Category Archive: Uncategorized

Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing

As a marketer, you know the value of email. You may also see the value of print marketing. But do you know the areas where one is better than another? Let’s look at four places where direct mail beats out email and does things email cannot do.

Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing: 4 Tips

1. Bypassing opt-ins: Unlike email, direct mail doesn’t require the recipient’s permission to receive it. There’s no risk of your message being blocked or the recipient opting out. Marketers often use direct mail to re-engage subscribers who have unsubscribed or stopped engaging with their email lists.

2. Bypassing spam filters: Direct mail doesn’t face the same spam restrictions as email. If you have the correct physical address, it will land in your target’s mailbox. If you are trying to get past gatekeepers, you can use dimensional mail, unusual shapes and designs, and other marketing tricks to reach your target’s desk.

3. No soft bounces: Beyond spam filters, an email might not reach its intended inbox for many other reasons. The server might be down, it might be busy, or there could be new filtering systems that prevent your message’s delivery. All of that goes away with direct mail.

4. Providing continuity in B2B: In a business-to-business environment, direct mail still finds a target even if the recipient has moved on to a new job. Emails will bounce if the contact’s address is no longer valid, but direct mail will still reach the desk of the person taking their place.

Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing: Settle it with ImageMark

Both email and direct mail have their strengths, and they shouldn’t be viewed as substitutes for one another. Instead, consider integrating them into a more extensive marketing campaign for maximum impact. If you want to learn more about the differences between email and direct mail, call us, and let’s discuss it!

Authenticity in Marketing: How to Be Genuine

Whether you are writing copy for direct mail, email, or mobile video, it is essential to be authentic. Indeed, Stackla has found that 90% of shoppers say that authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support. But maintaining an authentic voice doesn’t just “happen.” Like everything else, it takes planning. Here are five tips for maintaining an authentic voice and winning customer trust.      

Authenticity in Marketing: 5 Tips

1. Use natural language. It might be tempting to use big words, thinking they make you sound knowledgeable. They can make you sound stiff, like a corporate brochure, rather than a real person. Speak in a way that your audience can relate to. For example, instead of saying, “We’re going to leverage our core competency to shift the paradigm,” say, “As experts in this area, we’re going to do something new and exciting.”

2. Keep it real. Shoppers can sense when you are exaggerating. Even if they don’t figure it out upfront, they will once when they start using the product and it doesn’t perform as you claimed. Don’t exaggerate the truth or make promises you can’t keep.

3. Get your enthusiasm on. When someone argues passionately about something, whether an environmental cause, a weekend hobby, or an outstanding vacation destination, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. Even if your product is as dry as Melba toast, find something to get excited about, then write from that source of genuine enthusiasm. If you’re excited about your product, others will be, too.

4. When necessary, show vulnerability. Studies consistently show that consumers are more likely to trust a company that admits and works to correct its flaws than one that claims that all paths lead to success. Vulnerability is real, and we relate to it. Vulnerability builds trust.

5. Have fun. Have some fun in your marketing. Use humor, lighthearted pictures, and an element of surprise now and then. We have enough things in our lives that are dull. Please don’t make your product one of them.

Ready to be authentic? Whether it’s through direct mail, email, or mobile, customers want to hear it. So, sound like a human. Be relatable, and your customers will reward you.

Case Study: The Power of a “Thank You” Note

When you are shipping products, do you include a simple thank you? You might be surprised by what a difference it can make. Most buyers open the box, take out their purchase, and recycle it with little thought. But opening the package to find a thoughtful and beautifully printed card can change that experience and win you a loyal customer.

Take the example of a nursery selling everything from flowers to vegetables to decorative succulents. Let’s say a customer is looking for asparagus roots. They go to Amazon, put “asparagus roots” into the search box, and see page after page of images of asparagus plants (along with pricing). All asparagus looks the same on the surface, so with little to differentiate one plant from another, the buyer makes a selection based on price, quantity, and customer reviews and may not even pay attention to the name of the nursery.

