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Marketing Tips Archive (2016)

6 Surefire Ways to Make Your Direct Mail Campaign More Effective

With inbox overload at an all-time high, it’s the ideal time to freshen up your marketing strategy with a direct mail campaign. It’s an effective, highly targeted way to get in front of consumers, and the statistics back it up. The Direct Mail Association reported that in 2015, direct mail campaigns using a house list generated a hefty 3.7 percent response rate.

direct mail campaign

There’s more to effective direct mail marketing than slapping a stamp on a postcard, and it may take a few tries to get everything right. We’ve put together these six surefire tips to give your next direct mail campaign the boost it deserves so you can reach your target effectively and achieve your goals.

1. Start with a solid base
No matter how much time, effort and money you put into developing your materials, your direct mail campaign will only be as good as the list you use. That 3.7 percent response rate we quoted earlier was achieved using a house list. Campaigns that use a rented list of prospects average response rates closer to 1 percent. A house list comprised of current and past customers, as well as other leads and prospects who express an interest in your products and services will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

2. Go big or go home
In direct mail, size does matter. We’re not saying that you can’t get good results from a simple postcard with a compelling offer, but you have a better chance of success if your mailer sticks out. Consider using a flyer or envelope that’s 8.5 x 11, or go really big with something in the 11 x 14 range. Whatever you choose, use graphics and bright colors to draw attention to the pieces. Dimensional mailers also work well, especially if they contain something: think free sample, a freebie item such as a pen that contains your company name or logo or any physical object that’s a good fit with your brand and marketing message.

3. Maintain multiple touch points

Instead of sending out a single piece of direct mail and then resting on your laurels, focus on building out a comprehensive integrated campaign. It normally takes an average of four consumer touch points via direct mail to get a response, and planning a campaign that combines direct mail with email marketing and social media gives you a better chance at reaching your goal.

4. Use the right voice
While good marketing copy stresses the benefits of a product to help consumers understand how it can make their lives better or solve a problem, it may not be the right approach for certain audiences. Many B2B campaigns, especially those dealing with technical or mechanical products, should give equal importance to the product features as those in professions such as engineering and IT are hungry for detailed specs, and overlooking them can cost you sales. High-end or trendy products might ditch the feature/benefit structure altogether and focus on aspirational copy that helps consumers to see themselves enjoying a different lifestyle thanks to your product.

5. Put your best foot forward
If you think you should save the best for last in your direct mail copy, think again. You only have seconds to capture a reader’s interest, and if you don’t, your well-thought-out direct mail piece will end up in the trash. Make that opener something that will pique their interest, get them excited and convey urgency.

6. Sell the offer instead of the product
No matter how well put together your mailer is, the chance that this one consumer touch point will sell your product is slim. Include an offer that’s relevant and compelling to your target audience, and sell the reader the offer instead. Your offer may take many forms, such as a free consultation, catalog, product sample or consultation, or it could involve an invitation to an event or a promotional coupon. The point is to engage the consumer so they learn more about your product and your brand.

Keep these tips in mind and then nurture your list, make the right offer for the audience and choose a format that will stand out to get the best results every time. When you’re ready to kick off your next direct mail campaign, contact us. We can help you execute every step of your direct mail strategy from creative design and list building to printing, mailing and measuring effectiveness.

Put Branded Promotional Products to Work for You

branded promotional products

Don’t underestimate the business impact of customer care with your current client base. While providing quality customer service with every transaction is important, going above and beyond will help you stand out from the crowd. Sometimes, you need to show your clients some love, and a gift can be the way to do just that. Does it need to be costly? Not at all. Is it worth it? Absolutely, and if you carefully choose the right branded promotional products to do the job, you can build brand awareness at the same time.

Here are some ideas that may be small investments in time and money, but can pay big dividends.

