4 Technologies That Can Revive Your Catalog Marketing

Print has proven time and again to play an integral role in marketing. While digital ads are ever present, a U.S Postal Service® survey showed that 92% of households report having a strong attachment to mail and even look forward to receiving mail each day.1 Catalogs especially are known to have positive associations, improve brand recall, and drive customers to a brand’s website. The challenge is standing out from competitors.

Engagement and brand storytelling are essential in creating memorable catalogs, and technology can add new dimension to an already popular and successful marketing tool. Read on to learn about four ways to elevate your next catalog campaign.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) technology seamlessly combines the digital and physical worlds to provide your customers with an interactive experience that’s exciting and unexpected. Utilizing this technology has been proven by one study to increase the likelihood of a purchase up to 88%.2

AR layers digital graphics over your customer’s surroundings. Incorporate a visual trigger into your catalog for your customers to activate with a smartphone camera. Then they’ll see your product come to life in any way you imagine.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is another game changer. Now your catalogs can deliver a message that comes to life before your customer’s eyes, right from their living room. Proven to revolutionize the shopping experience, the VR industry is expected to become a $10-15 billion market by 2022.3

Utilizing this technology and including a mailable headset in your catalog gives your customers everything they need to see your products in a whole new light.

Video-Enhanced Print

Video content is versatile and delivers your message instantly. You can incorporate this technology in your catalogs in several ways: embed a paper-thin screen into a mailpiece, direct customers to dynamic digital content or have your visuals come alive right on the page with video-enhanced print.

One simple way to incorporate this technology is through a QR code®.4 Launch digital content from your catalog with a QR code® that leads customers to time-sensitive promotions or your online shop. Catalogs with video-enhanced print can help mesmerize your audience and increase your product awareness.

Near Field Communication

Near Field Communication (NFC) is the new frontier of wireless technology. There are many exciting ways to use this technology that bridge a physical catalog with the digital world.

NFC tags–usually an embedded microchip in a sticker or a product label–can launch tailored digital content on an NFC-capable mobile device with short-range radio wave. With a tap or a wave of the smartphone, your customers can seamlessly connect to your brand online.

In Conclusion

Reinvent your catalog marketing with technology. Tell your brand story and immerse your customers in what your business has to offer with these innovative digital additions. Incorporate technology for richer customer experiences and potentially larger returns for your company.

Q&A: PebblePost® Executive Adam Solomon Talks Customer Acquisition

Mail has the power to drive business and convert customers in different stages of the marketing life cycle. It’s an especially effective medium when it comes to acquisition. Countless companies are leveraging mail and working with USPS in new and exciting ways to do just that. Since finding new customers is a major goal for any business in any industry, we decided to sit down with Adam Solomon, Chief Product Officer at PebblePost, to get a better understanding of acquisition marketing and the role mail plays in that equation.

PebblePost is the inventor of Programmatic Direct Mail™, which transforms real-time online activity into dynamically rendered, personalized direct mail that’s sent out every 12-24 hours. The company leverages data, proprietary advertising technology and mail to win new business and drive their digital marketing partners’ ROI. Though their solution is a digital platform, mail plays a crucial part in their campaigns’ success. Read on as Solomon talks in-depth about how technology, messaging, and personalization help convert new customers.

From your perspective, what are the benefits for using mail for programmatic advertising and customer acquisition?

At PebblePost, we solved a very interesting problem for both brands on the one hand and for consumers on the other. From the brand side, there’s been a lot of innovation when it comes to using data and programmatic technology to understand what consumers are doing in real time on their websites.

The challenge in digital has been the delivery vehicle, whether it’s desktop sites, mobile sites or mobile apps. It’s become a very busy Times Square experience, where ads are just jumping up in your face and really aggravating consumers. This has been proven out by the rise in consumers using ad blockers and all the news we see about consumers getting frustrated with advertising.

Not only is the digital ad experience lacking, there’s also a challenge over whether consumers are in the right frame of mind and in the right modality to receive those messages. Are they ready to transact and take action at the moment that the digital ad or technology is delivered?

