Category Archive: In The Press

Silos Are for Farmers, Not Marketers

Got a silo problem? If you’re like most companies doing targeted and personalized marketing, you do. You may have plenty of customer data, but it might be in different places (silos), and these places often aren’t talking to each other. As a result, your marketing is less effective than it could be. 

Here are some risks to having siloed data: 

  • Unhappy customers. Whenever mail gets lost because you have the wrong address, whenever a mail piece arrives with a bad name, or you offer to sell a long-term customer a product they already own, you risk alienating that customer. 
  • High costs. The average price of every piece of returned mail is $3 (Source: Pitney Bowes). This is not just the postage and printing. It’s the cost of the piece coming back to you, figuring out what went wrong, and taking the time to fix it. 
  • Lost sales. How many marketing opportunities are lost because the data on customers’ preferences and behavior is siloed in different departments? That translates into lost revenue. 

Let’s look at five steps for getting rid of those silos. 

1. Connect inbound mail to outbound mail.

Build in tracking mechanisms that allow you to connect the incoming to outgoing mail. This can be as simple as adding a barcode unique to each participant. When the response envelope comes in, the barcode is scanned. This connects the incoming mail to the outbound file, linking the customer information together. 

2. Centralize data capture.

Centralize mail processing in one location. Capture mail coming in from marketing, sales, customer service, web forms, and anywhere else in your company. 

3. Extract what you need.

Your mail contains lots of essential details that can be useful to your print and digital marketing. Extract all of the insights you can, including names, addresses, channel preferences, transaction history, and customer surveys. Input it into a centralized database that can be accessed throughout the organization. 

4. Look and learn.

Assign someone with a marketing and data background to analyze your database to understand what it tells you. Contained in there are critical nuggets about customer behavior, channel preferences, and more. Need help? Just ask!

5. Put it to use.

With a closed-loop on your mail communications and a centralized, up-to-date database accessible by all departments, you have a powerful marketing tool at your disposal. Take what you can learn and use it to improve your targeted and personalized direct mail marketing or other customer communications. 

“Do You Really Know Me?” From: Your Customer

To create genuinely personal communications, you need to know your customers. This requires more than knowing basics like name, address, and gender. It requires knowing more about who your customers are

Let’s take an example from the world of sports. For example, when we think of hockey fans, we might think of demographics such as age, gender, and region of the country in which a fan lives. But did you know that National Hockey League (NHL) fans are the most affluent sports fans in the country? (Out of all major league sports, the NHL has the highest percentage of fans earning more than $100,000 per year.) Or that half of Major League Baseball fans are retirees? Or that 40% of NASCAR fans are women? 

The starting point for any targeted or personalized campaign is knowing the make-up of your audience. If you don’t have this information, make it one of your goals to find out. Send a direct mail or email survey or conduct a focus group. Add survey forms on your website or purchase additional data to fill in the gaps. 

Don’t stop there. Ask yourself what else you might not know about your target audience that would be helpful. When the NHL started personalizing its fan communications, for example, it asked them to fill out a survey that indicated where they lived and their favorite hockey team. The NHL discovered that 40% of its fan base lives outside their favorite team’s home market. Imagine the marketing opportunities for the league! 

Know your customers from the inside, too.

  • Consider investing in fundamental database analysis. Identify your top 10% of customers by frequency, volume, and revenue. 
  • What do those customers “look” like? Create a set of customer profiles.
  • What does each profile have in common (age, income, marital status, purchase habits)? In a B2B environment, you might look at the vertical market, employee size, and annual revenues. 
  • Get to know your bottom 10%, too. What do they look like? Are they customers you can woo back? 

There is an infinite number of questions you can ask, but they all start with knowing who your customers are in the first place. 

Lessons Learned from Real-Life Split Testing

If you want to know what’s working, test it. Is this recipe better than that one? Is this pair of shoes more comfortable than those? Marketing is no different. By taking a portion of your list and testing one element at a time, you can find out what works best. Even if you’ve done testing in the past, things change. It’s essential to keep testing to make sure you know what is working now.

Unbounce, a service that allows marketers to build, publish, and test landing pages, has described the impact of testing on three different companies and the lessons learned from each. Let’s take a brief look at each one.

Test #1: Great ads can get better.

SafeSoft Solutions had a slick, professional ad that was doing well. The headline promoted productivity and efficiency. It used attention-grabbing, easy-to-read bullet points to outline the benefits of its services. But the ad did not contain pricing information. SafeSoft decided to test the addition of a green starburst with its pricing inside. The result? A 100% increase in conversions.

