Direct Mail

Remember Direct Mail? It's About to Become A Disruptive Marketing Tool

By: Lewis Gersh

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Maybe you’ve heard Megan Brennan, the 74th Postmaster General of the U.S. Postal Service, discuss the agency’s efforts to modernize and meet the challenges of the 21st century. If you haven’t — and let’s face it, postal mail flies well below today’s tech-targeted radar — you might be surprised to learn that the Postal Service partnered with Amazon.com to deliver groceries in San Francisco, built an augmented reality app to enhance what’s in your mailbox, and created an online hub that allows customers to give their carrier specific delivery instructions. In other words, neither rain, nor sleet nor technological disruption will interfere with the mail, and that’s good news because as Brennan put it, direct mail is “the most direct pipeline to the consumer.”

The question is: What can retailers do to make sure they’re capitalizing on this new, tech-spirited innovation at the Postal Service and lead the charge to marry digital technology with direct mail? As it turns out, there are plenty of opportunities. Direct mail is at the beginning of a renaissance that’s already begun to transform shopping.

Catalogs Gone Wild
A few years back, the conventional wisdom was that the internet would kill the catalog. The catalog didn’t die, however, and retailers like J.C. Penney, which had given up on a physical mail presence during The Great Recession, have actually resurrected the catalog, citing both consumer preference and an omnichannel strategy.

Of course, the catalog’s renaissance isn’t just about rehashing an old concept. Retailers have had to evolve the medium in order to speak to today’s connected consumers. Anthropologie, which calls its catalog a journal, views its catalog as an opportunity for content marketing that’s on par with, or better than, what you would see in a magazine. A growing number of retailers take a similar editorial approach to their catalogs, with Ikea going so far as to produce a tongue-in-cheek video for the company’s “bookbook.” And then there’s Restoration Hardware, which is legendary for its 17-pound, 3,300-page catalog that takes content marketing to encyclopedic proportions. But the catalog isn't only getting better, it’s getting smarter.

A number of retailers are using web analytics to customize catalogs. L.L.Bean is just one example. As the company’s chief marketing officer recently explained, L.L. Bean can create multiple versions of its catalog based on a consumer's online browsing habits. Therefore, instead of sending every customer the largest book, Bean can send a custom edition targeted to each customer’s interests. Meanwhile, online retailers like Bonobos are discovering that a physical catalog gives the brand more latitude to grab shoppers’ attention while at the same time deepening the data around customer purchasing habits.

Mail-to-Store Conversions
Like the catalog, physical retail was also supposed to die, thanks largely to the threat of showrooming. As it turns out, the fear of showrooming was overblown. A recent IBM report showed that while the number of consumers who go to the store and then use their phone to check prices on the web ticked up slightly, the amount of money those shoppers spent dropped drastically. At the same time, retailers have seen the rise of a trend known as “webrooming,” which is when consumers start the shopping experience online but go to the store to complete their purchase. What’s going on here? We’ve arrived at our omnichannel future, and it looks nothing like we predicted it would, largely because of direct mail.

A few years back, when everything was supposed to be about mobile, there was this idea that direct mail would go away because retailers would use real-time data to shoot customized coupons to shoppers’ phones as they moved around the store. It was geo-targeting on steroids. Eventually retailers came to understand that the concept was probably a better fit for "The Jetsons" than a real life brick-and-mortar store. What happened instead was that direct mail turned out to be the ideal tool for geo-targeting, not to the specific store or aisle, but to the ZIP code. Instead of driving consumers crazy with offers in-store, retailers figured out that they could use direct mail to drive their customers to the store in a given area. More importantly, retailers discovered that they could use direct mail to achieve "presence."

What do I mean by presence? Look at the experience of a retailer like Nordstrom: customers who have a multichannel relationship with the brand spend four times more than those who don’t. Direct mail in the form of a catalog can drive consumers into the store, but direct mail post store visit can also retarget consumers back to the website. Direct mail is the conduit retailers use to move customers between channels, and as such it's the method by which retailers remain present in their customers’ lives between store, home and digital.

‘Smart’ Cards (and Envelopes)
Intelligent Mail Barcode reporting technology makes it possible to sync up direct mail with online channels and capture attribution between online and offline. Meanwhile, new tools like Real Mail Notification allow retailers to align email marketing with direct mail campaigns. And, of course, improvements in printing technology combined with CRM and other real-time data tools have dramatically reduced lead times to the point where it’s possible for retailers to deliver a customized direct mail offer immediately after a store visit.

