Direct Mail

Say Goodbye to Duplicates and Hello to Increased Campaign Success

As marketers, we do everything we can to streamline our campaigns to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. In the never-ending quest for peak performance, one of the most consistent frustrations we deal with is data quality.

We all know bad data is frustrating to deal with, but beyond that, the reality is that bad data represents wasted effort, and wasted effort represents a loss of money.

We have access to a ridiculous amount of data, and in many ways, that’s a good thing — more data translates to more targets, a better understanding of those targets, and more avenues by which we can interact with them.

The problem is that all data is not created equal. In addition to generally corrupt data, duplicate data is prevalent, including name and address, household, and family (if multiple families live at the same address). 

So, how do we ensure that in a world of abundance, we’re separating the wheat from the chaff?

Step 1: Educate Yourself with Regulative Processes

It’s worth doing some exploring and familiarizing yourself with postal address regulations and how they affect your deliverability rates. Luckily there are numerous services and mail management software that can help you through this.

For example, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) is a USPS developed software that ensures mailing addresses are complete and accurate. In other words, it determines if an address actually exists. CASS also standardizes an address into a format the USPS prefers, which is an invaluable tool for creating easily comparable data points when checking for duplicates.

Another great resource is the National Change of Address (NCOA) registry. The NCOA is a dataset of permanent address changes filed by individuals, families and businesses, and can be important for weeding out which address to keep — and which to toss — in your datasets containing multiple addresses for the same customer.

Step 2: Double Check Mail List Data for Common Errors — By Hand

While it’s easy to be lulled into the convenient trap of relying too heavily on software solutions, it’s important to comb through your data — yes, manually — for common errors. Even the most advanced mail management software still requires human interaction and understanding for optimal outcomes.

How? It’s not uncommon for things like commas, missing spaces, or data simply entered in the wrong field to throw CASS off. Simple mistakes can cost you big when it comes to getting rid of duplicate data sets.

Once you’ve used software to get your data into a great starting point, it’s important to remember that that’s all it is — a great starting point. It’s up to you to do the manual work and ensure the data is uncorrupted beyond that.

Step 3: Remove Excess Info from Your Files

Since we’re solely talking about mailing, it’s important to remove as many variables as you can from your mailing lists, and that means dumping the excess information.

This excess information includes things like email addresses, phone numbers, revenue, years in business, etc., all of which aren’t pertinent to your direct mail vendor.

In short, avoid the clutter and dump the details for your mailings. Keep it simple and save that info for later.

Step 4: Choose Your Direct Mail Vendor Carefully

Much like data sets, not all vendors are created equal, and some will prove to be nightmares to work with. This speaks for itself. You want to consider attributes like experience, referrals, and knowledge of the postal regulations.

A good tip? Make sure you’re working with a vendor who proactively takes initiative when it comes to cleaning lists.

Step 5: Enjoy A Job Well Done

Cleaning and getting rid of the duplicates in your mailing list can be a process, but one that is well worth the effort. When it comes to direct mail campaigns, remember: the better the data you put in, the better the data you get out.

Need a hand with your direct mail marketing? We have the knowledge and experience to help you every step of the way. Contact us to see how we can help you design and execute and effective direct mail program.

What’s Working, What’s Not, and How to Adapt

COVID-19 has been impacting us all, and it’s true what they say — we’re all in this together.

To put it positively, it’s been “interesting” to see the impacts this has had on business and marketing.

COVID-19’s General Impact

First and foremost, COVID-19 has impacted the ways consumers purchase — for the time being, they’ve shifted to a recession mentality. On a macro level, this means consumers are temporarily passing on the premium brands in favor of brands offering greater value.

That’s not to say premium brands are doomed in a COVID-19 world.

Premium brands will get through this by aggressively defining their audience and adjusting the ways they engage that audience. As the average customer’s channel mix shifts, brands need to reach the “at home” individual — for the next few months, ditch your OOH efforts and focus on getting to the consumer at home.

