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Marketing Tips Archive (2016)

6 Surefire Ways to Make Your Direct Mail Campaign More Effective

With inbox overload at an all-time high, it’s the ideal time to freshen up your marketing strategy with a direct mail campaign. It’s an effective, highly targeted way to get in front of consumers, and the statistics back it up. The Direct Mail Association reported that in 2015, direct mail campaigns using a house list generated a hefty 3.7 percent response rate.

direct mail campaign

There’s more to effective direct mail marketing than slapping a stamp on a postcard, and it may take a few tries to get everything right. We’ve put together these six surefire tips to give your next direct mail campaign the boost it deserves so you can reach your target effectively and achieve your goals.

1. Start with a solid base
No matter how much time, effort and money you put into developing your materials, your direct mail campaign will only be as good as the list you use. That 3.7 percent response rate we quoted earlier was achieved using a house list. Campaigns that use a rented list of prospects average response rates closer to 1 percent. A house list comprised of current and past customers, as well as other leads and prospects who express an interest in your products and services will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

2. Go big or go home
In direct mail, size does matter. We’re not saying that you can’t get good results from a simple postcard with a compelling offer, but you have a better chance of success if your mailer sticks out. Consider using a flyer or envelope that’s 8.5 x 11, or go really big with something in the 11 x 14 range. Whatever you choose, use graphics and bright colors to draw attention to the pieces. Dimensional mailers also work well, especially if they contain something: think free sample, a freebie item such as a pen that contains your company name or logo or any physical object that’s a good fit with your brand and marketing message.

3. Maintain multiple touch points

Instead of sending out a single piece of direct mail and then resting on your laurels, focus on building out a comprehensive integrated campaign. It normally takes an average of four consumer touch points via direct mail to get a response, and planning a campaign that combines direct mail with email marketing and social media gives you a better chance at reaching your goal.

4. Use the right voice
While good marketing copy stresses the benefits of a product to help consumers understand how it can make their lives better or solve a problem, it may not be the right approach for certain audiences. Many B2B campaigns, especially those dealing with technical or mechanical products, should give equal importance to the product features as those in professions such as engineering and IT are hungry for detailed specs, and overlooking them can cost you sales. High-end or trendy products might ditch the feature/benefit structure altogether and focus on aspirational copy that helps consumers to see themselves enjoying a different lifestyle thanks to your product.

5. Put your best foot forward
If you think you should save the best for last in your direct mail copy, think again. You only have seconds to capture a reader’s interest, and if you don’t, your well-thought-out direct mail piece will end up in the trash. Make that opener something that will pique their interest, get them excited and convey urgency.

6. Sell the offer instead of the product
No matter how well put together your mailer is, the chance that this one consumer touch point will sell your product is slim. Include an offer that’s relevant and compelling to your target audience, and sell the reader the offer instead. Your offer may take many forms, such as a free consultation, catalog, product sample or consultation, or it could involve an invitation to an event or a promotional coupon. The point is to engage the consumer so they learn more about your product and your brand.

Keep these tips in mind and then nurture your list, make the right offer for the audience and choose a format that will stand out to get the best results every time. When you’re ready to kick off your next direct mail campaign, contact us. We can help you execute every step of your direct mail strategy from creative design and list building to printing, mailing and measuring effectiveness.


Put Branded Promotional Products to Work for You

branded promotional products

Don’t underestimate the business impact of customer care with your current client base. While providing quality customer service with every transaction is important, going above and beyond will help you stand out from the crowd. Sometimes, you need to show your clients some love, and a gift can be the way to do just that. Does it need to be costly? Not at all. Is it worth it? Absolutely, and if you carefully choose the right branded promotional products to do the job, you can build brand awareness at the same time.

Here are some ideas that may be small investments in time and money, but can pay big dividends.

