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?
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.
The Evolution, Current State, & Future of Strata
Who We Are
Strata was founded by Jeff Sammak in 1993. At first, the company’s goal was to simply provide print services to a plethora of clients. Jeff later came to realize that Strata’s true mission was to leverage emerging technology to fuse marketing processes into a streamlined, single-source workflow. Over time, we’ve evolved to offer a wide range of client-driven solutions to help customers solve complex marketing and communications challenges, and we’ve consistently been a team of many different, unique individuals – innovators, go-getters, marketing experts, sales connoisseurs, you name it. But we’re people first—and we know our clients, customers, coworkers, and industry peers are, too. For this reason, we know the best way to help businesses achieve their marketing goals is by focusing on the people who work at them.
Where We Started
When Strata began, our services were print, print, and more print. We provided print solutions like no one else, offered great customer service, and were efficient and productive – as we are today. Back then, most of our clients were within the pharmaceutical industry, and we primarily focused on print materials like postcards and mailers, with a very small amount of web portal work.
Danielle, a long-time Strata employee, remembers that the main source of revenue for the company was “creating and printing Case Report Form (CRF) Books for pharmaceutical companies. Strata even had a program created for us to be able to set these up and separate the pages to print because they were printed on NCR paper.”
Before 2003’s move to Campus Drive in Plymouth Meeting, PA, where Strata’s main office is now, the company was located on Butler Pike. Around the time of the move, the pharmaceutical industry started moving CRF books online, causing a shift in the printing industry. To stay ahead, Strata purchased an iGEN 3 digital press and began working with variable data. This led to many of our current tactics – variable postcards, mailers and more, as we continued with more web portals. This change ramped up both the marketing and productions parts of Strata’s business.
Dawn, another long-standing Strata employee, recalls that “internet ordering wasn’t even a thing when I started…but Jeff was quick to add the software and technology to build customer portals for online orders to stay ahead of the market.”
This is when we really changed from a print solutions provider, to a full-blown marketing solutions company. From then on, technology became a key driver for all of our activities.
Today, we’re always using a blend of direct and digital strategies to get the highest ROI for our clients. Our equipment has and continues to evolve, and our culture grows stronger as our company expands. Dawn says, “Jeff’s always thinking two steps ahead (or maybe more) to keep the company current. Variable printing (has) branched out to email communication and personalized landing pages, and our ability to track responses is a technology that many of our clients (and competition) don’t even know about.” Harrison, Strata’s Director of R&D, says that we’re always expanding on our strategic value, being more than just execution, and more than just technology – we’re “being invaluable.”
Mark, a Strata leader since 2007, says that today, we’re a company that’s a blend of so many components. “For certain, the way we work is different…now we operate from our homes…taking advantage of the technology that allows us to do that.” He notes that our equipment has changed and evolved significantly as well. Instead of iGen, we now use HP Indigos (a much better product) and also use multiple black and white printers, a large 6-color offset press, inserters, a UV coater, and more. We’ve improved our processing capabilities through automation, and can now produce at a higher quantity and quality than ever before. Our workforce is no longer only print and production, but – like we said – innovators, marketers, and strategists too.
Our products have expanded from just postcards and mailers to email execution, digital, large format, and more. “We’ve moved from a transactional business to one that’s driven by orders from portals, for many of our clients,” Mark says. We used to outsource a lot of our services, and now, we invest in resources to keep those services within Strata. PURL development is a great example of this. We used to have the need to outsource it, but now, we do all of the creation in-house.
“Today,” Harrison says, “everything we do is with a realistic approach. We always keep contact with our clients and continue to solve problems.”
What Makes us Best – Directly from Our Staff
“Our employees have always been hard-working, easy to get along with, dedicated, and loyal, and that’s what has kept me here so long. I still feel like I’m always learning something, which is great, because I don’t like the mundane, same-old, same-old. I feel like we’re always ahead of other companies with innovative ideas and solutions, and we’re definitely always looking for new solutions for companies and trying to make things easier for them while staying ahead of the curve. However, I feel like our core values have stayed the same.”
“We look to exceed expectations, have extensive knowledge in our field that enables us to make smart happen, and live off of technology to be efficient in all scenarios. We think like our clients and look to provide solutions within their environment, and we cast a wide net that can satisfy most client needs under our roof without outsourcing. We have an excellent client base (many of our clients have been with us for 10+ years), and employees that stay with us.
You can speak with the actual CEO here. You can’t get that just anywhere, especially when you work for a big company. Each person has a place here. Everyone’s best talent is put to work here, and we all work together.”
The Future of Strata
At Strata, we’ll always put the customer first, as we always have, and it’ll always be top priority to solve problems – not just sell our services. We plan to keep evolving digitally, with smarter, more advanced technology, and to always stay on top of the latest and greatest trends. Dawn claims that in her many, many years with Strata, she’s “always seen the company evolve with the changing times.”