While some of these applications are new, the technologies that drive them have been around for several years or more. In that sense, what's old is new again. And just as the first iteration of direct mail disrupted retail, so too will direct mail 2.0 disrupt and transform the future of retail.


Author: Lewis Gersh

Source: pubexec.com URL: https://goo.gl/Yp4pTN

The Future of Print Is Data-Driven & That Future Is Here

By: Patrick Henry

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Print technology has evolved, thanks to the growth of digital printing and data tools, which means print is becoming as personalized and relevant as online media.

Just how meaningful is print in what’s come to be called the world of “omnichannel” communications? To publishers and to brands that owe their success to direct mail and catalogs, the answer might seem too obvious to need repeating. However, that leaves all the other media and marketing professionals to whom the answer ought to be just as obvious, but isn’t.

The DigiPub Conference aims to provide the needed clarity by underscoring the role of data-driven print in both book and magazine publishing and in integrated marketing campaigns. At the inaugural event, publishing and marketing executives discussed how print is a powerful medium for capturing consumer attention, and how it can be enhanced and even personalized, thanks to online data and digital printing technology. The conference, hosted in New York City in November 2017, showcased how print media is evolving to become as responsive, customized, and engaging as the online world.

Data-Driven Print Improves Content Relevancy

The common theme of its general-session presentations and topical panel discussions was that with the help of data-driven print in the mix, publishers and brand owners can connect the online and offline behaviors of their audiences for the results they want.

“Data-driven print,” as described in an opening keynote to the general sessions by Denis Wilson, editorial director of Book Business and Publishing Executive, is responsive, demand-based, targeted, personalized, connected, and measurable.

These virtues, he said, are a riposte to the “noise” created by narratives that don’t take them properly into account. The faulty narratives have failed to note, for example, the embrace of printed catalogs by online retailers; and the fact that printed books have easily withstood competition from ebooks, which were once thought poised to claim half the book publishing market.

Books, catalogs, and other examples of “purposeful print” are attractive to consumers precisely because they are physical media, according to Wilson, who added that their appeal can be enhanced by making data an ingredient of their development. “If you can increase relevancy, you can increase engagement,” and that engagement can be monetized, he said.

Print vs. Digital Is the Wrong Question

An accurate narrative about the place of print can be found in the responses to a recent Target Marketing survey about marketing practices, said Nathan Safran, NAPCO Media’s director of research. The survey found, among other things, that print was the second largest budget allocation made by respondents in 2017; direct mail was the second most used method for customer acquisition and retention; and that direct mail delivered the second highest ROI.

Results like these, said Safran, tell us that “print versus digital is the wrong question:” what marketers should be trying to find out is where print fits best among the digital channels they are using.

Print Magazines Drive Consumer Purchasing

 Linda Thomas Brooks, CEO, The Association of Magazine Media

Linda Thomas Brooks, CEO, The Association of Magazine Media

Today, magazine publishing consists of both, although attention usually is focused on the travails of the print side of the business. Linda Thomas Brooks, president and CEO of MPA, The Association of Magazine Media, acknowledged that the magazine industry is experiencing disruption. But, she said, “we never talk about the part of the business that’s good.”

The good news to spread is that magazine media build brands and sell products “in a transparent and safe environment with demonstrable results and more rigor to prove it than anyone else.” Magazines are unique in being able to brand and sell simultaneously, said Brooks; other media do one or the other, but not both.

What’s more, unlike “walled gardens” such as Google and Facebook that “grade their own homework,” magazines voluntarily submit to independent circulation audits and share those metrics of their effectiveness with advertisers.

Magazine-disparaging rhetoric ignores the reach of magazine media into consumers’ lives, Brooks declared. Nielsen data reveals, for example, that nothing on television - including "The Walking Dead" and Sunday night football - is seen by as many people as the top 10 magazines. The rhetoric also ignores the fact that unlike the kinds of unrequested digital media people find so intrusive, magazines are “invited” into homes through subscriptions and single-copy purchases.

As Brooks pointed out, “advertisers get to come along as the plus-one,” and being the guest of the guest in this way can be a smart investment. In reviewing return on ad spend (ROAS) in 1,400 client cases, Nielsen Catalina Solutions found that magazine media delivered a ROAS of $3.94 for every $1 spent on them - higher than digital display advertising, linear (live) TV, mobile, and digital video. In this sense, said Brooks, magazine advertising is underpriced when compared with other channels.

