Print Communication Best Practices for the Digital Age

direct mail

Print communication and marketing has established itself as a successful and long-standing tactic in the business world. It works both when you want to acquire new customers as well communicate with an existing audience—but why is it that print marketing is so effective, even in a digital age?

When receiving marketing material in the mail, the recipient interacts with it in a way that digital tactics can’t replicate. Plus, if your direct mail is able to elicit feeling or emotion, an even deeper connection can be formed. This creates a more personal experience than digital tactics, where users will see the message and scroll past it perhaps without a thought. Print marketing, however, can carry more longevity.

To make the most out of your print communication strategy in the digital age, here are some things to keep in mind as you plan.

Personalization is Key

When designing your print communication material, look for ways to make it as personal to the recipient as possible. Instead of giving your postcard or flyer a generalized greeting, such as “Dear Neighbor,” or “To the residents of,” address the recipient by name. To take it a step further, customize your direct mail campaign to fit what the customer is looking for. If you have a list of customers who have previously bought a service or product from you, include a coupon for a discount on their next purchase. If you are targeting your campaign at new customers, include a free consultation or gift when they visit your business. Use incentives that reflect customer spending habits to maximize their potential.

Utilize the Senses

A wonderful aspect of print communication is the ability to customize nearly every detail of its design, which in turn can make the material you send stand out from the rest of the “junk.” When creating your next flyer, pamphlet or brochure, incorporate unique design elements that evoke feelings or senses. This can include eye-catching colors, distinct imagery and even the sense of touch. Punch-out coupons and contact cards are just a few ways you can create a memorable experience for the recipient through direct mail. 

Complete the Circle

Although print and direct mail is a tried and true tactic in the marketing world, it will likely not be the only route you choose to take. Living in the digital age means incorporating print methods with digital ones, too. Make your multi-channel campaigns effective by unifying them through design and messaging and bring it back full circle. The imagery of your direct mail flyers should reflect the design of your digital ads, and the word choice should remain cohesive. If you’re looking to integrate the print and digital platforms even further, include a QR code on your print materials to drive recipients to your online website. The scannable feature will make it even easier for consumers to interact with your campaign in a meaningful way. Plus, it creates an ability to capture campaign data. 

Print communication campaigns offer a wide range of customization and potential for creating meaningful interactions with your new and existing customers. Unlike digital campaigns that an audience can simply scroll past in seconds, direct mail is not as easily ignored in the digital age. To help your print communication live up to its full potential, focus on personalization and eliciting sensory experiences—and don’t forget to keep it consistent with your digital presence, too. If you want to dive into more best practices for print communication, contact your local Allegra team.

5 Reasons Direct Mail is Vital to Your Multi-channel Marketing

Marketing research shows time and again that both consumers and business buyers are aligned: They like to get mail . . . when it’s done right. But what does that mean?

Successful direct marketers have cracked the code and are motivated to deliver mail campaigns that are relevant to and welcomed by highly targeted prospects, customers and supporters.

In today’s unexpected environment that has kept many people closer to home and disconnected from their usual routines, direct mail marketing has seen a resurgence in popularity for a wide range of industries across local, regional and national markets. Many people have lightheartedly joked on social media channels that going to the mailbox has become an outing – and they’re dressing up to do it!

All fun aside, studies have compared how our brains respond differently to physical and virtual stimuli. The research revealed that engagement with a printed piece shows more brain activity than with digital views, suggesting that physical material is more “real” to us and involves more emotionally vivid memories.

Still, any single marketing channel can’t do it all. Mail teaming with digital strategies and each playing to its strengths results in a multi-channel campaign that delivers the strongest performance.

Digital tools and technologies, like personalized landing pages for response, elevate a simple print project to a can’t-miss, easy-to-respond-to piece that is well within reach of small business marketers and nonprofits. Think in terms of print and rather than print or other marketing channels.

Here are five characteristics of direct mail that make it a powerhouse, and as part of a multi-channel campaign, can help to drive more sales or donations, enhance customer relationships and deliver long-term return on your investment.

