A simple direct mail campaign can sometimes have as strong of an impact as the loudest, most impeccably articulated digital campaign.
Why? Because, as consumers, we experience some of the best websites, digital content and emails on a daily basis. Having that perfect website, social presence and a focus on website usability is important and increasingly "expected", but, are no longer a differentiator.
A well orchestrated direct mail campaign is an effective marketing tool and can cut through online chatter while complementing the digital programs you have in place. In their 2012 Channel Preference Survey, ExactTarget found that 65% of consumers who received direct mail either made a purchase or engaged in other calls to action.
Direct mail is an old method of reaching out, but it isn't outdated. How can you use it in new ways?
Use Data (big or small) to Personalize Your Work.
Make your work feel relevant to the user. Go beyond just personalizing their name. Tweak the content, offer and design to connect with the user.
If you plan on following up, acknowledge the initial message and build upon it. For example, if you know someone responded to a newsletter on bee-keeping you can add that knowledge to the content and design of your follow-up direct mail. E.g. "We would like to invite you to an upcoming honey-farming event in your community."
Take Advantage of Tangibility.
One awesomely simple point one of our Performance Marketing Experts made was to incorporate interactive elements, different textures and new design ideas to add a sense of discovery to the experience. "If it looks good, feels nice and screams for interaction, I am more likely to open it", says Nimisha Asthagiri.
Blend Across Channels.
If direct mail offers the first touch, digital channels drive long-tail interaction. Choose the appropriate channels to further engage your prospects. E.g. You can add QR Codes to direct mail and drive them to a personalized landing page, your website, video portal or your Facebook fan page for further interactivity.
There is really no limit to what you can do with direct mail. Invest some time to make it stand out through creativity & interactivity. Your direct mail campaign may not reach prospects through new technology, but it will definitely be different.
Come, meet Our Direct Mail Superheroes
We utilized the ideas featured above in a recent direct mail campaign that featured elements of fun, interactivity and personalization.
Our Founder, Nirmal Parikh, came up with the idea of using an Avengers inspired activity set to bring out the inner Marketing Superhero in our prospects. The package included a superhero cutout and markers, themed tattoos, a personalized letter and a copy of the Avengers comic book. The actual "gift" from us was about them, and encouraged fun. The idea was to help prospects envision themselves as this superhero character.
Yes, marketing is a serious business – but really what creative marketer wouldn't be tempted by the opportunity to color a superhero that represents them?
We blended across channels by creating a landing page with an invitation to connect via social networks. These were the next steps in the communication process. So, we offered them additional information on our call to action while restating the promotions and encouraging social engagement.
The Marketing Superheroes effort was simple in its delivery.
Sure the landing page added an online element, but its main entrée was paper, markers and a business card placed in a package. Yet, we all agreed that it was a unique way to reach people. The kit has been very well accepted and we've (until now) received a 47 percent response rate and a few (well-deserved!) praises from prospects who loved our approach, creativity and effort!
So, don't rule direct mail out just yet. Give your customers the opportunity to have a simply "them" moment to be creative, open a personalized "gift" and think of themselves as a Superhero. After all, it does take a superhero to handle the marketing demands of today's world! And, wer'e here to help.
How can you keep your email marketing relevant this year?
The rise of mobile and social media has changed the way consumers view content. It has also elevated our users' expectations. Just like marketing tools have adapted to the way consumers view and receive content, email marketing will make way for an increasingly mobile and more personal user experience.
Let's start with the facts:
Over 80% of people are using their smartphones to read and send email (Google 2011).
In the second half of 2012, 40% of emails were opened on a smartphone or mobile device (Knotice).
Two-thirds of businesses will integrate social media and email marketing this year (Strongmail).
Increasing subscriber engagement was considered the top email marketing initiative by 50% of businesses.
It's clear that email is becoming an increasingly mobile experience. It is also a tool for marketers to engage their readers and build relationships via social media integration.
Here are four keys to forward focused marketing:
- Email marketing should be MOBILE friendly
Because of mobility, content should be USABLE
To increase engagement, content should be PERSONAL
The user experience should be SIMPLE
It is likely that your customer's relationship with your company will not only evolve online but also through mobile. Mobile content should create a positive experience for the user every time they interact with your brand.