  • Send along a thank you note. Make sure you send the promotional product at the same time you send a well-thought-out thank you note, or deliver it in person. You want your client to realize that you value the business relationship and that this promotional gift is not just a casual giveaway.
  • Personalize it. Consider customizing the promotional product for your very best clients. Your client will feel a kinship to your brand, since the names are connected in print. Also, you can feel confident that your gift will stick around with the individual to whom you send it.
  • Connect the product with an event. Instead of simply sending along a gift, why not make the item part of a bigger event? Consider hosting a VIP night for your best clients, for instance.
  • Give a few for the office. Instead of just sending a coffee mug, shirt or pen for your connection (i.e., the buyer), include a few extras for the customer to give to his or her secretary, boss or others in the office. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated, and all it does is boost your brand awareness.
  • Think outside the box. While bags, pens, and shirts are always winners, depending on your particular company and the clients you work with, sometimes a unique promotional gift will have a bigger impact. If you have an idea for a promotional product gift that will impress, no matter how crazy, consider having it made. It is often well worth the effort. For example, do you have clients who are into fitness? Choose logoed pedometers or exercise mats to show you know them, and care. That unique item could be the one that makes your client remember you and choose to work with you time and time again.
  • Remember year-end giving. Giving a year-end “happy holidays” gift is always a thoughtful touch. Your clients will need tools like calendars, planners, journals and other items in the weeks and months ahead. You have the opportunity to put your name out there by providing useful gifts that happen to include your name or logo.

There’s no easier or more affordable way to show your customers that you appreciate them than with branded promotional products that are practical and memorable. If you would like to learn more about how branded promotional products can open doors and maintain relationships, reach out to the team at Allegra. We would love to help you connect with your clients in a new and exciting way.


8 Steps to Creating a Print-ready PDF

print-ready PDF
Eye-catching graphics and easy-to-read fonts are critical elements of print marketing materials. If a document is improperly prepared, you can lose time and money through production delays and reprints. There are several things you can do throughout the design process to make the conversion to a print-ready PDF easy and mistake-free.

  1. Know up front which file format is required, and understand that these requirements change for different types of documents. To achieve the best results, consider these options:
    • For artwork documents such as brochures, stationary, postcards and display items, use PDFs or Adobe InDesign.
    • Vector graphics such as logos and motifs, frames, display text and background graphics work best with Adobe Illustrator.
    • With photographs, including scanned and digital images and montages, use Adobe Photoshop.
    • Text documents often have the largest options including Microsoft Word, Simple Text, Text Edit, and more.
  2. Select common fonts to assure they are available through our systems and embed them in your file. If you are unsure of which fonts to use, contact us for information. Always embed the fonts in your PDF files to assure that the font you select will be used in your document.
  3. Size your document to the final trim dimensions, unless you are printing a folder or multi-fold items. Do not include bleed or crop marks in your measurements.
  4. Understand bleed and crop marks and how to use them. Bleed is important when you have an image that will run to the edge of your page. Your document will be larger than your final page since the extra portion of the image (the bleed) will be present. Crop marks show where the page will be cut to its final dimensions.
  5. Edit and transform photographs in its “native” application, such as Photoshop before placing it in a document to achieve the best results. Make sure you can print the image from Photoshop because if it can’t print there, it will not print in your page layout program. Save Photoshop images as a JPG, TIFF, EPS or PDF file. Once the image is prepared you can transfer it to the page layout program for placement and sizing.
  6. Choose high-resolution images of at least 225 ppi, for best printing results, although a minimum of 300 ppi is standard. Please note that choosing a lower ppi will result in a soft or pixelated image.
  7. Check your color choices against a Pantone reference book or CMYK mixer chart to be sure that what you see is what you’ll get. This is important because the colors you see on your monitor may not be accurate.
  8. Save black and white images as grayscale, not RGB or CMYK, or they will not print.

Once you’ve completed this process, you should have a print-ready PDF file. The PDF document should:

  • Be centered
  • Have embedded fonts
  • Include crop marks
  • Have images that are a minimum of 225 ppi with no RGB or LAB color profiles
  • Be saved as single pages rather than spreads or printers pairs
  • Be saved with “Press quality” selected for high resolution printing, or “Smallest file size” for online or view only

Use these tips to create amazing and effective print materials that look exactly how you envisioned them. Having trouble? We can help you transform any file into a print-ready PDF and even assist with the design and layout. Contact us to learn more.


Four Tips to Clean Customer Data Lists, and Boost Direct Mail Results

Clean customer mailing data

Regardless of company size, direct marketers face the same challenges across-the-board when it comes to managing their customer data. Here are a few sobering statistics from Experian:

  • Nine of out 10 organizations suspect their customer and prospect data might be inaccurate in some way.
  • The three most common errors are incomplete, outdated or inaccurate information.
  • On average, companies with a less sophisticated approach to data quality think more of their annual revenue is wasted.

If you’re like most, you’re collecting customer data in multiple ways: at a physical location, in face-to-face client meetings, on your website or via marketing campaigns. This influx of information can get tangled up over time.