1. LIST AVAILABILITY AND REACH

The ability to target mail by geography, interests, specific demographics and lifestyle characteristics gives personalized and relevant messaging laser-sharp focus for improved response.  

If you’ve paused acquisition mailings, consider reengaging with further refinement to your mailing list. You will likely experience more attrition in your customer base during a downturn, and prospect mailings can help you regain lost business. Alternatively, no-list mailings to a defined geographic area are an affordable, fast and effective strategy for local businesses whose customer base is close by.

2. LOW NUISANCE/LOW THREAT

There are some products and services that are a natural fit for direct mail. Nonprofits, service industries and restaurants are a few. And when someone needs a longer period to research and compare their options, mail can give you an intimate space to do it.

It doesn’t mean we are going to stop shopping online. Marketers should have email in their arsenal for nurturing relationships and special promotions, recognizing that there can be suspicion about data security among customers and prospects who prefer physical mail.

3. HIGHER RESPONSE RATES

Physicality may positively influence the effectiveness of the call to action. A recent study shows 42% of direct mail recipients read or scan the pieces they receive.1 Advertising mail is kept in a household for 17 days on average, meaning it offers multiple opportunities for recipients to take the desired action.2

4. FLEXIBILITY OF FORMAT

Mail is highly adaptable to your audience and campaign objectives. With formats including postcards, letters, self-mailers and dimensional packages, mail is telling your story in print. Digital messages can sometimes look sterile. A mail piece supports long and short content, and different paper textures, inks or finishes all work to make the emotional connection that is so powerful.

5. LONG SHELF LIFE

A tangible printed mailer that can be set aside and picked up later or passed on is appealing in households and businesses. Yes, you can forward an email. But days or weeks later, that’s history. There are dozens of more emails right behind the one you just got.

Let us know when you’re ready to put the power of direct mail to work for you. Our pros can help.

1Data and Marketing Association
2Royal Mail

Multi-Channel Marketing Tips for Success

Multi-channel marketing tips

As business owners, the journey to getting your message through to consumers quickly and efficiently can be daunting, but one thing is for sure: your audience is no longer in one place. Average consumers toggle back and forth between a number of platforms and channels every day, and in order to reach them, your business should do the same.    


For those who are new to the idea of multi-channel marketing, or for those looking to polish their multi-channel skills, here are a few tips to set your business up for success in your next campaign.

Choose Your Channels Wisely

According to the Data and Marketing Association, multi-channel marketing campaigns use three different media types on average. When choosing the channels you want to leverage for your campaign, look closely at your audience and understand the media types that have worked for you in the past. You can use customer feedback and data metrics to determine which platforms your audience responds best to and which are equipped enough to carry out your campaign objective. And, don’t forget to think outside the cloud – offline channels like print and mail can be key players in marketing campaigns.

Make Modifications for Each Channel

After deciding on the right channels for your campaign’s audience, adapt your strategy to work best with each channel individually. Say you chose to launch your campaign through email marketing, social media marketing and mobile app messages—how will the channel differences affect the phrasing of your message? A lengthy email can carry more content than an Instagram photo, but an Instagram photo will certainly require more creativity than a push notification. By adapting your strategy for each channel, you can be more effective in getting your message across.

Keep it Consistent

While your methods should vary for each channel to adapt to its purpose, your messaging and design should remain consistent throughout the entire campaign. Your goal is to ensure that the audience will become familiar with the message and recognize it across all channels, but beware of sounding redundant or “spammy.” You can do this by executing similar designs for your social media collateral and email headers, and using the same key words and phrases throughout the platforms.

Multi-channel campaigns are not always a smooth experience—there are a number of factors to consider and keep track of in order to execute it successfully. However, multi-channel strategies are efficient in reaching your audience on more than one level, thus more likely to get your message across. These tips are a good start, but for in-depth consultation and guidance, contact the professionals at Allegra.

Optimizing Your Email Marketing Strategies

Optimizing email marketing

Email marketing has proven to be one of the most effective ways of generating customer interaction and driving sales, no matter what business you run. With consumers spending more time on their devices, your content becomes even more likely to reach a lead or existing customer via email.