She also stressed the tactile appeal of magazines and the trust that consumers continue to place in them. The democratization of media has made people even more eager for expertly curated content from reliable sources, a public service that magazine media have always provided.

How Inkjet Is Changing Magazine, Catalog & Book Markets

 Marco Boer, Vice President, IT Strategies

Marco Boer, Vice President, IT Strategies

Publishing retains its reputation and its “gravitas,” according to Marco Boer, vice president, IT Strategies, but it has also come under “huge financial pressure” that publishers can use digital technologies to help relieve. He reviewed the options for producers of books, catalogs, magazines, and direct mail, noting the opportunities that each segment has to print with better quality, efficiency, and economy.

The book market, he said, is “really stable,” with about 8% of its pages now printed digitally and twice that percentage of digital pages forecasted by 2020. The question is how to make it more profitable. Part of the answer, said Boer, lies in producing more books in color: about 10% of offset book units are printed in color, but they account for 33% of the value.

As book run lengths decline and the frequency of ordering increases, profit will come from turning book printing into a form of “agile manufacturing” that can adapt to the change in demand. Distribution inefficiencies have to be addressed as well. Up to 30% of all books printed are still shredded as unsold returns, said Boer, who also noted that “the slow boat from Asia doesn’t really work any more” for publishers that want to adopt data-driven production strategies.

Emerging, said Boer, are global networks for color book production in which “touchless processing” characterizes the workflow from order entry, content assembly, and logistics to distributed printing at a location close to the customer that placed the order. He said continuous-feed inkjet printing would be central to this model, although cut-sheet toner digital presses and offset lithography also could have their places in it.

Catalogs, in Boer’s view, remain highly relevant as “on-ramps” to the non-print shopping channels that consumers are now using. Offset continues to be the predominant process for this mostly high-volume application, but digital printing, with its unit-cost advantage in short runs, is made to order for the specialized vertical markets that catalog retailers also want to reach. Inkjet presses are getting better at printing on the kinds of paper stocks that catalogers like to use, Boer added.

Substrate compatibility is something that inkjet production will also have to offer magazines, whose declining circulations and changing formats are starting to make them candidates for the short-run economy of digital printing. Various methods for making coated offset stocks receptive to inkjet inks are available now, and new processes and consumables that serve the same purpose are on the way.

These solutions won’t establish themselves overnight. But in 10 years’ time, predicted Boer, the debate about inkjet’s suitability for magazines and catalogs will have ended, and offset will look less attractive than it does now as a process for printing them.

Direct mail, meanwhile, stands out as the sterling example of what digital printing can accomplish in the traditional channels. Inkjet, according to Boer, accounts for 30% of all direct mail pieces now produced. IT Strategies projects that inkjet’s share will be 50% by 2020.

Will inkjet make similar inroads into catalogs and magazines? That depends, said Boer, on how long it takes their publishers to realize that producing them “is no longer about print cost—it’s about value to the customer.” Once they see that, they’ll also see that they “can’t afford not to have digital print” as a manufacturing option.

How Brands Are Using Programmatic Direct Mail

 Adam Solomon, Chief Product Officer, PebblePost

Adam Solomon, Chief Product Officer, PebblePost

Capping the general sessions was a report on data-driven print in action by Adam Solomon, chief product officer of PebblePost. The “golden age of digital” we find ourselves in, he said, is signaled by the fact that this year for the first time, spending on digital advertising exceeded the spend on TV advertising. At this rate, digital could eventually represent 50% of all advertising outlays.

But, the digital advertising chain is so dauntingly complex (“tech gone wild,” as Solomon put it) that the experience for consumers often turns out to be a poor one. This explains why they’re increasingly resorting to ad blockers and other remedies for pushing back against the overload.

Solomon said that programmatic direct mail, PebblePost’s specialty, offers marketers a result-getting alternative to bombarding consumers with digital-only messaging they won’t respond to. He compared its main ingredients, customer data and physical mail, to those of a famous peanut-butter-and-chocolate confection: delicious individually, but even more satisfying together.

PebblePost gathers “signals” of online shopping behavior and uses that information to dynamically create mailing pieces that correspond to whatever the shopper was doing at the time the signal was captured. Because the process is designed for very rapid turnaround, Solomon said, “today’s intent signal becomes tomorrow’s direct mail.”

