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Every Door Direct Mail

16 Sep

Lately, we’ve been focusing our articles on personalized direct mail pieces (variable data). As great as variable data printing is, it isn’t always the best answer for all situations.

Let’s say you are opening a new pizza place and you’re hoping to draw in people from the neighborhood. You could obtain a mailing list with names and addresses, and with that information, you could send out personalized pieces. However, another less expensive option is to saturate the neighborhood using a United States Postal Service (USPS) feature called Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM).

What Is Every Door Direct Mail?

Every Door Direct Mail service is an easy, cost-effective way to reach EDDMpotential customers near your business. Just create your mail pieces however you like, then work with your printer or mail services provider to select postal routes and pay for postage. The USPS will deliver to every household on your chosen routes and because the piece is automatically delivered to every household in those routes, addressing is not needed.

Map Your Delivery Area

Focus on up to a five-mile radius of your business or search for routes by city and state or ZIP Code. You can use demographic data including age range and average household income and size to choose which routes to include.

Send Mailings Big or Small

The Every Door Direct Mail-Retail service is a good option for local businesses sending up to 5,000 mail pieces a day per ZIP Code. For larger mailings, use the Every Door Direct Mail service with a mailing permit. It’s great for announcing store openings, sales, or events.

Focus Marketing Efforts and Cut Costs

With Every Door Direct Mail service, there’s no need to buy addresses or mailing lists. Instead, you can focus your marketing efforts on targeting potential customers within a specific radius of your business.

As always, the quality of the mail piece affects the outcome. Consider using the money saved by not buying a mailing list towards developing a distinctive printed piece advertising a neighborhood pizza party and watch your business grow.

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.


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.

Ins and Outs of Using Mailing Lists

18 Aug

The key to a successful marketing campaign is getting your message to the right people. How do you expand the number of people you’re contacting or reach out to an entirely new market? One option is to use a mailing list generated by a list company.

General Mailing List Guidelines

Geographical Area: When you buy a mailing list, the first thing you want to do is to define the geographical area you wish to target. Targeted mailing lists are proven to increase response rates. Define your direct mailing list by state, county, city, SCF, zip codes, or even by radius.

Demographics: Think targeted marketing when determining which demographics to use for your mailing list. Who are your best customers? A direct mailing list performs better when you target your prospects based on the demographics of your current customers. Define your mailing list by age, income, gender, length of residence, interests, memberships, and any other attributes desirable to your campaign.

Append Telephone Numbers: In today’s world of multi-channel marketing, consider adding phone numbers to the list. You will pay more but you will have another way to reach your target audience.

Pricing & Method of Delivery: The demographics you choose usually determine your pricing. Once you make your purchase, most companies offer several methods of retrieving the mailing list: 1) a downloadable file directly from your account with the list company; 2)  a file sent via email; 3) files sent on a CD; or 4) printed labels. Pricing may vary by method chosen.

Companies providing mailing lists are a dime a dozen. What differentiates one company mailinglistfrom another? These are a few things you will want to consider when looking at mailing list sources:

Accuracy: How new is the list? Has it been recently refreshed? Does the company offer a guaranteed percentage of deliverable addresses?

Price: Pricing varies by provider. Price shouldn’t be the only consideration, however, as an old list that hasn’t been refreshed in years won’t provide good results.

Type of List: Are you looking for a residential or business list? Consumer? Educational? Companies may specialize in the type of lists they provide.

Usage: Is the list a one-time use only list, or can you use it as many times as you want within a specified time period? Make sure you understand the terms of the list usage before making your purchase.

With so many list companies to choose from, how do you know which company to use? At Mediascope, we have developed relationships with a few key providers based on their service, prices, and accuracy of mailing lists. Contact us at 507-452-5555 and we will gladly help you find the right list for your next mailing project.

Variable Data Printing Begins with your Database

13 Aug

When most people think of putting together a direct mail piece, they think of using a database consisting of  name, address, city, state and zip code.

But what else do you know, or should you know, about your customers?

What if your database of customer information included their purchases? Their birthdays? Family members’ birthdays? Interests and Hobbies?

If you have that (or other) information, you can send out direct mail pieces targeted specifically to your customers. How about sending a postcard suggesting a matching piece to something they already bought? A discount in honor of a birthday? Suggestions and/or discounts in areas of interest?

