Direct Mail With Coatings Is Enhancement Strategy Part 3

The last couple of times we discussed how paper and then finishing can enhance your direct mail ROI. Now, it’s time to look at enhancing direct mail with coatings.

The last couple of times we discussed how paper and then finishing can enhance your direct mail ROI. Now, it’s time to look at enhancing direct mail with coatings.

Coating technology has really come a long way; there are a ton of options now! Coatings also protect your mail pieces as they travel through the mail stream — so that when your prospects or customers get them, they are not all scuffed up. So let’s look at some options.

First, there are some different types of coatings used for direct mail; they are UV, Aqueous and Varnish. UV coatings are cured by exposure to ultraviolet light to quickly dry and harden, as well as provide a highest-gloss finish. You would not want to use this on folded pieces, as the coating may crack. This can also have another challenge for mail pieces — when you plan to inkjet on the addresses, the ink does not dry on UV coatings. Aqueous coatings are pretty common for direct mail pieces. They are clear and a fast-drying, water-based coating. You can get a high-gloss or matte finish. Aqueous coating is more environmentally friendly than other coating options. Varnish coatings are basically clear ink. They come in gloss, satin, or matte finishes. This coating also causes issues for inkjet addressing.

Fun options to try on your mail pieces:

  1. Soft Touch — This creates a velvet feel to your mail piece. It is so soft, your recipients will feel compelled to pet it.
  2. Scratch-Off Coatings — These coatings are commonly silver or gold, but do come in other colors. These can be used for more than just a “see if you win” scenario.
  3. Step Tex — A raised UV for the embossed look, without the impression on the back side of the piece.
  4. Sandpaper — A sandpaper or grit-like texture with a rough tactile feel. The more tactile you make your mail piece, the bigger the impression you will make.
  5. Etch Coat — A very fine patterned coating with many options.
  6. Glitter Coating — A large glitter flake, where the color is influenced by the ink underneath it. There are various colors and pearlescent effects available.
  7. Metal Flake Coating — These are extremely fine metal flakes that are similar to auto paint, with many color choices.
  8. Glow in the Dark — These are high-gloss coatings that will glow in the dark.
  9. Tinted Coating — These are optically clear-color coatings, with many color options.
  10. Colored UV — These come in multiple colors, including white.
  11. Thermochromic — These are temperature activated coatings that come in multiple colors, which turn clear when heated.
  12. Photochromic — These are clear and are activated by sunlight to change color.
  13. Chalkboard Coating — These are available in black or clear, they emulate a chalkboard surface, which can be written on with standard chalk.
  14. Scented Varnish — There are many scents to choose from, which are realized when rubbed. So this works best on pieces inside of an envelope or on the inside panel of a mailer. It does not work well on a postcard.

As you can see, there are many coating options you can choose from to enhance your mail pieces. And you can use more than one at a time.

When you are in your design phase, take into account what coatings you would like to use to make sure you not only have the room — but that the design files are built correctly for the affects you want. Your print service provider can help guide you on the files. The most effective use of coatings on direct mail pieces are tactile and draw attention to your specific message. The better you integrate the enhancement element, the more your message will resonate and drive response. Are you ready to get started?

Slow Down to Go Faster, Marketers

Sometimes you have to slow down to go faster. Those wise words of wisdom don’t just apply to business strategy, they are highly applicable to marketing.

Sometimes you have to slow down to go faster.

Those wise words of wisdom don’t just apply to business strategy, they are highly applicable to marketing.

We live in an age of extreme digital addiction, consumers glued to digital devices every waking hour. As a result, marketers rush to buy up all of the digital channels they can to be present and steal mindshare from all of the other brands tweeting, posting, sharing and hoping to get attention, engagement and sales. Yet, the simple truth is that most brands can’t really tell if its working, if they are getting sales and they don’t really know if consumers are really focused on their messages, even when data analytics say they were.

