If you are looking to improve your ROI on your direct mail piece (and who isn’t?), it is important to get the lowest costs possible.  Tri-Win employees work hard to allow our customers the best printing prices and postage discounts.  If you’ve sent a lot of
direct mail, you already know that postage expenses are usually the most costly
portion of a direct mail campaign.  Our staff has experience in a variety of mailing products and we know what it takes to obtain postage rate incentives.

There is a lot to be said about the different “co” programs that are available now from the United States Postal Service – commingle, comailing and copalletize.  All are ways to save money on postage, and when combined can offer significant discounts on mailings.

When we first started working with BAI and their Midwestern client they were mailing
350,000 to 400,000 pieces per month of nonprofit letter size mail destined for
areas throughout the United States. Realizing that much of their mail was not
receiving any kind of entry discount when dropping it locally, we suggested the
process of copalletization.  If you are unfamiliar with the term – let’s look
at what copalletization can offer.  In copalletizing, mail trays that have been addressed and sorted are combined on the same pallet with trays from multiple customers going to the same destinations.  These full pallets are then entered in the USPS’s National Distribution Center (NDC) nationwide or into one of the Sectional Center Facilities (SCF).  The SCF is a USPS processing and distribution center that serves a designated geographical area defined by the first 3 digits in a zip code.

At first BAI was hesitant as they did not want their client’s mail pieces to
experience any longer delivery time. We provided them with a study showing the
rate at which a 12 million piece sampling of mail was delivered using the copal
process. This study showed delivery times on par with what they were currently
experiencing mailing from Dallas. The added perk for their client was that
after all logistics costs were taken into account there was an average savings of
$2,500 per month in postage.

By entering the mail at a NDC or SCF, our customers benefit from:

  • Greater postal discounts
  • Better tracking abilities
  • Faster shipping as copalletized mail enters the USPS closer to the destination

Tri-Win saved BAI and their client over $30,000 in 2011.  Can we save you money on your
mailing campaigns?  We are postage professionals at Tri-Win and will work with you to ensure your piece meets all USPS regulations and that you receive the best postage rates in the direct mail industry.  We can also help you design your piece and provide you with an accurate mailing list. Give us a call at (866) 809-8998 and let us show you how to save money on your next direct mail campaign.

by Heather Westgate, Chief Executive, TDA

It’s widely acknowledged that many direct marketers are earmarking greater portions of their budgets for online activity. The relatively low cost of digital media, combined with a capacity for more detailed measurement, makes it an attractive option in many ways.

However, anyone who thinks that their business can survive on search marketing and banner ads alone will probably be disappointed.

Digital marketing brings many opportunities for enhanced engagement, but you need to get people to visit one of your spaces – whether it’s your website, Twitter profile or another online hub – before interaction can begin.

Much of the time, offline channels remain the most effective acquisition tools and they play a valuable role signposting existing and potential customers online.

Direct mail, with its ability to engage one-on-one with customers, can play a particularly powerful part here. In some cases, it can actually be more appropriate and lead to greater cut-through.

It’s true that you might not always be able to prove exactly which press ad or which piece of direct mail prompted an online visit. Despite your carefully crafted easy-to-remember campaign URL, a potential customer may still have ultimately arrived via Google.

But you can’t attribute all the success – or the entire budget for that matter – to that last click. Successful marketing involves many touch points and chains of connectivity.

Axing your offline budget and diverting it all to digital would be like trying to run a car without an engine.

When developing a marketing communications strategy, it should never be about adopting an ‘either/or’ approach. It’s about customer insight, intelligent targeting and applying the best combination of channels, and the role of imagery and visual creative has a fundamental part to play here.

Some, for example, may prefer to read a physical rather than digital copy of a magazine – not only is it more portable, its ability to bring content to life with imagery and colour leads to a more stimulating and engaging experience for the reader.

Equally, a well-thought out direct mail campaign can drive online traffic and convert customers. The direct mail pack is, after all, tangible and can therefore create longer-lasting impressions on the recipient.

Direct mail’s ability to bring content to life with imagery and colour leads to a more stimulating and engaging experience.

Direct mail’s biggest strength is probably its ability to personalise a message. It’s also often more likely to spark an online visit than other forms of advertising such as press ads, as people who receive mail at home have instant access to their personal computers.

According to recent reports, neuroscience experiments support the theory that direct mail creates significantly longer-lasting impressions on certain areas of the brain compared with digital marketing, and could therefore have a bigger impact on a brand’s bottom line.

This has been backed up by research commissioned by Royal Mail, which showed that a physical piece of direct mail is significantly more multi-sensory than an online version, due to the increased number of senses which are triggered by simply holding something, rather than seeing it on a screen.

It’s important to remember too, that whilst the ultimate goal might be to sell, the more traditional offline tools can enable you to achieve steps such as building a brand, acquiring leads, or deepening an existing relationship.

A great example is an integrated campaign which we created recently for Cancer Research UK, so it could thank its regular donors for their support and show them the difference their help had made.

The mailing was designed to deepen relationships with supporters and inspire them to continue giving. It focused on personal stories about people local to each donor’s area who have battled with cancer, and on donors’ own motivations for giving.

Recipients were invited to visit the Cancer Research UK website to share their own stories. More than 2,000 recipients responded with their own stories, showing that the key aim of engagement had been achieved.

Many think that visual creative-based campaign marketing is living on borrowed time, but this denigrates the concept of integration.