For email, layouts should be optimized for mobile reading. Send emails that are device agnostic and responsive to screen size. Mobile also means time sensitive. Create concentrated content, allowing users to hone in on key aspects of your message and easily engage in calls to action.
Because of mobility, email should also be highly usable. Create links that are designed for touch screen capabilities (larger buttons, larger font). If the email is linked to other websites or landing pages, ensure that those destinations are also optimized for mobile.
The email should not be fully dependent on graphics or outside links. There is often a lag time between opening the email and the images loading.
Provide more than an email personalized with a name. With the rise of social media, users are searching for a company that can deliver messages more personal and relevent to them.
Tailor the message to targeted segments. Make use of data that provides information on who your readers are and what they are interested in. Use these insights to create content that is meaningful, relevant and informative.
Don't let the impact of social media overshadow your efforts, but use it to your advantage. Integrate social media into your emails, including social links and create opportunities to share content using chicklets or widgets. This allows users to connect with you on their preferred channels while expanding your reach.
To paraphrase, "A designer has achieved perfection when there is nothing left to take away."
We love things that make life simple. Keep your message clear. Keep the call to action obvious and minimize distractions.
Nothing like seeing good practice in action, check out these 10 Simply Awesome Examples of Email Marketing from the Hubspot Inbound Marketing Blog.
Responsive website design is more than just delivering pretty eye candy. It's creating an experience that delivers maximum usability agnostic of the device that the user is consuming your content with. Learn why responsive design is important.
Does this sound familiar?
While searching on your phone Something Interesting! shows up and you decide to click on it. This leads to a minuscule website requiring a combination of creative mobile gestures (press and zoom, swipe, drag, tilting the phone a different way) to help you sift through content. You zoom in, "No, that's too close." You move up, "Argh, that's too far up." After a while you have already forgotten what the Something Interesting! was and an incoming text message reclaims your attention, leaving the hard-to-navigate website in the dust.
This is where responsive design comes in.
Responsive design is an adaptation to the way we use devices. It presents users with a consistent experience whether they are viewing content on a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
A website featuring responsive design will adapt to the appropriate size and layout depending on the device being used. While apps provide a way for companies to produce mobile-focused content, responsive design offers an optimum browsing experience on each device. Instead of having to download an app, or come up with creative gestures, you get instant access to highly usable content.
Why is Responsive Design Necessary?
Why is this important? Consumers are buying a variety of devices and using these devices to access online content.
As of January 2013, 87 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone, 45 percent own a smartphone and 31 percent own tablets. (Pew Research Center)
Tablet sales are expected to reach 100 million by the end of this year and eventually exceed notebook sales by 2016. (NPD)
Tablet shipments are predicted to have a compound annual growth rate of 28% over the next five years.
Consumers are also using their mobile devices as they would a notebook or desktop computer.
Close to 60% of tablet owners prefer to read news articles on the web rather than through an app. (Pew Research)
31% of mobile phone owners go online almost exclusively with their mobile devices.
Mobile internet traffic makes up 13 percent of all global internet traffic. (KPCB)
When searching on a PC, the difference between a responsive site and a non-responsive site can be seen when adjusting the size of the browser. Here is a comparison of Mashable's responsive site and The Wall Street Journal. We adjusted the browser to fit the screen resolution of a laptop, tablet and mobile screen.
From the Mashable website you can see that content adjusts as the shape changes. The narrow mobile model has an entirely different layout, so a user can browse by clicking a pull down menu and view article previews by swiping.
The Wall Street Journal site simply cuts off content when the size and shape of the browser window changes. Only a corner of the website shows up on the mobile model. And if opened on an actual phone, the site shows up as a tiny - less usable version.
We live in a world where people want to access information on any device, at any time, from anywhere. The purpose of a responsive design is to create a seamless transition between these devices. Having a responsive site will ensure that your content keeps people engaged via a device of their choosing.
Want to test the limits of responsive design for yourself? Check out some of our favorite responsive sites.
Making your website look all cool and fancy is important but may we suggest that you pay even close attention to usability. After all, if it looks good, but no one can use it, what good is it?