Tangible media sent to home is a very polite, respectful and effective vehicle. Consumers check their mail maybe once a day. There’s some ceremony they go through to collect the mail and sort the mail. And if it’s a relevant and compelling offer, they’ll act on it on their own time. So the combination of using a strong real-time signal, which is a digital action that shows consumer intent, and other capabilities of digital and programmatic, in addition to the effectiveness of sending tangible media to home—literally delivering digital with feeling—that’s something that we brought together. We’ve found it in practice, in the last year, to be highly effective.

How does PebblePost leverage its technology to acquire customers?

In Q4 2016, we launched what we called our Website Prospect Remarketing solution. These are prospects already visiting the marketer’s site, but the marketer doesn’t know who they are. They’re not logged in; they’re not existing customers, but they’ve already raised their hand in some manner. There’s some call to action somewhere that has brought them to the site. So they’re already moving in the right direction as far as the brand is concerned, but the brand still needs to seal the deal.

We pick up on that signal. We recognize the fact that someone is not a customer, but a prospect or “new to file”. We have the same ability to use a strong real-time digital signal to qualify a user for a campaign. Then we leverage the power of the proprietary technology on our side that allows us to create connections between an individual visiting a website via a cookie and where to send the mail and find their postal address.

We’ve seen a lot of success with that solution, because this is a prospect that’s already moving down the funnel and we use this very effective tangible media vehicle to push them over the finish line and convert them into a customer.

You mentioned 3 things that I think are important to touch on: messaging, personalization and behavior. Let’s start with behavior. What kind of online behavior are you looking for when you’re seeking out new customers for acquisition?

We have a set way that we think about a user journey on a marketer’s website. If you think about book ends, on one continuum, someone visits the homepage. On the other end of the continuum, someone puts something in their shopping cart. That’s one step towards conversion.

Since we’re mostly focused right now on retail and ecommerce, the in-between pieces are when a user searches for something, maybe goes on a category page. Then they go a little deeper, they’re on a product detail page, then they put something into their carts and they convert. We have a set methodology that we go through, in terms of using a human effort and also machine learning and technology. The deeper someone goes, the more qualified they are.

However, even if someone is going deep and looking in a shoes category and looking at a particular pair of shoes, it doesn’t mean that they want to get a postcard or catalog in the mail just with that pair of shoes. They may just be in the shoe category in general or that might be completely wrong. You may want to promote a cross-sell. If they’re looking at shoes, you may want to promote belts, for example.

When it comes to customer acquisition, would you say that your messaging typically includes offers or is that just one tactic you take?

It really depends on the brands we’re working with and what their goals are. If a brand’s goal is customer acquisition, then we highly recommend as best practice that they have a very strong call to action and a very attractive offer. If it’s a Programmatic Postcard™, the offer should be displayed on the front and back. It should be perceived by the consumer as something being highly valuable, whether it’s the offer itself, or it’s the inclusion of a promotion code or a custom promotion code just for them. “Summer30” is clearly to a consumer a promotion everyone gets, but if it’s a specific number, they know, “Hey, it’s just for me.”

Another interesting thing about creative and the messaging of the offer is we can drive individuals from online to home back to online. We can also drive individuals from online to home to store. This is something you cannot do with a banner ad. People are not printing banner ads, putting them on their fridge and walking them to a store. That’s just not consumer behavior.

When it comes to mail, or what you’re referring to as tangible media, consumer behavior is completely different.

Right. If you get a card in the mail that’s a special offer that you can walk into a physical location that you can hand to a cashier and you get your $15 off or a certain percentage off, that is being perceived as very valuable to the consumer. It also affects behavior in a way that traditional digital cannot. We think PebblePost has a unique opportunity here, because over 90% of strong digital signals picked up today comes from online as people are surfing around websites, searching and taking action. All this signal is being generated.

About 90% plus of all purchase decisions are made in the home. And, though ecommerce is growing, about 90% of all commerce occurs in the real world, in physical store locations. So PebblePost connects through Programmatic Direct Mail™, the strong signal which comes from online, the purchase decisions which are made in home, and then we have the opportunity to drive back to digital, but most interestingly drive individuals to physical stores and complete that loop which is very compelling to marketers.

