Direct Mail app

CSG Direct is most famous for innovations in direct mail tracking and the 1st Direct Mail Smartphone app to market. We are a Direct Mail Marketing and Digital Printing company with deep roots in barcodes and tracking.  Our Direct Mail app is Amazing!

DirectMail-Iphone

CSG Direct Mail app

When you have to work with less, you need a vendor that brings more to the table. We continue to redefine what people expect from their direct mail vendors. We are the direct mail business model of the future and The Greatest Value in Direct Mail.

You deserve live job tracking, piece tracking and the highest level of accountability in the palm of your hands and available for whenever you are questioned about your work.

iTunes app link

LIVE PROJECT TRACKING

Have all project details at your fingertips.  Is it printing? Maybe it’s being folded? Did they receive the mailing list? Did it go out yet? When is it going out? Active marketers juggle lots of details and there is no standardized way to tell how well a project is going or why it is taking so long.
Until Now!

No more making phone calls every day, leaving messages and waiting for callbacks.

Direct Mail Cloud Based Services

With a complete Red Light / Green Light system you know if we are waiting on you or if the project is moving as planned. You get live access to the status of each project updated directly from our production floor as the project progresses.  You deserve a high level of accountability from the direct mail industry and we are leading the industry with unmatched minute-by-minute accountability.

USPS CONFIRM

After we complete your mailing and it is delivered to the US Postal Service the accountability goes to the next level.  Our Direct Mail app offers live feedback from all the US Mail sorting equipment across the country so you can tell when it is actually getting delivered. You get unprecedented accountability on the U.S. Mail delivery.

HISTORICAL DETAILS

Look-up past projects to get full audited details on postage, pieces, processing and final delivery timing.  See how long it took to get delivered and then adjust your next mailing for greater success. This is just one way we help you get Better Results Fast.

INTERACTIVE MAPS

Interactive Google Maps show the areas you targeted in your mailing. Zoom in-out and touch any zip-code to see how many pieces you mailed. This is a direct mail cloud service that our customers use and enjoy on the fly, in their hands and available 24/7.

CUSTOMER LOOKUP

Customer Lookup inside the US Postal Service nationwide mail stream is the holy grail for the direct mail industry and we invented it. Using your own customer ID numbers you can find the mailing you have sent them and then see the route, dates and times of the entire delivery process mapped out in interactive Google maps. We Dream Big!

All of this is available only at CSG Direct Mail and live on your smartphone.

iPhone Direct Mail app

iPhone Direct Mail app

CUSTOMERS GET THIS SERVICE FREE AND YOU DESERVE IT!

Tracking Results

Tracking Direct Mail Results

Tracking Direct Mail

Direct Mail is one of the most track-able and accountable forms of marketing today. The science and art of direct mail is the ability to test variables, track the results and adjust a campaign based on what you learn.  Only database driven marketing like direct mail has this valuable feature.

We’re constantly tracking:

  • Mailed Pieces
  • Intelligent Mail Barcodes
  • Mail Piece Delivery Times
  • Mail Piece Delivery Routes
  • QR Code Activity
  • Customer Logins and Uploads
  • Driving Directions usage
  • Duplicate Records
  • Changes of Address
  • Clicks, Scans and Exposure
  • Live Job Production flow
  • Postage and Service costs

TRACKING PORTAL

Login 24/7 for live details and tracking on all your projects.
Reports include:

  • LIVE Jobs
  • Job History
  • Postage Calculator
  • Bonus Bucks
  • Mail Piece Tracking and more

Our systems send detailed full job reports in daily or weekly emails. When each project is completed an email is sent summarizing details. Mailing projects get emailed live links to interactive maps of geographical areas targeted and the live USPS delivery data.

Our Portal first launched in 1999 and has since become an important part of our many Direct Mail Cloud Services.

Tracking Map

Tracking Map - iPhone

Tracking Map

Tracking Map - Top Zips

Tracking Map

Tracking Map - USPS

 

 

 

 

BONUS BUCKS

Track all the bonus bucks you earn in the CSG Direct Bonus Bucks program.  “Bonus Bucks” is our customer rewards program.  You earn a series of different bonuses based on the type of programs you took advantage of at CSG Direct Mail.