Case in point: Lufthansa
Lufthansa's current website (as of 1/31/2013) features a nice layout with good use of hero images. Unfortunately, it's the same use of those hero images, that's making the Search feature on their site un-usable.
How so? You might ask. Well, the person in charge of website content obviously did not pay any attention to the fact that the "search" feature (in black text) was layered on top of the hero images. So, while those hero images of ski lodges in Switzerland, business class cabin or the temples of India work on a standalone basis, they practically blend in with the backgground image to make the overlaid Search feature on the Home Page practically unusable.
A great example of why design & usability go hand in hand.
So, if you are using a green background on your site, that green "Go" button might look great in Photoshop, but it will do a David Copperfield and disappear from the page if you aren't careful!
Here are 2 screenshots from the Lufthansa site. You be the judge. Do you think it's easy to spot the options for Search?
So, we'd all like to believe that we make rational decisions most of the time. Right?
Well, last week at FutureM I heard Aaron Reid and Nancy Harhut talk about the science of decision making and they tell us otherwise! In fact, only 5% of our decisions are based on a rational thought process. The other 95% is based in the sub-concious! Decisions already made by our mind, only to lead the other 95% to believe.
So, what factors influence our decision making process?
It's been scientifically proven that avoiding pain is peceived to be 2x more beneficial than gaining something. Hence subject lines, like those defined below, work well in getting people to open their emails.
"How to avoid..."
"Don't miss out!"
"What never to eat on airplanes"
"7 E-mail Marketing Rules To Follow Before Hitting Send"
One thing is for certain. When people are uncertain they follow the lead of others they know. Including testimonials has shown to increase order value by an order of 80%! Why? Because people believe in other people. And, worldwide a whopping 92% of the people trust earned media (like testimonials and recommendations) more than anything else.
Creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity is another way to nudge customers in making decisions. If your customer feels your're going to run out of inventory they are more likley to act fast and complete a purchase. Everyone from Amazon to Travelocity is employing this tactic.
Exclusivity has a similar effect. I mean, who doesn't want to belong to an exclusive club, right? If it's your last chance to respond to get a sneak preview at something, chances are you will. Think daily deal sites like HauteLook.com (Nordstrom) and MyHabit.com (Amazon) that bring you exclusive member-only offers!
Eye Magnet Words
Eye-magnet words are designed to draw your attention, increase engagement and generates more responses. And the big daddy of them all is FREE.
Remember the days of the "old" web when you clicked a Submit button to submit a form? If we know our conversions would get a boost by just changing that button to "Download the Free Whitepaper", then why not?
Examples of a few more eye-magnet words are:
New, Introducing (exclusivity)
Guarantee, Proven (removes risk, social proof)
Easy, Quick, Improved
Personalization is another way to boost your response rates. Research shows that personalization with a name that sounds like or is similar to the user's name increased responses by 56% while a generic name resulted in a 30% increase. Not bad for 2 extra words!
Writing something down increases the level of commitment from your users. Once you have something positive in writing from the person, they feel tempted to demonstrate this commitment and are less likely to change their purchase behavior. Think of all the testimonials! People who provide testimonials to your product or service are less likely to purchase from a competitor.
It may be true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; however, when it comes to first impressions that your landing page creates, do you really want to test that theory? My guess is not.
A Landing Page is the first point of interaction for a user with your site. This is your chance to grab their attention, entice them to continue and ultimately to engage them to take action.
Whether your visitor comes to your website via the pay-per-click search engine ad or word of mouth, it is crucial that what you have promised them is delivered. Personalized Landing Pages are extremely valuable as you do not want to have something that looks as if it was churned out in a factory. Your company is unique, therefore your landing pages should be a reflection of your brand.
Take extra effort to design and create landing pages that really stand apart. Here's how you can deliver that perfect landing page (if there is such a thing!)
1. Start with a low-fidelity sketch on a piece of paper
2. Then, a create a medium-fidelity wireframe
3. And finally, move on to your final high-fidelity designs
And all along, don't forget mobile! We'll discuss some considerations when designing for mobile in our next article. We should know since we are working on a project for mobile right now! So, stay tuned.