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What to Look For in a Direct Mail Company: A Checklist

Top 3 Things Everyone Should Look For In A Direct Mail Company

 

Sifting through all of the direct mail marketing companies out there can be time-consuming. How do you determine if one is better than the other? Keeping these three key criterion top of mind will make sure that you can pick the best company that will meet your direct mail marketing needs.

 

They Have A Track Record of Success

 

This is a key indicator if a company is even worth pursuing. More often than not, you can usually see what sort of clients they have worked with in past on their website. Even if you do see them on their website, one of your first questions should be: what sort of clients have you worked with in the past and what results did you generate for them? This is the first hurdle that they must jump over successfully to garner your attention.

 

They are Reasonably Priced

 

Only you know what sort of budget you have to work with. That is why price should be one of the key things you ask up front. That way you aren’t surprised later down the road when you think you have found your ideal direct mail company.

 

You should also consider what you will be getting for your money. One of the things that One Stop Mail offers their customers is variable data printing, which is a cost-effective way to cater each direct mail piece to a specific individual. In this day and age, personalization is the name of the game. At the end of the day, you want to make sure your buck is going towards real results.

 

They Understand Your Needs

 

One of the simplest yet important things a direct mail company should do for you is to not only grasp your unique circumstance but also back up that understanding with a solution. The article entitled “What to Look for When Choosing a Direct Marketing Company,” sums this up perfectly with this quote: “They need to be willing to work with you to develop strategies, test them out, and make changes as needed in order to optimize them so that they can gain bigger, better sales for your business.” Your own situation will require “unique strategies,” so make sure that you are not only explaining everything clearly but they are taking in what you are saying.

 

Choose Wisely and Expect Fine Tuning

 

If you think you have found the best company for the job, don’t expect magic overnight. Direct mail marketing, and really, marketing in general, requires a bit of trial and error. Many people get uncomfortable with this because they don’t want their money to be wasted. But the fact of the matter is your money is not being wasted. It is being used to find the most successful areas to target so that you don’t get lukewarm results. The only way to do this is to test and analyze the data. If you have done your direct mail company research well enough, you should not have anything to worry about.

 

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Making Data-Driven Decisions To Improve Your Direct Mail Campaigns

Making Data-Driven Decisions To Improve Your Direct Mail Campaigns

 

The best way to improve the results of your direct mail campaigns starts with your data. It is important to have a system in place to monitor your direct mail results so that you can make more informed decisions later down the line. Whether this is about what copy works best or what color schemes are the most effective, data can help you change your direct mail game.

 

Audience Segmentation

 

Though it may seem like a no-brainer, one of the most useful things to help inform your direct mail campaign is information about your customers. It is crucial to have lots of data on your customers, such as name, age, profession, and other metrics so that you can not only personalize but also see how certain groups respond to your direct mail campaigns. This is called audience segmentation, and its purpose is to not only give you more data to target specific groups of individuals more effectively but allow you to monitor certain groups behaviors so that you can improve the performance of future campaigns.  

 

Data Drives Personalization

 

You have probably heard it time and time again, but there is a reason why personalization is taking over the marketing world. The use of data has grown over the last decade, and this has allowed companies to target their customers down to a specific individual. Some things that you can use to make your direct mail campaigns more relevant for someone is by using their name, be aware of their gender, use their purchase history to your advantage, and make an offer relevant to their location.

 

What Sort Of Data Should You Be Collecting?

 

Basically, you want to be collecting data that is going to be driving your decision making. If the data you are collecting is not doing this, then it is probably time to reconsider what data you are collecting. Furthermore, after you have started inferring what the data means and are not getting your desired results, this could be either a misinterpretation of the data or the data is not relevant to what you are trying to accomplish. That is why you should have defined strategy, be collecting data with an accurate system, and understand what your process is to weed out data that isn’t relevant and determine what parts of the reports are giving you your desired results.