Focus on direct mail, email and addressable geofenced digital ads as the primary players in your channel mix.

Making Direct Mail Work for You

There’s a reason direct mail is a marketing standby — it’s effective. It’s also what many brands will lean on in the months ahead. Let’s look at two scenarios in which COVID-19 impacts this high-value channel — B2C and B2B campaigns

In a B2C campaign, COVID-19’s impact on direct mail is actually a boost in visibility. With limited distractions and an audience spending more time at home than ever, direct mail is front and center.

In a B2B campaign, the way COVID-19 impacts direct mail is a bit more complicated — with no one at the office, a standard B2B campaign can fail. Fortunately, with a little extra data prep, they don’t have to. You can contact decision makers directly at home by working with a data source to match your business dataset against a consumer database and send business communications to personal addresses.

And if you’re worried about reaching people at home, don’t be. People want business to continue — in fact, in a recent survey that we conducted, 90% of consumers said that they’d be comfortable receiving B2B solicitations at home.

Finally, a parting thought on direct mail: use it as an anchor in line with other cost-effective strategies, like digital and email marketing. While effective as a standalone, the performance of direct mail is exponentially increased by including it in your omnichannel strategy.

Utilizing Digital Ads and Email Marketing

Speaking of omnichannel strategy, another place where advertising is thriving is within the digital realm. Things like ad space on social media, commercial spots with streaming services, etc. continue to burn hot. The reason for this is pretty obvious — more people are relying exclusively on screens for news and entertainment.

Digital advertisers are also looking at this crisis as an opportunity to assess effectiveness, clean house and reflect on their digital brands. In short, metrics are talking, underperforming strategies are going out the window, and most of the content smart businesses are putting out is routed in engagement and messaging, not new acquisition.

Email marketing, particularly in retail, is still a go despite COVID-19. In fact, some research points to negatives like unsubscribe rates going down while positives like click rates are going up or at least roughly maintaining pre-COVID levels. With that in mind, now is an excellent time to develop and execute your email marketing campaigns either in house of with a trusted vendor.

Tailoring Your Messaging

In the early days of the outbreak and subsequent lockdown, it seemed utterly bizarre to see the marketing world carrying on as usual, running commercials featuring large groups of friends out in public places, while viewers cringed at home, counting the times the actors touched their faces.

Then, almost all at once, there was a major shift.

Marketers began taking on tones similar to PSA’s, reminding people to wash their hands and stay at home while focusing on aspects of their products that aligned with sentiments like “togetherness” or “looking towards the future.” Messaging also began to focus on the ways that purchases helped support the economy and maintain jobs during a time of economic hardship.

At the end of the day, it’s important to recognize that people are bored, anxious and looking for comfort and your messaging, engagement and branding should align with that.

Let’s Face it, COVID-19 is Weird

A grocery store full of face masks is weird. Cleaning products being hoarded is weird. COVID-19 as a whole is weird.

It’s tough to navigate such a strange new landscape, particularly in the business world. Of course, we’ll make it through this — we always do — but it’s going to require adaptivity, confidence and reflection.

At Strata, we’re here to help you with that. If you’re looking for ways to put your brand’s best foot forward, whether that be with direct mail, digital outreach or anything in between, contact us to see what our solutions can do for you.

Common Misconceptions and Opportunities to Consider

The New Year has arrived and it’s time for a familiar conversation.

With all the new tech being debuted in 2020, we begin to wonder where marketing is going and which tactics are still relevant going forward. Inevitably, this leads us to the same direct mail conversation we always have: Is direct mail dead?

We’ll offer you the same answer we always have: It’s evolving.

Direct mail is constantly improving — marketers are abandoning and embracing certain aspects of direct mail, like trading the “casting a wide net” approach of junk mail for an approach focused on a highly targeted audience.

Let’s take a look at the misconceptions and opportunities surrounding direct mail, the many ways its evolving, and why it’s still an important part of most marketing campaigns.

