Blog Category: Direct Marketing Solutions
Welcome to the Preferred Direct Blog
21 Ways to Add Flair to Your Direct Mailers
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Welcome to the Preferred Direct Blog
How Commercial Printing Can Elevate Marketing Results
HP 240T HD Roll to Roll Press
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High Speed Mail Inserter
Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant, even in the digital age in which we live, is because many people still prefer to get communications from companies by direct mail in print form. This is especially true when messages are tailored specifically for them.
A majority of respondents to an online survey conducted by Consumer Action said that they prefer to receive all types of bills by mail—even if they’ve opted to pay the bills online. For medical, utilities, insurance, property tax, mortgage, and credit card notifications, 45 to 74 percent (depending on the account category) said they choose paper over electronic communications.
And even with brands leveraging digital marketing and mobile apps, 73 percent of U.S. consumers still prefer to receive direct print mail. Why? because they can read it whenever they want.[2}
As you can see, direct mail is still relevant, especially when it’s personalized through variable data printing.
What Is Variable Data Printing and Why Is It So Important for Direct Mail?
Variable data printing (VDP) is a digital printing technique used to personalize print communications. VDP allows for various page elements, such as text and graphics, to be different on each piece of a print run.
Variable data printing can involve something as simple as changing the greeting or name on each copy of a print piece (akin to a mail merge). Or it may be more complex, involving the customization of other text and graphic elements, according to customer information, address, or other data. For example, at Preferred Direct, our variable data detailer allows us to add custom messages, coupons, maps, and other elements to invoices, letters, notices, and more.
The ability to tailor print messaging to individual recipients has become essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and generating revenue. Customers expect brands and organizations to send personalized communications. And personalized communications mean that customers receive relevant content that drives them to action (e.g., pay a bill, purchase a product, or do something else that the sender desires).
Variable data technology has become essential for many different applications—such as statement generation, collection letters, and more—in a wide array of industries. Examples include:
● Account statements from banks and credit unions
● Investment portfolios
● Credit card statements
● Medical bills
● Medical EOBs (Explanation of Benefits)
● Patient appointment reminders
● Collections letters
● Invoices for premiums
● Policy updates
● Insurance EOB Statements
Municipal and Energy
● Invoices for gas, water, sewer, electric, trash
● Collections letters
● Special Notices
● Cable TV invoices
● The phone company and wireless provider invoices
● Collection letters
Sales and Marketing
● Targeted direct mail marketing campaigns
● Sales letters
● Fundraising campaign letters
● Event invitations
Colleges and Universities
● Financial aid statements
● Admissions letters
- Revolving credit statements
- Direct mail marketing pieces
The above examples are just a sampling of the many types of direct mail print communications that leverage variable data to make them more effective.
What to Look for in a Direct Mail Printing Provider
When choosing a direct mail printing services provider for your organization’s communications, there’s much to consider. Not all printing resources have the expertise or equipment to handle the demands of variable data printing. Using variable data is one of the reasons Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant.
Below are some key characteristics to look for:
● Ability to handle a wide array of variable data printing applications
● Flexibility in how they can receive your data
● Experience with variable data printing applications in your industry
● Compliance with HITRUST and HIPAA
● Advanced printing technology to ensure the utmost accuracy and print quality
● Services beyond printing
Ability to handle a wide array of variable data printing applications
Your needs may evolve over time, so look for a direct mail print partner that has the knowledge, experience, and equipment to handle all types of variable data printing applications.
No matter what your organization requires, at Preferred Direct, we are equipped with the expertise and technology in-house to create all varieties of personalized print pieces.
Flexibility in how they can receive your data
Find out if the commercial printer you’re considering will allow you to send your information your way.
When you work with us, we will accept your information via a secure FTP (file transfer protocol). We aim to make the process convenient for you.
Experience with variable data printing applications in your industry
Every industry has unique concerns and nuances to address. Therefore, industry experience matters when selecting a print partner for your variable data, direct mail projects.
Preferred Direct has vast experience and a proven success record in many different industries, including those that must meet strict privacy and security requirements.
