Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Should I Send The File?

Those five words can prompt a 100 gigabyte response (or the size of several encyclopedias). But we'll limit the discussion to just a few important points.

GT Marketing has broad technical capabilities and can accommodate a variety of file types. So, when clients typically send their mailing list to us, we can read the list if it is properly formatted.

And just what is that proper format? Well, that's another 100 gigabyte answer. Essentially, it's that every piece of information has its own place in the database. For instance, all first names should be in the first name field, all last names in the last name field, etc. Separating a first and last name that is in the same field is difficult, and it's the kind of fix which adds extra steps and costs to the job.

With the data properly formatted and in the correct fields, you're assured that the list can be run through the different address checking processes that GT Marketing runs a list through. Such processes include checking the list against the National Change of Address database to confirm a recipient's address hasn't changed. GT also runs other processes to ensure that the the name and address is formatted to USPS requirements so that the mail piece goes quickly and efficiently to its destination.

We generally recommend a maximum of 50 characters per line of address, but the size of the mail piece will ultimately determine the number of characters which can fit on a line. For instance, a postcard can only fit about 30 characters per line.

One of the simplest things you can do with the file of names is to open the file. Using Excel or Access, look at the data. Are the names in one field? Are the greetings and salutations in separate fields? Are there two address fields for street and apartment number? And how long is the data in the fields?

Following these few simple checks will save time and money, while ensuring that the names and addresses are in the best shape for the success of your mailing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Running The Numbers

Marketing is a numbers game. There is no better tactile, testable, and tracable marketing method than direct mail.

Below are some interesting statistics from the world of direct mail:
By 2015, the global direct marketing advertising services market is forecast to reach $25 billion. "Market growth will be spurred by locally targeted advertisements, and micro-targeted advertisements, a move away from mass advertising to direct advertising.

Direct mail (33%) is the third leading source for households coupons, behind only the Sunday newspaper (49%) and in-store promotions (43%). This is well ahead of eight other sources including Internet sites or text messages (14% each).

Many of today's paper products are made from renewable resources. "The vast majority of paper produced in America today comes from trees grown for that specific purpose...[i}n fact, forest land in the United States has increased by 5.3 million acres in the past three decades.

Typical charitable organizations receive more than three-quarters of their total gifts through direct mail. Direct mail is also responsible for aquiring three quarters of new donors.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to choose the right postal method.

Today’s multi-faceted advertising landscape places unique demands on your company’s marketing budget. Nowadays there are so many ways to reach prospects and clients. As always, you’ve got to broadcast your message in the most affordable and timely manner. For example, when using e-mail, you must be sure to comply with government regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act and construct your e-mail to dodge spam filters. When mailing, there are postal requirements to satisfy in order to achieve the greatest savings and a time efficient delivery.

Because mailing letters, cards, and packages is GT Marketing’s specialty, it is these postal requirements which will be the focus of this article. So, while we regularly handle QR Codes, e-mail campaigns, printing, and other forms of direct marketing, this discussion will be limited to comparing the two of the most common types of postage, First Class and Presorted Standard Mail.

First Class mail is a cost effective, timely method to get your piece into the hands of a targeted prospect or customer. First Class mail is typically used for letters, postcards, flats, and parcels up to 13 ounces. The maximum weight for a first class letter is 3.5 ounces. Currently, the price for a one ounce letter is forty-four cents. But discounts can be achieved prior to mailing if the address list is updated using approved software which format and update the addresses, zip codes and carrier routes, and add an Intelligent Mail Barcode.
Because First Class mail is given priority by the post office your mail piece is ensured of a timely delivery, usually in one to three. This is important when you are promoting a time-specific function which is less than one month away, or other items where time is truly of the essence.

For those mail pieces which cannot be delivered, using First Class mail ensures that these pieces are returned to you at no additional charge, which allows you the opportunity to make corrections to your database.

Now let’s turn our attention to Presorted Standard Mail, which was formerly termed Bulk Mail. This service is available for items such as letters, flyers, newsletters, packages, and catalogs and can achieve significant postage savings. As the USPS defines this service, prices are reduced because mailers do lots of the work the Postal Service would usually do. This “work” includes making sure that recipient addresses on the list are updated (NCOA), properly formatted (CASS), and presorted (PAVE) to streamline the handling of the large volumes associated with commercial mailing. Indeed GT Marketing Ltd. handles all of these processes for First Class and Presorted Standard mailings depending, on the needs of the client.
Unique to Standard Mail is that your mail piece can be up to 3.3 ounces for the same price as one ounce. Also, a minimum of 200 pieces are required to achieve what turn out to be significant discounts off First Class postage rates.

Just what savings are realized by using Presorted Standard Mail? Well, a one-ounce piece sent via Standard Mail, with a properly formatted 5-digit zip code will be .237, or a 30% savings vs. the cost of the same piece sent via a properly formatted and addressed First Class Mail piece. Even with an increase in the postal piece weight two two-ounces, you will still save 47% over the First Class rate. Savings for non-profit organizations are even greater. There’s a 57% savings for a one-ounce piece, and a 67% savings for a two-ounce piece.

