Archive for the ‘ Direct Marketing ’ Category

Email Marketing Tips

Email marketing, also known as e-blasts and e-newsletters, is one of the least expensive ways to get your message out and can catapult your sales to a new level. Use email marketing to help build your relationship with your customer. The first step to email marketing is selecting a software program. There are several to choose from but two of our favorites are Constant Contact and Mail Chimp.

Constant Contact offers over 400 email templates and a tracking and reporting feature that allows you to see what percentage of your audience opened your email and which link generated the most click through rates. They have excellent customer support and offer a free 60-day trial for up to 100 contacts. After 60 days you will pay a monthly fee that starts at $15 and increases incrementally depending on the number of email addresses you send to.

MailChimp does not offer as many templates to choose from, but they offer free emails for lists with 2,000 names or less. They also have an easy to use system for adding and managing contacts and have a strong reporting feature. MailChimp offers point-and-click WYSIWYG editing. A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor enables you to easily edit your email campaign while seeing what it will look like to your readers.

Once you have done your research and picked out your email marketing partner, set goals on what you want to achieve and track them. Below are some general tips to consider:

1. Pick or design a template that complements your brand and your website.

2. Determine what you want to include in your weekly, monthly or quarterly email marketing. Do you have a featured spotlight, a product or safety tip? Interview an employee or an expert. Tell readers something they don’t already know and sprinkle in some fun or a quote. Treat the readers like they are a part of your group to help build brand affinity.

3. Ask your customers what their email reading habits are. Do they prefer to open emails on their computer, receive a text or open them on a mobile device or smartphone?

4. So that your email can be viewed on a smartphone or computer, remember that a practical, clean design is best. Always set the alignment to the left – this ensures that the copy doesn’t get pushed to the center or right if someone is reviewing the email newsletter on a smartphone. A good design includes whitespace, short paragraphs, few pictures and clearly labeled sections.

5. A/B test your emails so you can determine what days of the week and times have a higher open rate for your business.

6. When programming the content, include a teaser paragraph with a link to your website so your readers have to click on the link to get the full story. This helps drive traffic to your website and with rankings.

7. Incorporate Google Analytics so you can view statistics on visits, conversions and sales. Combine email and social marketing by sharing your campaign with Facebook, Digg or Twitter.

8. Always test your email campaign before it is sent to the masses. Test it internally, externally and for viewing it in different browsers and on smartphones.

9. After you launch your email, pay attention to what topics have higher click through rates for future campaigns. Remember to measure your success and compare results from email campaigns. Use your reports
to learn about your reader’s interests and sign up for your competitor’s e-newsletters to see what they are doing. Make sure you are building and regularly updating your email list and database.

10. If you are having trouble coming up with rich content, consider reducing the length and frequency of your email newsletters. People typically value the space in their inbox so make sure you are providing relevant and engaging information.

Still need help on getting started or improving your email marketing? Contact evok advertising at 407-302-4416.

Biting the Bait – Making Promotions Work For You

Promotions. Offers. Incentives. Why do they work? Why do consumers buy into them? The most vital and critical piece to any promotion lies in thinking like the consumer, which companies may forget when launching a promotion. We recommend putting yourself in their shoes. Familiarize yourself with their fears, their skepticism and their doubts. Listed below are key points to follow when rolling out your promotion.

The offer must appeal to target audience. Some companies find that reaching a specific target audience, such as children, creates a challenge. Motivating kids to fundraise for their schools can be a cumbersome task for a hard-to-please audience. Would one offer them rebates that take six to eight weeks to receive? Or would one offer them a class pizza party? You can determine which one will achieve results based on the context of the promotion, the willingness of the children to participate and their perceived value.

High perceived value. A consumer’s perception is their reality. The product offered has to have value in the consumer’s mind, and be an offer they usually would not go out of their way to buy. When offering a product it’s not necessary to give away a Ferrari of the year, instead give away a car that has the same perceived value as a Ferrari, but in reality only costs $20,000. Scale your giveaways to your budget but keep consumers’ perception of products mind. Presentation of that product helps as well.

Immediate satisfaction. We are a microwave society. Today, people expect to be satisfied immediately. If your offer has a delayed satisfaction for your consumer, it may not be successful. Mail-in rebates that companies offer are a prime example, and can lead to lower consumer participation. Think about when you’re surfing the web, and how long do you wait for a websites to download…15-20 seconds? You take the risk of losing a consumer the moment they have to wait.

Keep the process simple. If consumers see a complex web of tasks and processes needed to participate in promotion, they may walk away. People, for the most part, expect companies who offer incentives to make them as easy as possible to obtain. If the amount of work it takes to get an offer overshadows the perceived value, then the probability of getting consumers to act diminishes and vice versa.