● Healthcare providers
● Insurance companies
● Financial services providers
● Colleges and Universities
● Businesses and Retail
● Nonprofit organizations
Compliance with HITRUST and HIPAA
Preferred Direct is HITRUST CSF certified. We approach every project with the HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF), the most widely adopted security framework in the U.S. healthcare industry, in mind. Following HITRUST CSF standards means we handle our customers’ data in a way that meets regulatory compliance requirements and reduces risk. [DM1]
We also adhere to the latest HIPAA regulations for protecting sensitive patient data. We apply the necessary security measures so that organizations have compliance with peace of mind.
Advanced printing technology to ensure the utmost accuracy and print quality
Technology changes at a rapid pace. To ensure you get the best quality outcomes and efficient pricing from direct mail production runs, make sure your commercial printer has the latest equipment and software.
Preferred Direct has cutting-edge digital printing technology. Our HP T240 HD and Xerox® Impika®, presses deliver optimal production speed and cost-effectiveness for continuous feed inkjet printing. We specialize in accurate, high-speed lasering and ink-jetting, with the flexibility to communicate custom, personalized messages, thanks to our state-of-the-art equipment, software applications, and skilled team. This is Why Direct Mail Is Still Effective.
Services beyond printing
In addition to mailing database management, customization, and printing of your direct mail, we also:
● Match mail
● Postal discounts
● Deliver mailings to the post office
● Manage inventory
We also offer expert design services to give your direct mail the visual appeal needed to attract your recipients’ attention and engage their interest.
Learn More About How Direct Mail and Variable Data Printing Can Benefit Your Company
Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant? In summary, direct mail—particularly, personalized direct mail—remains an essential tool for building customer loyalty and improving bottom-line results. Keep in mind that working with variable data requires making privacy and data security a priority. Therefore, it’s critical to work with a commercial printing company you can trust to uphold the highest standards of quality and protect customer data. Fortunately, you don’t have to look further for a reliable partner for your personalized direct mail solutions. Preferred Direct has all of the experience and capabilities necessary to handle all of your direct mail and variable data printing needs. Contact us to discuss your next project!
What Is Direct Mail?
Ultimate Guide to a Direct Mail Campaign is posted for you to learn the specifics of Direct Mail. Direct mail refers to the act of sending a physical medium to potential prospects, current clients, or existing members of your organization. It could be a letter, pamphlet, package, postcard — anything that sends a message about your business or organization.
There is some thought that direct mail is for B2C, but it can be an equally effective strategy for B2B as well. Preferred Direct is both a print and direct mail operation, making us a powerhouse for businesses Direct Mail Campaigns over the nation.
The Power of Direct Mail
Direct mail creates a tangible experience in a person’s hands, one that can reach the practical senses to connect with the emotional side. It may explain why the Direct Marketing Association found that house lists generated an average response rate of 9%, and prospect lists generated an average rate of 4.9% in 2018. The response rate had roughly doubled from the year before, making 2018 the most productive year since 2013. Studies have shown that people view direct mail as more trustworthy, perhaps because it requires more effort to send than your standard email blast.
What Kinds of Direct Mail Are Most Effective?
The 2016 data revealed the following ranking (in terms of response rate):
- Oversized envelopes
- Dimensional mail
Oversized envelopes create a sense of anticipation, an itch that needs to be scratched. Postcards give people all the information they need with nothing more than a single glance. Catalogs are both enticing and easy to flip through to see if anything catches the eye.
And, well, you might be wondering what precisely dimensional mail even is. In short, it’s anything that isn’t flat. In other words, if you make your flyer into the shape of a paper airplane, there’s a much higher chance that someone will open it. You can also try making your mail more than 3/4″ thick. That also seems to hold a lot of appeal to recipients if you’re measuring based on the response rates.
How Does B2C Direct Mail Work?
A B2C Direct Mail Campaign doesn’t have a lot of rules, which is one of the reasons why it can be a fun project for marketers. Some people will send instant coffee to customers to show them just how easy it is to use the company’s services (as simple as adding hot water). This type of direct mail works especially well for startup businesses. Others will work the personalization factor, addressing a person as directly as possible.
So instead of just including the person’s name, they might also incorporate the school they go to, the type of financial account they have, or their specific insurance policy. Non-profit organizations often include coins in their direct mail pieces to prompt the recipient to respond.
