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Near Field Communication in Marketing

Near Field Communication

I really dig Near Field Communication (NFC) and your customers will too!  Instead of scanning a barcode with your phone you wave your phone in front of NFC printed tags or stickers.  People will be looking for these just like they do QR codes today, only much more fun.

NFC tags and stickers are programmable like a flash drive is. They are also reprogrammable or lockable.  With NFC tags, stickers and paper you can do things like:

  • Change the phone settings
    Ringer volume
    Turn Bluetooth on/off
    Turn Wi-Fi on/off
    Set an alarm
  • Join a Wi-Fi network
  • Launch an application
  • Display a message
  • Send a text
  • Open a web-page
  • Show an address or location
  • Social Media, foursquare, facebook, twitter and more

Imagine if your guests waved their phone at your front door when they entered and it automatically signed them onto your Wi-Fi, displayed a welcome message and then logged their trip on foursquare.

You could also provide them with a sticker in their direct mail that displayed their Freeplay offer in a message and set a date on their personal calendar if they let you.  These can be highly personalized but like a USB flash drive it would take time to personalize a bunch of them.

Today NFC is most popular with transferring pictures and business cards between 2 phones.  People are told to ‘bump’ their phones to transfer videos, pictures and contact information.

Tomorrow they might be used everywhere to set entire experiences by turning off peoples ringers as they enter a conference, set alarms, calendars upload course literature, pictures and much more.
As Casino Marketers we can make them more useful than most people.

Marketing Automation Database Driven Solutions for everyday problems

Marketing Automation Database Driven Solutions for everyday problems

How many times have you heard someone say “If I could clone you we could get so much more done”?  It’s been said many ways but the question always revolves around cloning someone because they are already so busy and their skills are needed somewhere else as well.

A dream we all have is to take our most motivated and driven staff and clone them instead of hiring and training other people that may or may not be as driven or as capable.

What if there was a way to free-up your most valuable personnel?  What if you could set them free to work in other areas?  You COULD get so much more accomplished each day!

This is where Marketing Automation comes in

What if every report, every direct mail campaign, every post-forma and every possible daily task was automated to happen wither someone came in to work or not?  Think about it.

What if you could put all your daily struggles on cruise control and your entire team got to focus on new guest experiences, contests, expansions and community outreach?

I’m not saying it’s 100% possible… But What If it was?

It would be like you just cloned your entire staff and the they all got to focus 100% of their time on those new pressing issues on the top of your internal bucket lists.  Think of how much more you could do if they were not stuck on mundane daily paper pushing, database queries, reports and spreadsheets.

The Big Bonus is that you only pay 1 set of wages even though you are getting the work done of an entire extra cloned department by automating as many tasks as possible. Then, if you have staff turnover all those items are still being completed as planned without any skipping a single beat.

Where do we start?

The best way to get started is to let everyone know that you are forming an automation task force to audit all the redundant, mundane but critical tasks that keep us at our desks and not in front of guests or directly working on refining and building promotions.

Have your IT department create a full audit of every report that is created by every person in every department. Document the time spent on building post-formas, mailing lists, email blasts, data entry, creating redemption codes and every other daily, weekly monthly task that involves your staff’s time.

Have an ongoing contest across your entire property to identify redundant tasks that could be automated even if they all seem like they could not be done at first. Offer rewards and incentives for the people that find the largest blocks of time that could be saved.

Don’t forget to automate this incentives program as well.

Many ideas will see unreachable at first but with all these ideas on the table at once it will be very easy to identify large blocks of time and energy that could be spared by programing them to be automated.

Low Hanging Fruit

The reason we start with an audit of all tasks is that we can quickly identify the largest savings of time and energy. For example, many reports can be combined into 1 report and generated on a timed basis in SQL and emailed daily/weekly to everyone that needs it.

Many decisions you would make based on that report could be automated as well so that the logic doesn’t change from day to day.

Imagine that every day a list of inactive guests is queried and an excel spreadsheet is generated.  You then forward that list to your hosts for them to call on.  They in return call those guests and offer them a special room rate.  The next step would be to mail those guests a special offer to get them back in.

Automate it!

Instead of the last scenario you program SQL to generate that exact same call list and forward it as an excel spreadsheet directly to the hosts themselves on a timed basis.  That same data is automatically transferred to our automated direct mail facility where those direct mail pieces go out daily. The host says “I’m sending you a special offer” and those personalized offers are already in the mail.  Hosts spend more time on the phone with guests and you just freed up expensive talented staff to do something else important.

Direct Mail Automation

You can call it “Triggered Mail” or “Timed Mailings” but what we’re talking about is putting your mailings on cruise control while still offering the same level of personalization and more.