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Testing Your Direct Mail Campaign

Testing Your Direct Mail Campaign

There are many marketers that believe they are above testing because they have enough experience to know what works and what doesn’t. However, this sort of thinking prevents one from improving or confirming their marketing decisions. Testing your direct mail campaign should not be thought of as a one-time chore. It is a routine task that needs to be maintained because it is really the only way you can improve your campaigns, even ones that are already successful.

If It Is Already Successful, Why Test?

It is easy to disregard testing when your campaign is already successful. But even so, there may still be room for improvement. Moreover, for all you know, your competition may be testing a lot more and achieving greater results. In the article “Successful Direct Mail Is All in the Testing,” by Lois Geller, she tells an interesting story about how they “… developed a completely new and more expensive creative approach for a correspondence school. The client mailed it with the same offer to the same kinds of lists as the control. Our new creative brought in the same percentage of responses, so the client thanked us and said they’d stick with their cheaper control to save money.” Naturally, if you are getting the same results for more money, most would see this as a waste of money. However, the story takes an interesting twist as she continues, “Two years later our creative director ran into the client at a convention. The client said that our package had become the company’s control because, for some reason, it brought in a better class of customer, the kind of people who stick with the program a lot longer—and who are willing to pay a lot more money.” This is a perfect example of a client overlooking one of the most important metrics when testing—customer value. In this case, the client only focused on response rates rather than the quality of the customers who were responding. This is why testing when you already have a successful campaign can take your business to the next level.

What Should You Be Testing

Now that you have decided testing is a critical component to your direct mail marketing success, you need to determine what you actually need to test. According to the article “Direct Mail Testing – A/B split and multi-variable testing,” the top priorities for testing include two things: your list and the offer. The actual creative is an important component, but it should not monopolize your time. This is because the list and the offer are really going to have the most influence on your results at the end of the day.

Testing Strategies

Typically, you only want to test one element at a time. To do this, you need to establish some sort of control. So if you have a current campaign that is receiving some success, that can be your control. You can then develop a test campaign that you will send out at the same time and monitor the results. Perhaps you try different lists or a different offer. You can even try a different creative and see how it performs in comparison to your current design. This is called A/B split tests, and is the most common form of testing. If you are starting from scratch, you will just have to make an educated guess on what the best components will be and then test it. Make sure you track where all of your data so that you can make sure you are making the correct decisions based on reliable information. From there, you can combine the best elements to make an optimized campaign.

It’s Not A Chore, It’s How You Improve

Check your ego at the door. No one cares how much you know, or what success stories you’ve had in the past. What matters is in the present, and each campaign is different. From the outset, everyone must change their perception on direct mail testing. It is not a chore, but a necessity of life if you want to improve. Never stop at success, because there is always more success to be had if you are willing to put in the work.

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Eco-Friendly Marketing: Recycled and Sustainable Paper

Eco-Friendly Marketing: Recycled and Sustainable Paper

There have been many arguments made about eco-friendly marketing. Some have cited that digital is the only true green method. However, many of these arguments lose viability when you consider the carbon footprint of factories, the energy required to run devices, and growing amount of e-waste in the world. On the other side of the dividing line lies the the other option stacked against paperless advocates: recycled and sustainable paper. Many companies have started to use this option as a way to improve their brand image with the growing millennial generation, one that is willing to pay more for a product if it is green. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s start with this question: what is recycled and sustainable paper?

 

The Differences Between Recycled and Sustainable Paper

Recycled paper is created by reconstituting paper used by consumers. This is a great alternative to buying brand new paper. The downside to recycled paper though is the fact that paper can only be recycled a few times. Only the best quality paper can be used more than this, but it also has limited renewability.

Sustainable paper is different from recycled paper in the sense that the paper comes from forests that are constantly having new trees planted to replace the ones cut down. This is what “sustainable” means since this kind of deforestation does not leave stumps in its wake but freshly planted seeds to grow new trees. Another thing to note is that the trees that are cut down are not entirely devoted to making paper. Other parts of the tree are used for other things, making greater use out of the wood.

