Add print to the integrated picture

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Marketers are heralding the importance of multitouch campaigns. Our four experts discuss how to incorporate print into the mix, in order to reach consumers on several fronts

Brian Wolfenden
Director of marketing communications, Presstek

Integrated marketing campaigns are gaining momentum, with printers using direct mail as a springboard for subsequent multichannel communication. By interacting with customers on multiple fronts, marketers leverage the benefits of each medium to improve response rates.

One tip is to break the mold -- dare to be different to stand out in physical (and online) mailboxes.  Printed pieces should employ unusual paper stocks or come in uncommon sizes.  Using an offset press can make direct mail more durable, holding up well in the shuffle of the mail system.

Next, target your direct mail message to different regions or demographics to boost interest. Invest in printing technology that can profitably produce short-run printing (250-10,000 copies/ run).

Staggering direct mail drops facilitates making timely follow-up phone calls.  Try to call prospective customers within a few days, while the direct mail piece is still fresh in their minds.

It's also important to stay away from being pushy on the phone. Instead, aim to establish a relationship: Educate individuals about your company, and offer to provide follow-up information as requested.

Finally, make sure to forge strategic partnerships. Printers and print vendors are increasingly partnering with direct marketing agencies to assist with telephone outreach. 

And remember, there are a variety of press options out there for creating personalized campaign using variable data printing. Presstek recently launched a campaign to highlight the capabilities of our direct imaging, digital offset presses. 

We initially contacted 20,000 prospective customers with a customized postcard containing each recipient's name and a personalized URL directing them to a unique Web landing page.  We printed the four-color shells on our 52DI digital offset press, and then added the personalized message and URL on a digital toner device. Using this hybrid printing technique allowed us to produce the piece at about half the cost incurred with an all-toner workflow. We followed up with phone calls and e-mail.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Direct mail is a springboard for subsequent multichannel communication

Oscar Padilla
Director of interactive services, Vertis Communications

Today, marketers are challenged to integrate the latest industry tools with traditional direct mail tactics. However, many recognize that the most effective marketing strategies reach constituents through multiple touch points.

An e-mail program is one of the most effective and quick-to-market means for integrating direct mail and new media. It is relatively easy for marketers to migrate data from loyalty programs, purchase histories, etc., to create a tailored e-mail message. Jump at the opportunity to ask for your customers' preferred form of communication – e-mail, text message, direct mail, etc. – by sending notices allowing them to “opt-in” for a particular advertising medium.

For a leading domestic automotive manufacturer, Vertis developed a customized new customer piece using digital printing technology. The piece allowed recipients to select how they wished to receive future communication from the company, whether via e-mail or direct mail. The follow-up communication to the same audience presented personalized information such as how long the recipient had owned a car, service history, etc.  The automotive manufacturer's most recent numbers reveal that 19% of respondents opted-in for e-mail communication, while 81% did not. Similar campaigns created by Vertis automatically reset a consumer's communication preference to direct mail only, if those who have opted for e-mail do not open the messages upon receipt.

When integrating direct mail into new media platforms, marketers must measure the success of their programs. These new communication channels offer measurement tools such as marketing dashboards and the ability to understand real-time consumer interactions. As integrated campaigns are deployed, your audience becomes increasingly more empowered with choices and offerings, providing you with priceless information. Collecting this data and having a back-end reporting process will help marketers greatly understand and track the success of their integrated efforts.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Integrating direct mail with new media platforms gives customers choices and provides valuable marketing data

Alin Jacobs
Vice President Strategies and Partnerships, DME

According to Seth Godin in his best-selling book Permission Marketing, the average American is exposed to 3000 commercial messages a day. Consequently, consumers frequently ignore those messages, which are rarely relevant and personal.

By using a digital platform, advertisers can target specific audiences with relevant personalized communications. Rather than bombard individuals with messages, you can send an initial offer and a follow-up reward for the hand-raisers. This can be done through Personalized URLS -- a Web site with a distinct address that uses the same personalization of a targeted mail piece with regard to offer, imagery and name. There, hand raisers can opt-in to receive and share information. This creates a dialogue that enables you to gather more information about customers and in turn creates opportunities to sell, upsell and maximize lifetime customer value.

A recent example is a campaign we created for XMPie, which was interested in marketing new software in a business-to-business arena. In b-to-b marketing, when a collective decision is made regarding a product or service, the likelihood of implementation is considerably higher. This is why we created a cross-media campaign that targeted decision makers and influencers. Personalized direct mail specifically addressing influencers encouraged them to discuss the new software within their organization. The decision makers were contacted using a different, more robust messaging strategy that arrived a few days later. This helped create a “buzz” within the organization.

A personalized URL was included as a secondary response mechanism to the 800-number found on all mail pieces. Here, both influencers and decision makers were asked to complete a survey. Then, an e-mail was sent to responders that specifically reinforced replies to one of the questions. This level of interaction proved to the customer that they were being listened to.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Well-timed direct mail drops can help create a viral effect

Curtis Roberts

account executive, Maine Printing Company/MPX,

We all know minimizing overall production expenses is at the top of every direct marketer's list, so knowing your tactical options is essential. Analyzing how (and how often) you are touching your customers let you evaluate how you communicate to individuals within the ordering process.

Unfortunately, most marketers aren't touching their customers enough. The Internet is changing the way businesses have to look at promotional calendars – after all, consumers are not waiting for a catalog to come in the mail. They are driving the purchasing patterns.

Marketers incorporating soft touch strategies – that is, low-cost per contact -- between have seen double-digit increases in sales and response rates. Taking advantage of e-mail, solo mailers, variable data printing (VDP), personalized URLs (PURL), and Web-interactive tools, in combination with hard touch major promotions has a significant recency-frequency-monetary (RFM) modeling impact.

Many multichannel marketing companies are executing soft touch strategies today, but they are usually planned around a marketing event, not based upon an individual's purchasing behavior. Timing is everything in direct response  -- and the technology is out there to help retool communications efforts to individuals, not events. Here are some examples:

A major retail cataloger mailed an invitation-style direct mail piece in concert with its seasonal book drop and received an over-66% increase in response, compared with a control without the invitation-style mailer. 

An educational institution replaced expensive catalog drops with an interactive Web page, PURL, personalized e-mail and VDP mailing that increased online applications by over 33%.

Another catalog company combines monthly, large-format postcard mailings with e-mail newsletters and fewer catalogs. It is experiencing a 3:1 sales to mailing expense return on investment (ROI) and postcard circulation quadrupled in the past six months.

Remember, at the end of the day, it is the cost per sale that drives promotional ROI. And businesses instituting soft-touch campaigns are seeing tremendous success.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Businesses need to initiate more soft-touch communications with customers to increase ROI from a true business perspective, this compels us to provide better products at lower costs that are more environmentally friendly,” he says. “I think the real challenge is getting us all to work together toward the same objective, the same targets. This is about the whole industry.”

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