Direct Mail Gets Our Stamp of Approval

Open mailboxDirect mail is not only highly targetable but also readily personalized with names, images and messages. With special inks and textures, and enhancements like die-cuts and folds, the variety of shapes and sizes are all attention-getting . . . and drive interaction and impact. Here are six reasons why direct mail gets our stamp of approval.

1. Accessible. U.S. consumers (73%) and Canadian shoppers (67%) prefer direct mail for brand communications because they can read the information at their convenience. (Epsilon, Channel Preference for Both the Mobile and Non-Mobile Consumer, 2012)

2. Noticeable. Consumers who say they are more likely to notice and read direct mail (53%) than email (26%). (Canada Post Corporation, Breaking Through the Noise, June 30, 2015)

3. Likeable. More than 60% of North American consumers enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail. (United States Postal Service, The Mail Moment)

4. Action-oriented. 50% of recipients have purchased a product in-store over the past six months as a result of direct mail. (Canada Post Corporation, Breaking Through the Noise, June 30, 2015)

5. In the moment. 98% of consumers bring in their mail the day it’s delivered, and 77% sort through their mail immediately. (United States Postal Service)

6. Moving to the next level. 64% of recipients have visited a website, engaged in social media (54%) or visited a retailer (47%) as a result of receiving mail. (Epsilon, Channel Preference for Both the Mobile and Non-Mobile Consumer, 2012)

For lots of great ideas about how to put direct mail to work for you, give us a call.

 

 

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Event Marketing Before, During and After

shutterstock_153117176Seasoned event marketers know the many advantages of participating in conferences or staging their own special events to reach their top goals: increase brand awareness, improve product knowledge through hands-on demonstrations and drive more sales.

If that isn’t incentive enough for you to consider events as part of your marketing mix, add one more: competitive pressure. A 2014 study by the Event Marketing Institute and Mosaic reports that more dollars are being devoted to experiential marketing, an average 5% budget increase for survey respondents.

Events are now the number one channel for product launches. So, it’s increasingly likely your rivals are reaching out via events for prospects – and sales – you’d like to call your own. Whether you are new to the game or a veteran event marketer, here are a few tips to maximize your opportunities with your next outing:

Before

  • Promote your event every which way you can. Feature it prominently on your website or create a splash page especially for the event. Notify everyone on your mailing list and/or email list. Distribute press releases to target media outlets, if the goal is to reach a broader audience.
  • Reach out via social media. On Facebook and elsewhere, promote your event and encourage your targets to register, attend . . . and share the news with their like-minded colleagues. The EMI/Mosaic survey shows 77% connect with consumers via social media before an event.
  • Remember to remind your invitees. Postcard mailings are an inexpensive way to reach out with save-the-date communications and event reminders. E-cards are another cost-effective option.

During

  • Embrace the latest technology. Use flat-screen monitors to present looped videos or even interactive touchscreens to take your display to a new level. Limited budget? Opt instead for free-standing posters or roll-up banner stands to reinforce key messages or promote special demonstrations and offers.
  • Give your gifts some serious thought. The best ones not only serve as conversation-starters but also help you stand out. Useful logoed gifts including wearables, bags and flash drives are most valued, according to research by the Advertising Specialty Institute.
  • Whoa there! Hold back some handouts. Distributing flyers is smart but keeping more costly materials in reserve for those who express genuine interest is smarter. Better yet, mail or deliver them in person to help cement your new relationships.

After

  • Go all out to get the order. For those who have expressed interest, implement an aggressive plan for sales lead follow-up. Be sure to assign responsibility, establish a timeline and closely monitor your results.
  • “Great to meet you; thanks for attending!” Send follow-up mailings or emails to everyone you meet at the event. Remind them of your key sales messages and re-state your offer or a new incentive.
  • Find out what works – and what doesn’t. Fine tune your future efforts through follow-up surveys by mail, email or phone to evaluate the effectiveness of your participation and marketing messages.

Be sure to let us know if you need help with the communications, promotional products or signage that can make any event more special.

 

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Direct Plus Digital: The Anatomy of a Landing Page

 An effective online response mechanism is a must-have for every direct marketing campaign. According to the Direct Marketing Association, two out of five prefer to respond online to a direct mail offer. (Others may like to reply by mail or phone, so always provide options.)

