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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!

SEO…what’s in your website?

Search-Engine-Optimization-SEOSEO. You’ve probably heard the popular acronym tossed around when talking about online marketing. But what exactly does it mean? SEO – or Search Engine Optimization, is defined by The Beginner’s Guide to SEO as “the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines.” SEO encompasses everything from picking keywords, to links for other sites. Sometimes it is simply a matter of structuring your website in a way that search engines can understand.

So how can you use this to your website’s benefit? Start with your own experiences. Imagine being confronted with a question you had no answer to. In modern days, you likely turn to your search engine of choice (Google/Bing/Yahoo, etc.) and type the question in to find your answer. Your question in this instance is the search query, and the responses that the engine comes up with are based on that criteria. Now picture your website. What is your target market likely to use as a search query? Those are the keywords that you want to highlight.

SEO is based entirely on keywords, so this is where you want to focus the bulk of your effort. Try to pick words that make you unique, as well. Overly-popular keywords are going to be saturated in the search engines, meaning that you will fall farther behind in their rankings, which puts you a few pages back in users’ search results. Therefore, you stand a better chance of drawing your audience in when using more catered keywords. (For advice with this, we recommend checking out this SEO Keyword Research Tool. You can use these keywords in a number of places to ensure that search engines pick up on them – including titles and body text on pages, URLs to your page and even image file names. Some of the most successfully optimized websites use thousands of different keywords, so don’t be shy with them! Additionally, make sure you are frequently posting new content on your website, and consider incorporating social media to your online marketing platform. This will show the search engines that your business is still active, and will improve your organic ranking.

However, just trying to trick search engines into finding your page is not enough. Go back to the perspective of the searcher – you’re looking for an answer to a question. You are searching for knowledge, so you want results that are relevant and captivating. Otherwise, you’re not likely to spend much time on that result – you’ll just move on to the next one. For this reason, you want to make sure your content is interesting to your audience, and offers value in some way. Information that feels inauthentic, and poised to draw people in without providing anything useful to them is unattractive to web users, and could lead them to form negative associations with your brand. Additionally, forcing keywords in that don’t match your brand may draw in the wrong type of audience. So be real, be interesting, and be informative. Make sure that the website and its content fit the keywords, rather than forcing a fit. Your website is an opportunity to connect with your prospective audience, so take advantage of it!

effective email, the why and how


Not sure if email is effective as a marketing tool? A recent Target Marketing Media Usage Survey1 shows that 42.7% of marketers use direct mail and email to acquire customers, and 58.6% use these channels to retain them. In addition, according to research conducted by The Relevancy Group and MessageGears2, email is shown to outperform social media when calculating revenue it generates, and from a customer perspective 75% of technically-savvy social media users prefer receiving marketing material via email.

Email as a marketing tool is an important part of the marketing mix. For it to be effective however there are some critical steps that need to be taken prior to beginning an email campaign that will make it successful and deliver the ROI you expect.   Here are a few things to remember:

why you cannot afford to not utilize direct Facebook marketing in your marketing mix . . .

When it comes to direct marketing, using Facebook as a marketing channel is a powerful addition to direct mail and email marketing.  72% of online adult Americans use Facebook and odds are you are one of them. It’s a wildly popular social media platform that helps people stay in touch or reconnect with old friends. People nowadays assume that you’re on Facebook in the same way that they assume you have an email address – it’s a staple of being an active Internet user.  So understandably, Facebook has been able to build a huge collection of consumer data from its over 1.23 billion active online profiles.

Recognizing the opportunity that this could provide to businesses, Facebook began to sell this data in conjunction with correlating advertising opportunities. Now, Facebook captures 73.4% ($9.86 billion) of social media ad spending in the US. If you’ve ever seen ads pop up in your timeline, you know how accurately they can match your personal interests. Facebook offers a unique advertising opportunity for businesses by allowing them to customize their audience, set a budget and timeline for their advertising campaign, and track its success.

1.     Customize your audience

In the initial stages of organizing a Facebook advertising campaign, you are prompted to define an audience. Facebook allows you to fine-tune this audience by pursuing prospects based on gender, location, age, education, relationship status, hobbies and interests, etc. This ensures that your message is delivered to the exact type of people that meet your target audience.  Additionally, if you have a list of emails or phone numbers from your current customer base you can opt to advertise to just them. Yes, Facebook can link it back to their page!  Alternatively, you can opt to exclude these people if you’re looking to attract new customers.

2.     Set your budget and timeline

When creating a Facebook advertising campaign, you get to choose how much you want to spend every day and how many days you want the ad run. Payment works on a bidding system, and you can opt for either CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per 1000 views). Although Facebook provides price range recommendations based on what you’re looking for, you can opt to pay as little as 1₵/click (although it likely won’t get you too far!).  In the US, the average CPC is 24₵, and the average CPM is 66₵.

