How to Personalize Your Marketing

So last week a few of our team members spent the week in New York City for the Advertising Specialty Institute trade show as exhibitors. Our booth showcased wrapping paper that can be branded with anything you could imagine, photos, logos, even individual names. Our blog discussed some great ideas for personalized promotional gifts and we saw many of those things (and more!) at the trade show. So it begs the question… Is branded wrapping paper, mugs, shoes or lollipops enough? Of course not.

It’s no longer a question if a company’s marketing efforts are going to be tailored to the recipient, from those great gifts to a company’s direct mail campaign… It’s all going to feature a form of personalization. We’ve come to expect it. I challenge you to look at the next ten emails or direct mail pieces you receive. Do they mostly feature your name? I bet they do. In fact, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, 81% of consumers say they receive more marketing materials that include their name than they did five years ago. Likewise, if you look in your cupboard or on your desk, there is probably at least one branded coffee mug or pen.

With the advances in technology, such as variable data printing or automated emails, it’s no longer a chore to place an individual’s name on something. Most companies make this a staple in their marketing efforts. So how do we take this to the next level?

 

1. Make suggestions.

As companies, we collect information about a customer without even realizing it. We see what they buy, when they buy it, and if you are an eCommerce store, when they are looking at it and how many times. This data can all be measured and used to properly reach out to these customers with recommendations or coupons for a specific item. Customers are 56% more likely to return to an online store if the store recommends products.

 

2. Capitalize on add on services.

The car industry is a great example of this. Advances in variable data printing have significantly decreased the cost of being able to tailor each direct mail piece to a specific customer. If you purchase from a dealership, you may start receiving regular correspondent postcards featuring a picture of your exact make and model car as well as the service that needs to be rendered on it. If I am a Honda Civic driver, I don’t want a postcard with a Honda Ridgeline on it, simple as that.

 

3. Interact on the customer’s terms.

Personalization does not necessarily only revolve around printing or placing the correct variables. It’s also tailoring marketing efforts. You may start off a target market with a defined communication channel, such as direct mail, but later learn some individuals prefer email. Switching up your communication channel to fit the needs and wants of the client further cements your brand in the minds of the consumer.

Check out our last blog on 5 cool promotional products.

These are only a few examples of how to capitalize on one-on-one marketing. How does your business handle personalization of marketing?

 

Happy Marketing!

The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Marketing and Direct Mail – What You Need to Know

There are few certainties in life, and even fewer in the marketing industry. One of these certainties is mobile – mobile devices, mobile apps, mobile marketing. As the number of smartphone and tablet users across the world continues to grow, it will be impossible for direct marketers to ignore this emerging and constantly evolving medium.

 

There are thousands of mobile marketing “how to” and “trends” articles out there, but with this one I plan to take a comprehensive approach aimed at covering mobile marketing (specifically) for direct marketers and direct mail campaigns. Whether you are planning on promoting a mobile app with direct mail, or if you’re just looking for some tips on integrating mobile with your current direct mail strategy, this post is definitely for you.

 

Knowing your audience (OS and mobile vs non-mobile)

Every good direct marketer knows that a campaign is only as successful as the quality of the list. As with traditional direct marketing campaigns, the same is true with mobile marketing. Knowing when and how to use mobile in your campaigns is the first step. Certain audiences may not even be using smartphones – this is mainly the older crowds. Understanding you list also helps to identify whether to focus your mobile marketing messages on iOS, Android or both. For example, more affluent audiences tend to be predominantly iOS (iPhone/iPad) users. There’s no point of investing in both platforms if your users are mostly on one.

 

Also, mobile users may fit into various personas. Some of which include the news junkies, second screeners, social butterflies, and couponers. Knowing which group your audience predominantly fits into and personalizing the messaging and experience accordingly can have a hugely positive effect on your campaign conversion rates. If you’re having a tough time identifying which groups and personas your direct marketing list fits into, do a quick search on Google – there are services out there that can help you fill in the gaps!

 

Landing pages (mobile site, responsive or server-side mobile)

The next item to consider is the landing page that your direct mail marketing campaign drives visitors to. It’s extremely important that your websites, PURLs, landing pages and more are optimized for mobile users. While there are a few different ways to accomplish this, the main three are

 

  1. Mobile-specific sites and URLs (m.yourpage.com)
  2. Server-side mobile sites, that detect a visitors device and serve content appropriately
  3. Responsively designed pages that conform to various screen sizes

 

In my professional opinion, responsive sites are the way to go. They take a bit more time and money to develop initially, but they are far easier and less expensive to maintain. More importantly, you are guaranteeing that your design will work on any and every screen size, device, operating system and platform.

