What is Informed Delivery? Basically, you provide to your customers and prospects with more touchpoints, more impressions and, therefore, create more impact. The USPS offers a free service to subscribers, which sends an email to them with an image of that day’s mail.
The default images are not in color, because they are scanned on postal equipment. When you participate in an Informed Delivery campaign, you can replace that image with a color image and even add a web link for quick purchasing or information about your product or service.
How Does Informed Delivery Enhance Your Mailing Results?
The USPS has a 72.5% email open rate. People will see your ad.
It has a 4.92% clickthrough rate on ads. People do click on the ads.
It encourages faster response rates, with the easy link.
It provides an easy way to have multiple touchpoints with clients and prospects.
Is It Complicated?
No, and that is the best part. Once you design your mail piece, you should design an image for Informed Delivery and also create a ride along ad. Both will then be sent with the landing page information to the post office, along with a mail.dat file so the post office knows who gets the mail and the ads. When the post office scans the mail piece for delivery, it will send the email to your customer or prospect with that day’s mail. Your color image with the ad and web page will be in that email.
How Can You Measure Results?
You will use your normal measuring tools for your direct mail results, plus the added Informed Delivery results. The best way to do this is to create a special landing page for your Informed Delivery ad and coupon code recipients enter at purchase. This will allow you to track how many hits come to the page, as well as how many purchases are made from the Informed Delivery portion. Your responses from the mail piece will go to a different landing page; they can also come in based on other response mechanisms, like phone or email, depending on what you provide.
Why Use Informed Delivery?
In 2019, there is a very good reason to try it out. Why? Because the post office is having a promotion for Informed Delivery. You can save 2% on your postage just for trying it out. The promotion period is Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. Over 14 million people have registered to receive these emails from the post office and that continues to grow daily. Many marketers are looking at new ways to use direct mail and Informed Delivery can help you grow your ROI. Are you ready to get started?
When you combine your direct mail with digital marketing, you enhance it and drive better results. There are many ways to add digital to your direct mail campaigns in a cost-effective way so that you can test to see how it works for you.
Direct mail has been around for a very long time and it is easy to continue to send mail the same way it was done 20 years ago, but this is much less effective now. Direct mail marketing in 2019 is so much more targeted and personalized, which makes it more effective. However, many marketers continue to silo their direct mail. This is a mistake. When you combine your direct mail with digital marketing, you enhance it and drive better results. There are many ways to add digital to your direct mail campaigns in a cost-effective way so that you can test to see how it works for you.
Let’s check out some winning digital and direct mail combinations.
Display Ads — You can use display ads in conjunction with your mail. You can match your direct mail data file to an IP address file to target specific people on your mail list. This is cookie-free marketing that displays banner ads on web pages as your customers and prospects are browsing. It gives you more opportunities to persuade your prospects and customers to make a purchase. Keep in mind that display advertising can affect people at every stage of the marketing funnel from awareness, education and evaluation to purchase. You can see real-time click rates to monitor progress.
Facebook Ads — You can use Facebook ads in conjunction with your mail. You can match your direct mail data file to Facebook. This will allow you to send targeted ads to your customers and prospects. They will see an ad in their News Feed. There are several ad options you can choose the one that is right for you. Your prospects and customers spend a lot of time on Facebook, so using these ads helps keep you top-of-mind. As with display ads, you can monitor click rates to make sure you are getting the results you need.
Email — Surprisingly, most marketers are using email, but are not combining it with their mail campaigns. The great thing about adding email to direct mail is that you can use it both before you mail to help build curiosity about your mail piece and after they receive it to keep your offer fresh and remind them to respond. This also gives you a chance to make an additional special offer to get them to buy now.
You can choose to use all three with a mail campaign or pick and choose what is best for your customers. If you don’t have enough people on your mail list, you can create a list of people who look like your current customers to send them mail, as well as display and Facebook ads. Email address append is also an option, but it usually only has about a 40% match rate. So if your list is small, it may not be worth it.