 

So, Why Does This Matter?

Now for the real question: why is it a big deal when a company decides to go green by switching the kind of paper it uses? As mentioned before, millennials are the most environmentally aware generation to date. Moreover, due to their constant exposure to social media, they have become increasingly aware of brand image. According to “5 Reasons Why Visible Sustainability Matters to Millennial Consumers,” 59% of millennials are willing to spend more on a product if the company is portraying the right brand image. The article also goes on to state that “to many millennials, the simple act of selecting a packaged beverage during a lunch break is the potential for a statement about their identity and values.” As millennials age and accumulate more buying power, companies should take heed of their environmental awareness to better market to them.

 

Planning For The Future

With environmental concerns constantly being at the forefront of many modern debates, it would not be too far-fetched to say that going green is an investment for future success. As more generations grow up in a highly environmentally aware society, one can only expect that this will remain an important concern for future generations. Consider recycled paper or sustainable paper as an alternative to satisfy your paper needs.

 

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Using Every Door Direct Mail to Effectively Canvass Neighborhoods

Every door direct mail, or known simply as EDDM, is a marketing tool offered by USPS that targets mailing routes instead of individual addresses to get direct mail out to the masses. This is obviously different from the typical direct mail campaign we are all familiar since you are not necessarily targeting a specific individual but rather a large group of people in different neighborhoods. Due to this difference, it is important to keep in mind these things when considering if EDDM is right for your business.

 

Who Should Use It?

EDDM is great for those that want to target a new location but do not have a list of addresses for that area. This can enable you to get your brand in front of new customers in a specific region. EDDM typically works best for local businesses that want to get their name known by residents surrounding their area.On top of it having the capability to target a large group of people, EDDM is also cheaper than your typical direct mail marketing campaign. Rather than spending lots of time on catering your copy to a specific person, you need to make it more general and relevant to a variety of individuals.

 

Design Keys For EDDM

First and foremost, what will help you stand out is your color choices. As we discussed our other article called “Applying Color Psychology To Direct Mail,” color can imply different things to a person. Such as too much red coming off as aggressive or angry, or blue which can make someone feel cold and disconnected. Really consider what color choices are best for your messaging, and be sure to use the right amount.

After color comes the actual message you want to convey. Now, when we said that you needed to be more general, this does not mean you should not consider who your target customer. Start with who you think would be interested in your services, then develop messaging that can appeal to a wide range of individuals underneath this umbrella. This means wrestling with how to target different age groups, men and woman, and other customer identifiers. Though this may seem a bit challenging, it will ensure that you do not narrow your EDDM campaigns messaging to a small group of people, which defeats the purpose of EDDM.

 

Is EDDM Right For You?

EDDM can be an effective way to get new customers while keeping your costs down. Though many consider the lack of personalization a drawback, the goal is to get your name in front of as many people as possible. This is perfect for those that just started a new business and are not well known yet, or for businesses looking to up their brand awareness in their area. Determine if EDDM is the best marketing strategy for your business with these principles and common use cases in mind. It could take your brand awareness to the next level and help you increase your business with new customers.

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How To Target Baby Boomers: A Direct Mail Strategy

How To Target Baby Boomers: A Direct Mail Strategy

 

According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), the number of baby boomers currently in the U.S. numbers around 76 million. That is almost one-quarter of the entire U.S. population, making them a prime target for marketers. One of the best ways to reach the baby boomer generation is through direct mail. However, it is critical that you don’t approach this like your other direct mail marketing campaigns. Here are some things to keep in mind as well as some useful tips when developing your direct mail marketing campaign targeting baby boomers.