At first, a nondescript package arrives in an Amazon Prime envelope like any other Prime order. Then, out drops a beautifully printed card with “Thank you!” in a large, handwritten script. Around the “thank you” are a series of personal notes:

Hi, My Name is Reebock.

Beneath that is written, in a lovely script:

Veteran-Owned Business

Thank you for supporting our plants.

The card includes an invitation to visit the nursery’s website and YouTube page for planting instructions, then to send pictures of the plants once they grow.

Suddenly, the nursery is no longer interchangeable with any other greenhouse. It has become personal. The grower has a name, the buyer knows they are supporting a veteran, and the buyer has been invited to share a unique experience with other growers. The chance that this buyer will return to that nursery next time they want vegetables is much higher — all because of a simple “thank you” card.

How could you use thank you cards to engage your customers and create a personal connection?

What Is Reciprocity? How Can It Boost Sales?

It’s happened to all of us. We receive a fundraising mailer that includes a set of free address labels or an inexpensive bookmark. There is no obligation to donate, yet we feel compelled to give anyway because of the gift. This is the power of reciprocity.

Reciprocity is a powerful psychological principle that works as well in marketing as it does in our personal lives. Studies have shown that even the smallest tokens can have a significant impact. For example, researchers from Monmouth University found that waiters and waitresses could improve their tips simply by bringing a small candy with the bill. Specifically, they found that diners who received a small piece of chocolate tipped 17.8%, on average, versus 15.1% for those who did not.

How can you apply the principle of reciprocity to your business? Here are a few ideas:

1. When sending a direct mail piece, include a free sample of your product.

2. Purchase a new mover’s list and send out a welcome packet with information about local attractions and events. Include coupons for your products and services at the same time.

3. When people land on your website, offer them a free e-book or access to a webinar. When they sign up, ask them to sign up for your email list, too.

4. Send customers branded items like pens, hats, and tote bags. Even inexpensive items have proven to increase intent to buy.

5. Hold a contest or giveaway for a fantastic prize. On the thank-you page, ask entrants to share the information with their social networks.

Reciprocity is a powerful tool. The gift that you are giving matters less than the fact that you are making people feel valued. So why not give it a try? You’ll increase sales, build customer loyalty, and improve your bottom line.

5 Tips for Letting Psychology Propel Your Marketing

Today more than ever, effective marketing is based on psychology. Whether you are using direct mail, email, or mobile, these five trends have been growing in importance over the past few years. Why do these trends continue to grow? Because they work.

1. Let your culture and personality show.

Increasingly, consumers are looking at the character and culture of a brand as much as they are products and price. Offer behind-the-scenes looks at your people and your mission. Tell stories about real people using your products. Humanize your brand.

2. Give back.

Consumers love to buy from brands that give back. There are many ways to do this, from investing in ocean clean-up to promoting social justice. Look at the meteoric rise of TOMS shoes, which gives a pair of shoes for every pair purchased. If you give back, talk about it!

3. Build brand advocates.

Consumers trust one another more than they do brands, so encourage buyers to become brand advocates and loyal customers. Encourage and incentivize them to tweet, share, and promote their positive experiences with your products and company. What people say about you on social media matters.

4. Tell a story.

Brand storytelling is hot in marketing right now, and it doesn’t require words. Great images do the job, too. Nonprofits do a great job of this by printing pictures of abandoned pets or children in need on the outsides of their envelopes. You don’t need to read the copy to be convinced that you want to help.

5. Boost your use of metrics.

Incorporating metrics into your marketing proves the value you are creating for the organization. Response rates alone aren’t sufficient anymore. What is your conversion rate? Your average dollars per sale? There are many different types of metrics you can use to evaluate success. Find the ones that work for you and take advantage of them.

Don’t worry — you don’t have to tackle all five of these marketing trends at once. Pick one that makes the most sense for you and give us a call. Let us help you get started!

