Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015: Mail Still Isn’t Dead!

Well into the digital age, mail is still a major media choice for marketers. Total mail volume is down about 25% from its pre-recession peak in in 2006, according to the USPS Postal Facts report.  Most of that decline is due to less use of first class mail by both individuals and companies.  That being said, in 2014, 155 billion pieces of mail were sent, generating  $67 billion in revenue for the USPS.

Volumes for standard mail, formerly known as bulk mail or marketing mail remains virtually unchanged since 2010.  In 2014, businesses mailed over 80 billion pieces to over 153 million addresses.  Clearly, for many companies mail still remains a viable marketing tool well into the digital age.  According to a recent Direct Marketing Association (DMA) report, 77% of companies use some form of direct mail to their customers and 73% send direct mail to prospects.

Postal Facts 2015, United States Postal Service

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Doctor Referrals Sell

Few marketing efforts are as effective as having professionals recommend your brand to their patients.  A Medical Economics study reported that 88% of the time, consumers purchase the OTC brand recommended to them by their doctor or nurse.  Pretty convincing numbers.  So how do you get a healthcare professional to recommend your brand to their patients?  We have found that a marketer can build programs to get those important doctor recommendations. 

We have documented results from custom sampling programs developed for OTC products in the healthcare, oral care and personal care segments.  Each yielded a significant increase in brand recommendations.  One such example was for an oral care product where a targeted sampling program produced a 252% lift in incidence of recommendations!  Another health product program achieved a 75% increase in recommendation levels.  For both of these programs, the lift was measured by an independent third-party research company using pre and post studies.                

Here are a few sample tactics that proved effective:

  • To build and/or reinforce brand awareness, be sure to include sales literature to the medical professional as part of your sample kit which highlights the key patient benefits of your product.
  • Consider including a coupon or rebate on individual patient samples to encourage trial and repeat usage.
  • Have an easy way for your target professionals to request additional samples if they like them.  Having them enroll, or register, for more samples allows you to grow a proprietary database.   
  • Why not ask some additional qualifying questions when they enroll?    Using this information, you can then vary sampling and communication efforts to match key behavioral patterns. 

Coordinating a targeted professional sampling program with your overall marketing plan can be a strategically powerful and cost-effective tool to positively influence brand recommendations. 

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Are Corporate Gifts on Your List This Season?

The holiday season is upon us – ready or not.  Each day our mailbox (and inbox) is stuffed with catalogs, coupons, and reminders from gift retailers and holiday card vendors.  And while we will choose to procrastinate just a little bit longer, many of you have already made your gift-buying decisions.  Industry statistics, as well as our own research study targeting businesses, show that corporate gifts are planned for and approved in October/early November.  Some motivators for early ordering are price discounts, free gifts and other special offers.  And I think those incentives will prove even more meaningful in today’s bleak economy.  Do you still plan on giving corporate gifts this year? 

 Food gifts are becoming increasingly more popular.  Why?  Because they can be easily shared with others, are well-received by all, offer flexible price points, and allow you to share something you like. 

According to a recent study, the corporate gift market was valued at $7.7B with food gifts at $2.5 B and growing, representing one-third of the overall corporate gift market.

 This year we will continue our tradition of sending gifts to our customers and vendors.  Being marketing professionals, we are sometimes extra critical when evaluating our shopping experience. But for what it’s worth, here’s our list of must-haves for any e-commerce site looking to grab a slice of this year’s holiday pie:

  • Site has to be easy to navigate
  • Once we find what we want, it has to be easy to buy.  Sounds like a no-brainer, but unfortunately not everyone complies!
  • Has to be easy to order an item for multiple recipients
  • Provide an order history so gifts can be reordered for past recipients with minimal hassle
  • Ability to send personalized message
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Good customer service

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mail Just Won't Die!

Years ago, industry forecasts predicted that the rise of the Internet and email would eliminate the need for direct mail.  Now that email has become ingrained into society, should we prepare for life without daily visits from the mail-truck?

Definitely not.  Last year, the United States Postal Service delivered 203 billion pieces of mail – an average of 3.9 billion per week – to 134 million addresses.  This is almost six-billion more pieces than in 1998.  Old-fashioned, “snail-mail” generated $75 billion in revenue in 2008 for the USPS. 

Direct mail is still the marketer's most widely used tool.  In fact, direct mail is the media of choice for marketers to drive people to their website.  Why?  Because it is still the most selective, scalable and measurable form of advertising.

But that is not all.  Email, while typically cheaper and faster than traditional mail, has its limitations, such as lower response rates (versus direct mail), deliverability issues with more sophisticated spam filters and image blockers, the need to find reliable list sources, stringent CANSPAM policies, and size limits and after all, not everyone has email. 

We recommend a multi-media approach, where budgets allow.  Statistics show that campaigns using both print and electronic mediums boast higher response rates.  We proved this out most recently with a B2C baked goods client.  In an effort to save their way to success, they decided not to mail their catalog to their customer base, instead relying solely on email communications during their 2007 holiday season.  The result?  A significant decrease in the year-over-year customer retention rate, and disappointing sales during their critical holiday period.  Upon our review and recommendation, in 2008 they mailed their current and lapsed customers, in addition to the email blasts.  This strategy yielded a 72% increase in the retention rate.  And in a down economy, sales were up significantly.  The ROI on the customer mailing was at 250%!  Was cutting out the customer catalog mailing really a good idea? 

The bottom line is that 88% of marketing experts use more than one medium to generate results (DMA – Integrated Marketing Media Mix Report).  And companies that sell from catalogs attribute 44% of their sales to their print catalog mailings.  The 2008 Catalog Report from the DMA's Statistical Fact Book reveals two key facts:

·         The number of catalogs mailed continues to increase year-over-year despite the web and rising print and postage costs

·         100% of respondents had a website, but only 11% considered them to be their principal order drivers.  That means success requires more than an, “If you build it, they will come,” mentality.

The conclusions that can be drawn from this are that the big catalog companies (who consequently know more than anyone else about effectiveness and efficiency) are not eliminating their print catalogs for a reason.  Knowledgeable direct marketers are using multi-media and know that they cannot rely on email and paid search alone.  And no, direct mail is not dead!

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Welcome to my Blog

I started this blog as a vehicle to share marketing learnings and experiences with my current and former colleagues, students and clients.  The blog will also carry occasional rants or whinings about the day-to-day stuff that goes on in Beacon Marketing Group, Inc., a business dedicated to solving marketing problems for our clients.  While we love our clients --  and without them we wouldn't have stayed in business for seventeen years -- sometimes they are the problem.  In those instances, I will try to not shoot myself or my company in the foot, but I will point 0ut some really poor decisions that can serve as examples of what not to do. 

Hopefully, we can get some discussions started around the posting topics.   I value others' opinions, especially those that have facts to back them up -- even if they don't always agree with mine.  

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