Increasing your exposure with customers and prospects increases your response rates, so by adding a digital component, you can increase sales. The best part about digital marketing is that it has a relatively low cost and can be tracked in real time. Plus, you will have additional metrics about your prospects and customers when they interact with you across channels. Are you ready to get started?
We are obviously living in a multichannel marketing environment, whether we are marketers or consumers. Every conceivable channel is being optimized for marketing, and in a capitalistic society, that is only natural.
We are obviously living in a multichannel marketing environment, whether we are marketers or consumers. Every conceivable channel is being optimized for marketing, and in a capitalistic society, that is only natural.
Someone has to pay for the maintenance of media channels, and marketers want to reach their target audiences through them. Voila! Demand meets supply, and the whole ecosystem is in perpetual motion.
So much so that many marketing organizations are organized by key media channels. The No. 1 reason many datasets are in silos? It is because data collected through different channels are hogged by the managers of those channels.
So the biggest hurdle towards a true 360-degree customer view is not the technology or lack of data, but the fact that interests of different channel managers do not meet in a common place, without heavy nudging from CEOs or CMOs. That is why I’ve been repeatedly saying that the first step towards proper data-readiness for advanced 1:1 marketing is the commitment from the top.
That being the reality, service providers — whether be data compilers, database designers, CRM experts, analytics experts or campaign specialists — must comply with the channel-centric environment, which is unfortunately the source of inadequate 1:1 targeting and personalization.
With all the technologies available today, why do you think that consumers keep getting similar or conflicting offers from the same organization? It’s because each channel manager acts like she “owns” the names of buyers who touched “her” channel. Let’s just say that is the exact opposite of customer-centric marketing.
Further, it gets even more complicated, as each channel exists not only on different plains, but on different spots on the timeline of customer journey.
What is customer journey? If I make a typical B2C engagement an example (because there are so many versions of this concept out there), it may follow these high-level steps:
If this were for B2B, we may consider “Decision” and “Action” as separate steps, but the general idea of a customer journey is not all that different.
Now, the important point here is that these phases may or may not converge nicely with the “marketer’s journey,” which may look like:
Clearly, awareness and interest stages are closely related to acquisition; but after the purchase, we are moving into the CRM area from the marketer’s point of view, where cross-sell/up-sell, value-based targeting, various retention and anti-churn prevention measures, and win-back efforts come into play. Some actions go way past repeat and loyalty stages from the buyer’s side.
Now, add all the channels on top of this combination. No wonder there are lots of conflicts among channel managers. Who owns what stage of the game? Maybe that is just a wrong way to approach all of this.
Homework for Marketers
I’d say marketers should start with the customer’s journey first. Not just in the name of customer-centric marketing, but for practical reasons, too. So, list five customer journey phases on the left-hand side on a piece of paper.
Then, let’s write down proper marketer’s effort categories, from acquisition to win-back.
Next to it, put down data assets and technologies that you have available for each stage. You will find that distinctly different types of data and technologies should be applied to each.
For instance, third-party data are important for acquisition and win-back stages, due to lack of behavioral and transaction data. Conversely, to build proper cross-sell/up-sell, customer value or churn prevention models, you will need to use rich transaction and interaction history with your customers. Then of course, technology that you need to employ would be different for each stage.
Then, only then, write down proper media channels that would be best utilized for each stage of your marketing efforts.
For example, in the acquisition stage, where only third-party data and non-transactional data are available, what would be the best acquisition channel for you to employ? Catalog? Postcard? Email? Social media? General media?
For relationship-building and retention efforts, yes, email is the dominant one; but should it be the only one? Let’s not just settle on one channel, just because it is readily available and less costly. If you have all of the rich transaction and response data, why not use direct marketing, with rather fancy catalogs or First Class mail? Surely, with such powerful data, we can build proper targeting models to make those more expensive channels worthwhile.