Addressing a specific person means using variable data in commercial printing. You’ll need a company that can quickly alter a piece, so it’s as accurate and useful as possible. So if you’re trying to send information to your patients about their insurance policy, you can vary your direct mail based on the patient’s plan and coverage levels. Preferred Direct has worked with countless Direct Mail Campaigns across a wide variety of industries, and we’ve seen what works along the way and the solutions they provide.
How Does B2B Direct Mail Work?
Consumer direct mail will inherently be different from B2B, especially if you’re marketing or targeting a highly select group of people. We recommend personalizing every piece of mail that goes out (similar to B2C efforts). Some businesses have even gone so far as to create personalized portraits or cartoons for each prospect. (Trust us when we say there are enough freelance artists out there to make this little gamble worth your while.) Others will send leftover swag to companies for everyone to enjoy, or create a fake press release or news article that details how their business can help recipients solve a problem they already have.
Whatever it is you do with your B2B direct mail, you need to consider the end product of each campaign. If the colors of your brand are a little dull or the artwork is a bit smudged, it can create a negative association with your company long before the reader ever really bothers to learn what you had to say.
What Is Digital Mail?
Digital mail is a way for you to personalize your correspondence using computerized tools and therefore more targeted. Digital Mail allows you to manage your mail through your Smart Phone if you like.
Mostly, it’s a way of piquing your audience’s interest without dramatically increasing the time or cost of the project. One of the biggest reasons why email campaigns and virtual advertising fails is because it rarely addresses the reality of the consumer’s life. A financial account holder who’s never invested before is unlikely to care about an opportunity with a minimum buy-in of $20,000. Parents of a toddler aren’t going to rip into a brochure that details the myths and facts of student loan debt.
For some, using variable data may have been difficult to do in the past, but this has largely been changed by the technology of the day. Rather than plates having to be swapped out every time you wanted to change artwork or wording, database-driven printing equipment can be programmed to go from one piece to the next seamlessly.
How Can I Best Personalize Direct Mail?
One word: segmentation! If you’re not segmenting your lists, you’ll end up sending meaningless junk to people. You’ll end up wasting your direct mail budget! A marketer’s job is to comb through their audience to better understand what’s driving people’s habits and to make the mailing more targeted.
Variable data can be incorporated into direct mail, but you first need to know how to best work with that data. Ideally, you’d want to send a different message to every customer and prospect. Customers and prospects want to feel valued, especially given the level of competition in the business world today. And while this is a tall order, you can get closer to this goal if you can start paring your list by everything from age to income to lifestyle.
As you begin to make your lists more specific, you can use A/B testing to quantify your response rates. So let’s say you create a small list of people. They’re all roughly the same age, they all live in a similar neighborhood, and they all share vital traits in terms of their profession.
As an example, you send one half of the list a letter detailing how you can help them save some cash with your services. You send another half a letter discussing exactly how your business helps customers save time. From there, you can measure the response rates to see if people care more about their money or their time. There are many ways to A/B test your mailing piece. You can test colors, call to action, fonts, etc The key is to test and test to be sure that you are getting the best response or the response you want.
Why Wouldn’t I Send an Email?
Consumers are consistently facing a deluge of email. When this strategy was first debuting, marketers found success in carefully constructed email campaigns. However, the influx has made it such that even the most dramatic of subject lines are not getting the desired results.
People receive 121 emails a day on average, meaning it’s become much more of a chore than anything else. In contrast, people still enjoy checking their mailbox, especially when they get something interesting or fun from time to time.
How Much Does Direct Mail Cost?
Here’s the rub if you’re comparing the two most common forms of communication: email is virtually free, but direct mail will cost you a little more. The largest expense for a Direct Mail project is the postage.
Direct Mail can end up affecting your ROI, but we still think it’s worth the risk.
Direct mail can cost anywhere from a few cents a project, the graphics collating of the data to the bindery of the medium.
If you’re looking to save a little cash on your project without compromising the quality, you’re in luck. The machinery used for direct mail has improved in the past few years, making it possible to handle high volumes and complicated design requests (whether in terms of graphics or folding). If you’re looking for commercial printing, it helps to pick a company that knows the value of a good investment.
