Communication developments in the last 20 years

Twenty years ago, what was happening in the world? In no particular order:

  • Tony Blair won a landslide victory in the UK general election
  • Céline Dion was topping the charts with, ‘My Heart Will Go On.’
  • Hong Kong was handed over to China
  • Dolly the sheep was cloned
  • The first Harry Potter book was published

Quite a year, one way and another, and lots to be communicated. How DID we communicate news in those far off days—and how did we make contact with our clients and potential customers on a business level?

Not like that…

Well, for a start, there was no Facebook, which didn’t emerge until February 2004. Today, it’s almost mind-boggling to realise that there are 65 million business pages on Facebook, and a quarter of the world’s population engage with it. It’s a wonderful informal way of interacting with, and building, an audience, and great for encouraging people to visit your website.

We didn’t use Twitter, because it wasn’t created until March 2006. Unbelievably, just 11 years on, Twitter has more than 319 million monthly active users. For your business, it’s an instant way to build connections with a relevant audience, to strengthen your brand, promote new products and services, or simply develop relationships.

We didn’t use image-based Instagram either, to drive customer engagement and sales or impart information in a snappy way to a possible 600 million users. That’s because it wasn’t launched until October 2010. Pinterest was launched at the same time, which enables businesses to create a virtual shop front to promote their products online.

There wasn’t even LinkedIn until 2003, which, although its focus is on job opportunities, serves a valuable function for branding, marketing and sales too, with business pages. Neither were there smart phones—we had to wait for 2007 for those—so our electronic communications were very much desk-based.

…like this

Direct mail, using the postal service! There wasn’t much choice but to use this method in 1997, but it worked—and it still works today. Everyone loves to receive mail, especially if it’s personalised and looks good. You might think it’s an older generation preference, but Royal Mail has carried out a survey which shows that 15-34-year-olds are:

  • 42% more likely to find mail memorable than the UK population as a whole
  • 27% more likely to welcome it
  • 71% more likely to trust it
  • 21% more likely to switch suppliers because of mail

Not for nothing does the Royal Mail’s brochure The Private Life of Mail carry the strapline, Mail in the Home, Heart and Head. The power of Direct Mail must never be underestimated, despite the advancement of all the digital platforms of communication.

Then there was the telephone and face-to-face interaction, which of course will never go out of fashion.

Emails started life in 1965, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They were a way of sharing files and messages for academics. In 1971, American computer programmer Ray Tomlinson, introduced the @ and in 1976, HM the Queen sent her first email. The process was still largely in the domain of academic institutes until 1988, which heralded the arrival of Microsoft Mail. The first commercial Internet Service Providers hit the scene in the early 1990s. Hotmail launched in 1996 and Yahoo Mail in 1997—twenty years ago. Smart marketers realized that email communications were the future and began to make the shift into using email to communicate with customers.

 And our conclusion is:

How lucky we are, in 2017, to have such an abundance of ways to communicate! Each method has its place: each will appeal more to a different demographic, or be more suitable for certain products and services. Things move on with exciting digital developments—but mail through the letterbox will never lose its appeal.

Mailing Expert

Time to spring clean your data? (Yes, we know it’s July!)

For any direct marketing campaign you need data – people’s names and contact details – and for an effective, cost-effective initiative, the data you use must be accurate.

Out-of-date data – does it matter that much?

A great big YES in answer to that question, for a number of (quite obvious) reasons:

Using inaccurate contact details, you may:

·        Waste your time and money

·        Miss important potential clients

·        Damage your company’s reputation

·        Breach compliance with the Data Protection Act (soon to be GDPR)

·        Annoy people for whom the mailing is irrelevant

·        Distress relatives of the bereaved

Some facts about data decay

Just because you’ve lived in the same house for the last 15 years and your place of work has been at the same address since the beginning of time, it doesn’t mean that everyone else is in the same position.

According to research,[1] each year around 13% of people in the UK will move home; 300,000 will marry or have a civil ceremony, meaning they may change their surname; 600,000 will die; 200,000 will emigrate and hundreds of thousands may move to the UK.

Every year, the Royal Mail has to make about 1.25 million address changes to its Postcode Address File (PAF) – that’s more than 3000 a week. The PAF gives us access to over 29 million residential and business addresses (at the last count.)

It’s said that if you communicate with someone, there’s an alarming 20% chance that their contact information will change in some way within 30 days, and, in 5 years, if you do nothing to clean your data, you may have nothing relevant left at all in your database.

When was the last time you cleaned your data, or had it cleaned?

How we can help at Mailing Expert

We can offer you a full range of data cleaning services – which doesn’t ever involve the use of spray polish or feather dusters, by the way!