Turning Marketing on Its Head
The key message here is to reverse the way we think about our channels, and shake the whole marketing ecosystem up.
I got into a heated debate with one of my colleagues the other day about this. Many digital marketers think that the journey begins at the moment a visitor lands on a website or types in a search word (refer to “Customer Journeys Don’t Start on Your Website”).
Before someone magically shows up on some site, there had to be other efforts to raise awareness and pique interest for that visitor. It could have been a banner, billboard, TV, radio, magazine, paper or more targeted media, such as direct mail, catalogs or email. All of those channels play different roles in different stages of both customer’s journey and the marketer’s journey.
Multichannel or Omnichannel concepts have been around for a long time; but to rise above the channel-centric mindset that hampers effective customer communication, markers must be aware of the timeline view, as well.
In fact, as I described in the body of this article, you may have to reverse the whole process, and see it from the timeline view first, and then assign proper channels to each stage. Otherwise, how would you ever escape from channel silos?
Utilizing a multi-pronged holiday video marketing approach enables marketers to take their seasonal performance to the next level by increasing visibility through social media platforms and search, while also boosting the brand’s and its products’ popularity among shoppers during the critical holiday season.
It’s the time of year again for marketers to kick their holiday marketing efforts into high gear. As consumer buying behaviors and media consumption continue to change, it’s crucial for marketers to understand that shoppers increasingly use a variety of channels to find inspiration and make purchases, and therefore marketers must align their messaging across channels to effectively engage customers at optimal touchpoints along their purchase journey. Once they grasp the basics of these channels, marketers can start to utilize more advanced strategies as part of a holistic approach during this critical time of the year.
Among the channels consumers seek out when considering purchases, social videos have become a staple of product research and consideration. Social media marketing puts products right where consumers spend their time, and consumers expect product videos from brands, with many shoppers searching for a product video before visiting a store. Marketers often use social video ads to capture demand throughout the year, but during the holidays, they should be more proactive. By leveraging a multi-channel approach with targeting precision to be more assertive, they can take greater control in driving demand and expanding their results.
Retail marketers should consider the following tactics for developing a multi-channel holiday marketing strategy centered on social video ads to better align marketing with the customer journey.
Utilize Video Across a Variety of Social Platforms
There are many places marketers can reach their target audience, so investing holiday budgets by leveraging video ads across multiple channels generates more opportunities to create impressions and engage with shoppers.
After establishing which social channels target audiences frequent most, marketers can better determine what type of content and video ads to plan and post to offer a seamless experience between preferred platforms and capitalize on different stages of the holiday shopping experience.
Fostering Interest on Pinterest
Pinterest remains a popular destination for consumers to visually interact with brands and discover new products. With many users flocking to the platform to create lists for the holiday season and aid in their gift purchasing decisions, it’s vital for marketers to get their products and brand on the platform immediately.
The ability to showcase branded videos on the platform received a boost just in time for the holidays with the rollout of wide-format promoted video ads, driving efficient costs-per-view and lifts in brand awareness. With 67 percent of Pinterest video viewers saying videos on Pinterest inspire them to take action, there’s ample opportunity for marketers to capture interest for their products heading into the holidays.
Pinterest users’ inspiration period can start up to three months prior to an actual purchase; therefore, it’s important for marketers to reach customers early with video ads to cultivate their interest and move users toward conversion. Marketers looking to land on shoppers’ holiday radars should utilize Pinterest as a visual catalog. For example, a toy retailer could leverage video ads on the platform to reveal the hottest toys of 2018 or a clothing retailer might showcase their winter apparel line as customers look for inspiration for their holiday party attire.
Once they’ve captured interest through Pinterest video ads, marketers need to consider engaging customers by retargeting and remarketing to push their customer even further than the purchase funnel.
As part of marketers’ holiday strategies, they should leverage YouTube TrueView followed by bumper ads to target prospective audiences and new customers. The best part is marketers only get charged when a user chooses to watch the full 30 second ad – a win, win!
