Category: Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

5 Ways to Incorporate Tech Into Your Direct Mail

Do you ever feel like a print marketer in a digital world?

Well, you’re not wrong. But you’re not exactly right in feeling this way, either.

From Facebook ads to targeted email campaigns, it’s evident that technology plays a crucial role in influencing the purchasing decisions of customers. However, even despite the ongoing wave of technological advancements, customers are embracing direct mail, too.

Here’s how you can combine both technology and print, and use them to your advantage:

Video Brochures: By taking the best parts of video (sound and image) and merging it with the best part of print (context), Video Brochures are a win-win. Instead of sending another flat postcard with copy and graphics, these brochures allow brands a greater opportunity to connect with and capture the attention of their recipients. With a variety of sizes to choose from and the ability to customize not only the video, but the brochure as well, this is a format that is sure to take your business’ printed communication to the next level. Not to mention, marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t. Click here to read about how combining video with a high-impact printed solution is such an effective marketing tool.

Audio in Print: Why settle for plain text when you can make it pop with sound? Print plays to the human senses in ways that digital tech is hard-pressed to match. Add sound and you’re able to deliver your customers and/ or prospects the ultimate sensory experience. Start by adding your jingle to your print communications or include a personalized video message from your sales representative or CEO. Now, that’s sure to capture their attention.

Near Field Communications: NFC technology uses tiny, radio frequency emitting tags to connect with digital devices like smartphones. When a smartphone comes within range of the signal, its web browser displays the content the signal steers it to – no apps necessary. What’s especially great about NFC is that it can be used on just about any printed material: brochures, in-store signage, posters, flyers, coupons, business cards and more.

Virtual Reality: Have you been considering incorporating VR into your marketing? New, inexpensive VR headsets like our SleekPeeks® have made it possible for brands of all sizes and budgets to deliver this immersive experience to their customers. Ours ship flat, assemble in seconds and are fully customizable.

Augmented Reality: Unlike VR, AR invites people into an interactive experience that doesn’t require the need for a headset. Customers, prospects and other members of the public are able to experience computer-generated information in a real-world setting. Combine AR with a brochure, magazine insert, invitation, or other printed collateral and deliver a larger-than-life experience to your customers.

Interested in incorporating technology into your next print campaign? Let’s talk.

How Marketers are Leveraging AR this Holiday Season

Augmented reality (AR) is one of the most popular technology trends right now – and marketers have taken notice. As we enter the holiday rush, brands the world over are leveraging the technology to drive both customer engagement as well as purchases.

Here are some examples:

Office Depot

Credit: Office Depot

Elf Yourself is a recurring campaign by Office Depot, which lets users turn themselves (or others) into elves using the brand’s website and app. In recent years, the Elf Yourself app has been updated with new features, including AR and the ability to print your elf as a seasonal greeting card and/ or share on social media using the hashtag #ElfYourself.

JC Penny

Credit: Verizon Media

In partnership with Verizon Media, the brand is taking advantage of the holiday proposal season and launched a 2019 mobile ad campaign for their Modern Bride Collection. Clicking on ads that appear on HuffPost Life, Yahoo Sports and other Verizon Media properties activates an AR feature which allows soon-to-be-brides to try on engagement rings.

Starbucks

Credit: Starbucks

Building on the popularity of their iconic holiday cups, Starbucks released four limited edition cup designs in early November. Each design, when used with Instagram, springs to life with its own AR effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn. Do you have an idea for how to integrate AR into your marketing campaign? Contact us to bring it to life!

How to Reach the 4 Kinds of Holiday Shoppers

It may only be fall, but already we’ve got the holidays on the brain.

Year after year, it seems the holiday shopping period grows, giving brands greater opportunities to take advantage of consumers’ willingness to purchase products, services and more. But don’t be tempted to allocate the majority of your marketing resources to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

New U.S. research has revealed key information about holiday shoppers’ behavior. Not only are they shopping earlier, but they’re also researching a product, brand or service before making any financial investment. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to be there for them consistently and earlier in the season.

In this recent Think with Google article, they break down the four different types of holiday shoppers – Evergreen, Early Bird, Deal Seeker and Last-Minute – and provide insights into how they shop. We’ve gone one step further to suggest ways to market to them based upon those habits and give you the best chance to connect with them during the holiday season.

Here’s how to make the most of the most wonderful time of the year.

THE EVERGREEN SHOPPER

  • Who: Making up the largest portion of holiday consumers, the Evergreen Shopper is likely a Baby Boomer seeking convenience, simplicity and exemplary customer service. This audience generally offers brands more loyalty when compared with other holiday shopper groups.
  • When: Late October through January 1
  • Where: The Evergreen Shopper typically conducts their research online, including on social media and video sharing platforms, but makes their purchases in-store.
  • How: To ensure you’re meeting the Evergreen Shopper’s needs, consider really playing up your customer service. Things like 24/7 call centers, in-store pick ups and no-hassle returns can really go far with this group. Because they’re receptive to both online and offline research and shopping, consider incorporating direct mail pieces like web keys, which can link both in a seamless way.

THE EARLY BIRD

  • Who: making up slightly more than a quarter of total holiday consumers, the Early Bird Shopper is also likely a Baby Boomer who strategically plans ahead, hoping to avoid the holiday rush.
  • When: October (or earlier) through November 26
  • Where: About 40 percent of the Early Bird’s time spent shopping for the holidays is spent online. However, about 65 percent make their holiday purchases in-store.
  • How: To get the attention of Early Bird Shoppers, it’s essential to develop an omnichannel solution that’s both engaging and valuable. Consider incorporating QR codes, web keys and video brochures into your holiday marketing campaigns. But, above all, keep your messaging consistent and send it early.

THE DEAL SEEKER

  • Who: The Deal Seekers make up the smallest group of holiday shoppers. These are mostly Millennials and a small percentage of Gen Xers who are searching for the steepest discounts and during days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They are likely shopping for partners, children (their own or their friends’) and aging relatives who live within their households.
  • When: November 23-26
  • Where: This digital savvy group of holiday shoppers conducts online research across a variety of websites and rely heavily on social media influencers’ recommendations. Deal Seekers actively look for real consumers offering their authentic opinions on products.
  • How: With 82 percent of Deal Seekers admitting that word-of-mouth recommendations greatly influence their purchasing decisions, it’s crucial to incorporate testimonials and/ or social media influencers into your holiday marketing campaigns. Another way to take advantage of Deal Seekers’ shopping behavior is to turn them into brand advocates through shareable elements in and out of a brick-and-mortar store. Incorporate virtual reality, digital signage or pop ups to create experiences this group of holiday shoppers will want to share online and with their friends.

THE LAST-MINUTE SHOPPER

  • Who: The Last-Minute Shopper group is equally split between Millennials and Gen Xers. Like the Deal Seekers, these procrastinators actively seek out comparison sites to ensure they receive the best value for their money, but are willing to splurge on items they view as worth the cost. They procrastinate because they have decision paralysis, are too busy or are unsure of where to buy certain products.
  • When: December 21-25
  • Where: Nearly 70 percent of Last-Minute Shoppers purchase their holiday gifts in store.
  • How: More than half of Last-Minute Shoppers indicated an openness to multiple retailers or an uncertainty regarding where to buy products. This creates an opportunity for brands to position themselves as industry experts. Blog posts, a solid SEO strategy, social media buzz and consistent online and offline marketing will help position your business as a knowledgeable leader in your industry and help you rank higher in search rankings, keeping you top-of-mind.

Ready to get started on your holiday campaign? We have a few tricks up our sleeves that will help you stand out from the pack and keep you top of mind, no matter what kind of holiday shopper you’re after. Let’s chat.

Introducing: NEW SleekPeeks® Cardboard VR Viewers

Three years ago we introduced SleekPeeks®, a simple, affordable, easy-to-use Virtual Reality (VR) viewer that ships flat and can be fully customized to suit your brand and your audience’s needs. Now, we’re excited to share another version of the viewers our customers have come to love: SleekPeeks® Cardboard VR Viewers available on our online ordering division, Red Paper Plane.

Like our original SleekPeeks® design, these viewers can transport users to faraway places, strengthen experiential marketing or aid in teaching through demonstration. All a user needs to get started is a smartphone, and then they are able to engage in a 360-degree immersive experience.

Already, U.S. Army recruits, big kids and car lovers have been able to enjoy VR – often for the very first time – with our viewers.

Our new SleekPeeks® Cardboard Viewer features a sturdier construction, allowing your device to fit firmly and snugly in place. They also come with high-quality, Google-certified lenses and beautiful four-color printing.

Once the viewers are customized to fit your brand’s unique identity, they mail in an outer sleeve and assemble in seconds. First, slide the viewer out of the sleeve. Next, open the flap and unfold the side panels. Then, lift the side panels over the top and connect the velcro dots. Scan the QR code to download the Google Cardboard app. Rotate your smartphone horizontally and insert into the viewer. Close the flap to secure the viewer using the velcro tab. Enjoy! Here is a video to show the process in more detail.

Standard Pricing Includes:

  • Coated Top Sheet to Corrugate
  • Printing 4cp + Semi Gloss UV Coating
  • Hand Assemble and Insert Lenses
  • Bulk Packing for Shipment

Dimensions
Finished Size: 5.75″ x 3.625″ x 2.25″

Weight
5.00 oz each

Mailing Services/ Postage:
Note: Postage is additional charge and will be calculated once your mailing list is processed. Final payment is due prior to mailing.
First Class Parcel Rate: $3.18 – $3.83

For more information, visit redpaperplane.com.

