Mail

Laying Out the Pros and Cons

We know it can be a long process to research, find, and decide on a marketing solutions company that achieves your objectives. We also know that the full package – good data, quality design, excellent messaging, great customer service, mailing and fulfillment, and quantifiable results – is the goal, but not always the outcome. Since we get asked about it from time to time, in this blog, we’re going to cover why you may want to choose to work with a marketing company over a CRM services company who also happens to strategize and launch campaigns. Before you make your decision, give this a quick read. 

Not Always the “Path of Least Resistance” 

First and foremost, although it may appear “easier” to partner with a CRM service to launch your campaigns (because they have access to CRM) – they don’t always have immediate access to other capabilities. For example, they likely don’t have in-house creative design, printing, fulfillment, and mailing, and if they do have some of them – they likely don’t have all of them to execute a turnkey campaign. The main focus of a CRM company is usually just that – customer relationship management. Their key offering is their ability to compile and supply lists – which they may be excellent at doing, but what will they provide in terms of other areas of expertise? 

Because of the outsourced services they use (such as those listed above), CRM companies can’t always make campaign changes on the fly. They’re usually unable to print on-demand, have their artist make quick modifications, make last-minute changes to the mailing process, or most importantly, optimize the campaign based on results, midstream. 

The Marketing Differentiators

So, what’s the alternative? Partnering with a marketing solutions company that offers expertise in everything from implementation to optimization. Marketing companies are often also connected directly to the list compiler, and even more than that, they’re usually more closely if not directly connected to everything else you’ll need and use during the campaign production process – from strategy to printing. Since many if not all of their services are in-house (including design, print production, fulfillment, and mailing), you can always make changes and improvements mid-stream and at rapid speed. They can simply call on their marketing team of strategists, artists, print production associates, and others to change gears, swiftly improving the efficiency of the program while it’s in progress and effectively increasing campaign ROI. 

Additionally, marketing companies focus solely on marketing strategy and production, and the more years of experience under their belts of doing so – the better. Marketing execution is not an add-on to marketing companies. It’s what they do, day in and day out. And the right marketing company will be able to simultaneously execute concurrent campaigns, whether single-touch or many, with corresponding digital to (targeted, specified) customers and prospects. If you’re lucky or do your research, you’ll find a marketing company that also incorporates backend fulfillment, seamless management, granular personalization, and attribution, and will be a team of dedicated experts, creators, innovators, and most importantly, marketers. You get the picture we’re painting. It’s important for a marketer or marketing team to also value and provide quality execution and customer care to every client, and ensure you have the reporting, understanding, and peace of mind you need, with 1:1 attribution, automated data exchange, and a detailed dashboard. 

Next time you’re debating, think through this blog first. Do you just need a simple marketing campaign with CRM first, or do you need a multi-touch, well-focused marketing campaign with accurate, up-to-date lists and quality attribution? 

What Makes Data Good Data

We always, always appreciate conversations with customers. Especially those that make us think more thoroughly about our services. We’re constantly open to changing and evolving to provide the best offerings possible for loyal and new customers alike. Recently, we’ve had quite a few conversations about data, and have realized that it’s important for us to provide some insight into our somewhat unique data philosophy, specifically as it relates to direct mail. We’re all about the best data – not always (and not usually) the most data.

Our Direct Mail Data Philosophy

Direct mail may not be the cheapest form of marketing – but it’s often one of the most effective. In fact, 61% of customers find direct mail influential in making purchasing decisions. Compared to email’s average lifespan of 17 seconds, direct mail can last 17 days. We could go on and on about why we love direct mail, which is why we made a complete blog with tons of other eye-popping stats.

While direct mail is very effective – it’s only as effective as the data behind it. We believe it’s important to reach the right people, which is not usually all the people, and this can sometimes be puzzling to our customers. Our philosophy? We’re more worried about and interested in the success of your campaign rather than the number of people we send to. Plus, while we appreciate business income, we more highly value long-lasting business relationships built on trust (which primarily comes from a good track-record). In short – quality over quantity, always.