Utilizing companion banners to drive click through rates (CTRs), bumper ads exist as a reminder to customers to purchase specific products. These products should be served via remarketing lists and similar audiences to maximize efficiency and reduce cost per impressions. Additionally, with Google’s mobile-first focus, these ads will serve in a format that is easily viewable for customers on-the-go.
Marketers should also consider running a brand lift study alongside these video ads to measure impact on metrics like brand awareness, ad recall and purchase intent. By doing so, marketers can tweak their strategy within the first week of results to better connect with audiences and more effectively drive results throughout the holiday season.
Leverage Facebook and Instagram for Merchandising, Not Just Branding
Aside from being among the most popular social networks, Instagram and Facebook both command a greater interaction frequency than YouTube. Undoubtedly, video ads on Facebook and Instagram serve the purpose of effectively stimulating a marketer’s target audience on highly actionable and engaged channels. On Facebook alone, views on branded or sponsored video content increased 258% in 2017, with the highest numbers generated around the holiday season as shoppers sought inspiration for gift ideas. Facebook Carousel ads are a favorite among retail marketers because they encourage consumers to interact with their ads and allow greater opportunity to showcase products through images and videos with the potential for several different calls-to-action.
Instagram also recently expanded its ad offerings to more marketers with its Collection ad units, enabling online retailers to add the Shopping Bag icon within their Stories for the holiday season. The images and videos used within the carousel display can link to the brand’s site or product pages to drive e-commerce purchases.
Targeting users that have shown an interest or interacted with holiday topics across Facebook properties should be a key consideration in marketers’ holiday strategies. Marketers can utilize dynamic product ad offerings as an effective way to get in front of new customers with specific product sets or SKUs; for example, targeting users interested in a holiday sweater, gift wrap or children’s toys, or leveraging parental or relationship targeting to hone in on those most likely to convert.
Complement Video Strategies With Highly Relevant Keywords
Driving the desired targeted traffic that converts requires a varied strategy designed for a marketer’s specific brand and product set. To capitalize on the demand social videos generate across channels, marketers should create highly-relevant holiday-specific keywords as consumers who watched a video and are searching for the brand or products by name are likely deeper within the sales funnel. Marketers should develop and expand coverage on relevant keywords that reinforce messaging from their videos to include search terms like “gift ideas,” “best,” “kids,” and “holiday deal,” along with brand and product-specific terms.
Likewise, leveraging remarketing lists for search ads with proper messaging helps ensure marketers can reach customers in their exact moment of need to foster engagement and move them through the purchase funnel with greater precision to drive better results.
Utilizing a video-centric, multi-pronged holiday marketing approach will better enable marketers to take their seasonal performance to the next level by increasing visibility through Pinterest, YouTube, social media platforms and search, while also boosting the brand’s and its products’ popularity among shoppers during the critical holiday season.
How a CDP can be used to ensure accurate first-party data and consistent brand messaging – which help build consumer trust – while also maintaining compliance with consumer data protections such as GDPR.
For anyone who has ventured into the “Quotes” section of Pinterest, you’ve seen thousands of quippy memes dealing with loss of trust. The gist is once trust is lost, it’s hard to regain. Although mostly focused on romantic relationships, the same can be said for relationships with brands and business.
In this series on specific customer data platform (CDP) use cases, you’ll see the core competencies of CDP’s go a long way toward maintaining consumer trust. In this post we’ll look at how a CDP can be used to ensure accurate first-party data and consistent brand messaging – which help build consumer trust – while also maintaining compliance with consumer data protections such as GDPR.
Managing First-Party Data
All communication from a brand/business to its customers and prospects is an expression of its brand. Many brands and businesses have relied heavily on third-party sources to provide targeting options for reaching prospects and customers.