Misconceptions

Misconception 1: Direct Mail is Too Expensive

Of course, it costs more to create a physical piece of marketing material, send it through the mail and deliver it at a consumer’s door, than to blast an email out to your audience. Perhaps, counterintuitively, this is where its strength lies.

Direct mail is considered a high-value marketing tool, which means that in the long run, the cost per acquisition is comparable to an email campaign yielding a lower return.

Misconception 2: Good Direct Mail Takes Too Long to Produce

Again, it’s easy to see where this line of thinking comes from. It’s not a huge jump to link ultra-personalized direct mail offerings with longer turnaround time in production.

Variable data printing, however, streamlines the process, making production go much faster and more smoothly than ever before. This digital printing method allows printers to make large runs of personalized collateral on a similar timeframe as their standard counterparts at no significant bump in cost.

Misconception 3: People Don’t Like Receiving Mail

Direct mail conveys positive attributes like investment and value, and that message resonates with consumers. People like receiving mail. What they don’t like receiving is junk mail. Make sure that your direct mail campaigns focus heavily on what you offer the consumer rather than simply soliciting their business.

Interestingly enough, there is one demographic with a particularly strong response to direct mail marketing efforts — Millennials. Considering that the market is currently turning over and Millennials will continue to be a major driving demographic for the foreseeable future, direct mail will continue to be a powerful way to appeal to that audience.

The Opportunities of Modern Direct Mail

Direct mail has undergone some major changes in the last few years, particularly when we consider the rise of variable data printing and our ever-increasing abilities to incorporate digital elements into our traditional direct mail offerings.

Opportunity 1: Hyper-Personalization

Hyper-personalization allows the marketer to close the gap between themselves and the consumer.

We’ve touched on this countless times in our blog series, so let it suffice to say that one-to-one direct marketing — or as close as we can get to one-to-one direct marketing — is the ultimate goal of every marketer. Hyper-personalization gets you about as close as you can get.

Opportunity 2: Experiential Direct Mail

The desire to build relationships is reciprocal between you and your audience. You want to build a relationship to understand the consumer and offer them useful products. They, on the other hand, want to build a relationship with brands they trust to offer them those products.

The best way to do that is through communication, and when you communicate with your audience via direct mail offerings, you should focus on the user experience those offerings provide.

Giveaways and promotional items are great, but when you offer your audience interactive, user experience focused content, you offer them something truly special. Tools like augmented reality and navigable video content are two excellent resources we’re able to send through the mail.

Incorporate them into your UX toolbox.

Opportunity 3: Omni-Channel Response Options

Omni-channel response options give your audience options, and when you give your audience options, they feel empowered.

Including elements like PURLs and QR Codes leading them to landing pages, instead of just dropping an email or phone number, can be excellent ways to initiate a dialogue between you and your audience at their absolute convenience.

Don’t guess what they would prefer, give them options.

Capitalize

Evolving your marketing and embracing best practices does not mean abandoning trusted resources. Direct mail is one of the most trustworthy tools marketers have at their disposal.

By incorporating exciting new elements, like experiential mail and digital updates into your direct mail campaigns, you can have the best of both worlds and reach your audience on a level previously unachievable with digital or direct correspondence alone.

Could your next direct mail campaign benefit from cutting edge best practices like these? Contact us to see what we can do for you.

Effective direct mail means creating a unique user experience.

We’re getting used to being impressed, and not just by a superior product — we’re getting used to being impressed in the ways we’re made aware of that product.

Traditional direct mail is still important — it’s a good way to send follow up mail, surveys, and cover large areas for direct marketing campaigns — but when it comes to selling high-end products and services (particularly in the B2B sphere) traditional direct mail just isn’t as effective as it used to be.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there’s a solution to the direct mail rut we may find ourselves in, and that’s the User Experience (UX) Mailer.

What is a UX Mailer?

A UX Mailer is any sort of direct mail marketing effort that sells to a target audience, but does so in a genuinely engaging way focusing on the end user experience.

