3 Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Marketing

We all hope to make the most of our marketing efforts, both online as well as in print. While it’s a necessity to have a strong online presence in this day and age, print media continues to flex its marketing muscle. While well-designed marketing materials can help bring your next content marketing piece, brochure or postcard from meh to wow, there are several additional steps you can put into action today to make your marketing efforts even more effective.

98% of marketers said better personalization would enhance the effectiveness of mail.

For starters, you could try adding an extra level of personalization to your marketing messages. According to a report conducted by Ricoh and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), 98 percent of marketers said better personalization would enhance the effectiveness of mail, with 68 percent pointing towards image personalization as an innovation to improve its ROI. Getting to know your customers by providing useful content such as case studies and surveys can provide you with valuable data you can then use to match them to your products and services.

Focus on creating content marketing pieces that show the most potential for a return on your investment.

Thanks to research by the DMA, MarketingProfs and their partners, we’re able to tell that companies are pursuing content marketing more aggressively than in years past, but do content marketers know what types of content to create? As there is a wide range of options when it comes to content marketing, start by understanding your options and objectives before getting started on your next content piece. Note that not all forms of content marketing are created equal: some content marketing tactics are best suited to nurturing leads (a survey or white paper), while others are better suited to boosting your credibility (a video or podcast) or increasing your online search rankings (an article or blog post). As the price and difficulty of putting them into action also varies significantly, focus on creating content marketing pieces that show the most potential for a return on your investment.

A majority of U.S. adults (72%) prefer communication with companies to happen through email.

If you’re not currently using email and mobile marketing, you could be missing out on a low-cost yet highly effective way to engage with customers. According to MarketingSherpa, a majority of U.S. adults (72 percent) prefer communication with companies to happen through email. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that digital marketers rank email as their most effective marketing tactic. In fact, email is the only digital channel that outperforms old media standbys and is praised for having the highest ROI of any digital channel.

Share your thoughts and comments below!

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3 Reasons To Start Using a Print Newsletter

There’s no doubt that the function of print has changed substantially in the digital age. Print has to be more direct and more effective than ever before. So where is print’s place today? Personally, I think it should be rooted firmly in the content marketer’s toolbox. From what I’ve seen and heard from clients of my own, I believe that newsletters are a valuable content marketing tool, and here’s 3 reasons why:

Print newsletters are an economical supplement to the other content marketing strategies you might already employ.
A newsletter can be used to serve as a sort of collection point for several recent, service/product-related pieces (such as blog posts and infographics) that current clients and prospects will immediately see the value in. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 Report reveals that content marketers are creating more content than ever before and print newsletters, for one, excel at getting valuable content into your customer’s hands in a non-invasive, approachable way. Moreover, print has become a somewhat “unexpected” medium by today’s terms, which leads me to my second point:

Print newsletters deliver timely and valuable content in an “unexpected” format.
As the old adage goes, “timing is everything”. You never know when you could receive a call or an e-mail from a prospect about working with you simply because they received your message at the right time. You recognized/addressed one or many of their needs while also demonstrating that you have what it take to help them with their problems. In addition, you’ve pleasantly surprised them by providing them with something in print, rather than a run-of-the-mill e-mail that may have easily been overlooked. Four-fifths (79%) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45% who say they deal with e-mail straightaway. That’s why it’s crucial to deliver your newsletter on a consistent basis: to ensure that you’re top of mind if and when your customer/prospect has a need for your products/services.

Print newsletters provide the tactile experience that people still look forward to.
Print has an added value that online content simply can’t deliver. The fact that you can touch print is what still makes it so effective today. A recent study conducted for the U.S. Postal Service concluded that physical media influenced brain activity in more powerful ways than digital media. The study concluded that while participants processed digital content more quickly than print, participants spent more time with physical content, had a stronger emotional response to this content and also remembered it better. For long-lasting impact and easy recollection, it seems a printed piece is a better option than digital counterparts in many circumstances.

If you’re ready to get started using a print newsletter, the good news is you don’t have to break the bank to do so! If you’re a small business owner like myself, you want every dollar spent on your marketing to be effective. Fortunately there are several ways you can keep the costs of printing and mailing your newsletter low. Here’s a few tips:
• Instead of renting/buying a mailing list, look to your network to create your own. Start with your current and past clients, prospects, social network connections, associates and family members, and continue to grow the list from there.
• Instead of printing in full color, consider printing black and white copies of the newsletter to keep costs down.
• If you’re mailing your newsletter in an envelope, experiment with using a unique envelope (such as a transparent or colored one) to make it stand out in that pile of mail.
• Self-mailers eliminate the added cost of an envelope. Experiment with using a brightly colored paper (one that doesn’t make your newsletter difficult to read though) to grab their attention.
• Consider using some of your newsletter “real estate” for advertising space. If your recipient list is in-line with the same types of customers a client of yours is pursuing, they might be interested in advertising in your newsletter. Charging a fee for this ad space can help keep your production costs down and may even result in new business for the advertiser.
• If you have an e-mail counterpart to your print newsletter, give your recipients the option to sign up for that version as well.
• Save several copies of your newsletter to use as leave-behinds at networking events, office visits and meetings.