Understanding the flaws in this method is as simple as creating an account at https://aboutthedata.com. Sponsored by Axciom, the leading aggregator of third-party targeting data, this portal will allow you to access your digital profile. Each of the characteristics in this profile identifies how you are being targeted. Now think about brands and marketers crafting messages directed to YOU based on this data. A mismatch between messaging and targeting will chip away at authenticity and brand trust.
First-party data collection and activation are the reasons the CDP exists. By ingesting, organizing, reconciling, segmenting, and activating first-party data across all customer data siloes, the CDP creates the opportunity to communicate around specific data gained from the direct, first-party relationship between brand and consumer. Imagine the following:
Adjusting the content of your website based on the user’s past content tastes and interests. Right message.
Determining the appropriate channel for your message based on the behavior of an individual target. Right channel.
Choosing the appropriate timing of your message based on the intensity of your customers behavior. Right time.
Choice: A core capability of CDP technology is the identification and reconciliation of known and unknown users. As unknown users are accessing your site, the ability to offer them the appropriate experience (cookies for tracking or not) can be offered or directed and the preference maintained. More and more tools in the marketing technology stack are offering this capability, but maintaining these preferences in one environment that is used for all customer data collection and interaction makes the most sense.
Transparency: The portability aspects of the GDPR and California Privacy Act specifically relate to delivering a comprehensive profile of all data points and their use for an individual. Whenever asked, an organization must be able to produce a succinct and complete picture of the user’s data and how it might be used within the organization. There is really no better place to create and extract that comprehensive picture than the CDP.
Being a steward of your customer data is not just a nice thing to do but an absolute requirement in an age where consumer trust is rapidly eroding and regulations on data protection are mounting. Adopting a philosophy and discipline in growing and activating first-party data from customers and prospects pays off by creating more authentic relationships grounded in trust. Statistically speaking, a highly-personalized relationship steeped in authenticity converts and performs optimally every day of the week. To cite one of those Pinterest quotes, “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” For marketers, trust is the pathway to business success.
While our “2018 Omnichannel Marketing Survey” is still ongoing, the early results are surprising. Far from being a retail-only issue, over 75 percent of respondents say the omnichannel customer experience is important in their industries.
While our “2018 Omnichannel Marketing Survey” is still ongoing — we’ve only sent out the first of at least three emails for it, with another coming out today — the early results are surprising. Far from being a retail-only issue, over 75 percent of respondents say the omnichannel customer experience is important in their industries.
What’s more, only 6 percent of respondents so far are in the retail/e-tail sector; more responses are coming from a host of other industries, from non-profits to CPG to financial services in both B2B and B2C.
So far, omnichannel is proving to be an essential concern in 2018 for marketers of all stripes, enough that budgets are shifting to handle it. The early results show that 53 percent plan to spend more on omnichannel marketing in 2018 than they did in 2017, and 7 percent are more than doubling that investment.
What are they investing in? According to the early results, a lot of that investment is going toward customer data, customer service and customer identification.
Based on tha, it appears that customers are continuing to face challenges in the core capabilities of omnichannel marketing: Knowing who’s engaging where, and putting that together with what they did on the other channels to create a worthwhile experience.
Now, these are only the early results. The survey is far from done, and I’d love to hear from you. There’s still time to be entered to win the $100 AmEx gift card!
in order to engage, we must go to the watering holes where our customers and prospects hang out. We have to be in the channels they frequent, in addition to having relevant content for them to consume and share.
If you have a “field of dreams” wherein, if you create great content and put it on your website, somehow, “they will come …” well, good luck with that. The reality is that, in order to engage, we must go to the watering holes where our customers and prospects hang out. We have to be in the channels they frequent in addition to having relevant content for them to consume and share.
Ask Your Customers What Channels They Use
We have many clients who simply don’t believe their customers are on Facebook. So, we upload 5000 of their business email addresses to Facebook and show them the result: Usually a 65 percent match rate for business email addresses. Business people are on Facebook and they “hang out there” every day:
63 percent of Facebook users are age 30 and older
Facebook has more than 1 billion visitors per day
Facebook has many more video views than YouTube
I only bring this up to highlight that our assumptions about which channels are best for reaching our customers may be wrong. The best thing you can do is ask your customers. The next best thing to do is to experiment with multiple channels and see which ones currently work best for your firm.
