Direct Mail

Going Back to Analog in a Digital World

The convenience of electronic communication like emails and texts may never diminish the excitement of getting an actual piece of personalized mail in your mail box.  Nestled between flyers and bills, it still provides that touch of excitement – someone has sent you something special!   Businesses are starting to realize that customers miss human contact.  In a world of automated call attendants, do it yourself screens at airports and restaurants and mass emails with no way to contact the sender, sending direct mail is a way to re-connect with your customers and to create a lasting impression.

When your objective is to start a new relationship with a client, or reinforce one that is already in place, the usage of ink on paper should not be overlooked.  “Thank you” is said best via mail; your communication will stand out and will provide tangible proof of your commitment to customer service.  Let’s be honest, designing and sending a direct mail piece involves more thought and preparation than a 2 second email and customers know this.  Choose a format that is “fridge-worthy”, something that can be posted in the customers home or place of business to serve as a reminder of the interaction and to reinforce your business in the mind of your customer.   Research has shown that emotionally connected customers will be more profitable to your business.

Its getting very close to the “most wonderful time of the year”.  A perfect way to reach out to your customers and show that human interaction is still an important part of your business is with the simple, humble holiday card.  Even if you decide to print and mail  a variable letter, ensure that there is a handwritten note at the bottom.  Little touches can make all the difference.

 

Direct Mail vs. Technology

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At Innovative Response Marketing, we spend a lot of time defending direct mail. On any given day, when we tell people what we do, we get at least one person who says: “wow mail, that has to be a dying industry”.

We completely understand that technology has changed the industry, after all, we have been doing this for almost 30 years! But, our personal experience and effective market research has shown that direct mail has not been damaged by technology. In fact, using the proper direct mail messages can actually enhance visits to a webpage and encourage customers to buy online. You can utilize both mediums to garner a greater response from your target market.

There is also the benefit of tangible marketing. Not everyone likes to save everything to a cell phone! One of the most successful campaigns we have seen in recent years included a tip-on card – a small, tangible item – that could be removed from the direct mail piece, placed in your wallet and used for cost savings at your favourite restaurant.

So when we defend direct mail, we often end the conversation with “direct mail isn’t going anywhere anytime soon”. To prove that claim, we have assembled 3 main reasons why we feel direct mail is trumping email in the marketing world.

  1. In-Box Crowding

Be honest – how many emails do you receive each day? How many do you read? The simple fact is that most of us get more emails each day than we can possibly absorb.

Our inboxes are completely crowded with work emails, personal communication, updates, and being CC’d on everything a colleague says. We read the important ones, we skim and delete most and some are sent directly to a Clutter folder. Not a great outcome for a marketing message and certainly not the venue for any campaign that requires a call to action by a certain date (think a sale or event).

We know that people throw away mail pieces too. But, market research has shown us that:

Direct mail gets noticed, opened and read; our brains are hard-wired to pay more attention to it. 74% of Canadian consumers always or sometimes notice advertising in direct mail.

Source: Breaking Through the Noise, 2015

2.  Personal & Tangible

You want to ensure that your piece is not being thrown out, but how do you do that? First, you need your direct mail piece to connect with your target on a personal level. The easiest step? Personalize your mailing. Put the customer’s name and address on every piece you send.

Direct mail is all about providing a tangible way to “talk” directly to your target. Strong graphics that resonate, a good call to action and the ability for your prospect to actually touch, feel and retain your mail piece allows you to stand out from the constant demands on a multi-taskers attention – texts, tweets, Instagram posts – none of that is going to distract you from the direct mail piece sitting on your kitchen counter!

And once they have that piece in their hand, your sales copy can do its job.

  1. Your Privacy

With the on-going advancements in technology comes an increased concern for privacy. We have apps that want to monitor our location, hackers breaking into secure sites and identity theft on the rise. People do not trust attachments and links in an email from someone they do not know. Spam filters are set to catch anything that looks remotely like marketing.

People are beginning to trust technology less and less.

The more “attachments” you put in your envelope, the more interesting the package can become. Your target is the only person who decides whether or not to read your offer and there is no way that it can create trust issues with the consumer.

In short, anyone can send an email, but direct mail is something special these days. It has the ability to connect with customers on a deeper emotional level and provides a much higher response rate.

If you are in need of direct mail services, contact Innovative Response Marketing Inc. today. We can guide you through the process and help you choose the right message for your market.

Bigger, Faster, Better Neighbourhood Mail from Canada Post

January 2018 is bringing some exciting changes to the world of direct mail. Recently, Canada Post unveiled the next stage of Neighbourhood Mail service which they state will allow your mail piece to stand out and may expand your attraction level to your target market!

