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Benefits of Variable Data Printing

10 Sep
Over the last several weeks, we have talked about Variable Data Printing (VDP). We have looked at list usage, types of VDP, and how VDP impacts marketing. Now it is time to wrap it all up and examine the benefits of VDP.upward trend
In short, VDP allows you to customize and personalize your direct mail marketing campaigns. Using VDP means you can create more attention-grabbing direct mail pieces that appeal to your target market. Here are some benefits to using variable data printing with your direct mail marketing campaign.

Increase Your Return on Investment

By adjusting the content (images and/or text) on your direct mail pieces based on the recipients’ interests, location, family status, or any other piece of information you have on your audience, means your direct mail piece will be more appealing and relevant to the recipient.

According to PODi and DMA data, the response rate of non-personalized mail pieces is 2%, and a personalized piece has a response rate of 6%—that’s a 300% increase.

Making it Easy for Them Makes it Easy for You

Personalize the pieces in your mailing with information pertinent to the recipient such as the address and business hours of the store or person closest to them and you will reduce the number of phone calls asking for this information. Likewise, add mapping and get clients directly to your event or store. Or, depending on the marketing campaign, change phone numbers so recipients can contact the correct people within the company.

Variable Data Printing Supports Online Marketing

There is no denying the overwhelming growth of online marketing. However, the fundamentals of a successful campaign remain the same—successful campaigns are both strategic and tactical. And to that end, a campaign that includes both online and print components will achieve maximum effectiveness.

One of the strengths of online marketing is it’s ability to deliver variable content to individuals based on their behaviors. It’s most often seen with something like Google ads—a car ad pops up after a search for an auto dealer or fitness ads magically appear when you look for “yoga.”

By using VDP, print does the same thing—with better results. Unlike online marketing, a flyer, postcard or letter is tangible and can be kept. What this means is an audience is more likely to spend some time looking at the information you send, be engaged, and respond to the call to action.  And, importantly, once engaged, they will hop over to the digital platform for more information or to place an order. It’s a multi-channel experience.

Tracking

Finally, one of the greatest advantages of using variable data printing is the opportunity to track response rates more efficiently. VDP allows for unique barcodes and coupon identification numbers to be placed on communication pieces which provides marketers with an easier and more efficient way of tracking your results.

To recap, audiences are becoming more adept at tuning out boring, old traditional marketing campaigns. In fact, 74 percent of consumers get frustrated and turn elsewhere when marketing content has nothing to do with their interests. By personalizing your material to your target audience, you can increase customer engagement and response rates and, ultimately, your ROI.

Variable Data Printing and One-to-One Marketing

1 Sep

The marketing opportunities presented by variable data printing are enormous. By personalizing communications, marketing is tailored to appeal to the interests of individuals rather than broad segments of people.

The concept of one-to-one marketing fine-tunes target marketing to the level of the individual. One-to-one marketing is the practice of communicating directly to each customer. This communication can take place via direct mail, phone calls, or e-mail sent over the internet, but is not limited to those methods. Terms such as “direct marketing” and “relationship marketing” can be interchanged with one-to-one marketing when the emphasis is on reaching individuals.

Relationship marketing has the added dimension of maintaining contact over a period of time to build a rapport with the individual customer, as opposed to making a one-time contact.

All forms of one-to-one marketing require information about the customer and can One to one marketinginvolve gathering more information about the customer after the initial contact. This knowledge of the customer and the customer’s interests is necessary to create the personalized communication that establishes a one-to-one relationship. The advertiser must target customers that would be interested in the advertised product, and then personalize the promotion in ways that are attractive to those customers.

Marketing on the customer’s terms

Personalization has been around for a very long time and has usually been associated with costly customization, such as custom-built automobiles. It has been popular because it works. Consumers want to be recognized as individuals and addressed in a personalized way. Today, even though customers might recognize that the information about them came from a database, they appreciate the extra effort that marketers have taken to get to know them and to communicate on their terms.

To varying degrees, consumers are aware that data about their activities, particularly financial transactions, are continually being gathered and shared with marketers. Sometimes, consumers deliberately share this information, as when they answer questions on a marketing survey, or when they request, or “pull,” product information. (See last week’s blog on using variable data in push and pull marketing.) At other times, records of their activities are gathered automatically in the course of their transactions. The marketer must maintain a delicate balance between collecting information and maintaining the consumer’s trust that the information will be used for the consumer’s benefit. They can do so by using the information they have assembled to add value to the consumer’s activities on the consumer’s terms.

