Setting Realistic Expectations for Personalization

Setting Realistic Expectations for Personalization
According to one research firm, personalized printing (also called variable data printing) increases response rates by an average of 36%, average order size or value by 25%, and customer loyalty by 38%. What does this mean for you? Are these numbers that you, as a marketer, should expect to be hitting?
Not necessarily. Even the most compelling case studies show a wide range of metrics, with successful 1:1 printing programs showing response rates, for example, from the single digits to nearly 100%. What matters isn’t one individual metric or another. It’s the overall return on investment (ROI). You can have a 4.2% response rate, and if the value of your product is high, you can have 1,000% ROI.
Let’s look at some variables associated with response rates and how they can impact results.
Who are you sending to? If you mail to the general population, you will receive a lower response rate, even with personalized mail, than if you send to a carefully selected recipient base—say, your best customers or a carefully selected demographic sub-set of a purchased mailing list.
What is the goal you are trying to achieve? Are you trying to convince someone who has never heard of your product to make a purchase? Or are you selling consumables to customers who already own your products?
Is the incentive inflating the response rate? One marketing services firm regularly generates 21% to 75% response rates based on offering high-value rewards like remote control cars or sets of personalized golf clubs. No wonder response rates are so high!
How much does the product cost? You will get more responses to offers for products under $50 than for high-value products and services like automobiles and financial services.
Regional versus National. Sometimes regional marketers have a better chance at grabbing recipients’ attention just because they have a local connection. Known brands versus unknown brands make a difference, as well.
So don’t focus compare yourself to others. Many variables can affect response rates. Your metrics will be unique to you, and in the end, your ROI is the only number that counts!

Profile Before You Personalize, for Success

Want to achieve higher levels of success with your 1:1 (personalized) printing campaigns? Profile before you personalize! What does this mean? It means understanding what your customers look like as aggregate demographic or psychographic groups before you send targeted mailings or personalize to them as individuals.
As a very simplified example, each age demographic has different needs and preferences and will respond differently to different types of messaging. Thus you might want to profile your customer base by age. By running a very simple analysis, for example, you might find that your customer base looks like this:
• 18-34 years old (38%)
• 35-49 years old (24%)
• 50-64 years old (18%)
• 65+ years old (20%)
This tells you something. Your customers are heavily skewed toward the younger demographic. Was this a surprise to you? Why do you think this is? Is your product equally useful to an older audience? If so, how could you position it differently to appeal those demographics? Profiling gives you critical information about how to tweak your message.
Likewise, consumers behave differently based on where they live. Consumer attitudes in New Hampshire will vary considerably from those in the Deep South. Red States and Blue States may have very different preferences and attitudes about certain issues, products, and services.
Look at other characteristics, as well. Where do your customers prefer to shop with you (brick-and-mortar store or online)? What marketing channels do they respond to (direct mail, e-mail or SMS text messaging)?
Once you understand the profile of your customer base, you can compare these profiles against well-known demographic and psychographic patterns to anticipate how they might behave and what types of messaging they are most likely to respond to. This allows you to craft your approach to be most effective for different segments of your customer base.
So profile before you personalize!

Rethink Print Marketing

1:1 Print Beats Online for Relevance
If you want inexpensive, real-time communications, online marketing can be a powerful tool. But if you want highly relevant marketing communications that consumers respect, then personalized print is the way to go.
In a survey of more than 1,200 people conducted for ad:tech London by Zussi Research, 69% percent of respondents saw traditional advertising as relevant to them, compared with 45% for online marketing. Respondents also described online marketing as “chaotic.” This reflects how misdirected and intrusive ads can create a high level of annoyance, even when those efforts are supposedly targeted.
Compare this to print. Databases tend to be more accurate and targeting more focused. Personalized print earns consumers’ trust and respect. Consumers also appreciate the purposeful investment print requires in the marketer’s relationship with them. It creates a sense that that they are valued.
So while you may want to expand your marketing to include some electronic channels, don’t make the mistake of replacing print with alternative media. Instead, personalize it!
Capitalize on consumers’ positive perception of print to differentiate yourself as a company that cares about your customers in a way that consumers often perceive online advertisers don’t. Then build on that perception with relevant, personalized communications they’ll remember and respect!

