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    Know the Facts

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    First, the primary raw material for printing is paper, which comes from trees, which are a renewable resource – so renewable that today our country has 20 percent more trees than it did on the first Early Day, which was held more than 40 years ago.

    Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint – all other media require energy every time they are viewed. Electronic joomla_4ices require the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non-renewable resources. In addition, 50-80 percent of electronic waste collected for recycling is shipped overseas and is often unsafely dismantled.

    When it comes to the effectiveness of direct mail, 73% of consumers prefer mail for receiving new product announcements or offers from companies they do business with as compared to 18% from email. And 76% of small businesses state that their ideal marketing mix is a combination of direct mail and digital communications. When direct mail is combined with other marketing activities, campaign payback is increased up to 20%.

    So, does paper kills trees? No, it is just the opposite. Are direct mail campaigns effective? Yes, the results speak for themselves. Is print dead? Print is alive and well!

    Source: The Value of Print flip book (Printing Industries of America).

    Best Practices for Variable Data Printing

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    One potential pitfall, though, of variable data projects is the increased production time that is required due to the complexity of merging data fields of different sizes and formats into a fixed design.

    Our team at Perfect Printing has significant experience in producing variable data projects and goes to great lengths to ensure that every record prints in the desired manner on any given variable printed piece. Preparing data for variable printing is a two step process that involves “cleansing” the data and then mapping the data to the design template. Cleansing the data involves making sure that the data in the file is consistent throughout. This process is much more time consuming than the actual mapping process and, depending on the amount of variable information being used, is the reason that a variable proof sometimes take several days longer to generate than a static print proof. The mapping portion of the process cannot begin until the data cleansing process is fully completed.

    Below are some tips that can be followed when submitting data for use in a variable print project. Following these suggestions can help get your project completed in the quickest time possible.
    1)      Only send files that are needed for the project. Often we receive a “data dump” of files. The additional amount of time that is required to sort through what files are needed and which ones are not increase the time it takes to get to the proofing stage.
    2)      Make sure address fields are consistent in their format. The ideal format is to have any secondary address (i.e. suite number, apt. number) in a secondary field. Often we receive data that is mixed. Some of the secondary addresses are in the primary address field, while other records have a separate field. If it is not possible to present the data in the most optimal manner, clear guidelines should be communicated as to how the addresses fields should be imported.
    3)      Much like address fields, name fields can also present a particular dilemma. We often receive mixed formats that include full names in a single field (i.e. Mr. and Mrs. John Doe) along with separate fields for other names.
    4)      If you have specific requirements as to how you wish data to print (i.e. Street abbreviated as St. in the data file should be spelled out fully) communicate this prior to the start of the project.
    If you feel that your data has some of the issues outline above, don’t feel like you are alone. Most projects that we handle have these types of issues. We can write programs that take care of resolving these issues. For those that are interested in using variable data, especially as an ongoing process, it best to try to continually improve upon your data submission. This will allow for faster processing and better turnarounds.

    Every Door Direct Mail

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    While there are some limitations to the program for larger quantity mailings, I have found the EDDM program to be of significant benefit to small and mid-size businesses that wish to communicate their message to everyone in a specific geographic area.

    The most visible benefit of the program is the ability to mail a 6-1/8×11 size postcard for a rate as low as 14.5 cents per piece. The effective postage rate is based on what postal facility the mail is dropped. Even at the higher range of 19.7 cents per piece, the postage rate is significantly discounted from the lowest standard mail rate by approximately 8 cents per piece.
    Additional savings are gained, when compared to a typical direct mail project, because there is no need to purchase a mail list. In addition, because the postcards are sent to every address on a specific carrier route, each card does not have to be variably addressed. This results in even more savings.
    While there are some additional costs occurred because of how the mail must be presented to the post office, the potential savings far outweigh any additional costs. For retail businesses looking to target a specific location, the Every Door Direct Mail program can play an important role of any integrated or direct mail campaign. Contact Joe Olivo at Perfect Printing for further information on this program.

    Boost Response Rates With a Live Stamp

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    Direct mail fundraisers learned long ago that using a live stamp can boost response rates. Some websites even list the lift as high as 2%.

    The primary reason is simple: human nature. A stamp implies a human touch and a personal interaction. Unlike the appearance of automated postal indicia and metered postage, most people perceive that a stamp was placed by a person and not a machine. (Little do they know that a mail-house applied the stamps by machine.) 

    A second reason is curiosity. A stamp on an envelope makes the recipient wonder “what is this?” since their assumption is the envelope came from a real person. The biggest challenge with direct mail is getting the piece opened. In addition to tactics you can use with the envelope itself, a stamp can help get your message read. Bulk mail with an impersonal indicia looks like a solicitation.
    Stamps are typically used on letters, but they can be used on postcards as well to give them a personal feel. While a First Class Stamp has the highest response rate, live stamps are also available in bulk and non-profit classes. The minimal cost involved to apply the stamps will pay off in the better open rate of your direct mail campaign.
    If you’re interested in using a live stamp for one of your upcoming projects contact us for more information.

