Seven Tips for Generating Sales from Email Marketing

shutterstock woman reading tabletSmart marketers know that to stay top of mind you have to stay in touch! Email marketing presents a relatively low-cost opportunity for you to do so. And no, we’re not talking about broadcasting “spam” or unwanted communications that go straight to delete if they make it through the recipient’s email filter in the first place.

Instead, we’re addressing the emails you’ll send to selected targets who – through previous contact with you – have “opted in” for continued communications. But how to make the most of this opportunity to drive increased sales? Some tips:

1. Shorten up those email subject lines! In their study of 200 million emails, MailChimp reports that a count of 28-39 characters achieved the highest click rate.

2. Personalize your communications. Assure readers the message is from a familiar – and welcome source – by identifying your company (or yourself) by name in the email “from” line.

3. Keep it simple. Email software provider Litmus notes that more than 43% of email is now opened on a mobile device, making short, simple and mobile-friendly versions of your emails a must!

4. Give your targets a reason to read. Create email messages that are newsworthy. Provide a special offer, announce a sneak preview or extend an exclusive invitation. By giving email recipients a genuine reason to read your content, it’s not only more likely they’ll act today, but also remain receptive to your messages tomorrow.

5. Make it easy for readers to respond. Embed a link to a landing page where recipients can download a coupon, enter a contest or make a purchase.

6. Put it to the test! Take advantage of the flexibility of email by testing subject lines, offers and more to see which ones earn the highest open and/or response rates.

7. Track your progress … or lack thereof. Most email providers can help you monitor all sorts of performance metrics. Increases or decreases in open rates, click-through rates, spam percentages and other data can help you fine-tune your future efforts.

A final tip if considering email marketing? Go for it! The Direct Marketing Association reports that 66% of online consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email message.

Need help getting started or improving your current efforts? Give us a call.

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Direct Mail: Make it Easier and Make it Personal to Make it More Effective

shutterstock different people

Use GURLS and PURLS to increase response rates. Email marketers have discovered one truism over the years, “The easier you make it for your targets to respond, the more likely it is they will do so.” And with the advent of variable data printing and its ability to customize your mailers and landing pages, you can now add another, “The more personal you make your appeal, the better your chance to achieve success.” You can accomplish the first objective with a GURL … and both with a PURL.

Go GURL, and make responding easier. When making your appeal, offer your mail targets multiple ways to respond. Include a postage-paid business reply card. Provide a toll-free phone number. And be sure to include a GURL, or generic URL such as Why? According to the Direct Marketing Association, 42% of direct mail recipients prefer to respond online!

Get personal by employing a PURL. A PURL or personalized URL is a unique Web address or landing page you create specifically by target. A mailer addressed to John Q. Smith, for example, would direct send him to a PURL such as Employing variable data fields and taking advantage of the information in your database, you can tailor the images, messages and offers on your PURL to each recipient, based on what you know about them. If John Q. Smith is an avid outdoorsman, for instance, his PURL could feature camping images and include messaging highlighting the hunting and fishing programming available to him on your cable network. Is it worth the extra effort? The Direct Marketing Association believes so. They report that personalizing your direct mail can lift your response rates by 30-50%.

Want to know more on how your business, organization or nonprofit can win with direct mail – including GURLs and PURLS? Please give us a call.

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It Pays to Get Personal! Boost Your Mail Response Rates with Variable Data Printing

shutterstock mailboxesVariable data printing – or VDP – enables you to create unique mailing pieces based on your target’s interests, buying habits and other factors. Responses to such highly personalized campaigns average more than four times that of generic, same-to-all messages, reports Caslon, a digital print consulting and research firm, in their 2012 response rate report.