Then overlay this on the natural life events that occur among your customer base: On average, people change jobs every four-and-a-half years. And more than 35 million Americans and four million Canadians move annually.

Is it any surprise your data can quickly degrade if left unattended?

Direct mail success

It’s commonly accepted that up to 50% of a direct mail campaign’s success is dependent upon the list. Accurate mailing lists save time and money with less returned mail and lower mailing costs, plus they help ensure better campaign performance.

Here are four ways you can make a daunting data task a little more manageable to drive better results from your direct mail programs:

  1. Assign responsibility. About 20% of companies say spelling mistakes and typos are impacting their data quality, according to Experian. Consolidating responsibility for list management under one person should lead to improved accuracy and more consistent updates.
  2. Define standards. Another common error is data entered in the wrong fields. Set company standards for how customer information is logged, organized and regularly maintained, especially if you’re unable to assign one person to data management. Formatting standardization should ensure essential fields are filled, creating greater efficiencies, for example, when pulling segmented lists for targeted mailings across various personnel or departments.
  3. Schedule data hygiene. Best case, data should be cleansed before every mailing. Take the time to remove duplicate addresses, names or businesses – often a result of merging multiple lists. And suppress the records of customers who’ve requested no mail.
  4. Keep a back-up file. When you work with a data file, retain the original version. If something goes wrong, you can simply delete the corrupt file and replace it with the untouched one. It’s also a good habit to compare your final data against the original to ensure updates processed correctly.

Bonus tip: Call in the experts. With manual processes in place, human error is the most common cause of contact data inaccuracies. Ask our mailing pros to run your mail file through National Change of Address (NCOA) to validate and update addresses. We can also use other standardization software to ensure better mail-ability and reduce costs.

Need help managing customer data lists or sourcing prospect data? Let us know; we can help!


How to Cut Through the Clutter with High-impact Printing

high-impact printing

The ability to engage multiple senses gives print communications a decided edge over digital messages. In fact, the tactile nature of print impacts the brain differently than digital media, generating a stronger overall positive response at a subconscious level where emotionally driven buying decisions are made.

Finding ways to make your print communication products interesting and eye-catching can help you stand out from the crowd. And with today’s wide selection of papers, cuts, creases, specialty inks and finishes, it has become easier for marketers to enhance their printed communications to drive marketing success.

Here are eight ways to enhance engagement and memorability with your print materials:

  1. Match texture to content. Every project is about something, be it adventure travel or single origin chocolate. Try to find textures in the content, products or stories that you can emulate through paper. You may choose a texture that matches the weave of fabric, or a raw speckled texture that evokes the eco-friendly mission of a brand.
  2. Use texture for contrast. Pairing dramatically different textures can heighten sophistication and elevate your content, capturing your audience’s attention through touch. As their fingers move from one texture to another, the change in surface sparks their senses, focusing their interest on your content.
  3. Add pizzazz! Foil papers catch the light . . . and attention. With different opacity levels of ink, you can achieve a pleasing rainbow effect when the piece is viewed from different angles. Foil is a great option from postcards to invitations.
  4. Shape up with die cuts. Add an unusual shape to your printed materials. Whether selling homes, cars or cupcakes, die cuts can create pieces in the form of your subject to attract attention and underscore your specialty.
  5. Let it shine. There are a number of different finishes that can be added to your direct mail that will help certain parts really stand out. Adding pearlescent or metalized pigments, for example, can help make the paper shine and naturally attract the eyes of the recipient.
  6. Know when – and how – to fold ‘em. Letter, accordion, gate, engineering, cross, double-parallel and baronial are but a few of the many types of folds to better present, organize and reveal your message – to say nothing of ensuring your piece fits in a right-sized envelope or folder.
  7. See what pops up. Revealed to the viewer when unfolding a piece, pop-out images can add impact to a mailer or brochure and dramatize a product. Selling custom homes in a new development? How about a pop-up of a completed house, showcasing the beauty of a new model and how quickly one might be completed.
  8. Remember the envelope. For direct mail letters, the envelope can make or break the campaign. To know what works for you, do a split test. Divide your list and send one group a plain white envelope and another a vibrant one, keeping the enclosed contents and messaging the same. You’ll soon discover there may be a very simple way to drive better response. . . with paper.

Regardless of whether you are creating direct mail campaigns, brochures, publications, event invitations, newsletters and business cards, you can cut through the clutter and increase your engagement with high-impact printing techniques, specialty papers and folds. If you need help developing a high-impact print campaign that can help you stand out against the competition, reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you.