Our customers have earned over $50,000 in Bonus Bucks over the last year and they are redeemable up to $1000 per month at a time.  This is a real valuable program and our clients use them for free mailings and digital printing services all year long.

INTELLIGENT MAIL BARCODES

Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMB) are the newest USPS Barcode that combines US Postnet and Planet Code Barcodes. CSG Direct is a Full Service Intelligent Mail Barcode with Confirm provider and leads the industry with some of the newest IMB innovations.

CSG Direct US Mail Tracking Systems track every single piece of direct mail you send with simple look-ups using your in-house customer account numbers.

Casino Marketing Direct Mail Campaigns

I often have people ask “What is the best Casino Marketing Direct Mail Campaign?”.

There really is no easy secret formula or special tricks for getting the most impact out of a mailing. The best direct mail campaign is simply the one that gets maximum results for the lowest cost. In determining what will work best for each customer, the marketing professional must ascertain what the customer wishes to accomplish, whom the customer wants to communicate with, what the incentive is for the recipient to respond, determining a strong call to action, and producing the project in a cost-effective and efficient manner. It is crucial that the mailer takes advantage of the lowest postage rates available – as postage is often the most expensive aspect of the project.

The next question is: “How do I know I am maximizing my direct marketing efforts?”

This is where the experience pays off. Seasoned marketing professionals will seek out the mail marketers who are innovative, versed on postal rules and regulations, and focused on getting maximum results for their customers. Companies such as CSG Direct are in high demand due to the experience and innovation that they bring to the direct marketing industry.

While many printers and small mail shops may have the ability to put an address on a mail-piece, they do not have the ability to track delivery. They cannot ascertain the “in-home” timelines, analyze the market penetration, or track results in a comprehensive manner. Less experienced mailers do not have strong quality control systems in place, MQC Certified employees, expert data programmers on staff or the systems to expedite the projects efficiently.

This is nearly always followed by: “What type of direct mail piece is most effective?”

Once again: This is determined by the type of results that the customer expects, the type of offer that is being presented, and the demographic that is being pursued. One wouldn’t send a postcard as a high-end wedding invitation….however, they might send a “save-the-date” card prior to sending out the formal invitations.

This is the type of strategy that often increases results. Sometimes a postcard with coupons is the most effective, low cost medium for specific campaigns. Sometimes a personalized letter makes more sense, and can easily be tailored to the individual’s interests or purchasing traits. Self-mailers are often a great alternative, especially if one desires a lot of “real-estate” to get their message across. The type of mail-piece will vary with each project, and should be determined by demographic, content and end strategy.

Marketers should realize that a direct mail campaign is exactly as it sounds: a campaign. A single mailing is not a true campaign. In most cases, it makes more sense to mail to one-third of your top prospects three times than to mail to all of your prospects a single time. Repetition is the key to any campaign. With proper planning and implementation, the cost for a multi-tiered mailing campaign is very reasonable. With a strong offer, proper incentive and an effective call to action…your customers and prospects will react in a positive and timely manner.

In summation: Too often individuals plan, ponder, partially develop and ponder some more about their marketing campaigns. It is a “ready – set – wait” scenario. As the event or promotion draws closer, they are forced to react. At this point the campaign is pushed out late and valuable time is lost. Early planning and implementation will make for a smoother campaign. It is no coincidence that in most cases, the well planned campaigns are the most effective campaigns.

By approaching the objective ahead of time and applying a plan – develop – implement” strategy, your mailings will be received by your potential customers in a much more timely and effective manner. By working with an experienced, competent mail shop – you will have the proper tools to analyze your campaign (and you will sleep better at night).

Effective direct mail marketing….it’s as easy as C-S-G!

Are new postage rates justified in direct mail?

All things being what they are, I am normally one of the first people to bash large bureaucratic entities such as the US Postal Service. The monopoly that they hold over the industry, the civil service mentality and attitude as well as the constant increases in the cost of doing business leave them as a wide-open target.