Final Thoughts

As PebblePost has shown, mail can be a powerful tool for customer acquisition. Though the company is a digital solution with data-driven decisioning and programmatic principles, it uses mail to get segmented, personalized messaging into customers’ homes. Leverage these principles to acquire more customers than ever before.1

Merging Social Media and Direct Mail

Social media and direct marketing exist in two different worlds, but together they stand to create an even more powerful marketing strategy. While data from social media is crucial for optimizing future social media campaigns, it can also be harnessed to enhance direct mail efforts by fine-tuning the messaging and target audience. Direct mail can similarly be used to enhance a social media campaign, by capturing consumer attention and directing an audience to a company’s online platforms. Working hand in hand, these two channels can boost the effectiveness of a campaign and create valuable insights.

Connecting Social Media and Direct Mail

Though these advertising channels operate across disparate mediums, one print and one digital, they can complement each other in a number of ways. With so much digital clutter, it’s hard for a company to differentiate itself on various social media channels. Direct mail marketing can truly boost social media efforts. By using direct mail in conjunction with social media, marketers can create a more original and memorable experience.1 For example, companies can cross-promote their content on social media and direct mail to build anticipation around wider marketing efforts. They can also countdown to product launches on social media, then send mailers and brochures once the product hits stores. To prompt users to follow a business’ social media accounts, physical mailers can feature social icons or QR codes that instantly link the consumer to a website or social media page.

Using Social Analytics to Enhance Direct Mail

While social media can amplify a company’s messaging and introduce it to a new audience, it can also gather customer data useful for building a successful marketing strategy. By studying social media analytics, companies can better understand their audiences and, in turn, use that information to create a more refined direct mail campaign. How? Looking at demographics, topics of interest, and click-through data, marketers can create more comprehensive audience segments. This allows them to better target their customer base using direct mail.2 Knowing what content and imagery performs best on social media can help inform marketers’ messaging and imagery choices on physical mailers.3 Leveraging this information can also help companies send the right message to the right consumer at the right time.

The Strategic Possibilities

Developing unified social media and direct mail campaigns can serve businesses in many different ways. Here are three dynamic examples.

Geo-targeting

Companies looking to market to a specific location can use social media to deliver hyper-local advertisements. Measuring which ads work in certain locations can then help these companies decide what areas to focus their direct mail marketing efforts. Facebook and Twitter, for example, allow companies to target customers by demographics, interests and location.

  • Use social media to send branded content or promotions to followers in Zip Code locations you’d like to target. Some social media platforms provide you with analytics that show you which areas responded most favorably to your content. This data can then be used to determine which areas would be the most receptive to your direct mail campaign.

Events

Social media offers an easy way to communicate important information about any marketing event and the company behind it. Simultaneously, direct mail, which neuromarketing has shown to be a more memorable medium than digital, can be used to build excitement around the event and deliver important information.4 Social sharing platforms can connect a brand’s followers to richer content in the form of brochures and mailers. These social channels can then drive consumers to lead-generation microsites where they can request direct mail about the event, as well as the company’s products and offerings.

  • Create custom hashtags to drive consumer excitement around the event and your newest line of products or services. As the event date approaches, create a lead-gen site that offers consumers product brochures and other branded materials. Promote the site with the chosen hashtags.

Personalization

Social analytics can provide brands with the ages, locations, and interests of their followers. With this information, companies can send direct mail tailored to each customer. Mailers can speak to the appropriate audience segment and offer promotions specific to the product preferences of each location.5

  • Send mailers that include personalized content that reflects the individual consumer’s profile. Direct mail messaging can also be tailored to the consumer’s stated interests on social media sites.

While it is important for a business to build a robust social media following, using social media in partnership with more traditional channels can enhance the potency of these efforts. Direct mail, which can elicit a pronounced emotional response, brings added value to a campaign by making a message more memorable. Together, direct mail and social media can heighten the influence and reach of a company’s marketing strategy.

Why Personalization May Help You Win with Millennials

Personalization is the act of leveraging data and personal information to deliver individualized messages to prospects and current customers. As a marketing tool, it’s obviously not new; it’s been a driving force in promotion for years. However, millennials are changing the way we think about personalized marketing.