However, email campaigns can require a bit more TLC than other marketing strategies. In addition to proper follow-through actions, the platform and tactics are constantly changing. And in order for you to get the best results out of your email marketing campaigns, you must find ways to optimize. 


Below are a few key tips to get you started with optimizing your email marketing strategies.

Customize Senders & Subject Lines

Grabbing the customer’s attention is often the first obstacle when launching any sort of marketing strategy. With email campaigns, the first thing that recipients will see is the email’s sender name and subject line. To increase the chance of your message getting across to the recipient, list your sender name as a real person. Sending emails with a real name, and maybe adding a picture of the sender instead of a general business name helps set a friendly, humanizing tone. You can also test different sender names, such as your company’s CEO vs. a marketing representative, to see which performs better. For subject lines, the best tip is to keep it short and sweet. To prevent the subject line from being cut off in a mobile or desktop preview, use a short phrase with actionable language like “learn more about a trial,” or “join us for a limited time offer.” You can also customize the subject line by including the recipient’s name, which will help draw their attention.

Call on Customers with a Call to Action

A call to action can be one of the most important aspects of an email campaign because it will essentially get you to your end goal of completing a sale or converting a customer. To optimize your call to action, first decide what action it is that you want readers to take. Then, decide how you want to bring it to life. If you are currently using a link for readers to click on as a CTA, consider opting for a button instead. Clickable buttons are often included “above the fold,” or in the top half of the email. Regardless of where yours is located, make sure it is bright and easy enough to read so recipients don’t scroll right past it at first glance.

Create Segments for Personalization

Using segmented lists in email campaigns is an effective way of personalizing the messages you send. Most email marketing services now allow you to segment your email lists into smaller groups with specific attributes. For example, you can break your master email list up into groupings based on geographical location, age, gender, purchase history and more. Say you are launching a promotional offer for customers who have previously purchased the same service or product. Through segmenting, you can send the offer to those with a matching purchase history without having to send it to customers that it doesn’t apply to. Thus, email segmenting can increase the likelihood of getting your message across to the right customer.

Email optimization is a journey, rather than a one-and-done action. The goal of optimization is to continually adjust and test different aspects of your email marketing campaign, record the results and compare strategies to see which proves to be the most effective for your business. There are a number of ways to begin optimizing your email marketing strategy aside from subject lines, senders, calls to action and segments, but if you need additional support in getting started, the experts at Allegra are always happy to help.

Mobile Marketing Tips for Beginners

mobile marketingStudies today show that nearly 80 percent of Americans own smartphones. And with smartphone users spending more time on their devices, businesses must consider how they can make themselves accessible from the palm of the average consumer’s hand.
If you’re looking to market your business from a mobile standpoint, or simply to familiarize yourself with consumer capabilities from a smartphone, here are three key tips to keep in mind.

 

Go Mobile-Friendly

Websites are arguably the most important part of a brand’s online presence. However, no matter how much time you spend on developing your site, you may still be missing out if it’s not mobile-friendly. Smartphone screens are smaller than desktops and often change the look and formatting of a regular site. Optimize your site for mobile to make sure customers can access your site on their phones. Keep in mind that email works the same way. If you’re sending out an email to your customer base, try to keep it short and easy to follow. Remember that a 100-word email looks much longer on a phone screen than it does on your computer.

 

Get to Texting

Remember what mobile devices were primarily used for, way back in the days of flip-phones? That’s right, sending text messages. You can leverage SMS, or short messaging service, to take your mobile marketing to the next level. Send text messages to your customer base or prospective customer list to let them know about special promotions or send them a link to your website. Not only will this help reach the customer where they are, but it can also drive traffic back to your mobile-friendly site.

 

Generate Buzz Through Social Media

Popular social media apps like Twitter and Instagram are primarily used from a smartphone, and often have features only available on mobile devices. Create a check-in spot for your business on Facebook, or a geo-tag on Instagram, to allow your customers to talk about you. Business profiles on Instagram can also include a “call” button on their pages that immediately trigger a call from the user to your business’s phone number. Leverage social media features like this to maximize your mobile marketing.

