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but I advertise with direct marketing . . . so why blog?

You may wonder, what’s the point behind a blog. It does not appear to be a direct marketing effort like email or direct mail campaigns. As a matter of fact, it can seem like a lot of work with a questionable payoff. However, blogging is a terrific and critical complement to your direct marketing campaign efforts for a number of reasons:

  • It’s a softer sell – Blog posts are meant to be educational or informational. You’re giving your readers a look into your area of expertise, providing them with tidbits of information very useful to them, which will lead them back to your site to find out what you have to say next.
  • It positions you as an expert – While there may be many others who do what you do, they are not you! As you continue to blog, your readers will look to you as the expert in your field and naturally come to you when it is time to purchase.
  • It increases your search engine ranking – Update content on your website, sprinkle it with hard-hitting keywords, and you’ll find yourself quickly rising to the top of search engines when a potential customer searches online for your services.
  • It creates a buzz about your company on social media – You write a great blog post. You share it on your Facebook page. One person sees it. She tells two friends, who tells two friends, who tells two friends…you get the idea. Blogging will get your company’s name out there, just by posting them to your social media feeds.
  • It is direct marketing – Remember, anyone who comes to your website looking for the services you offer is a potential prospect. Your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter followers are both current and potential clients. Your blog allows you to make a direct touch sharing the value of your expertise.

Okay, so there’s still that “whole lotta work” thing! The good news is it doesn’t have to be a lot of work, and the payoff – hands down – is great! How to get started?  Here are some pointers:

  • Don’t be intimidated: Just get started. Think about some of the questions you often get asked by your customers. The answers to these questions make perfect blog posts.
  • Don’t make it difficult: Remember, you’re the expert, so you don’t have to do any research to write your post. You already know your stuff!
  • Don’t make it too long: Anything over 500 words is probably too long, and you’ll start to lose readers’ attention. So keep it short and simple, better for both you and your readers.
  • Do be yourself: You don’t need to wow your readers with big words or industry jargon. Just write in your own voice like you’re having a conversation with a client. This makes the process easier for you, and more helpful to your readers.

Remember, blogging is an important and easy way to complement your direct marketing campaign, and the reward is spectacular!

Now, go blog like the wind!

direct mail marketing: relevant and on the rise

For a long time, email marketing has been viewed as the inexpensive, expedient way to get the attention of potential customers.  While many companies have continued using direct mail marketing as a part of their marketing mix, for many years its use was on the decline.  However, there’s an old saying, “everything old is new again,” and that seems to be the case with direct mail marketing. The seemingly old fashioned method is enjoying quite a comeback these days, and it has everything to do with email overload.

Many professionals claim that it is becoming increasingly difficult to empty their inboxes; as a result, the block and delete buttons are becoming the automatic reaction to email inundation. Much to marketers’ chagrin, that often means that their mail lands in the trash bin before it is read, or worse, it goes directly to junk. According to a study by Demand Gen, B2B marketers are responding by planning to incorporate more direct mail into their marketing efforts this year. Currently, 15% of study respondents are using direct mail, the study says, and that number is projected to grow. The report showed that 21% of marketers say it’s their most effective conversion tactic, tying it with social media. Similarly, the Target Marketing 2016 Usage Study shows that 25% of respondents plan to increase their direct mail marketing budget.

As you make your plan to use direct mail marketing in your 2017 campaign, here are some tips to help you make the most of your efforts:

  • Tailor the direct mail piece to the prospect’s interests and needs in both graphics and content – be relevant and resonant! Make the message targeted specifically to them.
  • Develop a packet of direct mail pieces that can be mixed and matched to suit the needs of different prospect pools. You can approach your prospects with much more flexibility.
  • Include your web and all social media addresses in your message with a strong call to action. Make it easy for the prospect to move to the next step in the sales process on the device of their choice. And, you will be able to capture their activity, which will guide your subsequent appeals.
  • Remember, direct mail works well as a tool for warm prospects. Use direct mail later in the sales process in addition to the initial prospect acquisition. Digital methods can drive leads, while a follow-up with direct mail can help maintain them.
  • Research how prospects have engaged with your business online when using direct mail later in the sales process. For example, what content they’ve viewed or downloaded from your website and how they interact with you on social media. Then fit the direct mail piece to that research and where they are in your pipeline.

