A new year means fresh promotions from the United States Postal Service! There are six new opportunities to spice up your direct mail projects while also saving on postage costs. Running throughout the entire year, the promotions are available to any business registered on the USPS Business Customer Gateway. The purpose of these offers is to incentivize the use of direct mail as a medium for advertising and help businesses increase their campaign ROI. Each of the six programs lasts 3 to 6 months with varying discounts so you can begin to take advantage immediately!
Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Mail Piece Engagement
This promotion runs from February 1 to July 31, 2022 and offers a 4% discount on postage. It effectively highlights how far the print industry has come with advanced print technologies. Tactile engagement encourages consumers to interact with their mail piece through touch. Using specialty inks like thermochromics a postcard can change color when in contact with body heat. Sensory mail pieces engage the senses with visual effects, scent, and texture. Did you know that you can infuse paper with an aroma or create a holographic effect on art? Finally, interactive elements excite and surprise recipients. Cut outs, pop ups, and folds encourage creativity in children and adults alike. Marketing Mail letters and flats, First-Class Mail letters, flats and cards are all eligible.
Earned Value Reply Mail
This offer spans from April 1 to June 30. Businesses can earn a $.02 per mail piece credit when they use Business Reply Mail, Courtesy Reply Mail, or Share Mail. Once approved, the credits can then be applied to Marketing Mail letters and flats and First-Class Mail letters, cards, and flats. This type of mail is valuable because it encourages recipients to respond by giving them an easy way to engage with your brand through reply mail, thereby increasing ROI.
The promotion for Informed Delivery is active from August 1 to December 31 and offers a 4% discount on qualifying automation Marketing Mail letters and flats and qualifying automation First-Class Mail letters, cards, and flats. This campaign promotes the USPS’ Informed Delivery omnichannel feature in which mail piece recipients can preview their mail online before even receiving the physical piece. This is a way for customers to engage virtually with a direct mail campaign, encouraging higher response rates.
Emerging and Advanced Technology
Running from March 1 to August 31, this new promotion marries print and technology perfectly to foster an exciting customer experience. Marketing Mail letters and flats and qualifying automation First-Class Mail letters, cards, and flats apply. Enhanced alternate reality, virtual reality, or video-in-print are all examples of technologies that qualify. You can even incorporate a voice assistant! For example, use messaging that reads: To shop products online, say “Alexa, take me to the Urban Outfitter’s website.” Depending on the technology used, businesses can expect 2-3% back on postage.
Personalized Color Transpromo
This offer is all about color and making mail bright and exciting. From July 1 to December 31, first time participants can send first class statements and bills in full color to receive a 3% discount. For repeat participants, there is an added measure to receive the discount. They must add a personalized touch, such as the recipient’s name. Personalization and color are a proven winning combination for direct mail.
The last promotion on the calendar falls just in time for the holiday season when online shopping hits its peak. Its promotion period runs from September 1 to December 31, and businesses who participate receive 2% off Marketing Mail letters and flats and Nonprofit Marketing Mail letters and flats. To qualify, the mail piece must include mobile technology that directs the user to an online shipping experience. Examples include the use of QR codes and image recognition technology which lead users to a mobile site or product when scanned. Removing obstacles between a customer and a product is an easy catalyst for a mobile purchase.
Check out our easy-to-read infographic on the 2022 promotions here and contact your CCG rep to start your next direct mail campaign!
By Marley Niesz
Target® red, Tiffany® blue, and Barbie® pink are some of the many shades made famous by their corporate brands. Did you know that a brand can trademark a color? Turns out they can! A brand can legally register to trademark their brand color(s) to prevent any other similar business from stealing their signature color. As an integral part of print, packaging, and design, it’s no surprise that brand recognition and awareness revolve around color. Take Coca-Cola® for example, whose shade of red is so recognizable that most could identify it without the logo being present. The development of brand standards is much more complex than the average consumer might think. The colors and shades are chosen with purpose to evoke thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of the brand and product itself. This is called color theory, and it is an important facet of marketing.
Think of something as simple as a business card. Did you know that a person is ten times more likely to hold on to a business card that is printed in multiple colors than a card printed in a single color? Talk about capturing attention! It takes about a nanosecond for a consumer to form a judgement about a color, and in judging color, they are judging your brand as well. In fact, a study done by the Seoul International Color Expo found that 85% of consumers make a purchase based on the color of the product and packaging. Because of this, marketers choose specific colors and pairings to influence mood and product perception.
