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Increase ROI with Direct Mail Design | Top 10 Recommendations

Often I am asked by novice direct mailers what elements to include on their mail piece. They are simply looking to design the best mailer possible to yield a high ROI.

Here are my Top 10 recommendations                        (in no particular order)

  1. Make sure your list, mail piece and message are all targeted to the correct audience. What is your goal – lead generation, customer retention, a new product roll out?
  2. A clear, provocative call to action and a nice incentive.
  3. A compelling message – don’t forget, most people want to know “What’s in it for Me?”
  4. A First Class mail permit.  Don’t skimp on standard mail postage. 10% of your mailing list may never receive the mail piece and you’d be surprised how many people simply disregard any piece of mail with a standard permit.
  5. Add a PURL, or Personalized URL. This will tie your printed piece with an online experience. Make sure the PURL ties in with your theme.
  6. As long as we’re adding hot new technology with that PURL, let’s add a QR, or Quick Response, code. You’ve probably been seeing a lot of QR codes on all kinds or marketing – from billboards to pizza boxes. We’ll talk more about QR codes and using them effectively in an upcoming blog.
  7. Use a fresh, unexpected image and a memorable tag line. You only have seconds to grab the reader’s attention.
  8. You’ve probably heard it said a million times, and it’s true, your response rate is only as good as your list. We will delve into list effectiveness in future blogs.
  9. Include a follow up on the call to action. Perhaps include an expiration date. This also makes room for a second communication (perhaps an email?).
  10. Since we repeated the call to action, repeat the PURL as well. Remind them how to respond to that call to action!
Tell us, what are your thoughts on creating the ideal direct mail piece?  We’d love to hear your suggestions!

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USPS Promo | Using Variable Data Personalization?

Using Variable Data Personalization?

Take advantage of this current USPS promotion “Mail and Digital Personalization Program”.

USPSpromoMay 1 through June 30, 2014 USPS is allowing mailers using personalization such as personal URLs, web pages or mobile applications linked to the mailpiece a 2% discount on eligible postage.
Message and content of the mailpiece must be relevant and highly personalized to qualify. Personalized content must contain or be based on factual or behavioral information specific to the recipient. An address block alone does not qualify.

Each mailpiece must contain a pURL, or mobile technology such as QR codes, that direct recipients to an active, unique website. Unique URLs allow the mailer to track and measure individual web activity.

Eligible mail classes include First Class presort and automation letters, cards and flats as well as Standard Mail letters and flats. Postage payment may be permit imprint, or precancelled stamp permit. Some mailings using meter imprint may qualify – check with your local BMEU. Mailing must be presented between May 1 and June 30, 2014.

You can learn more about this variable data promotion by visiting Postal Explorer. A range of documents, including an FAQ can be found here – https://ribbs.usps.gov/mailingpromotions/documents/tech_guides/MailandDigitalPersonalizationPromotion.htm

 

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Are Email Campaigns Part Of Your Marketing Strategy?

Are Email Campaigns Part Of Your Marketing Strategy?

Lately we’ve focused quite a bit on direct mail and specifically on Every Door Direct Mail.  Let’s not forget that there are many marketing channels available to you and, often, a mix of these channels is the best plan for getting your message across.

Email marketing does not have to be intimidating.  It is a simple, effective means of communication when you keep these tips in mind.

Grab the Readers Attention

  • Create a compelling subject line
  • Make sure you don’t look like spam
    • Identify yourself
    • State the intent of the email clearly
    • Provide an opt out
  • Personalize whenever possible; include the persons name, a reference to a previous purchase, etc
  • Make the message relevant.  Tie the subject line neatly to the body of the email.
  • Keep the tone of your message conversational
  • Be brief!  No one wants to read a long, drawn out email. Studies show that on average, people spend about 15 – 20 seconds with each email message.

Before You Hit “Send”

  • Test the email through several different email clients, both in text and HTML.  You’d be surprised how different one email may appear through different devices.
  • Make sure your email list is appropriate. Whenever possible get permission to email a person or place of business.
  • Check again that your current marketing message is relevant to those on your list
  • Keep your list clean. Remove any hard bounces from previous campaigns and always remove anyone who has opted out

Test, Track and Measure

  • Track your click through rate, conversion rate and delivery rate.  You want to make sure people are receiving your email, opening your email and clicking through
  • Try variations of your message – change the subject line, offer or call to action – and see if your results vary
  • Subscribe to feedback loops and pay attention to the data they provide
  • Try launching your email campaign on different days or at differing times of the day and measure your responses

Properly executed, email marketing provides you yet another avenue for reaching and speaking to your customers and prospects. Why not make an email campaign part of your marketing strategy?

