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Business, How To, Tips

Five Ways to Use Direct Mail During the Holiday Season

It’s no secret that direct mail is at its peak during the holiday season. Businesses are sharing discounts, invitations and greeting cards are being sent to friends and family, and communities raise money for those in need. Why do all of these different groups use direct mail? It’s the most personal way to reach customers, family, and potential buyers. Here are five different ways to utilize the postal service this holiday season and connect with those who matter most! 

Holiday Cards for your Business

The first way to use direct mail during this season is to send holiday cards to your employees. After the last few (difficult) years, it’s important now more than ever to show those who keep your business going that you are thankful for them. With business gifting becoming popular amongst different establishments as well, sending a gift along with a personalized card is sure to put a smile on your employees’ faces.

 

Promotional Holiday Mail

The holidays are full of sales, discounts and specials. Since the pandemic, people are using mail as a contact free way to shop and connect. According to the USPS “77% of consumers sort through their physical mail as soon as they get it.” When offers and discount codes are sent out, it ends up directly in the hands of potential buyers and stands out amongst the digital noise. It’s great when your direct mail reaches homes, but what should be on it to encourage customers to take action? A clear message and call to action will have them placing orders instantly. Qr codes are also a great way to send someone directly to a link.

 

Current Customer Appreciation

Retaining customers is very important and showing your appreciation is crucial. Direct mail is a great way to keep them engaged! For example, an end of year letter that talks about updates and exciting goals for the upcoming year. Or even giving out an exclusive offer that nobody else will be getting. How can you as the business make them feel valued, and encourage them to return? Getting personal with regular clients can help build stronger relationships as well.

 

Community Outreach and Business Initiatives:

The most wonderful time of the year includes giving. During this time, nonprofit organizations will be collecting donations for the community and businesses participating in initiatives to give back. Organizations will send out direct mail to spread the word and encourage people to contribute. At The Mailworks, we offer multiple products that nonprofits use for fundraising and promoting events. One product example is a letter mailer with a reply card and number 9 envelope. The letter communicates the goal and initiative, and the reply card and envelope makes it convenient for someone to mail in their donation. Many organizations also put on events during the holiday season. It could be a fundraiser, holiday party, raffle or auction. In preparation, invitations are sent out. An invitation mailer with an insert reply card and A2 envelope is a great way to get RSVPs, or any other kind of information needed for the event.

 

Holiday Cards and Seasons Greetings

Business aside, many friends and family look forward to receiving gifts and cards in the mail. They also look forward to sending their own out to loved ones. At The Mailworks we have many card products to choose from that can be 100% customizable. Don’t have a card designed? No problem. We have graphic designers that will work with you to create the perfect holiday card for you and your family. The Mailworks also offers special enhancements like foil to add a touch of sparkle to your card. People find sentiment and value in sending and receiving a physical printed card. Many friends and family save them, or hang them up on display!

 

These tips and tricks are sure to help you engage with your target audience. Whether for personal or business, direct mail is an effective way to get noticed, spread the word and make someone feel good this holiday season. You can accomplish all of these tips and tricks through The Mailworks. Not sure where to start? We have people who are ready to assist you with your next mailing or project! For inspiration, industry insights and more follow us on social media @themailworks!

 

 

Sources

https://www.pens.com/blog/what-to-write-in-holiday-cards-for-clients-employees/

https://www.uspsdelivers.com/types-of-direct-mail-campaigns-for-the-holidays/

Press Release, Tips, Trends, Updates

Industry Update: Paper Shortages

Current State of The Industry

Paper supply is vital to the health of the print and direct mail industry.  The COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend global supply chains and impact operations across all areas of business. The paper industry is no exception. Without this key resource, the expression “stop the presses” takes on new meaning, literally.

The good news is that the desire to reach consumers in their homes using direct mail has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, this combined with other factors has caused a worldwide paper shortage. 

This new reality has “sent shock waves through the industry and created a mad dash as printers fight for resources.”

How Did We Get Here?