    Dimensional Mailers and Specialty Packaging

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    The challenge for any direct marketer is to make their piece the one that catches the eye and causes the recipient to spend additional time reviewing the information presented. One way to increase the chances of this happening is through the use of dimensional mailers.
    Dimensional mail is mail that has an additional dimension beyond length and width. In the pile of envelopes and direct mailers on the intended recipient’s desk, a box will surely stick out. According to a 2010 Direct Marketing Association report, dimensional mailers had an average response rate of 8.51% for B2B mailers and 3.52% for B2C mailers. The average response rate for an envelope mailer was 1.38%.

    The unit costs of dimensional mailers are typically higher than those of a direct mailer or envelope mailer. This is where targeted marketing can be helpful in maximizing the ROI of the mailer. Rather than blanket mailing to an entire list, it may be helpful to send the more expensive dimensional mailer to just a portion of the list. This can help you test the response to see if the (hopefully) increased response outweighs the additional cost of the mailer.
    At Perfect Communications, we offer a wide variety of dimensional mailing and specialty packaging options. Combining this with an effective premium item, we can help our clients maximize their response along with their ROI for any campaign.

    Universities and Print

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    A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ Article) highlighted how many universities are now adding the position of chief marketing officer. One of the advantages that a CMO at a university has over their counterparts in for-profit business is access to huge amounts of voluntarily supplied data regarding their “clients”, both students and alumni. With this data, the CMO can build integrated multi-channel campaigns that will both enhance the university brand and allow them to utilize 1:1 marketing techniques to further the conversation with their clients. The print channel can play an important role in this effort by utilizing personalized direct mailers to increase the relevance to the recipient and help maximize the desired response rates.

    Marketing Budgets and Shifting Priorities

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    Tight budgets are about setting priorities and making choices in regards to what will maximize the return on investment for a marketing campaign. All too often, the need to maximize ROI is supplanted by the desire to hold costs down on a given project.

     When it comes to print and promotional items, this can come in the form of designing and producing more simple and less expensive pieces. This is often done without any regards as to whether the simplification of the design is going to decrease the response rate. Rather than decreasing the investment in the production, it is my belief that many times a client would be better served by reducing the size of the mailing list as a way to control costs.
     A more targeted approach to mailing allows for more resources to be dedicated to the production costs. This can allow for more inspiring designs and innovative mailings, which can increase the response rate in the long run. The postage savings with decreased run sizes can free up the budget to allow for more intricately printed and diecut pieces or, perhaps, a premium item of greater value to the recipient. In turn, this will allow for a greater response, as the piece has a better chance of grabbing the intended recipient’s attention. Of course, all of this should be done as part of an integrated campaign so that you can constantly measure who is responding and refine the campaign as necessary.
    Finding out who is responding is not just important for the current campaign, but it helps you build information as to who NOT to mail to in the next campaign. This is in turn will help you continually keep your mailing list targeted to those most likely to respond to your efforts.

    Create an Impact with the Sense of Touch

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    Creating a tactile sensation with your next project can be done in a number of ways. There are several paper stocks available that have a silky or soft matte finish to provide a unique sensation to the touch.  This stock will add a rich look and feel with rose-petal softness. 

    Both Touche and Plike are brands that come in a variety of colors and weights and are ideal for applications requiring tactile lushness coupled with strength. These stocks can be used for most finishing techniques including embossing, foil stamping, die cutting, engraving, folding and gluing. 
    Another technique to add to the feel of a piece is Soft Touch™ Aqueous Coating. This is a special effect coating that gives the sheet a soft and velvet feel. It has also been described as rubbery or plastic-like. Soft Touch™ is applied in-line on the printing press, and doesn't require any off-line treatment or processing. Although Soft Touch™ is a more expensive than traditional aqueous coating it does offer cost and time savings versus off-line laminating or matte UV, an alternative for many designers who want to create a high-end look.
    Contact us to find out how we can help you increase the impact of your printed materials.

    Response Rate Increase Seen in Personalized versus Static Direct Mail

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    When we use the term personalization, we are not referring to a simple mail merge but rather sophisticated integration with other electronic media including the use of personalized URLs and landing pages. But how much can personalization increase response rates compared to static direct mail? It is important to quantify projected results since relevant marketing can also increase expense. However, the return on investment can be significant.

    Direct mail rates can vary greatly depending on what you are trying to accomplish. They differ by vertical market as well as campaign objective such as lead generation, traffic generation, direct order/fundraising and data gathering/loyalty. They are also impacted by such variables as the relevance of the message, the offer, the list, the creative and the timing. So, how then can you project response rates to build a case for personalization?

    A recently published industry report from Caslon, a PODi company, compares response rates with static marketing (data from the DMA) and those that include relevant personalization. You can download this report below for statistics on response rate lifts seen in campaigns with one-to-one messaging vs. mass messaging.

    Once you have a chance to review, please call us at (856) 787-1877 or use the contact us tab to schedule a conversation about how you can use targeted and measurable print marketing to create more effective connections with individuals and increase your ROI.

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