Don’t wait until you have time to get to your customers that are going inactive.  Address it immediately, without any required labor; through automated offers triggered by events the database can track.  Don’t wait for a mailing of 1000 when you can reach out to every single declining play or declining trip customer with a mailing as small as 1 piece that goes out daily.

Why are you waiting to reach out to that client?  I know, “you’re too busy”.  Automate it!!

Setup a small data transfer every morning from your player database to our data center and your personalized direct mail art merges with your data and prints automatically on one of our digital Presses.  We then cut, fold, insert and apply postage and your new member, birthday or inactive mailers go out every single day.

With automation you also receive an email summary each morning of how many pieces were mailed with an opportunity to review the variables used in your mailer.  Records are also automatically cleaned and compared to the US Postal Service for accuracy as well as to make them look better in your mailer.

This is an easy service to setup and you can focus your time and energy on your more complex promotions where you need to be focused.
Think of all the marketing programs you can automate:
•    New Members
•    Birthdays
•    Inactives or trip frequency decline
•    Increased or declining play offers
•    Monthly Mailers

You can easily automate personalized Letters, Postcards and Emails with Variable Print, Variable Offers, Variable Images and variable Envelopes.

If you want Blackjack players to receive blackjack images and Keno people to get pictures of Keno just build that in.  In many ways automated direct mail can be much more personalized than the manual tasks you do now.

Automating your redundant marketing tasks may be the biggest no-brainer in marketing. It can eliminate the response-rate rollercoaster ride of all the manual methods you’re doing now. You truly get something measureable and consistent month after month and year after year since it is automated and not influenced by staff changes along the way.

Casino Triggered Automated Marketing

Everyone in the casino industry has struggled with new player signup bounceback mailers.

  • Can we send them something to bring them back?
  • How soon do we send them something?
  • How many man-hours can we spend on this each week?

Everyone wants to mail them daily but doing so is a distraction for your marketing department when you are short-staffed and have 1000 other things to get done.  So most casinos try and make sure they send them every 2 weeks or monthly.

Sadly, many casinos don’t mail them at all and lose the “Welcome to our Party” opportunity.

This is where Marketing Automation comes in

You can call it “Triggered Mail” or “Timed Mailings” but what were talking about is putting your new player welcome mailings on cruise control while still offering the same level of personalization and more.

We setup a small data transfer every morning from your player database to our data center and your personalized direct mail art merges with your data and prints automatically on one of our 9 Digital Presses.  We then cut, fold, insert and apply postage and your new member mailers go out every single day.

You also receive an email summary each morning via email of how many pieces were mailed with an opportunity to review the variables used in your mailer.  Records are cleaned and compared to the US Postal Service for accuracy as well as to make them look better in your mailer.

This is an easy service to setup and you can focus your time and energy on your more complex promotions where you need to be focused.

Once you have New Members automated, think of all the other “holes” in a marketing program we can automate.  Our automation works great for:

  • New Members
  • Birthdays
  • Inactives breaking trip frequency
  • Increased or declining play offers
  • Much Much More…

Letters, Postcards and Emails

We offer 4 different automation mailer sizes:

  • 6×9 Full Color Variable 4/4 Postcards
  • 6×11 Full Color Variable 4/4 Postcards
  • 8.5×11 Full Color Variable 4/0 Letters and Envelopes
  • 8.5×14 Full Color Variable 4/0 Letters and Envelopes

We offer email triggered marketing as an add-on to any one of these too.

Variable Print, Variable Offers, Variable Images, Variable Envelopes

Nobody out-variables CSG Direct so we make this VERY EASY to be VERY Personalized.  If you have 4 letters for 4 tiers or different offers for non-locals vs locals… We build that in.

If you want Blackjack players to receive blackjack images and Keno people to get pictures of Keno, slots, etc..  We build that in.  At only $485 1-time setup this is maybe the biggest no-brainer in casino marketing.

Personalized Envelopes???  That’s impossible!  Right?

Something truly unique that our programs offer is full-color variable envelopes. This means we print your letterhead and envelopes on the fly with your offers and you can do variable tag lines and variable images, return addresses and more in the same program.

Do you want a picture of your players club card with their names on it on the front of an envelope in daily mailings of 1 piece to 500?  That’s what people come to CSG Direct Mail for…  The Good Stuff, Cheap.

All kinds of great casino services and innovations are coming out of Nevada from CSG Direct Mail. We are the Largest Digital Printer in Nevada with a reputation for better results.

Reach out to us and tell us about your new member mailers.  We’ll automate them!

