Archive for category Connecting

Data Tips | Don’t Let All The Talk of Big Data Scare You Off!

Don’t Let All The Talk of Big Data Scare You Off!

Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Decide on a strategy: How can you improve your current strategy with data? Think about what data you want to collect and how it will be used in future marketing efforts. How will this affect the marketing channels you choose – direct mail, email, social media?BigData
  2. What do your customers want?  Identifying what matters to your customers allows you to improve your communications with them. This also helps you craft and target personalized messages to customers through any of the marketing channels you may choose.
  3. Don’t ask for too much:  Give some thought to what data you really need right now. Do you need to improve your email address list? Find out what services/products are most important to customers? Determine how satisfied they are with your business? Keep it short and simple for them to respond. You can always dig deeper for more information down the road.
  4. Give multiple methods of responding:  If you are using direct mail to contact customers/prospects, include a website where they can submit information, take a survey, etc. Consider response cards, pURL’s and QR codes. Make sure all pieces are mobile compatible. Test, test, test to make sure all of your communication platforms work seamlessly.
  5. Don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged: Data is a big area and can be a lot to wrap your head around. Start small. And don’t expect overnight success. Build on what you have and tweak your communications as you add more data.

More questions about how data can help you grow your business and deepen relationships with customers? Call one of our qualified Customer Service Representatives today to discuss your needs. | (816) 756-2733

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Tips for Improving Customer Statements

4  Tips for Improving Customer Statements

The most opened and read mail consumers receive are transactional in nature. Statements are related directly to where their money is going so it earns a higher spot in the hierarchy of mail box content.statements

So how can you get the most out of this opportunity?

  1. Easy to read, easy to understand statements.  The number one complaint people have about their bills and statements is that they are difficult to read or hard to locate crucial information. Review your statements – is it clear how much they owe and why? Is it easy to locate a customer service number if they have a question? Have you spotlighted a way for them to contact you or pay their bill online? Think about ways you could utilize highlight color to draw the attention to specific information or perhaps give a better flow to the overall design.
  1. Mobile applications.  So many people are deeply connected to their smartphones, why not offer an opt-in and provide due date reminders or notices when their statement is ready? Think of this as another way to improve your cash flow by receiving payments timely. Mobile payments, provided they are device friendly, can help deepen the relationship with your company.
  1. Electronic billing or e-statements.  Do more than offer a simple pdf. Your e-statement should match the printed statement for a clear, cohesive customer experience. Using your printed statement, offer an opt-in to receive only electronic communications. Include a website where customers can view, pay, review past statements and even view special offers.
  1. Special offers and marketing messages.  Use your statements, both paper and eStatements, to make relevant offers of products/services, tips for savings and other marketing communications. Again, make sure any electronic statement matches your mailed (paper) statement.

In short, make the customers experience as easy and concise as possible. Provide multiple methods of statement presentment and use the real estate on your statement to highlight special communications and offers.

Questions?  Feel free to contact a Strahm Client Service Representative at (816) 756-2733.

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A Day in the Life of the U.S. Postal Service

A Day in the Life of the U.S. Postal Service

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Each day, the Postal Service picks up, processes and delivers millions of letters and packages. No single operation in the world comes close to this level of connectivity to so many households and businesses. Here’s just ONE day in the life of the United States Postal Service (figures are averages):

215 million — revenue received, in dollars
157 million — dollars paid to postal employees in salaries and benefits
528 million — number of mailpieces processed and delivered
22 million — average number of mailpieces processed each hour
366,000 —average number of mailpieces processed each minute
6,100 — average number of mailpieces processed each second
226.7 million — pieces of First-Class Mail processed and delivered
262.4 million — pieces of Advertising Mail processed and delivered
727,167 —number of packages picked up through Package Pickup
4.3 million — number of miles driven by letter carriers and truck drivers
7,753 — number of letter carriers who deliver mail entirely on foot — The USPS Fleet of Feet
130,592 — number of address changes processed
2,160 — number of addresses added to our delivery network
1 million – number of peple who visit usps.com
809,210 — dollar amount of online stamp and retail sales at usps.com
1.6 million — amount of money spent on postage for Click-N-Ship labels
44.1 million — number of Click-N-Ship labels printed
18,750 — number of passport applications accepted
358,553 — number of money orders issued
1.6 million — dollars spent at Self-Service Kiosks in Post Office lobbies
3.2 million — customers served at more the 31,000 retail locations
0 — tax dollars received for operating the Postal Service

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation: 152 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With more than 31,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $65 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 42nd in the 2012 Fortune 500.