  • Send along a thank you note. Make sure you send the promotional product at the same time you send a well-thought-out thank you note, or deliver it in person. You want your client to realize that you value the business relationship and that this promotional gift is not just a casual giveaway.
  • Personalize it. Consider customizing the promotional product for your very best clients. Your client will feel a kinship to your brand, since the names are connected in print. Also, you can feel confident that your gift will stick around with the individual to whom you send it.
  • Connect the product with an event. Instead of simply sending along a gift, why not make the item part of a bigger event? Consider hosting a VIP night for your best clients, for instance.
  • Give a few for the office. Instead of just sending a coffee mug, shirt or pen for your connection (i.e., the buyer), include a few extras for the customer to give to his or her secretary, boss or others in the office. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated, and all it does is boost your brand awareness.
  • Think outside the box. While bags, pens, and shirts are always winners, depending on your particular company and the clients you work with, sometimes a unique promotional gift will have a bigger impact. If you have an idea for a promotional product gift that will impress, no matter how crazy, consider having it made. It is often well worth the effort. For example, do you have clients who are into fitness? Choose logoed pedometers or exercise mats to show you know them, and care. That unique item could be the one that makes your client remember you and choose to work with you time and time again.
  • Remember year-end giving. Giving a year-end “happy holidays” gift is always a thoughtful touch. Your clients will need tools like calendars, planners, journals and other items in the weeks and months ahead. You have the opportunity to put your name out there by providing useful gifts that happen to include your name or logo.

There’s no easier or more affordable way to show your customers that you appreciate them than with branded promotional products that are practical and memorable. If you would like to learn more about how branded promotional products can open doors and maintain relationships, reach out to the team at Allegra. We would love to help you connect with your clients in a new and exciting way.

Four Tips to Clean Customer Data Lists, and Boost Direct Mail Results

Clean customer mailing data

Regardless of company size, direct marketers face the same challenges across-the-board when it comes to managing their customer data. Here are a few sobering statistics from Experian:

  • Nine of out 10 organizations suspect their customer and prospect data might be inaccurate in some way.
  • The three most common errors are incomplete, outdated or inaccurate information.
  • On average, companies with a less sophisticated approach to data quality think more of their annual revenue is wasted.

If you’re like most, you’re collecting customer data in multiple ways: at a physical location, in face-to-face client meetings, on your website or via marketing campaigns. This influx of information can get tangled up over time.

Then overlay this on the natural life events that occur among your customer base: On average, people change jobs every four-and-a-half years. And more than 35 million Americans and four million Canadians move annually.

Is it any surprise your data can quickly degrade if left unattended?

Direct mail success

It’s commonly accepted that up to 50% of a direct mail campaign’s success is dependent upon the list. Accurate mailing lists save time and money with less returned mail and lower mailing costs, plus they help ensure better campaign performance.

Here are four ways you can make a daunting data task a little more manageable to drive better results from your direct mail programs:

  1. Assign responsibility. About 20% of companies say spelling mistakes and typos are impacting their data quality, according to Experian. Consolidating responsibility for list management under one person should lead to improved accuracy and more consistent updates.
  2. Define standards. Another common error is data entered in the wrong fields. Set company standards for how customer information is logged, organized and regularly maintained, especially if you’re unable to assign one person to data management. Formatting standardization should ensure essential fields are filled, creating greater efficiencies, for example, when pulling segmented lists for targeted mailings across various personnel or departments.
  3. Schedule data hygiene. Best case, data should be cleansed before every mailing. Take the time to remove duplicate addresses, names or businesses – often a result of merging multiple lists. And suppress the records of customers who’ve requested no mail.
  4. Keep a back-up file. When you work with a data file, retain the original version. If something goes wrong, you can simply delete the corrupt file and replace it with the untouched one. It’s also a good habit to compare your final data against the original to ensure updates processed correctly.

Bonus tip: Call in the experts. With manual processes in place, human error is the most common cause of contact data inaccuracies. Ask our mailing pros to run your mail file through National Change of Address (NCOA) to validate and update addresses. We can also use other standardization software to ensure better mail-ability and reduce costs.

Need help managing customer data lists or sourcing prospect data? Let us know; we can help!

Indoor Signage: The Unsung Inside Marketer

You know this: You’re driving by a business and there’s only a name. You don’t know what they do. They could be anybody . . . doing anything.

Now, think of the place you’re walking by that has a name on the sign and a few words about what they do. You know instantly whether you want to visit them or not. Outside signage on a business is critical, but did you know the inside signage needs to be working just as hard for you?