Through credit-card receipts, for example, a financial services company might learn that a customer has children and shops regularly at a particular children’s clothing store. The company could use that information to build customer satisfaction and loyalty by offering money-saving discounts for children’s clothing and toys. This use of the customer’s data benefits the customer. An inappropriate use of the data would challenge the relationship and risk turning the customer away.

Focus on effectiveness and value

Compared to mass marketing, or “one-to-many,” one-to-one marketing can at first appear to be more expensive. Historically, the cost of a marketing campaign was based largely on the cost of delivery, in which case economies of scale in print production argued for the use of only one message broadcast to everyone.

In one-to-one marketing, the effectiveness of communications plays a bigger part in the equation. Research has established that personalized communication increases response rates and spending by the target customer. One-to-one communications spur relationships that result in repeat sales and customer loyalty. Generally speaking, increasing the volume of messages reduces the cost of printing but decreases the  effectiveness of the communication. The quality of the response from customers therefore can raise the return on investment in a one-to-one marketing campaign above that of mass marketing. With effectiveness as the goal, the focus of communication planning needs to shift from reducing costs to that of delivering greater value.

The competitive edge

Consumers are expecting that vendors acknowledge their personal interests and preferences. In effect, by personalizing communications, marketers give consumers what they want.

Marketers do not make the rules any more—consumers do. Smart marketers understand the value of personalized communication. Savvy marketers also realize that the cost of producing those communications is quickly shrinking thanks to technology such as variable data printing. Adopters of variable data printing have taken the risk, confident that they will gain a competitive advantage. They hope their competitors are watching them… from behind.

 

 

Talking Without Words

14 Jul

Quick, pause for a second, and take a mental snapshot of yourself. What’s the expression on your face? Are you leaning forward, engaged in what you’re doing, or are you slumped in your chair?

Better yet, put a rubber band around your wrist before you go to a body-language-menu-mapmeeting, and when you notice the rubber band, take another mental snapshot. Where are your arms? Are they defensively crossed in front of your body or are they relaxed on the table in front of you or along your sides? Are you sitting tall or slumped over the table? What’s the expression on your face?

Did you know that body language accounts for over 90 percent of a conversation?

Just as you use words in effective ways to achieve desired results, you can use body language to your advantage as well. Similarly, negative body language can be just as damaging as poorly chosen words and unrehearsed speech.

Here are a few suggestions for using body language to your advantage.

Do: Make sure you have a firm handshake. Maintain constant eye contact and radiate a positive aura during the greeting.

Do: Make eye contact and keep it. This displays confidence on your part and helps you understand what the other person is really saying. It shows you are paying attention. Professionals suggest maintaining eye contact for 80 to 90 percent of the time.

Do: Stand (or sit) tall and with good posture. Your posture shows how you will approach a situation. If your arms are by your side rather than defensively crossed in front of you, it shows you are ready for anything.

Do: Smile but don’t overuse a smile. Men smile when they are pleased; women smile to please. A genuine smile is more powerful. To gain and increase respect, first establish your presence in a room, then smile. It is more professional than to enter a room smiling for what appears to be no reason.

Do: Pay attention to your legs and feet. Are they relaxed or are they jittering, tapping, or pointing towards the nearest exit? Are you sitting or standing in a way that means you are approachable or does it look like you would rather be somewhere else?

Being aware of your body language is important not only for high-level meetings but in your day-to-day activities. Remember, what you’re not saying accounts for over 90 percent of the conversation.

Four Integrated Marketing Trends

11 Jun

As technology develops and changes the way we do business, no longer is any one marketing medium considered king. Most campaigns now consist of several integrated strategies incorporating both print and online marketing; in fact, a recent Pitney-Bowes survey shows that 76 percent of small businesses say their ideal marketing strategy encompasses a combination of print and digital communication.

Here are a few trends in multi-channel marketing.

Personalized Videos

Video has a unique place in the marketing mix. Video content is easily absorbed and ideal for communicating complex details in a simple manner. Combine the power of video with the benefits ofPrint Digital personalization to get the maximum viewer experience. Personalization is done through variable text, personalized still images, and special effects.

