Archive for category Connecting

Newest Member of the Strahm Family: Océ ColorStream 3500 Inkjet Printer

Introducing Our Newest Printer: Océ ColorStream 3500 Inkjet Printer

OceColorStreamInkJet

As our customer’s requirements evolve and grow, we continue to add efficiencies in our approach to all phases of production. Recently we have added an Océ ColorStream inkjet printer increasing flexibility for a wide range of applications.

The Océ ColorStream produces high quality, brilliant full color output ideal for transaction, transpromo, books and manuals, and direct mail. With reliable production and Océ’s DigitDot technology, even the most demanding of requirements can be met.

Keep an eye on our blog and social media for more details. Join our mailing list and you just may find an invitation to a future open house!

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Mr. ZIP And The Zip Code Turned 51!

How Much Do You Think About ZIP Codes?

logo1It’s just a string of numbers you add to your letters, cards and packages, right?

There is a whole history, and a pretty cute character, that helped educate your parents and grand parents on how to use these codes and improve mail service.

In July 1963, the postal service implemented the Zone Improvement Plan or ZIP code as it is commonly called. The ZIP code is comprised of 5 digits specific to an area. These codes assist in routing mail efficiently for the USPS.

Predicting that the public would be less than enthusiastic about memorizing not only their ZIP code, but those of family and friends, the USPS introduced Mr. ZIP in late 1962.

Mr. ZIP appeared on buttons, signs, magazines, and even the edges of a sheet of stamps. The point was to educate the public and ingrain the use of ZIP codes to all mailers. Including a ZIP code promised “space-age speed”.

51 years later and Mr. ZIP stands as one of the most successful ad icons of all time. The USPS notes that by 1967, 80% of all Americans recognized him and knew what he stood for.

Mr. ZIP was retired in 1986, but last year (2013) was the 50 year anniversary. As expected, he has been popping up all over the place. He even has his own page on the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum websitemr_zip_650x300_a01_101201_e

This simple doodle was able to move the general public into participating in the Zone Improvement Plan – which increased efficiency and speed for the USPS for generations to come.

Please enjoy this video from the mid-1960’s starring our friend, Mr. ZIP!

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10 Tips | Email Marketing

10 Email Marketing Tipsemail-marketingTips

      1. Provide Multiple Channels of Communication

Make sure you are reaching your audience wherever they are. Place a sign up form or guest book at a convenient location within your business. Add a button to your website and Facebook page to join your mailing list.  You could even use a QR code which allows a customer to join a list by scanning the code – add this to a business card, flyer or point-of-sale sign. Your customers are connected through multiple social media channels, make it easy for them to connect with you.

      2. Take the Pressure Off

Don’t require customers to give you too much information. Especially if they are joining using a mobile device, ask them for only the information you truly need. If you need a geographic location, perhaps ask only for a zip code instead of a street address or phone number. While an email address is really all you need, additional information will aid you in more targeted marketing. Just don’t expect a consumer to give you their life story in data; be respectful of their time and effort in connecting with you.

      3. Subject Lines of Email Messages: Be Clear and to the Point

The very best subject lines-the ones that get opened the most every time-are the ones that tell exactly what’s in the email. A good subject line should be as brief as possible (maybe 50 characters, including spaces), accurately reflect what is inside and motivate the recipient to open the message. If this were in your email box, would you be likely to open it?

     4. Keep Your Writing Simple

While good writing does matter, email does allow you to speak in a more casual voice – just like any other social media. Your customers are people too, write like a human and drop all the sales jargon and techno babble. You can be funny and loose and still get your message across.

    5. Give a Clear Call-To-Action

The body of the email should include a clear call to action.  Make sure your message contains relevant content and has a compelling reason to act.  Include links and make sure they are tracked so that you can continue to market to people who have shown interest in the past.

    6. Be Mobile Aware

No that some of your customers will access your email via a mobile device. Make sure you know how your email is delivered and displayed on various different mobile devices. Targeting by location is a great tool for mobile marketing.

     7. Send the Right Message to the Right Person

Make sure your list is kept up to date and clean. It is irritating to receive a message with someone else’s name, location or buying history. Customers only interested in one product or part of your business may not be interested in hearing every message you send. Maintaining separate lists by customer interest or preference helps you tailor email messages and campaigns.

    8. Use Surveys to Gather Data Quickly

If you need more customer data to properly segment lists, use a survey as a quick way to get people’s opinions or interests. For customers, it’s visual, it’s interesting, and it takes just a second to answer. Once you’ve got a good pool of responses, you can create new lists based on your results.