Last week, we published an article on Variable Data Printing (VDP) basics. As we said in the article, your database is the key to VDP.

VDP is limited only by your database.

Just as ink, type, and paper are components of printing, consider information fromdatabase2 databases as another — and very important — type of component found in variable data printing. A database is simply an electronic file that contains records of information organized in a particular way.

For VDP printing, the database stores text, graphics, and images much the same way a file drawer does — only electronically.

Databases are organized in two ways: 1) by records and 2) by fields for each record. Each record has a predetermined number of fields. In a database about people, each person would be a record. The information for each person would be categorized into fields. A simple database about people, for example, might have fields for each person corresponding to their first name, last name, address, and phone number. The familiar telephone directory is an example of such a database. Likewise, a car dealership might keep a database listing the cars in its inventory, along with the model, year, and features for each car.

A more complex database includes fields such as previous purchases, family information, income level, interests and hobbies, and so on.

Typically, databases store both the static and the changeable (or variable) elements used in variable data printing. A VDP printed piece can pull information from one or several databases. Variable data software pulls these elements from the databases according to predefined rules to create pages and documents that contain different images, text, and even layouts.

Information in databases is  usually manually entered. In the case of a telephone directory, someone typed in all the information. In more complex databases, such as those used by enterprises to manage customer relations, the information is gathered in different places by various computer programs that feed data into a central database. The separate programs might cover different areas of customer contact, such as from the call center, off the Web site, through field service, and from sales activity.

There are many computer programs designed to handle databases. Familiar desktop programs include Filemaker Pro and Excel. In an Excel spreadsheet, each row corresponds to a record, and each column identifies a field. One column would contain all first names, for example, and another, all last names. More powerful enterprise systems include products from Oracle, Sybase, SAP, and Siebel. These store large amounts of information and cross-reference them in many ways. The vast majority of VDP projects, however, require nothing more than a spreadsheet.

There is no such thing as too much data when it comes to customers. You can’t target specific audiences without having the right information. It’s important to periodically review what types of information you are collecting to ensure you are capturing the information you need for current and future marketing strategies.

Print providers can simplify working with databases by extracting only the information needed and putting it into a spreadsheet. Extracting the relevant information is called “data mining.”

Mediascope can help you clean up and maintain your database by removing redundant or obsolete information, or extracting relevant information. Next week, we will talk more about ways of cleaning up data and adding to your database using information from list companies.

Variable Data Printing Basics

6 Aug

At its simplest, Variable Data Printing (VDP) is the use of digital technology to link printing equipment to databases containing content such as text or graphics. During the printing process, computer applications take content from the databases and integrate it into a document according to rules specifying usage. As a result, whether a print run quantity is 10 or 10,000, VDP makes each piece different by changing the information.

The value of Variable Data Printing comes from its ability to support customized printing and make it efficient and economical. Customization increases the document’s attractiveness and greatly improves the effectiveness of the message it contains. Because the database contains information specific to the audience of the printed document, the document is customized in ways that hold special appeal to the audience.

Variable Data Printing today is light years beyond the bland, unsophisticated direct mail of the past. It is much more powerful than it was even a few years ago. Today, it can dynamically assemble four-color images, charts, text, and other objects to create attractive, highly customized documents.

There are three general levels of variable data customization, and all three levels start with at least a basic layout template that is common to all of the pieces. The template defines which elements are static and which are variable. The static elements will remain unchanged across all pieces. The variable elements change for each individual piece, however, as determined by information contained in the accompanying databases.

Basic Customization: The lowest level of Variable Data Printing is Basic Customization. At this level, only the name and salutation of the recipients are variable, and no graphical elements of the printed pieces change between pieces. The “Mail Merge” feature of Microsoft Word which allows users to connect their document to an Excel spreadsheet of names and addresses is one example of basic customization. While the names and addresses change from piece to piece, the layout and content of the message remains the same across all printings.

This most basic form of VDP has been readily available to most companies for several years and produces the lowest response rates of the three levels because of the low amount of customization.

Versioning: The second level of Variable Data Printing is Versioning, and consists of several pre-designed layouts that are selected based on variable criteria. In a nationalDifferent post-it notes mailing, a unique layout could be designed for each state and the correct layout is automatically selected for each recipient, assuming the database contains the state of residence information for each record. Versioning usually produces a higher response rate than Basic Customization, but lower than Full Customization.

