With a Combination of Direct & Digital Marketing (and the Right Partner)
Maybe you’ve heard about the paper shortage, or maybe you’ve experienced it first-hand. Either way, it’s something you should know about, as it’s seemingly becoming a bigger issue in our field day by day. But, before we sound all doom and gloom, we do have good news. Although it’s a current issue we’re facing, there are ways to combat it and work around it. In this blog, we’ll walk you through what exactly is causing the shortage, what it means for us (and you), and how we all can continue business as (almost) usual.
What’s Happening with the Paper Shortage?
So, what’s really going on? Well, there are many shortages going on right now – primarily due to all of the craziness that’s ensued over the past few years. The pandemic has been the primary factor in most shortages, from toilet paper to manufacturing products, and everything in between. Something else that’s suffering? Lumber, and in turn – you guessed it – paper.
Back in 2020, the demand for paper dropped by “up to 75% in some segments” due to drops in education and office space usage. Because of this, “paper mills reduced or curtailed production…which caused inventory to drop to levels which have not been seen previously.”
More recently, there’s been a “convergence of Canadian lumber tariffs, increase in demand for home remodeling and building of homes brought on by the pandemic, and hiccups in supply related to transportation.” From home projects to home purchases, we’re now using a lot of wood. More wood demand has called for changes in processes for these previously idle lumber suppliers, which has slowed production – and even worse, transporters impacted by Covid-19 risks has made for fewer available drivers to carry out shipments from mills and shipping ports.
Generally, one thing has led to another, causing a domino effect that’s triggered lumber prices to skyrocket, and has disrupted several industries.
What Does This Mean for Marketers & Print Projects
Yes, the paper shortage is concerning, but it doesn’t make print and direct mail marketing impossible or any less effective. With that said, don’t go overboard. Be aware of the materials you’re using and try to keep a close eye on the balance of supply and demand. While the lack of resources is a hurdle, the shortages are actually giving printers and marketers an opportunity to get creative with project execution by combining print with digital and trying new outreach possibilities.
How Can We Combat the Shortage?
There are several ways to work around the current hurdles we’re facing. The first? Using more digital technology wherever possible (and effective) – like QR codes, for example – to cut back on the paper needed to communicate a message or tell a story. Not only can QR codes and PURLs, or other tools help you use less paper, but they can help you more effectively track, monitor, and enhance your campaign. You can also try supplementing your multiple direct mail touches with other tools like digital ads and emails. A multichannel approach is always more impactful than a single channel, anyway.
Next, look into making your mailers, flyers, and other print marketing materials more cost effective by using a smaller paper weight, or stand out in the mail with a smaller but more uniquely shaped piece.
Lastly, look to work with a company with paper buying power and ample experience. They’ll be aware of the current issues, and will understand what’s best for your company’s marketing needs.
When it comes to shortages of any kind, remember to be patient and plan ahead. The paper shortage most likely won’t be around forever, but the more flexible you can be, the more you can mitigate the issue. After reading this, we hope you’re feeling a bit more knowledgeable of the current shortage as well as what you can do to combat it. If you’re interested in learning more about how Strata’s working through the shortage with our client (and on our personal projects), or are looking to work with us on your next multichannel marketing campaign, feel free to reach out.
A Look at Some of Our Favorite Customer-Focused Campaigns
Although we could write several blogs about all the great marketing campaigns that inspire and motivate us to be the best marketers possible and make the most effective material – in this blog, we’re looking at a few that we really admire because of how relatable and real they are. We’ll be breaking them down, thinking through what made them so successful, and in turn – helping you brainstorm your next campaign. Follow along as we dive into these customer-centric campaign leaders.
Apple’s #ShotoniPhone Campaign
No matter where you’re located – you’ve likely seen this one around town. On billboards, buses, signs, or online. iPhone and Apple’s popularity is pretty known, but what we didn’t know when the iPhone first became popular was that it would eventually completely replace the digital camera. And that’s what this campaign shows; that you can take photos with your iPhone that are as beautiful as a camera that would cost you thousands. That’s great and all, but that alone would not convince people of today. So, why’s this campaign so successful? It gets real people involved. It’s relatable. The photos are not only from real Apple customers – but include their names. If someone wanted to, they could look up the name of the person in the bottom corner associated with taking the photo and learn more about who that person is. The best part? Not all of these people are photographers, showing that anyone could use the iPhone to take great photos. This tactic is pretty genius and builds trust – as no one would really care if it was simply a generic photo that easily could have been taken on a Canon. “According to various studies, over half (51%) of Americans trust user-generated content more than other information on a company website and claim that it influences what they buy and where they buy it from.”
