Not So Fast: Print Ain’t Dead Yet (AKA Direct Mail Outperforms Digital Channels by 600%)

In lieu of blogging my thoughts today, I wanted to share a recent article by David Rosendahl, one of the founders of Mindfire. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

 

Image result for direct mail images

If you think direct mail is dead, I say you, my dear reader, may have your head in the “cloud”.  Before you call me crazy, consider the following:

The Direct Marketing Association recently reported that direct mail’s response rate surpasses that of all digital channels — by a long shot.   

According to their research, direct mail achieves a 3.7% response rate with a house list, and a 1% response rate with a prospect list. OK, sounds very respectable, right?

But it gets even better:  Mobile, paid search, social media, email, and internet display combined (yes, combined) only achieve a .62% response rate.  Put another way, print outperforms all digital channels combined by over 600%.  Print outperforms all digital channels combined by over 600%.

If that’s not a repudiation of the “print is dead” mantra, I don’t know what is.  (By the way, when people say “print is dead,” I take it to mean one of two things: they believe print no longer performs well in the face of digital media, or that print output is declining in the United States.  We’ll talk more about this in a moment.)

Let’s get into a few more of the details to understand how these response rates break down.

Direct Mail Response Rate Highlights

In comparison to direct mail, how did each of the digital channels stack up?  Here are the average response rates reported in the survey by channel:

  • Mobile: 0.2%
  • Email: 0.1% (for a prospect list);  0.1% (for house list)
  • Social Media: 0.1%
  • Paid Search: 0.1%
  • Display Advertising: 0.02%

You like charts (right?), so here’s a handy bar graph illustrating each channel’s response rate: 

Which offline channel has the highest response rate?   Did you catch that in the chart?  It’s the telephone.  Yep.  It had the highest response rate at 9-10%.  So pick up that phone and start making calls.

How does direct mail’s cost-per-acquisition compare to other channels?  Cost-per-acquisition for direct mail is very competitive. Direct mail stands at $19, which fares favorably with mobile and social media (both at $16-18), paid search ($21-30), internet display ($41-50) and even email ($11-15).

Are there certain direct mail formats that do better than others?  Yes.  Formats play a role. According to the study, oversized envelopes have the best response rate at 5.0%, followed by postcards at 4.25%, dimensional at 4.0%, catalogs at 3.9%, and letter-sized envelopes at 3.5%.

In addition to direct mail, how many channels are marketers using?  Marketers continue to embrace multi-channel marketing, with 44% of the respondents using three or more channels for their marketing efforts. In these instances, the most popular channels were direct mail, email, and social media.

So What Are the Opportunities With Direct Mail?

As with all data, we can draw a variety of (often conflicting) conclusions.  But follow me for a moment:  The study also asked, why, if direct mail performs so well, do marketers object to using it?

They found that marketers say their biggest problems with direct mail are: its cost, the effort to deploy it, and difficulty tracking results.

Let’s break each of those objections apart:

  • Cost should only be an issue if the overall marketing campaign is not ROI positive.  If direct mail creates leads, and those leads turn into opportunities — and those opportunities turn into enough sales to exceed your investment in the campaign, what’s the problem?  You may not have a handle on your metrics, or maybe you have a math problem — but don’t blame it on the medium.
  • If deploying direct mail is difficult, keep in mind that there’s somewhere around 25,000 printers in the United States (not to mention agencies and other types of service bureaus).  If you can’t find one that meets your needs, give us a shout and we’ll connect with you at least half a dozen.  There’s plenty of great talent and hardworking people who will take the burden of direct mail’s complexity upon themselves to free you up to drive revenue.
  • If you’re having trouble tracking the results of your direct mail campaign, then perhaps you’re unaware of the variety of solutions that are available to make print measurable.  The good news is multi-channel marketing automation software can help.  If you’re not using a platform to track your mail and generate more leads, you’re most likely leaving money on the table.

“But wait a moment,” you say to me, still unconvinced, “doesn’t the study also find that fewer companies report using direct mail?  Doesn’t that suggest it’s not working for others, and thus companies use it less?”

Yes, my friend, you’re right.  The study does find this to be true.  We’ve all seen the print forecasts and there’s no denying that there’s a diminished output across the United States. But I submit to you that within this challenge lies your opportunity.

Why?  What if it’s also true that because there is less competition in the mailbox for your prospects’ attention, your message may get more easily in front of your prospect?  Combine this thought with something else the DMA has reported: direct mail response rates over the past 2 years are rising.

So, not only are you competing against fewer people for your prospects’ attention, but response rates are also moving in your favor — meaning that you’re more likely to generate leads.

In light of these facts, the only sensible thing for us to do is test, test, test.  Get out there and see if this might work for you.

You might be surprised.

Thanks, David Rosendahl, for the great article! And, dear readers, know that when you’re ready to put your direct mail ideas in motion, Multi-Craft is ready to help!

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The Right Content At The Right Time

Increasingly, marketers are looking at the sales process as a set of stages, with each stage of the process requiring different types of content to move prospects from one stage to the next.  This process is called lead nurturing.

