When is an envelope more than an envelope?

No, that’s not a riddle – it’s a serious question we’re going to answer in this blog. First, be thankful we’re not living in 3500 BC (although it may feel like it sometimes!) In that era, in the Middle East, envelopes were hollow clay spheres!

It wasn’t until the 2nd century BC that paper envelopes were introduced in China. In the UK, envelopes were always handmade but in 1850, Edwin Hill and Warren De La Rue were granted a patent for an envelope-making machine. You still had to use your own glue until the 1900s, when pre-gummed envelopes were produced. You learn something new every day with Mailing Expert!

Envelopes for direct mailing today

Around 50% of people surveyed prefer to receive sales material through the post, according to ‘Reasons to love mail’ PRINT.IT, Spring 2015 – and unless you’re using postcards, that entails envelopes. Regular envelopes of all sizes, windowed envelopes, envelopes of every colour, padded envelopes…there’s a vast range of options at your disposal when you’re thinking about a direct mailing initiative. Which to choose? Does it matter? Our contention is – yes, it DOES matter, if you want to maximise the effectiveness of your campaign. Everyone spends a lot of time designing the letter, brochure or flyer that goes inside the envelope, but what’s the point of that if the envelope itself is so dull that people don’t bother to open it?

Size and Colour

If you receive lots of mail, then another A4 brown envelope or standard white DL envelope (A4 letter folded into 3 equal parts) will probably get lost in the crowd. A brightly coloured envelope, one with an attractive customised design or one that’s a non-standard size will help your mailing to stand out. Be wary, though, of sending zany mail when your message is about professional services or is B2B marketing. That may not reflect your intended first impression and may be considered unprofessional by some.

Bulk

If you’re anything like us, then something tangible inside an envelope, whether it’s a pen, coaster, bookmark or key-ring, is almost certain to pique our interest enough that we’ll definitely open it to see what’s inside. That’s worth considering, weighing up the cost of stuffing the envelope and possible additional postal charges against a greater likelihood of your message being read.

The extra personal touch

Hand-written names and addresses are more likely to attract interest as are envelopes which are stamped rather than franked. It suggests that the letter comes from a human being rather than a corporate machine. Of course, for a large-scale campaign it’s almost certainly too time-consuming, and therefore not cost-effective. We have the facility to print multiple names and addresses automatically and there is font that looks very like handwriting as a compromise measure.

Ease of opening

You may laugh but it has been shown to be a factor in the success of direct mailing campaigns. You know how annoying it is when you buy something and have to battle with packaging – well, to a lesser extent, the same applies to envelopes. Busy people simply won’t bother if it’s too much of a chore.

Any questions?

We think we’ve covered everything, but if you don’t agree, just ask. Every mailing initiative, every group of intended recipients is different, and careful thought needs to go into the best approach – including the envelope. We can help you with those choices at Mailing Expert.

 

Mailing Expert

Up Close and Personal Mailshots

In an earlier blog, we delved into the world of mailshots and the value of creating unmissable mail moments for your clients and potential customers – which is exactly what we’re so good at, here at Mailing Expert, without wishing to blow our own trumpet too loudly. (But doing it anyway!)

For your mail shot to be noticed and read – well, that’s what you want, isn’t it? – there are certain measures you have to take. How else will your DM campaign be an effective means of promoting your product or services – and cost-effective too? We’re here to help you get your messages noticed and your deals considered.

Looking good?

When you’re designing your mailshot, whether it’s a letter, postcard or flyer, think about who it is that you want to engage and design it accordingly. It’s important to know your audience. Are they young mothers? Silver surfers? Professionals? City dwellers? Undertake some research into the sort of aesthetics that will appeal. That might sound like stereotyping but, in reality, it makes marketing sense. If it’s relevant to whoever you’re targeting then they’re more likely to read it.

If you don’t feel confident enough to create something in-house then you could make use of our professional design and printing services.

The personal touch

Are you more likely to read something that’s addressed to you by name or something generic? There’s really only one answer to that question and at Mailing Expert we have the means to personalise each item you send out with the customer’s name. Be careful, though, to make sure whatever you send is genuinely relevant to that person and sent at an appropriate time. It will backfire badly and make your company look sloppy if it’s a poorly targeted mailshot.

Words matter

Be brief. It’s strange to say, maybe, but thinking up a few choice words and a snappy headline actually takes a lot longer than writing great chunks of text. It’s worth the time taken – every minute of it. Directness, a dynamic central message and clear instructions about how to proceed if someone is interested are crucial. People are always busy these days. If a piece of writing takes too long to process, guess what?…it will be discarded.

Be warm and engaging. It’s a great way to start building a relationship with someone, or consolidate an existing relationship. Think about humour and edginess, if that fits in with the personality of your brand.

Tried and Tested

Don’t just get your mailshot printed and sent off without testing it out on colleagues or people you know from the relevant demographic. Far better to tinker a bit with design and wording before it’s too late. Above all, proofread and proofread again. There’s nothing more calculated to give the wrong impression about your company and the significance it places on attention to detail than a mailshot which has spelling mistakes, words missed out and apostrophes where apostrophes shouldn’t be.

Value for money

Follow all these suggestions and your mailshot will reap rewards for your company, tempting new customers and impressing others. Your name and brand will be out there and remembered for all the right reasons for a long time to come.

Contact us on 01825 983033 if you’d like our help.

Mailing Expert

The wonderful world of variable data

“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.”

There’s that quote that we know so well, in its entirety – and a congratulatory pat on the back for anyone who knows who it’s by (without looking it up on Google!)[1] With any direct mailing you undertake, variable data can really increase the effectiveness of your campaign – add flavour to it, you could say.  Let Mailing Expert tell you how.