UX Mailers include pitch-related gifts, tools for viewing the mailer’s content, special die cuts, or a unique response vehicle. Many UX Mailers fit into the category of dimensional mail, but there are plenty of options for 2D UX Mailers.

Some examples of UX Mailers include:

  • A dimensional mailer with a small LED screen that plays a video upon opening
  • A “scratch-off” style mailer, where the user reveals QR codes leading to discounted promotions
  • A flat mailer with a QR code and fold-out cardboard VR headset meant to hold a user’s phone for a first-person product tour
  • A dimensional mailer containing a set of quality headphones to play an audio message, which can then be used with the recipient’s other devices

How to Use UX Mailers

UX Mailers are powerful tools when used correctly. Given the fact that UX Mailers typically require a fairly significant initial investment (more on this in the next section), you’ll want to make sure that your UX Mailer campaign is run as effectively as possible.

In general, best practices generally dictate that UX Mailer campaigns should target a significantly smaller audience than your average direct marketing campaign. This means that your company should focus its efforts on only the highest value prospects and convertible leads. So how small should your target audience be? It depends.

Even large companies employing a UX Mailer campaign frequently limit their target audience to less than 100 prospects, particularly if the UX Mailer is expensive. In more extreme examples, with the right information and projected success of conversion, some UX Mailer campaigns cross over the threshold into the mythical domain of 1-1 direct marketing, focusing all efforts to engage a single target.

On the flip side, there are times where a UX Mailer can be inexpensive enough to broaden the scope of your campaign, focusing on a more traditional direct mail audience. While you’ll always likely pay more for a UX Mailer campaign, there are many options that won’t increase cost prohibitively. For instance, a UX Mailer campaign with special die cuts may cost more to set up initially, but has little-to-no additional cost per-piece, making it a great option to run a larger campaign.

Investment and Return

You knew this was coming: UX Mailers are often a significant investment.

Of course, they’re only as expensive as you choose to make them — there are companies that put actual iPads in their UX Mailers and there are companies that rely on things like QR codes to keep cost down.

The reality is most campaigns fall somewhere in the middle.

For example, a company recently ran a customer appreciation UX Mailer campaign including a Tile key fob. The fobs were sourced in bulk, keeping the cost down to $8 per piece, with the campaign reaching 152 customers.

UX Mailers are an investment, and just like any other investment, their cost should be contextualized in the scope of projected return. With some industry data pointing to dimensional UX Mailers being opened nearly 100% of the time, our experience is that around 19% of UX Mailers result in response.

There’s virtually no other method of outreach with comparable engagement, making UX Mailers a worthwhile investment.

Why You Should Use the UX Mailer

As we’ve touched on, UX Mailers have a distinct set of advantages that boil down to two main points: they have incredibly high rates of engagement and can be tailored to fit most budgets.

Although they are an investment, UX Mailers are undeniably effective, particularly in the B2B sphere. With most B2B deals resulting in $10,000 to $250,000 gross return, the juice is well worth the squeeze.

Are you ready to put your best foot forward with a smart UX Mailer campaign? Visit us at gostrata.com to see what Strata can do for you.

From Long Sales Cycles to Fostering Loyalty, Dimensional Mail Often Works Best

There is a large number of incredible digital opportunities— automated emails, direct correspondence, pop-up ads, video ads. Yet, there’s a challenge in the overabundance of digital competition.

What do you do when the hottest marketing platform the world has ever known — the internet — presents such a substantial challenge?

A smart and savvy solution is to invest more heavily in physical direct marketing and pair it with your digital efforts. Despite the decades-long digital obsession of the marketing world, tactile and experience-rich direct marketing is continuing to succeed where its purely digital counterpart falters.

There’s a reason most industries — from global technology companies and Ivy League Universities to retail stores and your local pizza shop — run direct mail campaigns as crucial parts of their marketing initiatives.

Here are four reasons why:

Digital Overload

Some people refer to it as e-fatigue. Some people have labeled it digital burnout.