Test #2: Not all trial offers are created equal.

For some companies, a seven-day offer might be perfect. For others, customers might need a more extended test-out period. When HubSpot split tested its trial offer, it found that prospects required more time to make a decision. By testing a 30-day trial over a seven-day trial, it was found that it could boost conversions by 110%.

Test #3: Location matters.

Does the placement of the CTA make a difference? Inbound Strategy wanted to find out. It tweaked its site’s landing page, added more information, and played with the location of the CTA. The results? When the CTA was moved from the right-hand side of the page to the left, there was a 217% increase in conversions compared to the control.

These examples have lessons for us, as well. Whether you are working with print, email, landing pages, or any other channel, you’re missing opportunities if you’re not doing split testing regularly. What insights and higher conversion rates might you be missing?

Survey: Print Is Safe, Secure, Trustworthy, and Eco-Friendly

If something is proven safe, secure, and trustworthy, you’d embrace it, right? Now add in that it is also eco-friendly, and you have a product anyone would love. There is such a product, and its print. After years of research on consumer attitudes and preferences, print remains consumers’ preferred channel for safety, security, trustworthiness, and sustainability.

Here are some takeaways from research conducted by Two Sides and Toluna, a global polling firm:

  • 91% of U.S. consumers surveyed agree that, when responsibly produced, used, and recycled, print and paper are sustainable ways to communicate.
  • 86% of those in the 18- to 24-year-old age group see print as eco-friendly.
  • 78% of Americans keep hard copies of essential documents filed at home because they see it as the safest and most secure way of storing information.
  • 56% of Americans trust the news stories they read in printed newspapers.
  • Only 35% of Americans trust the news stories they read on social media.

“Although we regularly hear [that] corporations are going digital or ‘paperless’ as safe, secure, and more [sustainable], this is not a shared opinion by a vast majority of the public, who seem to trust paper for many applications,” says Phil Riebel, president of Two Sides North America.

Furthermore, with the increase in online security breaches and “fake news,” Riebel notes the clear advantages of print on paper. “I believe more and more people will become concerned about what may happen to their personal information held electronically,” he says. “Seventy-six percent of people are now concerned, but that may go up even more.”

The value of print has never been clearer, especially for companies in markets such as insurance, financial services, and medical and pharmaceutical technologies, where safety, security, and trustworthiness remain “make or break” issues for consumers. In these and similar markets, the print channel remains indispensable.

Do Self-Mailers Have Benefits Over Direct Mail Envelopes? You Bet!

For many businesses, direct mail letters are their “go-to.” They are inexpensive to produce, can include BREs and other inserts, and depending on the design, can seem more personal than self-mailers. Still, the popularity of self-mailers is growing. They, too, are inexpensive and have many benefits.

Self-mailers are created when a single piece of paper is folded to create a self-contained mailing format. Depending on the size of the sheet, self-mailers can be folded into two or more panels. They can be sealed using glue lines, wafer seals, or glue spots along the edge.

Let’s take a look at some of their benefits:

  • Because they require no envelope, self-mailers have no envelope or inserting costs. This makes them a great option for tight budgets.
  • When unfolded, self-mailers provide lots of real estate for graphics and messaging.
  • Even on digital presses, self-mailers can be printed on a wide variety of substrates, including heavier substrates.
  • While we tend to think of self-mailers as simple, folded formats, their substrate flexibility allows them to include pockets and interior panels into which you can insert gift cards, reply cards, or small samples.
  • Because self-mailers can be digitally printed, they can be fully personalized like any other mailer.

Self-mailers are readily identifiable as marketing mail, so they can have lower response rates. For this reason, some businesses use them for mailing to people with whom they already have a relationship—loyal customers who will open them simply because of their relationship with the brand. Others use them for campaigns in which people want promotional mail. Examples include promotions around clearance sales, new store openings with discounts, and free samples. We see them heavily used around college recruiting, as well.

In the end, choosing the correct format depends on your target audience and the goals of the campaign. Testing will be critical in helping you identify when and where each format will work best for you.

Great Unboxing Experiences: Now More Than Ever

In a world defined by virtual and digital interactions, positive, tactile experiences are a delight to the senses. This is why improving the “unboxing experience” for packaged products is growing in importance among product marketers.

The “unboxing experience” is how buyers feel when they first open the package and engage with its contents. This experience might be dull as dirt (like taking a pair of shoes out of a cardboard box in a shoe store) or, like opening the box for a new Apple iPhone, it can be a multisensory extravaganza.