When combined effectively with a digital strategy, the use of imagery and visual creative in direct mail can lead to a more compelling customer experience and more effective customer acquisition.

It should still be considered as a key component in any campaign strategy, but be reinforced with a significant presence across other channels, in order to shape the customer journey with maximum effect.

The secret to creating effective customer journeys – and therefore better ROI – is finding the right balance between push and pull marketing.

There isn’t a one size fits all solution, the ideal ratio ebbs and flows in line with the audience, the proposition and the business need.

Direct marketers need to embrace this approach with increased confidence and panache. Rather than thinking in terms of online and offline ‘matching luggage’, ROI should be the starting point, and how effective integration can help deliver it.

This in turn should spark a return to some of the core values and techniques of direct marketing – targeting, proposition development and strategic timing.

Over the next year or so, I expect to see a rise in sophisticated ‘test and learn’ activity exploring new and exciting ways to manage customer journeys across platforms.

The best direct marketers are those who are not tied to one approach and who communicate with today’s consumers, not at them.

Heather Westgate is Chief Executive of leading direct marketing agency, TDA.

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By David Henkel

Marketers have heard the call to build brand loyalty and engage customers with their direct mail activities through the use of multiple media channels. Combining traditional direct mail tactics with new, interactive capabilities is a cost-effective way for every business—particularly small and midsize businesses without large marketing departments—to produce a higher return on their investment and generate business leads. Employing a multi-touch direct marketing program also offers the opportunity to gain a closed-loop system that tracks, analyzes, and measures the value of a campaign.
The scenario used to go like this: John Smith receives a piece in the mail speaking to the masses who might be interested in the product or service being sold. There is, of course, a call to action with a phone number in the hopes that John is one out the many mailed to who is interested enough to make a call to get more information. This is often called “spray and pray” direct mail marketing, and rightly so. A prayer is the only thing that might spur action unless John really wants your product or service.
But let’s fast-forward. Today John Smith receives a piece via traditional mail, or another initial communication such as an e-mail, with a personalized URL (PURL) or a QR code he can scan with his smartphone leading him to a microsite that houses the information he is most interested in receiving. Once on his microsite, John may find anything from an invitation to sign up to receive monthly e-newsletters to an embedded video to downloadable coupons for a chance to win a relevant prize.

Shortly after visiting the microsite, John will receive an e-mail response thanking him for visiting the site. Based on information John chose to share while there, he may receive an additional letter, text, or social media notification as a follow-up to the product or service he expressed interest in. Now we have created a totally different experience for him—and for the business employing a direct mail campaign to engage him.
Integrating interactive technologies into traditional direct mail campaigns allows you to receive demographic information and data on consumer behavior in real time. Additionally, using intelligent mail tracking (such as USPS’s Confirm service) enables you to receive e-mail from the Postal Service confirming the drop date of your direct mail piece. Delivery alerts make it possible for you to notify customers via e-mail or SMS to expect a personalized package in the mail, sparking curiosity.
Another component involves PURLs, QR codes, and microsites designed to let customers choose how involved they want to become in the campaign and how much of their contact information they are willing to share. Providing the option to opt in or opt out of communications creates a stronger database of engaged customers for future campaigns.
This sort of permission-based marketing can, of course, also be a source for referrals. Customers may forward links to videos and articles on their personalized landing page to their family and friends, expanding a campaign’s reach and effectiveness.

Combining direct mail and interactive strategies also saves time and money. Rather than having to pay 47 cents for a business reply card and waiting for the post office to return the information, you can direct customers to respond online, through social media outlets, or via mail depending on their preference. With so many choices to efficiently communicate and participate in a campaign, customers are more likely to say yes to the offer.
More good news is that smart direct mail campaigns just keep getting smarter. An integrated marketing program also provides the ability to populate CRM systems with information collected throughout the campaign. This intelligence indicates which calls to action and packaging drew the greatest response, information that is vital for refining future campaigns as well as helping to educate sales teams on business leads and development.
Direct mail has always been an effective form of influencing consumer behaviors and strengthening brand identity. But times have changed, and consumer behavior has definitely changed with them. Now, with the advent of easy-to-implement, affordable interactive technologies—and the intelligence we can gain from them—your direct mail campaign can be more powerful and influential than ever before.

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by Beth Negus Viveiros
Why personalized URLs might be a good addition to your next mailing.

It’s common sense to include a URL as a response mechanism in any direct mail piece to give recipients a quick and easy way to get more information or make a purchase.

Increasingly, mailers are turning their plain vanilla Web addresses into URLs personalized to the recipient. “They add relevance, and they engage the customer across multiple media for a longer period of time,” says Jesse Himsworth, channel marketing manager of AlphaGraphics Inc.

Himsworth shares a few reasons you might want to dress up your next mailing with PURLs:

The Wow Factor: Having their name in the URL is a great way to grab a prospect’s attention. Combine this with customized variable text and images, and your piece just might get read, rather than immediately tossed into the recycling bin.

Better Integration: If you time your mailing to sync up with efforts in other media, a PURL can help you better integrate campaigns across multiple channels.

Measurability: You can tell if someone has visited “their” site and set up a trigger-based e-mail blast to hit right after that visit.

But remember, while PURLs are great to have in your arsenal, they’re not a silver bullet. “When PURLs first came out, people thought that the prospect’s name [in the URL] was enough to drive someone to a site,” says Himsworth. “Now, the offer is critical. It needs to be part of a strong strategy.

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