Throughout the Pandemic, the need for personal hygiene products and packaging papers increased. Simultaneously, the demand for graphic arts papers decreased as companies marketed less during the shut down period. Mills adjusted their production lines to produce the products with the highest demand and sold “off inventory” for the lower demand products. 

When the economy reopened, demand for graphics arts papers surged! Mills are now facing the balancing act of producing  multiple product lines at record rates. Inventories are depleted and there just aren’t enough production hours to keep up with the current demand. Combine this with the nationwide labor shortages, import delays at our nation’s ports, and transportation logistic issues –  the situation has grown dire.  

This new reality has “sent shock waves through the industry and created a mad dash as printers fight for resources” says President and CEO of The Mailworks, Brianne Baggetta. The impending holiday season only makes securing stock especially difficult with the rise of online shopping,  as many mills have converted some to most of their manufacturing lines to make corrugated packaging papers.

 

What The Future Looks Like

Currently, there is not enough paper to meet the demand. Unfortunately, the market is not expected to return to normal until mid 2022 or even the beginning of 2023.

As a result, mills are tightening allocations (the amount of paper allocated to each customer). They are working with existing customers to try and get them a percentage of what they usually order. In addition, prices are raising across the board. These limitations put a heavy strain on most businesses’ ability to serve their clients, leaving them searching for alternatives to meet their needs.

Helena Nichols, Procurement Specialist at The Mailworks has been working around the clock to secure stocks, even if that means reaching out to new vendors. She’s had to think outside the box, saying “It’s broadened our perspective on how to source our supply needs. We are building new relationships with mills and paper distributors, strengthening our ties with current suppliers and more than ever, planning and communicating frequently. We are working to be more strategic than tactical when sourcing for supplies.”

Industry experts still recommend planning as far in advance as possible to secure deliveries. They also note as a general consumer, this shortage will reflect far wider than the print industry. Expect to see limitations and price increases on common goods such as wrapping paper, toilet paper, boxed goods, etc. When asked about The Mailworks approach for the future, Baggetta shared, “Our goal is to secure as much of our primary stocks as possible, while finding cost-effective alternative paper stocks for our customers.”

The Mailworks will continue to stay ahead of this situation as much as possible by planning with customers and forecasting future needs. We recommend you plan your marketing budget for the coming months proactively.

Direct Mail School, Guides, Tips

The Ultimate Direct Mail Checklist

Direct mail works and we make it easy. We’ve put together a checklist to make it even easier for you! Did you know you can build entire campaigns through our online store? Direct mail is your opportunity to connect with customers like never before. Download and save this checklist for when you’re getting ready to send out your next direct mail campaign. Then head to our online store to get started!

 

PDF DOWNLOAD

MailWORKS, Tips

The Unexpected Generation You Should Be Mailing To

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re looking to send out a new direct mail campaign. You want to go big and decide to create a piece that has all the bells and whistles. A QR Code, foil lettering, personalization and more!

But you get to the moment when you’re determining who needs to receive this campaign. Your company is selling the latest baby gear and you need to define who your ideal target audience is. You dive into research and find out it’s… millennials. 

Before you scrap the whole campaign, read this! Millennials may be the next big audience that you can reach through direct mail and we’ll tell you why.

 

Who Are Millennials?

Millennials aren’t who you may think they are. This generation has gotten older and are well into or starting their adult lives. The Millennial generation is now anyone born between the years of 1977 and 1995 making the age range 26 – 44 years old. What’s even more interesting is according to Gallup Analysis, 41% of Millennials are married with children. This generation is much into the trials and tribulations of adulthood but also the great milestones as well. They have adult concerns and priorities and if you’re going to market to them, it needs to reflect that.

Since this generation is moving into it’s top spending years, they will reshape the economy and change the way you sell. It’s important to study their habits, wants, and needs. They’re a unique generation who still remembers what it was like to receive a handwritten letter in the mail from a pen pal or a card during the holidays. Give them the nostalgia they’ve been longing for with direct mail.

 

What Do They Want?