Whether your market is B2B or B2C, it is important to include direct mail as part of an integrated marketing campaign that includes email, social media, and online marketing.

Happy Marketing!!

Google Ad Words: what you don’t want is just as important as what you do

Just like back in the day when every company had an extensive (and expensive!) yellow page presence, companies now know that to be found you have to have a search engine presence. This comes in the form of ad and pay-per-click advertising via the use of key words.  But did you know, as important as it is to have the right key words in order to be found by the right prospects, you very often need negative key words to weed out the wrong prospects.  Both aspects of key word selection determine the effectiveness of your campaign and your ROI.

Let’s use Google Ad Words as an example. Ad Words’ main keyword match options include an exact match, a broad match, a phrase match, and a negative match. Negative matches, or keywords, are what we are talking about and is a pay-per-click advertising match type option offered by most of the major search engines.  Negative match keywords allow you to filter out the wrong audience by indicating what words are not related to your product or business. For example, a business selling wiper blades runs the risk of attracting customers shopping for razor blades or ice skating blades, as the keyword “blades” could be used to refer to any of the three.  Adding negative keys words such as “razor blades” will prevent spending precious pay-per-click dollars on connecting with unqualified prospects.

Here are some things to get you started on setting up negative keywords:

  • Take a look at your keyword list and brainstorm the negative keywords that would apply to your product search.
  • Be sure to include singular form, plural, alternate phrasing and synonym matches for your words.
  • Negative keywords and broad match are a common combination to ensure the widest possible relevant reach, but be careful not to have any overlap with your regular keywords or your ad will not show. For this reason, you may want to consider sticking to an exact match.
  • Analyze the current list of key words you are using. The words that are not performing should also be added to your negative key word list.

If you need additional help creating negative keywords or adding them to your Google Ad Words account, check out this helpful link for more information: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453972?hl=en

Negative ad words are critical for leading the right audience to your website in the most economical way. A little homework will save you a lot of your marketing budget.

Happy advertising!

 

Thanksgiving family recipe

We wanted to take a break from direct mail, email campaigns, content management, marketing strategies, and all things work related to bring you something sweet and special for the holiday!  Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family to gather together and celebrate their bonds over some good food. In the spirit of both of these things, we want to share one of our favorite family recipes with you all. This sweet potato casserole is so good, you’ll swear it tastes more like dessert than pumpkin pie!

thanksgiving-recipe-blog-page-001-1

As you enjoy your holiday celebration this year, we urge you to remember those who are less fortunate than you. Consider donating to your local food pantry so that others can have a wonderful meal as well. If you’re not sure where the closest food bank is located, just type in your state and/or zip code on this website and it will tell you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

why direct mail marketing is still a nonprofit’s best friend

Direct mail marketing is a vital component to any nonprofit organization’s marketing mix. While email is used frequently, and inbound marketing such as blogs and social media are growing in popularity and effectiveness, there are still many (often underappreciated) significant benefits to using traditional direct mail marketing – yes, we mean postal mail!

One benefit of direct mail is that you provide the prospect with something tangible.  We know people interact with marketing material at higher rates when they can hold it in their hands, and an effective direct mail campaign can deliver your appeal straight into the hands of your target audience.  Sending something tangible makes your ad more personal, and this is hard to achieve through digital methods of advertising.  Additionally, direct mail can be targeted much more narrowly and directly with broader coverage than digital methods.  This is particularly helpful when segmenting your market based very specific criteria such as location, age, presence of children, income, buying or giving habits, etc.  By targeting more directly your message can be tailored to your potential donor thereby developing a more emotional connection, which is at the heart of giving.