Personalization can be an effective method for drawing in and retaining millennials. This generation grew up in the digital age, curating its own content on social media platforms. They love DIY curation websites, where they can scour the web for ideas and contact a merchant to help them bring custom creations to life.

For millennials, personalized marketing can help drive loyalty and purchasing decisions. In fact, a survey by Access Development1 found only 12 percent of millennial respondents had an active dislike for marketing communications, which is unlike previous generations of buyers. An NPD Group survey2 showed that while older millennials use more loyalty apps and shop at big-box national retailers, younger millennials prefer specialty stores and buying wholesale.

Millennials are also more open to giving out personal information—especially if they get something in return. According to research from Aimia3, half of millennials would share personal details to join a rewards program, while 36 percent of millennials would do so to gain access to a website.

whypersonalizationmayhelpyouwinwithmillennials_inarticleimage_11-7

The information age makes personalization even more personal. It seems a fair trade-off; if someone offers a business their personal info, the business should use it with care and specificity. Here’s what marketers should keep in mind to meet millennials where they are—and where they’d like to be:

Market with Personalization in Mind

Personalizing goods and services for the millennial crowd takes more than just attaching a name to an email or a direct mail flier. If we examine the rise of customizable menus in fast-casual restaurants, which allow its patrons to craft their own custom food creations, we see that many customers enjoy having more personalized options. A survey from Bond4 found that 55 percent of U.S. millennials would like access to personalized experiences and services that huge companies don’t have the bandwidth to provide.

Small and medium-sized businesses can take these lessons and apply the strategies to their own marketing campaigns. To entice the millennial consumer, customization may be the key. Companies can present options, though not too many, to appeal to the principles this value-driven generation loves. This is a shared trait between younger and older millennials; a Cone Communications poll5 showed that 92 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 91 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds would be willing to switch to brands associated with good causes.

The rise in popularity of curated subscription box services – from makeup to collectibles to pet supplies – is a perfect example of successful personalization in marketing. A beauty company has subscribers fill out a profile that asks basic questions about skin tone, type, and personal style. Based on the answers, it mails out five samples on a monthly basis. Subscribers try them out and have the option to buy full sizes of items they love.

Enhance Your Strategy

Small and medium-sized businesses should consider weaving personalization into their marketing, from the services they offer to their direct mail campaigns. Remember, what worked in the past may still be effective, but you may have to rethink your strategy and focus on tailored, individualized content for a crowd that expects customization and big value.

Consider what happened not too long along when a late night comedy host was taking potshots at politicians who sent mass emails with the respondent’s name in the tag. It pretended to be personal, but once you read a line or two, it was obviously just another form letter. Don’t fall into the trap of pretending to be personal—it’s important to actually engage with your consumer on a personal level.

Are you ready to personalize your direct mail for millennials? Check out “Reaching Millennials: The Role of DM.” It’s an informative guide that may help businesses bridge the communication gap—and generation gap—with millennial consumers.

6 Ways to Measure Direct Mail Success

Every marketing campaign gives a company the chance to learn and improve, and more importantly, find the tactics that spell out success. Today, companies employ a number of popular methods in order to measure and fine-turn their direct mail efforts to improve response and engagement rates. They include QR codes, activation codes, social media and more. Discover which options work best for you.

Tactic 1: Personal URL (PURL)

Create a personalized website dedicated solely to your direct mail campaign. Include this PURL in your direct mail collateral only. That way, the unique visits, sessions and page views the site amasses will directly correlate to your campaign. Go one step further by adding a form to your PURL that allows customers to share their information, then measure the amount of responses you get.

Tactic 2: QR Code®1

Connect with your mobile customers through easy-to-use QR codes®. By scanning the codes, customers can access a special PURL, where you can measure their web activity, or track their activity through the QR code® companies themselves.

Tactic 3: Business Reply Card

Add a pre-paid, coded business reply card to your direct mail. This popular marketing method makes it easy for customers to respond to direct mail campaigns. Not only will you be able to measure the amount of responses you get, you’ll also gain valuable leads and customer information.