In thinking about the new Postage Rates, however, I also feel compelled to compliment the postal service for the latest developments that they have introduced. It has been quite an undertaking! Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of room for improvement and a many areas that they can improve on. Today let’s look at some of the positives, because they deserve to be recognized.

One of the most amazing new developments with the US Postal Service is the implementation of the intelligent mail barcode systems. It is mind-boggling to think of the amount of data retrieval, data collection and data distribution that this system is capable of. This helps the post office to track delivery times and pinpoint problematic areas within their system.

It has also been a great tool for mail service providers such as CSG Direct to build systems around for individual US Mail tracking. This is a dream come true for Direct Marketing professionals to be able to track their mailings online. It allows them to gauge delivery times, track individual pieces and better plan their projects.

Another item that I believe bears consideration is the expense of fuel that has spiked and dropped several times in recent memory. As a transportation and delivery entity, the postal service is sharply affected by fuel costs. I know in my household fuel prices have strained the budget considerably. These costs cannot be absorbed for long periods of time – especially at the volumes that the USPS consumes.

I believe that the postal service is working diligently to improve service and delivery times. With some of the new requirements for NCOA standards, enhanced barcoding and ongoing customer relationship building. I am seeing great strides of improvement in a large entity that is slow to change.

If we can only get them to work in a more customer friendly atmosphere in regard to the incessant changes and rules for mailpiece design and construction. They change the rules – industry adjusts – then they change the rules because they do not like the industry adjustments. The recent flat changes are a good example of this.

In May of 2007, the flat rate increase was harsh, so the industry started changing to smaller booklets and slimjims that were subject to the letter rate category. Now the post office is implementing new rules on these types of mailers that will cost the preparers more money to process and slow down the production. This should have been taken into consideration in 2007 when the USPS raised the flat rates to get mailers to change their formats and remove some of the burden from the flat sorters.

OOPS… I am going off on a rant – not the intention here.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the positive changes that the post office and the mailing industry are encountering. The new technologies are very cool, and very useful. If you are not taking advantage of these new technologies, then you are missing the boat! If you would like to learn more about US Mail Tracking, give one of the Direct Mail Specialists at CSG Direct a call. We are here to help!

Direct Marketing Headlines

I received a direct mail headline question and thought I would talk about it here too.

You are relying on someone giving you their quality time. If your headline is weak, you are assuming they will care long enough to read your whole copy. They probably won’t.

Your instinct may be to use a headline like “The best service in our industry”. But this is more like a followup to a real headline that grabs their attention and then makes them read more. People process information in bits and you can either lead them along or you can confuse them at the start.

I would rather entice readership with something like “Your Customers Don’t Like You”. which makes everyone say to themselves “WHAT? Our customers love us! Who is saying this?” and then you drop into your secondary line “How do you know you have the best service in your industry?”.

At this point the person reading will at least ask themselves that secondary question and see if they can answer it. If they cannot – you can take them to the next line… leading them forward into your offer.

You have engaged them! Bravo!  Step 1 complete. Remember not to think too much about step 4, 5 & 6 until you conquer step 1.  Engage them and make them talk to your mailpiece and question it.

The main problem is that too many corporations wont allow you to use headlines like that. They’ll say it’s too unprofessional or too “small company”.  They want to lead with giant brand statements like “Great service for over 50 years”.

So what?
Why should I give you 15 more seconds of my time, let alone some kind of response or business order?

Your headline must engage them.

Oh yeah, don’t forget to track and test multiple headlines to see what works best with your audience.

Casino Marketing, Bulk US Mail Tracking is making a difference

Well, the word is definitely spreading about the unique direct mail innovations coming out of Reno, Nevada.  Ironically, the US Postal Service is worried about record profit losses just when the final direct mail dream is realized with US Mail Tracking.

Our innovations on the cover of Casino City Vendors Guide:

We have really started making an impact on reducing the postage expenses of all our Casino Marketing customers.

No matter where your direct mail is processed you have to correctly time your direct mail delivery. For the rest of the country this is still just guessing and estimation, at CSG Direct we’re hitting bullseyes.