Full Customization: Individual components throughout the entire piece are customized by multiple different criteria, often times contained within multiple databases. Images, text, and layout structure are customized for each recipient in the entire mailing list, maximizing relevancy for the readers, and consequently returning the highest response rates. At this most advanced level, marketers can experience the full potential of Variable Data Printing.

These are the major elements found in a typical variable data printing project.

Database: For most variable data printing, a simple table containing the copy, graphics, and photographs that will be varied in the printed document is adequate. Such database tables are created in applications such as Microsoft Excel. Databases drive the effectiveness of VDP so we will talk more about them in a future article.

Rules: These are rules that specify what variable content to use and where to place it.

Content: Both static and variable content are created with a variety of software: text with word-processing software, photographs (taken with a digital camera or input using a scanner), graphics created from graphics software, and so on.

Layout: The layout for the document is created by using common desktop publishing or word-processing software. It must be designed to accommodate variable text and images.

VDP application: Software that “merges” content and prepares the document for printing.

Output devices: Printing devices that turn the digital files into hard-copy prints

Here at Mediascope, we offer full variable data printing capabilities. Watch for more information on VDP over the next few weeks as we explore the importance of great databases and the benefits of variable data printing in marketing.

5 Reasons to Choose Direct Mail Over E-Mail

21 Jul

direct mailMarketing budgets stretch only so far. If you are debating between a direct mail and an email campaign, here are five compelling reasons to look at direct mail.

1) Reach Your Market

Market Scan, a market research company, found the figure for available legal emails is around 20 percent of postal addresses, meaning that by avoiding direct mail you could be missing 80 percent of your target market.

Also, people who use email regularly have become savvier at blocking out sales messages with advanced filters.

People also abandon email accounts and create new ones frequently, so even solid leads expire quickly.

2) Higher Response Rates

A study done by the Direct Marketing Association found that the response rate for direct mail to an existing customer averages 4.4 percent, compared to 0.12 percent for email. When balanced with the right artwork and data, direct mail delivers more than just a meaningful piece of mail; it can provide a powerful return on investment.

3) Follow the Money

Mailers will go where the money is and that’s primarily to older people. Younger folks simply don’t have extra dollars to spend. Nowadays, we have more elderly Americans than we used to and they are living longer. It’s interesting to note that one study showed only 45% of seniors have internet services.

4) Memorable

Well-done direct mail is memorable. Remember the last time a nice envelope or a parcel landed on your desk? I bet you opened it and, what’s more, remember who it was from? Now think about how many emails you have received in the last few days? Remember them? I didn’t think so.

5) Give Consumers What They Want

According to figures released by Central Mailing Services, more people want to be contacted by direct mail than any other medium. Only 6% of the 9,000 people surveyed said they want to be contacted through internet while 32% listed direct mail as their first preference.

Four Direct Mail Marketing Strategies

3 Jun

Have you heard the phrase “Work smarter, not harder”? Change the word “Work” to “Mail” and you’ll have the best overall strategy for direct mail marketing.

Here are four ways to make sure you are mailing smarter, not harder

1) Personalize, personalize, personalize

The benefits of personalizing mail pieces have been known for quite some time now. Hopefully, you are gathering pertinent data on your customers and capitalizing on the information you’ve learned. Smart personalization goes beyond name and address; think in terms of age bracket, income level, and Direct Mailinterests. The more you know about your customers, the better you can tailor marketing campaigns to each individual or market segment.

Some people worry that too much personalization is intrusive. It’s hard to argue with statistics, however. According to, 86 percent of consumers polled said that personalization influenced purchases.

Melissa Data, a company that provides address data for companies, says that highly personalized color print campaigns can receive response rates as high as 6.5 percent compared to 2 percent for non-personalized direct mail pieces.

2) Use your brand  to tell a story

Knowing your customers allows you to appeal to them on several levels, especially emotionally. Use stories in your brand  to make you stand out from your competitors and make your advertising memorable.

Buyers are looking for relationships and brand stories foster these connections. A brand story appeals to the humanity in each of us and serves to link people together.

3) Don’t overlook digital marketing

Savvy marketers will integrate digital forms of communication in their print and direct mail efforts rather than trying to replace one form of marketing with another. Always include your website address, and consider using individualized landing pages to monitor interest and track results.