Tactic 4: 1-800 Number

Include a phone number in your direct mail that’s used exclusively for the campaign. Incentivize your customers to call it for special offers or more information about your products, then measure the call volume that comes in.

Tactic 5: Unique Offer or Activation Codes

By adding individualized activation codes for in-store or online offers, your business can track how many codes shoppers use, where and for what products. Get more out of this tactic by utilizing variable data printing. By printing different images and copy in direct mail, your company can also find out which content is the most successful at driving sales.

Tactic 6: Link to Social Media Accounts

This one’s simple. Include your social media accounts on your mailers. Once they’re sent and the campaign begins, use the analytics tools on each social media site to track the up-tick of new fans and followers.

In Conclusion

When measuring a direct mail campaign, businesses have the opportunity to refine their strategy. By adding one or two tactics to a mailer, any size company can understand the strengths of its campaign. Better yet, it can use the information to create a more potent marketing strategy in the coming year.

How Technology Can Make Mail Irresistible

Twenty-first century technology continues to leap from LCD screens into the physical world, including the world of print marketing. Direct mail has defended its spot in the advertising world by consistently delivering a strong ROI, and marketers are recognizing the value of finding new ways to couple social media and outdoor media, email and mail, to achieve success. Read full article

Types of Holiday Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns

Direct Mail Campaigns Can Drive Holiday Sales

Growing businesses need solutions to gain traction amid heavy competition, and direct marketing campaigns can provide a marketing win that could help your business stand out.

With today’s focus on email marketing, it can be easy to overlook the power of direct mail. But think about your own inbox and how overwhelming it can become. That’s where a physical piece of direct mail can stand out. In fact, a survey by Epsilon showed that 77 percent of consumers sort through their
physical mail as soon as they get it.1

“…77 percent of consumers sort through their physical mail as soon as they get it.”

While building loyalty is crucial to all enterprises, it’s a common growing pain in any industry (see Figure A below2). Business owners need new ways to engage customers, and reaching customers with a compelling timely message during the holiday season is a smart strategy to accomplish this.

Figure A
Building Customer Loyalty

Direct mail may be a savvy pivot from tactics many of your competitors maybe using. During the holiday season, most business-to-consumer brands are entrenched in competitive sales and aggressive pricing, but either of those can drive down profit margins. Even though slashing prices to stay competitive can keep companies afloat during the holidays, it’s a short-term strategy. The advantage of a direct mail campaign is that it can show consumers a commitment to their journey toward a happy holiday season.

The advantage of a direct mail campaign is two-fold: likelihood of consumers opening their mail around the holidays, making it an ideal time to increase the odds of your message being read. And, you’re likely to reach consumers right at their point of decision, providing a convenient solution to a daunting holiday challenge.

Determine Your Goals Before Choosing a Direct Mail Strategy

Direct mail could easily provide a robust return on investment as long as it’s executed with a clear, actionable message. Many smaller businesses can benefit from adopting a more corporate outlook, especially when it comes to creatively allocating marketing dollars. While it may seem like an extra expense for a small-to-medium-sized business during crucial sales times like the holidays, this marketing investment could pay off when your brand focuses on presenting solutions to current—and potential—customers.

The type of direct mailpiece and messaging your brand uses will likely depend on what you need to accomplish and how that dovetails with what you offer consumers. For example, if your budding enterprise is pushing for more digital engagement, consider adding QR codes that instantly connect customers with valuable digital content. Or, include a coupon for a discount on an online purchase, which will drive sales while encouraging customers to engage online. See how different types of direct mail campaigns can be used at various buyer stages in the infographic below.

Send a Clear Message to Your Customers

A key to successful marketing is often reaching consumers during their decision-making process and influencing those decisions by offering something valuable, whether it’s a discount or a solution to a shopping dilemma.

A direct mail campaign can help build awareness during the key holiday purchasing season. Effective mail marketing can help familiarize customers with your brand. Even more so, it can help drive trial purchases when you offer customers something of value in your direct mail piece.