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USPS | Post Office Fun Facts

Post Office Fun Facts

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  • Highest – Alma, CO – 10,578 feet above sea level.
  • Lowest – Death Valley, CA – 282 feet below sea level.
  • Coldest – North Slope of Alaska: Barrow (99723) and Wainwright (99782).
  • Hottest – Death Valley, CA (92328).
  • Wettest – Mt.Waialeale, near the Kapaa Post Office (96746) in Hawaii.
  • Driest – Death Valley, CA (92328).
  • Westernmost – 48 contiguous – La Push, WA (98350).
  • Westernmost – 50 states – Adak, AK (99546).
  • Easternmost – 48 contiguous – Lubec, ME (04652).
  • Easternmost – 50 states – Same.
  • Southernmost – 48 contiguous – Key West, FL (33040).
  • Southernmost – 50 states – Naalehu, HI (96772).
  • Northernmost – 48 contiguous – Sumas, WA (98295).
  • Northernmost – 50 states – Barrow, AK (99723).
  • Most Centered (all 50) – closest to the geographical center of the 50 states – Belle Fourche, SD.
  • Most Centered (48) – closest to geographical center of the 48 contiguous states – Lebanon, KS.
  • Oldest in same building – Hinsdale, NH, since 1816.
  • 2nd oldest – Castine, ME, since 1833.
  • Largest – James A. Farley Post Office, New York, NY – 93,000 square feet.
  • Smallest – Ochopee Main Post Office, Ochopee, FL – 61.3 square feet.
  • Most Extraordinary – Peach Springs, AZ, Post Office has walk-in freezers for food destined for delivery to the bottom of the Grand Canyon by mule train.
  • Most Subterranean – Stamp Fulfillment Services, located in Kansas City, MO, is located in a limestone cave 150 feet underground. It is the Postal Service’s only facility located in an underground environment. The consistent, year-round temperatures and humidity levels in the caves allow the stamps to be maintained in mint-quality condition. The underground facility also keeps the inventory and employees safe from snow, flooding, winds and tornadic activity common in the Midwest.
  • Most Needing a Bridge – the Point Roberts, WA, Post Office can be reached by car only by driving through British Columbia, Canada. Only a boat or float plane can travel directly there.

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USPS | Letters to Santa program + Holiday Mailing Dates

USPS Letters to Santa program (+ some pertinent mailing dates)

letters-to-Santa-logoDid you know that USPS has an official Letters to Santa program? The program is on a voluntary basis decided at a local level by each Post Office. For 101 years, the Postal Service has been helping make children’s holiday wishes come true.

In 1912 Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees and citizens to respond to letters. The program is known as Letters to Santa except in New York City where they operate an “Operation Santa” program.

Hundreds of thousands of children of all ages send letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska”. Unless these letters contain a complete Alaska address, they remain in the area in which they were mailed.  Postal “elves” go through the letters and separate those that express serious need.

Here’s how it works: A person wishing to adopt a letter can go to a Post Office, present valid photo identification, and select one or more letters to take with them and sign the form.  The child’s address on the envelope will have been blocked out and the letter assigned a number.

After the individual fulfills the child’s wishes with a gift or special message, he or she returns the letter and gift to the same Post Office and pays the postage. A postal employee will match the number on the letter with the child’s address, apply a label to it and put the package into the mail stream.

It’s not too late to make a child’s wishes come true this season! For estimated delivery by December 24th (this applies to all your outgoing mail not just the Letters to Santa program):

First Class Mail – by Friday, December 20th

Priority Mail – by Saturday, December 21st

Priority Mail Express – by Monday, December 23rd

Safe delivery starts with careful preparation. When sending a package, follow these guidelines to get your shipment off to a good start.U.S. POSTAL SERVICE LETTER TO SANTA

The Box
Choose a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents. If you’re reusing a box, cover up or black out any old labels and markings.

Cushioning
Place cushioning around your items. Choose packing peanuts, bubble wrap or even newspaper. Close and gently shake the box to see whether there is enough padding. Add more cushioning material if you hear things moving around.

Sealing
Tape your box shut and reinforce the seams with 2″ wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape. Do not use cord, string, or twine because it gets caught in mail processing equipment.