Be honest. Do not be ambiguous when it comes to the messaging. Be upfront – tell them what they are going to get and how they are going to get it. The fine print, also known as disclaimers, may scare people away. When the list is never ending, consumers may not act on the offer. In the end, honesty and being upfront is appreciated.

Be legal. Make sure that you follow all state guidelines when launching a promotion or sweepstakes. The rules can vary by state but as a rule of thumb, remember; you cannot make a consumer buy your product or service to be eligible to enter to win a prize – that’s a lottery and illegal in most states. You have to provide the consumer a free way to enter the promotion with the same opportunity of chance. This does not apply to a gift with purchase, where everyone is awarded a prize. See the state of Florida’s guidelines here:

Remember, it’s not about what you sell; it’s how you sell it.

Direct Marketing – and why you shouldn’t discount it.

For many companies it’s a real challenge to decide which advertising medium to use, especially in today’s tech-driven environment. One bad decision could cost a company their entire marketing budget, so how do they decide which medium is right? There’s the Internet, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, social media and more. But for some reason, the channel that most seem to discount these days is direct marketing – and well, that’s just crazy.

With social media on the rise, and being significantly cheaper than other mediums, many companies are going for it. Great if you are opening the hottest new club in town, but what about if you’re trying to sell hearing aids? Twitter may not be your best bet! So, when deciding what channel to use, the first step is to identify your target market and the best way to reach them.

Let’s stick with the hearing aid example. Although an increasing number of seniors own computers and are savvy about navigating them, studies show there are better ways to reach them in a more targeted fashion, like by direct mail.

While Internet spending has increased dramatically over the last several years and newspaper advertising has decreased dramatically, direct mail spending has remained virtually flat. Flat doesn’t sound good, does it? But really, this means that it’s a tried and true marketing medium that has stayed consistent throughout the years.

Direct marketing, as defined by Wikipedia, is a form of advertising that reaches its audience without using traditional, formal channels of advertising, such as TV, newspapers or radio. The goal of direct marketing is to allow businesses to communicate directly to the consumer through the use of advertising techniques such as flier and catalogue distribution, mailing of promotional letters, and street advertising.

There are several advantages to direct marketing. Here are a few:

1. It enables you to send your message directly to the consumer, without interference.  For instance, when it comes to TV spots, how many people now Tivo and DVR their favorite TV shows, and skip right through the commercials, blasphemous to an advertiser, but it happens nonetheless!

2. It also allows you to personalize your message to each consumer. “Dear Mr. Jones, we would like to offer you a special discount…”

3. Direct mail also can include a call to action, which allows for tracking. For example, if you ask consumers to “bring this coupon into the store to receive your discount,” you can actually tally up the amount of coupons the store receives to see the success of your campaign. Other calls to action include, “call this number” or “logon to this website.”

4. Although there are many forms of direct marketing – telemarketing, e-mail marketing, door-to-door leaflet marketing, broadcast marketing – direct mail remains the most popular.

5. In a study conducted by The Direct Marketing Association, it was found that 57% of the campaigns studied employed integrated strategies.  Of those, almost half (47%) launched their campaigns with a direct mail piece.

6. Additionally, although we were using the hearing aid company as an analogy marketing to seniors, direct mail can also be used successfully to market to all age and ethnic groups.

Direct Mail and Coupons

For the first time since the Depression, the Gen Y group and their followers, the Gen Z group, are saving more money than any of their predecessors. Although not a definite, this could be attributed to the rise of coupon usage. Where it used to be taboo to use a coupon (think standing in line behind the blue-haired lady in the grocery store, with her handful of coupons), it is now the norm and almost expected. Don’t want to spend the money for your morning latte? Probably will if you have a 50% off coupon. And what better way to receive a coupon that by having it mailed directly to your house?

So when determining how best to spend your precious marketing dollars, first and foremost consider your market and how to reach them, then make sure your messaging is clear and if using direct marketing – consider making your consumers an offer. And don’t discount direct marketing – it’s how many consumers get discounts and they love that, so you should too.

Satisfy Your Media Craving—pepper the proper landscape to taste

The way a potential target consumes media changes with the landscape. Due to this ever-changing fact, new and emerging media must be considered, along with traditional media of course, when planning media buys.  These new mediums include online buys, Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, seeded blogs, video, gaming, mobile text campaigns, experiential (which is a media category of its own) and many others (being created as you read this).

As an advertising agency, it is vital that we communicate the importance of understanding how messages can be integrated within these new—virtual and actual—areas. However one must carefully consider the product and service type, along with the target’s demographics and lifestyle habits to ensure the “right fit” media strategy and placement. Almost every group is becoming a more mobile consumer, so it is essential to consider where, when and how fast they expect and/or would be most receptive to receiving marketing messages.