 

Besides Their Population Size, Why To Target Them

 

The baby boomer generation controls approximately 70% of all disposable income in the U.S. This generation is quite affluent and empowers them to make buying decisions. But this does not explain why direct mail would be a good marketing channel to use. According to Neil Patel in his article, How to Reach Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials with Your Online Marketing,” the baby boomer generation “are more likely to respond to direct mail campaigns than any other generation.” Another factor to consider is how many of them are reaching retirement age, and have more free time to engage with content. According to a Marketing Chart Study that surveyed purchase influence among baby boomers between the ages of 50-68, they found that “more than 3 in 10 survey respondents reporting that direct mail had influenced them to purchase a product or service during the prior 6 months. Interestingly, that was the most commonly-cited purchase influencer of 16 identified, ahead of word-of-mouth and online consumer reviews.” With these things in mind, you can see why direct mail is a prime marketing option. To make sure that your campaign reaches them effectively, keep these things at the forefront when crafting your message.  

 

Be Straightforward Rather Than Creative

 

When you are drafting your copy, make sure that your message hits home on everything and does not come off vague. According to the Entrepreneur in “5 Ways to Effectively Market to Baby Boomers,” they say, “seniors want to see everything spelled out in print. It’s far more important to use the right language than catchy copy.” Any sort of ambiguity or lack of information can cause them to not trust your offer or leave with them unanswered questions. This is why the article goes on to say, “Address every potential question a user may have. Include the answers in printed brochures, direct mail materials, and make the information easily available on the website.” Brainstorm all of the questions that someone may have after your reading your copy, and find a way to work the answers into the final marketing piece.

 

Dump Conventional Wisdom

 

Many of us have a certain predisposition to retirees, which misleads marketers into thinking falsely about baby boomers. In Eric Cosway’s article, “Send baby boomers direct mail and let the magic unfold,” he states that, “conventional wisdom has long been that retirees value comfort, stability and the relaxation of a quiet life. Just as they defied the conventional wisdom of their era as teens, baby boomers are defying today’s stereotypes of retirees.” It is important not to cater your message with this in mind, for it will most likely fall flat on its face. Cosway makes a good point that the baby boomer generation actually shares more things in common with their children than they did with their parents, such as, “adventure, change, achievement, and happiness.” He boils it down to one basic principle, “don’t make them feel old.”

 

Shoot Straight and Focus The Message

 

Considering how the baby boomers are quite receptive to direct mail and are in a position with greater spending power that other generations, you want to make sure that you nail your message. Your call-to-action should be very clear and simple. When composing your copy, don’t leave anything out. Any question unanswered is just one more reason why they should throw your copy in the trash rather than following through with the action you want them to take. And lastly, keep their personal values in mind, and flush the retiree stereotypes down the toilet.  

 

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Increasing the Longevity of Your Small Business with Direct Mail Services

If you are a small business owner, you know that it is do-or-die to reach your customers with resonating dialogue. The main reason why small businesses fail to accomplish this is due to a poor marketing strategy. Even though we live in a highly digital age, direct mail allows businesses to bypass spam folders and get a piece of copy in the consumer’s hands.

The Effectiveness of Direct Mail

According to a Compu-Mail article called “25 Direct Marketing Statistics Prove Direct Mail Works,” 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing. This is due to the fact that direct mail offers small businesses the ability to get more personal with their message. This makes the customer feel less like a name on a list and more like a valued individual whose needs want to be met by your brand. Moreover, many recognize that it takes more effort to personalize a physical piece of copy rather than an email. With 70% of Americans saying mail is more personal than the internet, it may be time to consider using direct mail to reach your customers in a more meaningful way.

What Kinds of Copy Should You Send?

There are many things you can send to customers to ensure that your business stays top of mind. You can send postcards, coupons, brochures, catalogs, and other sorts of promotional materials. When trying to draft a design of your copy, you should be mindful of three things: eye-catching visuals, a strong message, and a clear action. All of these aspects need to then be tied together in a way that is personal for the customer. Without that key aspect, your copy will not have the glue to stay together when it gets into someone hands, and will most likely fall on deaf ears.

