Creating and implementing a successful direct mail project requires careful planning, especially when it comes to the big three; List, Offer, and Design. Most direct mail professionals agree that these three elements play the biggest role in determining success or failure. Also worthy of careful consideration is the timing, postal rules, and print vendor. Direct mail done right generates excellent results with a solid return on investment. Unfortunately it’s too easy to make a significant mistake that kills your response rate. What could have been quickly turns to what should have been. Here are the top five direct mail mistakes.
Have you ever seen a catalog with the inside pages protruding further than the cover? In appearance the cover looks slightly too small. You might assume the printer trimmed the cover incorrectly or perhaps there was an error during perfect binding. What you see was not a mistake or intentional. It is called Web Creep or Web Growth and is a common problem when catalog covers are printed sheetfed and inside pages are run on a heatset web press. The effect of Relative Humidity (RH) on paper fiber, the use of dryers in web offset printing, and insufficient time for conditioning are the main causes. Controlling environmental conditions of paper storage and pressroom are important for preventing web creep and other undesirable effects caused by unstable temperature and humidity.
Paper is subjected to different temperatures and levels of RH at the paper mill, during transport, in storage at the paper supplier, in storage at the printer, in the pressroom and bindery. Relative Humidity (RH) is the amount of water vapor content in the air in relation to how much moisture the air can hold at that temperature. When RH is high the paper fibers in the sheet or roll will absorb moisture and expand. When low, the fibers shrink. For optimum print quality it is critical that the paper achieves RH equilibrium, a balance between the temperature and moisture content of the paper with that of the surrounding air. Allowing time for paper to achieve RH equilibrium is called conditioning.
The printing press has come a long way since Johannes Gutenberg ‘s invention of the first press with movable type in the mid-15th century. Today there are multiple types of printing presses designed for applying ink to everything from paper to metal. In commercial printing, substrates are the base material, supplied in sheets or rolls, onto which ink is applied. Traditional Offset printers were once limited to printing on paper. Today, paper is just the start of the numerous substrates available. Special ink formulations, UV printing technology, and improvements in the manufacture of substrates enables offset printers to apply ink to a wide range of plastics and synthetics.
Your printer just told you the art file you provided has some issues and you have been asked if you can provide a vector file. When you questioned what that means you received a response from your printer that didn’t help you understand the problem any clearer. Now you’re frustrated and feel like sending your business to another printer. Unfortunately, another printer will either tell you the same thing or will produce your piece with unsatisfactory results. The print quality of your project largely depends upon the type of files you provide, and in commercial printing not all file types are equal. Here is a quick guide to help you understand the difference between Vector files and Raster files.
Guilt is a powerful, negative emotion, one which has been used by Marketers for decades. Throughout history entire cultures have been influenced by guilt. A guilt culture is one in which social control is based on individuals believing certain behaviors are undesirable and avoiding those behaviors in order to prevent feelings of guilt. It is the internalization of a moral code which produces conformity. Marketers have learned to harness consumer feelings of guilt by crafting messages designed to elicit a specific response. Nonprofit organizations are especially adept at utilizing consumer guilt as a central theme of multi-channel marketing campaigns, and they have perfected direct mail solicitations which rely on the emotion. 79% of Nonprofits use direct mail, according to the DMA Statistical Fact Book 2016. Nonprofit class mail generates higher response rates than regular Standard class and First class mail.
Your mailbox today is almost certain to contain at least one postcard. This is for the simple reason that postcards perform well for marketers. Marketers know what works best because direct mail is easy to track. Direct mail postcards are an ideal choice for your next direct mail project because of their impact, lower cost, and outstanding ROI.
Data drives marketing. Connecting with customers and creating a personalized experience depends upon quality data. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2016 Statistical Fact Book, spending in the US on collecting, purchasing, and managing data in 2015 totaled $11.6 billion, and 40% of all data used for marketing purposes was purchased from third party list vendors. This 40% equates to billions of dollars in list purchases. With so much money being spent on data supplied by third party vendors, Marketers need to understand what they are getting for the money, especially regarding email lists.
Have you ever received a postcard in the mail or picked up a brochure that was so glossy it almost seemed as if it were still wet? That super glossy sheen is a UV, or Ultraviolet, coating. Advances in print coating technology means there are more options now than ever before, and more to know. The following is a quick reference guide for print buyers and marketing professionals.
An eye-catching design and enticing offer are only part of the total direct mail package. Many “behind the scenes” processes contribute to its success, including prepress, mail list processing, variable data composition, printing and delivery. Of course, the success of a direct mail campaign can only be measured when responses start pouring in but keep these tips in mind so your campaign is handled properly before and after it drops.
With a century of practical application, the validation of countless business and academic studies, and robust statistics supporting its effectiveness, direct mail marketing is firmly established as an essential marketing channel. Any marketer can create a successful campaign by sticking to the core elements of a quality list, appealing design, and a strong offer. You may be satisfied with achieving average response rates, but you could take your direct mail to the next level by triggering response through appealing to our hidden addictions.