Enter the landing page which is quite literally, where your prospects “land” to access what you’ve offered to them via your direct mail piece, email or online ad. Optimize your landing page with the following considerations:

  • Get your domain name early. It can influence content and design, and sometimes the domain name you want is unavailable.
  • Who are you? Place your logo high on the page for clear brand identity.
  • This is the right place. Be consistent with the look and feel of the source leading to it: direct mailer, email or online ad.
  • Keep it simple. Write a strong headline and short description of the offer.
  • Clearly state the benefits. Reinforce the reason why they’re giving up personal information.
  • Add an image. Avoid all confusion, and use an image relevant to your offer or an image of your offer, if it makes sense.
  • Direct the eye to the button. Make it stand out from other graphics or colors on the page, and write a compelling CTA rather than “submit” or “click here.”
  • Minimize fields. Data collectionmay be a primary goal. However, asking too much may cause abandonment. Ask only what you need.

Bonus Tip 1: Design for “thumbs.” Mobile access now accounts for 60% of time spent consuming digital media, according to comScore. A responsive design means your page renders properly across viewing platforms: desktop, tablet and smartphone.

Bonus Tip 2: Include a “thank you.” Once the form is completed and the button clicked, send your leads to a “thank-you” page where they can access the offer. Here, you can direct leads to other website pages or present secondary offers.

Want to drive more leads with a direct to digital connection? Let us know; we can help!

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4 Tips for Winning With White Papers

shutterstock_238377004Defined as persuasive, authoritative and in-depth reports on specific topics, white papers are for many small and mid-sized businesses an excellent tactic in content marketing – primarily for business-to-business enterprises.

Executed properly, they’re an ideal way to deliver compelling and relevant information targeted to a specific audience with the goal of changing or maintaining a behavior. Beyond short-format content marketing such as blogs or social media posts, they offer you the opportunity to more fully engage your audience, display your expertise . . . and gain their trust.

Today’s business buyers often actively seek out the kind of detailed information that white papers can provide, and rely on them to help research a product or service before committing to a purchase.

So, how best to make the most of this content marketing tactic? Here are four tips for winning with white papers:

  1. Consider the interests of your audience. Most people, of course, don’t read white papers for entertainment. Rather, they’re seeking help with a challenge, solutions to a problem, or expert advice on how to do something better. So before putting pen to paper, give some consideration what would make your audience read your white paper and, ideally, pass it along to an associate with similar interests. When in doubt, ask your customers about the problems they confront or the advice they’d most like to receive.
  2. Share some “secrets” or other exclusive content. Include information in your white papers that’s not readily available in your other content marketing such as blogs, videos or newsletters. Or, perhaps make them the only forum for an expert spokesperson. By adding an element of exclusivity, you’ll increase your offering’s perceived value.
  3. Keep your white papers short. Some content marketing experts recommend a minimum of three and a maximum of 14 pages. After all, many in your audience will be pressed for time and be more inclined to squeeze minutes for a shorter white paper between other commitments. Have a lot to communicate? Here’s your opportunity to divide your content into a series of two, three or more white papers!
  4. Decide on the format. Some within your target audience will prefer printed copies while other will opt for electronic downloads. To satisfy both groups, consider offering white papers in both formats.

Like to incorporate white papers in your mix of content marketing tactics? Let us know! We can assist you with topic selection and writing content, among other aspects of a successful campaign.

 

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Employee Engagement: 6 Ways to Show You Care

shutterstock_187237550Recognizing hard-working and loyal employees makes good business sense in more ways than one. Staff turnover has a negative impact on employee morale and overall productivity, not to mention company revenue.

Given the costs of recruiting and training, one study estimates that it costs six to nine months’ salary on average to replace a salaried employee. Other research reveals it costs 16% of annual salary to replace lower-wage earners, meaning that you’d pay over $3,000 to hire and train a new $10/hour employee.