Think like a customer
Take a walk around your business, and imagine you’re a customer. Can you find what you want or see special offers with just a glance at a sign or two? Do you feel like you’re wandering without purpose? Are the signs easy to read, simple, and helpful? Is everything spelled correctly?

If you felt a little lost or confused, then it might be time to re-evaluate your inside signage. Proper signage will:

  • Direct buyers quickly to what they’re looking for
  • Be of high-quality and a consistent reflection of your brand and services
  • Give your business a sense of being organized and professional
  • Differentiate you from your competitors

Signs work
They may not be on your payroll, but inside signage, wall graphics and displays are all working for you. According to one survey:*

  • Nearly 8 in 10 (76%) consumers say they have entered a store they have never visited before based on its signs.
  • Almost 7 in 10 (68%) consumers surveyed have purchased a product or service because a sign caught their eye.
  • Three out of 4 have told someone about a store based simply on its signage.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) believe that a store’s signage is reflective of the quality of its products or services.
  • Poor signage can deter buyers from entering a store. Over half (52%) say they are less willing to enter a store if they spot misspelled or poorly-made signs.

What a good sign can do
Here are three important ways in which indoor signage can help market your business:

  1. Promote an event – A compelling sign can call attention to special event or sale.
  2. Show by demonstration – A presentation sign or display can show a product or service can answer a buyer’s need.
  3. Provide information – In addition to a how-to, inside signage can give helpful tips about the product benefits to add to a customer’s experience.

To-do list
Torn or tattered? Unclear or absent? It may be time to put together your to-do list and make your indoor signage a top priority. For fresh ideas and professional, efficient sign services, we can help.

*Printing Impressions, “FedEx Office Survey Finds Effective Signage Critical to Store Sales”

Marketing is More Than Just a Website: The Case for Direct Mail

How postcards, letters and mailers can tell the rest of your story

You’ve got a website and people are “liking” you on social media. You might have lively dialog on your Facebook page, but are you seeing foot traffic as a result?

Digital marketing tells only part of your story. Pair digital with direct marketing – like traditional direct mail – for a more powerful plan to reach your target buyers and drive sales.

Many had predicted the demise of direct mail as a marketing communications channel as the world began to go digital. But direct mail has maintained its sold place in the marketing toolkit because it is such a flexible medium and the wide availability of prospect lists.

The good news about direct mail – like, postcards, letters and self-mailers – is that it’s a tried-and-true method of communicating with potential and long-term customers. It can be done cost-effectively while making your marketing message more targeted.

Ready to get started with direct mail? It’s simple. Review your current marketing efforts. Consider what you want to achieve and define your target audience. Select the direct mail option that will add value to what you’re doing now digitally . . . and craft a solid offer.

Your top 3 formats
Postcard – This direct marketing dynamo costs pennies to produce and send. Of all direct mail formats, postcards are most like billboards and are perfect for fast, easy messages. However, they do have a lower response rate than larger formats, most likely because of their size. Consider postcards for announcements of all sorts: a sale or special offer, open hours, new product or service, new location or as a “thank you” for a recent purchase.

Envelope package – The envelope package is the most commonly-used type of direct mail, and it typically delivers a higher response rate and better ROI than other formats. It usually contains a letter and envelope, and perhaps a small brochure and business reply card. Try it for a new product launch or an introduction to your company capabilities. The letter serves as the introduction and states your offer, the brochure outlines the feature and benefits of your product or services, and the reply is your call to action.

Self-mailers – Also called fold-overs, these pieces are simple and generally inexpensive to produce and mail. In a tri-fold configuration, for example, you can use two panels for sales copy and the third as a detachable mail-back piece or redeemable coupon. This format is great for events and seminars, offering enough “selling space” for a relatively simple message.

You’ve mailed it. Now what? No matter which format you choose, there are a few things to remember once your audience has received your mail.

Tip #1: Consider following up with a phone call or email. You can also send direct mail as the follow-up to phone calls.

Tip #2: Keep mailing. As a general rule, it takes a minimum of three mailings to maximize responses. You can anticipate 60% of your responses from the first mailing, 30% from the second and less than 10% from the third.

Tip #3: Measure your results. Keep track of the number of calls or reply cards you receive or the number of coupons redeemed.

One thing is certain, marketing works best when everything – digital and direct – works together.