Effective January 15, 2018, Canada Post will offer larger dimensions (12” x 11” x 1”) and weight (up to 500 g) for Neighbourhood Mail pieces. They are also offering a quicker delivery cycle – up to 3 days for urban and suburban addresses.

If you would like to know more about how Neighbourhood Mail changes could impact your direct mail campaign, contact Innovative Response Marketing.  We are your SmartMail Marketing Expert Partner in the Mississauga and Toronto mailing services arena!

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When Should You Call a 3PL?

It’s a fact, most companies wait too long to call in the services of a third-party logistics partner. Long after fulfilling orders has gotten in the way of their ability to focus on the daily needs of their business and usually after several complaints from customers.

Every business is different but if you answer yes to any of the following questions then it is time to make the call, one that can save your sanity and offer customers greater satisfaction!

Are you fulfilling more than 10 orders per day?

That’s usually the volume at which you should start to consider talking to a 3PL. By contracting out to fulfillment partner, you can rest assured that your orders will be shipped daily, your inventory will be tightly controlled and you can focus on growing your business.

Are you running out of space?

Many companies don’t consider storage as a part of their overall fulfillment expense. If your high end office space is packed with product, if you are spending money on renting a storage facility or if you are storing inventory in your garage, get a quote for a third-party logistics provider and compare. You might be surprised to learn that a slight increase in expenses could better support your business.

 Is your business about to spike due to a marketing campaign?

There is no such thing as bad publicity – unless you underestimated how many people would visit your web site and order your product after a well timed marketing campaign or media blitz! Getting your name on the street is key to a successful business, but what happens after can wreak havoc on customer satisfaction and your bottom line.

Prior to spending money on expensive advertising, marketing or media campaigns, ensure that you have the ability to handle a spike in customer interest and ordering. Failure to get your products to your customers in a timely manner could result in a lack of repeat business. Outsourcing to a 3PL will ensure you have ample inventory on hand and that you have the man power available to deal with a large spike in orders.

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What is a Third Party Logistics Partner (3PL)?

Well, the legal definition is:

“A person who solely receives, holds, or otherwise transports a consumer product in the ordinary course of business but who does not take title to the product.”

But a good 3PL is much more than that. They do not hold ownership of any inventory, yet are experts when it comes to receiving, storing, controlling and shipping of inventory to market.  Enter into a contract with a reputable 3PL and they become legally responsible for performing the requested fulfillment activities of your ecommerce company.

Over the last decade, with online sales booming and the ability for small parties to set up ecommerce marketplaces, the demand for third party logistic providers has exploded. An estimated 86% of Fortune 500 companies and 96% of the current Fortune 100 use 3PL services.

A good 3PL will streamline everything fulfillment and logistics based for your business. They are your partner and handle all the details, from receiving new inventory from your manufacturer to shipping it out to the end user.

Another benefit is scalable warehouse space and shipping volume discounts. The nature of a 3PL is to be able to store and maintain a client’s inventory. This means that your spacing requirements are limitless, from 2 boxes on a pallet to a full trailer load of material, your 3PL has the space available to meet the demands of your business.

Shipping multiple orders for a myriad of different clients on a daily basis means volume – and a lot of it. 3PL’s work with the leading shipping companies to negotiate volume discounts based on their overall shipments per year, you get the benefit of volume rates that you may not achieve on your own.

What Can You Expect From Top Tier Fulfillment Services Companies?

As brands grow and take on higher order volumes, it becomes easy for distribution and fulfillment capabilities to spiral out of control. This creates a number of backend problems such as a steep decline in the efficiency of the warehouse and fulfillment services, increase in the production costs and errors in delivery that ultimately impacts the brand image. Moreover, customer demands and expectations are not met which ultimately impacting customer relationships that you build over the years with so much efforts.

In order to meet these customer demands it becomes imperative that you do not settle for below average services for order fulfillment and opt for top tier logistics that only a reputed fulfillment partner can provide.

Accuracy

Accuracy plays an important role in fulfillment. Customers expect to receive the products they order within the stipulated time. They also expect to not receive the wrong order. In house fulfillment could get messy when the volumes go beyond what the team can handle. If you hire reliable services for this purpose, the number of accurately delivered orders definitely increases. All this greatly impacts your brand’s overall reputation and image. Customer satisfaction also increases and in-turn the number of loyal customers.

Customer relationships

Fulfillment companies have a special connection with their regular customers. They maintain targets to ensure that each customer they serve gets their delivery on time and as expected. Many service providers wouldn’t hesitate before they add a personal touch to the packages – such as gift wrapping etc. This helps build better customer relationships.