A rules engine turns the signal into a “dynamic JPEG” that is ready to be digitally printed and placed into the next day’s mailstream. The “secret sauce,” according to Solomon, is PebblePost’s ability to match signals to surface addresses in a privacy-compliant way. PebblePost also uniquely codes the pieces to track and analyze conversion events—actions taken by addressees upon receipt of the pieces.

Done correctly, said Solomon, programmatic direct mail exceeds the sum of it parts in terms of the response it generates. To make the most of it, he advised marketers, “be fast, be nimble, and be iterative” with the possibilities it offers.


Author: Patrick Henry

Source: pubexec.com URL: https://goo.gl/JptDgb

Why Old School Advertising Is Not Dead

By: George Beall

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“Hi, I’m Al Harrington, President and CEO of Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man Emporium and Warehouse! Thanks to a shipping error, I am now currently overstocked on wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men, and I am passing the savings onto YOU!” Family Guy’s local television commercial personality Al Harrington, of Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man Emporium and Warehouse, was such a hit with viewers that he appeared on the cutaway comedy show two more times, selling his wares.

What made Al Harrington, just another crazy cutaway character among hundreds of others, so memorable for Family Guy audiences? It’s simple; every single one of us can relate to watching a similar commercial prepared by local businessmen on regional television stations. The best comedy is relatable, and we all definitely know that old school business that’s still leaning in, counting on traditional marketing tactics just like these.

The truth, though, is that old school advertising is alive and well, and perhaps even better than ever. Although we get a chuckle at old Al’s expense, the results these methods generate are really no laughing matter.

According to the National Association of Advertisers, on-premises signs like air dancers (the technical term for wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men) cost less per impression than just about any other form of advertising. Attention-grabbing signage can increase foot traffic by up to 20 percent, which is pretty impressive when compared to around 5 percent for television advertising.

When you think about it, a lot of the traditional marketing strategies are making just as much of an impact as they ever did even if they’ve been a little digitalized here and there. Advertising through mailers, coupons, and lead buying is still hugely beneficial to any business, whether you’re using good old-fashioned snail mail or online sales funnels.

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to note that old school stamp-and-send mailers still tend to perform better than web campaigns. According to Forbes, “while PPC and local SEO helps users find us easily online, using mailers to increase brand awareness is vital in helping us build trust with consumers. Consumer trust increases sales calls.”

Building trust with the customer is what it’s all about, and despite what you may believe about old school advertising, it’s not all about push marketing. While there are plenty of traditional methods that focus on interruption — like commercials during TV shows or idling past a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man on your morning commute — the internet didn’t invent permission marketing.

According to Jake Braun, the co-founder of Kapok Marketing, “technology may have made it faster and more efficient, but businesses have been asking customers to register for newsletters and coupon mailers, gathering information from promotions and giveaways, and implementing loyalty programs for decades.”

It’s no surprise that permission marketing is more successful than interruption marketing, because you’ve been invited into your customers’ lives. They’ve already indicated their interest, so you’re not wasting precious energy on all the people who do not have any interest whatsoever in what you’re selling.

Another important way to establish trust with consumers is through brand recognition. It’s true that the ever-growing field of graphic design has taken comprehensive, consistent branding to a whole new level, but advertisers have always known that a successful logo, catchy jingle, or memorable mascot could take an ordinary business and turn it into a household name.

You only need to look as far as an organization like Coca-Cola to see how classic branding strategies can pay off in American icon-hood.

Last but not at all least, don’t forget about the power of radio advertising. A Nielsen data analysis concluded that broadcast radio reached more than 77 percent of adults each day, making it a powerful resource for companies looking to expand their reach.

Entrepreneur advises using radio campaigns targeted toward establishing yourself as the industry expert your audience can trust, since they will be hearing your reassuring words on the airwaves on a highly regular basis. Radio advertising campaigns are most effective when they run in long cycles (ideally 52 weeks a year), but they are sure to build trust in your expanding customer network.

If you’re looking to grow your business but feel frustrated by trying to keep up with the latest-and-greatest digital techniques that always seem to overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to your ROI, get back to the basics and start kicking it old school.

Advertising strategies that include phone calls, traditional mailers, promotions and giveaways, loyalty programs, consistent branding, and even a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man (because why not?) can deliver some serious bang for your buck. More importantly, though, they’ll develop the kind of trust necessary to establish lasting relationships with your customers.

What old school marketing strategy ha worked wonders for your business? Share your success in the comments below!


Author: George Beall

Source: thenextweb.com URL: https://goo.gl/zAJuky