While the Internet is an ultra-valuable asset to every flourishing business, it can also be a significant challenge, like when we see too many digital ads. This competition can tire us, resulting in us paying less attention.

In fact, a relatively well-known Microsoft study suggested that between the year 2000 and 2015, our attention span had dropped from 8 to 12 seconds on average.

The challenge with digital isn’t just digital; it’s digital distraction — there are simply too many options immediately available to your audience to compete with.

We can use the idea of a teacher and tutor as an analogy for digital vs physical marketing.

Mass-scale digital marketing is like a teacher trying to educate a large, loud, distracted classroom — he or she may get a few words to especially attentive ears, but most of the students are so distracted by their environment, they’ll likely walk away with nothing.

Physical direct marketing, on the other hand, is more like a tutor that comes to your home, spends one-on-one time with you in an environment with far fewer distractions, and gets you acquainted with the material on a deep and lasting level.

The analogy extends: you don’t only use a tutor, you use a tutor to supplement the teacher — use both digital and physical for best results.

Long Sales Cycles

A place where high-impact physical direct marketing thrives, particularly when digital marketing is used as supplementary technique, is within long sales cycles.

Where digital may be a great way to begin creating brand awareness and invaluable in the consumer learning experience, it can be difficult to close the deal via digital platforms alone.

There are a few contributing factors here. For one, even personalized digital campaigns can lack the personal touch required to build trust and consumer confidence. Rarely does digital alone suffice to propel your audience into the final stages of the sales cycle. Another shortcoming of a purely digital strategy lies in the aforementioned competition for attention online, particularly in the case of social media.

Powerful tactile experiences, especially those delivered in the form of high-value direct mail such as dimensional mailers, can get you over these hurdles by conveying personal interest in your audience. They also keep your product at the forefront of consumer consciousness by entering avenues that competing products may sometimes neglect, i.e. entering their physical realm via the mailbox.

In a long sales cycle, these traits specific to physical direct marketing are invaluable.

Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is one of the most challenging aspects of modern-day business. With so much competition, it’s important not only to build a connection with your consumer, but to foster the development of that relationship in unique and thoughtful ways.

One of the best ways to build brand loyalty is through physical direct marketing efforts. This is particularly true when it comes to promotional items delivered via dimensional direct mail. We’ve touched on this before: a dimensional mailer consists of direct marketing materials that come in a box or another, 3-dimensional vehicle.

Not only do these tactile direct marketing experiences – through their dimensional presence – have the power to cut through the static, but they also have the ability to offer unique gifts or other promotional items. For instance, a “thank you” campaign sent out to valued customers can include everything from key chains and water bottles all the way to tablets and other high-end electronic accessories.

This kind of thoughtfulness and unique mailer does something that digital struggles to — it builds a real connection between brand and consumer. It speaks to a brand who truly values a customer and their business.

Influencing Silent Decision Makers

With virtually limitless information so readily available on the internet, more and more buyers have become silent decision makers. This means that most buyers aren’t reaching out to businesses to learn more about their products, instead relying on user reviews and independent research to form their opinions.

Physical direct marketing once again shines here, giving your brand the opportunity to stand apart and reach silent decision makers via a less competitive channel. If you can separate yourselves via physical direct marketing and convert that into an additional opportunity to make your case, you stand a good chance of making a lasting impression.

When it’s time for the silent buyer to pull the trigger, that impression you made with physical direct marketing may make all the difference.

An Invaluable Tool

With physical, experience-rich direct marketing’s ability to bypass digital channel overload, it’s no wonder why marketers consider it an invaluable tool. It possesses a unique ability to retain consumer focus through long sales cycles, building brand loyalty and influencing silent decision makers.

Are you working on a new product launch, looking to close a stalled deal, or simply want to strengthen existing customer relationships? Contact us to learn about our innovative approach to capturing mindshare, enhancing loyalty, and driving more high-qualified leads to the pipeline.

Quick Tips to Help Your New Mover Strategy

Capturing new mover market share depends on immediate outreach using an approach that elevates your business above the rest. This is a receptive audience ready to spend on new products and services.