 

Mobile marketing is more than a trend – it’s the way of the future. The more mobile-friendly you can make yourself and your business, the more access consumers will have to what you offer. The tips above will be a good start if you’re just beginning to explore the world of mobile marketing, but for more information, you can always contact the experts at Allegra.

The Power of Print

power of printIn a game of word association, odds are “printing” rarely – if ever – comes to mind first when someone says, “technology.” Yet the two, while not mentally married, do pair well. The result is better quality, faster production, greater personalization, reduced costs and more powerful marketing and sales pieces.

As a print communications channel, direct mail delivers in new dynamic ways, including connecting with digital strategies to drive purchases, website traffic, business location visits and sign-ups.

According to marketing decision-makers, companies are coordinating their campaigns by:1

  • Driving traffic from direct mail to digital channels (80%)
  • Integrating a unique URL or discount code in direct mail (76%)
  • Timing digital media once direct mail is delivered (61%)
  • Sending personalized direct mail based on online actions (51%)
  • Creating a digital version of direct mail (49%)

 

Following are some key considerations of print and mail that may have you thinking differently about how these traditional strategies can bring better results to your campaigns in 2020 and beyond.

 

PAPER choice matters.p

In a neuroscience study, subjects received one of three versions of a fictitious company brochure: one printed on high-quality coated paper, another using a lesser grade uncoated paper or a third, digital version. The results? Those who read a version on high-quality paper remembered the content best, had the best impressions of the company they had read about and said they were more likely to recommend the brand to friends.

 

oOKAY to be different.

Whether you’re selling landscaping or roofing, cars or cookies, die cutting adds shape or perforated punch-outs to a printed project. Business cards, hang tags, postcards, mailers and folders get an extra shot of pizzazz when they conjure your products or services at first glance. Pop-ups in a variety of shapes are an unexpected and fun way to drive interest and engagement. Even better, they fold flat for easy mailing.

 

wWOW ‘em with texture or shine.

The tactile nature of print is one of its best qualities. Nearly eight out of 10 people say that print on paper is more pleasant to handle and touch when compared to other media, including 73% of 18- to 24-year-olds.2 Smooth and glossy, or rough and muted. Your print provider can help you with paper selection or finishing techniques that inspire interaction because your piece looks and feels special. Most techniques can be done with smaller print quantities, allowing you to customize images or text to be more relevant to your recipients or readers.

 

eEASY to digest is best.

For understanding, retaining and using new information, more than eight out of 10 people believe it’s better when delivered in print compared to electronically.3 Laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports have shown “that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way.”4

 

rRENEWABLE, naturally.

Paper is a product of a natural resource that is renewable. Nine out of 10 consumers agree that when responsibility produced, used and recycled, print and paper can be a sustainable way to communicate.5 Paper with recycled content, vegetable-based inks and a paperless workflow that includes electronic proofs to reduce hard copies are all eco-friendly processes and practices employed by many of today’s print providers to meet customer preferences.

 

To learn about other ways to elevate your print communications download Marketing Insider magazine today.

 

1Direct Mail Conversion Research, USPS
2,5Two Sides North American
3Marketing Sherpa
4Scientific American

Three Simple Ways to Enhance Your Print Marketing Tactics

Print marketing and communications are some of the most trustworthy and fundamental tactics for small and mid-sized businesses. However, many business owners may feel overwhelmed by trying to keep up with growing trends and enhancements to print technology in order to deliver top-of-the-line print communications to their customers.

Think about the print communication strategies your business relied on in the past. Are there any aspects that feel out-of-date or need a refresh? If the answer is yes, you are in luck. Here are three simple and fool-proof ways to bring your print marketing to the next level.
Print marketing

Get Creative with Color

Changing your usual color selections is one of the easiest ways to refresh your print solutions. However, using spot colors, or specialty inks that range outside of the four staple colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), can be costly when used too often or unnecessarily. There are instances where the use of spot colors is simply unavoidable, such as when a specialty ink is required for a specific logo or design, but it isn’t the only way you can improve your color scheme. Tricks like color transitions (such as ombres and gradients) are growing in popularity, and can help give your print materials an impressive new look without having to succumb to expensive spot colors.

