

Number of Pieces Printed

20,000

Total Cost

$2500

Response Rate Anticipated

2.5%

Percentage of Respondents Expected to Purchase

25%

Average Profit per Purchase

$50

METRICS

Number of Respondents

500

Cost per Response

$5.00

Number of Buyers

125

Cost per Buyer

$20

Cost per Printed Piece

$0.125

Profit per Printed Piece

$0.31

ROI

Total Profit/(Loss)

$6250

Total Cost

$2500

 

PRINT MARKETING ROI

150%

Design your printed materials to track responses. Include a customized coupon, code or inquiry card to determine which customers are responding to a specific printed piece.

Document how new customers found you. Train your sales and customer service personnel to ask how a client learned about your organization so you can be certain new sales are a result of your marketing efforts rather than another factor, such as a competitor going out of business.

Recognize that it’s not all about dollars and cents. Print pieces have a long life and might be passed from person to person, so campaign-driven sales might not be realized immediately. And, there are some metrics that you can only capture through market research. For example, organize a focus group or survey of those who received a specific printed piece to measure recall, perceptions about your company and purchase intent.

These strategies will enable you to cost-justify your print marketing budget and focus your efforts where you will receive the greatest returns.

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.

When Is Personal Too Personal?

One of the benefits of 1:1 printing is the ability to increase the relevance of each communication by making the message more personal. By using information you already know about the recipient, you are able to communicate on a more intimate, 1:1 level.

But this approach can also be misused. Individuals and businesses are very protective of their privacy these days, and rightly so. Customers want to know that their data is not only safe, but that the marketers they do business with won’t misuse it.

What are some first steps you can take to ensure that your customers and prospects know that you care about their privacy?

  • Include an official privacy statement in your information-gathering materials.
  • If you will be collecting data, include a notice of physical and data security procedures and a promise of confidentiality.
  • When personalized your marketing messages, don’t disclose overly personal details (“Hey, Bob! Ready to default on that sky-high mortgage?”).
  • Be transparent. Provide full details about what respondents have to do in order to receive any prizes or promotional items.
  • Follow all opt-in regulations, including double opt-ins for email lists and providing the option to opt-out of future marketing contacts.
  • Assure that respondents’ information will not be sold to third parties.

Privacy standards, both in print and online, are always evolving. So stay abreast of the discussion. Talk to your customers to find out any other concerns and address them. The more you can assure your customers that their personal information is safe with you and that it will be used appropriately, the more you will win their trust.

Welcome to the Printhink blog

We’ve added a blog to keep our clients, printing partners, and anyone else with an interest in business and print informed about the lastest news about Printhink and the industry we work in.  Be sure to check back for regular updates.