Whether you are selling online or in a brick-and-mortar environment, a great unboxing experience increases brand satisfaction, boosts brand engagement, and is something that your customers remember and look forward to in their next order. But how, exactly, do you create one?

Try one of these proven ways—or all three!

1. Brand it.

Companies with the best unboxing experiences create custom branded packaging. This is packaging that is unique to you and includes your company name, logo, and any other graphics or text you want to include. It’s not just “any” box. It’s your box, and everything about it reflects your brand. According to a study by Dotcom Distribution, 40% of online shoppers would share an image of their purchase on social media if it came in branded packaging.

2. Go premium.

Use premium materials to create a sense of luxury. One company that does this extremely well is Apple. All Apple products are delivered in minimalist white boxes with shimmering metallic letters. Boxes are made of premium materials with a soft-touch coating and fit the products like a tailored suit. Unboxing is truly a delightful sensory experience that makes people feel they’ve just done something special.

3. Get creative with inserts.

Don’t just send the product. Include inserts that delight, as well. Examples include personalized thank-you cards or fun product-related information. One organic goat-milk soap company, for example, includes a card with each bar of soap with a picture and the names of the goats from which the milk was taken. “Your soap was hand-crafted from the milk of Daisy, Lina, and Ana. They say, ‘Thank you!’”

Think of unboxing as being like the product’s grand entrance at a royal event. The more excitement generated around it, the more special the product—and  by extension, your company—is perceived to be. If you’re going to make an entrance, make it memorable in the best possible way.

ENHANCED PACKAGING AND THE “UNBOXING EXPERIENCE”

Source: US Vertical Vision Study: Vertical Industry Views from a Socially Distanced Perch; Keypoint Intelligence 2020

 

Is Brand Awareness Worth the Investment?

We all want to sell more products and services, and for decades, brand awareness has been the subject of research and study. Is this a good investment of your marketing dollars? To what extent does brand awareness truly influence the final purchase decision? As it turns out, quite a lot.

Here are the results from one fascinating study:

  • In a blind study by the University of Newcastle and the University of South Australia, 85.5% of subjects chose the familiar brand in the first trial, even if they preferred a less familiar brand.
  • Even when testing brands during an initial trial, consumers were more likely to purchase the product from a familiar brand name, even if they preferred the taste (or, by extension, the look, smell, or function) of an unfamiliar brand.
  • Consumers were not only likely to choose the more familiar brand but were more likely to make the decision more quickly — 9.8 seconds faster.

What does this mean for you? Get to the consumer early. Stay in front of them and don’t quit! Repetition is critical. One statistic we regularly run across is that the average person remembers three to five brands per category. To get in there, you have to push someone else out and then stay there.

This is where consistent drips of brand messaging can pay off in a big way. Send a direct mailer and follow up with an email. Invest in retargeting with social media ads for visitors to your website. Create constant reminders of who you are and what your brand offers.

Creating brand awareness is not always about getting someone to buy right now. It’s about staying top of mind—and keeping your competitors out in the cold—so that when your target audience is ready to buy, they think of you.

Source: “Brand Awareness Effects on Consumer Decision Making for a Common, Repeat Purchase Product: A Replication” (Journal of Business Research)

 

The Value of the Traditional Holiday Card in the Digital Age

In this digital, mobile age of communication, the personal touch is often missing from important client, employee and partner interactions. In a rush to be present on social media sites and participate in the latest and greatest technology enabled trends, companies may make the mistake of forgoing the personal touch of sending a traditional holiday greeting card. Holidays are the perfect time to remember and thank customers, partners, suppliers, and employees for the vital role they serve in the success of your business.

If sending out cards isn’t a yearly tradition for your business, or if it’s fallen by the way-side in recent years, it’s time to rethink that approach. Holiday cards and other types of thank you cards may seem like a small gesture, but when done in a genuine way, this gesture can help forge a lasting bond between your business and the recipient.

It’s important to remember, however, that not all holiday cards achieve their goal. That may be because they don’t have the right design, so they don’t stand out as special. Or, the message on the inside of the card may not communicate what it was intended to communicate. For these reasons, you should take time planning before sending out cards for the holiday season.

We receive a lot of questions about this time of year for best planning of our client’s holiday communications. Following are our answers to the ones we hear most often.

Why send holiday cards?

Here are the five reasons we believe are the most important reason to send holiday greetings:

SHOW THANKFULNESS

Holiday cards can be used to express gratitude. With them, you can say “thanks” in a way that is customized to the relationship you have with the recipient.