Of course, all your hard work spent gathering and/or creating content will all be wasted if the newsletter is poorly designed or difficult to read. If you’re not confident that you have the layout skills and experience to design a newsletter yourself or don’t have the time to do so, I would encourage you to speak with a print designer that has experience working with newsletters to do the job for you.

Don’t Click ‘Send’ Until You’ve Answered These 5 Questions About Your E-mail Marketing Campaign

There’s no doubt that e-mail marketing can be an effective way to engage your customers and provide prospects with valuable information about you products/services. As a small business owner myself, I can’t stress enough how integral e-mail marketing has been in my own marketing strategy. In fact, much of the business I receive comes from the people that subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

I’ve been using e-mail marketing for several years and over that time, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to set expectations and do what I can to make my email marketing messages as effective as they can be. If you’re reading this, it could be that you’ve never used e-mail marketing before or you would like to know how to make your next campaign more successful. Here’s a few things I suggest that you think about before clicking ‘send’:

Where is your call to action?
What do you want your your recipients to do after receiving your message? Whether it’s contacting you for more information about a product/service, downloading a content marketing piece or buying a product/service, your call to action should be easy to find and act on. Include a prominent link or button for it. As many of your recipients will spend only a few moments looking at your message, situate your CTA near the top of your e-mail: you want it to be easy to find and one of the first things they see.

What are you doing to get people excited about receiving your message?
The “If you build it, they will come” mentality generally doesn’t work for e-mail campaigns. Hopefully your recipients are looking forward to receiving your e-mails, but it’s not top-of-mind for them as they go about their daily routine. In the hours and days leading up to the launch of your e-mail campaign, I suggest reminding your recipients that they’ll be receiving your message soon.

Use your social media accounts to spread the word to a large online audience. You might also consider providing content teasers and a link to subscribe to your newsletter. Getting people excited about the prospect of receiving your message could actually increase the chance of them responding to your offers.

Have you optimized your campaign for mobile devices?
As nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone today, optimizing your e-mail marketing messages so they can be read quickly and easily on mobile devices is a necessity. Multiple column layouts are better suited to tablets or desktop computers; a single-column layout is best for mobile devices (recipients shouldn’t need to zoom in or do much scrolling on their mobile device to your e-mail). It’s best to keep the e-mail design simple, using a single column layout that’s flexible for all screen sizes with text at a point size that’s easy to read.

How do you plan to measure the success of your e-mail campaign?
If the goal is to ultimately sell your product/service, what do you do when your e-mail campaign doesn’t result in sales? Call it quits? Hopefully not. E-mail marketing is by no means a sure-thing in terms of results. Some campaigns will be a great success while others will fall short of the mark. Set clear and attainable goals for each campaign aside from sales goals alone. Such goals could be a high open or click-thru rate, driving more traffic to your website, responses to an offer via e-mail, etc.

What will you do if you’re not happy with the results?
E-mail marketing experts have done loads of research and have shared a multitude of findings on how to get the most out of campaigns, including when the best time to send and even what day to send a message. While researching send times, implementing A/B testing, CTA placement, etc. can help you get the most out of a campaign, the simple truth is that some campaigns will be successful and others will not – for reasons that were overlooked or beyond your control. What can you learn from a “failed” campaign?

If you’re seeing a low open rate, it could be your recipients can’t identify who or where the e-mail was sent by. Consider using your name in the “to” field, rather than your business’ name, to personalize your campaign. You might also try A/B testing (using two different subject lines) to reveal which subject lines are more effective than others in terms of open rates.

If you find that your recipients are beginning to opt-out of receiving your messages, it could be that they’re tired of receiving so many messages from you. Or if you’re not sending messages frequently enough, that they’ve forgotten why they signed up in the first place. In such cases, try adjusting the frequency/rate of your messages.

Whether you’re new to e-mail marketing or a seasoned veteran, keep these five questions in mind before you click ‘Send’ on your next e-mail marketing campaign. What methods have you used that led to a successful e-mail marketing campaign? Share your thoughts below!

Timely Print Design Projects Pay Off

RC-Remodeling-Flyer-Front

Here in the Omaha Metro Area, we recently had a surprise hail storm that struck parts of town. Realizing that homeowners effected by the storm would have a serious need for the construction and remodeling services that his company offers, Ryan Chappelear, owner of RC Remodeling contacted me for help with a project. Shortly after the storm, Ryan planned to canvas the areas of Omaha most effected by the storm with a simple marketing piece that communicated to homeowners on a personal level, informed them about the services he has to offer and urged them to contact the company for repairs to their home.

RC-Remodeling-Flyer-Back

The project needed to be completed quickly, so copy was written and the flyer was designed, printed and delivered to Ryan within a few days.  At the end of the following week, I learned that this simple marketing piece has been a huge success for RC Remodeling. By the end of the week following the storm, Ryan had 10 new roofing jobs as well as some deck repairs resulting directly from using the flyer. Just goes to show you that while timing definitely plays a role in your marketing decisions, marketing using print design components can still be extremely effective in meeting – or exceeding – your goals.

Do you have your own print marketing success story or advice/feedback to share? Leave a comment below!