Want More Donations? Choose Print!

For nonprofits, every dollar they spend on overhead, administration, and marketing is a dollar not spent on their mission. Not surprisingly, there is an intense focus on which marketing channels are most effective. So which channel works best for nonprofits? A study by YouGov provides the answer: direct mail. In a survey of more than 1,150 U.S adults, YouGov found the following:

One-fifth (21%) of respondents said that a direct mail solicitation prompted them to make their most recent donation. This is higher than for any other channel.

Older donors (55+) are most likely to respond to direct mail. One-quarter made their last gift in response to a mailing. Among 18-34-year-olds, this drops to 14%.

Lower-income households are among the most motivated by direct mail. Nearly one-third of those earning $40,000 yearly or less responded to direct mail for their last donation. Among those earning $80,000+ per year, this drops to 18%.

Only 12% of donors report being prompted to make their last gift by something they heard about on the radio, TV, or print.

Even fewer (10%) were prompted by email.

Few donors (6%) were prompted by social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, although this is stronger among 18-34-year-olds (11%).

Regarding fundraising, direct mail is the clear winner for nonprofits. So, what is the next step once you have decided to launch a direct mail campaign? Make it the best it can be. Why not give us a call?

5 Tips for Better Multichannel Campaigns

With your customers being bombarded with so many different channels daily, how do you pick the right channel(s) to get your message across? In an ideal world, you’d use every channel your customers interact with. In the real world, however, very few companies can make that happen. Fortunately, there are some simple guidelines for maximizing your multichannel efforts regardless of your level of time, resources, and expertise.

1. Start with the goal in mind.

What’s your end goal? Do you want to gain new customers? Cross-sell or upsell to existing customers? Boost signups for a loyalty program? Once you have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish, you can work backward to choose the proper channels to make it happen.

2. Play to each channel’s strengths.

Each marketing channel has its strengths and weaknesses. Understand where to use direct mail, email, or mobile and social media. Create a plan that capitalizes on the strengths of each one.

3. Include the entire team of stakeholders.

Your customers are diversified, as your campaign development should be. Tap the insights of your employees involved in other company areas, including sales, customer service, and business development. Draw in people from different ages and backgrounds so you can gain deeper insight into how different customer groups react, what they need, and how they perceive different types of messaging.

4. Use it or lose it.

Test the different elements of the campaign. Ask a focus group or objective members of your team (those not involved in the development of your campaign) to open samples of your direct mailers as if they were a customer. Ask them to respond to different subject lines in the emails. Scan QR Codes and download files. Let them test the usability of your marketing elements before your customers do.

5. Build in metrics.

Use tools that will help you track which elements in your multichannel campaigns are most effective. Use barcodes on printed coupons. Different landing pages or 800 numbers for various offers. Find out which messaging, offers, and landing pages are most effective.

Cross-channel marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to be strategic. How can we help?

Want the Ticket to Converting Higher End Buyers? Try Personas

If you are trying to sell costume jewelry and organic smoothies, price and opportunity might motivate customers to purchase spontaneously or switch from a competitor. But if you sell higher-end or more complex products, it often takes a different approach.

Let’s say you are a pediatric dentist. Most of your patients are at least two years old, but the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children see a dentist by age one. In line with these recommendations, you want to encourage families to bring in their children right after their first birthday. But how do you break into the lives of busy parents and motivate them to do what is the last thing most parents want to do—take their infant to the dentist?

The key is to speak to them using their language and according to their priorities. To do this, you can use customer personas.

Customer personas are models for communicating with specific types of buyers. Just as with real people, each persona has a set of demographic descriptors and other identifying characteristics. Take, for example, a “mother with an infant at home.” What other pain points does this persona have besides raising a newborn? How does she make buying decisions? Who and what are her social influencers? Her primary motivators for early intervention?

Once you have this information, you can craft messaging targeting this buyer type, identify the names in your list that match up, or purchase additional details if necessary.  (We can help.)

