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Blog posts in Direct marketing

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Is print dead?

February 05, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Is print dead?/letterbox with a red door background{{}}With the popularity of online advertising and email as marketing channels, the low cost of delivery has made the allure of e-media powerful. But it’s leaving many marketers asking, is print dead?

We get a staggering amount of digital communication each day, and every message is easily replaced by the next tweet, email or status update.

Print, however, is tangible, high-impact and high-ROI — and it stands out in today’s increasingly cluttered online universe. Direct mail provides a tactile response that stimulates the senses, creating more positive brand associations and making the communication more memorable. And it’s impervious to spam filters.

But it’s not about abandoning one for the other. By merging the digital world with the world of print, the success of both increases.   

Print marketing: the secrets of success

In order to get the best return on your investment, your print marketing should contain these three elements: 

  1. A targeted message: You need to know your audience. It won’t matter how well-designed or creative the direct mail piece is if the message isn’t targeted and appropriate for the audience. Using the customer’s name to customise each piece of mail is a good start, but don’t stop there. Use search and purchase history to customise images based on the individual’s interests, gender, occupation, and point in the buying cycle. For instance, if you know a person has already made a purchase, follow up with a personalised piece that directly refers to her recent behavior.
  2. A compelling message: You need to understand your customer’s needs and present a compelling solution and reason to act. How does your message help your customer or prospect? It needs to be extremely clear why and how she should contact you. This correlates with the personalised message we just talked about. In any follow-up correspondence thanking the customer for her purchase, you could include an offer to refer a friend, a reminder to purchase a complementary item or flag up an upcoming sale.
  3. An interesting or interactive format: Your print piece needs to engage the customer with images and messaging that demand interaction. This can be achieved through innovative folds, personalised messaging and attention-getting post-press finishing, such as foil stamping, die cutting, embossing, UV coating, metallic inks, scratch-off and dimensional mailers. For instance, Kohl’s has had success by sending postcards with scratch-off coupons and Staples distributed a back-to-school piece that featured a die cut stapler that doubled as a coupon.

The companies that are the most successful at integrating print into their marketing mixes are masters at crafting a cohesive campaign across all marketing channels with personal, relevant materials.

Andrew Field is the ceo of PrintingForLess.com.

Improve your customer communication in 20 seconds using the 'find' function

September 18, 2013 by Andy Bounds

Improve your customer communication in 20 seconds using the 'find' function/computer key F Find{{}}A company recently asked me to review one of their proposals.

I quickly realised they had made the common mistake of talking too much about themselves and their proposition, and too little about its impact on the beneficiary.

So, I used the “find” function in word, and discovered that their 22-page document contained:

  • Their company name 149 times (the customer’s name appeared 5)
  • “we” 78 times; but “you” 11
  • “our” 51: “your” 7

Not customer-focused… in what was supposed to be a customer-focused document.

It took me under 20 seconds to find this out. Their response: “We’re devastated. We had no idea. We’ll never write like this again.”

And they haven’t.

How many techniques are there that can change you forever and in only 20 seconds?

What you can “find”

Here are examples of what you can search for using “find”:

  • The word “you” and the beneficiary’s name. These should appear more times than “we”/your name. It’s worth checking every document for this — your proposals, brochures, website and so on.
  • “And” and “but”. People often use these words to join two short sentences into one long one. But long sentences are harder for people to read quickly.
  • Words that you know you use a lot.

Quick improvements

If your searches uncover things you don’t like, the solutions are straight-forward:

  • Change the focus from “We do X” to “You want to achieve Y. We can help by doing X”.
  • Replace “and/but” with a full stop.
  • Use a thesaurus to find alternatives.

This is one of those tips that you might feel you don’t need. But my customer didn’t think they needed it either. And since it only takes 20 seconds to do, it’s worth trying. You never know what you’ll find.

Action point

Choose a document that is complete/near completion. Search for the words that will show you what you need to know about your content. Make the changes you need to transform its impact.

Andy Bounds is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here.

Why you can't ignore split testing

August 29, 2013 by Olivia Rose

Why you can't ignore split testing/test tubes{{}}As if the process of devising an effective online marketing plan is not hard enough, small businesses also have to come up with creative approaches that will capture the attention of their target market.

Design matters — whether it’s for a website, a blog, a newsletter or a social media page. You need to use the best possible approach to ensure you get results online.

Split testing — also known as A/B testing — is a crucial part of this process. Without it, it is impossible for you to achieve an optimum online presence. If you are a small business owner and you want to effectively reach out to your consumers online, then you should use split testing to create the best online designs.

What is split testing and why is it Important?

Split testing is the process of developing multiple designs and using them alternately to determine which one is more effective. Marketers aiming for the highest possible conversion rates on their websites and blogs commonly use this practice. It can determine which design works better in selling a product, generating leads, and channelling and maintaining a website’s traffic.

Above all, it’s important because it allows business owners to learn about their market’s online behaviour and taste. Pin down which creative look, design, and approach works with your market to help you sell your products and services. Split testing is the single most effective way to find out how to get potential customers and clients to convert.

Which tools do you need for split testing?