All of this underscores it’s better to spend a little on recognizing employees rather than a lot when replacing them. And with options for every budget, promotional items and professionally produced materials are a great place to start. Some tips:

  1. Recognize your highest achievers with plaques, certificates and engraved signs.
  2. Provide workers with logoed apparel such as caps, shirts and jackets, or with branded bags. These can be used not only as rewards but also as special gifts presented at company picnics, golf outings or executive retreats. Of course, you can also use branded clothing to identify staffers on the selling floor or to distinguish your team at trade shows or other special events.
  3. Identify consumer-facing employees with business cards, and support their sales and presentation efforts with well-designed business materials. You’ll strengthen their sense of engagement and enhance their professionalism.
  4. Reward employees with desk accessories as well as calendars identified with your company name and logo. Water bottles and flash drives are other popular items.
  5. Provide staff members with coffee mugs that commemorate a company milestone and, while you’re at it, stock your conference room or kitchen with them to put your best face forward when entertaining guests.
  6. Create professionally produced employee manuals to enhance engagement and help assure compliance to company policies. When following these tips, you’ll increase employee morale and build your brand. Consider that all items worn or used outside your workplace will spread your company name and logo to the public.

Ready to explore your options with promotional products? Give us a call; we’re good at it!

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4 Surefire Ways to More Memorable Videos

shutterstock_232938910If video isn’t yet part of your content marketing mix, there’s ample evidence it should be. According to Cisco, videos will account for 69% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2017.

An ideal medium for content marketing, videos engage, educate and encourage viewers to buy. In fact, a recent consumer survey by Animoto reveals 73% of people are more likely to make a purchase after watching an online video that explains a product or service.

So, how best to make the most of this opportunity in support of your content marketing? Some tips on creating and distributing videos:

  1. Keep it simple … and inexpensive. With a video camera, smartphone or tablet, some natural lighting, a quiet space and a little planning, you can produce great results on a modest budget.
  2. Get more for less. Consider videotaping at an event such as a trade show where your experts, satisfied customers and a product demonstration all converge. One shoot, with the right editing, could yield several videos.
  3. Share and share alike. Add your video to your website, link it in emails and e-newsletters, incorporate it into a topic-specific blogs and post it on social media channels – all while suggesting that viewers share your content with their friends!
  4. Remember video’s unique capabilities. Above all, videos are great at demonstrations. No other medium, for example, would be better for a paint store to show do-it-yourselfers how to stain a wood deck.

Some parting advice? Watch the clock. Ideally, your video will get to the point quickly, as viewers will give you only 5-10 seconds to convince them to keep watching. It should time out at 30 seconds to two minutes in length, and conclude with a call-to-action that urges viewers to visit a website, download a white paper, contact you for more information or otherwise take a next step toward cementing their relationship with you. An exception? A how-to video should be just as long as it takes to give proper instructions to those actively seeking the information.

Need help with videos or other tactics in content marketing? Contact us today.

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Get ‘Graphic’ with Your Content

shutterstock_218826733You may not know them by name, but you’ll certainly recognize one by sight: infographics are visual representations of data intended to present information quickly and clearly.

“Infographics can explain the unexplainable,” says Karl Gude, former infographics director at Newsweek magazine and The Associated Press. “Complex data tables, numbers and locations instantly come alive.”

Of course, the increasing popularity of infographics should come as no surprise. Properly executed, they offer multiple benefits to content marketers:

  • They attract attention. A visual interpretation of your brand or other message, infographics combine data, pictures and words in an eye-catching and oftentimes fun format!
  • They’re accessible. Infographics can connect your message with an audience that may be unreachable via text formats, providing information to a target that might not otherwise be consumed.
  • They’re easily shared. Readily passed on from follower to follower via social media sites like Facebook, infographics offer excellent viral potential, which is the holy grail among most content marketers.
  • They’re readily repurposed. Because infographics are easy to share on any medium, they’re great content for email outreach and social posts or printed for direct mail campaigns.
  • They boost SEO. As more and more people share and link to your infographic from their websites, blogs or social pages, you gain not only a larger audience but also higher rankings for your website on search engines.

One word of caution if proceeding with this content marketing tactic: A poorly crafted infographic can hurt an organization’s credibility. “They do take work and a specific set of skills,” says Gude.

For assistance with creating your infographics, contact us today.

 

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Think ‘Ink’ for Content Marketing

shutterstock_234358672Before you go all in with digital channels when distributing your content, consider this: People like print! According to a survey by Two Sides, 70% of people say they prefer paper communications rather than reading off of a screen.

And with print, you’ll not only satisfy the preferences of many in your target audience, you’ll also sidestep the online clutter that diminishes the efforts of many digital-only competitors.