Using Print to Drive Social Media Engagement

We often think about print and social media as being competitors, but print can be one of the greatest drivers of social media engagement, as well. Take a lesson from Skinny Cow, which uses print to drive participation in its social media and mobile contests.
To engage consumers, the company offers daily giveaways. To participate, consumers must purchase a Skinny Cow product such as cheese or ice cream bar at a retail location. Consumers type in the barcode or six-digit game code from the box or wrapper to see if they have won. They can tweet about the contest to gain an additional chance to win.
By printing codes on its product packaging, Skinny Cow drives traffic into its retail stores. Once consumers have provided their mobile numbers to enter the contest, it can begin to send them push notifications, as well. Tweeting multiplies the impact of the campaign at no additional cost.
Printing personalized barcodes and game codes on boxes, labels, and wrappers is a simple operation and can be adapted to many different consumer products. Codes can be overprinted or, if you are printing in small quantities, digitally printed right onto the package. You can also print personalized barcodes, QR Codes, or promo codes on napkins, cups, and other disposable items used by the consumer.
If you don’t produce the types of consumer products that lend themselves to these types of promo codes, you can drive foot traffic by printing generic codes or “secret URLs” on office, in-store, or even trade show displays, banners, and signage. Change them out frequently to prevent sharing.
Print and mobile / social media don’t have to be competitors. In fact, print may be one of the primary ways consumers find you on social and mobile media.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Print Campaigns

Measuring the Effectiveness of Print Campaigns

You can extend the concept of return on investment (ROI) to your print marketing efforts, measuring profitability versus cost. Leading corporations use intensively data-driven approaches to report the economic benefits created from marketing investments. You can develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of your printing expenditures even if you don’t have a full-time staff of business analysts.

Set specific goals for your print campaign. Do you want to increase total revenue and profits? Or is the purpose to increase sales of a particular product or service or expand into a new market? Perhaps you need to spur seasonal sales to offset fluctuations in demand. Or your goal might be less tangible, such as increasing brand awareness or improving your company’s image. Tailor your evaluation methods to these defined goals.

Crunch the numbers. Customize this basic print ROI model with your own assumptions to determine whether your campaign will be successful.

Number of Pieces Printed = 20,000
Total Cost = $2500
Response Rate Anticipated = 2.5%
Percentage of Respondents Expected to Purchase = 25%
Average Profit per Purchase = $50

Number of Respondents = 500
Cost per Response = $5.00
Number of Buyers = 125
Cost per Buyer = $20
Cost per Printed Piece = $0.125
Profit per Printed Piece = $0.31

Total Profit/(Loss) = $6250
Total Cost = $2500


Design your printed materials to track responses. Include a customized coupon, code or inquiry card to determine which customers are responding to a specific printed piece.

Document how new customers found you. Train your sales and customer service personnel to ask how a client learned about your organization so you can be certain new sales are a result of your marketing efforts rather than another factor, such as a competitor going out of business.

Recognize that it’s not all about dollars and cents. Print pieces have a long life and might be passed from person to person, so campaign-driven sales might not be realized immediately. And, there are some metrics that you can only capture through market research. For example, organize a focus group or survey of those who received a specific printed piece to measure recall, perceptions about your company and purchase intent.

These strategies will enable you to cost-justify your print marketing budget and focus your efforts where you will receive the greatest returns.

QR Codes add Interactivity to Print

QR Codes Add Interactivity to Print
What if you could put interactivity into your printing at essentially no cost? Sound too good to be true? Then you haven’t heard about QR Codes.
You may have seen them in magazine ads or on billboards. Increasingly, they are showing up on business cards and marketing collateral. Even in email. When your customers scan these codes with their cellphone cameras, something interactive happens. They are taken to a website. They access a coupon. They see a video.
QR Codes act as an immediate response mechanism for your print ads, bulletin boards, marketing collateral, and corporate identity materials. People don’t need to wait until they get home or back to the office. They can access the content right where they are.
Because QR Codes are simply 2D barcodes, they cost nothing to produce and add to your print materials. In a free QR Code generator like Kaywa or Inigma, simply enter the URL to which you want people to be sent, hit “get code,” and insert the resulting .jpg or .png into the layout. Yes, it’s that easy.
Here are some places you can add QR Codes to spice up previously static print items:
• Sell sheets. Send people to a YouTube video to see a demo of the product.
• Business cards and letterhead. Let customers add your contact information to their phones with a single click.
• Trade show materials. Allow booth visitors to see your entire product line and pricing right from the trade show floor!
• Window clings. Give passersby access to discount codes that encourage them to come in and buy. Or let them connect with you on Facebook or Twitter.
• Direct mail pieces. Make it easy to sign up for sweepstakes, access location maps or discounts, or add events to their calendars.
The possibilities are endless. The best news is, QR Codes are free!

Want to know how to Create Effective Sales Literature?