Preferred Direct has the Xerox Impika and the HP T-240 HD printer, both of which have managed to blow us away with their efficiency and results. Print on Demand projects is high-speed full-color printing at its finest. What that means for your direct mail campaign is that no drop of ink is wasted, and no detail is overlooked. You can use the paper stock that fits your brand, so you can rest assured your direct mail is making the right impression.
How Does the Post Office Work with My Direct Mail?
The post office looks at everything from the size of your mail to the thickness to the shape. Their visual inspection of the trays or sacks and the accompanying paperwork, whether First Class Pre-sort or Standard will be necessary for the mail’s approval. If everything isn’t labeled correctly, carriers may treat your direct mail without the kid’s gloves it requires. You don’t need your carefully crafted folding job to end up flattened at the bottom of a postal bag. Preferred Direct knows the U.S. Post Office requirements inside and out, and we make sure your mail is delivered precisely how you intended it. Why go through all that effort if customers or prospects end up with a half version of what you meant to send?
How Can I Use Direct Mail with Inbound Marketing?
Inbound is all about working with qualified leads, and direct mail is all about creating them. The more interest you can generate through your outbound efforts, the more you can grow your inbound efforts. Use direct mail to educate people about what it is you’re trying to do and watch how your efforts encourage them to take the next step.
As with any inbound strategy, you need to find customers where they are. It should come as no surprise to you that some people won’t even look at their mailbox because they’re too busy looking at smartphones. But for marketers in industries like insurance, finance, and education, you’re likely dealing with homeowners who are still interested in the mail.
You can also work with opt-in lists to create more inbound success. The people on your opt-in list have already asked for you to send them direct mail. Those who inherently have an interest in your company may be more likely to follow-up on your specials or promotions, which can lead you to more profitable relationships. Sending just the right number of publications can encourage customers to upgrade without annoying them.
Or you can try following up a virtual sign-up with a physical one. So if someone subscribes to your email list, you can send a thank you with direct mail. Or you can send an interesting case study that showcases how you help people just like them. Doing something a little different can help your company stand out.
Can I Cross Commercial Printing and Digital Marketing?
Yes, and the results can be surprisingly effective. Some people will direct customers or prospects to the website instead of asking them to call to make an appointment. Some will offer incentives to sign up for their app, but only make those incentives available to those who receive their direct mail.
You can also print a scannable QR code on your direct mail piece. The data will show you how people are interacting with your mail piece.
What Should I Look for in a Direct Mail Company?
A direct mail company needs to be able to keep up with you. Despite the many (many) printing companies who advertise cut-throat rates online, the moral of the story is that your level of service matters. If you need to make last-minute changes to your direct mail, you need a staff that can make it happen.
With Preferred Direct, you get a project manager who is looking after all the details on the project. They’re the ones coordinating different employees, so no request is falling through the cracks. These pros are also here to help guide you through the process of direct mail. So if you have questions about segmentation, branding, or A/B testing, we show you how to make the most of your hard-won lists.
How Can Direct Mail Directly Affect My Profits?
A Direct Mail Campaign is a great way to strengthen your branding efforts. The more times you can connect with your customers on different levels, the more likely they are actually to remember you. So while your direct response rate may not be 100%, that doesn’t mean you haven’t made another impression on your customers.
Your virtual communication, physical media, and broadcast efforts may all differ based on the audience and the communication method. Still, the essence of the brand and the messaging stays the same.
If you want to learn more about how direct mail can help you, Preferred Direct is here to give you a few tips. We have the equipment, know-how, and professional experience to provide you with more than just standard advice. And while we can’t get into the specifics of your campaign right now, we can undoubtedly dive right in when you give us a call.
Direct Mail Campaigns can be hit or miss for companies of every variety, and few things are more frustrating than a low ROI for each unit you send out.
You may not expect your direct mail to be kept in a keepsake box until the end of time, but it’s certainly not meant to catch a customer’s used chewing gum before they’ve even looked at it! The good news is that there are some simple strategies that can lead to higher response rates.
1. Capitalize on the Captive in Your Direct Mail Campaign
A direct mail piece isn’t as flashy as the bells and whistles of an internet advertisement, but this isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. Direct mail often comes across as more trustworthy to customers than digital ads, likely because it requires more effort to create and send.
You also have a captive audience in front of your piece, one that won’t be distracted by the next email or pop-up ad. You’re giving your customers a reason to slow down and concentrate, and they will take the opportunity to do this if the mail is presented in the correct way.
Now is the time to breakdown the message you’re sending customers. For example, if you’re sending direct mail that’s more involved, such as an Explanation of Benefits, you have a tremendous opportunity to draw the reader in by using everyday language. When you make your materials reader-friendly, the reader has a better chance of understanding how you can help them.
Email is an exceptionally cost-effective way to reach your customers, but its ease and affordability have all added up to a lot of noise out there. When the average person gets 121 emails a day, you can’t rely on a clever subject line anymore. A regular mailbox was never meant to hold that kind of volume, which is why most people still like checking their mailbox to see what they got.
2. Segment Your Lists
Imagine you’ve been looking to take a college-level course in the film for fun. You don’t want to get a degree in film and pursue a life in Hollywood, but you do think it would be interesting to learn how people make captivating movies. If you received a piece of direct mail from an educational institution about how to take one-off classes to better oneself, you’re likely to sit up and take notice.
This kind of precise marketing or Target Marketing is possible when you segment your lists. While most companies separate customers based on demographics and location, you can take it one step further. The most successful businesses will collect and analyze information from a wide variety of sources. For example, they may have customers take an email survey about what exactly they’re looking for from their healthcare or financial planning. Or companies will set up loyalty programs, track customer behavior, and devise promotions that speak to customers on their level.
When you’re segmenting your lists, you can use variable data to improve the quality of your direct mail campaign. This tactic will change the wording and graphics of your direct mail piece without slowing the printing process down. The right print on demand company can not only handle the volume and specificity, but it can also get it done as quickly as possible.
No matter how segmented your lists get, reputable printers have the technology to handle the details. A segmentation strategy all but eliminates the need to come up with a clever slogan or to overspend on paper.
When it comes down to it, the essential element you’re trying to convey to your audience is that you’re a company that can be trusted. When you can speak directly to a customer on their level, you show you’ve done your homework.
3. In Your Direct Mail Campaign -Think Different
Each marketing channel your company uses needs to vary according to several factors while still maintaining cohesion. For example, you might use email as a way to notify patients of their upcoming appointments and direct mail to promote new services.
It’s the color, formatting, and wording that connect your brand to each medium, so the customer still walks away with the right impression of the company.
To do this in such a way that people listen, you may need to break the rules. The most commonly read type of direct mail is the oversized envelope, perhaps because it calls to the recipient to find out what’s inside. Postcards are also high on the list, likely because people can merely glance at the direct mail to understand the takeaway.
Other companies will create dimensional mail in the form of paper boxes, airplanes, etc. These unique pieces of mail catch the eye and win your customers over in spite of themselves. Even the most conservative companies can still be creative with their communications.
For those who want to send more conventional material, you might consider offering recipients an incentive that they won’t receive anywhere else. For example, inviting them to a private event or providing a special discount over direct mail. This can help generate the buzz you need to entice more people to open your communications.
Preferred Direct is a print on demand company that specializes in marketing and branding our clients to their customers. There are so many ways in which companies can take a wrong turn when it comes to direct mail campaigns. Segmentation can undoubtedly come across as helpful, but it may also come across as invasive.
Creativity is certainly recommended, but you don’t want to spend big for folding paper airplanes unless it’s worth the returns.
We’re here to help you find a strategy that works, regardless of your budget, deadlines, or customer volume.
We use inventory control to reduce waste while still leaving enough flexibility in case your plans change. We take advantage of automated solutions that will save you time and money, yet again, provide personal customer service and tailor-made advice.
When it comes to direct mail, you need a printing company that looks out for your brand. We also know our way around compliance laws and ensure that each piece of mail meets all HIPAA and HITRUST restrictions. If you’re looking for a company that can handle some heavy demands and saves you money on the postage, we’ve got you covered.