Market research can often tell us a lot about what a demographic wants. But the good thing about the Millennial generation is that they don’t hold back. You may be shocked to hear that the millennial generation enjoys direct mail, despite the fact that they’ve grown up in a digital age. In a study by the USPS, convenience and immediacy are key opportunities when it comes to doing business with Millennials. But, this can be true for any business looking to sell or market to this generation. Millennials also like the convenience of self service. They believe that it eases the burden of most tasks, so consider this in your marketing. 

And finally, personalization is a home run when it comes to marketing to Millennials. Use their name, know what they like, and how they live. This generation is more likely to interact with a company who speaks directly to them and offers a personalized service. Want to take it a step further? Keep them coming back for life with a loyalty reward program. 

 

 

Make The Most Of It

Tips for Reaching Millennials Through Mail

  1. Give Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse

  2. Get Creative

  3. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

  4. Make It Easy: Convenience is Key

  5. Customization

  6. Reward Them 

Whether this is your first time marketing to Millennials or your thousandth, you can’t go wrong with direct mail. Include a strong call-to-action and tap into their emotions. You will begin to build or nurture a relationship of trust and longevity.

Sources:

USPS Delivers

Forbes

US Data Corporation

Hydrate Marketing

USPSOIG

Direct Mail School, Tips

How QR Codes Are Transforming Direct Mail Into a Data Gold Mine

Article reposted with permission from Mapp.com.

Let’s face it… In today’s marketing landscape, offline marketing gets a bad rep. It’s often seen as an outdated option with limited data and reporting capabilities.

Direct mail is no exception to this rule. As one of the oldest forms of marketing, it’s often written off by marketers for this very reason. As a whole, direct mail truly has lagged behind the rest of the marketing industry in terms of targeting, personalization, and proof of ROI.

But direct mail’s lack of priority status in media plans is about to change. In fact, the true data-driven players are already using direct mail in new and innovative ways. The big driver of change? QR codes.

What is a QR code?

QR Code

It seems like QR codes are absolutely everywhere these days. Posters, billboards, restaurant tables, business cards…even in the sky! It’s no wonder they’re becoming more popular.

We’ve all seen them before. But what exactly is a QR code, and how does it work?

A QR code, short for quick response code, is basically a type of barcode that directs you to online content. In the past, you needed a special app on your phone to scan a QR barcode. But now, most people can conveniently use their smartphone camera to complete the scan process. This is what is making QR codes more relevant and accessible than ever before.

Each code contains information about an item that is linked or attached to the code. This information appears once someone scans the code. If the QR code is attached to a URL, you would need an internet connection in order to open the attachment.

QR codes are the ultimate way to link the offline and online worlds. Rapidly growing in popularity in the marketing landscape, their incorporation in direct mail is making a big splash.

How are QR codes being used in direct mail?

QR code data

For the direct mail industry, QR codes have been sorely needed for a long time. And while they were actually invented back in 1994, they weren’t widely used until recently. Especially in direct mail.

The most common way that QR codes are being used in direct mail is by incorporating them into calls-to-action. A mail piece only has so much space, so QR codes open up the opportunity to link to additional content.

Another benefit is convenience. We all know that customer experience is key, so why not make it easy on your audience with a quick and simple way to take the next step? Instead of having to manually type in a website, a QR code connects you instantaneously.

And it gets better! QR codes also provide the one thing that is like gold to all marketers: data. By using a QR code on direct mail, marketers create an entirely new layer of data (more on this later).

Even more exciting is the augmented reality QR code. While not widely used yet, this interactive option is a compelling way to further engage an audience.

What data is provided by QR codes? 

Let’s get to the important stuff, the reason you probably clicked on this blog post. What data points and tracking capabilities can QR codes add to direct mail? The short answer is…a lot.

Depending on which QR code provider you use, you’ll be able to access a ton of rich data that standalone direct mail can’t give you. Expect to receive total vs. unique scans, scans by operating system, scans by location (city and country), the operating system used to scan, and more.

Each of these data points is amplified even more when your QR code is attached to a PURL. In direct mail, a PURL一short for personalized URL一is made possible by variable printing. Leveraging PURLs enables marketers to create a unique QR code for each recipient that will take your strategy to the next level.