Remember, these are not characteristics of any specific individual but an aggregate you identify as your best buyer. In this case, the “mother with an infant at home” is balancing work and home life, wants to be a good mom, is concerned about finances, and is influenced by family and social media. She makes purchases methodically and tends to be a planner and rational thinker.

Knowing these things, you can plan your mailing. You can talk about how early dental care makes her a better mom and how, with early intervention, she can avoid expensive dental expenses later. You can note how, with proper planning, she can balance her work/home life. You can also develop multiple personas and create relevant messaging for each one.

Sound complicated? Don’t sweat it. It just takes a little time and practice.

Get the Most Out of Personalized Print

You increase your response and conversion rates by personalizing your message, whether in print or email. But “personalizing” doesn’t just mean using data to swap out images and text based on information you have in a database. Personalized printing has to feel personal. Let’s look at four best practices that must be the foundation of all personalized print (and email) marketing efforts.

1. Follow the basics of good marketing.

Personalized print might be personalized marketing, but it is still good old-fashioned marketing, too. Ultimately, all of the elements—the creative, the list, the message, the offer, the segmentation, and the call to action—come together to determine success.

2. Focus on relevance, not data.

It doesn’t matter how “personalized” a document is. If it isn’t relevant to the person receiving it, it is worthless. Take marketing to sports enthusiasts. You don’t want to try to sell baseball gear to a football nut. You can personalize a document to the hilt, but it’s a waste of print and postage if it’s not relevant.

3. Get to know your customers.

The more you know your customers, the more relevant your message can be. What don’t you know about your customers that might allow you to be more relevant in the future? To find out, do a customer mail or email survey. Purchase data from a third party. Set up a form on your website. Ask questions and get feedback that will let you reap better results over the long term.

4. Invest in your data.

To get personalization right, you need to invest in your database. This takes time and resources, but it is one of the most important investments. Develop a primary database, refine it, add variables, and keep it clean and updated. Make sure all of the new information you gather goes back into the database to be used in future marketing programs. You don’t need to be an expert in data to develop a significant data set. That’s where we can help.

Remember, personalization is a powerful tool, but it cannot work alone to get the big pay-off!

Why Our Brains Prefer Direct Mail Over Email

Want to geek out on marketing science? Check out neuromarketing, a field examining consumers’ responses to marketing stimuli. Neuromarketing looks at how the brain receives and processes information, and neuromarketing looks specifically at the impact of this process on the various marketing channels. Spoiler alert: These studies consistently find that while email is an important channel, it isn’t for everything. Especially for higher-end products that require more thought processing, direct mail is a better approach.

How do researchers come to these conclusions? They use three primary methods:

Eye tracking: Camera and infrared technology that monitor eye movements in speed and duration of attention. Eye tracking tracks visual attention in reaction to predetermined areas of interest.

Core biometrics: Sensors placed on participants’ fingertips that measure heart rate, skin conductance (sweat), motion, and respiration: Core biometrics gauge the depth of emotional engagement.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FRMI): Brain scanners measure changes in oxygenated blood flow to reveal regional activation during a task or experience. FRMI pinpoints specific deep brain activity beyond surface cognitive function (e.g., empathy and reward).

What do these methods show? A good example comes from one study conducted by Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making in concert with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG). The study found that while participants could process the information from digital ads more quickly than from print ads, the details weren’t retained or recalled as easily later.

What made participants more likely to retain and recall that information more easily in print?

  • They spent more time with physical ads.
  • They had more robust emotional responses to those ads.
  • While they stated similar preferences and willingness to pay for the item, whether it was delivered in physical or digital format, their brain activity indicated a greater subconscious desire for printed products.

“These findings have practical implications for marketers,” note the report’s authors. “If short on time, the digital format captures attention quicker. However, for longer lasting impact and easy recollection, a physical mail piece is the superior option.”

So, there you have it! When given a choice between print and digital media, especially for products and services that require deep cognitive processing, the brain loves print.