SQL Address Correction over the web (CASS)

I just wanted to share that we have finished building our Address Correction program to CASS certify records directly inside SQL over the internet.

We have deployed it into our daily triggered mailings so that every record a customer transfers to us is cleaned and updated to the USPS Addressing standards, zip+4 etc

We are updating Canadians in the same pass.

To Expand on the possibilities…
This means that we could connect this CASS program directly into a timed process with any customer to clean their internal databases as well.

What if a Casino uploaded their new signups to us each day, me cleaned and mailed them, then they import those database changes back into their system?  This would be easy to do at this point.  Too easy.

I would suggest going deeper and query:
SELECT TOP (1000) *
FROM dbo.PLAYERS
WHERE [ZIP] EXCLUDES *-*

They could send us 1000 records per day where zip+4 has not been coded.
This could be a nice daily cleansing ritual that runs Hands-Free and over the course of 30 days their database would be pristine. Plus it would continue to check for records to clean each day so it always stayed pristine.

Another milestone of capabilities for us here at CSG.

Never stop learning and growing!

Your favorite direct mail piece may be obsolete

Your favorite direct mail piece may be obsolete

We’ll it’s that time of year again.  The holidays are behind us, there is snow on the ground and the US Postal Service just rolled out their new postage rates.  Yes, it’s a seasonal change that now happens every year about this time.

Every year the US Postal Service evaluates their efficiencies and adjusts their rates according to what kind services and mail-pieces cost them the most and what types of mail-pieces are most efficient.  This year is no different.  The new postage rates for 2013 take effect on the 27th of January. A CSG-Simplified 2013 postage rate chart available HERE.

Here are some changes you really need to know most:

MAILER MUST OPEN AT THE TOP
The US Postal service has determined that the type of mailer that gets stuck in their equipment the most is a mailpiece that opens “under the address area”.  We call these “Open on the bottom” mailers and they always required more tabs on these.    Make sure all of your mail-piece designs are folded so that any tabs to seal the mailer are above the address area, not below it.
If you present the wrong type of folded mailpiece it will be rejected, so be careful on this one.

MINIMUM OF 2 TABS
It used to be that we either had to apply 1 tab on the top of a mailer or 2 tabs if we had to seal the bottom of a mailer.  Now we have to apply 2 tabs on any self-mailer and you cannot seal the bottom of a mailer or even mail that type of piece (see above).  This additional sealing is so your mailing travels smoothest to its destination through postal automation equipment.

POSTNET BARCODES RETIRED
Finally, Really!  This is a good thing.  The new barcodes have been around a long time and yet so many companies had not adopted them yet.  The new barcodes are called “Intelligent Mail Barcodes” and between these barcodes and the QR “Quick Response” barcodes Direct Mail is regaining its throne in the marketing and response world.

The wrong barcode you will cost you your automation discounts, make sure you are covered.

6×10.50” POSTCARD SIZE LIMIT
OK, this might be the one that will catch the most people off-guard.  In the Casino world we are all familiar with the “Oversized Postcard”.  Well the maximum size of that postcard has just been changed. If you present a postcard bigger than 6×10.5” it will be considered a flat and your postage could triple.

This could be additional income to the US Postal Service but these expenses would be lost income to you,  so it makes a lot of sense to get this information to your design teams right away.

For greater details on these changes you can check out more of our blog or give us a quick call.  We are always happy to help you with your direct mail questions and guide you in the right direction.

Congressional Inaction Heightens Postal Service Financial Crisis

Postmaster General’s Statement on the Adjournment of Congress

Statement from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe:

Congressional Inaction Heightens Postal Service Financial Crisis;
More Aggressive Cost Cutting and Revenue Generating Measures will be Considered

The 112th Congress adjourned without having passed postal legislation. Such legislation could quickly restore the Postal Service to profitability and put the organization on a stable, long-term financial footing. This lack of action is disappointing.

The Postal Service has worked closely with the Congress over the past two years to advance a framework for a viable business model that will allow us to quickly respond to the evolving needs of our customers. As a result of frequent communication with Congressional leaders, we have modified important parts of our five-year comprehensive business plan, including the pace of consolidation of mail processing facilities, to give Congress maximum flexibility to make needed legislative changes. Unfortunately, Congress has not enacted these changes. As we sought to provide solutions to enable legislative change, we pursued cost-reducing and revenue-generating activities. Over the past two years we have reduced head count by approximately 60,000 career employees. We have consolidated 70 of our mail processing facilities. We moved to reduce hours at many of our Post Offices. We also have worked to substantially increase our package volume along with introducing a same-day delivery service.