Size
The weight of your package cannot exceed 70 lbs. If you’re planning to use Priority Mail Express™ or Priority Mail® services for faster delivery, length plus girth (distance around the thickest part of the package) can’t exceed 108″. When you use Standard Post™, available at retail Post Office locations, the total can’t be more than 130″.

 Happy Holidays from your friends at Strahm Automation!

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Strahm Holiday Card – QR Code – pURL – Freemium!!!!

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly – Falalalalalalalala

deckthehallsWe mailed our annual holiday cards this week and followed up with an email. We like to take a moment to show our appreciation to all of our customers and friends for their business over the past year.

Keep your eyes out for these cards and emails; we’ve included a special QR code and pURL you can use to order a (free!!) personalized 3D Cube or Accordion picture display perfect for your desk or home.

Not sure what to get your friends/family – or even a treat for yourself – these personalized picture displays make a great gift!

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you.

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7 Whys of Direct Marketing

Explore The “Why” of  Direct Marketing Instead of “How” To Do Direct Marketing

Technology is changing and getting better all the time. We all know this. We have easier, faster, less expensive options and channels to get our marketing message across. But perhaps we should explore the “Why” and the “What” of using direct mail.MarketingCampaign

It is important to understand your purpose for each campaign. The key objective for most direct mail marketing is to elicit a response from the recipient. This can be in the form of a purchase or action. You need to be clear, and make clear on your mailpiece, the purpose of your marketing campaign.

Here are seven key drivers to get your brain going in developing the “Why” of your next marketing campaign.

  1. Customer Acquisition. This is basic Prospecting 101. Direct mail is still a great option because it gets directly into your prospects mailbox. According to DMM, 98% of us still check our mailbox every day. Sure, you could purchase a list of email addresses for these prospects, but your impact may be slim. Think of how many unsolicited emails you receive (and quickly delete) every day. Now think of your mailbox and how many pieces of direct mail you receive. Not only that, but many people keep these mailpieces longer and refer back to them.  I know I do.
  2. Building Email List. For many businesses, their overall client list is far greater than their email list. If you need to grow your email list, direct mail can be a fantastic tool. Consider a personalized mailpiece with a nice incentive for signing up. Once you begin an email campaign to your new list, make sure you track response and keep your list clean. Include an Opt Out within the email itself. If a prospect has not agreed to your marketing emails, you should remove him or her from your list.
  3. Communication Preference. A study by Epsilon shows that people still prefer direct mail over email in almost every category including financial services, insurance and travel. Ask your customers how they like to be reached and respond accordingly. Tracking customer response rates of direct mail vs. email will also help guide you in communication channel. Don’t risk alienating customers.
  4. Multichannel Marketing. Aside from communication preference, why limit yourself to one channel of marketing? Combine a direct mail campaign with a follow up email campaign including the same marketing objective/message. Perhaps include a pURL on your mailpiece and a personalized link in your email. Use QR codes to drive respondents to your website for a special offer. While they are there, ask for their email address. Boom! Now you’ve accomplished driver #2 as well!
  5. Migration. Test, test, test and measure, measure, measure. This is all about knowing what works within a campaign. You want to make sure that not only is your message correct and relevant to a particular customer/prospect, but that it gets to them and is read.  If they aren’t responding to a mailpiece, are they responding to an email? Tweak your lists as necessary.
  6. Lifespan. Back to the issue of deleting unsolicited emails without even a glance! How quick are you to hit that delete button? But a properly crafted message, to the correct target and slated to be in mailboxes within a given date range, is most likely to make it into the home from the mailbox, allowing more potential to become actionable. 5 second email or 5 day direct mail?
  7. Differentiator. You have so many options available for direct mail. Think size, shape, feel. Think 3D and create a clever box or other shaped container. Most people can’t resist seeing what’s inside a box. The possibilities are really endless. The USPS will deliver most anything, anywhere for just a matter of postage. Make your mailpiece – and therefore      your message – stand out in the mailbox.

In short, take the time to determine why you are planning a marketing campaign. Make sure your message is relevant to and receivable by the correct person. Whether you choose mail or email, really grab their attention with something that sets you apart from all the other advertisers.

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USPS IMb Deadline | January 2014

IMb Deadline January 2014

USPSIMbDeadlineSince the Postal Service agreed to offer bulk mail discounts to those companies organizing their mail and presenting the correct bulk mail paperwork, the rules have continued to change and expand.