 

Regardless of how you optimize your site for mobile users, the important thing to remember is that you NEED to do it. There’s no better way to throw out your money than to run a mobile marketing campaign without a mobile-optimized landing page…period.

 

Direct mail pieces with deep linking (payments, downloads, maps, QR, NFC, etc.)

Integrating mobile into your direct pieces opens up the door for a lot of cool tricks and tactics. It is important to understand what can (and should) be done for each campaign audience or goal. For example, a fundraising campaign could have a QR code that, when scanned, allows your audience to donate with a simple tap of a button. If you’re a local business sending out direct mail pieces, you can have a shortened URL or QR code that opens up the Google/Apple Maps app and plots directions to your location, instantly. There are literally hundreds of uses and methods for deep linking into apps and creating a richer experience than a simple landing page. We’ll save all of that for another article, though!

 

A/B testing (calls to action, deep linking and landing pages)

We all know that you should be A/B testing your headlines, creative, layouts, etc. However, building upon the previous section dealing with deep links in your mail pieces, it’s important to remember to A/B test these mobile calls to action. Certain audiences and segments may respond more positively to QR codes and deep linking into apps, while others may convert more with traditional (but responsive) landing pages or PURLs. The only way to really know for sure is to test and measure. Remember to have a clear goal for each test and specific measurements to decide the winner. Also, don’t go too overboard with your testing…keep it to one or two specific elements per test.

 

Tracking across platforms/devices (desktop, laptop, mobile web and mobile apps)

There’s nothing new about tracking the results of your direct marketing campaigns in real-time. What is new, however, is being able to track users across mobile platforms and segments. Tracking shouldn’t stop at the campaign level – with tools like Mixpanel, direct marketers can segment and analyze campaign results across desktop, laptop, mobile web and even mobile apps. Despite understanding the fundamental need for these tracking tools, 9 out of 10 direct marketers I’ve met have failed to implement even the most basic cross-device and cross-platform tracking (in a useful way). One of my favorite tools for mobile marketing (and mobile apps, specifically) is Segment.io. This will allow you to embed tracking codes into your campaigns and applications once, and then update them in real-time. Tools like these are definitely a huge time-saver and way around resubmitting your applications to iTunes and Google Play.

 

Consolidated reporting

So now that you’ve created your campaigns, optimized the calls to action for mobile, plus tested and tracked results, you need an easy way to report and analyze all of this data. All of the data in the world won’t do you any good unless you have an easy way to compile and digest it. That’s where reporting dashboards come into play.

 

The ideal solution would be to create an in-house reporting dashboard that uses APIs and web services to pull in data from all of the various tools and systems you use to create, send, measure, etc. your campaigns. However, not every mobile marketer or direct marketing company has the time or money to create something like this in-house. Luckily, there are tools like Geckoboard that provide similar functionality for a fraction of the cost. It’s a huge time saver…trust me.

 

Follow-up messaging to keep engagement high (SMS, push, survey, in-app, email, etc.)

OK –so if you’ve followed all of these suggestions your mobile marketing campaign was probably a huge success. Congratulations. Now comes the fun part. Direct marketing in the mobile and digital world doesn’t end with a single campaign…especially if your main goal was app downloads. Subsequent campaigns, both one-off and nurture campaigns, need to be mapped out to keep your audience engaged with your mobile offering. If you used a tracking or marketing platform in your mobile app (like Mixpanel, mentioned earlier) you now have the ability to market to your audience with SMS, push notifications, in-app messaging, in-app surveys and more. Attention spans are short in mobile marketing, and if you aren’t keeping your audience engaged, somebody else will. We’ll cover these mobile marketing strategies in more detail in an upcoming post.

 

Keeping up with the trends

It’s important to remember that mobile, like any other marketing discipline, is constantly changing. In order to keep your conversion rates and ROI high you need to be constantly learning and testing. What worked 12 months ago might not necessarily work today, and what works today might not even next week. Wearable tech like Google Glass, improving smart phone features (both hardware and software) and a growing amount of competition ensures that mobile marketing will continue to grow and evolve, and you definitely don’t want to get left behind! Read case-studies on blogs, attend conferences and network – that’s the only way to stay ahead of the game.