Direct mail can be the tipping point between considering and making a purchase, and having that first successful interaction with a brand can help build loyalty. Once customers have had positive experiences with a brand, those same customers are more likely to consider that brand for similar purchases in the future.

Your direct mail campaign should ideally reach customers at the critical juncture when they are evaluating options but before they make a purchase, and a strong holiday message that conveys value and commitment to their personal successes. Learn more about the different ways your mailpiece can stand out below.

Types of Direct Mail Marketing

Is Direct Mail Advertising Effective: A Research Study

Neuromarketing research shows physical advertisements have a pronounced effect on consumer decision-making.

The most optimal marketing campaigns are multifaceted endeavors, mixing multiple mediums to hit their target audience. Magazine ads, websites, billboards, direct mail, social media and smartphone apps are just a few ways companies convert customers. To drive profits, businesses must allocate their marketing dollars across the right channels. Today, no brand can dispute the power of the digital world, but what about physical advertisements like direct mail and print ads? What gives them their edge?

To get to the heart of this question, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General partnered with the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business to study the power of print and digital advertisements. Together, they found participants spent more time with physical advertisements, showed more desire for a product seen in print and were more stimulated by physical ads than by their digital counterparts. Below, we’ll dive deeper into the research and the results. Read on to learn how and when physical advertisements dominate digital marketing.

What is Neuromarketing?

At the heart of this study lies neuromarketing. This emerging field combines the insights of multiple disciplines, including neuroscience and psychology, to answer questions about marketing, consumer behavior and advertising phenomena.1 Working with Temple University, the USPS® used neuromarketing tactics to explore how consumers processed and engaged with physical and digital advertisements, both consciously and subconsciously.

neuromarketing research techniques

By looking at these neurophysiological measurements, researchers were able to make conclusions about consumers at three stages of the buying process. These stages include: exposure to information, retrieval of information, and action. By understanding consumers’ subconscious responses, businesses can optimize their marketing strategies and determine when to use mail, digital media or both in combination.

The Methodology

Temple University used survey questionnaires, eye tracking, core biometrics and neuroimaging to compare the effectiveness of both types of advertisements. In the first study session, participants viewed physical and digital ads for products, services and restaurants. The physical ads were printed on postcards, while the digital ads were embedded in emails. Eye-tracking equipment captured which ads they looked at and for how long. At the same time, biometrics equipment measured heart rate and skin conductance, which indicated physiological response resulting from emotional engagement.

A week later, researchers carried out a second session, in which they tested memory and willingness to pay. During this session, a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner measured the participants’ brain activity while they answered a series of questions about advertisements. Each subject had to indicate which ads they remembered from the week before. Finally, they underwent a simulated purchasing process, in which they had to report the amount they were willing to pay for each service, product or meal. Parsing through this data, researchers were able to make a number of telling conclusions.

The Results

Physical advertisements were proven to have more influence than digital ads in a number of ways. Not only did participants spend more time with physical ads, they also remembered them more quickly and confidently. Physical ads also elicited a stronger emotional response than their digital counterparts and, overall, had a longer-lasting impact. Looking at brain activity, researchers also discovered that participants showed a greater subconscious valuation and desire for products or services advertised in a physical format. This means physical ads are particularly effective in two stages of the consumer journey: exposure to information and retrieval of information. Digital ads trumped their physical counterparts in only one area: focused attention. Though participants did show more attention to digital ads, they gained the same amount of information from both types of advertisements.

direct mail effectiveness

Looking at brain activity, researchers also discovered that participants showed a greater subconscious valuation and desire for products or services advertised in a physical format.

Conclusion

What does this mean for marketing decision-makers? A few things. Digital media is both cost-effective and the fastest way to communicate an idea to customers. Stakeholders should use these digital ads when looking to gain attention and quickly deliver their message. However, print materials like direct mail, billboards and magazine ads have a more pronounced emotional effect on consumers. For marketers who want advertising with long-lasting impact and easy recollection, a physical ad simply has more psychological influence. Both mediums have their advantages. The most effective campaigns will use both in combination to create the most potent marketing mix. Learn how to leverage direct mail effectively in our white paper below.