Make Your Brand Known

Many business owners can recall the pressure of creating a logo or slogan that represents their brand, while simultaneously catching the attention of their key audience. So, when the perfect identifiable logo or slogan comes along, make it proudly visible in your work. Incorporating your emblem in your print solutions can help you connect with your audience and make your message easy to identify. Instead of just placing a small symbol in a corner of a flyer or card, integrate it within unique designs, shapes or outlines on the materials.

Give Your Format a Unique Edge

Today’s advanced print technology has resulted in a wide range of alternative materials for basic flyers, business cards and brochures. Accordion booklets with multiple panels and sliding inserts can create space for more information while still maintaining an appropriate size, giving you the best bang for your buck. Plus, unique formats will make your print materials stand out against the rest. To take it up another notch, consider including augmented reality features to make your solutions multi-channel and interactive.

It can seem difficult to keep up with the ever-changing solutions and technology of print marketing, but simple and effective methods are out there. As a business owner, you can explore different color options, designs and formats to see what your audience responds to well. There’s nothing wrong with branching out, and if you feel like you need a little bit of guidance, the experts at Allegra are always happy to help.

Direct Mail Trends for 2020 & Beyond

Marketing strategies have personalized printing with direct  mailchanged throughout the years, yet one tactic has shown to produce results time and time again: direct mail. However, just because direct mail has been in the marketing game for the long-haul, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be refreshed or used in new ways today.

As your business evaluates options for direct mail marketing, there are plenty of different methods, designs and features to test. It’s a tried and true approach, but the success of direct mail comes from what you put into it.
 

Make it Personal

If you’ve ever received a mail piece addressed “dear neighbor,” or “valued customer,” you may know the feeling of being just another recipient on the mailing list. Personalize and customize your materials as much as possible to reach your targeted audience in a meaningful way. Address each card using real names and offers tailored to the recipient’s needs or interests. For new and prospective customers, offer trials or free consultations to get them in the door. For past customers, include promotions for services or items they’ve previously shopped for to get them coming back for more. Direct mail has the power to evoke emotion and memory and customizing your strategy to fit your target audience on an individual level will help make that connection.

 

Leverage Multi-Channel Opportunities

Direct mail doesn’t have to end on the flat surface of a mail card. With today’s advancements in technology and multi-channel platforms, your direct mail strategy is simply the beginning. One easy step to take your message beyond the mailbox is printing QR codes on your mail pieces. Whether it is for a promotional offer or a resource for more information, recipients will be able to scan the QR code from the mail card with a click of a button on their smartphone and be instantly redirected to a website page, social media profile or any other digital platform. If you want to experiment even further, consider integrating Augmented Reality (AR) technology to stand out from traditional methods and bring your message to life.

 

Aim for an Attention-Grabbing Design

If you’re familiar with the eight-second rule for websites – the statistic that online viewers have an attention span of just eight seconds on average – you might be interested to know that the attention threshold for direct mail is just as short, or even shorter in some cases. Use a creative approach to make sure you can grab your audience’s attention at first glance. Showcasing original imagery and bold design will catch the recipient’s eye while also appearing more personalized and thought-out than stock photos. Don’t be afraid to integrate out-of-the-box elements like unique folds, tear-backs or 3D features too.

 

Direct mail strategies will only continue to evolve as the years go on, but the long-standing tactic will remain a staple in the marketing world in one way or another. While your business may benefit from experimenting with different designs, customization and features, take note of what works for you and what doesn’t. How are your customers or prospective clients responding to your direct mail strategy? What are your competitors doing? The world of direct mail marketing is larger than you may think – immerse yourself in it.

Contact the experts at Allegra to discuss ways to make direct mail work for you!

How to Make the Most Out of Your Website

web designIt’s been said that the average web user today holds an attention span of about eight seconds. That means your website needs to act fast to grab their attention and stand out among the rest.