With VDP – a form of on-demand printing – you’re able to customize text, images and offers from one mailing piece to the next. In fact, you’re limited only by how much information is in your database. Some examples:

  • Do your records distinguish between those who have never ordered vs. those who are frequent purchasers? With VDP, one mailer may feature a First-Time Special Offer whereas your next could include a Special Repeat Purchaser Discount.
  • Alternately, do you know which customers of your sporting goods store are hikers as opposed to canoeists? Mountain trail or meandering river, VDP lets you print the photo that’s most likely to attract the eye of the individual prospect.
  • Have multiple store locations, or do you distribute through selected outlets? Variable maps are another VDP-enabled option. By including them in your mailer, you can drive your targets to your nearest location or to a close-by retail partner who carries your products

Variable data printing’s personalization advantages are clear, but what of its costs? They vary, of course, but many marketers find that while the price per piece of VDP direct mail is higher, the cost per response is lower – thereby increasing your return on investment.

Looking for ways to increase your direct mail response? Give us a call. We can help.

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What Works – and What Doesn’t – in Direct Marketing?

shutterstock testedTesting can help you put the stamp of success on your next mail campaign

This week, we’ll address some of the most common questions from small and mid-sized businesses, organizations and nonprofits in regard to testing mail campaigns.

Why test direct mail?

The short answer is because you can. With other media such as outdoor or radio, you often have to dive right in. But with direct mail, it’s relatively easy – and potentially cost savvy – to dip your toe in the water before fully committing yourself.

What should I test?

Many test their mailing lists to see which one is most effective in gaining responses. Another popular test subject is the offer. Which works best, a dollars-off offer or a percentage discount or a free trial? You also can use testing to evaluate headlines calls-to-action, formats and campaign timing.

How do I test a mail campaign?

Perhaps the easiest way is to create “test cells” to compare key variables of your campaign. You might, for example, divide your mailing list into four parts and send Offer A to 25%, Offer B to 25% and so on. Just be sure the sample size is large enough to provide “statistical significance” – meaning that the results from the test are likely to be replicated when you mail again to the rest of the audience.

When do I test?

If planning a big campaign, it can make sense – and save dollars – to pre-test on a smaller scale prior to the launch.

Another less formal way to benefit from testing is to track your results on a continuous basis, adjusting as you go. If 2012’s campaign drew a great response from a free trial offer whereas 2013’s effort featuring a percentage discount gained fewer responses, consider repeating or refining the free trial offer in your campaign this year.

Need help? We invite you to put our direct mail expertise to the test. Please give us a call.

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Inbound marketing? Outbound? Low-cost strategies to achieve the best of both!

Many businesses and organizations today are enamored with “inbound marketing.” Web-focused, it capitalizes on consumer reliance on search engines and social media to influence brand awareness and preference.shutterstock woman on phone in office

But what about “outbound marketing?” Centered on demand generation, its strategies include broadcast, email, outdoor, print, telesales, trade shows and other outreach methods.

So, inbound or outbound, which do you choose?  We recommend both. Many marketers are, in fact, successfully “marrying” the two disciplines to drive greater results.

Here are examples of outbound tactics that can “humanize” you to prospects identified through your inbound efforts. Best of all, it doesn’t take costly broadcast commercials or print ads for you to reap the rewards:

  • Pick up the phone and make a call; after all, the price is right. Before dialing, be sure to draft a script and practice reading it in a conversational tone. Call between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. or 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. when prospects may be least busy. And consider an incentive such as special offer or a contest for prizes.
  • Take advantage of cost-effective email marketing. To those that have opted in for ongoing communications via your Web or social media “inbound” efforts, email marketing remains a viable way to maintain relationships and nurture leads on a large scale.
  • Benefit by participating in trade shows. They represent a great opportunity for you to literally reach out to prospects, shake their hands, and establish face-to-face relationships not achievable online. Conversely, the events themselves play a significant role in promoting new “inbound” relationships!

For expert assistance in inbound marketing, outbound marketing or both, please give us a call.


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Make a Date to Succeed in Content Marketing: The Importance of Creating a Calendar

shutterstock calendarTwo key benefits of content marketing that come from sharing videos, white papers, webinars, blogs and more, is that you help keep your audience engaged and your brand “top of mind.”

What’s more, frequent posts of new content to your website and social media pages can enhance search engine optimization – making it more likely viewers will find you when searching on Bing, Google and Yahoo for keywords associated with your company or organization.