Here are some of the most effective split testing tools that you can use for your business.

Google Website Optimizer: To optimize your site, you need to develop alternate versions of your webpage and determine which one works better. Along with a conversion URL, you need to submit these pages to Google through the Google Website Optimizer. This powerful and simple tool will help you put together an optimized site free of charge.

Split Testing Pro: This desktop-based application combines all the possible tools that you need in order to test multiple versions of your website or blog. In exchange for a low-cost monthly subscription, you will be able to run multiple versions of your online marketing platforms and determine which ones will give you the conversion rate that you need.

Optimizely: Optimizely is a web-based application that copies web pages from a given URL and substitutes different variations for the script used for each one of them. After that, users are granted access to variations through an in-browser editor. Display features can get a little messed up after the substitutions, but you will be able to use this app to come up with the best copies and scripts for conversion.

Guidelines for split testing

There are some guidelines that you should keep in mind as you use split testing to improve the conversion rate of your blog or website.

Test text vs images

Some people respond better to text, while others respond best to visual images. In the process of creating a high-conversion website or newsletter, split test text-heavy studies against image-heavy designs. Doing so will help you determine which text-to-image ratio will work best for your website.

Test single page vs multiple page opt-ins

While there are certain opt-in processes that are too complicated to squeeze into a single page, there are some that can sit perfectly in a single web page. For the best possible conversion rate, you have to find out whether a multiple-page opt in process works better for your consumers or whether they will respond best to one-page opt-in schemes.

Test product images

If you are selling a particular product, you need to determine whether adding an image will be beneficial and which product shot will do the best job in inviting potential customers to convert. Test multiple product shots and find out which one will appeal to your market best.

Split testing can be a time consuming. However, it will pay off in the end, helping you achieve the best conversion rates. The power of effective social media marketing design is phenomenal and through using split testing you can achieve the best results possible.

Olivia Rose blogs about business and uses split testing and multivariate data analysis to conduct effective online marketing.

How to use text to boost your next event

August 23, 2013 by Dan Parker

How to use text to boost your next event/mobile marketing{{}}Communication is so important for businesses to succeed. Imagine a world without order confirmations, delivery updates or any acknowledgement you even exist. We’d be forever wondering if we did actually buy those skinny-fit trousers in coral red and if they’ll even arrive tomorrow, or perhaps, next Thursday. The thing is, the better the communication, the better your customers feel about your brand.

Organising an event can be really exciting. However, it can be quite nerve-racking wondering if anyone will show or if the canapés will be delivered in time. Your company’s image can be mistakenly forgotten.

Pre-event communication can have a serious boost to attendance whilst showcasing your excellent customer service. Let me show you how SMS text messages can significantly increase your engagement, allow you to fill seats and crucially help make your event a success.

The “useful” reminder

Maximising attendance can be a real challenge for event organisers. A free event is sometimes forgotten; emails are quickly scanned or missed entirely; even an honest “don’t think I’ll bother” is often to blame.

More and more of us receive reminder messages from our dentist or a prompt prior to a hair appointment. A “useful” reminder can also demonstrate your thoughtfulness towards your customers. Sending a message with the time, venue, a Google Maps link or even the closest car park may sound simple, but is often overlooked.

But why stop there?

This communication is a perfect excuse to excite your attendees and demonstrate your business ethos before they’ve even arrived. Adding some personality or even a sneak preview to the message can really highlight your brand.

Let me show you an actual recent example:

Hey Kate. The red carpet is out! The premiere of Collaborate Cornwall 2012 is showing tomorrow at the Lighthouse Cinema, Newquay and you are on the guest list. We look forward to welcoming you from 9am-9.30am. Map to Mount Wise Car Park. The Partner to Succeed team.

Your attendees are sure to be impressed.

The follow-up message

And relax, your event is over! Time to grab a cuppa... Well, maybe just not quite yet. You probably have a ton of attendees with the thoughts of your event whizzing around their heads. This is a perfect opportunity to leave a positive image of your company. Show them you care with a willingness to listen. All this can be achieved with a simple acknowledgement follow-up. You may even get some crucial feedback for your next event — after all a quick reply by text is so easy!

Here’s the follow-up message:

Wow — what a day? We hope you found Collaborate Cornwall 2012 a useful and informative event. We’d love to get your feedback — please feel free to send your comments by replying to this message. Thanks for attending! The Partner to Succeed team.

All of this for less than the price of a few crisps and sausage rolls.

Dan Parker is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and the marketing director of FireText. FireText has recently partnered with Eventbrite UK.

Are you making the most of your CRM system?

June 12, 2013 by John Paterson

Are you making the most of your CRM system?/hand drawing CRM chart/hand drawing CRM chart{{}}Many businesses have a CRM (customer relationship management) system in place — but are they really making the most of it? The answer for most is "probably not".

Your CRM system should be the main tool for your sales and marketing departments. The data in it is invaluable: but the question is, is it up to date and can you make more use of it?

Effective user adoption

Getting your users on board is more than half the battle. Despite what CRM vendors say, many users will say they don’t like the system because it is slow, unreliable or tricky to use. Their real reason may be because they don't want management knowing what they are (or aren't!) doing, or because they want to own "their" prospects.