The secret is quite clear: to create meaningful engagement with customers in ways that build brands for the moment, as fleeting as it is today, and brands for the long-term despite technological changes, brands must slow down in order to go faster. Faster toward securing meaningful, purposeful engagement that results in what matters most to brands, now, in the past and in the future – lifetime value.

As old-fashioned as it may seem, print is one of the best ways to do this. And one of the oldest forms of print at its best is the catalog. In 1845, Tiffany and Company put out the first mail order catalog in North America, which they called the “Blue Book.” Shortly after the most commonly known catalogs like Sears and JCPenney took hold and the American catalog industry took off. Yet with online stores taking off and minimizing the cost to entry the retail world, print started to die off. Fewer ads in magazines, fewer catalogs and eventually, for companies that dropped their catalogs, that  meant fewer sales. A lot fewer.

Here’s just one example:

In 2000, Lands’ End cut back on sending catalogs to consumers. The result was a mere drop in sales of $100 million.  When the company conducted a survey among its customers to see what happened, they discovered that 76 percent of their online customers reviewed their printed catalog before going online. (Research by Kurt Salmon)

Xerox has helped add even more life to catalogs by using its variable data printing machines to create personalized catalogs.  Like personalized direct mail which enables customers to see their names and transaction history in a letter written “just for them,” customers can now see their names and other personalized information references in a multipage catalog.

According to Shelley Sweeney, a VP/General Manager at Xerox, brands are seeing big increases in results.

Catalogs are re-surging, not just because they can be personalized, but because they appeal to some key psychological drivers that digital just can’t. We humans are tactile people. We seem to trust more, believe more, like more and act more when we can reach out and touch something or someone. When we hold a magazine in our hands, carry it in our bags, and feel it with our finger tips, we feel connected. And when those catalogs present stories about the products, about the people who use the products, about the lifestyle qualities, values and causes associated with those brands and products, we feel connected with brands with a veracity that is hard to get from the fleeting digital screen with all of its moving parts, pop up distractions and links to click.

Patagonia’s catalog is a great example. This epic catalog features products alongside stories from its ambassadors and customers, sharing their personal stories in ways that inspire passion and evoke bonds with the brand telling the story. They use world-class photography to showcase the lifestyle of those who love their brand. And people love the art, story and products in the catalogs to the point that it not only creates product sales, but another life of its own. You can now purchase a book called “Unexpected,” which features some of the best catalog photographs from over the years.

The Patagonia catalog is not a quick read. It’s not a fast project and it’s not about fast and furious sales. It’s about slowing down for a moment, to read, to touch, to ponder the life you want to live and can live with brands that provide you tips, ideas, inspiration, and connection with themselves and with others just like you.

Its just like Dmitri Siegel, executive creative director and vice president of e-commerce for Patagonia, says, according to a recent New York Times article.

“Catalogs are a way we’re speaking to our closest friends and people who know the brand really well.”

Catalogs, now commonly called “magalogs,” are critical tools that build connections like few other channels can. Some things just never go out of style and this form of communication is not heading that way fast. In fact, while catalogs might seem to some like taking a step backward, they are truly becoming one of the fastest steps forward. And all by slowing down to regroup on what we humans like most: tangible, credible communications about things that matter to me.

Endless Fun With Direct Mail

We all know that if your mail piece doesn’t get looked at, it’s not going to be effective. Create a fun and entertaining mail piece by taking a normal folded piece and creating a whole new look with endless folds. These go beyond visual stimulation by requiring recipients to touch and manipulate the piece.

endless folds fun direct mailWe all know that if your mail piece doesn’t get looked at, it’s not going to be effective. Create a fun and entertaining mail piece by taking a normal folded piece and creating a whole new look with endless folds. These go beyond visual stimulation by requiring recipients to touch and manipulate the piece. It creates a sense of curiosity on what they will find after each fold is turned. By endless folds, we mean that your customers or prospects open the first set of folds that leads them to the next set and the next and so on. This can be a hard concept to visualize so check out this video.