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How To Improve Your Email Deliverability

Improve Your Email Deliverability With These Few Tips

Every month you strive to come up with relevant and timely information to include in your email newsletter or basic marketing campaign. Make sure more of your messages are reaching contacts by following these simple steps.emailinbox

  1. Understand Email Filters: Try not to use language that might look like spam content. This would include your subject line as well as body copy.
    • Spam like words include free, guarantee, credit card, sex, etc.
    • Do not use all capital letters
    • Do not use a lot of punctuation – avoid !!!, $$$ and other symbols
    • Include your complete physical address as required by law
    • Always tie your subject line to your email content. If it’s a newsletter, say so in the subject line.
  2. Encourage readers or customers to put your address in their address book, trusted sender list or approved sender list. Make it easy for them to do this by keeping your “From Address” short, easy to remember and easy to type.
  3. Review your bounce reports carefully.
    • Consider removing any addresses that appear on your bounce report repeatedly. There may be a problem with the address. If they are a known customer, pick up the phone and confirm their address for your records.
    • Check for typos in email addresses
    • Bounces marked as Undeliverable can often times be an email server temporarily unavailable, overloaded or not located. Unless this occurs multiple times, you may not want to delete this address from your list.
    • Full mailboxes mean that your email will not be delivered until the recipient makes room for them by cleaning out their mailbox. Sometimes your email won’t be delivered at all after a certain number of attempts.
  4. Because the unsubscribe feature has been used by spammers to verify addresses, be alert to requests to unsubscribe and respond quickly to permanently remove those email addresses from your list.

Use these tips next time you’re ready to send out that newsletter or other email communication and you will be on your way to a clean, productive email list!

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Five Things You Need to Know About Your Mail

Five Things You Need to Know About Your Mail!

Author: Sandy Wallace

mailedThe U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the United States. The Postal Service delivers to nearly 153 million homes, businesses and PO box addresses. These tips from a postal worker who cares will help you properly address your mail, ship packages, track your mail, send mail out of the country and forward your mail when you move.

 

What’s in an Address? 
I see many cards, letters and packages every day that don’t get where they are going because of a bad address. My company processes and delivers about 523 million pieces of mail each day, according to USPS.com. Most of the mail is processed by machine, not by hand. If the machine can’t read the address or it’s not a valid address, your mail won’t make it where it’s going. A return address helps mail without a valid address be returned to sender. The address of the person sending the mail should always be written in the top left hand corner of the letter or package. The address of the person receiving the mail goes in the center of your letter or package. Be sure to write the name, street address or box number, city, state and zip code in that order for both addresses.

Box It Up and Pack It Well
When you’re mailing something thicker than 1/2 inch, don’t try to stuff it into a flat envelope. I know it’s cheaper to send an envelope than a package, but merchandise put into envelopes is often damaged by the machine process. Using a padded envelope or box instead of an envelope means your package will arrive in one piece, instead of coming to me in lots of little pieces. Be sure to add bubble wrap, shredded paper, styrofoam peanuts or other packaging material to protect the contents from damage. Use tape, not string, to close your box.

If It’s Important, Track it
I know everyone wants to save money, but anything important should be sent with tracking. Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail and Standard Mail parcels all come with free tracking. Letters and large envelopes can be tracked using Certified Mail. Consider purchasing insurance for anything of value. Be sure to hold onto the receipt until the item is delivered. We can only track your mail with the article number.

Shipping Across the Ocean: It’s Not the Same
It costs the same to mail to someone deployed in the military as mailing to someone in the U.S., but it’s a little more expensive to send to a non-military person living in a foreign country. Packages going overseas or to military APO, FPO or DPO addresses require a customs form. On the customs form, you need to fill out a detailed list of the contents, including weight and value of each item. If you don’t plan ahead, you might have to open your box at my counter to fill out the customs form. Check USPS.com for nonmailable items and country-specific listings of items which are forbidden to be mailed to your destination.

Tell Us When You Move
Tell us where you’re going before you move and we’ll forward your important mail to your new home. Mail forwarding is provided for free for 12 months for First Class Mail, Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. If you move without filling out a change of address form, your mail will be returned to sender. Most standard mail, including catalogs and advertising mail, can’t be forwarded or returned to sender, unless the mailer requests and pays for the service.

We Care
Most postal workers are like me. We want to help you send and receive mail without delays. Spend a little extra time preparing your cards, letters and packages and your mail will arrive at its destination, making all of us happy. Learn more about our pricing and products at USPS.com.

Original Article

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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

Mail bins

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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