Looking to freshen up your sales literature? Think carefully and create a plan. Sales literature stands in for you when you’re not around, carrying your brand identity and reputation to the marketplace. It plays a critical role in your business and needs to be planned out carefully.
Start by investing in good design. Eye-catching layouts grab attention, and provocative headlines and compelling text convince the reader to hear you out. Keep your production cutting edge and the marketing content fresh. If you cut corners on printing or circulate out-of-date information, your prospects might subconsciously conclude that you produce cheap, outdated products too.
Tie each printed piece to a goal in your overall marketing plan. Is the objective to drive new sales, cross-sell to existing customers, or communicate better with your stakeholders? The appropriate format (postcard, circular, product data sheet, package insert, newsletter) will naturally follow. Combinations of different elements—paper types, colors, repetition—can produce powerful subliminal effects, so it is important that you work with a professional designer.
Consider portability. An oversized piece might gain attention, but what will make someone pick up your piece and take it with them and then pass it along to others?
Communicate directly and succinctly about what you are offering, what is in it for the reader, and what action the reader should take. It’s tempting to overload your documents with every capability and feature you offer, but this can overwhelm and disengage someone who is just learning about you. As they move through the sales funnel, you can introduce more complex printed collateral. At this stage, however, the content should be just intriguing enough and the call to action persuasive enough to inspire the reader to initiate further discussion.
Even the best sales collateral isn’t going to close the sale by itself. What it will do is provide outstanding sales support, reinforce your message, and stay behind as your brand messenger. So pay attention to your sales literature and give it the attention it deserves.

QR Codes Being Scanned At Home

Want to hear a surprising statistic? New research by Nielsen (“Mobile Shopping Report” 2013) shows that two-thirds of smartphone shoppers and four out of five shoppers on tablets do their shopping at home. That’s right — they are using their mobile devices to shop right from their couches.
Not only this, but these “mobile at home” shoppers are more likely than not to make their actual purchases from home, too. Ninety-five percent of tablet shoppers and 72% of smartphone shoppers who make a purchase do so from home, according to the study.
This is yet another reason to incorporate QR Codes with back-end shopping content or links into your printed marketing materials.
In fact, in a 2011 MobiLens study that still reflects consumers’ mobile behavior today, comScore found that 60% of people scanned QR Codes from home. The most popular hours of scanning? Midday and early evening between the hours of 3 p.m and 7 p.m.
So if you think QR Codes are not relevant to your marketing because your customers mostly shop at home (where they might prefer other channels, such as print catalog or laptop), think again. In fact, QR Codes could become one of your most powerful tools for motivating shoppers to do a little retail therapy as they unwind and decompress from a hectic day at work.

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Direct Mail More Effective Than You Think

We’re used to hearing that the average direct mail response rate is 1.0% – 1.5%. But according to a new study from the Pew Research Center (“Internet and American Life Project,” April 2013), this view needs to change.
According to the project, the average response rate for direct mail is now 4.4% for both B2B and B2C mailings. In 2012, envelope-sized direct mail letters achieved a 3.4% response rate when mailed to a house list and a 1.28% response rate when mailed to a prospect list.
In the study, the Pew Research Center also cites a recent Direct Mail Information Service report that more than three-quarters of direct mail is opened by the recipients. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of these recipients read the contents.
What is accounting for the growing response to direct mail? In part, it is less mail in people’s mailboxes. As email and other electronic media channels continue to proliferate, the mail that consumers do receive tends to stand out and get noticed. There is also an increase in targeting, personalization, and customization that makes the mail more relevant. Relevant mail tends to get a better response.
So next time you are about to cite the stat that direct mail has an average response rate of 1.5%, stop and think again. Direct mail has always been an effective marketing channel. As today’s direct mail techniques become more refined, its effectiveness is becoming that much greater.

Are You Testing Email Subject Lines?

Are You Testing Email Subject Lines?
For both direct mail and email, we often talk about split testing messaging, images, and offers. Recently, a study of email subject lines showed just what a difference knowledge of small variances can make.
In its “Subject Line Analysis Report” (2013), Adesta analyzed the subject lines of over 2 billion global emails. It found that even subtleties in wording can increase or decreases open rates, conversion rates, and other metrics substantially, even words that are counter-intuitive to what you might think.
You would think that everyone wants free stuff, right? But Adesta found that when used in the subject line, the word “free” actually depressed the open rate vs. the average by 3.0%, while “free delivery” increased it by 50.7%. Likewise, the word “alert” increased the open rate by 38.1% vs. the average, while “learn” decreased it by 35.5%.
But marketers have to be careful. Higher open rates don’t necessarily translate into more orders or higher customer engagement. In Adesta’s analysis, for example, “free delivery,” had a higher open rate, but it’s unsubscribe rate was 82.4% higher than average! This suggests that while marketers may be using a highly effective subject line, the messaging and offer are not matching up.
Whether you are marketing in print or email, or perhaps using email as a follow-up or complement to print, the larger message is to test everything, especially headlines and subject lines. And remember that testing is time-sensitive. Customer attitudes and preferences can change, so you need to keep testing over time to keep track of constantly changing market conditions on the ground.

Optional link to the report: