Database Artists

The print and mail industries have merged in the last decade creating a lot of “full service” vendors.  However, if you peeled away the layers of marketing you would discover there are really 2 types of vendors in the industry.  There are “printers that mail” and “mailers that print”.  CSG Direct Mail is a “Mailer” at heart and a “printer” second.

We print some amazing projects on some crazy materials at record speed. But we are also building some beautiful databases that drive some amazing projects and recording details from all interactions with a campaign.  We really are database artists.

Putting ink on paper is the easy part. Printers have been doing it for hundreds of years and since we are primarily a digital printer it is a fairly simple task. Printers struggle with the part of the business we like most, database driven everything.  This helps us excel in the difficult world of high tech delivery systems, barcodes, tracking, personalized printing and US Postal Service regulations.

If you’re doing direct mail projects you want a “mailer that prints” like CSG Direct Mail.

DATA DRIVEN

data-driven

data-driven

Being a database driven company keeps us on the bleeding edge of the newest direct marketing systems. That is where the greatest results are coming from and we live and breathe in this category for you.

We make it all seem simple and seamless so you can enjoy better results fast without sweating details.

DATA MINING / ANALYTICS

Are you pulling a list of names that meet a criterion or are you mining your data to find customer patterns and create new categories of customers you can market too?  When you live inside database and do personalized printing you think differently than someone that just pulls mailing lists for a distribution of materials. When you track and record results into data sets you also think differently about what you are looking for inside a database during a marketing campaign.

We help you get better results fast by identifying customer trends.

A great example is a grocery store chain we worked with to identify customer attrition. Using the membership card tracking of 1 store location we identified which customers were increasing their monthly purchases in meat and dairy categories and which customers were reducing their average spending.  By doing this we were able to retain high income by not offering discounts to shoppers increasing spending. We were then able to focus on the only 16,000 people that represented declines in monthly meat and dairy purchases. Those people represented the entire reduced sales of the store and we were able to target relevant coupons and offers to drive increased sales from that group.

DATA APPEND SERVICES

If your database is a flat file with very few details then we need to add some details about your customers to help you customer trends to market with so you can keep costs down and results up. This service is call data-append.

We work with several comprehensive consumer databases that give us hundreds of fields of data we can match to the records in your database. We can find buying habits, age of children, marital status, ethnicity, special interests, credit ratings, type of car driven and so much more.  We use some of the same data sources as homeland security.

Once we append the selected data to your database we mine your top clients to create patterns that we chase through the rest of your data. This helps you identify other top clients.  We could also then build additional marketing data-sets from outside data sources to match your top clients.  Then we use all of these special data fields to drive variable content in your personalized printing campaign.  This is where the term “database artists” comes from.

NATIONAL CHANGE OF ADDRESS

17% of the US population moves every year on average (US Postal Service statistics). So your database is ‘aging” every day and your results are going down every day like a sinking boat. If you don’t keep your database updated with where you customers have moved your results are eventually to just wasted money being thrown in the dumpster.

National Change of Address (NCOA) is a light data-append service that compares your database to the US Postal Service National Change of Address registry.  The US Postal Service stores this information for a maximum 48 months and they now require your list be scrubbed against the NCOA database within 90 days of doing a mailing if you want lower postage rates.

Once your database is cleaned we can help you get it back into your primary data source to save you the headaches and labor cost of intensive data entry.  You need to keep your database up to date but you don’t have to pay a fortune and work long hours to do it.

MAPPING

Once we have your beautiful database built we build maps to display your data for your post forma reporting and historical marketing results binder.  We are also known for our personalized variable direct mail maps and personalized driving directions.

Mapping

Map tools in CSG Direct Mail Portal

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (5 of 5)

Direct MailerStrategy #5) Tracking and Reporting for Success

Every sale in your company should be recorded where the sale came from.  EVERY SALE!!  If you miss this trick you will throw 3/4 of your annual direct mail marketing dollars in the trash.

I know it feels like you drive your own fate and ‘shoot from the hip’ with your ‘gut instincts’ but don’t be so vain that you don’t track the number of sales and value of each from every thing you sell.

