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.
What You Need to Know
In today’s world of marketing, we’re constantly surrounded by buzzwords – both old and new. As we evolve and keep up with the newest technology and trends, these buzzwords evolve as well. Yet, some buzzwords – like “Every Door Direct Mail”, otherwise known as EDDM, have stood the test of time for quite a while. In this blog, we’re breaking down this buzzword, walking you through its positives and negatives, and explaining when your company should or shouldn’t use it.
What is EDDM?
Every Door Direct Mail (better known as EDDM) from USPS is a blanketed mailing approach sent to potential customers near your business. USPS utilizes a mapping tool that holds demographic data based on census reports, such as age-range, household size, and income. Factors like these can help your company choose the routes you’d like to deliver your mail piece(s) to. Additionally, you can schedule that delivery for any time mail gets delivered.
You may create the mailer yourself, but it’s recommended you work with a company (like Strata) to help you design both professionally and effectively. The USPS website states, “Based on your unique business needs, either create an EDDM mailing yourself or get help with any part of the mail design, printing, preparation, and drop-off process using USPS affiliate vendors or find a local printer in the USPS Printer Directory.”
What Does it Cost?
The cost of EDDM varies, but it’s usually a lower cost option for marketing mail (which we’ll go over later on in this blog). You first have to choose between two options, EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU, which you can read more in-depth about, here. The costs associated with these options are as follows:
- EDDM Retail® USPS Marketing Flats – $0.20 per piece
- EDDM BMEU USPS Marketing Mail Flats – as low as $0.168 per piece
What’s Good About EDDM?
EDDM is a good option to have if your marketing budget is low. It’s also possible to use it as a marketing test-run to see what audience members are most likely to respond to your communication (especially if you don’t have the budget for reporting).
It’s most often used for generalized, non-specific marketing awareness or brand campaigns. If you simply want to get the word out there – to anyone and everyone about your business, EDDM is an option to consider. Using EDDM can help you to avoid high postage rates, as long as you have a smaller print job in one geographic area.
Why Should I Consider Not Using EDDM?
EDDM definitely comes with its trade-offs. With it, you’ll lose the ability to target individuals based on very specified credentials, and won’t have as much leeway when it comes to time-to-market. Additionally, if your EDDM campaign is too large the cost savings you’d get with postage would be practically meaningless due to the increase in production processing. Lastly, EDDM doesn’t give you any options in terms of personalization – which, if you’ve read some of our blogs, you know is important in direct mail campaign effectiveness and ROI.
What are the Alternatives?
Before using EDDM, think through other ways you can get your message across, and who you’re trying to get that message to. Instead of using a blanketed geographic approach, you may want to try a more specified campaign like our SmartMove services (personalized, multi-touch mail that’s sent specifically to new movers). This way, you can better pin-point your audience, and provide a better experience to those who receive your mail.
Or, maybe the best marketing strategy for your company isn’t even mail at all, or is mail that includes a digital touchpoint. A more multichannel campaign could be your answer.
EDDM isn’t for every company and its marketing strategy – but as experts in the industry, we can say that it works for some companies. Yet, there are many times a more targeted strategy, like our new mover marketing options, will work better. Wondering how you can get started on your next direct mail or multichannel campaign? We’re here to help. Simply contact us whenever you’re ready.
What’s the Real Deal?
There’s a ton of information out there about multichannel marketing – and it can be hard to sift through. You probably often find yourself wondering, what’s real, and what’s myth? You’re not alone. Many marketers end up hindering their own multichannel efforts by believing a lot of these circulated misunderstandings, but with our help, you don’t have to. Today, we’re looking at three of the most common misconceptions around multichannel marketing, and – as experts in the area, letting you in on the real deal.
Myth 1: Multichannel Marketing is “Too Expensive”
There are a ton of marketers and organizations out there that have yet to try or implement multichannel marketing because it’s “too expensive” or “over budget”. It may cost slightly more than your generic, on-touch marketing, but it’s important to consider the benefits and weigh the cost versus the potential (and often guaranteed) ROI. There’s proof out there that many businesses end up getting much greater ROI from multichannel marketing, making the price worth it. Plus, it’s estimated that companies with optimal multichannel campaigns experience “customer retention rates of 89%, compared to an average of 33% for those businesses with weak multichannel engagement”. It’s all about how you use your budget, and allotting it to the marketing practices and programs that will yield the highest return.
