What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.
In the marketing world, companies fall victim to “insanity” far too often: running the same direct mail campaigns over and over again, expecting a different result.
Sound familiar? Well, it’s time to end the madness.
To continually drive traffic and conversions, adept marketers have to keep testing different strategies and tactics. That’s the only way to maximize marketing spend and ROI.
One effective testing approach is A/B testing.
What is A/B testing?
Finding the perfect direct mail piece or offer can feel like an uphill climb. Fortunately, with A/B testing, you can tinker, refine, and optimize your direct mail campaign until you have the best possible advertisement.
True to its name, A/B testing is the process of segmenting your audience into two groups (e.g. group A and group B) and sending each group a different version of an advertisement. The better performing version becomes the control group – the benchmark for future tests.
Here are three tips to keep in mind when you perform A/B testing.
Before you dive into A/B testing, it’s important to set goals first. Every experiment needs an underlying goal. Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? How much traffic? Be specific.
Do you want more readers to provide an email or download your app? How many emails or downloads? Be specific.
Determine what you ultimately want to accomplish before getting started. Keep in mind, the larger the sample size, the more reliable the results. For instance, 20,000 mailings will provide more reliable results than 2,000.
Experiment with different offers
As any marketer can attest, there are a ton of different types of offers. Freebies, limited-time offers, special enrollment periods – the list is long. So, here’s a brief list of examples to give you some ideas:
- Discount on a product/service (e.g. 20% off or $50 off)
- Discount on second product/service (e.g. buy one get one 50% off)
- Free coupons
- Free gift
- Free trial
- Limited time offers
Once you compile the base of your direct mail ad, tinker with the promotion. For instance, you could have one group receive a discount while another could receive a free trial.
Mix up your presentation
Your ad’s presentation can be just as much of a factor as the offer. Formatting, headlines, wording, and imagery can all impact someone’s interpretation and engagement of your direct mail ad.
Try mixing up your headline. The impact of one keyword can’t be overstated.
If you decide to alter your presentation, make sure this change is the only variable you test. Otherwise, you risk compromising your results (i.e. you won’t know if it’s the presentation or the offer that’s driving results).
The effectiveness of A/B testing lies within the commitment to changing only one aspect of an ad.
Test, test, and test some more
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one demographic may not vibe with another. That’s why it’s important to keep testing.
That’s the only way to continually improve your direct mail advertisements.
Here’s a quick four-step summary of A/B testing with an example:
- Segment your target audience into two groups (group A and group B).
- Pinpoint one element of your direct mail piece to alter. For example, let’s assume you’re advertising a $50 service. You could mix up your promotion’s offer: group A will receive a “$5 off” discount, while group B will receive a “10% off” discount. Both equate to the same discount – but they’re presented in two different ways.
- Ensure you can track attribution. Otherwise, you won’t know which version is performing better. Try using unique QR codes or personalized URLs for each group.
- Run your test. Compare your results against each other and your goals. The winner becomes the control group.
Interested in learning how to make this happen for your company? We can help! Reach out to learn more.
‘Tis the season for U.S. Postal Service promotions.
Do you want to maximize your direct mail engagement and customer interaction? USPS is offering mailing incentives through the end of the year. These promotions encourage companies to test the latest print technologies and techniques.
Programs details include:
The Tactile, Sensory, & Interactive Promotion
Promotion Period: Now through July 31, 2020
Registration: Now through July 31, 2020
USPS rewards creative marketers that leverage interactive print technologies and materials to connect with their customers. Eligible mailers that engage recipients with multi-sensory experiences (e.g. special visual effects, texture/tactile treatments, sound, etc.) can receive a 2% postage discount.
Examples of materials and features that can qualify your postage for the discount include:
- Embossed paper
- Holographic images
- Metallic ink
- Photochromic ink (changes color with UV light exposure)
- Sound chips
- Scented paper
For questions, contact email@example.com.
The Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion
Promotion Period: March 1 – August 31, 2020
Registration: January 15 – August 31, 2020
The Emerging and Advancing Technology Promotion rewards the bold marketer – those who embrace advanced technologies like enhanced augmented reality, virtual reality, near field communication, and video in print in their direct mail campaigns. Eligible mailers can receive a 2% postage discount.
To qualify, mailpieces must include directional copy (text that guides the customer to use the technology trigger). If the visual experience is only available via mobile devices, then your copy must state the available platform (e.g. this experience is only available on IOS devices).
Other examples of directional copy are:
- “Scan the above logo for an interactive experience”
- “Download our app and scan this page for an AR experience”
- “Tap your NFC enabled device here”
For questions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Earned Value Promotion
Promotion Period: April 1 – June 30, 2020
Registration: February 15 – March 31, 2020
To rejuvenate First-Class Mail, USPS is offering the Earned Value Promotion to eligible businesses that use Business Reply Mail (BRM), Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM), and Share Mail (SM) pieces.
For those that participated in the 2019 Earned Value Promotion, you will receive a $0.02 credit for each BRM, CRM, and/or SM piece.
For 2019 Earned Value Promotion participants, if you reached between 93% and 100% of your overall volumes during the 2019 promotional period, you’ll receive a $0.02 credit per piece. If you exceeded your 2019 totals, you’ll earn $0.04 per piece.
New participants will receive a $0.02 credit per piece.
For questions, contact email@example.com.
The Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion
Promotion Period: July 1 – December 31, 2020
Registration: May 15 – December 31, 2020
If your business incorporates color, dynamic variable print, and personalization into its direct mail, you could receive a 2% discount via the 2020 Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion. This promotion applies to First Class Mail (consumer bills and statements only).
To take advantage of the offer, you must include full-color marketing within consumer bills or statements (e.g. rewards program incentives, renewal incentives, coupons, etc.).
For questions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mobile Shopping Promotion
Promotion Period: August 1 – December 31, 2020
Registration: June 15 – December 31, 2020
The Mobile Shopping Promotion connects direct mail to digital experiences using technologies like Quick Response (QR) Codes, Snap Tags, Amazon Smile Codes, and Watermarks. This promotion offers a 2% discount and only applies to Marketing Mail letters and flats.
Regardless of the technology you use, it must direct viewers to a digital site that contains relevant information based on the letter.
For questions, contact email@example.com.
The Informed Delivery Promotion
Promotion Period: September 1 – November 30, 2020
Registration: July 15 – November 30, 2020
Informed Delivery is a USPS program that allows recipients to preview their mail online. Businesses that launch Informed Delivery interactive campaigns could be eligible to receive a 2% discount on postage. Eligible mail includes:
- First Class Mail presort and automation letters, cards, and flats
- USPS Marketing Mail letters and flats
- Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail letters and flats
For questions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These incentives encourage marketers to think outside the box and experiment with new technologies. Maximize your creativity and experiment with a new direct mail piece this year.
For enrollment user guides and additional information, visit the USPS’s promotions page.
At first glance, printed materials may appear to undermine environmental stewardship. But print houses are committed to consuming the least possible resources. The industry fully embraces the sustainability movement, and works to decrease its environmental impact every day. Below are 10 ways how:
- Software allows the print designer to utilize the maximum area to decrease trim. Product logistics are solved in the simulated environment without printing prototypes multiple times.
- Printers use recycled paper. Trim and other scraps are recycled.
- Office paper waste is reduced by digital communication. Any office paper waste is recycled.
- Many printers set up shop in energy efficient buildings.
- Old models are replaced with new energy efficient equipment, such as HVAC units and presses.
- Non-toxic dry inks are used in addition to recycled waste colorants and developers.
- Digital practices are in place so only the quantity needed is printed.
- Heat produced by hard-working equipment is captured as a heat source for offices during the winter.
- Environmentally friendly products are used such as alcohol-free dampening solutions and water-based/low-ammonia emission aqueous coating (which also reduces fingerprints).
- LED lighting found in many facilities use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.
These examples illustrate how printers are eco-aware and protecting the environment. The industry is doing its part by working to reduce the overall carbon footprint, control energy efficiency and eliminate unnecessary waste.