But retailers face inherent challenges, including a limited window of time and a lot of competition from other businesses. Moreover, evolving consumer purchasing habits demand that retailers adjust traditional marketing approaches.

If you haven’t evaluated the effectiveness of your new mover program recently, it’s time to check that your strategy is up to date.

  1. Direct Mail: Timely, Targeted and Action-InspiringDespite skyrocketing consumer preferences for all things digital, direct mail is still the best method as an initial point of contact for reaching new movers. According to a report from Marketingprofs, an industry research and education firm, 40% of consumers try new businesses after receiving a direct mail piece.
    • Precision in-home dates: Timing is everything. Your “welcome” direct mailer has to reach new residents immediately, or you risk falling to the bottom of the mail pile. Retailers can gain an edge by partnering with a direct mail vendor who’s perfected targeted in-home dates.
    • Clean data and list management: By nature, new mover mailing lists are in a constant state of flux and quickly become stale. Select a list vendor that sources from multiple providers and uses extensive hygiene practices to validate the accuracy of data.
    • Personalized: Personalized direct mail commands higher response, agree industry leaders and researchers such as the Data and Marketing Association. Go beyond first names – mine your available data to include variables such as:
      • Closest store
      • Locator map
      • Mileage to your nearest location
    • Compelling offers: Include a strong call to action that’s hard for new movers to resist, and make it easy to for them to act on. Make them feel welcome and valued – present the offer as exclusive to their status as a new resident. For inspiration, check out this Target Marketing article that analyzes several successful direct mail approaches businesses use to market to new movers.
  2. Cross-channel Outreach to Crystalize Brand Presence
    For maximum impact and continued engagement, new mover programs need strong follow-up via digital channels.

    • Landing pages and PURLs: Directing new movers to eBRCs helps retailers build in-house email lists and track consumer preferences.
    • Segmented email follow-up: Again, relevance and personalization are key: Consumers welcome emails they perceive as providing valuable information or offers, with open rates for segmented emails averaging 14.32% higher than non-segmented emails. Once you start collecting new mover email addresses and information on interests and preferences, you can send targeted offers and information, promote your customer loyalty program and stay in touch to nurture engagement.
    • Online presence: New movers are using the Internet in ever-growing numbers to research goods and services. Establish a strong online presence with:
      • Targeted digital ads served up to households on your mailing list
      • Strong SEO practices
      • Close monitoring of reviews and ratings

Join the Next Generation of New Mover Marketing

Strata Company, a Greater Philadelphia area marketing services and technology solutions company, has 25 years of experience creating and managing multi-channel new mover marketing campaigns. Our SmartMove program merges the power of physical and digital touchpoints so you can quickly reach the right audience and keep them engaged with your brand. Contact us to learn more.

470,000: the approximate number of words in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Your direct mail copy challenge: Find the magic combination that will command the reader’s attention (i.e., dodge the recycle bin) and compel action.

Yes, direct mail writing can be intimidating. But the following steps can help you write direct mail copy that will get noticed – and get your prospects motivated.

  1. Grab Attention with Your Headline
    Many leading copywriters believe in the rule of 80/20 – that writing the headline should take 80% of your effort, and the copy below should take 20%. Why? The headline has to work really, really hard to hook readers. If it falls flat, no one will read past it.
    • Focus the headline around a leading benefit.
    • Build intrigue – tease with just enough information so that it’s impossible to ignore what follows.
  2. Expand (a little) on the Most Important Benefits
    Your body content needs to strike a balance between being informative and being concise. Again, stay benefits-focused, and give readers information that will convince them they need to act on your offer.
    • Tell readers how the product or service will improve their lives.
    • Present information in a logical order.
  3. Be Brief and Readable
    Your words are not the star of the piece. Rather, the recipient should be kept front and center. Copy should focus on their needs, and never compromise readability.
    • Limit the amount of copy in your mailer.
    • Save longer, more detailed explanations for product/service websites, landing pages or brochures.
    • Break up blocks of copy with subheads.
  4. Write for a Persona
    Writing for a persona can help you key in on the needs and motivations of your target audience.
    • Address their specific concerns.
    • Craft copy that connects on an emotional level.
  5. Craft an Irresistible Call to Action
    Finally, you need to ask for the reader’s business with your call to action (CTA).
    • Give the reader direct, specific instruction on how to take the next step.
    • Use active verbs.
    • Imply urgency – the offer will expire; they can’t afford to delay; time is running out; be one of the first, etc.
  6. Test to Find Out What Works Best
    A simple A/B test – where a control group receives a version with one varying element – can help you uncover the most effective copywriting approaches for your audience.
    • A/B test elements such as headlines, CTAs and envelope teasers.
    • Track results, and refine future mailings accordingly.