GENERATE GOODWILL

Goodwill is valuable to any business. Sending holiday cards is an excellent way to nurture important relationships and generate goodwill in a non-salesy way.

REINFORCE YOUR BRAND

By having your cards reflect your brand image, you are reinforcing your brand in the minds of the recipients.

STAY TOP OF MIND

Sending holiday cards to prospects and dormant clients will help your business stick in the minds of prospects and help dormant clients remember your business.

LEVERAGE THE SEASON TO “SUPERCHARGE” A DIRECT MAIL CAMPAIGN

What do you do when you receive an envelope that is obviously a part of someone’s direct-mail campaign? Odds are that you throw it away. What do you do when you receive an envelope that looks like a personal note? You open it and publicly display the card it contains. It’s still direct mail, but it works harder for you.

Who should I send cards to?

The core list of recipients should include your top customers, supportive suppliers, prospective customers and employees. These are the people your business touches:

CUSTOMERS

One of the best ways to show gratitude to your customers is to send them a holiday card. Remember, to be effective, the card must not contain a sales pitch. Also, consider personalizing your cards with a handwritten message. Handwriting the address is another great personalization technique.

PROSPECTS

If your salespeople use a customer relationship management or CRM platform, then you have lots of prospects. Use that database to send cards to those prospects to reinforce your brand and make them feel special.

DORMANT CUSTOMERS

As we mentioned above, sending cards to dormant customers puts your business back on their minds. When they need your product or service again, they may think of your business because you made a thoughtful gesture.

EMPLOYEES

Your employees are the bedrock of your business. Sending them a card shows how much you appreciate them and the work they do. Although it’s a small thing, it can help boost morale and job performance.

SUPPLIERS

Most companies stop with just sending cards to customers or clients. Fewer companies send cards to prospects, dormant clients, and employees. Fewer still send cards to the rest of the people on this list. Why send cards to vendors? Because it’s a good way to support the ongoing relationship.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE PROVIDERS

It’s all about relationships. You count on your accountant, attorney, custodians, and other professional service providers to help you keep your business running smoothly. They will appreciate receiving a card that shows them you care about the work they do for you.

STAKEHOLDERS AND INVESTORS

The people who have a vested interest in your business should also receive a holiday card.

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

For your business to be a good public citizen, you must foster relationships with your local government officials. Sending holiday cards is one way to do that. The gesture may remind them to think of you when a business opportunity is on the horizon.

POLICE DEPARTMENT

Consider sending cards to your local police department to show that you appreciate the work they do to keep your business safe.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

The leaders of your local chamber of commerce, convention and visitor’s bureau, and other organizations that support your community are all excellent choices for receiving holiday cards. The more organizations you can connect with the better. There may be opportunities that can come your way when you nurture professional relationships.

INFLUENCERS

LinkedIn isn’t the only place to connect with influencers. Whether they are local or not, put together a list of the top influencers in your industry and send them a holiday card.

What type of card should I send?

It is crucial that your card represents your business well. Content and design matter. These two elements can make the difference between reaching your marketing goal or wasting time and effort. When the recipient looks at your card, they are looking at your business.

The short answer is to send a holiday card that proudly reflects your brand and your corporate culture.

To create a card that you are proud to say represents your business, be sure to select a quality card and envelope stock. Choose a weight that is substantial. A thin or flimsy card does not communicate quality. Also, choose a color that fits the season or your brand.

Next, help your card stand out by giving it a unique design. Consider creating a card with a die cut. It’s sure to be memorable. Also, because most people display their cards on desks, tables, or walls, a card with a unique shape will catch more eyes than a standard rectangle card.

To round out the look of your card, don’t run the envelope through your postage meter. Take the time to stamp each envelope by hand with seasonal postage stamps.

Should I personalize my card?

Yes. You should absolutely personalize each card. There are lots of personalization options. Simply choose the one that works for your business.

Start by addressing your envelope to an individual. If you only address your envelope to the business without a person’s name, you defeat your purpose of connecting with an individual. Besides, it’s doubtful that the intended recipient will ever see your card.

You can also personalize the outside or the inside of the card with a message that is meant specifically for the recipient. For the greatest impact, make the personalization handwritten. This may be too much of an effort for larger businesses, but it’s still possible. Some printers can use your database to personalize each card using a digitized handwriting font.

To hyper-personalize your card, send it to the recipient at their home address. And, be sure to include a handwritten note with a kind message. This only works if you have a personal relationship with the sender.

