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Direct Mail: The Walking Dead

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Written by Abby Telleria

Like a Zombie, direct mail keeps coming back - and still delivers. A jaw-dropping 65% of consumers made a purchase as a direct result of direct mail. That's right, direct mail. The thing you probably presumed to be as dead as a doornail is still very much alive!  


In the days of mad tweeting, blogging, Facebooking - it's hard to believe that what's still considered a "dinosaur" in the marketing world by some - is basically gold sitting in your customer's mailbox.


According to a survey conducted by Target Marketing Magazine, direct mail is the one channel that delivered the strongest ROI for customer acquisition for B2C marketers, and scored the highest for customer contact and retention.


In fact, J.C. Penny decided to bring back its print catalog after being dormant for five years. According to an article on NPR, a spokesperson for the retail giant says the catalog is making a comeback because of its popularity with customers and its ability to drive traffic to its online site and its stores.


So why not add direct mail to your online engagement strategy? With email inboxes full and traditional mail volumes down, you have an even greater chance of getting your message noticed by your prospects and customers.


According to a report from Compu-Mail, response rates for direct mail are at 5.1%, a record high since 2003. That's 2 ½ times the response rate of email, paid search, online display and social media combined. As for our younger generation, they've been an exception to that rule (aren't they always?). Response rates with 18-21 year olds are actually much higher - 12.4% to be exact.


And, while direct mail costs may be higher, Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reported that the cost per lead and cost per sale across direct mail, email and paid search are about equal.


Simply put - people still genuinely like to receive and read mail.

 

Direct Mail with a Digital Twist

By integrating direct mail into your omni-channel efforts, you can get more eyes on your company's brand, and then drive home your message with a follow-up email campaign or digital messaging. It's a one-two-punch.


Compu-Mail also states that when direct mail is combined with digital ads, the conversion rate is 28% higher; and, that marketing campaigns that used direct mail with one or more digital medium experienced 118% lift in response compared to using direct mail only.


According to a study by Harvard Business Review, when both email and direct mail are used together, the response rate is 25%, a huge uptick from solo email or solo direct mail campaigns.


And the same goes on an international scale. A study by Royal Mail's research agency, Quadrangle, reports larger increases in customer engagement through the use of both mediums together. The report states 13% uplift on driving consumers to a website; 22% uplift on a purchase; and 34% uplift on using a coupon.


Without a doubt, while both mediums are effective on their own, using them together as part of an overall integrated campaign can significantly boost customer loyalty and ultimately, drive more sales.

 

The Future of Direct Mail

New and innovative technologies allow marketers to add more of the wow factor to their direct marketing campaigns and actually extend its shelf-life. For example, most marketers combine their direct mail efforts with mobile phone technology such as QR codes or SnapTag (a barcode similar to QR codes) to direct consumers to landing pages with relevant information.


Some take it a step further with the use of augmented reality (AR), which allows marketers to tie in a direct mail piece with video or computer-generated 3D graphics to improve engagement through a more personalized and compelling digital experience - think virtual shopping trip or game.


Another technology - near field communication (NFC), the wireless touch-to-transfer technology - will help direct mail remain a relevant marketing vehicle in years to come. It would enable marketers to deliver content through an NFC chip, so when a user touches a smartphone to marketing collateral - there's an instant connection.

Direct mail will continue to be a workhorse for generating leads, traffic and sales, while your other media will help drive interest and awareness.

 

Getting Started

So, whether you currently use direct mail or are considering it, contact us to learn how our tools can help you get the most out of your campaigns. A successful direct mail effort starts with a clean and up-to-date mailing list, personalizing your mail and knowing exactly who to target with valuable demographic information. 

Carpe DM!

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By Alan Rosenspan, President, Alan Rosenspan & Associates

Remember how much direct mail you used to receive?

How much time it took you to sort through it, see what was interesting or relevant, and select the envelopes you wanted to open?

Not anymore.

Direct mail volume is down significantly in the last quarter of 2008, and the first two quarters of 2009 - and it doesn't look to improve any time soon. 

The USPS® admits that volume is down 20% - but I think it's much, much higher. Plus it seems very few companies are investing in larger size or dimensional packages.

Which means now is a great time to send out direct mail for your company!

There's less competition, less clutter in the mailbox, and less likely for your direct mail to be lost in the shuffle. 

In a recent article in The New Yorker, James Suroweicki wrote about the real recession. 

"In the late nineteen twenties, two companies - Kellogg and Post - dominated the market for packaged cereal. When the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. 

"Post did the predictable thing: it reigned in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. 

"By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg's profits had risen almost thirty percent and it had become what it remains today: the industry's dominant player."