Myth 2: Multichannel Solutions “Benefit Only the Customer”
It’s a common misconception that multichannel marketing is great for meeting customers at many touchpoints, but that it’s overwhelming and inconclusive for the company using it. This could not be further from the truth. Multichannel marketing is not just a one-touch process, and that’s what makes it unique and effective. Although it may seem like a lot at first (engaging with customers on several platforms such as direct mail, social, and website) it’ll be extremely helpful in forecasting and planning a company’s marketing strategy in the long run. Multichannel marketing benefits customers by providing them with relevant, personable, and consistent content, but also benefits your company by building brand awareness, loyalty, and trust within consumers and by compiling data and analytics for a complete picture of your audience’s customer journey.
Like we said, it may seem like a lot at first, but over time, you’ll get a clear picture of what channels and touchpoints work best for your company and reach the most customers, what channels and touchpoints don’t, and where and when it’s best to reach your target audience(s).
Additionally, multichannel marketing helps your employees improve customer service and build more personal and personalized relationships with customers. For example, while communicating with a customer at a certain touchpoint, your customer service representative can see exactly what contact points the customer has already accessed, as well as the information they’ve received or provided to your company. This relationship that multichannel marketing fosters not only creates less frustration and unawareness for the customer – but for the company as well. In turn, multichannel marketing reduces staff turnover, and ensures that you keep your most talented employees. It can also reduce staff errors and build a better brand reputation for your company as a whole
Myth 3: Multichannel Marketing is “Hard to Implement”
We’ve heard this one a lot. “Multichannel marketing is so involved,” or “I just don’t have time for all that.” Here’s the thing…multichannel marketing is only as hard as you make it. There are a lot of channels out there to reach your potential customers (website, in-store, catalog, e-mail, TV, text, blog, mail…the list goes on), but that doesn’t mean you have to use all of them. Plus, if you stick with your brand standards and ensure all of your touchpoints are connected and unified, you can use similar (if not the same) content, design, colors, and calls-to-action across channels, making the process much easier.
The best way to get started without getting overwhelmed is to create a plan. A great trick for quick planning is “RACE”; Reach, Act, Convert, and Engage. Make sure you’re hitting all of these parts of the process to ensure you’re connecting with and converting your audience, and getting the most out of your multichannel marketing.
Lastly, if you still feel you’re in over your head, or just really want to focus on other parts of your business, don’t hesitate to partner with experienced multichannel marketing experts. Research who you want to partner with so that you’re aware of what to expect and what they’ll expect from you in terms of budgets, end goals, and experience levels.
We hope we’ve eliminated some of your worries, answered some of your questions, and provided you with a bit of confidence in multichannel marketing. To get started on your next (or maybe your first) multichannel campaign, or learn more about how we can help, feel free to contact us.
Looking for more information on multichannel marketing and how to effectively launch a campaign? Visit our YouTube channel for quick tips and tricks from the experts at Strata.
From QR Codes to Concise Copy
Direct mail trends can be difficult to forecast, and even harder to use correctly and efficiently. However, you’re in luck, because as direct mail experts, we’re providing you with the top 10 direct mail trends – from QR Codes to concise copy – that have and continue to dominate 2021.
1. QR Codes
In the last few years, QR codes have really built a name for themselves. Not only because of their quick, digital nature, and the 2% postage cost break that comes with them, but because of their data-backed effectiveness. When a QR code is included in a way that makes sense- it provides a time-saving benefit to the customer while letting the company lead their customer exactly where they’d like them to go.
Although the year 2020 was detrimental for most industries and marketing tools, the QR code flourished. During a time where we didn’t want to physically touch anything, QR codes made up for physical marketing pieces like menus, signage, print ads, and flyers, leading customers from physical to digital – and quickly. The more QRs were seen, the more used to them we became (similar to our newfound familiarity with masks and hand sanitizer). And they’re still going strong in 2021.
Like we said, QRs lead customers to wherever a company would like them to go. They can provide helpful information, send the customer to a website, or even lead them to purchase.
2. Postcards on the Rise
Envelopes – they’re great and all, but let’s be honest, they add a few seconds (at least) to the time it takes to open (and read) direct mail. These days, it’s often better to send a postcard due to its more creative, eye-catching nature and faster access to information. Making it easier to read your call-to-action can often make customers more likely to respond to an offer or even visit a website or landing page for more information. Plus, they’re lower in cost – which means a better chance of higher ROI for your campaigns. As you can see below, postcards pushed past self-mailers and envelopes this year by quite a bit.