No doubt you noticed I didn’t even mention email yet. Yes, it is a channel, perhaps the one you are most accustomed to using. And it is easy and inexpensive. But it should not be the only channel you use. Increasingly there are issues with:
Information overload in inboxes so your communication gets lost
Automatic “junk” designation and filtering
Spam traps (so you decide to do an ABM campaign to 250 contacts at your biggest customer and you email all of them at once…guess what is going to happen.)
My point is that your attempts to engage your audience will be better if you use multiple channels to nurture them. Upload the email addresses in Facebook, LinkedIn and other channels, establish a connection to your contacts through these channels, and start sharing content over them.
Syndicate Your Content
Syndicate and promote are becoming synonymous today because organic social is pretty much defunct. You have to boost or promote your content to your audiences or targeted marketing groups.
For video, it’s simple; YouTube is owned by Google. They have 77 percent of the search market. Since videos are quickly becoming the hottest form of content, it makes sense to place it where it will be found. If you have a podcast, use a podcasting hosting site such as Libsyn to set up your audio RSS feed. This feed can then be used on podcast distribution platforms such as iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher to ensure your audience can access your show regardless of which mobile device they use. Set up a podcast promotion plan for your social media sites as well to drive new listeners to your episodes.
Look for Multichannel and Cross-Device Remarketing Opportunities
Multi-channel and cross-device remarketing are really hot right now. I would suggest adding in some reference or weaving in some of that in this section. The following is an example of a multi-channel campaign.
Let’s say you are going to run a webinar next month. What should that campaign design include in terms of channels:
One to three emailed invitations and a few variations of follow up emails
Up to three impressions per person promotion in Facebook image ads
Blog post promoting the webinar on your blog
Promoted blog post on LinkedIn, Facebook and a promoted tweet
Facebook media ad — video promoting webinar
Retargeting campaign to known contacts in Facebook and Twitter
Lookalike campaign in Facebook
Hopefully this example makes it clear that your campaign design document has to be very clear on all the channels for a promotion. The graphic and copy (assets) needs vary by channel, and the logistics for lining up all these assets at the same time are much more complex than when you are simply using a single channel such as email. But the results for going multi-channel will be much better of course.
If you have content on your website and you point to it from other online digital content you control, your blog for instance, you can and should be tracking all those clicks by content type and channel. But when creating links to your content from digital properties you cannot fully control, or with embedded links in documents you share, ensure you use UTM codes with the links.
UTM codes were formulated to track channel and content performance. Make sure you use them religiously on all links on ads and promotions and in embedded links in documents. Set up a shared Google doc or spreadsheet to automatically generate UTM codes for your team with an approved picklist of values for Medium and Source. Minify the links to ensure their integrity before using them. Here is an example, a link to a white paper on strategic planning and budgeting for marketing. It goes without saying that you use your Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) form capabilities to grab the UTMs and save them in the contact record.
Use a tag manager, and make sure you “pixel” visitors to your content no matter where they found the link. That way to can add them to your “pixeled” database of unknown but interested parties and do promotions to them through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
By tracking everything you will gradually start to learn which channels and content work best for you to attract visitors to your website and drive revenue.
Next month, we will continue the Revenue Marketing journey conversation, and focus on the marketing technology stack.
Please feel free to share your experiences with content marketing strategy and other insights on the above topics in the comments section below or email me at email@example.com.
Marketing today happens through a lot of different devices and channels, most of which marketers understand pretty well. But as the channels multiply and merge quicker and quicker, understanding the integrated marketing environment is less about putting the channels together than seeing them as one omnichannel whole. To succeed in that omnichannel, total marketing environment, there are three things all marketers must understand.