Coors Light’s #CouldUseABeer Campaign
Another campaign that spoke to the general public and got them involved during a difficult time? Coors Light’s #CouldUseABeer. After a photo of a quarantined, 93-year-old woman asking for a beer went viral, Coors Light engaged with its audience by offering free six packs to anyone who was tweeted about (who – you guessed it, could use a beer). This tactic of giving away free items may seem pretty crazy, but it can go a long way. Although Coors Light gave away over 500,000 beers, their name was tweeted about again and again, which led them to trend, and boosted their reputation in a time of need.
American Apparel’s Direct Email Marketing
Known for being trendy and modern, American Apparel is no stranger to effective, up-to-date, customer-centric marketing. We’re specifically impressed with their to-the-point email marketing. No frills, no fluff – just what the customer wants (sales, discounts, and freebies). American Apparel always ensures that there’s no guesswork for their customers. Simple and sleek, their emails are call-to-action forward without being in-your-face.
Mercedes’ “Like You” Campaign
How do you relate a high-end brand to a broader audience of customers? Relate it to them, literally. Mercedes’ “Like You” campaign did just that. Called to several different types of audiences with phrases like, “Detail-obsessed, like you”, “Groundbreaking, like you”, “Original, like you” and “Curious, like you”. And not only was this phrasing compelling, but consistent. For the span of the campaign, potential customers could find the phrasing on billboards, signs, online ads, and on tv. The consistency was key, in that potential customers began to associate themselves with the brand and possibly even buy a Mercedes.
Airbnb’s Use of User Generated Content
Similar to Apple’s tactic, Airbnb uses the photos, videos, and feedback of its customers in its campaigns to promote beautifully classic or uniquely interesting places to stay. “Millennials spend 30% of their media time (5 hours/day) engaged with user-generated content (UGC). Coincidently, this is the same generation that drives Airbnb’s success in the sharing economy.” Airbnb keeps things personal and personalized by including its audience, which facilitates a happy and loyal community of customers.
Coca Cola’s Share a Coke Multichannel Campaign
We all know this one. There’s nothing more personal than having your own name on a Coke bottle – which is exactly what Coca Cola did for its ongoing “Share a Coke” campaign. Whether you customize your bottle or simply find your name in store, you’re likely to share it with the world through text, email, on social, you name it (no pun intended)! And its rollout in 2011 sure worked in building brand awareness, boosting sales, and creating positive brand recognition, as “Young adult consumption increased significantly during the campaign, up by 7%, making 2011 the most successful summer ever. The campaign earned a total of 18,300,000-plus media impressions.”
Spotify’s #2020Wrapped Campaign
If you have any form of social media, you’ll likely remember this campaign flooding your feed, and maybe you even took part in it. At the end of 2020, Spotify allowed its customers to see their year of music with “2020 Wrapped”, which compiled their listening into a lovely array of photos and stats. Viewers loved seeing their personal data compiled into a nicely packaged marketing piece – and loved sharing their interests with others. Smart on Spotify’s end, because it not only gave them free marketing, but boosted their recognition.
So, What Have We Learned?
If you haven’t noticed, most of these campaigns share one key factor; relatability. How can you use relatability to create effective campaigns, too? Know your audience. Before even starting to brainstorm a campaign, make sure you’re fully aware of who, where, and when you’re targeting. And when you do start your campaign based off your findings, use that data and understanding to carefully craft consistent messaging that includes clear call-to-actions and personalized, catered content. Use hashtags, giveaways, QR codes, PURLs, BRCs, and more to engage with your audience and include them in your campaign. And, when and if appropriate, sprinkle in some humor.
Interested in making an impactful, relatable campaign that can help boost your company’s marketing efforts? Not sure exactly where to start? Look no further. Strata’s here to help. Contact us today to get the brainstorming started.
Email Marketing Tips & Tricks
Happy 2021! We’re 2 weeks into it, and it just feels really great not to have to say the year “2020” anymore. Not only are we putting the negativity and bad vibes of 2020 behind us, we’re putting bad email marketing practices behind us, as well. We have a few tips and tricks up our sleeve that we figured we’d share with you. Let’s toast together to better email marketing in 2021!