As you know, Carpe Diem is Latin for "Seize the Day." Today, it's "Carpe DM!"

You can take advantage of this historic opportunity - to use direct mail to reach more prospects, gain more customers, and get a better response than ever before.

Now is the time to increase your direct marketing initiatives with a fresh, targeted mailing list. Click here for a FREE list count!

---Source: Alan Rosenspan is an internationally renowned direct marketing expert and president of Alan Rosenspan & Associates. He has written over 100 articles for direct marketing publications around the world, which can be found at www.alanrosenspan.com. Email him at ARosenspan@aol.com.

How to Deal with "Do Not Mail" Mania

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By PostCom, Association for Postal Commerce

These days in the mailing industry undoubtedly are not the best of times. They may not be the worst either, but they certainly are challenging. For the past three years, those who use mail for business communication and commerce have had to deal with unrelenting attacks by self-styled critics of our industry and practices who are relentlessly pursuing state and federal legislation that would stringently limit your ability to use mail within your business.

These critics come in various guises. The most common centers on their "concern" over the environmental impact of mail. According to the stories they tell, anyone who uses mail within their business is guilty of destroying the world's forests, polluting our air and water, overfilling our landfills, and just about every other nasty behavior one can imagine.

In making their claims, they claim to offer "facts." What they offer instead are lies, myths, and the sharing of a general ignorance of who uses mail, the purposes for which it is used, the environmentally sound aspects of doing business by mail, and just about every other of the common sense and good economic reasons why the establishment and maintenance of a universal mail delivery system has been a hallmark of every country around the world.
Below are a set of links to help your business and foster our common goals of preserving and promoting the use of the mail for business communication and commerce.

The materials include model letters you can revise as you see fit to tell your employees and advertisers about the value of the mail and your response to junk mail attacks. There are also letters to the media and any group that is out to destroy your business by funding or supporting antimail legislation or negative consumer attitudes. There are fact sheets you can use on your company website, or otherwise, about the benefits of mail, and the real impact of ad mail on the environment.

Links to Important Information You Can Use

Start By Doing Homework At Home (Getting your employees informed and involved. A sample letter.)
Taking The Lies Head On (A sample letter.)
People In Glass Houses Should Never Throw Stones (Educate Your Environmental Colleagues. A sample letter.)
Working Effectively And Honestly With The Media (An excellent guide produced by media consultant Peter Miller.)
---Source: PostCom (http://postcom.org/eco/do.not.mail.mania.htm).

Prospect Better to Grow Existing Lists

@targetdart
Greg Grdodian, President, Edith Roman-ePost Direct

Do you know what you're doing? That's not a personal question. All mailers should ask it when building their customer lists. It means, simply, do you have a plan in place? 

If it's time to generate more top-line revenue, then it's time to grow your list. It should be done methodically, using tried-and-true direct marketing methods. 

First, outline your goals. Are you looking for quantity or quality? Are you seeking prospects or immediate customers? 

If it's quantity you want, you might be tempted to try social media, but you could end up with a glut of unqualified names. The best channels for generating customers are the traditional direct marketing ones. You'll get more meaningful data, and you'll have greater control. 

Start by profiling your existing customer file. Match it against a comprehensive business-to-business database and overlay firmographic data like SIC and employee size, and individual details, like text title. Once you've created your customer footprint, you are in the best position to acquire new customers. 

Next, prospect through the traditional channels, such as direct mail, e-mail, and telemarketing. You'll generate higher conversion rates when you use them together. And, you'll learn more about potential buyers--for example, how they like to respond. If it's postal, send an e-mail to trigger response to a direct mail piece. These insights (and others) can be used when the prospects become customers. 

Also, improve your ROI by negotiating multi-use volume deals. Don't drill down in a list to the point where there are no prospects, and stop mailing unresponsive names. Remember the IOU formula: Your copy should generate interest, offer a deal, and deliver a sense of urgency. 

Another way to build your list is through lead generation. Do you have a digital content library made up of white papers, e-books, webcasts, and analysts' reports? Syndicate it through websites, newsletters, and through b-to-b co-registration networks. Prospects can be qualified with a couple of simple questions. 

The Takeaway
Plan ahead, set reasonable goals, and understand the anticipated ROI. 

---Source: DM News Aug. 23, 2010 (www.dmnews.com)

Simple Rules to Make the Most of List Rentals

emailconnectedBy Dave Scott, CEO, Marketfish
The secret to successful list marketing is good testing. Unfortunately, many companies aren't sure how to test effectively. They simply rent a list of prospects, send out their e-mail to everyone on that list, and wait for the results. When their campaign isn't successful, they assume list marketing doesn't work, and never try it again.