Marketing today happens through a lot of different devices and channels, most of which marketers understand pretty well. But as the channels multiply and merge quicker and quicker, understanding the integrated marketing environment is less about putting the channels together than seeing them as one omnichannel whole.
To succeed in that omnichannel, total marketing environment, there are three things all marketers must understand.
1. It Defies Channel Boundaries
Most marketers understand that different channels drive different kinds of customers and different sales. What’s different is — thanks to changing device technology and the emerging world of IoT — channels are morphing all the time without warning.
A great example is the emerging world of voice search. Phones have supported voice search for years, but only recently have people started using it in earnest. In fact, adoption only really picked up steam with the rise of keyboardless devices like wearables and smart speakers.
That means voice is going to continue to reshape how people search, skewing algorithms toward the simpler search strings used in voice search and shifting SEO away from a text-based interfaces to voice-based ones.
That kind of shift is happening all over marketing, and will keep happening at an accelerated rate. Our sister publication Dealerscope covers the consumer electronics industry, and they’ve already begun speculating about a future where augmented reality is the primary platform people use to interface with the digital world.
2. It’s People-Focused, Not Conversion-focused
You’re starting to hear the buzzword people-based marketing — for example, Seth Garske wrote about people-based marketing in yesterday’s blog post — but this really predates that buzzword. In fact, people-based marketing, account-based marketing, personalization and AI are all moving in the same direction: Toward marketing that recognizes, respects and speaks directly to the individuals it is being sent to.
This is easiest to show in account-based marketing, which uses high-quality data and automation to send different marketing content to the right individuals within the target company. Yes, you do that to get to a conversion, but the activity focuses first on identifying with the individual recipients. It recognizes that understanding, even empathy, will lead to conversions.
Building that team takes a focus on marketing management and operations. The people who can make a lot of different things happen without degenerating into chaos become key swing players, like point guards in basketball who make the scoring happen. Having the right players around them is no different than assmebling a great basketball team (or football, if you’ve got that kind of budget).
You probably don’t like spoilers for movies, but what about your direct mail?
The U.S. Postal Service has rolled out a new tracking feature called Informed Delivery in the last few months. And it has implications for how the customer, the mail service vendor, and marketing agencies operate in the mailstream.
You probably don’t like spoilers for movies, but how about for your direct mail?
The reason I’m asking is because the U.S. Postal Service has rolled out a new tracking feature called Informed Delivery in the last few months. And it has implications for how the customer, the mail service vendor, and marketers operate in the mailstream.
The first time I heard of it was in September 2015, when I spoke at the National PCC Day event in New York.
In his remarks, USPS Chief Marketing Officer Jim Cochrane mentioned a service undergoing trials that would let people see their mail before it gets delivered.
I agree with Tom Glassman, Director of Data Services and Postal Affairs at Wilen Direct. He calls it “a great integration of digital and physical mail.”
So last week, I signed up for the program and waited to see what happened.
How It Works
Consumers can enroll online for a free, password-protected account that creates a digital mailbox for the direct mail they receive at their house. Before it’s even physically delivered, they can log in and see a grayscale image of the front of a common-sized mail piece, like a #10 envelope or folded self-mailer.
It’s not available yet for P.O. Box customers. And jumbo mailers, catalogs, and packages aren’t included in the mix at this time.
What Marketers Should Think About
So if you’re a marketer, you’re probably asking, “What’s in it for me?” What’s the ‘why’?” There are complex answers to these questions.
If this service were only about giving consumers a sneak preview of their mail, one more impression of an offer, well that’s not too bad.
But Informed Delivery is more than that.
Marketers can build campaigns using the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) to reach target audiences in the digital and physical worlds simultaneously. Under the program, marketers can enhance a physical mail piece when it’s scanned into the mailstream with a representative full color image, interactive content, and a click-through URL, with individual URLs coming this fall.
I’m not going to get into all of the technical details about campaign management and how to set up Informed Delivery. That discussion needs a much deeper dive, so it can wait for another time and place.