This applies to direct mail as well.  Every redeemed piece should be recorded in your CRM tools.  CRM tools you say? If you don’t know what they are or don’t have them in place you and your job are at serious risk.  It’s the year 2010 – get serious.

The strongest businesses around got there by using math, reports and tracking sales. So how are you going to come anywhere near them if you don’t know where your wisest marketing dollar was last year.

Here are some things you should be tracking.

What brought the customer in? Did they see your sign or did a friend tell the to check you out? Did they see your ad n the paper or were they just at the store next door and liked your window display.  Whatever it is you want to focus some effort there.

How much did they spend? If the people than randomly walk by your store spend an average of $20 per visit, but the people that drive to your store directly spend $100; you’ll want to spend more time on your direct mail and print ads since they earn you more money.

Who are your multi-trip customers? If you have customers that return to your business time and time again would you know who they were?  Identify loyalty and reward it! Then give them an offer for them to bring a friend.  Birds of a feather do what?

Who are your top spenders? If they like your products why do you wait for them to randomly come in?  Personally invite them for something they would like.  It’s really simple if you take action.

Your best Direct Mail Marketing strategies start with you understanding your clients and learning how to market to each type of client. If you are not tracking anything how will you ever do that?

Step up; it’s not a game you want to lose.

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (4 of 5)

I’m sitting down with a client the other day and we are discussing the direct mail giveaway offer and the size of the mailing list. One of the people at the table says, “We’ll if we’re mailing 10,000 people we need to reduce the size of the offer, we cannot afford to give that much away”. This is a typical answer from a newbie.

Strategy #4) Don’t be stingy with your offer

The entire idea is to make sure you offer everything you can to each individual where you maximize profit and results. This is what personalization is all about. If one guest is worth offering $20 to get them in and another person is worth offering $100 to, you can do that easily with variable data printing. If you only offer $20 to both people you usually eliminate the response from the $100 guest and your company is full of $20 guests.

As far as “Everyone showing up” You have to ask yourself how many people are really even paying attention to your offers. Direct mail is a numbers game and the more you water down your offers the fewer the number of people that really even care.

Let’s say for example I was giving away a free car and I mailed 1000 people to give them away.  I would only likely have to give away 50-60% of those at most.  First off there are a huge percentage of people in your database that don’t read direct mail at all. The there would be skeptics, then people that forget to respond, etc.  So you might get a 50-60% response with a free new car.

So when you take your $50 offer and decide to lower it to $15 you are likely taking your 3% and cutting it down to 1% or less. You are also drawing in a much cheaper crowd.  If $15 is important to someone they are not likely wealthy enough to be a good customer buying all your goods and services, are they?

Make sure you use your customer historical sales to manage to offer everybody the most you can, based on what they average to spend.  Then you get sales from all levels of your customers and not just the cheaper ones.  Don’t guide your business smaller and smaller by catering to your cheapest of customers by getting cheap on your offers.

But then again don’t offer the best you have to your cheapest customers either. I hope you are tracking your customer sales and building offers based on their value.  I truly hope you are!

Dot-com Return to Direct Marketing Reality

I just got off the phone with Network Solutions; they called me about some services I let expire. It seems that even the formidable web domain registrar has decided not to count on email broadcasting. They’ve instead moved to reduce lost sales through direct marketing like normal brick and mortar businesses. They actually picked up a phone and called me.

Email Sucks for business communication. You are rarely sure if your customers received it and if they did they may have just deleted it. Sure, it works some of the time but with all the filters and trash that ends up in your email box nobody can count on it as their only form of communication. Dot-com businesses are smart enough to finally give in to the real world reality.

It is just as true today as it has been since before the internet existed, direct sales and direct marketing are still the most effective form of sales today.

ebay paypal direct marketing

It doesn’t stop with Network Solutions either. Last week (the reason I thought to Blog on this) I received a call from Ebay. I had a bad transaction with a seller and I had to file a Paypal claim.  Not only was I able to reach PayPal.com on the phone every single time I called, Ebay also called me after the transaction to see if they could help smooth over the relations with the seller.  No, Really… They called me.

I was fascinated as to why they called me and it turned out that they are trying to protect the reputations of sellers that sell high-ticket items.  But I was most impressed by how Ebay worked to smooth out relations AFTER I was already paid back by PayPal.

