Digital Printing: Dynamic, Innovative, Flexible
Digital Printing: Dynamic, Innovative, Flexible and the Wave of the Future
Every day someone is talking about digital, and for each person it can mean something different. In general, digital means communication and distribution of knowledge through a variety of channels including on the computer, a mobile device, television, video, and audio. In other words, anything that’s electronic. The word also connotes communications that are efficient, immediate and impactful.
In the marketing world, digital means connecting with targeted audiences without borders. In the printing world, it’s a means of printing where the images can be the same or variable from piece to piece.
Although digital printing presses have been around since the early 1990s, they are constantly evolving. In the past 10 years as the quality, speed and price points have improved, the marketplace has been more and more accepting of this format. And it’s no secret that all printing today starts in someone’s computer.
How does digital printing work? Basically, on the press, a digital image goes into a computer and is then transferred onto a variety of surfaces and/or paper stocks, allowing files to be quickly and economically printed, usually in short run quantities of 5,000 or less—although this is changing. This approach compares to color offset printing, commonly used for high-volume commercial work, which involves preparing and printing the artwork through a time consuming pre-press plate process that allows for very little flexibility.
So what does this mean to a marketer in today’s fast-paced environment? It means that digital printing not only has arrived, it’s definitely the wave of the future. To ride the wave, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Digital technology is a vital means of communication. The use of digital technology is an absolute must in this age of targeting the customer and providing that customer with the information he or she will respond to.
Digital printing has become more competitive. Compared with traditional printing, digital printing becomes more competitive as the number of versions increase, and costs go down. Until recently, the quantities were typically limited, but as new technology has come on the market, variable imaged programs are run as trigger campaigns and produced as the customer defines the criteria.
Be aware of the paper stock used for the campaign. Whenever technology changes rapidly, it’s always a scramble to keep up with the ramifications. In the case of inkjet technology, the paper companies are in some cases still trying to figure out how to provide the right stock to the printer. Marketers should make sure they are in the loop on this topic.
Think through the whole campaign from beginning to end. Digital printing provides the opportunity to use various marketing channels and make electronic changes on the fly. As a result, it’s even more important to carefully think through a whole campaign. The best advice is to work closely with your printing provider to take advantage of that provider’s technology, scalability and flexibility.
B2B Email Best Practices
The ad tech industry is abuzz with emerging technologies and new techniques, but email marketing remains one of the most important tools in the B2B marketer’s toolbox. The cornerstone of today’s business communications, email goes out at the rate of over 122 billion messages every hour, and 68 percent of marketers say that email marketing is vital to their business.
That said, email marketing in 2014 is not the same as it was in the ‘90s. Here are current best practices for B2B marketers looking to leverage email for customer engagement, acquisition, retention, CRM and more.
Make subject lines count. The subject line is the very first interaction your customers have with your message, so craft it carefully to encourage them to actually open the email. It should be short, benefits-driven and compelling. Self-service email provider MailChimp recommends 50 characters or less, and—though your grade school composition teacher may cringe—don’t waste valuable space on unnecessary punctuation. We’ve also found that capitalizing the important words lifts engagement, and that recipients are 22 percent more likely to open emails addressed to them by name.
Content is (obviously) key. This may sound like a no-brainer, but your email’s content should also adhere to certain best practices. Keep it clear and concise. Also be sure that it actually delivers on the promise of the subject line. And keep the salesy stuff out of it. It’s a marketing message, but don’t beat users over the head. Don’t focus only on yourself; asking questions within the body of the email message has been shown to boost customer interest and click-through rates.
Go with eye-catching creative. This also sounds obvious, but many B2B marketers eschew color and design elements in favor of a more “professional looking” black and white, text-heavy message when, actually, a little color goes a long way toward capturing interest and driving action. We don’t recommend neon green letters and flashing banners, but we’ve found that orange and red are colors that pop, especially for Call To Action buttons. Also, those buttons are more likely to get clicked if they are placed either at the beginning of the message, the end, or both.
Test, test, test. Who cares how beautiful or compelling the email is if it never actually makes it to the inbox? Be sure to regularly test delivery rates to avoid getting stuck in spam filters, which can be even stricter for some corporate domains. Also, regularly conduct A/B testing to optimize campaign performance and surface any issues.
Go mobile. Your B2B prospects are doing business on their smartphones and tablets, so if your design isn’t optimized for mobile and responsive to action via mobile devices, you’re way behind the curve. This is no longer optional.
Email is still one of the most effective ways to engage on a one-to-one basis with B2B customers and prospects, but it is important to understand how your B2B audiences use and respond to email in general in order to actually begin that dialogue and maintain it over the lifecycle of that customer. Keep your communications concise, benefit-oriented, eye-catching and device-agnostic and you’re sure to reap the rewards of this tried and true channel.
What You Need to Know About DRTV Today
Today, $150 billion of consumer products in the U.S. are sold through DRTV, and between 20% and 40% of TV households buy from DRTV.
1. So, what is DRTV? And what's the difference between DRTV and regular TV?
Direct response television is a form of marketing used to generate responses from prospective consumers, as a direct result of the marketing campaign. DRTV is often broken down into three subcategories: lead generation, product direct sales, or service direct sales. The difference between DRTV and traditional TV is as simple as a URL or 1-800 number. Media that has been designated DR based on the presence of a URL or 1-800 number can be purchased at a discount, versus standard TV advertising (brand advertising), thus ensuring media efficiencies. On average, DR prices are 30-50% lower.
2. Who uses DRTV?
Chances are you've seen the old “yell-and-sell” infomercials, with pitchmen like Billy Mays, but those days have passed, and DRTV has taken on an entirely new tone. Today, it's used by more brands than you probably realize: Estee Lauder, American Express, L'Oreal, Bose, KitchenAid, Capital One, Hanes, Keurig, Vanity Fair, Dyson, Garnier, Fab, Travelocity, Playtex, ShoeDazzle, Maybelline, and many more.
3. Why DRTV?
Direct response television is a highly effective customer acquisition medium that offers broad exposure to build your brand while driving response and measurable sales. Tracking and measuring performance can be drilled down to the level of individual airings, allowing brands to cost effectively reach a segmented audience based on daypart, channel, location, or type of programming.
4. What should I know before considering DRTV?
Step one is getting to know your customers and their journey. It is mission critical to know where your customers spend, what they watch, and how they are influenced by various media: print, radio, TV, direct mail, out-of-home, mobile, and social. Use data-driven insight, research tools, and emerging technology to create a holistic view of your consumer. Recognize that the overarching goal of DRTV campaigns is to either push continuity programs or drive to retail—or a combination of the two. Not only are these the areas that hold the greatest potential for profit, they are crucial to developing a business model that remains effective at scale.
5. Give me a few hints! What are the keys to success?
One major key to success is creating a seamless customer experience between TV, online, and retail, by streamlining messaging, creative, and in-store signage. To do so, you must surround customers with relevant messaging to ensure a frictionless path to purchase. In addition, establish metrics and benchmarks that ensure a clear line of sight to success. Savvy marketers will consistently test their campaigns to not only mitigate risk but constantly optimize campaigns to drive the highest possible level of ROI, retail impact, and scalability.
Your Email Reputation Depends on These Top 10 Must-Knows
Email marketing is still a top priority for marketers who seek leverage in their ability to target customers with relevant offers. But it’s very concerning when you realize 20% of emails don’t make it to the consumer’s inbox, according to data from ReturnPath.
Getting delivered requires some due diligence and care, but it also means giving consumers what they want. Web mail providers pay attention when consumers flag an email as spam, and when they leave the email unopened. Here are the 10 ways to improve your email marketing:
1. Email Append, Direct: Today, it’s a risky move to append email addresses to your database and then email those customers without an opt-in. Many email service providers will not allow their customers to use this method, because it can hurt the sender reputation.
2. Email Append, Indirect: Appending your list to a third party list and emailing customers through the third party is still okay—on the surface. However, it’s highly recommended that you use a positive opt-in method, requiring the customer to click on a link and give their permission.