An underutilized aspect of Standard Mail is that it allows the optional use of a postage stamp in addition to the commonly used postal indicia. Because your discounted mail piece can have a stamp attached, it can help challenge the possible perception that the piece is “junk mail.”

Mailing a postcard that does not need timely delivery? Make the size 6”x11.” It’s the same cost as a 4”-6” if you mail Presorted Standard Mail. Think of the extra real estate available for your message.

Understanding the difference between the First Class and Standard postage methods, and the perceptions they convey to the recipient, is essential when deciding which mail type to use for your mailing. The appropriate choice will ensure that your mailing is completed in a cost effective manner within the postal regulations, and achieves a timely, targeted delivery. Whenever you have questions related to your mail piece, you’re invited to give us a call or drop us a line.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mail In Hand Is Better Than Many E-mails In Cyberspace

So much has been written about the increase in digital media and the decrease in volume of first class mail, it’s no wonder there’s confusion about how to best reach existing and prospective clients.

Still, successful digital marketing often heavily relies on the precision of an address list, and the literal weight of a direct mail piece. Yes, lists and mail and lists have been the foundational success of our business for the past 15 years, but there is plenty of evidence to back up the statement.

Consider the findings from a recent study from the research firm Nielsen which noted that noted almost 90% of shoppers prefer to receive advertisements in the future via direct mail. The preference for receiving advertisements via e-mail was lower, with 72%. The preference for receiving advertisements via smart and mobile phones was even lower, with 31%.

None of this is to denigrate the importance of e-mail and social media. Instead the takeaway is that using direct mail to get your message into a prospect’s hands is by far the preferred way that they want to hear about your promotion. And it’s likely to drive the greatest response rate. As we described in last month’s blog post, the mail piece is the jumping off point used to spur an order, capture an e-mail address, or direct the recipient to a website, perhaps through a QR code.

While e-mails seem like an inexpensive and quick way to reach out to customers, another Nielsen study determined that “Close to 70% percent of shoppers from a recent Nielsen survey say they look at printed paper material either mailed to the home (67%) or in newspapers (69%) at least once per week in their quest for sales and promotions.”

Physical mail isn’t going away. Nor is any new media communication pushing mail entirely out of the communications stream. Instead, making smart decisions about where and when to use the different modes of communications available to you is key to the success of your direct marketing efforts.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How Direct Mail Compliments Your On-Line Objectives

Think that mail and new media aren’t complimentary? Think again.

A recent article in Business to Business Magazine described a use for mail as a “call to action” to drive prospects to engage in on-line. Direct mail was used to drive prospects to sign up for an electronic newsletter, visit a website, or join an organization.

E-mail alone would not likely have spurred the amount of activity which the mailing campaigns accomplished. In the case of prospects who were invited to join an organization, the increase was 337%. In that case, a list of female veterans was selected based on their age.

In another example, a personalized URL (PURL) was used to back up a mailing to a highly targeted list of only 4000 prospects based on geographic and income levels. The results were positive enough that the financial advisor is working on similar future mailings.

In another example we wrote about in the GT Marketing Ltd blog, we described how to effectively use QR codes on your mailings.

Fundamental is the use a targeted mailing list to get your compelling offer into the right hands so you can drive the recipient to your website for information, e-mail capture, or a sale. These are just some ways that direct mail complements advertising in this electronic, mobile age.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ways To Save This Summer

Sure last April saw a postal rate increase. But direct mail is still a cost effective, relevant way to broadcast your message. In fact, there are several ways to save money and prospect for new customers using an inexpensive mail medium that puts a postcard right into a recipient’s hand.

One method to reduce your postage costs by using flat sized saturation mailings. This is a simplified mailing plan, currently promoted by the United States Postal Service (USPS), which takes the complexity out of mailings and allows you to reach local customers in the most economical way.

Another way to reduce costs is to mail to take advantage of USPS’ summer sale. The USPS is offering a 3% discount on standard and first class letters, flats or cards containing a Quick Response (QR) barcode.

As discussed in GT Marketing Ltd’s March blog post, these barcodes allow a smart-phone user to directly link to a personalized website, receive a text, or to learn more information about a product or service.

The strategy of integrating electronic technology with physical mail is a way that the USPS in general, and mailers in particular are using mail as a means to drive on-line access and conversations. Some great tips and suggestions for how to make your mailer drive customers to your offering, on-line or off, are enumerated in this article.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Direct Mail Marketing, QR Codes, and You!

As Direct Marketers, we devote oceans of ink, megawatts of electricity, and countless hours of creativity to generate responses.