One of the most important tools for lead nurturing is content marketing. According to BPM Online, which offers a platform for process driven CRM, B2B marketers overall allocate 28% of their total marketing budgets to content marketing. However, companies that see the best return from this channel tend to allocate up to 46% of their budgets for content marketing. Content marketing is a great investment!

Image result for lead nurturing images

 

According to BPM, there are three stages to lead nurturing:

Early Stage (Awareness): During this stage, you want to provide free access to content. This includes white papers, research papers, curated content, infographics, and webinars.

Middle Stage: (Consideration): At this stage, you want to start qualifying prospects as warm and hot leads so your sales team can stay in contact with them and funnel these leads appropriate content at the right time. Content at this stage should be gated so you can identify and qualify these leads. Content might include RFP templates, calculators, guides, and analyst reports.

Late Stage (Evaluation): At this stage, you will be communicating only with the most qualified leads, so you want to make their purchase decision as easy as possible. Content should once again be free and ungated, including product demonstrations, success stories, and video testimonials.

According to BMP Online, 79% of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) never convert into sales because of the lack of lead nurturing. This is not a process you want to overlook!

Need help putting your lead nurturing process in motion? Give us a call!

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What You Need To Know About Digital Stocks

Today, the range of stocks compatible with digital presses is vast, and thanks in part to the range of available substrates, the image quality competes with (some say exceeds) traditional offset. With all of the advances in today’s substrates, what do you still need to know when choosing paper for your next project? Recently, Joe Schemer, specialty digital product manager for Mohawk Fine Papers, spelled out his advice in Printing Impressions magazine. Here are the “must know” issues he discussed:

  1. Digital stocks are available in a full range of sizes to fit today’s press formats. From 8 ½ x 11” to 20 x 29” is standard. Some mills even produce specialty sizes such as 13×30” for banners, dust jackets, and panoramic prints. If you have a specialty need, just ask!
  2. Prices for digital sheets have come down. By request, even less common sheet sizes can be produced economically when ordered in volume.
  3. Whether it’s extremely lightweight or card stock, or specialty finishes like linen or felt, there is a paper compatible with the press on which you will be printing. Keep in mind that digital presses can now print on textured stocks, which will increase your response rates.
  4. Printing on coated sheets is standard. OEMs are working with paper mills to develop coatings specially engineered to match the stocks certified for their presses. Regardless of the individual paper mill or the presses on which their stocks will be printed, all are working provide stronger ink adhesion, no cracking on the fold, minimal jamming on press, and minimal build-up on press.
  5. Despite advances in substrates and engineered coatings, it’s not one-size-fits-all. Digital production still requires matching the paper to the press and taking into account issues such as static, image quality needs, and curling. For premium projects, it’s worth paying more for a premium stock, especially if you will be producing jobs with photographic images or heavy coverage, because it does produce better results.

Need help selecting the right stock for your next project? Work with us to make sure that you are getting the right sheet to produce outstanding results.

 

Source: “When Heat Hits Paper” (Printing Impressions http://www.piworld.com/partner/heat-hits-paper/)

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Rethink Ink on Paper in a Digital World

Image result for 2017 imagesThe New Year is the perfect time to rethink your print marketing strategy, revamp your messaging, consider mobile and refresh your brand. This requires an understanding of the role traditional ink on paper plays in a time when technology adoption and digital delivery are reshaping marketing and customer engagement.

  1. Invest in customer retention. We all know that it costs less to keep the customers you have than to capture new ones, so keep your customers engaged with a consistent multi-channel marketing plan. Maybe you’ve abandoned a print newsletter for an e-version, but your email is getting lost in the inbox and anti-spam legislation is creating new challenges for deliverability. Mailing a newsletter, particularly one that uses variable data to deliver a personalized message, is a great way to keep your company top of mind.
  2. Get to the point. Your customers have more choices and less time than ever before. Rewrite your copy to tell consumers why your company is the only real choice. Change rambling copy into a powerful, focused message.
  3. Be the customer. When you take a step back, are you engaging customers at the right time through the right channels? The way content will be created, delivered, and consumed in 2017 isn’t the same as it was only a few years ago. Is it worth your prospect’s time to follow you on Facebook or Twitter? When they scan the QR Code on your direct mail piece, are they landing on a page with a specific call to action?
  4. Freshen up. If you’re anticipating a change in management, introducing a new product or service, or celebrating a significant business milestone, consider a brand refresh. With slight revisions to your branding elements and positioning, you can preserve your brand’s existing equity while infusing new energy into your offerings.
  5. Mobile. Is your website easily viewed and navigated on a mobile device? If not, make this the year to do that. If visitors have to scroll left and right, or take extra steps to enlarge the type to a readable size, they’ll probably just click out and go elsewhere – likely to your competitor. Mobile is not only the first screen, but often the only screen that targets use to read your email and view your website. Make it easy!

Need help navigating the increasingly complex world of marketing? Let Multi-Craft help get you off to a profitable start in 2017 by putting your ideas in motion!