What can you expect from a reputed fulfillment services firm?

Most of the top tier fulfillment providers have the following characteristics:

  • They understand how to optimize the process and the warehouse routines so that it aligns with your company’s goals as well as priorities.
  • Experienced fulfillment partners also understand that brand consistency needs to be carried out across the entire customer experience. From packaging to distribution, these service providers strive to accommodate the distinctive traits and characteristics of your specific brand.
  • They also understand that the fulfillment technology should easily integrate with your order management systems.
  • Once they take on a task, they ensure that you do not have to worry about the capacity and volumes they can take up when orders increase – such as during the holiday season and during the launch of a new product. The right kind of fulfillment partner will instantly offer scalability and quickly ramp up their capacity in order to meet your needs.

Overall, fulfillment service providers thoroughly understand the demands of today’s fast paced world and have all the right resources to ensure that your brand gets a competitive advantage over all the others. Moreover, they ensure that their services are accurate, efficient, flexible and scalable. In today’s competitive market, a quick and accurate delivery is a great plus point and helps build a good reputation among your existing customers. Getting your deliveries out to their destinations in the most reliable and cost effective way is what they strive for.

Why High Quality Printing and Accurate Delivery Matters in a Direct Mailing Campaign

Returned, undelivered or erroneous mail is not only costly, but also can damage your brand. A piece of communication that does not reach its recipient because of any reason is an opportunity wasted.  Professional lettershops, who provide print and mail services, play an important role in any marketing campaign.

Here’s why these two services are of utmost importance in any direct marketing campaign:

Printing services

When you send out a mailing to potential clients or customers, the quality of the printing can often be your first opportunity to make a lasting impression.  The kind of printing you choose speaks volumes about your brand and its capabilities.  Having your return address and logo printed on an envelope, in colour, shows that you are a reputable business.  Direct impression inkjetting or lasering of your customer’s name and mailing address is more professional (and cheaper) than applying labels.  Using a custom postal indicia can really make your mail piece stand out and gives you access to postage savings that a stamp cannot.

Wouldn’t you rather concentrate on the more pressing business issues than worry about how your envelope looks?  Companies specializing in both print and mail services ensure that they have the high quality digitized equipment that is required to send out professional copies of your marketing materials. All you need to do is to select the right company for the job.

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Mailing services

Accuracy and deliverability are two very important factors when it comes to mailing marketing content across to potential customers.  Data services that can cleanse your mailing list by purging duplicates, fixing addresses to Canada Post standards and verifying them against the National Change of Address (NCOA) registry are paramount to a clean mailing – one that reaches your target market with no wasted postage.

This is exactly why you need to engage professional mailing services companies for this task. The latest in data cleansing services are available to you through the services of these companies at a minimal cost.  Remember that professional mailing services companies can often offset the cost of your entire mailing – from data work through to addressing envelopes, folding and mechanically inserting into envelopes and delivery to Canada Post – all by the savings in postage that they can offer you.  When cost savings and timely marketing is important to you, and when isn’t it?  Consider outsourcing this service to a professional.

To sum it up, print and mail services are an integral part of any direct mailing campaign. It is best to let the professionals handle the task so that your success rates for accurately delivering the content to the desired audience are increased. It is also important to remember that while running a direct mailing campaign, the sooner you realize the importance of a good quality print and accurate delivery, the better the chances you have for getting a good ROI.

Image Credit: goo.gl/JnXNw4goo.gl/ykau97

Why Outsource Fulfillment Services?

While building a brand, businesses of today prefer to focus on core competencies and offload the routine tasks to the specialists in their field. Fulfillment is one such task that is time consuming and requires a level of perfection that only a specialized firm can provide. You can then concentrate on the demands of your core business.

Here’s why outsourcing fulfillment services could be a great choice:

Helping gain access

Accurate fulfillment requires shipping access to diverse areas.  Rural address, PO box deliveries and multi-piece shipments can provide challenges for some carriers and drastically increase your time in transit or overall costs.  Only a professional fulfillment services company has the benefit of contracts with many different carriers to ensure that your packages arrive on time and on budget.