We may live in a digital era, but traditional direct mail marketing is alive and well. Don’t believe us? Here are statistics (courtesy of the ANA/DMA 2018 Response Rate Report) to change your mind:
- Consumers open 90% of direct mail – versus only 20-30% of emails.
- Direct mail’s response rate is 4.9% for prospect lists.
- Direct mail’s response rate is 9% for house lists.
- Email response rate is 1% for both household and prospect lists.
Email marketing has its applications. However, you also should consider adding direct mail campaigns to your company’s marketing strategy.
Serious advancements are emerging in the direct mail space. Incorporating new technologies into direct mail campaigns makes it easier for your customers to respond to your campaigns, which boosts response rates and ROI.
Video-in-print (video brochure) is a unique approach to gain attention. With maximized creativity, it provides a lasting impression with customized print, sound, and video.
This visual enhancement is subject to higher costs, ranging from $30 to $100 per unit depending on quantity. When combined with the right personalization strategy, video-in-print is a powerful tool for increasing response rates.
Quick Response (QR) Codes
QR codes date back to 1994, but they remain effective. Using a smartphone, readers scan personalized URLs. This method not only makes it easier for customers to engage with direct mail – it’s also easier to track. Here are different ways your company can utilize QR codes:
- Link to a certain landing page within your sales funnel.
- Link to educational material that informs prospects about your company and products/services.
- Link to discounts, coupons, or limited-time content.
By providing clear benefits and quick call-to-actions, your QR code direct mail campaigns can significantly elevate response rates.
Voice Activated Call to Action (VACTA)
Voice-activated devices, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, empower users with the ability to perform actions with only their voice.
These gadgets are taking homes by storm.
According to the Winter 2019 Smart Audio Report, 60+ million people over the age of 18 owns a smart speaker, compared to 39 million in 2017.
In September 2019, Respond Fast launched the Voice Activated Call to Action, which allows prospects and customers to respond to direct mail content by voice. With this technology, a unique phrase is included in your advertisement that readers repeat into a smart speaker. It’s like a QR code – but the reader doesn’t need to use a smartphone or access an app.
Augmented Reality (AR)
By incorporating AR into your direct mail campaign, readers are encouraged to download an app and interact with your advertisement. For example, Jaguar’s direct mail piece invites mail recipients to download the company’s app and take a 360-degree look at the F-type – right on the viewer’s kitchen table. Once users witness the car coming to life, they’re prompted to search for local test drives (a seamless call-to-action to get prospects to dealerships).
Now is the time to experiment with new technologies that direct mail campaigns offer. Mount Vernon Printing can help. We are leaders in commercial offset, web and digital printing services. For more information, call 301-341-5600 or visit www.mvprint.com.
Have you ever considered adopting an omnichannel retail strategy? Omnichannel isn’t a new concept, but it continues to grow in popularity and develop in functionality. Many companies, including retail giants Target, Amazon, Nordstrom, and Nike, have invested a lot of capital and time in creating a seamless omnichannel experience for consumers.
What is your company doing to retain its members? Did your retention rates rise or fall in 2019?
If you’re less than pleased with your member retention rates, it’s time to optimize your platform.
Members may leave for a variety of reasons. Per MGI’s 2019 report, the top four reasons that prompted members to leave were: (1) lack of engagement, (2) couldn’t justify costs, (3) left the field/industry, and (4) lack of value.
You can’t control or predict your members’ career moves - but you are in direct control of member engagement, pricing, and value proposition. Here are nine ways to retain and grow your membership.
Simplify your onboarding process
The slightest speed bump or hiccup during a prospect’s onboarding process could drive them away. Lengthy applications, ambiguous instructions, faulty pages, you name it. Your onboarding process should be straightforward, easy-to-follow, and concise.
Provide immediate value
As we’ve mentioned, one of the biggest drivers of member retention is perceived value. If a member doesn’t think the ROI is high enough, they’re likely to renege. That’s why it’s important to demonstrate your platform’s worthiness right off the bat. Communicate the benefits of being a member early and often.