The keys to help in media planning are still fairly traditional:

  • Define the target demographic
  • Know the product or service
  • Know the client (target)

Define the Target Demographic:

The better one can define their target audience, the more effective a media buy can be.  It is becoming necessary to look closer—explore psychographic information of the potential consumer as well as the more general demographics such as age, gender and geographic area.  You need to know what they like to do; if they are soccer moms or people who have pets or if they are retired, and customize both the message and the media to reach them.

Know the Product or Service Point of Different:

It is probably obvious that certain products and services are a better fit for some of the new and emerging media options available, while others have a higher success rate on their tried and true traditional formats.  For example, if you are trying to reach a younger demo, a mobile text messaging campaign may work extremely well; but to reach an older, more conservative demo, banner ads targeted by geography and content might be a better fit.

Know the client (target):

Keep in mind, for every rule, there is an exception. Just as with the target market, their will be advertisers willing to try something new and are open to putting their messages in new places; while others will be more cautious when considering venturing into new mediums and strategies before they see that it has worked for others. In advertising, it is as important to do the research, as it is to be the first. Some might say it’s a gamble, other’s argue “calculated risk” is a winning equation that should be incorporated into every media strategy and plan. As advertisers, both sound research and trail blazing get our vote. Further, it’s important to inquire regarding your feeling, as well as the beliefs of any agency partners you currently use or would consider. Media is as important as the message. A great message delivered to the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong place is just, well…wrong.

It is essential for any agency offering media planning, buying and placing to be knowledgeable about all mediums, not just the ones their current clients use. Further, they should inform and educate the client and all team members (account services and creative) of what’s going on in the ever-changing media landscape. As an advertising agency with clients that run the gamut, we have the good fortune to keep up with all the new and emerging media. We have a living library of emerging media stories that assist all clients with options and ideas of how to get their message out. We’ve found that all our clients, even the more traditional ones, truly appreciate the latest and greatest media trends, even if they don’t end up on their strategy-driven plan.

$5,000 Websites? Not From An Ad Agency.

Yep, I get it. Web 2.0 has changed the interactive world and participant expectations. Then again, it actually changes on a daily basis. Social networking, the blogosphere, microblogging… honestly, it could be a full time job just coming up with all the hip names of web infrastructures. All hail the mighty copywriter!

But, I digress. This post is not about the names, the latest functionality or insight into what’s coming down the pike. Instead, let’s talk about the price of a website. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, advertising agency’s sell “time” and “ideas” as a commodity. That’s the widget exchanged for compensation. There’s a lot of talk about the traditional agency model, but this is about what is happening today, in 2009. I do not claim that this post will be relevant forever, or even in a year.

Determining a fair price for the development of a website can often become a source of contention. This is because there can be be a wide range of perceived value and an unclear understanding of the effort it takes to build a great website. Even with the advent of ‘off the shelf’ CMS templates (yes, we love you Joomla), success still rests in the hands of good content, good design, good planning and ultimately, good collaboration.

I’ve noticed a trend of significantly shrinking website budgets with a major increase of functionality requirements. Yes, of course, as time goes on price efficiencies should be expected. That said, wanting to pay $5,000 for a robust website that includes all the bells and whistles such as forums, blogs, multimedia newsrooms, SEO, polls, flash, forms that integrate with a company’s internal sales software, e-commerce and a complete CMS for back end management poses a challenge for anyone wanting to be paid for their time.  That’s on top of the text, photography and programming that serve as a bare minimum.

Here’s the issue: At a rate of $85 an hour (which is pretty darn low for anyone who isn’t your cousin) means that you have a grand total of 59 hours to accomplish everything. That’s 7.5 full working days. Yep, about a week and a half worth of work for one person. Considering that a typical agency would, at the very least, have a project manager, copywriter, designer and programmer assigned to it, you’re looking at each person getting just 14.75 hours to do their part. That’s less than 2 days. Uh oh.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of websites that can be developed in 59 hours. Beautiful brochure sites with limited rich media content and visitor interaction modules can be done rather quickly. It’s just a matter of the end deliverable and having a clear understanding of what it takes to get there.

Direct Mail Using Seeded Paper

When I say “seeded paper”,  I am not referring to some type of fancy marketing buzz word. I literally mean, using paper with seeds in it. The type of paper that you can plant in your back yard, insert photosynthesis here, and grow a plant. For the new era of eco consciousness, advertisers are increasingly looking to new ways to get the message out while reducing the consequential carbon footprint. I can’t think of a bigger perceived environmental impact than the millions of direct mail pieces that are sent out annually. So, with that said, let’s look at an IMPACTFUL delivery method that does not leave a lot of damaging IMPACT on the earth.