Going Multichannel?

Ensure you align your direct mail copy with other pieces of the campaign – emails, landing pages, digital ads, broadcast media. The message needs to be cohesive, or you’ll confuse your audience.

Strata Company, a Plymouth Meeting, PA-based marketing services and technology solutions company, has been a leader in direct mail marketing for 25 years. Our multichannel marketing programs combine award-winning creative with superior data practices to attract the right prospects and keep them engaged. Contact us to speak with one of our direct marketing experts.

Drive Higher Response with the Right Mix of Creative, Data and Technology

Direct mail is just as relevant now as it was in the pre-digital era. Today’s most successful modern direct mailer goes beyond superior creative strategy and execution to get response. They succeed with sound data practices, efficient technology and a multi-channel strategy to maximize outreach and results.

Use these 12 tips, and banish the generic stand-alone mailer that gives recipients no reason to open or act.

Design and Copy: Creative Formats that Capture Attention

  1. Get Creative with Size, Shape, Color and Paper Selection
    Possibilities abound to help achieve strong visual presentation: textured paper, oversize mailers, bold colors, embossing, dye-cutting. The more the piece can pique curiosity, the more likely recipients are to open it. Formats such as the Iron Cross or a 3-dimensional “box” mailer are modern approaches that stand out. (Make sure your piece adheres to postal regulations, however.) While these elements might cost more up front, the investment often pays off in terms of a response.
  2. Include Elements that Add Perceived Value
    Give recipients something to keep – e.g., a magnet, sticker, wallet-size card – to keep your brand and URL within reach. And remember to tease the included item on the outer envelope.
  3. Create a Compelling Outer Envelope
    Make opening your mailer irresistible. Tease the offer, and also consider including copy that signals something of value is inside. For example, labeling a mailing as a “kit” or including a “Do not bend” line can result in higher open rates.
  4. Include a Strong Offer
    Promote an offer that entices recipients to connect with your brand. Maybe it’s the opportunity to obtain a free sample, discounted service or complimentary consultation, or an invitation to a private brand event. Remember, a direct mail piece alone may not be sufficient to sell your product or service … but if you can sell an offer, you’re a big step closer to winning a customer.

Data: Engage the Right Audience at the Right Time

  1. Segment and Target
    Analyze your data to identify niche segments among overarching demographics. For example, perhaps you’ve broken out a list by household income. Segment that audience into subsets based on life stage – e.g., single, household with young children, approaching retirement age – and hone your message and imagery accordingly to drive relevance.
  2. Personalize
    Create a more authentic connection with individual recipients. Tailor offers and coupons according to previous purchases, shopping habits (e.g., in store or online?), and anything else useful you can glean from your data. Personalization matters, and it works.
  3. Use Software for Purchasing Data and Managing Direct Mail Lists
    The degree of success among purchased lists varies widely. Software is out there that can help you make the best decision regarding the lists you purchase, and also to help you maintain clean lists – essential to direct mail success.