When we pull our data, you’ll notice that compared to others in the industry, we don’t always end up providing as many contacts. This may look and seem like “less”, but it’s really providing you with “more”. We won’t give you more contacts than necessary, we won’t waste your time with leads that are dead on arrival, we won’t waste your money on mail that ends up in the trash, and we will deliver higher ROI. Many others in the industry will provide you with a bigger list, but one with a portion of people who will trash your direct mail – wasting your time and budget. So, next time you see a long list of “prospects”, don’t let it knock your socks off before diving into who those people really are, what they want, and whether or not they’ll actually respond to you, and, more importantly – become a customer.

Why Our Data is Strong

Strata has years of experience as well as many great connections within the industry. Our data compilation process is rigorous, and one that we’ve worked on for years to define and strengthen. To ensure it’s effective and valuable, we continually evaluate our data sources time and again, never assuming they’re “good as they are”. And similar to how open we are to customer feedback, innovation, and change, we’re always open to changing and improving our data sources so that data we provide, again, will actually return ROI.

Interested in working with Strata to get the most out of good data? Contact us.

That Will Interest Your Audience

In a few of our recent blogs, Buzzword Alert: Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) and The Pros and Cons of EDDM, we gave you insight into what EDDM is, as well as its pros, cons, and alternatives. In this blog, we’re going over the top 5 best EDDM campaign ideas – in the case that you do choose to go the EDDM route as a part of your marketing strategy.

An EDDM Refresh

USPS’ Every Door Direct Mail service is a blanketed mailing approach sent to all of the potential customers near your business (depending on the routes you choose). Utilizing the provided mapping tool, that provides demographic data information based on census reports, you can choose the routes you’d like your mail piece delivered. Additionally, you can schedule this delivery for whenever it makes sense for your business. The mail you send can be self-designed, or you can work with a company like Strata to design it effectively and professionally. Learn more about what EDDM is at this blog, or explore its pros and cons, here.

Now that we’ve given you a refresh on what EDDM is – let’s dive into some effective campaigns to get you the most ROI.

Campaign Idea 1: Generosity

One of the best ways to entice customers is to provide a generous discount or offer. Or, simply giving them a small something that’s free – whether it’s small and attached to your mailer or provided through a sign-up or scheduled meeting – goes a long way.

Nothing gets customers in the door more than coupons, price deductions, and rewards. Give them something to entice them to at least come in and give your business a chance – even if that’s just to get a discount or redeem an offer. It’s quite likely that once they’re in (as long as you provide good products and/or services), they’ll return.

Introducing free giveaways can pique customer interest, making them feel like you care and are willing to give them something for their attention and possible business. Plus, if the giveaway is received via an exchange, once they “sign up” or schedule a meeting, you’ll then have their information for future communication.

Campaign Idea 2: Urgency

Whether we like it or not, humans like to know what’s going on. You know the phrase – curiosity killed the cat. We get “FOMO” – the fear of missing out – more often than we’d like to admit. That’s why using a term like “save-the-date” is so effective. The potential customer will likely read the rest of the card, because they’ll want to know what’s going on in their area. When you create urgency, people feel that they need to be in-the-know and on-the-go. Obviously, you’ll need some sort of “event” to accompany this type of mailer, but it could be something as small and simple as a limited time discount week, days or day, or a grand opening or reopening.

Campaign Idea 3: Playfulness

Entertaining and playful campaigns do really well when it comes to EDDM. This could mean including a scratch off game, or poll to make the mailer interactive and exciting. Interactivity can get the customer’s attention, and maybe even cause them to feel somewhat invested in getting the answers, winning the prizes, or otherwise finding an end result.

Another way to energize your mailer? Maybe it includes some sort of pop-up upon unfolding. Or, try invisible ink, dye cuts, and other unique folds. Any of these options can help you stand out from the pack and bring out energetic playfulness in your potential customers.

Campaign Idea 4: Proximity

A great way to get customers through your doors is to emphasize how easy it is for them to do so. Focus your mailer around the idea of proximity and the ease of locating and entering your business. Be sure to include an easy-to-read map of your location(s), and add in words such as “close by”, “just an order away”, or, “just a few blocks away” if that’s possible and applicable. With this type of campaign, you can also include a limited time offer to compliment the proximity with urgency. For example, “Stop in for $10 off your order of $50, we’re right down the road”.