How do you get a direct mail campaign started?  Here are six key components that we identify as making up the direct mail process.  Begin with this, and tailor it specifically to your mission and audience in order to create a maximum-impact direct mail campaign. We could call these components “MMPMFC” for short, but that sounds terrible. So here they are in an “acronym-less” form:

mailing list

A good mailing list ensures that your appeal ends up in the right hands. Your mailing list should be targeted based upon location, household vs. business, giving pattern, or any other attribute that makes up the profile of your donor base.  The end result is you target only those prospects that have the potential to become donors, which makes a more effective and fiscally sound campaign. Knowing (and having a direct line to) your audience also allows you to be extremely customized, so take your time with this step as it will help guide your later decisions.

message

shutterstock_269497136The message creates your make-or-break moment with your donors and prospects. Even if all other steps are done perfectly, bad content will never inspire giving. Your appeal should be differentiated based upon who you are speaking to, for example a donor vs. a potential donor, or a single millennial vs. a retired veteran.  You get the picture; you can tailor your message specifically!  Consider your audience, your objectives, and your organization’s brand and craft a message that speaks to each individual segment in a tone that resonates the value you offer in addressing needs of the community, and why he or she should donate.   Aim for a concise and visually-pleasing message that will prompt action and provide enough information that it is easy to move forward and make a donation, and make sure your phone number and social media addresses are easily spotted.

printing

Printing is a balancing act. Big, bold and beautiful art is eye catching and appealing, but in a nonprofit environment flash has to be balanced with funds.  Printing can get very expensive, so you must leverage what is practical with what is appealing to donors.  Do you really need four colors on your mailer?  Will fewer pieces still get your message across?  Aim to hit a sweet spot where you can strike the best blend of visual appeal and content with economics, keeping in mind that weight, size and shape of the piece affects the cost of mailing.  Visit the USPS to get more information about mailing parameters and the related costs.

mailing timeline

Consider when your donors and prospects are most likely to give:  the holidays, in the spring, during the time of a significant event.  Perhaps it is better to send your direct mail appeal with an immediate follow-up, or maybe you should space your direct mail appeals throughout the year.  If your appeals include volunteer recruitment, don’t forget donors and volunteers may respond on different time lines.   Determine the most impactful time to send your direct mail appeal in each market segment based upon giving patterns and develop a schedule.

follow-up

shutterstock_278994758-1Whether it’s a “check-in” or a “thank-you”, follow up is key. You wouldn’t accept a gift in your personal
life without thanking whomever gave it to you, so why should your nonprofit be any different? Donations of time or money are a gift to your organization – make sure that donors know you appreciate it.  Also, if you think someone might be on the fence after your first mailer, a friendly reminder can’t hurt!  In addition, intermittent newsletters with success stories of how donations have helped have a huge impact in building long term giving relationships.

cost

As we all well know, good direct mail marketing is not free but there are many ways to minimize the cost. Evaluate where the majority of your expenses come from, and if necessary, consider using an agency that would have resources available at a lower cost.  Also, be sure to always use nonprofit standard postal rates.  Visit nonprofit regulations published by the USPS to make sure you stay within guidelines that allow you to keep big savings on your postage costs (usually the biggest cost in the direct mail portion of your marketing plan).  Ultimately, the more money you save, the more money you can put back into your community. And who doesn’t want that?

We hope that you find these tips and guidelines helpful in your direct mail campaign!

Happy Fundraising!

 


Firefighter First Responderspromarkdirect is proud to support many nonprofits of all sizes and missions by providing comprehensive turn-key fundraising packages that help these organizations achieve the highest goals of their campaigns.  Some first responder organizations we are honored to work with include Ambulance Corps, Fire Departments, Police Organizations, Rescue Squads and EMT/EMS Organizations in Bergen County, NJ and throughout the tri-state area.  If you would like to learn more about how you can help benefit these incredible organizations, Google your town name and the organization you would like to help to reach their website.

