This case study shows the findings of a Millward Brown study that investigated how the brain processes marketing materials. The study stemmed from the UK’s Royal Mail desiring to know if there were any differences between physical or digital media in relation to communication effectiveness.

In order to find the answer to this question, Millward Brown conducted their research using MRIs to scan the brain to measure emotional response to different forms of communication. They found that the “research strongly suggests that greater emotional processing is facilitated by the physical material than the virtual.”

Click here to see the entire case study by Millward Brown.

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In an effort to boost ROI for marketers and to keep mail relevant in a technology-driven world, the USPS is contemplating adding scannable codes to direct mail pieces. These codes would allow customer interaction with a mail piece, whether it be through a mobile website, a survey, or sweepstakes entry. This interactivity would also allow marketers to gain insight on how customers interact with advertising pieces.

These codes would either be a QR code, an intelligent mail barcode, or some other code that would allow users to access information with their smartphone by scanning the code. Users would most likely need some sort of incentive or call to action on the direct mail piece so that they would participate in scanning the code. The USPS hopes that the potential addition of these scannable codes will keep direct mail just as relevant and interactive as digital marketing.

By using the codes, the USPS can also offer more detailed tracking and information about how customers interact with marketing pieces to marketers. This information can be very valuable to marketers to help them understand how to communicate with their customers more effectively, and how to make marketing messages even more targeted. This can lead to more effective campaigns and higher ROIs for marketers.

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Print is nowhere near dead. It simply has more company in the advertising and entertainment world than it used to. New technology means more channels are available for getting a message across, but it does not mean that print has died out. It is a fact that print is being used less in favor of new technology, however, that does not mean print is irrelevant. It could even be argued that since print is used less by marketers, your print campaign has the potential to stand out to a customer even more.

The ritual of retrieving mail and going through it every day is still very much alive for consumers. If you have a creative, stand-out direct mail piece, it is sure to get extra attention when consumers go through their daily mail ritual. According to Research by Mail Print, 85% of consumers get their mail on a daily basis, and sort through it. An International Communications Survey found that 73% of consumers prefer getting advertising messages through direct mail over other advertising methods. Consumers also spend more time looking at printed mail pieces over email messages, and respond better to printed mail.

By getting creative and thinking out of the box with print campaigns, your brand can capture customer attention and therefore see a positive ROI. Integrate variable printing, QR codes, augmented reality, digital and social content in order to make your print piece stand out even more.

Magazines are also thriving, both in print and digital form. Magazine advertising also remains an effective tool to get a message across to a certain target audience. According to PrintMag, 91% of all adults, 94% of adults under 35 and 96% of adults under 25 read print or digital magazines. Consumers also spend over $300 million a month on magazines at the newsstands. More and more new print magazines are being launched as well, including Meredith Corporation’s newest title, Allrecipes, which was originally an online-only title.

The key to success with print advertising is creativity. Let us help you get started, click here to check out our website, or contact us today.

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Augmented reality is set to become extremely popular this year, and in coming years. It is a great way to engage customers through a printed piece and bring them into an interactive experience, that if done correctly, can be very memorable. Here are some tips to keep in mind when producing an augmented reality campaign:

1. Message. Your message throughout the entire campaign must coordinate and work together. The printed piece leading to the augmented reality experience must have a strong call to action in order to get consumers to understand and find the interactive content. The augmented reality piece must also have a message as well, do not lose focus with the “cool” factor of the technology. If your brand does not shine through with a strong message, your brand will be forgotten.

2. Educate. Along with a strong call to action to allow consumers to find the interactive content, you may have to educate on how to access and view the content. Augmented reality is still a very new technology, so many consumers may be confused on how it all works. Be very specific in your instructions on how and where they should hold their phone over the printed piece in order to have the best experience possible.

3. Engage. To provide a great experience for your customers, you must have engaging material. This means investing in an augmented reality experience that brings the printed piece to life and wows your audience. This will become memorable to those who have experienced it and make your brand stand apart. The possibilities are endless when it comes to using augmented reality to physically engage your customers, whether the experience allows them to test-drive your product or play a game that incorporates your product or brand.

4. Promote. Augmented reality is a great way to actively engage a consumer. It also takes investment, so be sure to promote it through multiple channels so your brand sees the highest ROI it can. Since augmented reality is still so new and unique, build up your campaign with a press release and bring about buzz and word of mouth.

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Here is the Postal Regulatory Commission’s press release regarding USPS’s postal increase ruling, as well as a chart that reflects the postal increases by class. Original article found here.