Campaign Idea 5: Simplicity

We’ve all heard the acronym KISS. A great campaign tactic is to keep it very simple. Most viewers don’t have the time to digest a whole mailer and all of its contents, so limited text and bold blocks of imagery and/or color can go a long way. Simply providing your store name, address, website, and some great photos and blocks of color can create mystery that speaks just as much as content. Maybe limit it to just one good coupon. This kind of mailer can create recognition and brand awareness without overloading the customer with information.

Like we’ve said before, EDDM is not for every company and its marketing strategy – but if you do choose EDDM for your next campaign, make sure you do it strategically and effectively by using one or two of the campaign ideas above. In general, don’t forget that every mailer should at the very least include contact information, a compelling call-to-action, and memorable branding.

Looking for some more in-depth help to get started? Give us a call or shoot us an email.

Is it the Right Option for You?

In a recent blog, we went over what Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is, some of its positives and negatives, as well as some alternatives. Today, we’re diving a bit deeper into EDDM’s pros and cons so that, when you’re ready to launch your next direct mail campaign, you’re able to choose wisely.

What is EDDM Again?

Every Door Direct Mail, (better known as “EDDM”) is a blanketed mailing approach sent through USPS to potential customers near your business (aka – all of your “neighbors” nearby). You can use USPS’ provided mapping tool to select a geographic area, while viewing some demographic data based on census reports such as age-range, household size, and income. With this data in mind, you can choose what mail routes you’d like your piece delivered to – and, you guessed it, your mail gets delivered to every door. You can schedule this delivery whenever you’d like, within the parameters of the postal office.

With EDDM, you have the option of either creating the mailer design yourself, or working with a company (like Strata) to create a design that’s effective and professional. And – when using EDDM, you have two options, EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU.

What’s EDDM Retail?

EDDM Retail is a good option for small businesses, restaurants, realtors, and local political campaigns. With this choice, you can create an account, send 200-5,000 pieces per day, per zip code, and simply drop your mailings off to the post office. You don’t need a permit with this option, and you can easily pay online or at the post office. The cost is currently $0.20 per piece.

What’s EDDM BMEU?

EDDM BMEU, on the other hand, is a good option for larger volume mailings, as there’s no volume limit and you may send to several different zip codes. As you can imagine, it’s slightly more involved than retail. You’ll need to make a Business Customer Gateway account, acquire a bulk mailing permit, and drop off your mailers to a BMEU – a large USPS mail processing center. The current cost for EDDM BMEU can be “as low as $0.168 per piece.”

The Pros of EDDM

Now that you know your EDDM options, we’ll go over the pros and cons. First – the pros. If your marketing budget is low and you’re looking for something that won’t put much of a dent in it, EDDM mailing can be a worthwhile choice. You can avoid high postage rates, generally, and postage discounts are available for most. Additionally, if your mailing is small and you’re not too concerned about a wide geographic area, you can again save on postage by opting for EDDM.

EDDM can work well for general awareness campaigns – such as showcasing a small business’ grand opening, letting people know you’re running for office, hosting a special event at a restaurant, introducing yourself as a realtor…the list goes on. If you want the general public to know about you, EDDM can help you do just that. Just make sure your business and/or brand is apparent by using quality branding and imagery, your logo(s), memorable colors and fonts, and other elements that people will take note of and will recognize if they see them again. If you’re not sure how to do this or what to include, give us a call.

The Cons of EDDM

Although EDDM is a good service that works for a lot of use-cases, it has its downfalls. With EDDM, you’re unable to really target a specified audience based on significant data, such as interests and hobbies, life changes, environment, age, income, and so on. Yes – you can find an area where many of the people meet some of these criteria, but with Every Door Direct Mail – it’s sent to exactly what it sounds like – every door. You don’t have the option to add people in or take people out if they’re in the selected demographic area and on the chosen mail routes. Therefore, you’re likely wasting paper, production, and money on people who have zero interest in your product, service, or event. You could be reaching out to people who fail to check their mail regularly, see your mailer and throw it out immediately, read it over and have no need or interest, or worse, are offended by your offering or service. What do we mean? Here are a few examples of what we liked to call “fail mail”:

  • A BBQ restaurant flyer sent to a house of vegans
  • A retirement home postcard sent to a couple in their twenties
  • A daycare service mailer sent to someone single with no children
  • A car dealership flyer sent to an eco-friendly bicyclist

Whether the “potential customer” doesn’t see it, throws it out, doesn’t want it, or is offended by it, the mailer was a waste of time, printing, and money.