As you can see, you have the opportunity to showcase your product or service in a very unique way. Endless folds are not commonly done, so your piece will stand out and be remembered, as well as shared with others. In most cases, people will go through the entire set of folds multiple times because it is such a fun and curious experience. This type on physical interaction is not possible with digital marketing channels, so when you add endless folds to your direct mail in conjunction with other marketing channel efforts, you are able to more effectively communicate your message.

Don’t let your direct mail pieces be overlooked. Adding special features like endless folds enhances the appeal to your prospects and customers. This increases your response rates. These are cheaper to produce and mail than dimensional pieces, so they can be a great cost effective alternative. The best part about using endless folds is that it allows you to incorporate more information about your product or service in a fun way. Get creative with your messaging so that you generate interest as well as enjoyment.

Another great benefit is that the USPS has a program called the Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Mail Piece Engagement Promotion. It runs Feb. 1 through July 31, 2017. You earn a 2 percent postage discount. This is for Standard and Nonprofit letters or flats. Print elements can be incorporated into direct mail to engage a multi-sensory experience through special visual effects, sound, scent, texture/tactile treatments or even taste. In addition, interactive features such as pop-ups, infinite folds or other dimensional creations also qualify — try this out and save on postage!

Not sure you are ready for endless folds, but still want to change up the way you fold your pieces? Check out these examples of what you can try. There really are a lot more folding options available to you that many marketers are either not aware of, or have not had time to consider. Do something different on your next direct mail campaign and see what results you get. Talk with your mail service provider for some ideas and what layout will work best. Don’t be afraid to try something new, it may end up being the best thing you ever did.

Direct Mail: Is It Old Fashioned If It Still Works?

I still get a lot of sneers if I bring up the idea of direct mail to a client. Comments range from “Does anybody still read that stuff?” to “Aren’t postage rates outrageous?” The simple answers are “yes” and “no.”

Morpheus says Direct Mail WorksI still get a lot of sneers if I bring up the idea of direct mail to a client.

Comments range from “Does anybody still read that stuff?” to “Aren’t postage rates outrageous?” The simple answers are “yes” and “no.”

Let’s start with a few statistical facts (courtesy of the USPS Household Diary Study):

  • 42 percent of recipients read of scan direct mail pieces: That means that nearly HALF of your target audience is actually stopping, for a few seconds, to read your message. If you’ve designed it properly with a strong and relevant offer/call-to-action, you might achieve a 1 percent, 2 percent or even 14 percent response rate (yes, I’ve achieved that!). Digital ads, in comparison, are lucky if they get a 0.14 percent ad clickthrough rate — and then, once they get to the landing page, you’ll be lucky if you convert 2.35 percent.

I know the argument: Yes, but I’m exposing my digital banner message to millions of targets and it doesn’t cost me the same as direct mail does.

Let’s Do the Math

  • If you executed a direct mail campaign to 10,000 targets, and achieved a 1 percent response rate, you’d gain 100 customers.
  • To gain those same 100 customers, you’d have to run a banner ad that reached 3,035,700 targets (and let’s face it, you’re probably reaching a lot of non-targets in that number too).

The great thing about direct mail is that you can still rent or create a highly targeted list of prospects relatively inexpensively, as there is no wasted circulation. You’re only sending your message to prospects who meet your criteria — and therein lies the rub. Many companies aren’t clear exactly who they should be targeting, so they rent a list that is so broad that it has no chance of delivering a successful ROI.

Take a Bite Out of Postage Costs
If your only targeting criteria is to reach households who live in a specific zip code, or a specific neighborhood, you don’t even need to rent a list. The USPS offers a service called “Every Door Direct Mail.” By leveraging this new service, marketers can save thousands of dollars on postage — in fact, you can reach your 10,000 targets for as little of $0.29 per household.