So you need to make sure that users have as few objections to using CRM as possible — and making sure it is easy to use is step one. Make sure that you, as the business owner or manager, use the CRM system and are seen using it. If you don’t lead the way, others won’t follow.

Integrate the CRM system into your other systems

Integrating your CRM system with other in-house systems, such as accounting, will save people time, reduce the risk of data error and help CRM adoption. Many modern CRM systems now offer integration to leading accounting systems as standard, have standard connectors to your website for lead capture and can be connected to other in-house systems through built-in APIs (Application Program Interfaces).

Use the data for marketing campaigns

The data you have in your CRM system is a goldmine for marketing. So why aren’t you making the most of it? You should be using the data that is stored in your CRM and filtering this into your marketing campaigns. Some solutions will even give you the ability and automation to create marketing campaigns and email shots straight out of the CRM system. 

Start simple and stay simple

Don’t try and make things too complicated — you'll risk losing users. Your employees will work best when they have a simple system that does exactly what they need. Sometimes a system with shiny buttons and an endless amount of functions doesn’t always get the job done.

Let someone else do it for you

We all know how tough it can be to find the time to implement a new system, so why not let someone else do it for you? Make sure you choose a provider that will not only give you the right solution for your business but that will also load the data for you and make sure you get started on the right foot. After all, every little helps!

A well-implemented and well-used CRM system can make a real difference to your sales. Keep it simple, make the most of your data and watch the new customers come in.

John Paterson is chief executive at Really Simple Systems.

Posted in Direct marketing | Tagged crm | 0 comments

Turning data into intelligent marketing

September 17, 2012 by Tony Lawes

Turning data into intelligent marketing/target market dart board{{}}Marketing is about targeting right?

Reaching the right audience at the right time with the right product is the essence of most marketing campaigns. The past decade has been all about improving targeting — we have seen the rise of Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM), chasing the holy grail of personal one-on-one marketing.

As a consequence we are collecting and storing vast amounts of data from transactional and website usage data to demographic data, and that’s before we start to look at external data sources including lifestyle, psychographic, behavioural and modelled data.

Big data

However the opportunity to create a personal dialogue with customers has also brought about its challenges. Many marketers in their quest for “big data” have ended up paralysed by the sheer volume of data available to them and are unable to turn it into actionable, intelligent campaigns.

Marketers have poured vast resources into collecting and storing data but are finding it difficult to extract value from this asset. In many companies marketers are finding it difficult to see the wood for the trees. Even companies that don’t have a proactive strategy to collect data still have a huge amount of data available to them that they haven’t thought about using.

So is one-on-one marketing a pipe dream?

Not for many forward-thinking marketers who understand that data is part of the marketing journey rather than the destination. For the first time ever small and medium-sized companies can compete on a level playing field with the big boys as technology that fuses together data and campaigns is no longer based on huge enterprise systems.

Plug and play

Brands now have access to simple plug-and-play technology that can turn data into intelligent campaigns without the need for multiple third parties and the inevitable delays that having multiple parties creates. Smart marketers from all sizes of company are not only collecting data and using it intelligently, they are using it in real time and across multiple channels to drive a personalised and consistent journey for the customer.

So how are successful brands doing this in practice? The possibilities for merging data and technology in this way are endless but here is a taster of the sorts of campaigns that are now a commonplace for an increasing number of brands.

Real time personalised website content: We are all familiar with the “Welcome back Mr Smith” level of personalisation paying lip service to personalised content however the real value lies in personalising everything from landing page creative, offers and messages to personalised product display to ensure the customer is engaged with your brand from the moment they land on the website. The engagement is maintained by showing products that the customer is most likely to buy based on what you know about them. This is updated in real time so that even actions within the session will drive what they are seeing and optimise their journey to increase the responsiveness of a campaign. 

Customer re-engagement: We know that 80% of online shopping baskets created by browsers are abandoned prior to checkout. Many savvy retailers have programmes in place to try to re-engage with these customers to recapture this lost revenue. The ease of putting in place this sort of campaign makes it a no-brainer for marketers who can see upwards of 10% uplift in their sales. Marketers focused on recapturing this lost revenue are targeting these customers with personal offers to encourage the customer to complete the sale. For example, customer A receives 20% off as she is known to be price sensitive whereas customer B receives a personal shopping session as she is known to shop in-store. These sorts of campaigns eliminate the need for expensive blanket promotions as well as providing an opportunity for brands to really show each consumer that you understand them.

The multi-channel opportunity: The opportunity to turn data into actionable, intelligent marketing works across all channels. Turning insight gained online into a real time tele-marketing campaign is now possible as is using browsing data to personalise imagery via digital print for catalogues. We are no longer limited by technology and the way our 3rd party suppliers work together, we can create automated campaigns the bridge the gap between marketing departments and channels.

The opportunities for merging data and technology are endless and exciting. We now have the ability to personalise every touch point and use the insight gathered from every channel to drive a personal and relevant communication, whether customers are communicating with us via our website, stores, telephone or email.

Tony Lawes is the managing director of Sub2Technologies.

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