Instead of accessing aggregated campaign data, a QR code with a PURL will allow you to actually track behavior on an individual consumer basis. Now that’s a game changer.

To personalize your QR codes on a large scale, it’s best to select a QR code provider with an API. Also check to ensure that it links with Google Analytics.

What CTAs are being used for QR Codes on direct mail?

QR codes are versatile, which makes them even more valuable for marketing purposes. In addition to driving traffic to a simple URL, you can also attach QR codes to virtual business cards, PDFs, social media, payment platforms, videos, surveys, apps, and even songs. The possibilities are endless.

Apart from being interactive and convenient, QR codes don’t actually change direct mail’s calls-to-action all that much. Think of a generic marketing funnel for prospecting. You’ll move consumers further down the funnel using similar tactics, with the added benefit of better tracking.

Direct Mail QR Code

 

Recommendations for success

There’s good news and bad news. Let’s start with the bad news. Chances are, you’re not going to get it right the first time. QR codes are fairly new territory in marketing, so it’s going to take some experimentation to get it right.

The good news is that you can accelerate the learning process with some good old-fashioned A/B testing. In addition to experimenting with the types of content, targeting, design, and calls-to-action that you use, you can also switch up the actual look of the QR code.

QR examples

Chances are, you won’t get statistically significant results for smaller campaigns. But with larger quantities, you’ll really be able to tell who the true winner is.

Key takeaways

If you’ve never incorporated QR codes into a direct mail campaign, it’s worth giving it a shot. It truly adds another dimension to this old-school, offline marketing medium.

  • Experiment with different calls-to-action. The more personalized, the better.
  • Keep a traditional marketing prospecting funnel in mind. With QR codes, it’s enticing to branch out. But sometimes, the tried and true tactics just work best.
  • A/B test to accelerate learning. You won’t get it right the first time. Using variations will help you learn faster and get you the results you’re looking for. The data doesn’t lie.
  • Attach your QR codes to PURLs. PURLs will bring individual-level data to your campaigns. If you find a certain strategy is getting a lot of attention, invest in PURL technology to get even more data insights.

Remember that if the results aren’t there at first, try again! It takes some experimentation but when you are successfully able to connect the offline and online worlds, it’s marketing magic.

 

This guest blog was written by Brianne Baggetta at The Mailworks.

How To, Tips

How To Use QR Codes Like a Pro

What Is a QR Code?

We’ve all seen them. On posters, food packaging, advertisements, and more. QR codes are once again becoming a go-to digital tool. But what are they?

QR, or quick response, codes are square images consisting of a unique pattern and scanned using a smart device. After scanning the code, customers can get instant access to a URL, contact information, video, PDF–the list goes on. A link between the offline and online worlds, QR codes initially gained popularity in the early 2010s. The value of these small codes has been seen once again by marketers and consumers alike. 

Let’s dive into the ways you can use this mini tool to see a big return. 

 

Different Ways To Use QR Codes

If you haven’t been using QR codes in the past few years, you may remember the old way of downloading an app in order to scan a code. Well that has all changed. Users now open the camera on their smartphone and leave the rest up to the code and camera. A QR code’s ease of use is what makes them ideal in a “now” world where information is wanted quickly and efficiently. 

The best part about QR codes is that they can link to pretty much anything and your call to action is the perfect place to bring your customer. What are you trying to get the customer to do? Do you want them to send you an email? Redeem a coupon? Or like your business on Facebook? If one or all of these are the case, then you’re in luck because QR codes can link to them. Provide your customers with a quick prompt to scan the code and leave the rest in their hands. 

Because we have a few more favorites, here’s a list of 10 different places to send your customers using a QR code:

  • Email Address

  • Website

  • Form

  • Social Media Channels

  • Coupon or Offer

  • Calendar 

  • Download an App

  • Phone Number

  • Fundraiser

  • Purchase Link

Where Do They Go?

So, now you know how to use QR codes but where should you put them? 

On anything! And we mean it. Put them on your products, packaging, advertising, and our favorite, direct mail. 