Press Release
December 24, 2013

PRC Approves Postal Service Request for Exigent Rate Increase; Rejects Permanent Price Increases
Washington, DC – Today the Postal Regulatory Commission issued Order No. 1926 in Docket R2013-11 partially approving a request by the Postal Service for an exigent rate increase to offset losses suffered as a result of the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

In its majority decision, the Commission found that the Postal Service experienced financial harm as a result of the Great Recession and is legally entitled to implement price increases in excess of the CPI cap for less than two years. The Commission denied the Postal Service’s request to make the increases permanent. It found allowing the increases to remain in effect indefinitely would be inconsistent with fundamental postal policies underlying the price cap.

“The Commission’s decision closely follows the law we are charged by the President and Congress to uphold,” said Commission Chairman Ruth Y. Goldway. “The Postal Service will be reimbursed for exigent losses that can be reasonably quantified. We have determined that amount to be $2.8 billion to cover the 25.3 billion pieces of volume lost between 2008 and 2011. The funds will come from a rate surcharge that will last just long enough to recover the loss,” she added.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires the Postal Service to demonstrate to the Commission its need for an exigent price increase above the CPI cap by describing the exigent circumstances and showing why they necessitate the increase, showing that the proposed rates are reasonable and equitable, and describing the circumstances under which the increases could be rescinded or reduced.

The Commission determined that the proposed price increases were reasonable in amount, equitable in that they are approximately equal for all categories of mail, and necessary to maintain and continue needed postal services. However, the Commission also concluded that the Postal Service conflated losses that are a result of internet diversion with losses that were a result of the Great Recession, and that it failed to provid justification for permanent price increases in connection with recession-related mail volume losses.

In its order, the Commission directed the Postal Service to report quarterly on revenues generated by the rate increases, and to develop a plan to phase out the rates once they have produced the revenue justified by their request.

The 4.3 percent exigent rate increases are scheduled to be implemented in conjunction with the inflation-based rate adjustment of 1.7 percent (one cent for ordinary mailers), approved earlier by the Commission. The overall adjustment is 6.0 percent (a total of three cents from 2013 rates or 49 cents).

Postal Increases by Class:

First Class Mail CPI request Exigent request Total
Presort Letters & Cards 1.615 4.291 5.906
Flats 1.267 4.627 5.894
Standard Mail
Letters 1.614 4.259 5.873
Flats 1.809 4.283 6.092
HD/Sat Letters 1.322 4.212 5.534
HD/Sat Flat/Parcels 1.412 4.261 5.673
Carrier Route 1.666 4.288 5.954
Periodicals
Outside Co 1.563 4.297 5.86
Package Services
BPM Flats 0.314 4.626 4.94
BPM Parcels 1.68 4.484 6.164

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Marketing Trends for 2014

January 2, 2014

The world will continue to become more digital in the new year, but that doesn’t mean that more traditional media will become obsolete. Here are some of the major trends we expect to see in marketing in 2014:

1. Content Remains King. No matter if you’re marketing on social media, through a magazine or direct mail piece or on your website, content is the key to a great marketing campaign. Consumers’ attention span is only getting shorter, so great content is necessary to draw them in and convey your message. Marketers must also know their exact target market in order to tailor a message specifically to them.

2. User Experience. A marketing campaign must capture attention. The campaigns that use print to direct customers to a mobile site need to ensure that the site will definitely work on all mobile devices. If a consumer can’t get to the experience, your brand loses credibility. Be sure that all parts of your campaign are in good working order to ensure a great user experience that will bring customers back again.

3. Augmented Reality. This technology is still very new, but is poised to bring a big boost to print media if done correctly. Many marketers believe the jury is still out on this technology, but that doesn’t mean you should lose out. Implementing trends #1 and #2 can bring about a great marketing campaign through augmented reality.

4. Data. 2014 is all about data that can be gathered, and what marketers can do with this data. This means building smart campaigns to bring in data from your current customers, as well as prospective customers. From there, your brand must build an intelligent data backbone which can help drive more personalized and successful marketing campaigns.

5. Faster Adoption. Consumers are reacting faster to changes in technology. New technology is being adopted faster than before, making it easier for marketers to use technology in their campaigns without fear that their customers won’t “get it.” Adoption rates are on the rise, however it is still imperative to know and understand your target audience.

Here’s to a great start to a successful 2014! As always, the Meredith Print Advantage team is always here to assist you with your print and marketing program needs.

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The Meredith Sales Guarantee Program (more information here) continues to see success in 2013. The program guarantees clients that they will see higher ROI results when advertising through Meredith Corporation’s magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, Parenting, Fitness, Family Circle, and others.

In 2013, Nielsen found that households that are exposed to print magazine advertising campaigns spent anywhere from 3% to 36% more than those households who had not been exposed to the magazine campaigns. The 25 brands participating in the Meredith Sales Guarantee Program all saw the 3-36% increase in sales through advertising in Meredith publications.