Who Should You Target?

The old method of mailing to as many people as you possibly can in the hope someone finds interest in your brand is just not feasible. This is especially wasteful for marketing budgets. The best way is to build customer profiles by figuring out who would be your ideal customer. From there you need to learn as much as you can about this customer like their age, demographic, and shopping habits. Of course, this will require more work if you are trying to target a whole new group of people that have not heard of your brand. You should also be targeting your current customers, for it is much easier to maintain current customers that have than it is to get new ones.

Start Your First Direct Mail Campaign

Direct mail is still an effective method for reaching your customer base. With highly personalized messaging complimented by stunning visuals, you can improve customer engagement and response with your marketing campaign. Take advantage of the direct mail’s versatility by sending different kinds of copy. Start physically connecting with your ideal customer with One Stop Mail, and begin breaking down the digital barrier that separates your brand from reaching eager ears.

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Two Easy Ways for NonProfits to Save Money with A Direct Mail Campaign

Although smaller nonprofit organizations have to initiate campaigns with smaller budgets, there are still many strategies that can be used to ensure optimal success. We will be discussing two strategies to help make a smaller budget achieve more. These strategies include unbranding and print planning, which will allow you to get the most bang for your buck with your next direct mail marketing campaign.

Stripping Away the Branding Fluff

Sprinkling company plugs throughout your marketing materials has become second nature. However, this can be detrimental to the campaign’s success because people are hyper-aware when they encounter a marketing message. In “Pull the Plug The Value of Unbranded Content,” they say that if the target consumer does read on, they do so with a filter. They know that whatever they read next is subjective and is meant to be persuasive. This can affect your results, and lead to a campaign with undesirable data, diminishing your ROI.

To keep this from happening with your target audience, you can strip away all marketing identification. According to Joe Boland’s article “20 Big Ideas for Small Nonprofits,” the Southern Environmental Law Center tried sending their materials in a blank envelope with just the recipient’s information. This proved to be an effective strategy and allowed them to keep their costs down.  

Print Everything All At Once  

Many companies overlook the benefits of printing as many things as they can at the same time. For example, in a Melissa Data article entitled “7 Tips for Saving Money on Your Next Direct Mail Campaign,” they suggested that if you are running printing multiple versions of a four-color brochure, you can save costs by using the same press sheet. Just make sure to be as detailed as possible when you send out your project for a quote. This will allow your printer to plan accordingly, which will help cut down on the number of plate changes and make-readies.

Now, to put your potential savings into perspective, let’s take a look at some numbers. In Joe Boland’s article, he  cited a real life example that details how much money a client ended up saving. The client had two acquisition mailings of 25,000 pieces. If they had printed them separately, they would have cost $7,198 each in comparison to $6,146 if they were printed together. That was an 8.7 percent decrease in cost per donor, from $81 to $74.

Repeat the Success Stories

Keep in mind that these two ideas are meant to reduce your direct mail costs. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the results. Always make sure to check your data against the costs of a campaign so you can better optimize your next initiative to reach your desired goals within your budget. If you are unsure how to approach your next direct mail campaign, consider working with One Stop Mail so you can write a new success story and overcome your financial limitations.  

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Data and Direct Mail: The Marketing Dynamic Duo

Direct mail remains as one of the most rewarding marketing assets available for anyone’s multichannel strategy. Marketers today now have better data to inform them on their target audience, allowing them to make their direct mail copy more impactful and well timed. This is why I am calling these two the dynamic duo, for they will be able to help you win the marketing battle with your direct mail campaign.