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Happy New You!

No, the title isn’t a mistake. This is the time of year when we look back to assess our lives over the past 12 months and plan for the next year. For most of us, this means New Year’s resolutions.

According to statisticbrain.com, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Some of the most common resolutions are:

  • Lose weight
  • Get organized
  • Save more
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay fit

Resolutions tend to be inwardly focused – all about us! Our body, our life, our habits. Yet, according to Forbes.com, only 8% of us will succeed in keeping those resolutions. Why?

Apparently, we are all a little too ambitious when looking at what we want to accomplish in the coming year. Instead of focusing on 1 or 2 worthy goals, we develop a laundry list of things we want to change or accomplish. A long list of to-do’s can be overwhelming and set us up for failure.

So, consider setting a few, small, attainable goals  to focus on throughout the year so you don’t become overwhelmed. I would suggest that those goals should also be measurable. A measurable goal can help us stay focused and let us know when we have met the goal, or if we need to adjust our tactics. For example, don’t just say you want to lose weight. Instead, state that you want to lose 5 pounds by March 1. It’s a sensible goal, it’s timebound and it’s measurable.

Just stating a goal isn’t enough. You must have a plan that will help you meet that goal. If you want to lose 5 pounds by March 1, what will you need to do to make that happen? Your plan would likely include:

  • Exercise – detail what type and how often.
  • Gym – can you afford a gym membership or will you need to focus your exercise plan around a home gym or personal activities such as walking or running?
  • Healthy eating – decide what type of food you will eat and what you will avoid. How will you handle food at parties or out to dinner with a friend?
  • Partner – some of us do better when we have a workout buddy or someone we report to on our progress.

A plan can help you make those daily changes that are necessary to help you attain your goal. A goal without a plan is really just a dream.

Once you’ve accomplished a goal, you can replace it with another. This can set up a cycle of continuous improvement that can become a lifestyle.

Happy New Year! Happy New You! Multi-Craft hopes that your 2017 is everything you want it to be!

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Freshen Up! Give Your Mailing List a Makeover!

When was the last time you updated your customer or marketing database? One month? One year? Five years? Never?

Your marketing database is the list of contacts and everything you know about your current and prospective customers that enables you to create targeted and personalized marketing pieces. It might include name and address, email address, birthdate, age, gender, and a variety of other demographic or even psychographic information. It is your lifeblood.

Although you may run your list through NCOA or CASS on a regular basis, when was the last time you really gave this database a second look? Added a new variable field? Broadened into a new vertical market or geographic territory? There are three ways to freshen up your data.

Purchase a new list. Freshen your database by infusing it with new names. That starts with profiling your existing data so you know who your best customers are. Then you can purchase a list of new names that look just like them.

Add to an existing list. Are you looking to beef up your list with email addresses, mobile phone numbers, or demographics? Working with a third-party data provider, we can append this list with just the variables you want. Most data houses do what is called a “triple check,” which verifies the data in three different places before you buy it. This allows you to be certain of its accuracy.

Conduct your own surveys. You can do your own data gathering through customer and prospects surveys using feedback forms, personalized URLs, QR Codes to online forms, or other techniques. Because these contacts have already communicated with you, they are prequalified as being interested in a relationship with your company.

Interested in what a new list, data append, or customer survey can do for you? Just ask us! We’re ready to help you put your ideas in motion!

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Targeting High-Value Millennials

Why target Millennials in your prospecting? Because once their loyalty is secured, they are more likely than non-Millennials to share their love of your brand, product, or service with others. Furthermore, once you gain their loyalty, they will often spread the word for you, especially if you help them do it. How do you go about attracting this key customer base?

Use multiple channels. Millennials are multi-channel researchers. One study of their travel planning habits found that Millennials use an average of 10.2 information sources during the planning stage [1].

Don’t provide irrelevant information. Millennials don’t like to be inconvenienced, so target and personalize the message. Know what types of information they are looking for and how they want that information shared before you move them into the sales funnel. Respecting channel preferences is critical to these consumers.

Shorten the timeframe. Millennials use a lot of devices and draw on lots of information sources during the research process, but they make the actual buying decision fairly quickly. If you are selling brick-and-mortar, adding QR Codes to hang tags, product packaging, and in-store displays is a great way to take this audience directly to customer reviews, product comparisons, and feature-rich product videos that can help them make that decision right then and there.

Make it easy to share. According to the Boston Consulting Group, Millennials are twice as likely as non-Millennials to share pictures or experiences online using their mobile phones [3]. So help them do it! Create incentives for social-media sharing such as “Post a picture of yourself in our store on Facebook or Instagram and get 10% off immediately!”

Take the time to get to know Millennials and refine your strategies to woo them.  After all, what could be better than attracting customers who, once their loyalty is secured, will turn around and attract more of the same type of customers for you?

[1] http://hotel-online.com/News/PR2013_2nd/Apr13_MillennialTrends.html

[3] http://mashable.com/2012/04/16/millennial-consumers-study/

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