Your New Year’s Resolution
In a time of highly digital experiences due to current day trends as well as the pandemic, email marketing is as important as ever before. In some cases, it’s a marketer’s only way of communicating with his or her potential and current customers. But…email marketing is only as effective as the tactics used to send it, and having (and keeping) a successful email presence is about as tough as sticking with your new year’s resolution. You have to work for it, by creating and maintaining quality content, imagery, and strategy to really get your target customers to stop, read, get to know your company or product, and ultimately purchase.
Raise a Glass to the Stats
We’re not kidding when we say email, and email marketing, is being used more than ever before. We also know you’re aware of that, since you’re probably getting at least 6 emails a day (at the absolute minimum), and about 3 of them are not from coworkers, friends, or family, but from stores and online businesses. 4.3 billion email accounts send 196 billion emails every day, and, 91% of U.S. consumers use email every day. Not only are a ton of emails being sent – but many of them are marketing focused. And, marketers trust that they’re working. 85% of US retailers see email marketing as a highly effective tactic to acquire new customers, and 89% of marketers say email marketing is their primary channel for new leads. And they’re right in their positive opinions of email marketing, as 44% of those who received email marketing in 2020 purchased at least one product because of promotional messaging, and 71% of purchasing decisions were influenced by email.
In 2021 and 2022, email is expected to ramp up even more, with daily sent and received emails rising to 347 billion. Also in 2021, digital advertising channels (including email) will account for 46% of ad spend. Needless to say, we’re about to invest more time, money, and energy in email marketing campaigns, not less. And, in an era where forming customer relationships is made difficult with a lack of personal interaction, email is an excellent tool to create lasting impressions, without all the noise of other online web experiences or social media platforms. So, as a result, we should get well equipped and get our tactics in line for the email marketing world of 2021.
Don’t “Drop the Ball” (Unless it’s Midnight) with These Tips & Tricks
Busy, stressed-out, hustling and bustling readers have become more interested in short, to the point, clear and concise emails. As the reader scans their phone while standing in the subway, walking into work, taking a break from a project, walking their dog, or waiting for their food delivery, they never have enough time to digest a ton of content. Short and sweet phrasing and messaging helps the reader process the email with ease. Consider using a unique and thought-provoking subject line that will catch them as they scroll through their inbox, but, be sure to form a bit of a relationship with your customer before using anything too out-there. Remember to create clear call-to-actions and arrange your messaging in a way that logically makes sense, so that readers can immediately tell what you want them to know and more importantly, what you want them to do.
Also, be a human, and remember that the person receiving your emails is one, too. Do more than just sell to them, but provide them with tips, experiences, and valuable information, while again, keeping the message short and showing that you value their limited time. Make sure you always acknowledge and answer responses as well, even if a response is not necessarily required. Let the human on the other end know you’ve received their message and that you appreciate their reply.
It’s always important to keep a branded, unique tone throughout your e-blasts or recurring marketing emails. Make sure your potential customers can easily recognize you, your brand, and your mission. Make them feel like they’re getting to know your company, and that they can trust you and what you have to offer them. Remember to consider how your target customer talks, thinks, and acts. What message and language would they most likely respond to?
Creating email templates isn’t only time-saving, but allows for a more consistent brand look and feel. Having certain brand elements within all of your outgoing emails will help your customers recognize you from the get-go. Templates can also help you include certain call-to-action elements, such as images, buttons, and links, and can help you incorporate social platforms, website, and additional company information.
When managing your emails, it’s best to use groups and distribution lists instead of lumping everyone in the same category or viewing each person as a completely separate recipient. Using an email distribution service can help you get information out to targeted groups of people, and also allows you to easily eliminate uninterested prospects as they unsubscribe. Grouping and sorting your recipients also limits or completely removes the tendency to send mass emails and not consider the end user’s wants and needs. And don’t worry, you can segment your customers in many ways – by behaviors, demographics, purchase data, engagement, and more – the possibilities are pretty much endless. Most importantly, managing and sorting your emails will make for better reporting and tracking, ultimately improving future emails and practices.
“Don’t guess. Test.” 2020 didn’t work, so we’re trying again in 2021, and that’s okay. If you’re not getting traction with certain email subjects, messaging, imagery, or call-to-actions, try something different, and test again. Use A-B email testing to your advantage and find what works the best to catch the attention of your desired audience throughout your campaign.
So, are you ready to say goodbye to 2020 and make the most of your email marketing in 2021? Contact us and we help you brainstorm and execute your next smart email campaign.