Streamline your site’s roadmap
If a prospect or member is confused by your site’s formatting and organization, they’re likely to be dissuaded from renewing. Minimize the number of clicks required to navigate your site. Ensure content and resources are easy to identify and locate. Having a “Start Here” page that overviews your site can be beneficial.
Survey your existing members
Who better to answer your member retention questions than your own members? Surveying your existing membership can help you identify your strengths, expose issues, and highlight potential opportunities. By being direct with your members and asking why they’re inclined to stay, you demonstrate your commitment to providing value.
Offer multiple membership options
Membership plans do not have to be “one size fits all.” Try offering multiple plans with incremental pricing, levels of access, and optionality. This segments and empowers your membership. One member may be cost-conscious and prefer the cheaper plan, while another member may want more access regardless of price.
Preview upcoming events and content
Members appreciate transparency. Providing your membership with a calendar of upcoming events or content schedule creates anticipation and sets an expectation. By granting your members this level of insight, you demonstrate the benefits and value of being a member.
Promote an active community
One of the best ways to increase engagement is to maintain an active community. Try adding a forum to your site or allow members to contribute success stories. This creates an interconnectedness between your members, increasing engagement and the likelihood of retention.
Utilize member testimonials
According to a consumer survey, over 90% of respondents attested that reviews impacted their purchase decision. Displaying member testimonials on your site allows you to leverage the influence of social proof. People trust other people. If prospects or members can see the value you provide your members, they’ll be more inclined to sign up or stay with you.
Provide exit surveys to departing members
Some member attrition is inevitable, but you can make the most of the situation by getting feedback. It’s important to figure out what drove them to opt-out and if you could have done anything to change their mind. You never know - reaching out to a non-renewing member and expressing concern may just persuade them to stay.
What does your company do to compete for a person’s limited attention?
On any given day, the typical consumer deals with sensory overload, sifting through noise and consuming pertinent information. This reduces the window of opportunity for businesses to vie for their valuable attention.
One of the primary catalysts of this overwhelming environment is the smartphone.
Smartphones have changed the way people seek information and interact with companies. At any second, you can whip out your phone and have virtually unlimited access to information on anything and everything. Our cellular devices are invaluable tools that have reshaped our daily lives – including buying experiences.
The customer journey can now be stretched across points-in-time and locations (physical and digital). It’s evolved into a series of critical “micro-moments” that determine the actions people take.
A term first coined by Google, micro-moments are “intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping that occur throughout the entire consumer journey.” In other words, they’re the moments when consumers decide to seek more information or to take action. They can occur at any point, like on commutes to work or during Sunday brunch.
Micro-moments are separated across four categories of distinct desires:
- I-want-to-know moments: the times when a consumer is looking for more information, whether that’s wanting more detail behind a product or comparing two separate services. For example, wanting to find the most cost-effective hotel for a trip or figuring out the most affordable car insurance.
- I-want-to-go moments: these moments represent a consumer’s desire to go to a specific location with the intention to browse for a product or service – which might lead to a purchase.
- I-want-to-do moments: when someone wants to learn a new skill, try something new, or needs help completing a task. This generally entails a quick “how to” search in moments of need – like how to fix a leaky faucet or how to change a tire.
- I-want-to-buy moments: when a consumer is ready to make a purchase – but might need assistance. The most common instance occurs when consumers need help deciding between two products, whether that’s in-store or online.
But, how exactly are you going to secure your target consumers finite attention? Here are three possibilities.
Identify similarities and differences between your goals and your customers’ goals.
Before you can take advantage of critical micro-moments, it’s important to understand your company’s goals, as your marketing efforts and messages to consumers should be delivered with these goals in mind.
That being said, it’s also important to recognize that your customers may have entirely different goals over the course of their buying experience. Identifying where your goals and your customers’ goals overlap helps you position your brand and maximize communication.
Determine each touchpoint.
Consumers can use several devices to search for information and interact with companies. Determine each possible touchpoint along the purchase timeline where a customer may interact with your company.