QR Codes and NFCs

Several weeks ago, we did a blog on Near Field Communication (Near-Field Communication (NFC) — What’s in it for me?). Somewhat new to the market, NFCs are likely to replace QR codes but they work similarly in that they both provide easy links between two channels of communication. In specific, NFC technology uses a tiny microchip to send a signal directly to your mobile device.

Personalized URLs (PURLs)

PURLs combine variable data printing with digital forms of collecting data. Readers respond to seeing their name in print and go to a personalized landing page where they see their name and other personal information again. In return, they are likely to provide additional information useful for your contact database. PURLs are a great way to improve response rates and return on investment. Also, using additional design features and including a targeted special offer enhances the customer experience and perception of brand.

Variable Data Printing (VDP)

Although variable data printing isn’t exactly new, marketers are using it with increased confidence and for more complex campaigns. VDP allows you to uniquely customize and personalize each piece by changing both type and images. For example, savvy marketers send a postcard with an image of a ski lift to a client whose idea of a perfect vacation is a ski vacation, and a picture of a beautifully sandy ocean front to a beach lover.  The driving force behind a successful VDP program is the database. To get the most bang for the buck with variable data, companies need to know their customers’ interests, spending habits, hobbies, and dreams. Variable data works because it appeals to emotions and the reader perceives that special touch often lacking in traditional print marketing.

Near-Field Communication (NFC) — What’s in it for me?

20 May

Have you ever wondered what makes tap-and-go payment services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet work? Although it seems somewhat magical, it’s really just a method of wireless data transfer that detects and enables technology in devices near each other to communicate NFC2without the need for an internet connection. Called Near-Field Communication (NFC), it is a new technology that is not yet available in all electronic devices, but is likely to replace QR codes and other forms of technology down the line. NFC technology uses a tiny microchip to send a signal directly to your mobile device.

How does NFC work?

The technology involved is relatively simple. It evolved from radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, and the NFC chip operates as one part of a wireless link. Once it’s activated by another chip, small amounts of data transfer between the two devices.

NFC is easy and power efficient.

No pairing code is necessary to link up and because it uses chips that run on very low amounts of power, it’s much more power-efficient than other wireless communication types.

How can I use NFC?

Digital Wallet

At its simplest, NFC identifies us by our enabled credit cards and devices (and by extension, our bank accounts and other personal info). That said, NFC chips inside credit cards for contactless payments is nothing new but a more recent, and admittedly more enticing, use for NFC is with your smartphone or other electronic device that can digitize your entire wallet.

Virtually every mobile OS maker has its own apps that offer unique NFC functionality. Android users have the widest variety to choose from. United States users can nab Google Wallet, which accesses funds for contactless payments. Samsung Pay, which operates similarly, is on the way for Samsung phone users in the U.S. and Korea this summer. Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus received NFC functionality, albeit with limited use so far, only for Apple Pay. Lastly, those who prefer Microsoft’s Windows Phone will be able to use Microsoft Payments when it is released. Looking toward the future, it’s possible that NFC chips could be used to replace every card in your wallet. That means the unique info on your frequent shopper loyalty cards, library card, business cards, etc. could be contained and transmitted simply via NFC.

Easy file transfer

Information stored on your phone—including photos, videos, documents, music, and personal contact information—can also be transferred easily using NFC-based apps such as Android’s FileBeam.

Using Beam, you will no longer need to manually enter another person’s contact information. Here, by tapping two NFC-enabled smartphones together, you can exchange digital data with anyone. Beam allows you to use NFC to exchange data not only with Android devices but also with devices running other operating systems.

Easy listening

NFC enables you to automatically connect your phone to NFC-enabled Bluetooth speakers so that you can play music from your phone simply by tapping your phone to it. You can also tap and connect your NFC-capable smartphone to a hub that plugs into your home audio system.

Using NFC tags

Many people are likely to find user-programmable plastic or paper NFC tags to be NFC’s most useful application. The tags can contain either information (such as your business card info) or instructions to perform actions (launching apps, changing your ringtone, setting alarms, turning GPS on or off, etc.) and even action sequences. When you tap your phone against one of the tags, the actions are carried out on your phone.The tags are small, inexpensive, and can be carried on your keychain. One convenient use for an information-only tag is storing the access information for your home or business Wi-Fi network to make it easy for others to join. Stick the tag on a wall or some other convenient spot, and a visitor with an app like WifiTap can touch the tag with their NFC-enabled phone and automatically connect to your network.