Twitter Analytics & its use in direct marketing

twitter-birdtypingWhen developing a direct marketing strategy that includes all of the vital channels – direct mail, email, and social media – why do businesses bother making a Twitter account?  How can you deliver quality information in 140 characters?  Isn’t it just a social platform? How do you make it “direct”?  There are many common misconceptions about the use of social media for marketing a business – though Twitter can be especially puzzling.  However, it’s actually an excellent tool that businesses can use to reach their target market, particularly when working on a budget. This is made easier by the utilization of Twitter Analytics – a free and helpful way to gather data about the progress of your tweets in reaching your company’s goals. And the best part? All you need to access Twitter Analytics is a Twitter account!

Impressions – or how many times your tweet shows up in someone’s feed – are at the core of analyzing what makes a tweet successful. Producing good content is half the battle, but that other half involves delivering it to your audience, which is where this information comes in handy. Impressions can be measured through various forms of engagement, including likes, retweets, replies, follower conversions, and more. Each is a valuable measurement of what your audience thinks of your content, and how deeply it resonates with them. For example, someone “liking” a tweet might just mean that they enjoy or find value in what you said, whereas someone who retweets you agrees with you to the point that they find your tweet worth sharing with all of their own followers. While all engagements are valuable, analyzing the types of tweets that tend to lead to favorites versus retweets (and so on) provides valuable insight about how to connect with your prospective customers. Additionally, Twitter Analytics has a function called Engagement Rate, which shows you the number of engagements divided by impressions for each tweet – helping you see what percentage of your audience is interested in the content you put out. A further breakdown will provide information about how many of your followers see your tweets, how long your tweets should be, and even what time of day is best to tweet. It’s a huge aid in measuring (and hopefully increasing!) the amount of impressions, and subsequent engagements that your content delivers.

Equally important is defining and targeting a specific audience to tweet at. For big companies, you might want to start by looking at your follower breakdown by region. This information not only shows you where your followers live (great for localizing advertising efforts!), but when might be a good time to tweet with respect to varying time zones. You can also view the top 10 interests of your followers in order to get a better idea of who they are, and how you can appeal to them. These can be found (respectively) through the “demographics” and “audience” tabs in Analytics. Once you understand your followers’ backgrounds, you can begin looking at what tends to resonate with their interests and lifestyles. And if you use hashtags, as many businesses do (check out our last blog!), you will definitely want to measure which ones tend to perform best. To do this, filter your tweet spreadsheet in excel by searching for the hashtag that you have in mind, and pull the average impressions, engagements, etc. that correspond with that tweet. Doing this for each hashtag will give you a clear breakdown of which ones your followers respond to, so that you can narrow in on using the most effective hashtags.

Twitter Analytics really does take the mystery out of “how to” when it comes to using Twitter as a direct marketing tool.  Combine interesting, relevant tweets that are reflective of your brand with Twitter Analytics and you will find it easy to tweak and guide your Twitter presence right onto the devices of your target market!

 

#why #is #everyone #so #obsessed #with #hashtags?!?!

Whether you love them, hate them, or even understand them – they’re everywhere. Since their creation in 2007, hashtags have taken the internet by storm, and now appear on all forms of social media – even making their way into blogs and magazines geared towards millennials. One thing is for sure, it’s a marketing platform that has to be part of every company’s marketing mix.

A hashtag (expressed by the # sign) acts as a means of sorting content by a topic of conversation surrounding it. They originated on (and are most commonly associated with) Twitter to create open group discussion. You can often find them used to comment on news events, television shows, and celebrity gossip. For example, you may have noticed many #Election and #Debate tweets the other night when Trump and Clinton took the stage. People used these hashtags in their own tweets to share thoughts with others watching the debate, and also searched for these hashtags on Twitter to view the facts and opinions shared by others. Due to this very specific brand of news-sharing and interaction, hashtags can be very beneficial to a business when used correctly.  Here are a few popular ways to use hashtags to your company’s advantage:

