Color your campaigns to boost results

Whatever shade you choose, adding hues to your direct mail campaigns can work wonders. However, experts emphasize that you must address a variety of issues before making your colorful decisions

Brent Tartar
SVP sales & marketing, WA Wilde Co.

The growing adoption of personalized communications by marketers continues to drive improved return on investment and allows for improved brand building in customer relationships.

However, the question we still hear com­monly from marketers is: “When should I use full color — or just some color — vs. just using black and white in my direct mail campaigns?” The typical answer is: “It depends.”

Many issues need to be taken into con­sideration when deciding upon color for your next direct mail campaign. For example, consider program volumes, paper stock, mail piece design, bindery needs, use of personal­ization and other issues. What we ultimately focus on is the question, “Will color content drive improved results?”

This cost-effective level of measurement can only be attained through proper test­ing against a control. Our testing shows that color does have a significant impact on response rates when used properly.

The real secret, however, is not just the introduction of color, but using color that is data driven. Many studies show that market­ers gain the best results by using not only personalization of content, but also of color, when it’s driven by program automated busi­ness rules.

This could mean using spot color on a chart or graph to provide added visibility, or a palette change to reflect the target audi­ence, or modifying creative to reflect colors that match to a particular gender or target audience based on data modeling.

Using the technologies in the marketplace today, marketers have many cost effective solutions available to them. Proper testing and essential ROI analysis will ultimately drive what is best for your programs.

I firmly believe that the use of color increases results. Our goal is to introduce marketers to the concept and start embracing the use of data to drive personalized color within a digital print mail campaign.

Color usage driven by the value in the consumer data that you have collected really works. Give it a test.

Using data to personalize the content and color of a mailing drives results

Luke Teboul
VP, sales & product development, IWCO Direct

With steady improvements in quality, color digital print is enjoying wider acceptance and adoption than ever before.

With wider adoption, however, comes more competition — which is why it’s critical to focus on driving results, both through timeliness and, more critically, relevance when developing a campaign around color digital print. If your approach is not relevant and fails to provide a response mechanism, the best print quality will not generate your desired response.

Many marketers fall into the trap of sim­ply converting a “conventionally” produced piece and moving it to a color digital press, without taking advantage of the flexibility that the format affords them to add cus­tomization to their effort.

Color digital print should improve response rates compared to an equivalent piece without color. Consequently, you should focus on ROI rather than cost per piece, and try to gain an understanding of final campaign results.

That being said, cost discussions are sometimes unavoidable, so make the most of the maximum sheet size and carefully consider the substrate and grain direction, all with the goal of planning the piece for efficient finishing. Being aware of some subtle technical decisions can really improve the print quality of your piece.

Production costs and turnaround time will be impacted by an inefficient workflow with too many touchpoints. Using Web-to-print tools can help manage campaigns and remove valuable hours or days from the cycle time.

Front end workflows can help avoid costly color corrections and streamline the proof­ing process. Don’t dismiss an RGB work­flow over the usual CMYK approach; RGB can provide richer colors and improved photographic reproduction. Understand the implications of image compression and resolution, when handling files — subtle changes can make a big difference to final print quality.

Advances in color digital presses can give truly sparkling results, but be careful to design your piece around certain limitations. For example, large areas of some colors can result in banding and inconsistency.

Many marketers aren’t taking full advan­tage of the benefits of color digital print

Eric Cosway
EVP & CMO of QuantumDigital

A variety of studies suggest that using full color for direct marketing materials can increase response rates by a notable percent­age. However, regardless of printing method or physical attributes of a mailer, there are several things marketers can do to optimize the effectiveness of their campaign and elicit customer response. Consider the following ways to improve overall results of a direct mail campaign.

Personalized direct mail is powerful. Whenever possible, include information that is unique to each recipient such as name, mention of past transactions, or coupons tailored to their interests and needs.

This can be affordably accomplished through variable data printing technology. To further spark a recipient’s attention, color or bold black ink may be used to distin­guish unique information from the rest of the mailer’s body copy.

Use clean, simple design and copy that focuses on the main idea represented on the mailer. Make an impact with a strong headline and be explicit in identifying the next step or call to action for the recipient. Don’t forget to place branding and your company’s contact information in a highly visible space on the piece.

And, whenever possible, try to use color for branding elements. According to a recent study by the Color Marketing Group, a firm researching how color affects market­ing, color can increase brand recognition by up to 80%.

It’s also good to include a compelling, actionable promotional offer — such as a cou­pon, whitepaper download or free service consultation — on direct mailers. A recent survey conducted by Prospectiv confirms that nearly 40% of consumers prefer direct mail for coupon delivery.

Additionally, consumers are more likely to provide personal information in return for a relevant promotional offer. To guide the recipient’s eye and attention to the offer, use color or a bolded black font to call out the promotion or coupon.

Whatever the printing method, following the tips above will lead marketers toward direct mail success.

Color can effectively increase brand recognition and call out important information

Alin Jacobs
President, Direct Marketing Alliance

Countless studies have proven that there is good reason to spend the extra dollars on color when developing and printing market­ing materials, as the color pieces will produce a greater ROI when compared to black and white materials.

Why is this, though? It’s because people are attracted to color and, when properly used, color can make your marketing efforts stand out from the crowd.

However, simply using color isn’t enough. You need to innovate with color use to stand out from competitive offers and a recipient’s other mail.

As Seth Godin points out in his book Purple Cow:

“Brown cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be perfect cows, attractive cows, cows with great personali­ties, cows lit by beautiful light, but they’re still boring. A Purple Cow, though. Now that would be interesting. (For a while.) The essence of the Purple Cow is that it must be remarkable.”

Godin is spot on, and this is exactly what we need to do in our marketing efforts: Be remarkable. And, color has everything to do with this.

For example, in creating marketing piec­es for the furniture industry, Direct Mail Express found that showcasing the sofas that sold in the greatest numbers was not the best idea. As expected, most consumers purchase beige sofas, but that was not what attracted them to shop.

Instead, consumers are attracted to bright color. When we showcased red sofas in the marketing pieces for a furniture chain, peo­ple would visit the stores, find the red sofa and then ask, “Do you have this in beige?” Putting a beige sofa in the marketing piece only created yawns and turning pages.

My point is simple: Take risks with color. Stand out from the crowd. Use patterns and a palette that is exciting, unique and speaks directly to your consumer. Know that people are attracted to fantasy, not reality. Give them that fantasy, and you are sure to attract them.

Marketers should be adventurous with color if they want to stand out

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