But where to begin with content marketing? And how to proceed? While most small and mid-size businesses won’t have anywhere near the resources of a Fortune 500 company, you can steal a page from their playbooks and create a content marketing calendar.

Sitting down at the beginning of the year and mapping out your strategy lets you use your resources more effectively. Some tips:

  •  Commit to making a calendar, either physical or virtual. Brainstorm topics you want to talk about, organize them in a logical manner and plug them in to a date. It’s much easier to find relevant content and share it when you have a plan.
  • Schedule your releases in manageable increments. No matter how large, no brand can do it all at one time … and no prospect or customer can possibly absorb all of your new content at once anyway. Make a realistic assessment of your resources and go from there.
  • Match your output to your audience’s interests. For example, a garden center will wish to feature fall lawn fertilization and end-of-season soil preparation in its autumn releases. Focus on the time of year your messaging will be most effective.
  • Capitalize on surrounding, special events. Most cities and regions are famous for a harvest festival, classic auto show, fall color tour, rodeo days or you name it. Don’t compete with these events; instead consider matching your releases to them in order to “piggyback” on their momentum.
  • Spread the load among your team. Each member is likely to bring different talents and perspective to the job, helping to keep content fresh. What’s more, you’ll keep your staff fresh, too, by not overloading any one person with too many content creation tasks.

One more tip to succeed in content marketing? Call us, if you’re in need of expert assistance.

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When it comes to Promotional Products, Choose Wisely

The effective use of promotional products is more than just handing out a mug or a magnet at a trade show. After all, the purpose of these items is to build awareness of your brand. So make sure the items you’re putting your company name or shutterstock_127914380logo on are a complement to your company’s image and make a positive impression.

Here are four key points to consider when purchasing your promotional products:

  1. Give them what they want. The best promotional products are the ones that have value to the recipients and ones they will use every day. Items such as sticky-notes, note pads and pens work well for most businesses. Farmers and construction workers might enjoy receiving a cap. People need them, use them daily, and they’re relatively inexpensive.
  2. Maintain the quality. Promotional products are a direct representation of your company. You want people to associate you with quality and value, not cheapness. And while that doesn’t mean you need to buy $20 items for every customer, you do need to make sure you get something that your customer wants to use that will hold up well. For example, if you’re giving out pens, make sure they’re the kind of pens people will reach for first. Pens should write well on most surfaces, be smear-proof, and feel good in the recipient’s hand.
  3. Keep good design in mind. Your brand and information on your promotional products should be organized and usable. Make sure your business name or logo is presented clearly, and be sure to include your Web address. On sticky pads and notepads, your information and logo should be on every page, but should still allow the product to be used.
  4. Hit the target. You don’t need to give out promo products to everyone. That would be a waste of money. Rather, choose your targets, the items they receive and what criteria needs to be met for them to receive it. Maybe you want to say thank you to a new client or reward repeat business from a loyal customer. Set whatever parameters make sense for your business.

We have access to thousands of promo products. Give us a call. We’re here to help.

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Promo Products Make a Lasting Impression

shutterstock_187237550Using promotional products as part of your marketing strategy is a proven method to increase brand awareness for your company.  Promotional merchandise is popular at trade shows but can also be effective for sponsorships and events, customer loyalty programs, business referrals, holiday gifts and employee recognition.

Here are five benefits of having promotional products as part of your marketing mix:

  1. Brand recognition: Studies show that nine out of ten people say they remember the company name on a promotional product they received. By customizing an item with your logo, that a customer or prospect can use in his or her everyday life, you’re able to keep your business top of mind.
  2. Longevity: When customers receive promotional products, they tend to keep them for a long period of time. In fact, it’s estimated that the average time a promotional item is kept in a business or household is seven months. This increases the brand awareness of not only the person using the promotional item, but also those who are in contact with the recipient or see them using the product.
  3. More likely to buy: Recipients become more and more familiar with your company name and the products or services you offer when they are constantly reminded about it when using the promotional gift. In the U.S., 36% of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a company after receiving a promotional item from them.
  4. Economical form of advertising: Promotional products can cost considerably less per impression, than other forms of advertisement. Items being kept and used for some time can also be passed onto or seen by other potential customers. Plus, when someone sees a promotional gift being used by their friend or family member, it can be construed as an endorsement of your brand and helps get the word out to multiple people other than the one recipient.
  5. Large selection available: Writing instruments, branded apparel and mugs are among some of the most popular promotional items given away. But there are literally thousands of different promotional products to choose from. You can choose products that represent your company and are relevant to your brand. Different themes or company cultures can be promoted through promotional products. For example, a travel company might give out a beach or travel related promotional product. Environmentally committed companies may give out recycled promotional gifts or even ones that reduce the carbon footprint left on the Earth.