If testing is done right, it can be a powerful tool for any direct marketer. The following rules will increase your chances of a successful list marketing campaign.

1) Test the right number of prospects and lists
Many companies start out too small or too large. Some rent a list with only 500 prospects for an e-mail campaign and get zero response from it. Other companies spend $50,000 for a list with one million prospects, only to find out later that they've sent their message to the wrong audience--or worse, that they bought a "bogus list" full of old, inaccurate contact information.

I believe an ideal test list size is 25,000 names. E-mail marketing is a large-numbers game. You need a certain amount of throughput for it to be effective.

Test multiple lists to find the most receptive prospects for your message. For example, if you send marketing e-mails solely to a list of CMOs, you will probably get a minimal response. You increase your chances of success if you test additional lists of VPs/directors of marketing, marketing managers, and even VPs of sales (who often influence marketing decisions).

2) Test the creative and subject header
I strongly recommend doing A/B split testing for your e-mail campaign. Test different versions of the subject header and creative, and then use the elements that get the best response. This will maximize your chances for a successful campaign.

You never know what a client will respond to. On a recent A/B split test, our client mistakenly sent out a test e-mail with only the word "Webinar" in the subject line. To our surprise, the "Webinar" e-mail got three times the response of the test e-mail with the well-crafted subject header.

3) Establish goals
Before you begin testing, establish goals for your list marketing campaign. Know how many leads (or sales) you hope to generate, and know your projected cost per lead (CPL). Then use the testing results to help meet your goals.

For example, say your CPL goal is $10 per lead, but the CPL in the first series of tests is $20 per lead. You can use these results to negotiate a better rental price for the prospect list.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was, "That which isn't measured doesn't improve." The more elements you test, the more likely you are to have a successful list marketing campaign.

---Source: DMNews June 23, 2010 (www.dmnews.com). Dave Scott is the CEO of Marketfish.

9 Things to Put in Your List Welcome Messages

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By Mark Brownlow, Email Marketing Reports

The list welcome message is the email that goes out to someone automatically and immediately once you add their email address to your list. They're often marketing disasters...using technical jargon to simply state that address X was added to List Y. Not very engaging.

The reason they're so bad is that they usually get set up as an afterthought, or they simply feature the pre-programmed message that the email delivery service offers as a default.

This is not good.

Why?

Somebody just felt interested and enthused enough about your products, services, or publications to request regular emails from you.

This is one of those precious marketing moments.

You've got the prospect's attention. You've got their interest. You've got their permission to send them an email.

And, how do you communicate with them in this glorious, elusive moment?

You send them a list welcome message.

That's why this message is important.

It arrives in that brief window of time when you're actually top of mind for all sorts of good reasons. So, it has far more potential impact on the relationship with the recipient, than just about any other email you're likely to send.

When you understand that, then the old "you have been added to our list," message seems a touch lame, no?

So, here's a quick overview of what you should have in that welcome message...

First, you need to include the mechanical basics:

1. Confirm that the action they took was successful: They have, indeed, been added to the list.

2. Let them know how or where they can modify their subscription or access past issues (don't forget the requirements of anti-spam legislation).

Not too exciting, so far. But, here's what you also need in there:

3. Thank the recipient for signing-up. A real thank-you. Like you mean it.

4. Remind them of what they're going to get in terms of content and publication frequency. This sets expectations appropriately. (Remember: If you don't meet expectations, they'll start to think of your emails as spam.) 

5. Remind them of how they will also benefit from this content.

6. Give an immediate feedback option. You do value your reader's opinion, don't you?

None of the above need take up much space in the welcome message. Now, what about grasping that opportunity we just identified?

7. Avoid a mechanical tone and talk to the recipient in a human, personable way (unless your brand forbids this). Sign the email with a real name--the editor, CEO, whoever makes most sense.

8. Avoid email marketing jargon unless your audience is email marketers. Words like "unsubscribe," "preference center," and "opt-in," won't mean anything to most consumers.

9. Reward the recipient for their interest. Surprise them with a sign-up bonus. 

Examples might be:
• A copy of your most popular content from previous emails.
• A coupon or some other special offer (especially if you have a sophisticated system that can link this offer to whatever it is they were looking at before they signed up).
• A "for-subscribers-only" white paper, article, presentation, or other useful document.
In essence, treat that list welcome message as an extremely valuable and important element in your relationship marketing efforts. Not as an afterthought.

You know that thing they say about first impressions? Well, it's true.

The welcome message is also a good place to put in a request to whitelist your "from" address.