 

The benefits of mobile marketing

So now that we’ve covered the basics on how to do it, let’s cover why mobile marketing is critical. Two of the main benefits of effective mobile marketing are the increased amount of data that can be tracked and captured, as well as quicker (sometimes instant) conversions. In addition, greater levels of interactivity and engagement associated with mobile apps and marketing are also hard to ignore. Basically, if done correctly, the marriage of direct mail and mobile marketing can become pretty much every direct marketer’s wet dream…and we’ll leave it at that!

 

Do you have any other mobile marketing tips, suggestions or feedback? We’d love to hear them in the comment section below. So until next time…happy marketing!

8 Unique Tactics and Digital Tools to Enhance your Direct Mail Campaigns

At DME, we often get new customers who come to us looking for something more in a direct mail campaign. Many have tried and failed with other direct mail providers, mainly because they were attempting the same old boring campaigns over and over again. That being said, it is incredibly important to identify and understand the various tools that can be integrated into your direct mail campaigns in order to improve response and conversion rates, and ultimately ROI. Here are a few examples of tools and tactics that can put a new face on your traditional direct mail campaigns.

 

At DME, we often get new customers who come to us looking for something more in a direct mail campaign. Many have tried and failed with other direct mail providers, mainly because they were attempting the same old boring campaigns over and over again. That being said, it is incredibly important to identify and understand the various tools that can be integrated into your direct mail campaigns in order to improve response and conversion rates, and ultimately ROI. Here are a few examples of tools and tactics that can put a new face on your traditional direct mail campaigns.

 

1. Tactic – Live Chat Pop Ups and Nudges for Visitors

Tools to use – Qualaroo and Chat Service

Purpose and Overview – Increase conversion rates for targets that visit your PURL and/or website with live chat options and visitor nudging. Nudging is similar to a chat popup, but the messaging can be personalized based on a user’s actions and presented in a way that would push them further along the conversion funnel. You can also collect valuable feedback and actionable insights to understand more about your audience…and use that to your advantage.

 

2. Tactic – Marketing Automation

Tools to use – Net-Results, Marketo, Silverpop or Others

Purpose and Overview –What if you could identify targets in your list – including all name and demographic information – once they visit and return to any of your other sites, at any time (not just the PURL tied to your direct mail piece)? That’s pretty powerful stuff. Lead score your customers based on actions they do or don’t take. You can even have an auto-responder reach out if that visitor takes a certain action that would raise his/her lead score. Create segments and optimize your next mailings with messaging specific to where a customer is within the conversion funnel. Now that’s smart marketing.

 

3. Tactic – Visitor Recording and Heat Mapping

Tools to use – Inspectlet, ClickTale or CrazyEgg

Purpose and Overview – Recording and heat mapping allows you to gain a deeper understanding of why your campaign visitors do or do not convert. These tools will allow you to segment your visitors and watch recorded browsing sessions in order to analyze and optimize the campaign. Remember, it’s always easier to generate twice-as-much revenue by doubling your conversion rate, than it is doubling your traffic.

 

4. Tactic – Integration with Display and Social Retargeting

Tools to use – Adwords Remarketing or Retargeting Vendor and Facebook Exchange

Purpose and Overview – With retargeting you can display ads to your audience all-over the internet – all they have to do is visit your site once. For direct mail campaigns, retargeting code can be placed on a PURL, website or other landing page. It allows marketers to target users who got to a certain step of the conversion funnel, but did not convert. It also allows for upselling to those users who did. And with Facebook exchange you can now target visitors on Facebook, which in turn will allow you to target any of their friends with your offer. Now that’s how you increase conversion rates and extend your campaign’s reach at the same time.

 

5. Tactic – Deep Segments and Multi-Channel Funnels

Tools to use – Google Analytics, Omniture or Others

Purpose and Overview – Identify all the steps a visitor took to convert, including where the largest leaks in the conversion funnel are. These tools will also help identify common devices, browsers, and other attributes that helped or hurt your conversion rate. All of this leads to actionable insights that lead to highly optimized marketing campaigns.