Tactile, Targeted and Oh-So-Clever
Business-to-business marketers, who always benefit from targeting vertical market segments, should have a digital presence on sites where their known prospects visit — but have you looked at the overwhelming and competing messages on these sites lately? It seems you cannot even visit a site without being slapped in the face with an invasive pop-up ad, or flashing banner ad. Since 72 percent of Internet users say pop-ups are “very annoying,” and 49 percent find banner ads as annoying as pop-ups, your brand could probably benefit from moving into a distraction-free zone — which is what direct mail truly offers.

When direct mail arrives, your recipient must at least touch it — if only for a moment before recycling it — but if you’ve crafted a targeted and meaningful message, it will get opened. And that’s where many marketers fail. They don’t truly understand how to craft a direct mail piece that works.

Grabbing someone’s attention isn’t as simple as mailing a postcard — or a letter in an envelope. Although I’ve seen both of those tactics work when done intelligently. Three-dimensional packages can be an excellent way to get attention, especially if you’re selling something that’s expensive and your initial goal is to get an appointment for your sales force.

The Direct Marketing Association hosts an annual awards show (the ECHO’s) for excellence in direct response work. Take a gander at their case studies and study what works and, more importantly, why. Then tell me that direct mail doesn’t work.

5 USPS Direct Mail Promotion Programs for 2016

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has approved the USPS proposal for five programs offering incentives to mailers to increase mail volumes.

Mail StarThe Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has approved the USPS proposal for five direct mail promotion programs offering incentives to mailers to increase mail volumes. Many are the same or similar to last year. Direct mail has many unique qualities that the following promotions try to exploit. They grab recipient’s attention and increase ROI. Which ones would you like to try out?

1. Emerging and Advanced Technology/Video In Print Promotion
March 1 – Aug. 31, 2016.
You earn a 2 percent postage discount. This is for First Class, Standard and Nonprofit letters, cards or flats. The mail piece must incorporate any of the following technologies including: standard NFC technology, video in print (ViP), beacon technology or an “enhanced’ augmented reality. These technologies will allow the recipient to engage in an interactive experience using the mail piece and mobile devices, tablets, etc. This year’s promotion includes an option for A/B testing. Click here for all the details.

2. Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Mail Piece Engagement Promotion
March 1 – Aug. 31, 2016.
You earn a 2 percent postage discount. This is for Standard and Nonprofit letters or flats. Print elements can be incorporated into direct mail to engage a multi-sensory experience through special visual effects, sound, scent, texture/tactile treatments, or even taste. In addition, interactive features such as pop-ups, infinite folds, or other dimensional creations also qualify. Click here for all the details.

3. Earned Value Promotion
April 1 – June 30, 2016.
You can earn a $0.02 – $0.03 credit per piece of returned mail for both First Class Business Reply Mail and First Class Courtesy Reply Mail. The credits will be added to your USPS account for use in future mailings. Click here for all the details.

4. Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion
July 1 – Dec. 31, 2016.
You earn a 2 percent postage discount. This is only for First Class mail. Adding a color message on a statement or invoice to sell other products or services is a great idea. Remember that it must be personalized, however an image is not required. Click here for all the details.

5. Mobile Shopping Promotion
July 1 – Dec. 31, 2016.
You earn a 2 percent postage discount. This is for Standard and Nonprofit letters or flats. The mail piece must include a mobile barcode such as a QR Code or print/mobile technology such as NFC that can be read or scanned by a mobile device and then takes the recipient to a mobile-optimized shopping website in order to make a purchase. Click here for all the details.

Many of the promotions listed above are great ways to enhance your direct mail. Check out the 2016 USPS Promotion Calendar by clicking here. I especially like the Tactile, Sensory and Interactive one because there are so many creative ways to take advantage of saving on postage and really making a great impression with customers and prospects.

All of the promotions require mailers to register for them in order to qualify for the up-front discount. In many cases, there are other stipulations after mailing as well, so make sure to check out all of the requirements for each one you are interested in.