No matter what the future holds, Strata will always stick to our core – to make smart happen and remain a solution-based company. Give us a call if you’d like to evolve with us and utilize our mix of print and digital services to your advantage.
Common Omnichannel Mistakes & Their Solutions
We’ve really covered a lot of ground in the journey that’s been our Omnichannel Marketing 101 blog series, but we’d be remiss if we got you ready to make and optimize a great campaign without setting you up to fix some inevitable mistakes. Now that you know what omnichannel marketing is, the steps to getting started, and the most important best practices, we’re talking common omnichannel campaign missteps – from creation to execution – and how you can not only learn from them, but fix them and improve on your current campaign strategy and strategies to come. Even when you have all the tools and knowledge for success (which we supplied in parts 1-3 of the series), mistakes can still be made, especially when you’re trying omnichannel marketing for the first time. Thankfully, we have solutions.
Errors during creation and execution of an omnichannel campaign can be due to a lack of data, lack of experience, missteps in implementation, or simply partnering with the wrong omnichannel “expert”. That’s okay! Omnichannel marketing, no matter how much expertise you have, can (and should) take some trial and error. That’s why we’re giving you some smart advice on how to fix the most likely mistakes along the way.
Most Common Mistakes & How to Resolve Them
Mistake 1: Sub-par content strategy
Resolution: If this seems to be the problem, go back and review your content again. It’s most likely not customer-centric, user-focused, or brand-consistent enough. Review your data and make sure your campaign’s messaging is enticing, on-brand, and relevant based on where your customers are and what they want to hear. “A spray and pray approach will make your content irrelevant to certain segments of users, and that would mean potentially losing out to your competitors.” If you’re content’s irrelevant, it’s a major waste of resources, and even worse, can cause your customers to mistrust your company.
Mistake 2: Inadequate data or data misuse
Resolution: “79% of executives believe that companies will fail without embracing big data solutions.” Make sure you have a centralized data management hub for your company (if possible), have adequate tools to get the best data, and ensure everyone on your team (or various teams) can understand and use the same tools to gather information. Contrasting information can really hinder the success of a campaign’s creation and completion. Furthermore, “37% of the people in the US alone change their contact details within a year, making your data obsolete” unless you consistently update it, so make sure you use up-to-date data, and review and refresh your data when necessary.
Mistake 3: Missing out on new data throughout the campaign
Resolution: Like we said, out-of-date data is of no use to your customer’s current information – and even more, their current journey. Don’t just “set it and forget it”. Consistently go into your data to see patterns and understand how and where your campaign is (or isn’t) working. “You are supposed to capture more audience data based on the experience you offer and identify areas you need to improve.”
Mistake 4: “Isolated analytics measurement” (not getting the full picture when looking at data from various devices and platforms separately)
Resolution: Instead of viewing everything as a separate metric of success, think of each touchpoint of the campaign as a part of one ecosystem. “Take a top-down approach wherein you can analyze the success of your marketing campaign as a whole and then get down to the specific channel to know which ones performed well and those that require attention.”
Mistake 5: Problematic execution
Resolution: If you’re lucky and have some omnichannel experience, you may be able to fix this problem in-house. Try focusing on customer experiences instead of touchpoints and channels, better understanding your customer base, and better segmenting your audience. If you’re still having problems with execution, it may be worth it – and best – to bring on technical hires or work with a partner company (like Strata) to optimize data and technology.
Mistake 6: Incorrect & inefficient measurement of KPIs
Resolution: While it’s very important to look at the big picture, make sure you’re measuring results at each part of the customer journey. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on some granular yet important data. “For example, calculate the number of unique visitors on your website during the awareness stage or the duration of visit in the engagement stage, to determine if the user is interested in your product.” Data like this will help you better personalize the experience for each and every customer.
Mistake 7: Forgetting about the mobile experience
Resolution: “71% of shoppers who use mobile devices to research products online say their device is an important component of their in-store experience.” Make sure your customer’s mobile experience aligns with their in-store or in-person experience with your company. Get an understanding of how your customer base may use mobile devices, and how you can best reach them (on mobile) along their journey.
Mistake 8: Simply put, a bad strategy
Resolution: Step back with your team and take the time to re-evaluate your strategy. Is it customer-centric? Is it data-driven? Does it truly meet your customer where they are? If it doesn’t, it’s time to revise accordingly.
Mistake 9: Partnering with the wrong omnichannel experts
Resolution: Do your research when finding and choosing your omnichannel partner. Make sure they’re experienced in all aspects of omnichannel marketing – not just a single channel.
If you’re still feeling intimidated by omnichannel marketing, don’t fret! Strata can help you create and implement a smart, results-driven omnichannel campaign for your company. We specialize in multi-faceted omnichannel campaigns to reach your clients, prospects, and strategic partners. Our campaigns are designed to help you put the right message in front of the right people. Contact Strata to get your very own campaign up and running.