Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How Direct Mail Joins in Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is a strategy that sometimes has more buzz than sting, embraced by 88% of B2B marketers but with only 30% saying they are effective at it, per a 2016 MarketingProfs/Content Marketing Institute survey. But more than half of B2B marketers are planning to increase their budgets for content marketing, with a focus on digital delivery for social media content, case studies, blogs, e-letters, website articles, videos, white paper downloads, infographics, webinars, etc. Direct mail is notable by its absence. Yet we think it's a mistake to assume that mail can't fit into a content-oriented pull strategy to build leads and sales. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as "a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience--with the objective of driving profitable customer action." That certainly works with direct mail, too. In fact, a recent business2community.com post by Yvonne Lyons, Right Source vice president of content marketing, cited five reasons to include direct mail as a content marketing tactic: 1) the unique ability of print to engage via design, dimension, and sensual appeal (color, texture, and even sound and scent); 2) targeting with mailing list selection and segmentation that is unmatched digitally; 3) trackable response devices; 4) integration with digital content via PURLs, QR and AR; 5) and high response rates--3.7% for a house list and 1% for a prospect list, compared to 0.62% for all digital channels combined. More specifically, Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What!, offers some great examples of mailers delivering content marketing's "valuable and relevant content for the defined audience," such as Williams-Sonoma and Trade Joe's. See his presentation at http://www.piworld.com/xchange/dm-spotlight/content-marketing-direct-mail/

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Planning B2B Mail to Win Decision-maker Attention

Business-to-business direct mail must leap basic hurdles to get through to decision-makers and prepare the way for sales. For one thing, there is usually a gatekeeper sorting the mail before it ever gets into the hands of a decision-maker/buyer. Getting past this gatekeeper means designing a mail package so it stands out and looks important/interesting, yet doesn't scream junk mail. Successful design tactics include dimensional mail and oversized formats (No. 11, 9X12 or 6X9 envelopes, for example). Then the copy (from teaser to letter) must do some heavy lifting. Studies have shown that, especially for the C-suite level, this means 1) focus on a topic that is significant to the target market, 2) provide a solution to a problem/pain point, 3) prove value with third-party endorsements, 4) intrigue with new information or perspective, and 5) as with any direct marketing, include a call to action--an attractive, time-sensitive offer. But probably the most important part of a B2B direct mail effort will be the list targeting. Selecting by industry and company size, based on profiling of best customers, is useful, but what about the title/department targeted? Here's where it gets trickier--especially when you move from the small business realm to the mid-sized or enterprise company where decisions involve multiple players. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Newly released research by LinkedIn, based on a survey of 6,000 buyers, marketers and salespeople in seven countries, shows the number of departments involved in a B2B purchase decision varies significantly by industry. As an example, the number of departments involved in buying ranges from 3.4 for the travel industry up to 4.6 for manufacturing. When it comes to which department is most influential, results again depend on industry and product. For example, promoters of marketing and advertising services tap the marketing department as the most influential in buying, while adtech products choose Finance as a top target, and online media platforms go direct to media and communications buyers. For details relevant to your B2B targeting, take a look at the LinkedIn report "Which Departments Influence Buying Decisions in Your Industry?" at https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/blog/linkedin-b2b-marketing/2016/which-departments-influence-buying-decisions-in-your-industry---

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Want Your Mailer Opened? Check These Envelope Teasers

An envelope "teaser" is one way to win attention in the critical seconds determining whether a direct mail piece is opened or tossed. We've watched clients struggle with teaser copy, so we thought it might be useful to offer recent examples that won marketing praise. First, we note that the best teasers often tap into marketing's proven emotional drivers for spending on a product, service or cause. Various marketing pros have identified those drivers as exclusivity, fear, flattery, greed and guilt, and others have expanded the list to include anger and salvation. Recently, a Target Marketing magazine article by Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What! global mail monitoring, highlighted his selection of the top seven envelope teasers of 2015. Agree or not, they provide food for thought and may inspire imitation. Here is a sample of just four. GEICO leads with the greed-driven "GEICO just made it easier to help you SAVE MONEY on auto insurance," plus a QR code on the envelope for those who don't want to waste a second to hop on the deal via mobile device. California College San Diego uses a teaser to flatter, along with a monetary lure, in "earn your degree and the income you deserve." Lifelock taps into fear, the fear of identity theft, with "Attention: Major Health Care Breach Could Affect Up to 80 Million." Quantum Wellness Botanical Institute knows lots of folks are angry at "big pharma" and their prices, so it teases with "Big Pharma Sparks OUTRAGE Trying to Patent This POWERFUL HERB" (which also implies pharmaceutical value), and then sells the herb curcumin inside. A caveat: A teaser can spark an open, but response requires the rest of the mailer to fulfill expectations! For all seven envelope teaser examples, including nonprofit appeals, go to http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/post/the-7-best-direct-mail-teasers-2015/

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Surprise! Political Direct Mail Key to Wooing Millennials

In this 2016 election season, candidates and causes are leaving no channel untapped in the drive to woo support, with the investment in digital media higher than ever before. Indeed, it is assumed by many political pundits that digital channels are vital to reaching the millennial age group, the digitally connected, under-30 crowd that makes up 20% of today's electorate. Traditional direct mail is for older traditional voters, right? Wrong. According to a survey jointly conducted by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC), younger voters not only pay close attention to political mail, they actually favor it over other forms of political advertising. The survey found that at least 42% of millennials prefer direct-mail political ads over online ads, with 38% favoring both equally. Equally important for political marketers, millennials are more likely to read, discuss and use political mail than older generations. Over twice as many millennials thoroughly read political mail received when compared with non-millennials (40%  to 18%), and milliennials are more likely to discuss political mail with others than older counterparts, too (78% to 63%). Finally, political mail works in prompting millennials to take action. Because of political mail, 66% said they are likely to research the candidate, with 54% visiting the candidate’s website. Read the news release at http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2016/pr16_035.htm