Now not all dot-comers have “stepped into the light” when it comes to picking up the phone but I have felt a lot of this lately.  I have had positive real world conversations with Network Solutions, Ebay, PayPal and facebook.  I still have had no luck even finding a phone number for google adwords though.

added: I have also received direct mail from Microsoft, Yahoo, Ebay and more..

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (3 of 5)

In Direct Mail Marketing we usually have a product we want to sell and we try to find the best way to sell it. We then work every trick and angle we can think of to develop the best response possible.  Have you ever thought that maybe this is backwards?

Strategy #3) Sell what your database tells you to! Direct-Mail shoes

Do not tailor your database to your offers, tailor your offers to your database. You need to send things your customers want, not just what you want to sell.

This is where direct mail tracking pays huge dividends.  On every mailing and every promotion you ever do you need to find ways to track and record sales and all sales details on each person.  This is the only way to develop what each individual likes about your products or services. Information is King!

An example is trying to sell coats to people that buy shoes. Sure you can likely sell some of them coats but for best results sell them more shoes.  Then, if they like black shoes; quit trying to sell them blue ones.  If they don’t like laces, promote shoes without laces to this particular person.

Variable data printing makes this easy!

Why are you pushing coats on your shoe people, anyway?

Sure, maybe you have an inventory of coats to sell too. But you should make those a secondary offer that follows directly behind what you know your customers like first.  “Buy 2 pairs of [insert favorite shoes here] and be entered to win this fabulous coat.” Then when they are buying all these shoes, you get them to try coats on and tell them about the coat sale this weekend too.

If you do not have the data to know what your customers have bought and how to personalize with variable data printing, you are at the right place here at CSG Direct, Inc.

Variable Data Print Sample

There is a huge separation in businesses that track sales and those that do not.

If you do not track your customers preferences you are going to lose in your competitive marketplace. You will lose!  Your competitors will win more sales with less money. You will win fewer sales and spend much more marketing dollars to do it.

Direct-Mail Perfect fit

Direct Mailing is still the Best Marketing

Direct Mail

At least with CSG Direct is it !!

Even as new forms of direct marketing emerge in this new era, direct mailing is still setting the bar in response, results and accountability in marketing. Most every other media cannot get you out of the most expensive parts of marketing – prospecting. In Fact, most advertising dollars wasted on broad shotgun prospecting.

Direct Mail is very focused on sales and generating revenue.

Experience will tell you that there are 2 levels of marketing.

The first level is the most expensive and that is to find out who is interested in your product or services.  Prospecting or acquisition marketing is where you spend money to broadcast who you are to the public and see who responds with interest in your product or service. This is commonly done with Television, Radio, Newspaper, Billboards, Websites, Yellow pages, Magazine ads, Telemarketing and sure Direct Mail of course too (however it is more direct, personal and accountable in prospecting).

The second level of marketing is what you do with all the customers and prospects that contacted you with any level of interest. This is where all your long-term income is made. You see, once you have a list of people who like what you do you can build long-term relationships with a direct sales approach. This includes direct in-person sales, tele-sales, direct mail and email. (I will save social networking for a later topic – it follows email)

That is the proper order for results too:
1) In-Person sales cost the most and sell the most.
2) Tele-Sales still utilizes personality and relationship but you are easily pushed into voicemail hell.
3) Direct Mail is something they have to see and touch and they can save it and share it with others in the home or office.  They can keep it for later too. Direct mail costs much less than in-person or tele-sales but you can sell a proportionally less amount too.
4) E-mail, currently the lowest form of marketing. Sure, if you have a relationship and are working on projects with a client it is great.  But for sales and marketing it is the easiest to avoid, delete and annoy.

So the main point is that long-term SALES happen in a DIRECT approach not in broadcast prospecting or print ads. So decades of experience say you build a comprehensive database (or many) with as much detail as you can. Then you send very specific offers to very specific people.  You then follow that up in-person, via telephone and personal emails too. IN THAT ORDER FOR BEST SUCCESS!!

Only go back to prospecting when you have maximized your current list of interested customers and prospects.  Why would you go talk to 1000 people that are not interested when you have 100 that are and you haven’t sold them anything yet?