According to Nielsen, positive ROI for each of the brands ranged from $1.69 to $19.99 incremental for every media dollar spent.

Meredith’s $7.81 ROI, incorporating the impact of both annualized consumer response and total households, was far better than the average $2.79 ROI for campaigns run on digital portals/ad networks as measured by Nielsen Catalina Solutions over the last five years.

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The USPS recently announced its promotions for 2014. A detailed description of each promotion can be found here. Here is an overview of the offered promotions with their coinciding registration timelines and promotion periods:

First-Class Mail:

  • Earned Value Promotion:
    • Registration: February 15th – March 31st
    • Promotion Period: April 1st – June 30th
  • Color Print in First-Class Mail Transactions Promotion
    • Registration: June 15th – December 31st
    • Promotion Period: August 1st – December 31st

Standard and First-Class Mail:

  • Branded Color Mobile Technology Promotion:
    • Registration: December 15th, 2013 – March 31st
    • Promotion Period: February 1st – March 31st
  • Premium Advertising Promotion
    • Registration: February 15th – June 30th
    • Promotion Period: April 1st – June 30th
  • Mail and Digital Personalization Promotion
    • Registration: March 15th – June 30th
    • Promotion Period: May 1st – June 30th

Standard Mail:

  • Emerging Technology Featuring NFC Promotion:
    • Registration: June 15th – September 30th
    • Promotion Period: August 1st – September 30th
  • Mail Drives Mobile Commerce Promotion
    • Registration: September 15th – December 31st
    • Promotion Period: November 1st – December 31st

View the full calendar here.

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Frequency in marketing campaigns can be a balancing act for marketers. On one hand, sending out a single mail piece campaign may be effective, but not very memorable. On the other, inundating your target audience and/or current customers can be frustrating for the prospect or customer and lead to them ignoring your marketing efforts completely. There is a balance in between those extremes that is right for your brand, message, and target audience.

Figuring out that balance may take time, but there have been studies that show that a few different components are key to frequency balance:

  • Know your target audience. Are you reaching your current customers? New customers? Know exactly who you are targeting, so you can get the right message to the right audience, and can strategize on the frequency of your message accordingly.
  • The message. The marketing message should vary from each point of contact with the customer. Identical mail pieces should not go out on monthly rotation. Instead, mix up your message to engage customers and keep them interested in what you have to say. Coordinate messages to lead to the next point of contact with the customer to engage them further.
  • Have a strategy. This is key. Before you send any direct mail piece, flyer, or coupon, have a strategy on how you will implement the rest of your campaign. When is the next piece scheduled to be mailed out? What type of message will be sent next? Will other types of media be included in this campaign? No matter the results of the first piece that is sent, continue with your entire marketing plan in order to see the overreaching results.
  • Integrate many different kinds of touch points. For example: send direct mail, and through that mail piece, have a call to action that sends the customer to your website for a coupon. Make them provide an email address in order to get that coupon. Then, follow up with an email. There are many different routes to touch a customer, so use all that are available. This will keep your message fresh, while reaching customers from many different angles.

Multichannel marketing has been seen to be very effective, when planned appropriately. A study was done and the following was found:

“A joint study from the University of California, Riverside, Boston College and Southern Methodist University examined the benefits of using different multichannel marketing efforts in the auto industry, specifically focusing on the most effective mediums and frequency. The study, which was published in the Journal of Marketing, found that after adjusting and readjusting sending schedules and methods, the most effective advertising mix was nine to 10 postal mailings, three phone calls and three to four emails over the span of approximately three months. The study found nine to 10 paper mail promotions resulted in upwards of $200 in repurchase spending – far more than any other medium.

‘Good old snail mail seemed to be more effective in the long term than phone or email,’ said Andrea Godfrey, co-author of the study and assistant professor of marketing at UC Riverside.” -SmartSoftUSA.com

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The USPS has announced that customers will see a 2.4 percent increase in shipping rates at the beginning of the new year. New shipping options are also being introduced, such as domestic Priority Mail Express, which allows customers to select a specific day they would like an item delivered at a charge of $5.00 plus the cost of shipping.

Highlights of the new retail pricing for domestic Priority Mail Express products include:

  • Retail Flat Rate, Padded Flat Rate and Legal Flat Rate envelopes — $19.99
  • Flat Rate Boxes — $44.95

The postal service is working to stay competitive in the shipping industry by offering competitive prices and service. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will be reviewing these rate increases and new service options, and if approved, the prices will be effective on January 26, 2014.

The USPS is now beginning its busiest time of the year, with holiday mail and packages increasing deliveries.  The busiest mailing day this season is projected to be Monday, Dec. 16, when more than 600 million pieces of mail are expected to be processed. The busiest day for packages will be Thursday, Dec. 19.

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