Now that you’ve spent the time, effort and money to create relevant content, follow these tips to make sure it gets noticed … and stays remembered:

  • Team it with digital. Combine print and digital tactics for increased response. Savvy content marketers use printed materials to point readers to online content — and vice versa.
  • Aim with precision. With today’s mailing lists, you can pinpoint your best direct mail audiences while eliminating wasted deliveries to those who are not likely to be interested in your offer.
  • Customize it. Response rates to custom direct marketing campaigns are, on average, over four times greater than generic, one-size-fits-all messages, says Caslon. So take advantage of variable data printing to individualize your envelopes and letters with names, text and images to reflect gender, interests and purchase history and more.
  • Toughen it up. Printed materials often can be as “viral” as digital content when passed from friend to friend. Make sure your pieces hold up to the added wear and tear. Thicker paper stock is one solution; waterproof or laminated finishes, and heavy-duty bindings are others.
  • Catch the eye. Help your printed pieces stand out with metallic and pearlescent pigments. Or consider foil stamping or embossing for special events or high-end product launches. Other solutions include gloss UV and glitter coatings to add luster, or glow-in-the-dark or fluorescent that set a different mood.

Whether thinking ink, digital or both for your content marketing, also think of us. We can help.

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Content Marketing Metrics That Matter

shutterstock_275980292When initiating any marketing campaign, it makes good sense to track your progress – or lack thereof. Through quantitative measurements or metrics, you can determine if your efforts are achieving the desired results … or are off course and in need of an alternate strategy.

But which metrics can best measure the effectiveness of content marketing – an initiative by which you create valuable and relevant content targeted to a specific audience with the objective of changing or maintaining their behavior?

Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, recommends that the number of email subscribers should be first on your list when evaluating content marketing. “Focus for nine to twelve months on building a subscriber base through consistent, compelling content,” says Joe. “The holy grail of content marketing metrics, if there is one, is the subscriber.”

Of course, others marketers are ready for more comprehensive measures. Consumption metrics, for example, determine via click-through rates, downloads and other data the number of viewers who consume your content, the channels they use, and the frequency of their consumption.

Also useful, retention metrics help you measure your effectiveness in holding a viewer’s interest. Google Analytics, for example, reveals the percentage of returning visitors who return to your website.

Sharing metrics let you know what content is being shared, by whom, and in what manner. For Facebook, Twitter and other social media, a resource like SharedCount can help quantify the “likes,” retweets and “shares” of your posts.

There’s more, of course. Depending on the size and sophistication or your content marketing campaign, you can measure its effectiveness through metrics for leads, sales, production and costs, including ROI or the return on your investment.

Need assistance in initiating or measuring your content marketing? We can help, call us today.

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Content Marketing and SMBs: What’s Trending

shutterstock_245818678We recently reached out to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, for his views on what’s trending in content marketing. He shared his insights into the challenges to and opportunities for creating valuable and relevant material with the goal of changing or maintaining a behavior. Here are some of his thoughts for small and medium-sized business (SMBs) marketers:

SMBs are gaining greater opportunity. “There are no barriers to entry for publishing anymore,” reports Joe. “Any SMB can publish content without heavy investment to try to build a loyal audience.”

More channels mean even more clutter. “Whereas before we had nine, now we have hundreds,” says Joe. “So it becomes more challenging to cut through the clutter. Podcasts have exploded as more consumers look for audio content. Also, a number of SMBs are looking at print as one of the best ways to reach target audiences with all of the online clutter.”

Beginners should start small. “Start with a blog, podcast or video channel,” relates Joe. “Then use your social media channels to distribute that content. Start telling a story that positions you as the leading expert in your particular niche.”

Build a loyal following. “The best way to build an audience,” says Joe, “is to create an offer that people need to sign up for with an email address, and then deliver on that promise with, say, a weekly newsletter. With this data, you can start to tell what’s different between those who subscribe to your content versus non-subscribers.”

Consistency is key. “Look at repurposing much of your content,” advises Joe. “For example, a blog post can become an audio podcast, or a video series transcribed into a blog post. Think up front about all the different ways you can take one content effort and retell that story to reach a new audience.”

Need help with creating content that’s both powerful and engaging? Please give us a call.

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