Marketing trends are constantly changing, especially with so many trends being centered around technology that is constantly changing as well. Here are the top three most notable marketing trends that marketers are finding success with right now:

1. Personalization: The “one size fits all” mentality doesn’t work anymore, consumers are looking for more. They want to be impressed. Personalization brings new life to marketing pieces. It makes a customer feel special and gives a certain clout to a marketing piece in a customer’s mind. Data is a big driver behind executing personalization effectively, but this method can be very impactful and can lead to purchase or response to a call to action.

2. Content is (still) King: Your marketing piece must contain good content, no matter the message you’re sending. Good, effective, and relevant content is a must, whether it is being fed through social media, a mini catalog, or a QR code. Make the content worthy of consumer’s time in order to catch your target market’s attention. Poor content can lead to a distrust in a brand and a feeling that those marketing efforts waste a consumer’s time. Great content can bring about customer loyalty, better results, and even a higher ROI. Attention-catching content could even go viral and bring in new customers, which is the best kind of response a marketing piece can get.

3. Integrated Marketing: By bringing together social networks, websites, blogs, and printed content, a strong well-rounded message can be created that points customers to other aspects of a brand’s marketing network. An email could point a customer to a brand’s website, which could contain a call to action to sign up for a direct mail coupon. The direct mail piece could then point the customer to a social media network, and so on. Basically, think about the best way to get the most for your marketing dollar. Use all of your communication portals to create a campaign that is interesting and also makes sense to your customers. 

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Magazine Comeback

April 9, 2014

Magazines are getting more attention lately, and for many reasons. There have been big-name subscriptions who have made the decision to go back to print, and many digital publications are now choosing to print physical copies of their content. For an example of this, check out this post from last fall.

Not only are magazines making a bigger splash in an increasingly emptier mailbox, consumers also report that they look forward to receiving their magazine subscriptions. Reading a magazine is appealing to many, as it is seen as a relaxing, stress-free activity that promotes “unplugging” from electronics and taking in content the traditional way.  Publishers are finding that consumers are looking for a tangible print experience; through touch, feel, and even scent, to maximize their experience with the magazine.

Many print titles have come back with very strong brands to back up their magazine title. Consumers want to experience the magazine brand itself, as well as the content it delivers. The economy is another factor, with the turnaround bringing consumers to home improvement or luxury brand titles. Magazine titles have also gotten smarter in delivering content to their readers, through multiple channels which brings convenience to the consumer.

Marketers are recognizing the influx in magazine readership, and advertising more with magazine titles, depending on the industry. Magazine brands have also increased the value for marketers, since they are able to advertise on multiple channels through the physical printed magazine, its website, and tablet content. Marketers are also seeing magazines as an opportunity to get in front of a specific target market, especially with how many niche titles are out in the market.

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The Postmaster General and CEO of the USPS, Patrick R. Donahoe, gave a keynote speech at the National Postal Forum in Washington D.C. recently. Donahoe discussed changing attitudes and strategies of marketers and the use of direct mail marketing, and how the USPS is seeing direct mail take on a new role in the advertising world.

“We’re seeing mail being used in some tremendous new ways—especially as part of integrated marketing campaigns,” said Donahoe. “All of this is leading to a reappraisal of the role of mail in the marketing mix—and we’re starting to see the beginnings of that reappraisal.”

The Postmaster General wants to focus on making mail more effective for both the marketers and the consumer, especially with all the technological advances that can now be incorporated into direct mail. Donahoe says, “Our industry needs to give all marketers a sense that mail can be used in new ways, we need to drive a better understanding of the value mail brings to integrated marketing campaigns.”

Augmented reality, QR codes, PURLs, and direct mail personalization can be powerful marketing methods. All of these integrate digital content so that the receiver of the mail piece can become more interactive with the marketing message.

“Mail is the most effective channel for driving customers to a retail location and for driving customers to websites,” Donahoe added. “You can use mail to launch a video on a smart phone, or to make quick purchases out of a catalog or a flyer. We’re now able to measure and analyze all of these interactions—that’s adding value for senders and causing marketers to give mail a fresh look.”

Donahoe emphasized the need to make mail personal to the recipient, including digital content, creating opportunities to interact with an electronic device through a direct mail piece, and to keep mail pieces fresh and creative. All of these strategies are currently very popular in direct mail marketing. Overall, the USPS is trying to show value through direct mail marketing, as well as assist marketers with strategies and ideas to make their marketing campaigns successful.

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Mini catalogs are a great way to send a strong marketing message and save on postage costs, especially with the changing postal environment. Traditional large catalogs tend to seem large and cumbersome in a tech-driven world. Marketers are able to take the content they would have had in a larger catalog, and segment it to work in mini catalogs that are more cost effective and are showing a higher response rate.