We’re about to roll out three new tools to add to these innovations. I’ll tell you about them as we get closer to release.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail – Sin #7

…and how our clients avoid them and save thousands

Finally we can confront Sin #7:

Direct Mail Sin #7

Proof sign-offs taken too casually

Every job that we receive with electronic files requires some kind of manipulation or adjustment prior to mailing. RGB to CMYK, resizing, recropping, data merging, font replacement etc…

When your project requires a final signoff we hope that you take this opportunity seriously!

By the time it gets to this stage you have seen it many many times. Take a moment and read every line of your offer and confirm that everything is exactly the way it should be. This is your final opportunity to adjust dates, copy or data before your clients or prospects see the piece.

This is also the moment in time when the mistakes slide though and become major issues when the customers start calling.

We know that you are probably tired of reading at this point but you need to try to read the piece like it was your very first time looking at it. Study the text, confirm the data, dates, phone numbers, call-to-actions and all other components.

Common errors found at this point:

* Right date/wrong day (is it really a Thursday on that date?)

* Brand colors off

* Wrong or missing telephone numbers

* Newest art changes not sent (were we sent the most recent version of artwork?)

* Wrong offers, or error in disclaimers

* Spelling errors/typos

We know this is cumbersome but it also one of the unavoidable steps. We highly recommend you let someone else look at it and sign off with you. This identifies more errors and changes the dynamic if something is missed.

On a personal note, it doesn’t leave you standing alone as responsible for errors if more people on the team miss the same detail. If many people missed it than it must not have been obvious.  If only one person signs off it is easy for everyone to just point at you and steer clear of responsibility.  This is human nature.

Either way, the signoff process and authorization for us to proceed is your decision only.  We will not proceed without it and we are responsible to print and mail it exactly as the proof you signed off on.

Added Note about all 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail:
Allow the time needed for the quality and price you desire. This time gives you the breathing room needed to be flexible if  things you plan go wrong. No human process or timing is perfect, however much you try!

You cannot be consistently successful when you are expecting everyone involved to “jump from miracle to miracle”! You’ll save money in the end by not paying for rushed and fixed jobs. Being rushed always creates additional errors as you skip details to meet timeframes.

Our most successful customers have learned to work backwards from deadlines, successfully creating a smooth process from start to finish.

The first time I opened a piece of my own marketing campaign

The first time I opened a piece of my own marketing campaign mail more than twenty years ago, I was astonished to find the letter inside was glued to the inside flap and as a result came out in tatters from the envelope.  After I tried and failed to open the letter without tearing the piece into bitty sections, I just went at it until the thing was lying across my desk like a crossword puzzle.

Thing is, the coupons attached were in sections too.  I was horrified because the procedures for accepting the coupons was to have the customer hand the entire letter with coupons attached to the Player’s Club to be able to acquire their $5 in coin and $5 in food credit.  It said it right on the coupon.

I glanced down at the scattered micro-perforated mess and immediately hurried to the Player’s Club to make sure the representatives took the coupons no matter how they came into the counter.  Oh my!  The line of guests extended for a hundred feet and every one of them had some kind of abnormal untidy heap of baffling print tangled rag in their palms.

They all looked confused, but more importantly angry.  Instead of throwing my hands up, quitting my job and running to the nearest pub, I decided to call in every slot attendant I could get my hands on and give them directions on making our customers feel at ease. Each one of our guests were told we would honor every coupon and I ran upstairs and created a sign to post at the casino entrance and the player’s club that we would handle their bewilderment without argument.

The next two weeks went fairly smoothly and we actually had comments that the staff had done a fantastic job in the presence of catastrophe.  The GM gave me a pat on the back and then told me to fire the mailing house, but I had already communicated my frustration to the company and they gave me a credit on the next mailing. Apparently, the auto-letter stuffer had just been cleaned and the equipment malfunctioned that added the minute amount of moisture needed to seal the flap. Instead, the amount ended up being about a tablespoon and was not caught by handlers at the end of the line who were wearing gloves to protect their hands from paper cuts.

More than ten thousand letters were ruined, but a lesson was learned.  Always be prepared for anything happening and think through the confusion to the solution that ultimately makes the customer happy.