To summarize, while NFC’s uses will certainly expand in the future, it can currently be used with apps like FileBeam for information transfer. It can also, with just a bit more effort, save you lots of time and energy by automating repetitive tasks.

Google ranking system now considers mobile

28 Apr

If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you may be left behind on Google.

Google recently changed its ranking system to favor those with mobile-friendly websites that are easily read on smartphones.

Some people are calling this Mobilegeddon.  A top 1 or 2 website in a search query could hypothetically fall to ninth or 10th place, causing a loss of thousands of dollars in potential business, says Greg Sterling, an independent analyst and columnist for the SearchEngineLand website.

“As many as 40% of top websites are not currently mobile friendly,” says Sterling. “There’s a big category of people who have completely ignored mobile.”mobile friendly

Google made the change because so many more people are now using the smart phone as the hub of their daily lives.

How do you make your site mobile friendly? First, check to see if your website passes the Google test. Google has a mobile friendly test page in its developer section (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/).  Type in the URL and see if the website passes. If it doesn’t, here are some options:

• Call your website host. Many have tools in place to transition your website. GoDaddy, the top provider of website addresses and hosting, offers a tool to completely rebuild your website to make it mobile friendly, and charges $1 monthly for the service. Competitor Bluehost has a another tool that’s potentially cheaper. For a one-time fee of $25, it’s goMobi tool builds a smaller, mobile version of your site.

• Go to a service like dudamobile for a more robust, yet smaller version of your website, with more images and text than through the website builders, starting at $5 monthly.

• Get in touch with a local Webmaster to create a mobile friendly site.

No matter which way you go, it pays to ensure you have a mobile-friendly website. With all the competition on Internet, Google rankings play an important role in helping your site be found.

8 Tips for Preventing ID Theft in a Social World

6 Apr

1) Keep your home address off your GPS. An identity thief or burglar who steals your GPS can find your home and, if you store your schedule on the same device, know when you will be gone.

2) Do not respond to suspicious texts. Contact the sender by phone for verification before sending any information in response to a text.

3) Store contacts by first name. By listing contacts as Dad, Wifey, etc., you’re inviting a electronic devicesthief to contact them for personal information. Would-be thieves can quickly contact unsuspecting  contacts with questions like “What’s our bank PIN again?” before anyone knows your phone is missing.

4) Delete personal data. If you plan to sell your phone, be sure to remove photos, passwords and contacts. If you are unsure of how to do that, take the phone to your network provider and ask for assistance.

5) Only download ringtones from reputable sites. Thieves may create phony sites to capture personal data.

6) Carry electronic devices separately. A purse, cell phone, and GPS make a great combination for a thief.

7) Keep your phone locked. Many people don’t, which only makes it easier for a thief to get at your information.

8) Don’t share too much information on social networking sites. For example, don’t list your full birthdate or your address. This is key information thieves use to set up false accounts in your name. Also, don’t post vacation photos until after vacation. Why advertise an empty house and easy access to mail possibly containing personal information?

As our electronic devices get smarter, we humans also need to get smarter in how we protect our personal information. Many people think identity or data theft will never happen to them, but chances are you already know someone who has had their personal information stolen or used by thieves. Take a few easy steps now to help keep yourself from being the next victim.

USPS to Implement Six-Day Package, Five-Day Mail

6 Feb

According to a variety of news sources, the US Postal Service (USPS) announced on Wednesday, February 6 that it will cease delivering first class letters and other mail on Saturdays beginning August 5, 2013. It will continue to deliver priority and express mail, packages, and mail order prescriptions.

Mail addressed to street addresses will be delivered Monday through Friday. Post Offices open on Saturdays will remain open and mail addressed to PO Boxes will be available for pickup on Saturdays.

The Postal Service continues to grow its shipping and package business as e-commerce retail sales continue to rise. With a 14‐percent growth in volume the last two years, the Postal Service feels justified in maintaining six days of package delivery. Also, by maintaining a six‐day package delivery schedule, the primary concerns related to switching to a five‐day mail delivery schedule have been addressed, such as the delivery of pharmaceutical drugs.