 

6. Tactic – Calculate ROI in Real Time

Tools to use – Mixpanel, Kissmetrics or Others

Purpose and Overview – These analytics tools will give you the power to assign a dollar amount to every visitor, in every segment, with every conversion. It even enables you to calculate average lifetime value down to the user or segment level. We all know a deep understanding of ROI is key to any optimized marketing campaign, and these tools can take you one step closer.

 

7. Tactic – Variable Sharing on your PURL

Tools to use – DME or other service provider

Purpose and Overview – There aren’t many things cooler than the ability to share specific and personalized imagery, offers or anything else unique with friends/family/colleagues. It isn’t hard to understand why your audience is more likely to share something that is customized and unique to them, than something generic. Something as simple as allowing a visitor to share something personalized will extend the reach of your campaign and lead to a greater number of referrals and conversions.  Plus it’s pretty darn cool!

 

8. Tactic – QR Codes and NFC Chips

Tools to use – DME or other service provider

Purpose and Overview – There are a number of purposes and tactics for incorporating QR and NFC technology into your direct mail campaigns. Examples include: QR Code list sign-up on direct mail pieces to help grow email database, NFC stickers or QR mailings that will allow immediate mobile conversions, QR codes that trigger app download and location-based maps/navigation to your business’ physical location. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and the possibilities are endless.

 

These are just a few tactics and tools you can use to breathe some fresh air into your direct mail marketing, and help bridge the gap between physical and digital channels. Have questions, suggestions or comments? Share them in the comment section or feel free to reach out to us directly through our contact form.

 

Until next time…happy marketing!

6 Direct Mail Marketing Nightmares

As a marketing firm who offers direct mail marketing as one of our services, DME has heard it all. A recurring fear of marketing professionals is investing valuable time and money into a direct mail campaign just to see it tank. And we aren’t talking lack of relevance or interest, we are talking mistakes. Some direct mail pieces that fail can feature spelling errors and some offensive campaigns that are the result of poor timing. We’ve compiled a list of some of the unfortunate stories from a company’s prospective as well as from the customers. Be prepared, these may make you cringe or be the fodder for your nightmares.

“Right after the cruise ship wrecked off the coast of Italy (while it was still being replayed all over the news!), I received an exclusive offer to ‘immerse’ myself in European culture on that cruise ship. The campaign was in conjunction with my travel credit card and I was a “lucky” few selected to take a trip on that ship. Um no thanks.”

“We sent out a mailing list without double checking the information. Seemingly, the sales reps had been nicknaming the customers in the information fields so we sent out to Mr. Fred Annoyingvoice and Mrs. Gina Thewitch.”

“I received an ‘exclusive’ offer from a local carpet cleaning company that featured name personalization in the body of the text. Unfortunately for them, they had grossly misspelled my name. Apparently, even though I was important enough to receive the offer, I was not important enough to do any research on.”

“We once accidently sent out a direct mail piece that featured our fax line instead of our business line. Anyone who called just received the fax tone. Not a great first impression.”

“My name and information got caught up in a mail campaign for a men’s magazine featuring pictures of women. So I started receiving free copies of said magazine and other direct mail. Apparently, it wasn’t a targeted list. I’m a woman and was not amused.”

“Our company once sent out a promotional mailer that featured the wrong date of a concert. It had the correct date itself, but was listed as a Friday instead of Saturday. It added some confusion to the situation.”

All of these stories can be easily avoided by double and triple checking your mail pieces, emails, etc. before releasing them. Once a mistake is out there it is not easily erased and can make an impression on customers and prospects that is not easily erased.

Is Direct Mail Dead?

Not necessarily. Depending on your target audience a direct mail campaign is still a very valuable tool of communication. Direct mail is a great way to get your prospects and customers engaged and is a medium that allows for eye-catching designs. Here are some tips on whether a direct mail piece is the right choice for your business and how to effectively use it:

1. Know your Audience

Only 45% of seniors have an internet connection. If one of your targets is senior citizens, ignoring direct mail would be a costly mistake. For most audiences, the primary marketing communication is email, but people are so bombarded by emails that they easily could overlook yours. If your consumer does read it, it is likely quickly forgotten or lost with new incoming messages. Keep in mind as well, people have whole inboxes devoted to advertisements and newsletters. Direct mail on the other hand, is a tangible item that is picked up, examined and is typically kept for a later visual reminder. Continue reading “Is Direct Mail Dead?”