Or we can offer an audit, which determines what you need. We can hone and refine the data you wish to use for a marketing campaign to get it in the best possible shape to maximise its value. Here’s what we’d recommend:

1.     Screen against the PAF database

2.     De-duplicate – removing any records which are essentially the same

3.     ‘Goneaway’ (people who’ve moved) and bereavement screening

4.     Check against the Mailing Preference Services register – people who’ve said they don’t want to receive mailings.

Doing this will make sure you make the most of savings available of postage as well as reducing the impact of negative publicity arising from incorrectly sent mail.

Contact us for a chat on 01825 983033 or info@mailingexpert.co.uk about your data needs.

 

Mailing Expert

[1] Mycustomer.com

Thoroughly modern millennial’s – forget the hype, learn the truth

What is a millennial, anyway? It seems to be one of the most common media buzzwords of the moment, particularly around General Election time, because this section of society is one which all political parties are keen to capture. In fact, there are a number of definitions of a millennial, but in general it refers to someone who was born between 1980 and 2000, which is to say, the twenty and thirty-somethings of today.

Introducing a (stereotypical) millennial

Let’s call her Tiffany (the 11th most popular name of the 1980s.) She’s a digital native – and that description means she grew up around technology – the smartphones, the iPads, the tablets, emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp… They’re second nature to her and she’s rarely to be seen without her face looking down at a small screen and her fingers moving at twice the speed of sound as she texts her Best Friend Forever.

As for marketing to engage people like Tiffany, well, it must be some form of digital communication because that’s what millennial’s prefer. Tiffany doesn’t go in for reading unless it’s Kindle, and most of her interactions with other human beings are digital.

So that’s how we must organise a market campaign targeting millennials

Forget Direct Mailing…waste of time and money. We must approach them through social media, send an email or a Tweet or link to an all-singing-all-dancing website. That’ll hook them.

WRONG!

A number of surveys have gathered evidence which shows almost the exact opposite. Here’s one from the US Postal Service[1] and we’re sure the same applies to millennia’ls in the UK.

What do millennial’s really like in a marketing campaign?

·         87% of millennial’s enjoy  receiving Direct Mail

·         Nearly 50% say they ignore digital ads but only 15% say they ignore Direct Mail

·         57% tell us they’ve made purchase based on DM offers

Yes, just like Baby Boomers – the post-war generation – they like to have something tactile and tangible which they can read at leisure and keep if they choose to. Just like Baby Boomers, their recall is 70% higher from DM to a digital ad.

So what next? Digital or Direct?

Do both! For marketing we have more platforms to choose from than ever before – and don’t we know it, constantly bombarded with digital noise which often causes us to tune out and switch off.

Direct Mailing will help your voice to be heard above that onslaught of electronic communications. It’s something we’re good at here at Mailing Expert (our name wasn’t picked out of a hat!) so please contact us 01825 983033.

 

Mailing Expert

[1] STILL RELEVANT: A look at how millennials respond to Direct Mail – USPS, 2016

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

How To Run A Successful Direct Mail Campaign

Long live Direct Mail!

No – Direct Mail hasn’t been superseded by email and telephone campaigns or posting on social media. A range of approaches widens your scope ; Direct Mail may reach the audience that other campaigns cannot reach. Sending out personalised mail to your customers or prospective customers and followed up with digital marketing can be a match made in marketing heaven.

Yes – Direct Marketing obviously costs something for design, print and distribution at the very least, so in order for it to be cost-effective it is crucial, absolutely crucial, that each campaign is carefully thought out to gain the maximum benefit for your company.

The 40/40/20 rule?

That old chestnut… it dates back to the 1960s, doesn’t it? Out of date, surely? But stop your inward groaning and take a look. It’s been shown, over time, that it makes sense. It still makes sense. Almost.

The rule says that 40% of the success of your campaign depends on your list selection, 40% on the offer that you communicate and only 20% on the creative aspect, the design of your flyer, postcard or letter. But surely, somewhere in those figures should be timing – it’s vital to send out your mailing at the optimum time. Let’s change those percentages to 30/30/20/20.

30% list selection – we can help

If you’re approaching current customers then, of course, you’ll already have a list – but make sure it’s up-to-date with the correct addresses and names of contact people. It really makes your company look slapdash if you get that wrong.

If you’re looking beyond your regular audience then constructing a database is extraordinarily time-consuming and buying lists online can be dodgy. At Mailing Expert, tell us the profile you have determined for your new prospects and we’ll be able to provide you with a carefully tailored, clean list so you won’t waste time or money approaching the wrong people – or people who don’t even exist!

30% offer – it’s up to you

Quite honestly, once your mailing is opened, your customer or prospect will be thinking, ‘So how does this benefit ME?’ Blabbing on about how great your company is simply won’t do (even though your company IS great!) You could offer a discount, a free gift or service, an ebook to download… It’s up to you to decide a) what you want your prospect to do, having read your communication, so you need a clear call to action, and b) what reward will they get for doing it?