So what is variable data?

No, variable data is NOT the same as alternative facts, a phrase which is all too current at the moment.  In this context, we are talking about variable data printing, commonly abbreviated to VDP.   VDP makes use of digital technology to link print engines to databases which contain content for printed documents. It makes changes to pieces of print automatically – with no manual steps – as they are being printed, allowing you to personalise your communication with ease by varying text details, images, colour schemes, charts…you name it, if it can be printed, you can change it. It’s a technique that is closely related to mail merge, but VDP allows changes to text, graphics and layout.

Why use VDP?

Well, do you want more sales, higher returns and an exponential rise in customer loyalty? Would you like better targeted communications filled with relevant information? There are many marketing studies which show categorically that personalising communications really can boost their effectiveness.

By ‘personalising communications’ we don’t just mean putting ‘Dear Katie’ at the top instead of ‘Dear Valued Customer’.  In a 2014 survey,[2] it was revealed that 63% of people receive so many name-personalised messages that it has ceased to have any impact. Your intended audience needs something more and better now – like VDP.

How can VDP help?

Imagine you were launching a new range of clothing for children.  With VDP, each DM flyer you send out can be customised to appeal directly to the intended recipient.  It goes without saying that names and addresses will be different for each one (as in mail merge).  The brilliant thing about VDP is that with a diligently-populated database which has captured the ages, sex and ethnicity of children, in just one print run, you could produce flyers that target parents of 10 year-old girls…or baby boys…or families with Chinese heritage…or any other attribute you have researched and stored.  Of course, this all relies on the content of the database… In the example we’re using, you’ll need a whole portfolio of images showing all sorts of children wearing your clothes range.

What about populating databases?

That’s the tedious bit, isn’t it? If you’re using variable data, then it must be stored in the database in the first place.  In most cases, this has to be inserted manually, though some computer programs can gather bulk information from different sources and transfer it directly.  Your data can come from many areas of customer contact – from call centre enquiries, your website and from sales activity.  Nevertheless, at each point, someone has to put in the information and all the colour choices, fonts and images to appeal to different demographics.  And once done, of course, it has to be kept up to date.  There’s nothing worse for your company image than sending a DM with incorrect or irrelevant information.

So is it all worth it in the end?

Here at Mailing Expert, we would say a resounding YES! More statistics, if you’re not convinced:

  • 74% of marketers report that personalisation increases customer engagement leading to improving conversions[3]
  • 84% report better customer loyalty and retention[4]

SO…start filling in that database – or better still, give us a call and we’ll tell you how we can help you.

 

Mailing Expert

 

[1] William Cowper. From his 1785 poem, ‘The Task’

[2] Conducted by digital messaging platform, Lyris

[3] Econsultancy research

[4] ExactTarget

Wish you weren’t here? We’ll start 2017 off for you with our ideas for postcard campaigns. That’ll make you feel better!

Happy New Year to all of you from all of us and we hope you had a great time over the holidays – that’s if you were lucky enough to have a few days off. Well, here at Mailing Expert, we’re raring to go and the first thing on our minds is the humble postcard.

No, not holiday postcards. No, not saucy seaside postcards. What we’re talking about is the use of postcards in a direct mailing campaign and there are many reasons why this is an all-round Good Idea.

Here’s our top ten:

1. Postcards are the most cost-effective form of direct mail

Think about it – one piece of card, little copy to create, no envelope to stuff and seal, keeping costs down for high-yield campaigns. Small yet powerful!

2. People like getting postcards

Perhaps a postcard  reminds everyone of holidays, but whatever the case, the message is instant, without the need to spend precious minutes opening an envelope. Just a little tip – a postage stamp rather than a franking means your cards are less likely to be categorised as junk mail.

3. There’s a great opportunity for creativity in design

There’s nothing nicer than a colourful imaginative postcard dropping on your front doormat. Simplicity, clear imagery and a succinct message are crucial so your card has immediate impact.

4. Thinking outside the (post)box!

Super-creativity can add a touch of unforgettable genius to your campaign. We’ve heard of cards with messages that only show up when exposed to sunlight or are printed on indestructible material with a challenge to the reader to try to tear it in half. How to get your recipients engaged and likely to show your card to other people, which spreads your message even further.

5. A chance to clarify your objectives

When you’re describing your product, service or a special offer, it’s all too easy to burble on and confuse your audience. Not with a postcard! It’ll take a bit of time to hone your words into very few but then you’ll be clear in your own mind exactly what you’re offering – and so will your recipients.

6. Less to go wrong

In long correspondence, there’s a higher chance of making a mistake whether it’s a typo or an incorrect detail. It only takes a few seconds to proofread a postcard – but beware, a mistake on a postcard will show up big time!

7. The possibility of a noticeable increase in sales and revenue

A simple, effective carefully-considered direct marketing campaign with postcards can see a high return on investment for much less effort than other means – research says 20% more

8. People are more likely to keep postcards than other marketing material

Once read, there’s little aesthetic incentive to keep a letter, emails are often deleted  – but an attractive postcard might be pinned to a notice board, stuck into a diary or propped up on a  windowsill.

9. Multifarious uses…

Apart from information that needs to be confidential, postcards can be used to encourage new customers, promote your company, increase brand awareness, send greetings, direct people to your website, announce events and promotions…the list is endless

10. It’s fun to do!

Admin jobs and office work, let’s face it, can be tedious. Postcard campaigns allow you to give rein to your creative and jolly side – and all for the worthy aim of helping your company to grow.

At Mailing Expert we say HOORAH FOR POSTCARDS! Contact us at once on 01825 983033 or info@mailingexpert.co.uk to discuss your next campaign.

Mailing Expert