  • brand hashtags – Imagine brand hashtags as an extension of brand slogans. Nike? #JustDoIt CMPB? #GotMilk The list goes on and on. It’s a natural way to transition your brand from print and TV to online advertising. While some brands are very Twitter-friendly, others don’t fare so well with the 140-character limit. This is when you see companies get creative, and use social media as an embodiment of their brand. For example, Kit-Kat took the famous “Give me a break on a Kit-Kat bar” and created #HaveABreak. #HaveABreak is used by the company to appeal to their consumers’ lifestyles, and drives engagement by prompting followers to share their “break” experiences. The same tactic can be carried over on to Instagram, which Coca Cola is excellent at. Recent hashtag campaigns involve #ShareaCoke and #CokeLife, where the brand shares pictures of people socializing and enjoying life with a Coke in hand. Using these hashtags across social media platforms not only increases brand awareness, it makes it feel personal.
  • trending topics – A hashtag that becomes really popular amongst Twitter users is considered to be “trending”. These can be accessed by clicking on the app’s “Search” function, but not typing anything in. You can assume that there is a lot of conversation circulating around the topics that you see there, so they provide a great opportunity to reach people who are not already following you.  One common trend on Twitter is quirky “holidays” – #NationalCoffeeDay and #NationalDogDay being a few favorites. This would be a great time to post if you happen to sell coffee, or are partnered with a local animal shelter! You automatically know that your audience is interested in what you have to say, and they give you an opportunity to showcase a lighthearted side of your business.
  • live tweeting – Live tweeting gets back to what hashtags were originally created for – to have a conversation around a particular topic. Popular reality shows such as The Bachelor have a dedicated following of “live-tweeters”, or people who use Twitter to discuss their thoughts about the show while it is airing. While this is primarily a more social use of Twitter, it is a great opportunity for businesses to chime in with relevant posts to get noticed by that audience. In the instance of The Bachelor, Clorox chimes in during awkward scenes using the hashtag #BleachableMoments. It’s funny, it relates to their brand, and most of the show’s audience is thinking it anyways! So it serves as an effective way to connect with people real-time.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, worry not! Just try a couple tweets or instagrams here and there, and see what works for you. Eventually you will begin to notice patterns in the types of hashtags and content that appeals to your audience, and then you can focus on creating more of the same. So much of business and marketing is rigid – don’t be afraid to have more fun on social media! It’s a great opportunity to personalize your brand and relate to your audience on a whole new level, so take advantage of it! And be sure to check back for our upcoming blog on Twitter Analytics to learn how to track your #tweets and engagement over time.

Happy Tweeting!!

marketing across platforms

tablet-313002_960_720Technology development has changed the game for marketers. Given that 84% of American adults own some type of web-enabled device, the level of influence is not surprising. More ways to get online means greater marketing opportunities, and your business needs to be present. However, it’s not as simple as just having a website or an online advertising campaign. You need to consider how your content appears on different devices, how your systems identify potential customers, and how to keep your marketing consistent across all platforms. Done correctly, this can really enhance the impact of your marketing efforts, as well as improve customer experience.

Most of us are comfortable navigating a website from a desktop or laptop. Additionally, most websites are designed to be used on a computer. However, even the most pristine website can look sloppy when viewed from other devices. Make sure you format you website in a way that is compatible with mobile devices, as well. This will help it to load faster, be visually appealing, and even yield a higher conversion rate when accessed from a mobile device. For advice about ways to adapt your website to be mobile-friendly, we recommend checking out this helpful website.

Cross-platform marketing programs minimize the disconnect between potential customers accessing your website from various web-enabled devices. For example, someone could view your website from their laptop, tablet and smartphone. Without the right program in place, your systems will recognize this as three different users, rather than as one user simply using different platforms. This is particularly important because roughly one in three Americans owns a computer, smartphone and tablet. To accurately track the results of a cross platform campaign, it is critical to know views and clicks by individuals as well as by platform.  In addition, those that own all three also tend to spend more time online than the average person, which makes them an especially valuable demographic to you as a marketer.

If you have different offers for different audiences (ex. free trial for new customers or 10% off next purchase for current customers), it is especially important that you recognize when the same customer uses multiple platforms. If a current customer who normally uses a computer starts seeing promotions for new customers when using their tablet, it creates confusion and makes the customer feel less valued. Programs such as Mobile Web Cookie, Google’s Advertising ID (Android) and Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (iOS) are all helpful tools to use to streamline your advertising to the correct audience across all of their devices.