20% creative – we can help

It IS important to get this right. It has to be compelling to engage attention – so we could help with size, design, copywriting, colours, images and top-class printing services. Choose the right medium for your message – should it be a postcard, a flyer, a greetings card or a letter? You don’t want your material to be mistaken for a piece of junk mail so make it look unique and classy.

20% timing – and follow-up

For time-sensitive campaigns, it goes without saying that your recipients must have enough time to receive the mail, make a decision and take advantage of your offer.

In general, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the very best days for your mail to arrive. Monday there is always a pile of stuff. On Friday, most people are winding down for the weekend ahead.

There are other aspects of time to consider too:

  • Industry peak times – people will be too busy to bother with mail so get it there beforehand
  • Seasons – does your product or service appeal to a certain sector at a specific time?
  • Theme weeks – if it’s not ‘Jam Doughnut Week’ it’s ‘Let’s Go To Work In Pyjamas Day’ – so could you target one of these?
  • Exhibitions – every sector has events and exhibitions – so find out when!
  • Current Affairs – what’s happening in the world? Could it be relevant?

The importance of follow-up is never to be underestimated. What’s the point of piquing someone’s interest with a carefully constructed communication then not doing anything else? A wasted opportunity and destruction of the initial interest you spent time and money trying to build.

So there’s the Mailing Expert Rule, hot off the press: 30/30/20/20

 

Mailing Expert

Print is alive and well (and living in Uckfield!)

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again, loud and clear. Using print to communicate with your customers or prospective clients is still relevant and significant for your company, even in the face of ever-increasing digitisation. It goes without saying that it’s not the only medium you should use – but to dispense with it altogether, well, you’re really missing a trick.

Scientific evidence

In Philadelphia, Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision- Making (yes, such a place exists!) conducted a neuro-marketing study for the US Post Office. It focused on the differing response to physical and digital media when consumers were thinking about buying something.

In short, people were asked to look at ads, both on paper and in digital format. Their responses, like eye-tracking and brain activity, were measured, and they filled in questionnaires. A week later they were re-evaluated to test the long term impact of the adverts.

Surprising results?

Actually, not that surprising. It was found that adverts on paper beat digital ads in the following areas:

  • The amount of time spent reading
  • The emotional reaction
  • Remembering the source and content
  • A subconscious desire for the product or service
  • The perceived value of the product or service

Putting it into scientific terms, physical adverts actually produced more activity in the part of the brain called the ventral stratium, associated (as proved in another study) with future purchasing behaviour.

Worth thinking about, eh?

So don’t ignore print…

Print establishes a tangible connection with potential customers – an effective way for them to acquaint themselves with your product or service. It’s becoming an overlooked secret weapon for marketers, who too often jump on the bandwagon of being up-to-the-minute trend-savvy.

But don’t ignore the digital medium either!

Harnessing the strengths of both digital and print media will give your company the best chance of being found and also the best chance of growing your customer base.

That’s a scientific fact and here at Mailing Expert we can help with both!!

Give us a call on 01825 983033 to speak to one of our experts about your next campaign.

 

Mailing Expert

Happy birthday to us!

Five years old today

Happy-Birthday
On our fifth birthday, it’s a real time of celebration for us, because we’ve grown from strength to strength in just five short years. The time has whizzed by and the main thing is,  it’s been fun – hard work, but fun. What more could we ask?

We thought it would be a great idea to catch up with David Vaughan, the main man, to see how he’s feeling on such a momentous occasion, so we plied him with questions.

How did Mailing Expert all start up?

We wanted to created a environment where there was a focus on quality of service and consistency of approach. Having worked for a number of print and mail companies where the company priorities mattered more than customers, we wanted to work in a business where we could put people first and create symbiotic relationships that delivered real value to our clients.

How has the company grown over the past 5 years?

The business has grown through referrals and recommendations. Doing a good job for a client, big or small, is rewarding not just because it’s great to do a good job, but because happy customers are a great advertisement for what we do.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

We want to continue with steady growth, maintaining our focus on quality. In five years time we aim to have doubled the size of the business and be recognised as the best mailing company in Sussex for delivering customer satisfaction.

What has been the highlight for you in the time you’ve been in business?

Our first employee!  We took Mathew on as an apprentice. It’s been wonderful to see him grow with the company.

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

We sometimes hide our light under a bushel – we do fabulous things for our customers and forget that not everyone offers quality as standard.

And finally…how are you going to celebrate?

With cake!  We are also going to plant 5 trees (a fifth anniversary is represented by wood). This also symbolises our commitment to sustainability – we use environmental inks, paper that’s recycled or from managed woodland and recommend biodegradable poly-outers. We recycle all of our waste materials and packing – including staff drink cans and bottles.

Congratulations, David, and on behalf of Mailing Expert as a whole, we’d like to extend our thanks to all our clients, past and present. Without you, we wouldn’t be here.

Here’s to the next five years! And the next…

Mailing Expert