By implementing a six‐day package, five‐day mail delivery schedule, the Postal Service expects to save approximately $2 billion annually when fully implemented, which still falls far short of the tens of billions it needs to cut. This is part of the overall cost cutting efforts the USPS has undertaken and was triggered by the default at midnight, February 6, 2013 on a $5.5 billion payment, according to a report first broken by CBS News. The money is required to fund health benefits to future retirees. This is not the first time the organization has defaulted on a payment. Last year it defaulted $11.1 billion worth of payments and at one point exhausted its borrowing authority with the U.S. Treasury.

In its last fiscal year, the Postal Service recorded a $15.9 billion loss.

It is unclear whether the USPS actually has the authority to stop Saturday deliveries because it has previously said that approval from Congress would be necessary to do so. It has been seeking that permission for quite some time, but Congress has been reluctant to grant that permission. Although it is an agency of the US government, it operates on a business model more like a private corporation. The USPS does not receive any tax dollars for operating expenses, but must rely on the income from its sales and services.

Speaking about the decision to cut first class service on Saturdays, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said: “We are simply not in a financial position where we can continue to make six-day letter delivery.” The decision to halt Saturday delivery of most mail ends a 150 year tradition.

For more information, please visit usps.com

Two Tips for Saving Time on Social Media

5 Sep

Ask any non-marketing person about social media and he or she will tell you it only takes a couple of minutes a day to maintain business social media accounts. Ask marketers, on the other hand, about social media and they will tell you it takes a big chunk of their day — every day — to do it properly.  What gives?

When done properly, social media connects you with your audience and allows you to engage with them on a regular basis. In order to do that, marketers who are responsible for social media not only need to frequently post items, but they need to answer questions and respond to posts received through social media in a timely manner. Socialbakers, a global social media and digital analytics company, estimates that only 30% of companies are doing social media correctly. Their findings show that 70% of questions received through social media are not responded to, and that the average response time to queries and posts which are answered is 26 hours.

So, assuming that social media is only one of many things you need to stay on top of, how can you more efficiently post and monitor your social media efforts?  Here are two tools which will help.

HootSuite, at hootsuite.com, allows you to simultaneously post to several social media sites. You can select various sites on a per-post basis. Social media choices include Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Linked In. This free handy tool also allows you to schedule posts which means you can load posts for several days all at once.

Now that your exciting and engaging posts are out there, how do you keep track of activity and know when to respond to a post or question? Do you need to log in to each site several times a day? No, thank goodness!

Nutshellmail.com is a convenient piece of software which sends posts from your social media accounts to your email once or twice a day according to the schedule you set up. It is a free software also and you can keep track of Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, CitySearch, FourSquare, YouTube, and Twitter.

Using these tools will help you streamline your social media efforts which means more time for other marketing endeavors. And who doesn’t need more time?

Finding a Voice in Business

6 Aug

Remember all the things Mom used to say? “Be careful what you wish for.” “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Although at that time she was undoubtedly coaching us through our growing-up years, Mom’s words apply equally well to business.

In business, everyone — from production workers to executives — wants to be heard and to feel that their opinion matters. Too often, however, communication that is less than positive prevents people from being taken seriously. Here are a few tips on communicating in effective and positive ways in order to help make sure your voice is heard:

  • Say positive things as often or more often than negative things. Surely, there are good things to talk about!
  • Make sure you mean what you say. Don’t complain just to be able to say something.
  • Be truthful and be careful to not exaggerate. People will take you more seriously.
  • Offer a solution for every problem you bring forth. Nobody likes to have problems dumped upon them.
  • Go to the source. If you have a problem with “Sally,” approach Sally. Don’t go to all of Sally’s co-workers.
  • There is almost always a positive way to phrase something. Think about how you want to say it before you say it.
  • Listen carefully to others. They, too, want to be heard.
  • Don’t be a “yeah, but” person.
  • Explore a person’s thoughts behind an idea rather than dismissing it. It was important enough to him or her to bring it up.
  • Find out the facts before forming an opinion. Jumping to conclusions leads to wrong impressions and actions.
  • Don’t gossip. Let others form their own opinions.
  • If someone does you a favor, be appreciative.

Just following these few simple tips will help ensure that your input is well-received. Happy communicating!