On the other hand – maybe your mailer will actually interest most of your audience and you’re sending it to a large target area. Awesome! But – if your EDDM campaign is too large, you risk offsetting postage cost savings with extra production processing. Plus, paper costs right now are higher than normal due to the shortage, which could mean that printing and mailing to every door could cost you more than the response is worth.

Finally, EDDM does not provide the option to truly personalize your mailers. And, if you’ve read any of our other blogs, you know that personalization is a large part of direct mail success. In fact, a personalized CTA has been found to increase conversions by 78.5%. Without including a name, interest, favorite product, specialized offer, or personalized URL and QR code, your response rate is likely to suffer. If the mailer isn’t linked to anything else and doesn’t lead them anywhere personally specific, it’s not nearly as enticing or effective.

Next time you’re looking to send a mailer out to potential customers, fans, voters, guests, and so on, you may want to use EDDM (depending on your budget and needs), but as experts in the industry, we can say that there is often a more targeted strategy, like new mover marketing or multichannel marketing, that may work better. If you’re ready to get started on your next direct mail campaign, we’re here to help. Simply get in touch.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

You may or may not have heard about the recent postage update from USPS. If you haven’t, we’ll fill you in. The new maximum size for mailing First-Class mail postcards has increased from 4 ¼” x 6” to 6” x 9”. This means you can now send postcards as large as 6” x 9” at the postcard rate of $0.40. But – before you get excited, let’s dig a little deeper into this. As experts in the mailing industry, we’ll help you decide whether or not you should be taking advantage of this change, or if you should continue business as usual.

The USPS Update: The Facts

You may or may not have heard about the recent postage update from USPS. If you haven’t, we’ll fill you in. The new maximum size for mailing first-class postcards has increased from 4 ¼” x 6” to 6” x 9”. This means you can now send postcards as large as 6” x 9” at the first-class postcard rate of $0.40, 30% less than before the change! But – before you get excited, let’s dig a little deeper into this. As experts in the mailing industry, we’ll help you decide whether or not you should be taking advantage of this change, or if you should continue business as usual. 

The $0.40 per postcard price is the price you pay for simply dropping a card in the mail (no sorting necessary). However, if your quantity of cards exceeds 500, you’ll save more if you sort your cards. Why? Because the post office gives you a discount for doing some of the work for them. For first-class presort, you’ll pay between $0.30 and $0.35 per postcard, depending on how your mail sorts. The higher the density, the lower the price. 

You sort standard-class (bulk) mail the same way you sort first-class mail – and if you do, the cost for the same 6” x 9” postcard will run between $0.245 and $0.31. Again, the cost heavily depends on the density of your distribution. For instance, if you’re sending 500 postcards to one neighborhood, it will cost less than sending 500 postcards to several different areas around the country. 

Sorting your mailings and sending them standard-class will save you an additional 15% over the comparable first-class rate, a substantial amount for any large mailing. 

So, what does this all really mean for you, and what is the best choice for your mailing? 

The Perks & Problems of First-Class Mailing

So, here’s the “perks” of first-class mailing. With first-class, you can send impactful postcard mailings at an affordable price – to anywhere. There’s no 500-piece minimum, and there’s a 30% discount on regular first-class mail. You’ll know exactly what your postage rate is going to be at – $0.40 each. 

Quantities larger than 500 can be sorted and will likely get to your regional audience faster than they would with standard-class mail. You’ll pay roughly a 15% premium over the cost of standard mail to do so. 

With that said, the post office has yet to fully recover from issues related to the pandemic. Although we’re hopeful this will change over time and that it will return to its prior state, the possibilities are always in flux. Without knowing when things will return to “normal”, it’s hard to depend on mailing delivery times. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve experienced delivery time issues with first-class mail. For this reason, we’re recommending a “wait and see” approach with the post office as it applies to estimating delivery dates. 

Counter intuitively, for a company whose in-home date is important – the idea of first-class can be a bit of a trap, and even more so with pre-sorted first-class. The post office will often handle it in the same way as pre-sort standard-class. If in-home dates are important to your campaign and your mailing is large, then there are better ways to get more predictable in-home delivery and save money. 

Our Alternative

Since we’ve found some pitfalls in this new update – we’d like to share a little about Strata’s tools and tactics. For large mailings, we’re able to use standard-class mail and predict the delivery date plus or minus one day, in most cases. How? After years of experience, we’ve come to use alternative methods and have taken out several variables. These methods are not allowed by the USPS for first-class mail – only for standard-class mail. Therefore, most of our customers are better off sticking to standard. 

We don’t see us ever recommending this new program for large mailings. Standard mail will always cost at least 15% less, allows you to send many mail formats including even larger than 6” x 9” sized postcards for the same postage, and provides in-home date that will always be more predictable when using our methods. 

Conclusion

If you’re a local company and want to send out mailings in your region or have quantities of less than 500 – this sizing and pricing update is something you may want to take advantage of. 

If your in-home dates are somewhat less critical and you’re mailing regionally, then you may be able to get faster service at a somewhat higher postal rate and, again, may want to try this program. 

If you have non-critical in-home dates and your mailings are at quantities of more than 500, standard-class is always going to be less expensive, and you won’t see much difference in delivery times. 

For large mailings, first-class is less predictable and more expensive than optimized standard mail. Strata has standard down to a science for these bigger quantities. In all cases, standard service will still save you at least 15% and will provide you the option to send even larger cards and mail formats at the same rate. 

Consider this guidance when you’re thinking about taking advantage of this update in USPS services and deciding if it’s right for you. 

Interested in working with Strata to ensure your mailers get in-home when you expect them to? Give us a call. 

The Proof is in the Numbers

At Strata, it’s pretty obvious that we love (and believe in) direct mail and its marketing power, and think it’s an important touchpoint in any multichannel campaign. We could go on and on about why we think it’s great, but we understand that sometimes it takes some hard facts and solid numbers to seal the deal and make you believe in direct marketing, too. You’ll see – the numbers simply speak for themselves.

The Stats

  • For every 36 emails you receive (on average), you get 1 piece of mail in your mailbox.
  • The average lifespan of an email is 17 seconds, compared to direct mail’s average lifespan of 17 days.
  • 59% of US respondents say they enjoy getting mail from brands about new products.
  • Up to 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20-30% of emails.
  • Per USPS, 98% of people check their mail daily and Americans spend upwards of 30 minutes with their mail on a single occasion.

Source for stats above: Compu-mail

  • 73% of American consumers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read or review the information at their leisure.
  • 41% of Americans of all ages look forward to checking their mail each day.
  • 60% of catalog recipients visit the website of the company that mailed them that catalog.

Source for stats above: Bolger

Direct Mail Stats Infographic

Sealing the Deal

More generally, we believe in direct mail because it’s:

Tangible

Everyone opens mail. Even if you don’t have access to television, internet, or a cell phone, as long as you have an address, you’re reachable through mail. Opening mail is a part of the daily routine for many, and neglected by very few. Direct mail seamlessly integrates into our lives and rituals, so we see it as welcomed rather than intrusive.

Targetable

With direct mail, you can target by geographic location and send your piece to all residences within your selected zip code(s). You have the ability to organize your mailing list by demographics, such as age group, income level, parenthood, pet ownership and more.

Customizable

There are never-ending possibilities when it comes to organizing and developing your content in an effort to present your message to your target audience and lead them to take action. You can use your pieces to inspire immediate purchases by including limited-time offers and copy that conveys a sense of urgency.

Measurable

Incorporating a special offer, online promotional code, or even a website questionnaire into your campaign can make it easy to track responses and measure success. After all, direct mail is proven to be one of the most quantifiable advertising platforms.

The Bottom Line

Direct mail is effective because of its seamless integration into our lives, yet strong presence on our counters. It catches our attention while giving us control as to what we’ll do next as a current or potential customer. That’s why we think, well…we know it’s one of the most effective marketing tactics for reaching large groups of consumers.

Ready to get the most out of your direct mail? Contact us to create a highly successful marketing campaign that incorporates the latest direct mail tricks and trends.