Otherwise, it may be considered to be inappropriate.

THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS THE BUSIEST TIME OF THE YEAR FOR THE POST OFFICE.

To get your cards delivered before the holiday rush (Christmas or Hanukkah), put them in the mail as soon after Thanksgiving as possible. This means planning the production of your card well in advance of the holidays. Recipients are likely to remember the first cards they receive. If you’ve personalized the card as discussed above, your card is sure to be remembered.

ImageMark Puts It All Together

As you can see, to gain the benefits of sending greeting cards for the holiday season, you must give the project some thought. Get it right and you will nurture long-term relationships. Get it wrong and your brand image will suffer. And, there’s another alternative. Stick to the middle of the road and produce a bland holiday card and it will get ignored.

The team at ImageMark is prepared to assist you with making all the decisions surrounding, what to send, how to send and when to send it. To get started, contact us to request a quote or a meeting.

Five Quick Tips for Planning Your Direct Mail Campaign

  • CHOOSE WISELY AND DATA CLEANSE
    Carefully select your audience based on your known targeted audience and do not forget a valuable step with your data – cleanse your list to avoid extra expense of mailing to inaccurate addresses.
  • TELL A SIMPLE STORY
    Craft a great message by telling a story in your communication piece and make sure to keep it simple to hold your reader’s attention.
  • KNOW YOUR BUDGET
    Formulate your budget to include all elements of the campaign from design through mailing including the biggest line item – postage!
  • STAND OUT
    Design a format that stands out with your targeted audience while optimizing your postage usage within the USPS requirements.
  • CHOOSE THE RIGHT PARTNER
    Select an experienced print and direct mail partner with all the capabilities in-house to execute flawlessly!

Business Relationships In These Trying Times

If you have worked with us before, you know about our personal approach. ImageMark is all about diving into a project with you and walking through it from start to finish, side by side and ready to offer as much or as little guidance as you prefer. And the reason we’re so good at it is our people. The team at Imagemark is made up of people who genuinely care about creating good products to help our clients accomplish their marketing, communication, and operational goals.

Like you, we’ve been trekking through uncharted territory over the past few months and while it has been a challenge, it’s also been an affirmation of the multitude of talent, resilience, and grit inherent in our team.

You’ve heard about car companies shifting gears to produce ventilators, or major manufacturing companies either ramping up current production of personal protection equipment or starting from scratch to develop it anew. On a more personal level, members of our own team have broken out old sewing machines, acquired colorful fabric and other supplies, and crafted face masks for the staff to wear as we’ve remained open for business. Throughout the course of this pandemic, some of our team has been working from home, but others have remained on site as we’ve continued to offer essential services to the local community and nationwide.

If you haven’t worked with us before, you may be wondering what we do. You can read more about us on our site, but here’s the gist of it. We print marketing, advertising, and communication products that are essential to the successful operation of businesses large and small. We provide full-scale direct mail services, and we offer promotional items branded with your company logo. We work with hospitals, restaurants, retailers, financial institutions, manufacturing companies, theaters, schools, campaigns, and attorneys, just to name a few.

We’re accustomed to printing signs, decals, flyers, stationery, postcards, you name it, for these companies and others when they need to reach existing or potential clients, or to communicate internally with members of their own team. We produce catalogs and booklets, banners or bumper stickers. And quite often, we help develop a whole series of products to help with the rollout of a client’s exciting new product or service offering.

Maybe exciting isn’t the right word for what we want to tell you today, but it depends on how you look at it. After worldwide business closures and mandated stay-at-home orders, no matter how scary it is, people are anxious to get back to some semblance of normal. And that includes going back to work. Going back to shopping malls and mom & pop shops. Going out to concerts or taverns to hear live music. Sitting down at a corner table in your favorite local restaurant or coffee shop, lingering over a bite or a sip, and engaging in banter with the staff or your neighbor. Even as we’ve learned to adapt and adjust beyond our expectations, we are collectively excited about a return to the activities we once took for granted.

It will take time, of course. We will all continue to learn as we go and alter our business practices as necessary to be certain we stay safe and as healthy as possible, and ImageMark is eager to help along the way. And that’s why we’re excited. Just as we’ve helped our clients with their product rollouts, we are excited about the rollout of our own products.

To walk along with you—albeit six feet away from you—as you embark on your reopening or return to regular business, we present to you, ImageMark’s own safe-distance-products.com.

Visit the link for more information and contact our team with any questions you may have.

Call us at 704-865-4912

Email: sales@ImageMarkonline.com