3. B2B Dimensional Mailers
These fun, three-dimensional, interactive mailers are the perfect way to stand out and cut through the clutter of everyday mail. “On the B2B side, dimensional mail is working well; because we all receive so many packages today, prospects want to open it and see what’s inside,” says Grant Johnson, Owner and CEO of Responsory. Although more costly and demanding in terms of postal handling, dimensional mail has the best B2B response rate at 8.51%. Check out our blog on the best secrets to a successful dimensional mailer campaign to get started on your own.
4. Better Segmentation with Data
“Accessing 1st and 3rd party data to further segment an audience will continue to play a huge role in a DM campaign’s success. If you’re able to align targeted messaging and great creative with those different segments, then that’s a recipe for increased response rates. Furthermore, surrounding that DM send with a similar message/offer through various digital channels will only add to that campaign’s success. Being able to hone in on delivery dates and putting an emphasis on speed to market are big contributors to making a direct mail/digital integration program thrive.”
– Mike Efstathios, Business Development at ICS Corporation
Data, data, data. It’s all everyone can talk about these days – and for good reason. Enriching your data qualifies your audience, and in turn, increases your ROI. And, if your marketing strategy is multi- or omnichannel, the customer experience becomes even more successful. While better segmenting your data may cause your audience to shrink, it will definitely cause your engagement to grow. Like we always say – it’s better to target the right people than all the people.
5. Increased Personalization
88% of marketers recently reported seeing better campaign metrics after using personalization in their advertising. More than ever before, the need for marketers to make human connections is extremely relevant, and some may even say necessary. The majority of our population feels they’ve lost personal connections and relationships due to the pandemic. Because of this, 2020-2021 has been the time to make up for lost connections by personalizing materials to bond with your audience and make them feel seen, heard, and human. Check out our blog on the best ways to get personal, here.
6. Higher Response Rates
Since the beginning of 2021, we’ve seen a rise in direct mail response rates. Why? More time at home means more time to go through – and even pay attention to, mail. And as the trend of working from home and staying at home has continued and even increased, response rates don’t seem to be dwindling anytime soon.
However, high response rates don’t just come from people staying put. They come from quality tracking, targeting, design, and audience awareness. For more tactics to increase response rates, visit this blog.
7. Interactive Direct Mail
In today’s world, we’re surrounded by technology. And with all of this technology, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be incorporating it into our direct mail efforts. 2021 brought new technology and an abundance of data that empowers companies when targeting audiences and crafting content. Next time you’re sending direct mail – think about how far you can go with it. Can it include a scratch-off? A game? A free kit or item? A contest? It’s pretty limitless.
8. Digital Prompts
Direct mail isn’t only a way to reach customers, but an excellent way to reinforce online efforts. Simply use social icons, QR codes, or other prompts to send customers to social platforms, websites, menus, forms, landing pages – you name it! Marketers are definitely catching on to this direct mail tactic, as usage of digital prompts has doubled in the last four years. Take a look at the chart below to see how the use of digital interactions has increased.
9. Concise Copy
It’s one thing to know what you want to say, but knowing how to say it is the real key to direct mail effectiveness. Throughout 2021, we’re seeing shorter sentences, smaller paragraphs, fewer bullet points, and obvious CTAs. Your audience’s attention span is only so long, so catching the ears and eyes right away is crucial.
Below is a great example of how Amazon has practiced this and changed their copy to be more concise and clearer. Even at just a quick glance, the message is less overwhelming and more approachable.
Need some help with your direct mail copy? We’ve got a blog for you on ways to write action-inspiring content.
10. Investing in Direct Mail Tools
Although it’s not always top of mind, the right tools are one of the most important components of great direct mail. If you haven’t looked into or invested in marketing and data tools, you should be, because they can take your direct mail from general and stale to effective and exciting, and in turn, save you time and money. Instead of targeting the wrong contacts or using the wrong design elements, the right tools will ensure your mailer looks great and is sent to people who will actually open and engage with it.
Consider changing your format, ink, paper, or finish. Update your branding, content, or calls to action. Or, try technology like USPS Informed Delivery to reach consumers in a modern way.
So, there you have it! 10 effective direct mail trends that took off this year. If you’re interested in learning more about enhancing your direct mail, feel free to contact the experts at Strata. We’re happy to get you started with some great direct marketing materials.