The advent of “Quick Response Codes,” or QR Codes, is music to our ears. The speed by which responses can be generated from the funky 2-dimensional bar codes you now see in so many places, exceeds that of any other known response mechanism. By simply taking a photo of these 2-dimensional bar code pictures using a smart-phone, users are invited to link directly to a website, to receive a text, or to learn more information about a product or service.

With the proliferation of Smart Phones and snazzy apps, the QR Code is destined to become the pre-personalized BRC of the future. Mailers should quickly get on-board with this new technology. A recent study by ScanLife indicated that mobile bar code use is up by over 700%! The growing presence of smart phones is one of the reasons that QR Code use is taking off, and by 2013 it is estimated that one-fourth of all phones sold in the United States will be smart phones.

How are these QR Codes best suited for direct mail marketing? Inviting the user to join your mailing list, view your website, or link to a specific landing page or social media site are some of the easiest ways to swiftly integrate this new technology into your existing marketing mix. Links to contests, coupons, product reviews, or YouTube videos are all possible with this easy to use technology.

It’s important to remember that however the QR Code is used, its purpose should be a “call to action.” Keep in mind that the QR Code is normally viewed on a mobile device with a small screen, so the destination should be specific, simple, and discernible on a small screen. The prospective customer should get to destination quickly, navigate easily, and complete the action smoothly. The metrics available to track and report on QR Code responses will excite even the most seasoned direct mail marketer.

What uses does your company have for the implementation of QR Codes? How might you like to use them in your marketing campaigns? Give us a call at GT Marketing, Ltd to brainstorm about how QR Codes might apply to your marketing plan, or scan the QR Code above and let your phone initiate the connection.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Lure Customers With Repeat Mailings

This blog has previously discussed how a persuasive offer is essential when making any sales pitch. But in these challenging economic times, higher printing and postage costs ‘shouldn't stop you from mailing aggressively if you've got a well-targeted list and a compelling offer,’ writes Ivan Levinson in his recent article in Direct Marketing IQ.

But how often is too often to mail? And when do you stop?

Levinson says that mailing once and hoping for a response won’t get the job done. For repeated mailings, he makes four suggestions:

1. Send the original mailing to the same targeted list.
2. Send a different letter to clients and prospects which do not respond.
3. Limit the time that your offer will be available.
4. When you have given up on receiving a reply, send them a postcard describing that this is their final opportunity to respond to take advantage of the offer.

A recent case study of an offer sent to existing and prospective customers, by a printer in Kitchener, Ontario, revealed that “out 275 personalized postcard invitations [they] received 43 responses through the landing page, a 15.6 percent response rate.” The owner of the firm believed that “the campaign yielded an excellent return on investment.” The company used variable data printing in an integrated direct marketing plan. Certainly repeated mailings are in the works.

So when do you stop mailing? Well, that question reminds me of a feature in a catalog tracking software that I sold years ago. The question there was how much area on the page should be devoted to featuring a given product. The answer invariably was: increase the area of a good selling product until it stops making money. In that way the answer is the same as with a mailing, and in line with Mr. Levin’s conclusion: “Keep on mailing until you stop making money.”

Read more from Mr. Levinson’s article here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Direct Mail Automation Shortens Lead Time Increases Response Rates

A CME agency had a problem: How to invite selected doctors to participate in educational meetings which teach proper injection techniques for a leading “cosmetic” drug.

The agency needed to reach dermatologists, primary care physicians, plastic surgeons, and dentists. Each medical professional had their own unique levels of experience and expertise. Each requires an invitation tailored to their level of experience and expertise. Adding to this complex task was the size of the program. Over 150 seminars were planned throughout the year, and each invitation needed to be customized for each site and carry professional appeal to attract the doctor to the seminar. The invitation had to be produced quickly and inexpensively.

GT Marketing tailored a web portal solution that put the scheduling power and editing control into the agency’s hands. The on-line toolkit allowed the agency to create a virtual print proof of the invitations and keep track of the process through a customized status dashboard. Pertinent meeting data could be entered, reviewed with the client, and approved before being electronically sent to GT Marketing’s production facility. GT Marketing then performs a targeted list selection based on the physician’s specialty and location, personalized the invitations, and completed the mailing.

Turn around time to complete this entire process is usually less than 48 hours, an impressive reduction in time and effort from the days when proofs and phone calls would fly back and forth between the client, the printer, and the mail shop.

“The process has proven to be very fast, extremely reliable, and very user friendly” described Paul Nyfenger, President and CEO of GT Marketing.

The results: the client has reduced the time it takes to recruit physicians, and has increased their seminar attendance rates, resulting in a greater return on investment, and overall program satisfaction.

GT Marketing is pleased to announce that the project was just extended for another 150 meetings through the end of the 2011.

GT Marketing LTD is a full-service direct marketing and direct mail production facility. GT Marketing handles fulfillment, warehousing, and expert direct mail production, consultative marketing, and project management. Call us to discuss your project at 800/435-7492 or e-mail us at mail@gtmarketingltd.com.