Do people use mobile devices to interact with your company most of the time? Or are most of your conversions via desktop?
You can use this information to devise a strategy, so your company is prepared for these micro-moments.
Deliver relevant content.
Relevant, insightful content increases your odds of capturing customers in these micro-moments. Content can be the difference-maker that aids customers from the initial “I-want-know” moments all the way to the final purchase.
Consider a car insurance company’s approach to this. Positioning an accessible, easy-to-use estimate calculator on their homepage is an effective tool for providing answers to those “I-want-to-know” moments.
With the importance of micro-moments in mind, your company’s content strategy may need to be repurposed accordingly. If you need help with your strategy in 2020, please reach out to us. We’re here to help!
Popular doesn’t always mean better. We all know that digital channels are popular, and in most cases less expensive than paper, but printed periodicals have actually seen a rise in the past few years. Direct mail has also been overtaking email when it comes to successful marketing tactics.
It’s true, there has been a decline in direct mail volumes over the years. But what that means is that anything that does land in your customer’s mailbox, or on their desk gets attention, especially if it is done well. Direct mail is proactive and tactile — almost insisting that the recipient do something with it. Email rarely ever makes me feel that way, but it does make me want to hit “delete” a lot.
Email’s role in marketing has been changing. Aside from the obvious oversaturation in our inboxes, hijacking by scammers and spammers has contributed to this shift. The 2017 DMA Email Benchmarking Report says that marketing emails are being read some of the time, but as consumers become more cautious, the actual click-through rate has been steadily declining since 2015, when it ranked at 1.8%. The click-through rate lowered even more in 2016 to 1.6%.
This is more proof that marketers should be thinking of an Integrated digital + print marketing strategy if they don’t already do so. There are really good correlations out there between consumers receiving physical mail that was produced with multiple areas of personalization and targeted messaging. This leads to a call to action or being influenced to buy online after receiving the direct mail piece.
Including direct mail in your mix, and having an omnichannel approach will help maximize your ROI from a marketing campaign. For example, a follow-up email can act as a reminder if it is timed right with another printed communication vehicle such as a catalog, or personalized content that your customer requested in the mail. ROI increases when you connect content and messaging that is tailored to your customer as an individual.
According to DM News, 90% of people ages 25-34 find direct mail reliable and 87% like receiving it in the mail. Read: Millennials like the tactile feel of mail. I can talk your ear off about direct mail and how it can help your business. Contact us to learn more.
How does your company appeal to its customers?
The best way to connect with your customers and prove your company values them is to employ personalized marketing strategies. That translates to tailored messages, promotions, and experiences that make customers feel appreciated, leading to retention and additional spending.
However, personalized marketing introduces a delicate balancing act. On one side is convenience and relevance. The other? Invasiveness.
Here are four components of personalization to keep in mind as your company attempts to strike this balance.
Relevant retargeting and recommendations
Tracking the actions and habits of your customers can be very beneficial to your business. It allows you to provide more suitable and personalized recommendations.
A common personalized marketing tactic is retargeting – an advertising process in which you reconnect a customer with an item or service they were previously interacting with. The purpose is to remind a customer of their interest and entice them to seal the deal.
Although this can be a powerful revenue-generating tool, it’s frequently misused and applied without direction.
Excessive impressions can be counterproductive and annoy customers – pushing them away.
Irrelevant retargeting or off base recommendations can have a similar effect. For example, retargeting an ad for an out-of-stock product or sending a customer a list of winter coat recommendations in the middle of the summer.
These missteps are ineffective and come off as thoughtless.
Timely outreach and follow ups
Determining when to reach out to a customer or follow up on previous interactions is equally important when it comes to personalized marketing.
This requires in-depth analysis of habits and patterns to determine your customers’ ideal purchasing times – such as when a customer’s inventory of your product is low or empty. Beyond just a simple reminder, it’s important to reconnect with your customers and make them feel valued.
Another situation where this timeliness is imperative is after a customer attempts to buy an out-of-stock product. Following up once that product is back in-stock and making it convenient for them to continue their buying process will significantly increase the likelihood of a sale.
Seamless offline and online experience
Customers expect your company’s message and experience to be fluid across online and offline channels. Although coordinating this effort is difficult in practice, it proves to customers that you value them.
For example, Nike effectively aligns its offline and online experience by empowering shoppers with the ability to communicate with sales associates via video and/or chat to get personalized opinions and recommendations.
Starbucks also emphasizes this principle. When customers place mobile orders through the Starbucks app, they’ll receive a prompt with a recommendation to wait a little while before ordering if they’re over an hour from the store – so that their coffee doesn’t get cold.
Loyalty programs incentivize customers to, well, be loyal. These programs can also be great sources of information that you can leverage to improve customer retention and personalize each customer’s experience. How? By tailored promotions and discounts to customers based on their buying habits and preferences.
The Starbucks rewards program is built into its app for simplicity and convenience. The program not only gamifies its rewards with a star system, it also frames its promotions and bonus star challenges to match each customer’s preferences.
As eCommerce grows, so too does digital marketing and advertising. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that digital ad spending is anticipated to surpass traditional ad spending in the United States this year.
In the digital age, marketers have scrambled to establish brand preference with and gain the loyalty of the most digitally inclined generations – Millennials and Gen Zers. Per a study by Hitachi Consulting, 74% of retailers have angled their services towards younger consumers who still have a lifetime of purchases to make. But, with the average life expectancy in the U.S. trending towards 80 years, it would be shortsighted to alienate older consumers.
Baby boomers are roughly 75 million strong and control most of the country’s disposable income (estimated at 70% in 2015).
You might be thinking, “sure, that’s significant – but does digital marketing really appeal to older generations?”
It’s easy to associate tech savviness with youth. Millennials (for the most part) and Gen Zers have grown up in a world that’s adapted to the Internet – and they’re connected across various platforms like smartphones, laptops, tablets, and smartwatches.
Conversely (for perspective), boomers experienced the first black-and-white and color televisions. Can you imagine telling a young Gen Zer that the screens they’ve grown so accustomed to didn’t always exist?
But baby boomers aren’t as digitally inept as you’d think.
According to eMarketer, the majority of boomers (59%) make at least one digital (e.g. via computer, phone, or tablet) purchase each year. Although far less than Millennials (84.8%) and Gen X (77.5%), this still demonstrates digital marketing efforts can engage older consumers.
Considering the sheer size of this cohort and its buying power, retailers should continue to market to baby boomers via traditional and digital channels. That being said, it’s important to recognize how baby boomers are shopping online.
Baby boomers aren’t as mobile-friendly as Millennials and Gen Zers. Per an eMarketer survey, only 46% of participants between the ages of 55 and 65 used a mobile retail app to research potential purchases – and only 39% actually made a purchase on a mobile retail app.
The marketing shift to increase mobile efforts is understandable as smartphones and apps have reshaped our day-to-day lives. Especially considering people spend over three hours a day on their phone. However, studies have shown that the vast majority of baby boomers’ screen time is spent on the computer. Further, according to GfK’s 2018 FutureBuy report, almost 80% of boomers had shopped on a computer in the previous six months, but only 33% said they’d done so via their phone.
Older consumers prefer to browse, research, and consume content elsewhere. Blogs and online articles are a valuable source of information for baby boomers. From a social media standpoint, most baby boomers’ activity can be found on Facebook. According to a DMN3 study, over 80% of baby boomers are on Facebook. Further, over 50% of boomers will continue browsing products – whether on a company website or via search engine – after encountering an ad, testimonial, or review on social media.
Another key difference between older and younger generations is time spent browsing/researching purchases. Millennials are known for impulse purchases – but baby boomers are far less likely to make such swift decisions. Marketing that relies on impulse tactics is less suitable. Older individuals are more calculated and patient with respect to shopping around and assessing options – and they prefer to do it on the computer.
So, if older demographics are within your target customer base – make sure you’re keeping their preferences in mind. We can help you create a digital + print marketing strategy to engage with your audience. Reach out to us to learn more.