    9. Test: Don’t Spray and Pray

Spray and pray emails will never perform as well as tailored emails to particular customer segments.” Segmentation allows you to create targeted email campaigns based on behavioral information or other contact data you know about each recipient. Surveys also help to determine the right tactic for each customer group. This can be done through A/B testing, which tracks the performance of two or more entirely different versions of an email message. Try a soft-sell message to your active subscribers and offer a significant discount to those that are less active or haven’t clicked lately.

   10. Enrich the Contact Data

As you gain more data – and more insight – about your customers, update to manage customer segmentation. Utilize purchase history, click through rates, and additional data gathered through previous marketing campaigns.  Test new messages, new formats and even new segmentations as you improve on your data list.

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An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Thousands in USPS Fines!

US Postal Service EMM Trays

Perils of Printers without Mail House Experience

If your printed piece is going out in the mail, how important is it to choose a printer with in-house mail capabilities?

Last week we had a meeting with a local printer who found this out the hard way. Due to their lack of experience in mailing, they were subject to some hefty USPS fines.

Certainly an avoidable situation, but how do you make a print/mail vendor selection?  Contact them directly and by all means request a tour of the facility. Here are some helpful questions to ask.

  • Ask for credentials.
    • Are they a USPS sanctioned mail co-mingler?
    • Do they provide NCOA, LACSlink or Fast Forward services?
    • Do they provide CASS certification?
    • Do they have an onsite USPS verifier?
    • Do they have an onsite MERLIN?
    • Does the USPS pick up from their dock, or do they deliver to BMEU?
    • Do key employees hold any industry certifications?  How often are they updated?
  • What services do they provide within their own production facility?
    • Color, highlight color, and black and white printing?
    • MICR capable?
    • Inkjet addressing for postcards or envelopes?
    • Collating?
    • Folding?
    • Intelligent mail inserters?
    • Match mailings?
    • HIPAA compliant?
  • How secure is their facility?
    • What is their business continuity plan?
    • What is their disaster recovery plan?
    • Secure building access?
    • 24/7 video monitoring of facility and production floor?
    • If mail is delivered to them, is it left unattended on the dock?
    • Are employees background checked?
An ounce of prevention is worth thousands in USPS fines!

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Nine Surprising Facts About The Postal Service

Nine Things You Should Know About The Postal Service

“You probably know your mail carrier and the clerks at your neighborhood Post Office, but how well do you know the Postal Service itself? Here are nine facts that might surprise you.”

PostalFactsAbove is a quote from this great USPS blog we discovered. It can’t be said any better, “how well do you know the postal service itself?” Please take a minute to check out this wonderful blog: http://uspsblog.com/nine-things-you-should-know-about-the-postal-service/ and learn nine facts that might surprise you about the postal service.

We would love to hear your feedback and see if you knew any of the facts or if you were truly surprised. Comment below!

 

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Get Started and Save with Every Door Direct Mail

Get Started with Every Door Direct Mail

How much do you know about the USPS program Every Door Direct Mail?

eddmJust this week I was able to provide a customer with a $31,000.00 savings in postage. Wow! What a way to control your marketing budget, right?

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) gives you the ability to target a local neighborhood or to reach customers/prospects nationwide. The Simplified Mailing Process helps you identify which USPS mail routes to include in your targeted mailing area. There is a super cool, intuitive EDDM application available online to get you started.

You can access the online tool and get more information here: https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm

Who can benefit from EDDM?

  • Retailers
  • Auto dealerships
  • Arts organizations
  • Restaurants
  • Business services
  • Attorneys
  • Doctors
  • Dry cleaners
  • Contractors
  • Realtors

The list could go on and on. If you want to reach a local, or even national, audience EDDM provides an easy, cost effective marketing channel. Remember that $31,000.00 postage savings for my local customer?

Some things to keep in mind when planning your mailing:

  • Mailpieces must meet Standard flats specifications
    • Minimum length 11 ½” OR
    • Minimum height 6 1/8”
    • Weight equal to or less than 3.3 ounces
    • Must contain at least 200 pieces (with a maximum per day of 5,000 pieces for the EDDM Retail option, but unlimited for the EDDM BMEU option)

The USPS is hosting a series of FREE business seminars designed to help you gain a greater understanding of this new service and how it can support your marketing plan.

I suggest reaching out to your local Postal Customer Council to find where and when the next seminar will take place in your area. You can search for your local PCC chapter here: https://www.usps.com/business/local-pcc.htm

The Postal Customer Council is a terrific resource and I hope if you’re mailing, you are taking advantage of all the experience and expertise they can offer.

How do you see yourself using this new Postal Service program Every Door Direct Mail? We would love to hear your ideas and success stories!

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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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