Social media is another great way to spark interaction and keep your customers engaged. Ask your buyers for their stories and you may find great advocates for your brand.

4) Keep female consumers in the forefront

A 2012 study by Epsilon, a marketing company, showed that of the two sexes, women are more likely to trust direct mail—whether addressed or unaddressed—when gathering information.

Statistics also show that women have become the primary decision-makers for most household purchases, from healthcare to groceries to automobiles. In fact, women are responsible for 85 percent of household purchases, yet a staggering 91 percent of women feel that marketers don’t understand them.

To summarize, postage price increases means direct mail marketers need to mail smarter than ever. Using mail techniques targeted specifically to the buyer’s heart, mind, and wallet is the best way to see a return on investment.


First Class Postage to Increase: Plan Ahead on Mailings

5 Mar

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) recently approved First-Class Mail price adjustments which will take effect on April 26, 2015.

In a separate order, the PRC also approved an average price increase of 5.5% for certain competitive products such as Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express.

The USPS price adjustment request for all remaining Market Dominant products are still being reviewed by the PRC and are in a pending state. That means rates for other postal rate increasescategories of mail, including standard and periodicals, have not yet been determined.

In summary, First-Class Mailers can expect the following price changes in April of 2015:

  • First-Class Stamp remains unchanged at $0.49/stamp
  • The Single-Piece additional ounce for letters increases to $ .22 from $ 0.21.
  • First-Class pre-sorted letters and postcards will go up an average of 2.4%. Specific rates have yet to be announced but will be revealed at a time closer to the date of the change.
  • Single-Piece Postcard rate will go up to $ .35 from $ .34.
  • Free second-ounce continues for all Presort First-Class Mail Letters – Non-automation and Automation
  • Metered Single-Piece Letters will increase by $0.05/pc
  • The price of the first ounce for a Single-Piece Flat remains $0.98.
  • The retail First-Class Mail Parcels price for the first three ounces increases to $2.54.

A copy of the notice is found on the PRC website:

The DC Court of Appeals decision regarding the exigent rate increase is still pending. As it stands today, the exigent amount of 4.3% will be rolled back once the Postal Service achieves $3.2 billion in revenue associated with the exigent increase. At the current collection rate, it is estimated to occur around August of 2015.

Direct Mail is Trending Up

25 Feb

Many years ago, the predicted demise of direct mail captured marketing headlines everywhere. As a result, the downturn in direct mail volumes between 2006 and 2008 when other forms of customer engagement captured people’s attention and budgets during the economic slump surprised no one. The downturn was short-lived, however, as statistics show the volume of direct mail has stayed stable or increased each year since 2009. The United States Postal Service reports that Standard A mail volumes rose in fiscal year 2013 by 1.16 billion pieces to 80.96 billion pieces or 1.5%. This is in stark contrast to the continued decline of First Class mail which declined by 4.2% to 66.7 billion pieces in the same time period.upward trend

Direct mail is still trending up because it works. Why does it work? Take a look at these statistics recently published by Digital Marketing Ramblings.

  • 39% of customers say they try a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising.
  • Direct mail marketing yields an average of a 13-to-1 return on investment ratio.
  • Direct mail brings in 78% of donations for non-profit organizations.
  • Since 2004, direct mail marketing response rates have increased by 14%.
  • 44% of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving a direct mail piece.
  • Direct mail pieces are save-able. 48% of people save mail for future reference.

If you’ve been considering a marketing campaign, make direct mail part of your strategy. Combine it with a well-designed and personalized print piece that has an effective message and you will be pleased with your return on investment.

Confused About Folded Self Mailer Regulation Changes?

21 Feb

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

We have discussed postal regulation changes regarding a category of mail called Folded Self Mailers in previous blogs. (See New Requirements for Folded Self-Mailers). Recently, however, we ran across a video (thanks Fold Factory!) which clearly shows and explains the new regulations.

One important part of this video is the description of what can and cannot be used as the addressing panel. This change is catching many designers by surprise. Under the new regulations, the mailing panel cannot be created by the final fold.

Another change catching printers and designers by surprise is the paper weight requirement. Whereas compliance with postal regulations used to be based on mail piece thickness, you will see in the video that compliance is now based on a combination of thickness and paper weights.

The video is well done and only seven and a half minutes long. Happy viewing!