3. Email Change of Address (ECOA): This service, which is not recommended, provides a new email address if old one is no longer working. While the majority of consumers have more than one email address, it’s important to remember that email permission is based on a particular email address, not a customer record. When the email address goes bad, so does your permission.
4. Cleansing: Take a hard look at your list. Remove those hard bounces and any soft bounces that have occured a few times. When you send emails to bad addresses again and again, it hurts your reputation, wastes your money and impacts your ROI.
5. Filter Out Inactives: Consider only communicating with customers who have engaged (via opens or clicks, for example) with you in the past 90 days This keeps your list fresh, improves your metrics and mitigates any deliverability impact of using old addresses.
6. Email Verification of Address (EVOA): Use EVOA to verify that email addresses are correct. Give your subscriber an opportunity to fix them, in real-time if possible.
7. Organic Acquisition: Look across your customer’s touch points with your brand and find opportunities to offer an opt-in. Look at web sites, social networks or even in-store locations. Build your list with customers who indicate that they want to receive your messages, to ensure relevancy.
8. Preference Center: Create a preference center to give subscribers the ability to change their frequency, channel or content types. Put them in control of the message.
9. Monitor Delivery: Watch your email’s performance, by campaign and in aggregate. Watch for trends that indicate emails are not being delivered—and act quickly.
10. Mobile: As more consumers move toward mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, leverage mobile-aware emails to ensure relevancy based on the device they are viewed on, as well as the content they deliver.
Remember that your subscribers are interested in your message, but it’s easy to lose their love. Relevant messages that matter will keep them opening and clicking, and will help you maintain a good email sender reputation—in a world where reputation is everything.
Pre-testing: A Better Way to Beat the Control
The A/B split test is as fundamentally sound, as it is slow, expensive and inefficient.
Direct mail testing—even for high-volume mailers—means putting a finite number of possible tests in market. These tests are either incremental changes or wholesale redesigns. The former usually assures incremental gain/loss, and the latter requires a lot of risk and reputational capital.
Truth is, the vast majority of tests fail. For two reasons.
1) The control is hard to beat. It benefits immensely from something your test package can never have—exposure. Your target audience, however large, is still finite. You mail the same people over and over. Even non-buyers are exposed to the control.
2) Coming up with a test, or 10 tests or 100, for a single campaign is like searching for a needle in the haystack. The number of possible test packages is infinite, and you are forced to choose an imperceptibly small percentage of them to mail.
In split testing, the odds are against you. With a complete redesign, the odds are even more onerous. The A/B test will tell you if the new package test wins or not. But it cannot tell you why. Perhaps there are components within the complete redesign that are clear winners, but are getting drowned out by the weaker elements.
So, what is a better alternative? Look no further than the consumer package goods industry for an idea. CPG marketer do lots of in-market testing, also lots of product development work in advance. By comparison, the direct marketing world does very little.
The methodology now available to direct marketers is sophisticated, but simple and intuitive. In short, It is an online testing program through which your target audience evaluates thousands of different direct mail package ideas in mere minutes.
The secret to its success, and why this pre-testing matches up with live test results so well, is the ability to replicate real-world choice and decision making by:
1- Showing the target audience concepts, packages or offers holistically, just as they view them home.
2- Asking the target audience answer one question—overall preference—within a few seconds, the same amount of time you get before your package is thrown in the trash.
Behind the scenes is very sophisticated statistical modeling to answer the question we really want to know, which is Why? You end up with scores for every single test element, which may encompass 30 or 40 different component parts of a direct mail package (OE, letter, buck slip, reply form) and, in turn, thousands of package combinations.
The business upside is four fold:
- Test exponentially more ideas in a radically shorter period of time.
- Put fewer tests in the mail, and at higher volume, to get to rollout faster.
- Find out exactly what impact each component has on preference and response.
- Test big ideas, those that would never make it in the mail unless you have empirical proof they can work, in a low cost, low risk environment.
A/B split testing method has been around for decades, and yet direct marketing has changed dramatically, with more channels, better targeting, better production methods and now, a better way to beat the control.