As an overarching theme, warm colors like red and yellow are flashy, energetic, and inspiring. In contrast, cool colors such as blue or purple are more calm, reserved, and subdued. Brands use color to evoke these desired feelings in their customers. Marketers design their logos to reflect the same.
Let’s take Target as an example. Red is bold and energetic, easily capturing the attention of consumers in a shopping center or even on the highway. It contrasts beautifully with white, which conveys style and elegance. These colors are perfect representations of Target’s brand and image. To customers, Target is peppy and fun, a perfect fit for the everyday bustling family. But Target has also entered the affordable luxury market, offering modern fashion lines and home décor lines designed by famous influencers. The white and red logo balances these initiatives perfectly.
Another example of excellent color usage in branding is John Deere®. Their classic shade of green is recognizable anywhere. Green signifies growth and nature, an obvious choice for the farm machinery industry. Furthermore, green also represents stability and endurance. This points to John Deere’s reliability and durability, important facets in the world of manufacturing. Just like Target, John Deere’s brand image is constantly reinforced by its use of color.
CCG created a comprehensive guide on choosing the best color for your product packaging. Check it out for an in-depth analysis of major colors and their value in branding, and talk to your CCG rep to make your brand shine with color today!
By Marley Niesz
Data mining is a huge buzz word in today’s digital world. Love it or hate it, the ability to mine data has truly changed many industries for the better—but at what cost? The question many experts and consumers are asking is—how far is too far when it comes to our privacy? Is it ethical or legal to buy and sell the personal and private details of a consumer’s digital footprint, lifestyle, etc? These are questions corporations and lawmakers face on a daily basis. But data mining isn’t going anywhere, and artificial intelligence continues to refine itself. So where did data mining begin, and where is it going?
Data mining is the process by which computers analyze large sets of data and use them to predict behaviors and future trends. Companies use models, such as a set of examples or mathematical relationships applied to different situations, to make these predictions. Through data mining, businesses can retain information about consumer behavior that could only otherwise be discovered and studied in focus groups, case studies, or other more time-consuming and expensive methods. It is efficient and accurate, giving corporations and industries access to information they never had before. Today’s data mining technology is highly advanced, but it wasn’t always as such.
Data mining has evolved every decade since the 1960s, starting with its conception of data collection. Data collection is self-explanatory, but it was initially enabled by computers, tapes, and disks, allowing businesses to retain information about simple concepts such as revenue totals or sales history. The 1980s saw the birth of data access, which enabled industries to collect more minute details about their day-to-day business dealings. This data could be stored and reviewed at another time through relational databases, which were also capable of establishing connections between data points. This led to the invention of data warehousing which reports and analyzes data. Data warehouses store current and historical data from multiple sources in one place and are used for creating analytical reports. Data mining was developed from all of these technological advances.
There are many specific uses of data mining for marketers. One is market segmentation, which groups consumers into segments based on common characteristics, allowing companies to target them in advertising campaigns. Similarly, direct marketing uses data mining to identify customers that will have the highest response rate probability to direct mail. Another is “customer churn” which predicts and identifies customers who are most likely to leave the brand for a competitor. For security purposes, data mining can be used as fraud protection to identify fraudulent transactions. Interactive marketing and market basket analysis predict individuals’ interests, future purchases, and products they are likely to buy together. Finally, trend analysis reveals the differences between typical customers from month-to-month. In general, marketers use data mining to predict consumer trends and behaviors and discover unknown patterns between consumers and transactions.
So how do companies access this data? Is there some sort of data black market where corporations put consumers’ profiles into a basket and check out? A data Amazon? Thankfully, for consumers like you and I, there is an entire professional (and not sketchy) industry focused on data mining. The professionals who work in this industry, buying and selling data, are called data brokers. Data brokers collect information from public records, online activity, and purchase history (to name a few) and then sell it to businesses who use it to influence marketing decisions. Some of the largest data brokerage companies store data for more than 500 million consumers all across the world. Data brokers also purchase data from specific companies who sell information, such as lists of consumers who belong to loyalty programs. This purchased data is then sold to other companies who may use it to make decisions about their own loyalty programs. The options, like the data, are endless. Unless a consumer is living entirely off the grid it is safe to assume a company owns their data. Luckily, some companies offer consumers opt-out options which prevent their personal data from being sold or rented.
Although the opt-out option leaves consumers with some control over their data, legislators across the United States are fighting for more consumer privacy rights. Recently in the news, Facebook made headlines after it was revealed that hackers sold the online identities of 267 million Facebook users for the price of $540. The data was comprised of users’ email addresses, names, Facebook IDs, dates of birth, and phone numbers. Although no passwords were stolen, users could easily fall victim to phishing and accidentally give away more serious private information. Data breaches and insider trading like this happens every day, and law makers are using these examples to lobby for their constituents.