Building relationships

An API link between your online order site and our inventory control software?  Custom packaging? Personalized Letter Enclosures or Gift Wrapping?  Just some of the services that a professional fulfillment company can provide.  Whether the service can be performed in-house or outsourced to our trade partners, you can be assured that you are getting the benefit of the many relationships built by your fulfillment contract.  Also consider the buying power of combined shipping customers, a fulfillment company has contracts with many different shipping carriers, and uses the overall shipping of ALL customers to drive the buying price.  All alone, it is nearly impossible for a business to obtain the type of shipping rates that a fulfillment company can provide.

outsourcingFlexibility based on the market

Today’s sophisticated distribution and fulfillment companies have enough flexibility to accommodate all of the customers that are located in diverse geographic locations. Some companies also provide exemplary services for:

  • Pick and pack, custom packaging, kitting, trade show storage and set-up and more.
  • Quick turnaround times to ensure that orders are processed quickly and accurately.
  • Gift wrapping and personalization. First time buyer of your product? Consider enclosing a personalized thank you card with the order.  For employee incentive or recognition programs, nothing beats gift wrapping to help you stand out from the rest.

This kind of flexibility can be achieved when the main focus of the business is fulfillment. Outsourcing is hence the answer.

Lower overhead and fixed costs

By outsourcing fulfillment services, you are actually lowering your overhead costs as well as the fixed costs that you company incurs while managing shipping and delivering products in-house. Companies who specialize in fulfillment services have all the resources to ensure that you get accurate services to deliver products to their right destinations.

Enhance customer buying experience

Customer buying experiences determine whether they will return to your e-store or avail your services for a second time. This is the foundation of a long term customer relationship. When you outsource fulfillment services to the specialists, they know exactly how to ensure that customers experience their best while purchasing from you.

Overall, if you want perfection, leave it to the specialists!

Image Credit: goo.gl/xEbDgygoo.gl/UPXvgC

The Realities of Direct Mail

The power of direct mail in this highly digitized world is only realized when the results are seen. Why bother to send a humble post card or brochure in the mail when you can reach out to a larger audience via digital media? Because it works!

Studies show that physical communication is more effective than digital and has a greater impact. Tangible mail pieces containing an offer or discount are utilized far more often than digital coupons, thereby increasing your response rates. Having that pizza coupon on the fridge or free appetizer card in our wallet does double duty – you achieve subtle marketing because the name and address of the provider is always visible and the offer is tangible, you see it, therefore you use it.

Essentially, you can use direct mailing service as a valuable marketing tool for boosting brand awareness and generating a response from potential customers which in turn helps in the overall success of your campaign.

Oldest and the most effective

Needless to say, direct mailing is one of the oldest forms of marketing. There are however, plenty of ways that it embraces advanced technology and this in turn helps run more successful campaigns with greater possibilities of customers actually taking interest and replying.

Samples can help boost your campaign

People simply love getting things for free. This could be a great way to get your product out there. A direct mail campaign with a free sample of your product (if that’s feasible) is a sure way to attract the initial crowd that could popularize your product. Make sure that you don’t just send something in a regular business envelope. Use high impact printed envelopes or innovative packaging to make it look attractive, authentic and appealing.

Direct Mail Reality

Copywriting

One of the most important aspects of any marketing campaign is the content that goes with it. The reality is that you need to put enough thought into copywriting the campaign. There is nothing more powerful than the words used to run your campaign. Investing in a skilled copywriter could give the right boost to your campaign right from the beginning.

Standing out from the crowd

Another hard reality is that you are not the only one who might send a direct mail to a potential customer. So, the competition is high! If you do not take the effort to stand out from the crowd, it’s quite possible that your mail is lost among a hundred others who send similar mailings to their customers.

Overall, the best marketing departments ensure that they include diversity in their marketing campaigns. They do not just follow one single path, but ensure that along with the digital path, there is enough room for the tried and tested traditional means of marketing such as direct mail. Integrating different methods and running a wholesome campaign can ensure greater response rates and better results overall.

Image Credit: goo.gl/Hw7NQtgoo.gl/eF7b1K

Direct Marketing Tip #6: Smaller can be better

Despite the popularity of e-marketing, direct mail still works for many companies. How well it works depends on a number of things, it really is all about the variables!

We will be posting a tip each day to help you improve your response rates.  As a respected Canada Post partner and a long established direct mail company in the Toronto and Mississauga area, working with Innovative Response Marketing Inc. can help you target data, create tangible mail pieces that will grab your market’s attention and keep your costs down.

Smaller can be better.

Some companies find they get a better response to offers made on postcards.  Print to mail technology is here and you can create personalized colour pieces in short runs using the latest in digital equipment.  All work is done in-house at our facility and you can realize substantial cost savings on postage.  Smaller jobs are generally less expensive to design and print than a full-blown mailing. The savings can be substantial and may be all you need.  Innovative Response Marketing Inc. specializes in mailings from 5000 pieces to 500,000 pieces, making us the right choice for a smaller mailing!