There is no shortage of paper options and printing techniques when it comes to sending direct mail; and, breaking through the clutter is no easy task when the average American receives 848 pieces of ad mail each year. This post examines the use of seeded paper as one option.

You don’t have to work in the printing industry to know that printing on anything other than good ole white paper could pose a challenge. You have to account for the creative intent of the piece versus the production capabilities of your vendor, which can sometimes be far from a perfect match.

Often times, the Art Director will be the one to suggest a type of paper in conjunction with a unique concept. So, the first step is researching if this type of paper even exists. If so, then you have to find a printer who can work with it. You can contact a local dependable commercial printer to review the project details.

With specialty projects, the fear of the untested can be a costly journey. Fair warning – if the vendor has not printed on this type of paper before, do not assume that it will be a no-brainer. Why? Here’s the type of challenges you could encounter with seeded paper:

* It soaks up the ink up like a sponge, jamming the press. This means the vendor won’t be able to successfully run the job.
* Seeded paper requires printing on an INK JET press – any ole press won’t do.
* There is a limited imprint area on the paper, so you have to ensure the file accounts for a large safety zone.

So what can you do to ensure success?

* Have your vendor test on their presses with the exact paper long before you commit to using them for the project.
* Make sure the vendor has an in-depth conversation with the paper supplier to determine best practices for production. In fact, insist that you are on this call if you have any doubts.
* Another option is going to the paper supplier first and asking who they used to create the sample. You might be able to avoid untested waters by using the supplier’s preferred vendor. The downside is the shipping expense if they are located out of state.

The bottom line: continue to push the envelope of production techniques. After all, the same ole process will get you the same ole results. But, be sure you do your homework beforehand.

Nearly 40% of Recent Hospital, Urgent Care Patients Influenced by Social Media

Social media influenced nearly 40% of recent hospital or urgent care center patients, with 25 to 34 year olds reporting the most influence (53.2%), according to the Spring 2009 Ad-ology Media Influence on Consumer Choice survey.

Nearly 30% of hospital visits by this age group were maternity-related. Of social media types, forums and discussion boards had a “significant” influence on 20% of 25 to 34 year olds who recently made a visit for maternity reasons, suggesting hospitals should target this group with an online space where these parents-to-be can interact.

At the other end of the spectrum, respondents 55 and older had the highest percentage of recent hospital or urgent care center visits and reported significant influence from direct mail and newspaper advertising. The most important factors for this age group were quality of care, availability of specialized services, and out-of-pocket costs.

“Progressive hospitals are already participating in social media through specific micro-sites, social networking, online communities, and targeted online marketing,” said C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of Ad-ology Research. “Urgent care and maternity provide excellent opportunities to connect with younger consumers, and social media is the way to engage this group,” Smith said.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Women accounted for approximately 60% of those who researched family doctors online
  • Quality of care ranks the highest among patients as the most important factor when choosing a hospital or urgent care center
  • Hospital/urgent care Web sites had the most influence on 18-to-24-year old patients (53.8%)
  • Of traditional media, television had the most influence (22.3%), followed by newspapers (21.9%)

So, if you are involved with developing the strategy and tactics in healthcare marketing, where do you start? It’s easy to learn the lattest buzz words, but using them…and using them to garner ROI…can be a whole different ball game. Oftentimes, the newness means it’s not taken seriously among the organization’s traditionalists or worse, people steer clear of them all together because there’s no media rep to do the leg work for you. Instead, many of these outlets mean you’ll have to roll up your sleeves. But, once you get familiar with it, you’ll wonder what you ever did beforehand!

Got something to say? Did a world-renown physician join the hospital? Did you introduce a new MIS technique? Is there a new spa in support of helping cancer patients cope with their illness? Let people know in an instant with social media.

Let’s take a look at just one social networking vehicle: Facebook. Aside from the obvious creation of a profile, there are so many great ways to spread a message. It allows you to reach your exact audience and connect real customers to your organization.

Connect with Real People

  • Reach over 200,000,000 active Facebook users.
  • Attach social actions to your ads to increase relevance.
  • Create demand for your product with relevant ads

Create Your Facebook Ad

  • Quickly create image and text-based ads.
  • Precisely target by age, gender, location, and more.
  • Choose to pay per click (CPC) or impression (CPM).

Optimize Your Ads

  • Track your progress with real-time reporting.
  • Gain insight about who’s clicking on your ad.
  • Make modifications to maximize your results.
As marketers, we spend a great deal of time learning every nuance of our audience. We have them defined to a “T”. With social media, we don’t have to guess where they are or how to find them. Are they really watching Grey’s Anatomy or secretly in love with the new 90210? It doesn’t matter! If a 32 year old conservative married female who lives in Orlando with her two kids is your perfect patient, then go ahead and let her know why.