As we look to the coming year, we are on an unsustainable financial path. We are currently losing $25 million per day, we have defaulted on $11.1 billion in Treasury payments and exhausted our borrowing authority. The Postal Service should not have to do business this way, which has undermined the confidence of our customer base and the $800 billion mailing industry we serve. We will be discussing with our Board of Governors a range of accelerated cost cutting and revenue generating measures designed to provide us some financial breathing room.

We encourage the new 113th Congress to make postal reform an urgent priority, and to work steadily toward the quick passage of reform legislation. We will continue to work with leaders of our House and Senate oversight committees and all members of Congress to help make this happen.

New Direct Mail Folding and Tabbing Requirements

New rules for Folded Self-Mailers (FSMs) and Tabbing become effective January 5, 2013.  Are you ready?

Yes, you read it right.  More changes from the post office.  This time they say the changes will reduce damaged mail pieces and keep the high-speed postal machinery from jamming and slowing processing.  Well, that sounds good!  There will be no grace period, so get with your graphic designers and pass on the new requirements.

What is a Folded Self-Mailer?  It is a mail piece comprised of panels created when a single sheet or multiple sheets of paper are folded together and sealed to form a letter-size mailer.  It does not go in an envelope and is not bound in any way.  Any mailer that is bound in any way is a booklet and the new tabbing rules do not apply.  Mailers with discs have been reclassified and have different rules.

Here is a summary of the most important new rules for Folded Self-Mailers:

  1. Height maximum is now 6 inches (Minimum height is still 3 ½ inches).
  2. Length maximum is now 10 ½ inches (Minimum length is still 5 inches).
  3. Maximum Weight: 3 ounces.
  4. Final fold must be at the bottom of the mailer or on the leading edge (right side) of the mailer for oblong pieces.
  5. Limited to 12 total panels.
  6. Final folded panel creates the non-address side of the mailer as folded bottom to top or leading to trailing edge.  Address panel can no longer be on the very top panel.
  7. Mailers with 4 panels must be printed on 28 # bond stock (70 # book) minimum.

Here is a summary of the most important new rules for Tabbing:

  1. Perforated tabs are no longer accepted.
  2. Minimum size of tab is one inch in diameter.
  3. Minimum number of tabs is two.
  4. Placement of tabs is dependent upon the design of the mail piece.
  5. Tabs can no longer be placed on the bottom edge of the mail piece.
  6. 2 one-inch tabs may be used for mail pieces weighing one ounce or less.
  7. Mail pieces weighing over one ounce must use two 1 ½ inch tabs.

Have questions or concerns or need help with a tricky mail piece?  Give us a call and send us a copy of your artwork before you go to print and we’ll help make sure you have it right!

Call us at 800-881-2150… We’re here to Help!

Or here is our online request form

Triggered Direct Mailings in more detail

Continued from Triggered Mailings Part 1

Personalized Triggered Mailings

Personalized Triggered Mailings

Player guest Mary has been playing video poker for 3 days. She has accumulated enough points to move up to the Platinum level. The database notices this (we told it to watch for this) and triggers(1) a text to Mary’s cell phone “Hey Mary, you just made it to the platinum club. We are sending you a free Room offer as your first reward”.

The database also triggers(2) a personalized letter sent that day welcoming Mary to the platinum level with her Free Room night in it. This letter goes out by noon at the completion of her trip because the database triggered the data to merge and print directly on a waiting, automated press; hands-free.

She gets this offer letter 1 or 2 days after she gets home, not a month later when ‘the batch’ goes out.

The database also triggers(3) an email to be sent in 1 week later telling Mary that she earned some freeplay for her next trip (segmented and personalized based on your reinvestment plan). If she makes her reservation this week we can upgrade her to a 2-night stay.

The final scenario the database is looking for is to see if Mary comes back in or redeems our offers. If after 6 weeks Mary has not returned for a trip the database triggers(4) an increased reinvestment mailer where she is offered a free dinner for her and a friend if she books her room this week.

Design many trigger scenarios easily

Marys’ sample story is just that, a sample.
Triggers(1-4) included :

  1. Text on her cell phone (if she provided it)
  2. Personalized Bounceback letter
  3. Personalized Email offer coordinated with her letter
  4. An increased reinvestment mailer

You could have even triggered a text to her host to visit her on the floor if possible.

You can design as many scenarios that you can think of to create an endless array of personalized and automated triggered guest experiences that run all year long instead of bulk batches of mailings done monthly. Guests don’t always think in monthly batches like we do.  They are all on their own individual journeys and when we treat them that way we get our best results.