3.     Track your success

At the start of your advertising campaign, Facebook provides you with a conversion pixel that can be installed on your business’s website. Your Facebook ad will reroute customers to your website, and when they go on to make a purchase the conversion pixel tracks it. This information is sent back to Facebook, and gives their system data about the types of people who will take action after seeing your ad. Ultimately, this allows Facebook to optimize your ad by promoting it to an increasingly more accurate audience, and allows you to see how well Facebook is helping your business achieve its goals.

Facebook has evolved from the strictly socially interactive platform it started as to a powerful direct marketing tool.  Go in, check it out!  There are tutorials available that explain the platform itself, and can walk you through setting up your own campaign.  Of course, if you are like the rest of us, finding the time to do your own marketing is difficult and sometimes results in not getting it done (you know, the shoe makers children!).  There are many marketing agencies available that can handle your Facebook advertising for you, just as they would your direct mail, email deployment and content management.   Either way, get on board.   It could be the linchpin channel that rounds your direct mail and email marketing efforts and sends them soaring.

Good luck!


re-directing direct: why direct social media is a necessary complement to direct mail and email marketing…

22187942_sSocial media and direct mail/email marketing go more hand-in-hand than you might think. Mail and email help a business deliver content directly to potential customers. When augmenting direct mail and email with social media marketing, you can waste a lot of time, money and effort if you don’t have a pinpointed target market. Social media users voluntarily release endless information (such as interests, hobbies, preferences, travel patterns and personal demographics) in order to build an online profile to connect with others. Because of this, data collected from social networks provides customer personas, and thus can define a carefully selected audience for your marketing messages. You can then specifically select who to direct your social media marketing towards, and can take measures to ensure that your business is promoting relevant content to them. Additionally, this information can make your direct mail and email marketing not only more efficient, but more likely to convert to sales by ensuring that your recipients will already have some interest in your business.

Utilization of social media is a cost-efficient and effective way to enhance your current marketing efforts, but it can also be a beneficial tool in entirely separate ways. Unlike mail and email, social media allows a company to connect with its customers to develop a community around its brand. A business’s presence on social media gives customers the opportunity to have an interactive experience with the brand by “liking”, commenting, and sharing its posts. Some businesses further foster this sense of community by actually responding to customers’ posts on their social media pages. This makes the customers’ relationship with the brand a more personal one – and as emotional responses to marketing are what drive buying behavior, this is a promotional opportunity that is not to be overlooked.

While social media is a valuable marketing tool and is becoming increasingly more popular among businesses, don’t go ditching the “traditional” advertising channels either. Email marketing still brings in higher revenue than social networks, and remains the preferred channel by most Americans. Comparatively, direct mail gets your advertisement in the hands of the customer, and they’ll likely read it more thoroughly than they would if it were an online ad. Consider using direct social media in combination with direct mail and email marketing to develop an integrated approach to your marketing efforts. Add social networking links to the bottom of your emails, or include incentives for “following” your business in your next mail advertisement. And if you can post content online that your followers find interesting or amusing enough to share then they’ll do the advertising for you, and your job just got a whole lot easier!

your data: mine field or gold mine?

When you begin a direct mail campaign utilizing in-house data, or data at rest, it is critical to consider the integrity of the database. Without regular data hygiene, and data appending where necessary, your mailing list will miss key segmented target marketing opportunities as well as waste valuable marketing dollars.  In addition, your campaign will be based upon a foundation that does not give you the full picture of your prospect pool.  HOWEVER!  There are easy steps to follow to make sure your data is providing you with a full picture of your marketing prospect and customer pool.  Following these steps allow you to:

  • target sub segments, so you can customize your look and message to each prospect pool piquing their interest and response
  • meet postal requirements, so you catch the lowest possible postage rates
  • update bad addresses, so you will not waste money on nondeliverable addresses, and not solicit to prospects or customers who may have moved out of your target area
  • optimize cross channel marketing, so you can reach your prospects and customers more than once and allow them a choice of how they respond

RECORD LAYOUT – You want to make sure that your record fields are consistent, for example keeping first name, last name, street address, city, state, zip in separate fields. If you are working with a business database for your mailing list, make sure company name and key contact title are in the appropriate fields.  This may be something you can have an employee sort out if your database is small.  If it is a larger job, there are many companies that can perform this service for you in conjunction with data appending and address updating (NCOA) services.