There are a number of key aspects to keep in mind when deciding how you want your brand’s website to look and function. If you’re starting to build your website, or considering refreshing an existing one, here are some ways you can make the most out of your digital platform.

 

Put What’s Most Important First

If you only have eight seconds to intrigue a web visitor, it’s important to waste no time. Your website viewers should be able to learn about who you are and what you do just by glancing at the first few sentences on your page. Giving a quick and concise overview of your brand can help cut straight to the chase. Users don’t typically enjoy having to do extensive research and digging to find out what your brand is about, so give them an introduction right off the bat. The quicker they are able to understand your mission and message, the quicker they can decide if your brand is the right fit.

 

Keep It Simple

If website users don’t find what they’re looking for in a short amount of time, they can abandon ship quickly, so keep your messaging brief and simple. Make sure the paragraphs on your site are short and direct using simple language. There is a lot of room for creativity when it comes to creating a website, but the verbiage should remain clear. Trying to use clever or intricate language when describing the work you do can confuse visitors, which will likely convince them to give up the chase. People inherently don’t like what they don’t understand.

 

Make Your Social Media Presence Known

Consumers can spend upwards of three hours a day browsing social media platforms, which is a significant difference from the eight seconds they devote to a website on average. To keep the conversation going after they close the browser tab, make your social media presence available. Linking to your brand’s social media profiles at the top and bottom of each landing can encourage visitors to seek you out elsewhere. If they are browsing on their phone, transferring their search over to a mobile-friendly app like Instagram can help keep them engaged.

 

It’s All About the Imagery

Many people feel the same way about books as they do websites – they enjoy looking at the pictures. For that reason, creative imagery should play a central role in your website content. There is one caveat: don’t go overboard. Using an overabundance of stock images can look forced and contrived. Preferably, your website should showcase real photos of your brand and your team. However, if you’re not able to integrate original photos in your web design, take some extra time to find the right stock photos that work best for you. This will help ensure that the images you use still convey who you are and what you do, even if you didn’t take them.

There are many factors that play into how your website is received and how effective it is in moving your brand forward. The tips laid out above are a good start to creating your online image, but it’s also important to continue developing and evolving your site as you go. You may only have eight seconds of a viewer’s attention, but a great website can change the course of a consumer’s decision and, eventually, your success.

Count on the experts at Allegra to review your website and branding elements to ensure you’re leaving people with a lasting impression.

Ways to Utilize Signage as You Reopen

As businessesWall Graphic reopen, it’s critical that they comply with both state and national guidelines. Protecting the health and safety of customers and employees should remain their top priority – and additional signage can be extremely helpful with this. Signage can both inform those who are unaware of safe social distancing practices as well as ensure that everyone is maintaining those practices. There are a number of ways to use signage on door, floor and walls for this purpose.

The CDC has laid out specific guidelines for maintaining social distancing (also called “physical distancing”), such as staying at least six feet from other people, not gathering in groups and staying out of crowded places. It’s important to follow these guidelines in your business, which can be simplified through correctly utilizing signage.

First, your customers should be informed of your business’s policies before they even enter the building. That means signage should be utilized on doors to clearly state if a face covering is required to enter, or if you are limiting the capacity of your business. If you’re dealing with customers lining up outside of your business, you can utilize floor graphics to outline spaces for people to stand in while they wait.

Floor Graphics 1You can also use this method in the interior of your business by using floor graphics for your check-out line. This helps maintain space between customers both insides your business and outside, without breaking the bank.

Placing directional signage on the floor to encourage organizational movement throughout your business can also be helpful. When customers feel organized and supported, they are likely to build trust and confidence, and ultimately, to return.

Signage on the floor is helpful, but there should also be signage at eye level. Place reminders to respect others’ space or to wear a face covering on the walls to encourage the safety of your customers and employees.

It’s vital to inform those who visit your business of your commitment to their health and safety. Especially if your state is enforcing the use of face coverings and social distancing, utilizing signage can help your business comply as you begin to reopen. Contact Allegra today to learn more about our reopening solutions.