The Value of Direct Mail in the Digital Age

As newer technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), chatbots and voice recognition software increasingly enter our everyday, today’s hyper-connected marketing landscape begs one important question: is there still a place for direct mail?

In a word, yes.

Direct mail has come a long way since the catalogs and postcards of yore. Today’s direct mail, as seen by Structural Graphics’ customer spotlights, can be dimensional, incorporate technology and video alongside print, and successfully engage your target audience.

However, it’s important to remember that direct mail should be one part of a larger, integrated overall marketing strategy, as consumers prove again and again that they interact with a variety of media formats when it’s most convenient for them. Even in this digital-first age, it’s important to take a holistic approach when it comes to developing marketing campaigns and root them in success metrics.

Here are three reasons to keep print top-of-mind:

It drives ROI. Although many may think direct mail is a tool of the past, consumers are actually often reading, and more importantly reacting, to the mail sent to them more than they are email. According to a recent response rate report by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), direct mail achieves a 5.1 percent response rate compared to 0.6 percent for email, 0.6 percent for paid search, 0.2 percent for online display and 0.4 percent for social media.

It goes straight to the source. Sending marketing materials straight to a consumer’s mailbox is perhaps the most direct path to communicate a brand’s message. Although digital platforms like paid ads and social media provide marketers with a unique opportunity to reach their target audience at any time, print remains a critical means to reach them at home and tailor each piece accordingly. In fact, tech-savvy consumers aged 18-21 years old had a direct mail response rate of 12.4 percent, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

It integrates seamlessly with digital. Research shows that printed collateral continues to be a compelling and successful way to capture the attention of your target audience. However, when coupled with video, it has the capability to not only gain consumers’ attention, but also to hold it. Consider this: 76% of companies who have used videos in the past year report a direct business impact (AdWeek) and 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions (HubSpot).

Video in Print brochures offer an effective option when it comes to getting your company noticed. One of the biggest advantages of combining these two mediums is the ability to enhance your brand messaging. Video is highly visual and auditory, which means it’s easier for many people to remember than text-based content. When consumers remember your video content, they, in turn, remember your brand. This can translate into better brand loyalty as well as more sales and leads.

Clever Ways to Incorporate VR Into Your Next Marketing Campaign

Take a moment and think back to your last vacation. Where was it? How was the weather? What did you see? But most importantly, how did it make you feel?

What if you could relive that vacation, or the feeling of driving a new car, or perhaps learn an entirely new skill? With Virtual Reality (VR), you can. Whether that’s traveling across the world or participating in a product demonstration remotely, this technology can be a great asset for any brand or marketing team.

While VR has existed for decades (think video gamers in their parents’ basement), it’s only recently made its way into consumers’ homes. Why? The barrier to entry has been so high. Traditional VR viewers were cumbersome and very expensive. However, the introduction of customizable, low-cost, easy-to-assemble viewers like our SleekPeeks® have made it easier than ever to interact with consumers in an entirely new way.

Take the U.S. ARMY, for example. They were looking to create a unique recruitment tool that could be customized to three themes: Sniper, Tank Commander and Bomb Tech. Our SleekPeeks® VR Viewers hit the mark.

MRM/McCann created “In Our Boots”, the VR app that would be used and directions were printed on the viewer detailing where the recipient could download it. Depending upon which soldier the viewer chose to hover over in the VR app, he or she was taken into an immersive experience that simulated the role of a Sniper, Tank Commander or Bomb Tech, allowing the viewer to assess whether or not the U.S. ARMY was for him or her.

Another unique use of our SleekPeeks® came in the form of a test drive. Hyundai was seeking to deliver the ultimate driving experience to prospective customers and sought out Structural Graphics with the help of Blanks Printing to bring their vision to reality. Users were easily able to pop the viewer into place, download the app and try the vehicle out in a safe environment.

Interested in incorporating virtual reality into your next marketing campaign? Contact us or start designing your own viewer here.

5 Marketing Trends & How They Impact the Health Industry

When it comes to healthcare, unlike other industries, many companies are notoriously hesitant to jump on marketing trends, instead, choosing to rely on what’s been effective in the past. But as the healthcare sector evolves, marketers who analyze the trends and prepare for the future have the best chances of setting up their companies for success.