These mini catalogs can be mailed at the cost of a standard automated letter, but can contain up to ten pages of content. Marketers can easily schedule more editions of these mini catalogs to go out to their target audience, rather than sending a few large pieces over the year, or in addition to the large pieces. These multiple touches help the consumer to stay in touch with the brand, and can even be personalized for the specific consumer to create a better relationship and lasting effect. Mini catalogs are a great way to save on printing and postage costs, all while engaging the audience, and in most cases, see a higher response rate.

Mini catalogs are also designed to not need wafer sealing which can damage a mail piece when a consumer tries to open it, unlike similar mail pieces. This can effect both open and response rates. It is also more cost effective to not have to add the wafer sealing. The mini catalog design makes it easy for marketers to get creative with the piece and overall campaign as well. Marketers are seeing success by using mini catalogs, with the same or better response rates as large, traditional catalogs and are seen as a very effective marketing tool.

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Print can get a bad rap for the use of paper and the assumption that using large amounts of paper is harmful to the planet. Because of this assumption, many companies are moving towards digital for marketing pieces and e-billing and marketing the switch to consumers as “greener” or more “sustainable”.

This begs the question: is digital greener than paper?

Magazines, postcards, direct mail pieces, catalogs, and other printed materials do use a large amount of paper, but the paper industry is very sustainable in its forestry efforts. In fact, over 600 million trees are planted each year by the paper and forest products industry. Paper is one of the most recycled resources on the planet; more than 65% of all paper in the U.S. gets recycled. Currently, 54.7% of the paper used in the U.S. is recycled paper.

Digital may not use paper as a resource, but the devices that allow digital content to be accessed have a whopping 18% recycle rate. Not to mention the carbon footprint it takes to manufacture and fuel the device. The environmental impact of creating one e-reader is equal to to that of creating 40 to 50 books. E-waste is a growing problem, with 40m tons being dumped every year.

There is no concrete evidence to determine if paper or digital is more environmentally friendly, but it is an important question to take into consideration and be aware of. Consumers should be aware of the pros and cons of both paper and digital content and use, so they may make the most informed decisions when deciding between the two.

 

Sources: The Guardian, Freeport Press

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1. Content. Make your direct mail piece useful and eye-catching so that consumers feel that it is worth their time to read the piece. Marketers only have a brief window of opportunity to lure customers in with a mail piece, so content that entices a consumer to open a piece is crucial. Be sure that your content not only makes that open happen, but is also useful and pertinent to the consumer as well. This will leave a lasting impression with consumers that direct mail pieces from your brand are worth their time to open.

2. Make it weird. Sounds odd, but if your mail piece is shaped differently, includes an object inside, or is unique in another way, it will most likely be opened. Consumers are curious. Take advantage of that by getting creative and making a piece that will drive that sense of curiosity and get your mail piece opened so that your message will be seen.

3. Have a strong call to action. Your direct mail piece should lead your target audience to do something. Make it clear what that “something” is in order to get the best response. Want to drive consumers to your website? Tell them to head to their computers or mobile devices and make the website address loud and clear on your mailer. The same goes for any call to action. A clear, concise, and easy call to action will drive better results.

4. Send a sample. Have a great new product to promote? Why not send a small sample with your direct mail piece? This is another way to implement #2 – make it weird. Samples are proven to gain more consumer attention and mailer opens, and it gives consumers a chance to try out your product themselves.

5. Tailor. Make your content specific to your target audience, or even to a specific customer. Tailoring content to specific groups or people will only increase your ROI, as long as the right people are getting those tailored messages. Personalization is a huge trend lately, so help gain attention to your direct mail piece by tailoring the information or call to action to the recipient.

6. Get creative. This tip also ties into those previously discussed, however, it is so important that your direct mail piece is creative in order to stand out and get the most bang for your buck. Boring mail pieces get tossed immediately. By spending a little time and being creative with your piece, you can increase the opens your mail piece gets and even your ROI.

7. Make it interactive. Be sure to include your website and any social media sites your brand has on any marketing material you send out. This cross-marketing is important, so that your brand stays cohesive and all marketing pieces are brought together. There are many great ideas for merging digital and printed media, that have shown great responses from consumers. Check out our post, 3 Ways to Integrate Print & Digital.

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Recent studies have shown that consumers are more interested and responsive to marketing messages that are personalized to them. This means the content is tailored to the consumer’s specific interests or past product purchases, and could also include their name, location, demographic or age, and other characteristics that is unique to each customer. Customers have created a high demand for very personalized marketing in recent months.

Marketers have heard this preference for personalization from consumers, and are doing their best to respond and find what works best. According to an article by eMarketer, “three-quarters of US senior-level marketers and agency decision-makers agreed that ‘individualized messages and offers will be more effective than mass messages/offers’ this year, and about the same percentage said ‘personalized one-to-one marketing is the future.’”

Results from personalized marketing campaigns have shown a higher response rate and increased sales, which helps to offset the higher costs associated with building and launching a heavily personalized marketing campaign. Stronger brand perceptions were also an outcome of personalized campaigns. These campaigns are bringing a positive uptick in customer loyalty, as those customers who are receiving more personalized marketing also tend to make repeat purchases.

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