---Source: Email Marketing Reports Aug. 2006 (www.email-marketing-reports.com).

Get Consumers' Attention with Local Listings

Manish Pate, CEO, Where 2 Get It 
Have you ever used Google Maps or Yahoo Local to find a restaurant nearby? If so, you've used one of the most powerful online tools available to large and small businesses. The completeness, accuracy, and consistency of this data--called local listings--can turn into a gold mine if the information is managed properly.

So, why are local listings so important? It's all about consumer usage. Since 2008, the trend towards longer keyword searches combined with a local indicator has made the local search field more competitive than ever. According to the most recent ComScore study completed in 2009 for 2008, local search grew 58 percent in 2008, reaching a year-long total of 15.7 billion searches. For comparison's sake, overall, US Web core searches hit 14.5 billion in February 2010, with 65.5 percent of the searches conducted through Google sites, followed by Yahoo at 16.6 percent, according to ComScore. 

Local search shoppers want convenience, are ready to buy now, and look for detailed and accurate information every time.   

As local search grew, Internet Yellow Pages and local online business directories saw double-digit growth of 23 percent in 2009 from 2008. In addition, the same ComScore study showed that 75 percent of the top 100 keywords searched on Internet yellow pages sites (IYPs) are non-branded, meaning consumers are searching phrases like "chicken sandwich Boise, ID."

Local search is the natural evolution of "yellow page" directory listings moving to the Internet and mobile devices. Listing data is submitted to major search engines and Internet yellow pages (IYPs), so that when a consumer includes a city name in a search, links to local listings are displayed. Consumers can click on these links to see detailed listings, find events, or even download coupons. Local listings are also submitted to navigation devices and mobile directories. Local directory syndication ensures that listings for your locations are detailed and accurate, including contact information, hours of operation, products and services, brands, payment methods, and more.

Another important aspect of local listings is optimizing companies' content to work with claimed listings. This includes: optimizing every local page; using a mapping service for all locations, like Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc.; writing driving directions for each location; using local area codes on phone numbers for each location; and adding a full address for each location. To further maximize these results, each location should submit their information to local directories and online yellow pages like yp.com, superpages.com, or citysearch.com

For franchisors or national businesses with multiple locations, the challenge then becomes claiming these local listings accurately across locations nationwide. This means maintaining your competitive edge, whether you sell burgers or tires. Each local listing must be completed with the top keyword phrases that your customers will use when searching for you, whether they are in Texas or Maine. And whether a franchise has 10 or 10,000 locations, each listing is equally important to that local businesses' ultimate success. 
With so many consumers seeking local listing information, it's vital that local and national advertisers, with local entities, proactively manage and improve their listings' accuracy to gain favorable positions in the local search results.
---Source: DMNews April 28, 2010 (www.dmnews.com). Manish Patel is CEO of Where 2 Get It (www.where2getit.com).

Demographic Targeting With a Bankruptcy List

By Dave Morgan, Expert Author, Articlesbase

The bankruptcy list provides a great opportunity for many companies to acquire a highly targeted list of individuals and businesses who can provide marketing opportunities for a great variety of organizations providing services for debt management, debt counseling, and even high risk lenders who charge an increased rate of interest to individuals with an inferior credit rating.

Anybody that has filed for bankruptcy will likely have a very poor credit rating, meaning these individuals will likely find a great deal of difficulty opening bank accounts--let alone taking credit from banks or lenders. With this in mind, let's take a look at what a bankruptcy list is, and why and how these lists are compiled in the first place.

Whenever any individual or company files for bankruptcy, information related to their bankruptcy case will become a public matter--which means this information will now be available to any member of the public. The reason for this is to allow any potential creditors in the case an opportunity to find out that this person or company has filed for bankruptcy, which is of course, very important if they do not know of this already.

Once information concerning your bankruptcy case is made available to the public domain, it is then likely to be compiled in a list of other recently filed bankruptcies. These lists will contain personal details about you such as your name, address, age, details concerning your case, and other information. They are compiled by companies who are looking to then sell the information on for marketing purposes. It is very common for mailing list companies to compile or buy these lists to then promote to their current customer base.

For companies who are targeting certain demographics, the bankruptcy list can provide a very worthwhile acquisition to their marketing campaign. The lists are already highly targeted to people with financial and debt problems, so they will contain a highly targeted list of potential customers if the company offers debt or financial related services. Because of the information contained in these lists, it is also possible to break it down further--such as age or geographic location, for example.
 
Request a free quote on our bankruptcy lists--updated daily! 
  