There is so much potential for great success when marketing across platforms but there are also a lot of nuances to watch out for in order to have maximum results with both customers and prospects who use some or all platforms.  We think you will find these tips valuable in your own campaign success, so best of luck and happy marketing!

great BBQ sauce recipe for Labor Day weekend

Labor Day weekend represents taking a break from the work a day world, and that includes talk about direct mail marketing, email marketing, social media marketing and all the rest!  We are doing just that at promark, so our blog this week is changing “flavors”.  This is the last weekend of summer before kids go back to school.  There will be lots of outdoor cooking for sure.  If you are making BBQ, try making this awesome sauce!!  It’s easy, and you’ll never go back to buying it again!

recipe bbq (2)

recipe rub (2)

Most importantly, take some time to relax and enjoy family and friends.  We’ll be back next week with more about what’s happening in direct marketing!

6 tips for avoiding common direct mail mistakes

mailboxA successful direct mail campaign requires time and attention to detail. The end of summer, kids back to school and several major holidays on the horizon means a fertile ground of sales opportunities for every business. While there is endless advice about how to use direct mail successfully, it’s equally important to consider common mistakes that many companies make.   As you plan your direct marketing efforts for the fall, make sure you prepare effectively to make the most of your campaign.  Here are some tips:


Keep Data Clean – Having organized and well-kept data saves you time, money and effort. Regularly update records of addresses so you don’t waste money mailing to people who are no longer living at an address you have on file. And if you opt for a prospect file, make sure you get a quality file from a reputable company. Have them match it to your target demographic, and check it against your existing lists so you don’t accidentally mail customers twice. Your mailing list is your market, so this is the most important part of a direct mail campaign.

Personalize Your Message – You can go a long way with a potential customer by delivering a personalized message. It makes the offer feel less robotic, and shows that you are speaking to that individual specifically. Consider using a different message for your current customers than you do for your prospects. Keeping in touch is different than acquisition, so address your audience accordingly. Beyond that, you can customize to certain demographics for maximum impact. For example, the things that appeal to 20-year-old single men are vastly different than those that appeal to 40-year-old married soccer moms. Change your message, your tone, or your graphics. By thinking creatively and getting in the head of the consumer, you can use emotional and lifestyle marketing to connect with your audience.

Prompt Further Action – A good piece of direct mail may grab your customers’ attention, but without a call to action, things may not go any further than that. Have a hook to your message – incentivize the person holding that piece of paper to either make a purchase or inquire further. Do more than just be interesting or informative. Add something to your piece that says “you need to act now”, and give them the necessary information to do so.

Test It Out – Don’t forget A/B testing if you’re trying out something new, unsure if something will work, or considering expanding to a new demographic. This is particularly important when the change that you’re considering will cost a lot of money. Always see if the increase in cost justifies the market’s response.  It’s always better to catch bugs in a campaign on a smaller test market and avoid problems on subsequent, larger marketing efforts.  You can never over-test.

Track It All – The past plays a large role in developing plans for the future. Having a good tracking system in place allows you to see where things went right (or wrong!) so that you can make smart decisions moving forward. Consider asking customers how they heard about your business, or direct them to your website using a special code or a designated landing page. Having this information at your disposal will help you determine the best way to proceed in future campaigns.

Keep It Frequent – With direct mail, you’re in it for the long haul. When done correctly, you will see results. But this will not happen if you’re only sending out an annual one-time mailer. Make direct mail ongoing and part of a broader marketing plan. Heighten your brand awareness by including email blasts, direct social media marketing, AdWords, weekly blogs and website updates in addition to your mailers.
Keep your name out there and in sight for your customers and search engines, and business will follow.


Spend some extra up-front time planning a clean direct mail campaign and you can avoid these common mistakes. Make your campaign relevant, targeted, tested and tracked and it will show optimum results. You’ll be amazed at the difference it all makes!

call 1.800.promark today for a consultation!
let’s discuss how you can MAXIMIZE YOUR SALES OPPORTUNITIES…