Along with preparing the mail and paperwork in a specific way, the USPS raised the bar a few years ago when they implemented Move Update rules. And they continue to drive change today.

The USPS decided in January 2013 that in order to continue receiving  automation discounts on your outgoing mail, bulk mailers must adopt the Intelligent Mail barcode, or IMb. Ask your mail consolidator if they are currently using Intelligent Mail barcode, or what their plan is to have their process compliant by January 26, 2014.  (At Strahm we use IMb on all mailings.)

If you plan to implement IMb on your own, make sure you are not caught off guard by the looming deadline. Realize that there is much more involved than buying the complex software required – expect to spend some time getting set up correctly.

These new requirements will provide tracking of your mail as it moves through the mailstream. This can be quite a benefit to marketers; providing even more data for Return on Investment from a mailing.

If your mail is not IMb compliant, you can still mail at the higher, non-automated postage rate. But be forewarned that in the very near future it may become a requirement that you are IMb compliant to receive any bulk mail discount.

Another option is to outsource your mail (either presort only or printing and mailing) to an outside vendor. If you are already outsourcing, make sure your vendor is IMb ready! Ask the question and then ask yourself “Do I want to work with a vendor who did not take the time and steps necessary to protect my postage discounts?”

If you have questions about Intelligent Mail barcodes, feel free to contact one of our Customer Service Representatives today. (816) 756-2733 or custserv@strahm.com

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How Data Drives Marketing

How Data Drives Marketing | Engaging with Digital Consumers

datapeopleInfosys recently released a study “Engaging with Digital Consumers” which offered valuable insight into what consumers want and how your data driven marketing plays a role.

  • 57% said they would be “more likely” to make a purchase from a retailer again if the retailer kept them updated on new offers and services through social media.
  • 78% of consumers said they would be “more likely” to purchase again if provided with offers targeted to their specific interests and needs.
  • 45% said they would be willing to trade “some privacy” for offers specific to their individual shopping needs.
  • 43% said they wouldn’t mind if retailers’ apps tracked their phone’s or tablet’s location if it meant they would receive ads or promotions targeted to their local area.

Data is so important to driving your marketing campaign. As marketing continues to move toward multi-channel applications, you have increased opportunity to gather data from digital marketing and apply it to printed pieces and vice versa.

Here are a few ways you can use digital and print both to build your marketing database.

Beef up your data and help make consumers “more likely” to buy from you and continue to buy from you in the future.

Have questions about data driven multi-channel marketing? Contact us at sales@strahm.com or (816) 756-2733 and one of our qualified Customer Service Representatives will be glad to help!

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Tour The Facilities

Have You Toured Your Vendors Facility?

tourYesterday I took a group of people on a tour of our facility. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve lead a tour here, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. And every time I have a person or group of people come through, they’ve told me they have come away with beneficial knowledge and new ideas.

Whenever I visit a vendor, and I hope whenever a client or prospect visits us, these are a few of the things that I would expect of the experience.

  • Is your sales rep present?  Better yet, is he or she leading the tour?
  • Meet your Customer Service Representative. In most cases, it will be the CSR that handles your day-to-day business and not the sales rep.
  • If your sales rep (and perhaps your CSR as well) is leading the tour, what is the sense of relationship you feel between sales and the production team? Do they seem friendly and collaborative towards each other?
  • Get an introduction to the department managers or team leaders in each step of production. Personally, I like my clients to have a face to associate with each department (in our case, data processing, quality control, laser imaging, lettershop, presort and transportation).
  • Whenever possible, manage an introduction to someone “at the top”.  I like to make sure my tour attendees get to meet the president of our company.
  • Look at equipment in each and every department. Is it well maintained? Is it apparent that the company keeps up-to-date in new technology and machinery?
  • Observe the plant condition. Is it clean and well organized? Does work seem to flow through the plant in a common sense manner?
  • Ask if any of your work would be outsourced to a subcontractor or whether your vendor has all the equipment, personnel and capacity to complete your jobs in house.
  • And last but most importantly – listen, ask questions and learn something new. I have yet to lead a customer through our facility and not hear them talk about something vital they’ve learned or new ideas they plan to take back to their own companies.

When was the last time you toured the facilities of your vendor or vendors? What did you take away from the experience? Did you leave the plant feeling positive in your decision to use this particular company?

Lesson: Ask for a tour, build lasting relationships with the folks producing your jobs, get fresh ideas and have fun!

This video takes you on a little journey around Strahm Automation and Mailing!

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