And I fully expect USPS to change features based on feedback from industry users and the public.
But I do have some recommendations.
First, consider how your direct mail – or at least some of it – can stand out in a grayscale image. This means paying special attention to your images, teaser copy, etc., and testing all of them
Second, think about all how your mail or your client’s mail can be enhanced with an Informed Delivery campaign. So off the top of my head, I can see uses for retailers, transpromo, insurance, utilities, and financial services.
Finally, there are some great resources to consult for more information about why and how to implement Informed Delivery.
Content marketing isn’t just about results. It’s about profit: The more efficient your content marketing, the more profitable. One way to amp up your efficiency is to get more out of each piece of content you produce and publish. This requires attention to two areas of content marketing: adapting content for different formats and promoting your content across multiple channels.
Content marketing isn’t just about results — it’s about profit. And the more efficient your content marketing, the more profitable.
One way to amp up your efficiency is to get more out of each piece of content you produce. This requires attention to two areas of content marketing: adapting content for different formats and promoting your content across multiple channels.
Adapt Content for Multiple Formats
The “adapt or die” imperative isn’t as dire for content marketers as it is for, say, an animal trying to blend into its surroundings. But unless you’re blessed with unlimited resources, you’ll need to think tactically about each piece of content. The content you’ve developed for a blog post, as an example, could also be used in a range of other formats:
Webinars / slidedecks
Interactive assessment tools
Adapting a piece of content to different formats assumes that the content itself will be transformed in some way to fit the new medium. You don’t want to just read your blog post into a camera and call it a video.
The adaptation helps reach more of your audience in the ways they prefer. Different segments of your audience may be graphics-focused, while others love video or prefer all the details laid out in text.
To some extent, the content formats you choose to adapt with will depend on the nature of the content itself. Not everything lends itself to a case study or an infographic as readily as you might like, though that doesn’t mean you can’t re-use the content as part of a broader case study or infographic.
As you plan to adapt a particular piece of content, your top consideration should be how to best use the new format’s strengths. You should also think about how any new format might highlight different aspects of your content, and whether that varied focus will help you connect better with different audience segments.
Promoting Content Across Channels
Publishing your content, in whichever form(s), is just the beginning. Once it’s published, it’s time to promote it.
In other words, publishing puts the content in content marketing. Getting the word out is the marketing.
There are, of course, a great many channels to choose from when considering how to promote your content, and you’ll want to select your channels based on two criteria:
Is this a place where my target audience gathers?
Is my content appropriate for this channel?
Obviously, there’s no point in using a channel if your target audience isn’t there. No matter how brilliant the content, nor how clever your come-on, you can’t attract what doesn’t exist.
Similarly, there’s no point in using a channel if you’re not using it correctly. And by correctly, I mean by behaving within the expected norms of that channel’s community — in a way that will resonate with the audience.
Some channels to consider are:
Guest blog posts
Social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Quora questions and similar “expert” forums
YouTube and other video channels
Slideshare and similar content-sharing platforms
Each of these channels has its own strengths and weaknesses, but they should not be evaluated on those merits alone. You must also consider how well it fits into your overall content marketing plan and, frankly, whether you have the resources to do the channel justice.
Drive ‘Em Back
Whichever channels you choose, your goal will usually be to drive any interest you generate back to your website to create engagement. Engagement leads to conversion, which is the ultimate goal. Be sure your newly adapted content includes a call-to-action to encourage the engagement and conversion you’re after.
Trust Your Data, Not Your Gut
Finally, recognize that in our discussions above, we’ve made some very large assumptions about the appropriateness of various formats and channels. A strong intuition or “obvious” fit is a great place to start, but there’s no excuse for not tracking your results and backing your instincts up with data. Let the data show you what techniques and channels work best for you and your audience.
Remember, the goal is increased efficiency, not just increased activity. Data will let you know whether your activity is reaping the rewards you are aiming for.