John Evanoff
jevanoff@redearthcasino.com

The 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail – Sin #6

…and how our clients avoid them and save thousands

We continue along with Sin #6:

Direct Mail Sin #6

Don’t use MS Excel for databases

Excel sucks for databases. I don’t know how else to put it. Sure, everybody has it and it is one of the easiest ways to display your database visually, but it doesn’t hold record integrity and it plays with the numbers in your database. The worst horror stories ever in our business have Excel in them. We like MS Excel for spreadsheets and mathematics, not for databases.

There is no describing the feeling that comes over you when you find out (after the mailing) that your customer had sorted the [Last Name] field of an Excel spreadsheet before sending it to you.  It’s like a bomb goes off and everyone involved gets hit with the collateral damage.

These “bombs” are always from excel. Every single time over the decades I have been doing database marketing, Excel is the culprit. Yes there are ways to use it properly to avoid these mistakes. But, the fact that sortation is possible in this manner means excel is NOT a database program.

You’ve been warned.  This is a Direct Mail Sin.

Direct Mail Flats Postage Rates are Under-Attack

What do you get when you take the heaviest piece of mail possible and force it to either jump through hoops or pay huge postage increases? You get the single largest opportunity for the US Postal Service to increase its income quickly.

As someone who has processed flats and catalogs, I can’t say I blame them due to the backbreaking nature of these heavy cumbersome pieces. But we like to help you save postage at each turn.  So I am here to guide you through this new information.

USPS Poster 182, January 2009 Specifically Reads:

New Address Standards for Commercial Flat-Size Mail
Effective March 29th 2009

Since you can download the document I won’t copy it verbatim. But I do want to talk about what I see and how it relates to all of you.

The first and most obvious aspect of this entire change of mail processing category is the conversation about the “top” of the mailpiece and specifically if it is on the right or on the left of the publication.  Let me repeat that because it sounds so odd (so postal).  The TOP is on the RIGHT or LEFT. *chuckling to myself*

Anyway, once you get oriented about RIGHT, LEFT, TOP and “bound edge” this gets easier to understand.

Look at this example:

Notice the Magazine is upside down to us and the address is vertical and parallel to the bound edge. To us this makes the most sense because if you rotated this 90 degrees to the right it would be envelope shaped and the address would be in the correct area.  Unfortunately, this is with an address block on the front cover. However, “front cover” is not required but the orientation is.  This is not the same place all of you are addressing right now so this was the most important change to look at. Be aware of the address block to the bound edge.

Here is another example:

This is where it goes from obvious to bizarre. First, you now see the “top half” is the bottom half of the magazine. You also see that the address is no longer in the top half and the address block is also inverted.  Interestingly enough this is considered with a “loose enclosure” which means it can slide around, however they want it in a specific location.  I have to imagine this was built very specifically to a certain project or projects because it doesn’t make much sense at first glance.

Here is another example:

This format seems like it makes sense to the Post Office but I imagine they just don’t realize that this is one of the biggest money spots on a magazine. A back cover ad is real estate that we do not want to give up.  It is very common to address on the lower half of the back cover, but rarely ever on the top.

I see this example as the most common money maker for the post office as they struggle to make you give up the largest money makers for you. You’re just going to have to move your customers’ ads to the bottom half and make them happy about it somehow. It is the same square footage ad space but it does feel submissive to the addressing itself.  Remember, this heavy magazine mails at first-class rates without it. $1 or more each.

Perhaps it is time to start addressing on the cover to save this valuable ad space.
Put it where you would put the newsstand UPC for non-mailed versions.

Last Example:

I think the most important part to observe on the large envelopes is that in either example the return address is on the left. The “top half” appears to be whichever side the mail-to address is on. These two formats have the smallest change and the option at the right is already the standard in all the large envelopes we mail.

In summary, the biggest concern from our perspective is magazines. There are so many of them out there that are mailed in the first week of each month.  I imagine that April 1st is going to be April Fools Day to so many of the Post Office’s largest customers. But this time you won’t be laughing.