With Data Comes Deeper Personalization

 

Data tells us all the things we want to know about our target audience: their preferences, what they are most interested in, and where they are located. Rather than blasting out general direct mail pieces, you can now incorporate this data so that you can achieve deeper personalization and connect with people more meaningfully than ever before.  In fact, according to a JWT report, almost eight out of ten Millennials—the biggest segment of B-to-B buyers

—said print makes them feel more connected than digital.” Moreover, according to an Epsilon study, more than half of the US consumers prefer direct mail over email. It seems we have achieved a role reversal. Before, most mailboxes were cluttered, making it more difficult to stand out with direct mail. Now, as mail volume has declined and email has gone up, it has made it easier for someone to engage with a direct mail piece since it removes the delete button out of the equation.

 

Direct Mail Is More Likely to Get A Response

 

With consumer interest still high with direct mail, you can expect greater engagement with your materials as well as an increase in consumer response. Email is much easier to ignore than a piece of direct mail. Most of us would expect that people would just shred their unwanted mail or open it while standing over their kitchen trash bin. However, 70% to 80% of consumers actually open most of their mail,m including the stuff they would label as “junk.” according to a 2014 poll by the DMA. But the big kicker is how direct mail is able to transcend demographics, especially with younger people who you would assume respond significantly more to digital marketing campaigns over direct mail. On the contrary,  another study found that 92% of young shoppers prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions. By informing your copy with data, you can give these shoppers the information they want to better influence their next purchase.

 

If you haven’t heard it enough before then here it is again—print is not dead. Though we are in an ever growing digital age, this has only allowed us to make our direct mail campaigns more effective. Take advantage of the data your team gathers, and use it to help you make more impactful print advertising materials for your next multi channel marketing campaign—  sharpening the spear tip for your direct mail.

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Direct Mail: A Dominating Force for Political Campaigns

 

 

Digital marketing is currently the hot ticket right now. Politicians on both sides have found their own creative ways of incorporating social media into their campaigns. However, direct mail still continues to be the main cornerstone of political campaigns. This is because direct mail is effective at micro-targeting voters and getting information in their hands.

Targeting By Age Groups

 

Although most social advertising can target by age groups, it doesn’t account for the 45 % of seniors that do not have internet service The only way to reach these voters is through direct mail. According to the DMA Statistical Fact Book for 2015, 42% of direct mail recipients either read or scan direct mail pieces. It also states that 14% of people 45-54 respond to direct mail, while everyone above the age of 54 sits at an average of 13.2%.

The older generations are not the only ones who have a high average of responding to direct mail. The Fact Book also found that people between the ages of 18-24 are more likely to respond to a direct mail piece with a rise from 4.1% in 2012 to 12.4% in 2013. But there is one statistic that affects every age group, and that is how much mail people are receiving. The average household receives 19.1 mail pieces each week. That is down from 24.7 in 2008. That means your pieces have a better chance of being noticed as people sift through the mail.

 

Getting it Into The Voter’s Hands

 

With non-physical methods of advertising, there is a digital barrier that the campaign message has to overcome. With direct mail, you can put the message you want right in the person’s hands. Television advertising has become more expensive, and more difficult at getting the message across to the campaign target voter base. Much of this stems from the rise in DVRs and internet video streams, which allow voters to fast forward through advertising, or not be served as often.

Politico shared a case study that shows how critical a direct mail is to a political campaign. According to their article, Walter Lukens, founder of The Lukens Co., whose clients include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, used direct mail to compete against McConnell’s competition, Matt Bevin. The piece Politico used depicts Bevin on the front as a snake oil salesman which reads: “Genuine Bevin Brand Snake Oil: Behold the magical potion being spoon-fed to Kentucky Conservatives far and wide.” When you turn the piece over, the reader will see a picture of a bottle with “half-truths, resume inflation, and delusions of grandeur” listed as the ingredients. McConnell was successful at beating Bevin, winning by 25 points.

Any successful political campaign will incorporate direct mail. Relying only on digital assets will cause you to leave out crucial voter age groups, miss opportunities to get in front of your overall voter base, and force a campaign to fight with one arm tied behind its back. Even with the rise of digital marketing, it is clear that direct mail is not going anywhere anytime soon.