With new technology, data mining has come a long way since the early days of data collection. As artificial intelligence becomes more prominent across all industries, data mining will continue to grow as a powerful tool for marketers and businesses alike. Although it comes at a price to consumer privacy, new legislation offers protection and a nice compromise between personal security and business efficiency. It will be interesting to see how this balance plays out between public and private interests. For more information on data mining and other direct marketing techniques, order Corporate Communications Group’s Direct Mail Marketers Guide.
By Marley Niesz
By Marley Niesz
In my last blog post, I discussed the differences between digital and traditional print and the ways data is transforming the printing industry. This week, I would like to explore a marketing medium that continues to evolve as rapidly as print does—direct mail. One of the only things I remember from my college marketing classes is this: direct mail consistently outperforms other marketing touchpoints. Year after year, direct mail receives the highest response rates of any form of integrated marketing communications. On average, consumers keep mail for 17 days before discarding it. That’s over two weeks of brand exposure to anyone who happens to pass by or pick up your mailpiece. Can digital marketing do that? Linger for two weeks, giving you a tangible piece you can lay your hands on and leaf through at your convenience? To digital marketers, direct mail marketing may seem archaic — like a thing of the past. Actually, it is a more relevant and powerful marketing platform today than ever before. How can you harness it’s potential? Here are four direct mail practices that every marketer should know and use.
1. Personalization and Customization
According to Corporate Communications Group’s Direct Mail Infographic, the average American household receives 454 pieces of marketing mail per year. And 41% of American’s actually look forward to checking their mail every day. So how can you send distinguishable direct mail that speaks specifically to each recipient? Send them mail created just for them—personalized and customized to each person. As I mentioned in my previous blog, data is the key to variable and personalized direct mail. Simply putting a customer’s name on a piece of mail is no longer an impressive marketing feat. Research shows that 54% of consumers want to receive mail from brands that interest them with promotions that are relevant. Because of this, brands should be tracking their consumers digital footprint to better understand and anticipate their purchase intent. They can then use that data to customize and send direct mail campaigns to the same audience with exactly the product(s) or promotion(s) they were looking at online. (This is known as “retargeting” with direct mail.) Of all industries, travel and hospitality currently print the highest volume of direct mail. Using cruise lines as an example, they could easily distinguish themselves from their competition by sending a brochure detailing the exact trip the traveler was previously researching online. But, as we see on a regular basis here at CCG, personalization can be applied to all types of direct mail in all industries. Interested in how your company can refine its direct mail strategy to include personalization? Contact Corporate Communications Group today and let us help you personalize your next direct mail campaign.
Let me ask you a question. Which would you rather receive from your best friend? A generic email or a meaningful, handwritten letter? Unless you’re a robot, or perhaps a psychopath, I would assume the latter. Like a good friendship, prospecting is all about relationship building and putting in effort. High-value prospects deserve to receive a package in the mail with their name on it and a personalized message. This package could also include print samples specifically for your prospect or branded merchandise relevant to their industry. Just like general consumers, your prospects receive hundreds of mailpieces every year. It is up to you to print something memorable for them. Direct mail can cut through the noise of the digital world and allow for further engagement with prospects, in addition to whatever online channels you may be using.
3. Cross-Channel Promotion
As I was researching for this blog, I scoured a number of websites for data and information. Afterwards, I went onto Facebook to check the notifications on the Corporate Communications Group page and the first thing I saw was an advertisement for one of the websites I had just visited. I immediately recognized the brand, and now it has been in the back of my mind all afternoon. This is an example of cross-channel promotion and digital retargeting. Reaching customers across multiple platforms in a short period of time is crucial to brand recognition, sales, and customer retention. Wise marketers will incorporate direct mail into their omnichannel marketing strategy as well. Let’s analyze a scenario. I’m on the Target® website comparing makeup concealers from Brand A and Brand B. Later, I see an advertisement on google from Brand A for the exact concealer I was looking at, and I receive an email from Brand B. Two days later, I receive a post card advertising the concealer from Brand B. Statistics show that most consumers would move forward and purchase Brand B. These statistics can be found in the CCG Direct Mail Infographic. Our infographic research also taught us that 73% of American consumers prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail and 60% of catalog recipients visit the website of the company that mailed them the catalog. More touchpoints within your marketing strategy often leads to more sales. At CCG we work with our clients every day to optimize their cross-channel promotional strategy—let us do it for you too!