Technology and Digital: Streamline and Track Efforts

  1. Use Variable Data Printing (VDP) to Produce Highly Personalized Pieces
    If you’re going to create data-driven, personalized pieces, you’ll need a printer with VDP capabilities. With VDP, artwork and text can link to predetermined data points so you can tailor the printed piece to an individual recipient.
  2. Incorporate Landing Pages and PURLs
    Landing pages are a great tool to drive lead generation, and they also provide a way to track response. Personal URLs (PURLs) – personalizing the landing page address with the recipient’s name – can dramatically increase response rates.
  3. Achieve a Sleek-running Campaign with Marketing Resource Management (MRM) Software
    MRM provides a more streamlined way to create and distribute direct mail. With centralized storage of assets and automated workflow management, MRM increases consistency and efficiency. MRM helps speed time to market, standardizing campaigns and reducing costs.

Go Multichannel: Amplify Reach and Impact

  1. Carefully Select Additional Channels
    Direct mail should not be an isolated effort. Determine the channels that will be most effective for the campaign goals and your audience, and use them to complement your direct mail campaign.
  2. Incorporate Several Touch Points
    Remember that it can take more than 10 touches for your message to break through and inspire action and brand engagement. Use your direct mailer to encourage social media interaction, or to drive recipients online to learn more. Supplement with a series of email touches. Consider wrapping digital advertising into the media mix.

Need Help with Your Next Direct Mailer?

Plymouth Meeting, PA-based Strata Company specializes in data-driven direct marketing and technologies that help companies create more relevant, personalized marketing. A leader in direct mail marketing for nearly two decades, Strata has experience helping businesses create highly targeted multichannel marketing campaigns. Contact us to learn more.

Data Accuracy and Hygiene Tips for Direct Mail Lists

With the surge of data available to marketers, direct mail marketers must be aware of the impact that data quality has on the success of a campaign. Naturally, the better the data, the better the results.

And with the convenience provided by mail management software, marketers may be lulled into thinking of these technological tools as “magic wands.” Don’t fall prey to this complacency – even the most advanced mail management software still requires human interaction and understanding for optimal outcomes.

If you are responsible for direct mail marketing, align yourself with others in your organization who have expertise in data quality. Then arm yourself with the following tips to better optimize your list data:

  1. Understand postal regulations
    Often, undeliverable mail that may seem to be due to software failures is actually the result of data files not meeting postal address regulations. It’s worth your while to educate yourself on the way these regulations work—they will affect the number of returns and whether you receive your bulk mailing postage discount:

    • Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS). The USPS developed this certification process to ensure that mailing list addresses are complete and accurate. In other words, it’s how USPS determines if an address actually exists. CASS also standardizes the address to the format the USPS prefers.
    • National Change of Address (NCOA). It’s estimated that 17% of the U.S. population moves each year. NCOA is the USPS dataset of permanent change-of-address records filed by individuals, families, and businesses.
  2. Check mail list data for common errors
    Data errors in your direct mail lists can wreak havoc with postal regulations. Direct mail software and vendors are licensed to access CASS and NCOA databases, but even they can’t prevent some of the common errors that will cause un-deliverables. This is where data quality control comes in.
  3. Avoid including excess information in your data files
    Make sure your files aren’t overrun with extra information that isn’t necessary to the project. For example, let’s say you’re working with a list from a university alumni organization. If you only need a name and street address, don’t include information that may have come with list entries, such as the amount of the individual’s last donation. Clean your list up before sending it off to your direct mail vendor.
  4. Choose your direct mail vendor carefully
    Not all are created equal. Consider the vendor’s level of experience, how long they’ve been in business, and their knowledge of postal regulations. Make sure you’re working with a vendor who’s taking the initiative to clean lists. You could also benefit from working with a vendor with expertise specific to your industry.
  5. Research your mail management software
    Direct mail marketers do have a choice when it comes to mail management software that will CASS and NCOA files. There are several available, so investigate which will be best for your needs. Speed may vary, as might other capabilities.

Could you use some further expertise on this issue? Strata Company has been a leader in data-driven direct mail for nearly two decades. Contact us to find out how we can help you design an effective direct mail program.