RECORD QUALITY – Incomplete or incorrect addresses will mean wasted dollars due to undeliverable mail or unforwardable mail. Sometimes the mail may be forwarded, but the individual has moved out of state.  If you are a local farmer’s market you would be wasting time and energy soliciting to that individual.  National change of address services are available to confirm the accuracy or your mailing list and update addresses where needed.

DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION – More than likely you have collected information on the prospects and customers in your database: when and how they made inquiries, when, how and what they purchased, etc.  It may be that your database gives you all of the information you feel you need to segment out your mailing list so you can speak relevantly to each prospect or customer.  If not, you can have a wide variety of demographics appended to your database.  For consumers, you may want age, income, ethnicity, religious preference, presence of children, children entering college, homeowner or renter, special interests or hobbies, charitable givers, etc.  If you are working on a business mailing list, you may want to know yearly sales volume, increases in sales, number of employees, headquarters versus branches, year the business started, etc.  All of this information can be appended to your database prospects and customers so you can

  • get a full picture of who your customers are, which will serve as a model when acquiring additional mailing lists for prospects
  • segment out your mailing list by groupings, for example age and interests, so both the graphics and content in your message will speak more specifically to that group. You may even opt to add other channels such as social media, ad words or email deployment based upon the preferences of each subsegment

Most businesses are aware that quality data results in a more effective mailing list, email deployment, ad word selection and social media marketing campaign, they just do not know where to begin. Again, for whatever you cannot do in-house, there are many companies that can do data hygiene and append for you.  Just make sure you utilize a company that updates their data regularly.

We hope you have found this information useful, and best of luck for success!

develop a successful integrated marketing strategy

It goes without saying, it is more important than ever to have an integrated marketing strategy that is developed with engagement and timeliness as the priority in order to get optimal results.  Consumers are bombarded every day with so many messages coming from all directions – text ads, popup ads, social media, direct mail, email, even TV ads in line at the grocery store; and yet they have less time than ever to pay attention, much less read them. You not only have to pique your customer or prospect’s interest with your message, you have to do it at exactly the right time.  In addition your integrated marketing strategy has to be practical, a plan that your time allows for executing and that fits into your budget.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you roll out your marketing efforts for 2016.

  • Crystalize your objectives:
    • Make sure you have a clear picture of what you are trying to accomplish with each marketing effort. It can range from increased customer engagement to regaining lost customers to acquiring new leads.
    • Consider the various marketing channels you have available to you, as well as the amount of marketing dollars you have for your effort.
  • Customize your message:
    • Make sure each message you send is customized to specific market segments.
    • Determine what channels (direct mail, email, social media, tweet, SEO and pay-per-click) will be most effective for each segment in your integrated marketing strategy. Your customer profile for each market segment will help you make these decisions.
  • Optimize your channels:
    • Define your integrated marketing strategy, which is a structure of the distribution sequence via the appropriate marketing channels for your message to each market segment. This could include the order in which they are deployed through each channel, whether some will coincide, how they will link and what the timing will be. Remember, determining the appropriate timing for each market segment and each message is key! For example, consider when the demand for your product or service is most needed and balance that with each demographic’s attention and response times.
    • Make sure all direct mail efforts are executed as efficiently as possible so you do not waste money marketing to non-deliverable addresses. Your in-house mailing list should be cleaned and updated, and make sure any mailing list you use is current. Data hygiene is a must! Also, be certain all email deployments are directed to opt-in participants only to avoid being black listed as a spammer.
    • Touch your audience many times over a reasonable period of time. Conventional wisdom was a message had to touch a client or prospect at least three times to have an imprinted impact. Today, many leaders in the industry suggest touching your audience a minimum of 12 times. Keep in mind, you don’t have to break the bank to do it! Using links in your messages and offers, along with less expensive channels like tweets and blogs, you can add up your touches very quickly without overspending your budget.
  • Analyze your results:
    • Track the results of each channel you employed in your campaign.
    • Compare the results for each channel, and pay close attention to how the results were affected by cross channel marketing (i.e., links in emails leading to website, QR code on direct mail piece leading to landing page, etc.)
    • Tweak your marketing plan based upon the results you achieved. It is critical to keep your marketing plan alive, constantly changing as you have the opportunity to analyze your marketing results.
  • Reprise, a.k.a. Play It Again Sam!
    • Repeat! Once you have gotten through the first cycle and made the appropriate changes to your plan, set new timing and hit your customers and prospects again. Remember, if you are not talking to them, someone else is!


Best of luck in all of your marketing efforts in 2016!!

promarkdirect expands digital services

In celebration of over 35 years of providing exceptional results through personal service, promarkdirect is proud to announce an entirely new brand identity and expanded digital services to complement our existing postal and email expertise.

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