4. USPS Promotions
Every year, the United States Postal Service releases new promotions to help businesses save money and encourage direct mail marketing. The remaining active 2020 USPS promotions include incentives to combine direct mail with mobile shopping, a personalized color trans-promo promotion, and Informed Delivery®. The mobile shopping promotion can be used when mailing marketing mail. Through this promotion, USPS is encouraging the integration of mobile technology and mail. Any direct mail campaign that uses QR codes, other barcode formats, and app-enabled QR code payment options is eligible to receive a discount as long as the company has registered and dropped the mailpiece into the mail stream before the New Year. Another promotion is personalized color trans-promo which is for first class, presort mail only. The USPS would like companies to modernize their customer bills and statements while also promoting other products and services. Companies qualify for this promotion if they use variable color print in their transactional statements, including personalized marketing messages. This promotion also runs through the end of 2020. (Every year when the USPS announces their promotions schedule, CCG includes it in our marketing publication ENGAGE and posts it on our website.)
Finally, USPS is offering an Informed Delivery promotion through November 30, 2020 for marketing and first-class mail. Informed delivery is a program that is gaining users faster than any other USPS program, sending registrants a daily email digest showing them all letter-mail that will be arriving that day. The email consists of the scanned images of their incoming mail. But the great thing about informed delivery is the role it plays in the omnichannel strategic approach I mentioned earlier. Customers who enroll in this program receive a free, secure account with a digital mailbox that they can log into to view their mail before it is delivered to their house or they can view it in the email sent directly to their inbox. A mail campaign is eligible to receive a discount from the USPS if the mailer has registered their direct mail campaign with the USPS and provided a coordinating digital image and URL which the USPS will replace their scanned image with. When the recipient receives their email or checks their digital mailbox, they can click on the four-color image of the direct mail piece to be taken directly to a coordinating page online, providing a second touchpoint to the original piece of mail. There are already many case studies which show the value of Informed Delivery for marketers. In a case study for the Pittsburg Pirates, the organization was able to perform a split test of three complementary calls-to-action on the digital version of one mail piece. Using the Informed Delivery technology, the Pirates saw which call-to-action received the highest response rates of the three, and helped them to understand what promotions were more likely to prompt people to take action. Informed Delivery is an easy, free way for marketers to increase impressions and response rates. On the consumer side, marketers should encourage their customers to enroll in Informed Delivery as it allows customers to immediately respond to their offer digitally before receiving the mailpiece. Are you signed up for Informed Delivery? You can create your free account and sign up HERE.
In summary, direct mail is far from antiquated and still considered to be the best way to engage your customer base. Direct mail can be used in conjunction with digital trends in an effective multi-touch strategy when trying to reach prospects or current clients. Just don’t forget to get personal with personalization and take advantage of the promotions that the USPS has to offer—there’s no reason your next direct mail campaign cannot outshine the rest. Check out our Direct Mail Marketers Guide here and order your copy today!
We recognize that COVID-19 has affected many companies’ ability to do business and stay ahead of this fluid situation. In this time of uncertainty, our thoughts are with you.
Our concern for the well-being of our employees, clients, suppliers and others within our community is first and foremost. We are taking all actions recommended by the CDC, WHO and state, local and federal governments to protect their health.
Now, more than ever, we stand ready and able to deliver your message. While some of our staff is working remotely, our manufacturing team is on-site to ensure uninterrupted production and distribution of your materials. CCG is open for business.
- We are monitoring our employee’s health – stressing the importance of staying home if an employee suspects they have been exposed to COVID-19 or is displaying symptoms.
- We are leveraging video and conference technology to promote social distancing and provide non-contact meetings so we can continue to collaborate with you on projects and ideas in real-time.
- Our daily procedures include enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of our offices, production areas and equipment.
- We have eliminated business travel and suspended visitors to our facility.
- We are in constant communication with our supply chain to ensure availability of the materials we need on hand to produce your work.
- Finally, we are working with all of our employees to provide flexibility and support due to daycare and school closings.
We understand that your organization is facing the same challenges and the uncertainty that accompanies this unprecedented situation. Our hearts go out to the many who are affected in so many ways.
Corporate Communications Group has taken the above actions in order to do our part in limiting the potential spread of the virus, care for our employees and to maintain our ability to produce and deliver the messages and materials you need today and tomorrow. We will provide additional updates as more information becomes available.
Thank you for your continued support – and please stay safe and healthy!
CEO, Corporate Communications Group
Download your PDF here and give us a call to learn how to qualify your next direct mail project!
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Upper Marlboro, MD 20774-8792