---Source: Articlesbase is a free online marketing directory. This article was published April 18, 2008 (http://www.articlesbase.com/authors/dave-morgan/55800).

Use a Specialty Mailing List to Find Customers and Increase Sales

Anthony J Pensabene, Expert Author, EzineArticles.com 

When a business begins, its executives must think about what population the business' services and products can best help. The chosen population is known as the target market. Marketing and advertising initiatives are then geared towards intriguing the target market. Smaller businesses may not have a lot of resources to spend searching for the desired market, so smaller businesses utilize direct marketing leads or targeted lists.

A small business in search of bulk mailing lists has some options. List brokers rent information from sources containing customer contact information such as magazines, newspapers, other companies, etc. In turn, the list brokers compose and rent lists to businesses searching for particular, customer populations.

Mailing list providers offer business-to-business lists, mortgage lists, new homeowner lists, and specialty lists. Specialty lists are sometimes referred to as custom lists, because the desired population is more eclectic and diverse.

Purchase mailing list prices are usually contingent on specifications, or how well detailed a target market is defined. A specialty list may come at a higher price, due to their custom-oriented makeup; a list broker service may have to access several pre-composed lists in order to fashion a list, which has all the desired specifications.

A small business searching for a direct mail marketing service can consider the following attributes of a specialty list:
- Estimated household income 
- Sex 
- Presence and number of children 
- Homeowner vs. renter 
- Trade show attendant 
- Ethnicity 
- Industry of business
Attaining a targeted list is only a part of the marketing effort. A small business needs to compose a marketing plan in order to attract business and gain sales from the lead list contacts. Using direct mail is one way to initiate contact with potential customers. This can include personalized letters, mention of sweepstakes, coupons for featured services and products, and so on. 

Free mailing software with first list purchase! 
Talk to a list specialist today for details. 

---Source: Anthony J Pensabene in an Expert Author at EzineArticles.com. Nov. 10, 2009 http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Anthony_J_Pensabene. 

Specialized Mailing Lists Make All the Difference

By Joy Gendusa, founder, PostcardMania

If there is one thing I can't say enough about, it is that the most important part of your mailing campaign is your mailing list. It is vital that you put the right amount of energy into learning about lists - who to mail to - so that your mailing efforts aren't wasted. There are a few different ways that you can get an adequately, targeted list.

As always, the first step is to determine who your target market will be. Should you market to consumers or businesses? For this example, consider that your product is a set of home woodworking tools. This should be marketed to consumers because it is not an industrial grade product. Good, now we have narrowed it down to only 291,324,219 people in the US. At a minimum, your mailing campaign should send to the same names, three times. So, all you have to do is send out 873,972,657 postcards at $0.185 per piece, and you get the point. We need to narrow it down some more.

So, how do you accomplish the narrowing of your list? Many factors can be considered, including: age; gender; ZIP Code™; annual salary; profession; and number of children are some of the more common qualifiers. It may take awhile to figure out what combination works for your specific product. Don't worry about political correctness when considering whom you should mail to. It is perfectly acceptable to test certain lists that may be considered "stereotypical." Many times these lists will work well. But you never know until you test them. 

A special eye cream would go to women over 40, right? You need not worry that you're targeting "older women," or that 40 is no longer considered old. No matter how great an idea you have about a certain market: ALWAYS DO A SMALLER TEST MAILING FIRST! Average test mailings run around 1000-1500 names. Once you see acceptable returns on the smaller mailing, then you can jump in with the larger numbers. You may think 40+ is a good age to start with the eye cream, but you may get better results purchasing age 50+. Test, test, test!

Sometimes, like with our home woodworking tools, you have a product or service that you cannot adequately narrow your list by the normal qualifiers. You can make certain assumptions about people who are woodworking hobbyists--mostly male, probably homeowners--but what else do you really know? 

At this point you may want to consider using a privately "managed" list. These lists are going to cost more per name, but will give you a much better way of pinpointing possible customers. For example, you could order the subscriber list for Fine Woodworking Magazine. The cost per name would be $0.095 per name, compared to the normal average cost of $0.05 per name. These names are nearly double the cost; however, you are guaranteed that all of the names you get are for people interested in woodworking, and therefore, are much more likely to be interested in your product. 

Managed Lists are not appropriate for all situations, but can be a major help when a very specific target is needed. Don't fret over the extra cost, the more targeted names will undoubtedly show greater overall returns in the end.

The purpose of special mailing lists is to target a specific type of customer for your specific type of business. The eventual end result is more customers and a better bottom line. And this is what we all want, right?

---Source: Joy Gendusa is the founder of PostCardMania (www.PostcardMania.com). 

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