To make it simple for you, here’s another list of all the places you can put QR codes:

 

Get Started

At this point, it’s safe to say that you’re a QR code pro. But it wouldn’t be fair if we gave you all of this valuable information on QR codes and not tell you how to get started! There are many QR code generators out there that all provide a similar type of product. One that offers great features is QR Code Generator. They give you the option to create your own “landing page” and link to different types of resources. These include a virtual business card, event, social media, app, video, PDF, coupons and more. It’s easy to get started and you’ll be adding QR codes to your products and marketing in no time!

 

Marketing, Tips

7 Steps to Branding Success

Branding. What is it and why does your business need it? Branding goes beyond, fonts, colors, logos, and slogans. Branding is what your business needs to set it apart from the competition. It evokes emotion and allows your customers to align with your products or services.

The big question here is:

Have you made a strategic plan to implement branding in your business?

If you’re just starting out, are in need of a rebrand, or don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. Even if you’ve established your branding, it’s important to revisit what you’ve outlined often. Do a check-in on what you’re doing and where you want to go, analyzing if it aligns with your branding and goals.

These next 7 steps will help you establish your brand by tuning into what your expectations are but also your customer’s.

Steps To Success

Branding will be the basis of everything you do and say within your business. And the good thing is, you probably know what your branding is without realizing it. You know how you want to make people feel when they interact with your business. What will your business be recognized for? Start this thinking from the start. 

 

Inspiration is everywhere. What brands or businesses do you connect with? Do you like what they’re saying? Use that as inspiration for your business. But remember what makes you different. Your competitors can be a big source of inspiration. They’re either succeeding at what you’re doing or they have a community that’s super loyal. After being observant and taking in all you can, pour it out on paper or create a vision board. 

 

This is when you get to be creative, or hire someone else to be creative! Create your logo, choose your colors, fonts, and more. The colors you choose are more important than you may think. Colors elicit emotions and can mean different things across cultures or industries. For example, red and yellow, McDonald’s iconic colors are said to evoke hunger. So red and yellow may not be the best colors to place in a gym or fitness center. But again, it’s important to focus on how you want your customers to perceive your brand. 

 

The target audience is who you’re trying to reach and sell to. But how do you find out who they are? Research. Research. Research. Go out and see how people are interacting with your product in real life or who’s talking about a similar product on social media. This can give you great insight into who you should be reaching out to. You can start at a high level and break it down to where someone likes to vacation. It’s okay to be specific and as you learn more about your ideal customer add other personas. There won’t always be one perfect person which is why it’s common to create three avatars and even a secondary target audience. Some tools that are great for finding your target audience are Google Analytics, Reddit, Social Media, Surveys, and Nielsen. 

 

Your brand voice will set the stage for your business and how your customers perceive you. Brand voice is how you talk to your customers and the style in which you will communicate. How do you find your voice? Keep your target audience at the forefront of your mind. You want this voice to feel true to your brand values and persona. Keep in mind what you outlined in step 3. How do you want people to feel when they hear from your brand? Are you talking to them like a friend or a leader? This will all help to determine whether your voice will be playful or serious. Your voice is truly dependent on the nature of your business and how customers will interact with your brand on a daily basis.

 

Now that you’ve established the necessities of branding, it’s time to determine how you’re different. What sets you apart from your competitors? Is it a unique twist on your product or service? Or how your brand speaks to them through email and social media? It’s up to you to decide. If you need some more insight on this, take a look at your target audience again. Is there something that they like or are drawn to? Do you have a different way of reaching them where your competitors aren’t? The best part about this step is that you can test it. Spend a few weeks trying one thing and pivot if needed!

 

It’s time to put your ideas into action. When we say connect it to everything, we mean everything. Your website, emails, social media, print, advertising, store front, and more! However you’re doing business, you want your brand to be reflected in everything you do.

 

To Wrap It Up

Branding is the key to success in this social age. Your brand or business was created by you but it prospers because of your customers. How they perceive your business is incredibly important in an age where people have less time and are looking for quick and easy content to consume. Evaluate your branding on a regular basis and make sure it’s reflected in all parts of your business.