We can help you build a business plan for successful marketing too! Your first step is to contact us or let us give you a direct mail quote to start.

Database Marketing, Direct Mail vs Email

As someone that has been in database marketing for over 2 decades I have had my share of deep experience in both direct mail and email variable data driven forms of direct marketing.

Email is a dying service and is going to go away in it’s current form.

We started by building our own email broadcast and link tracking tools back in the late 90’s.  We were in email marketing from 1995 to 2005 as an add-on to our direct mail services. Back then it was HOT and NEW and everyone wanted in, but so few people knew what they were doing so we enjoyed a decade of great prosperity.

But then in 2005 we got out all together just as a swarm of vendors and competitors were getting in. There was still a lot of money to be made in email after we got out but we recognized the fight those vendors were entering into.

There is a real ugly truth about email marketing that the companys buying the service do not know that definitely hurts them.  When you send even 1 message it has to go through multiple firewalls, mutliple virus scans, multiple email processing rules and multiple spam filters.

If it makes it past all those gatekeepers and lands in your prospects in-box they can tag you as SPAM that very second. That action affects all those same gateways and spam filters for each message that follows it.

Then, 10 minutes later you send an email to your customer to ask them about an order you are working on and your email message gets blocked by their spam filters. All because now you have been recorded as a spamming company. I guess the rule of thumb is if you don’t want to be treated like garbage marketing, don’t put your message next to the garbage in someones inbox.

We saw this coming, it was getting bad years ago and the writing was clearly on the wall. Email results are also at historical record lows too.  Low responses and a technical nightmare are not a recipe for success.

I have been talking about this for months with my peers but I guess I decided to blog about it today because I spent 3 hours removing an email virus from someones computer. What a pain in the ass and an uneccessary use of everyones time. There are so many other ways to communicate that don’t risk your entire it investments.

As someone who manages a firewall, one of the biggest security breaches we deal with on any given day is EMAIL. Email my friends, will not be around in it’s current form and I would not invest any current dollars moving in that direction.  For real electronic success you should chase SEO combined with social media like facebook marketing as well as others growing in popularity.

Then, really get to know your direct mail program. Direct mail is the most courteous of all forms of non-electronic marketing. It is still also the most focused, trackable, adjustable, shareable, savable, copyable, calcuable form of marketing.

But beware, there are spammers in direct mail too.  There are more spam marketers in direct mail than there are true direct mail marketing companys. These vendors will make you look bad and get your message thrown away just like email can be.

Nothing makes me sadder for a company then when I lose a bid by $100 to a printer and that company loses thousand$ in response and the direct mail information that comes with it.  Lowering their prices is the only tool in a printers bag compared to a real direct mail company that offers full service and full results.

Find out where your vendors core focus is. If they are primarily a printer or a print broker, forget about it.  Find database junkies, variable data printing and response pros. That is our niche, that’s where real direct mail lives and breathes. Experienced direct mail people know it and their businesses thrive off their direct mail results.

Real direct mail marketing isn’t broadcast print, it is made up of multiple data sources, multiple data-relevant messages, calls to action, results tracking and offer adjusting based on results.

You don’t get that from a printer, that’s direct mail baby.

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!

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.

Mailing Services, Direct Mail Partnership

As a mailing services provider and someone who has helped set up many mailshops over the years, I regularly find a lack of honest communication. Too often I find clients want to hold back from revealing the full details of a project for fear of putting too much on the table.

For example, a client may need to sell 500 hotel rooms in the next two weeks for fear of losing their job (random example), but instead of sharing that, they just say “I need a bid on a postcard mailing”.

Pull us into your battle! Get us involved in your mission. We have decades of experience at making things happen. Engage us!

The big crime in the scenario I just described is when they end up going with the lowest bidder because that is what they are trained to do. Then the event fails. No 500 rooms, no success – no job.

The proper bid-request should be “How can I use direct mail to fill 500 rooms in two weeks?” and then let the games begin. Now you will have idea after idea flowing your way and the good vendors quickly rise to the top. You can then make an informed decision based on your ACTUAL goals.

When you build a true relationship with a direct marketing mailing services shop as opposed to a average direct mail is an add-on vendor, you will find the direct mail success you seek.

Feel free to email me if you want to talk about it more.