Looking for the perfect promo product to boost your brand? Contact us. We can help.

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More than Just a Discount: Coupons Build Business and Brand Awareness

Coupon campaigns can be an inexpensive means of marketing. Many small businesses use coupons to build awareness and bring new business to their doors.  Other reasons to use coupons include:coupons

  • To increase sales of a specific products
  • To reward current customers for their loyalty
  • To entice former customers to return
  • To create cross-sell opportunities

How to Use Coupons in Promotions

A well-designed coupon offer can generate a short-term boost in traffic, but establishing brand awareness is one of the long-lasting effects of a coupon promotion.

Before starting a coupon promotion, be sure the offer is right for your market. Coupons aren’t for everyone and in some cases, may actually lower the value of a brand.

If you determine that a coupon promotion works for you, there are a variety of coupon delivery channels available to reach your target audience. Some of the more popular coupon distribution methods include electronic delivery such as Groupon or LivingSocial, free-standing inserts in publications and direct mail.

Elements of Effective Coupons

Like any promotional advertisement, coupons should be designed to inspire the consumer to act. Here are some specific elements to keep in mind when creating a coupon:

  • Use clear, concise language to detail the offer and its terms.
  • Be sure to include the product image. Pictures speak a thousand words.
  • Include any necessary disclaimers or legal copy.
  • Designate an expiration date.
  • Provide your company name and address.
  • Incorporate an offer or tracking code to measure the campaign.

Evaluating a Coupon Campaign

Want to know if your coupons are working? Don’t forget to build testing mechanisms into your campaign.  The use of tracking codes printed directly on the coupon, or coded in electronic delivery, allow you to see which customers redeemed the coupons and where they were found. Evaluating the delivery method and response can help determine which promotion or coupon works best with your audience.

Interested in adding a coupon campaign to your marketing plan? Let us know. We can help.



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The Power of Promotional Products

promo productsApparel. Flash drives. Ball caps. Pens. Mugs. Promotional products are a valuable communication tool for building your brand, recognizing employees, boosting sales and marketing company events. As part of an overall marketing or
communications program, they grab attention, generate goodwill and reinforce messages.

Planning is critical to the successful use of promotional products. Here are some helpful guidelines for developing an effective program:

  1. Define a specific objective. The first step is to clarify your purpose. Is the goal is to build excitement for a new program, recognize employee achievements at an annual meeting, or increase traffic at a trade show?
  2. Determine your target audience. Consider who you are trying to reach with your promotional items. Make sure the item is useful or meaningful to its intended recipients.
  3. Create a central theme. An event or marketing promotion will be most effective with a central theme. The theme and the promotional product should tie in with the objectives of the program or event.
  4. Select a product that bears a natural relationship to your profession or theme. A good example is a company that developed a magic motif for its conference at Disney World. Attendees received magic-related products to tie in with the theme “Experience the magic at Disney.”
  5. Don’t pick an item based solely on uniqueness, price or perceived value. Don’t fall prey to the latest trends or fads. And remember that audience perceptions of a gift are not exclusively cost-related. According to the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), the leading three categories of promotional products chosen for use are: wearables such as shirts, jackets and hats; writing instruments like pens and highlighters; and calendars including wall and wallet size, desk diaries and more.

No matter your purpose, select promotional products worth keeping. From pens to t-shirts to coffee mugs, these effective marketing tools are a tangible representation of your company or organization. Make sure they send the right message. Need help finding just the right promotional product? Call us. We can help.

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