Below are a few marketing trends sure to impact the healthcare industry in Q3 + Q4 of 2019:

  1. Advertising is getting increasingly intelligent.Virtual reality. Native advertising. NFC. Promoted posts. With the wealth of data at our fingertips, targeting specific groups of people – whether it’s by age range, annual salary or shopping preferences – has never been easier for a marketer. With new technologies and a little creative thought, you can use precision targeting to put hyper-relevant content in front of key individuals like the head of supply for a pharmacy chain or a physician at a local hospital. Be sure to use relevant content aimed at how your company, service or product can help them solve or deal with a specific problem you know they have.
  2. We’re relying on the thoughts and feelings of others. Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly revolutionary since we’ve been relying on online recommendations, Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews for years. However, what makes this worth paying attention to now is that these online reviewers, now called influencers, are representing brands and marketing their products and services to tens or hundreds of thousands of highly engaged consumers.  Partnering with these influencers often gives companies unparalleled access to groups of people they wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to target. Another benefit? These influencers are often conceptualizing and creating the content, then reporting on ROI.   
  3. Video is king. Maybe you’ve noticed; video is taking over the world. From YouTube and Instagram Live to Netflix sweeping last year’s Emmy awards with a record-breaking 112 nominations, it’s clear that video is a mechanism to reach your target audience directly. Not only is it highly sensory, but, when combined with a high-impact printed format, the results are even more effective. Video in Print is a force to be reckoned with. 
  4. Online and offline worlds: you can’t have one without the other.Roughly three quarters of Americans currently own smartphones, according to a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center. They don’t predict this will be slowing down anytime soon. As a marketer, it’s becoming increasingly important to build more integrated customer experiences that can bridge the virtual and physical worlds in a way that fits buyers’ lifestyles and captures their attention. Try our SleekPeeks® Virtual Reality Viewers or NFC technology, for example.

5 Video Marketing Trends You Should Be Paying Attention To

Regardless of how you use it, video has become the most popular type of digital content used by people the world over. As such, it’s also a supremely effective communication tool for business, allowing advertisers, marketers, and sales teams to share everything from testimonials, product demonstrations, educational messages, reviews, and more with a target audience.

The research is clear.

According to a report from HubSpot Research, 54% of consumers want to see videos from brands they support in comparison to email newsletters (46%) or social image content (41%). Additionally, the report states that video is the most memorable content (43%) in comparison to images (36%) and text (18%).

But between customers’ varied preferences and the ever-evolving digital landscape, it can be difficult to know where to start. To help you out, we’ve outlined five video trends worth paying attention to, and how they can be used in your own marketing efforts.

Trend 1: Video First. “Video First” is a term coined by Facebook in reference to a growing phenomenon: consumers not only want to consume video, but also produce it. As today’s consumers look to express themselves, video makes it easier to provide a holistic view of ourselves, our lives, and the items we love.

Pro Tip: When developing your marketing campaigns, consider it from the lens of this “video first” mentality and get closer to your audience than ever before.

Trend 2: Live Video. Maybe you’ve heard of them: Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Stories, Periscope. Nowadays there are so many opportunities for live video, whether it’s based upon turnaround time, platform, or something else entirely. Live video, unlike pre-recorded content, draws people in nearly three times longer, according to the same HubSpot study. And brands have noticed.

Pro Tip: Look for the platforms that your target audience is using the most and experiment with live streaming. Perhaps it’s a Q&A session where you can interact in real-time with your customers or maybe it’s a simple look at a day in the life at your company. Whatever topic you choose, make it engaging – this is an opportunity to make your customers feel like they’re truly a part of your brand.

Trend 3: Cost Reduction. With so many high-quality tools at your fingertips, producing video is easier and more cost friendly than ever. At Structural Graphics, we offer custom Video in Print Brochures that marry the tactile feeling of print with the sights and sounds of video.

Pro Tip: With a smartphone, microphone and solid game plan, you’re sure to win the hearts and minds of your audience.

Trend 4: Virtual Reality. You know that cliche about walking in a man’s shoes? Well, with virtual reality, you actually can. Global revenue for this market is expected to reach $3.7 billion by 2020, according to SuperData Games and Interactive Media Intelligence.

Pro Tip: Get ahead of your competitors with our SleekPeeks®, customized virtual reality viewers that assemble in seconds and don’t break the bank.

Trend 5: 360-Degree Video. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a video that offers multidimensional perspectives of places like a room, landscape, or event. Implementing 360-degree video into your marketing efforts offers a customized experience for viewers, literally allowing them to fully emerge themselves in an experience.

Pro Tip: Start small. Think Google 360 View or Facebook’s relatively new functionality that allows users to pan or tilt a panoramic image that’s posted to its platform. Not to mention, 360-degree video content works great with our SleekPeeks® Virtual Reality Viewers! 

Looking to Take Advantage of USPS’ 2019 Promotions? Here’s How.

Earlier in the year, the U.S. Postal Service re-introduced the first of six new promotions on direct mail for business. Although these promotions could provide substantial discounts on postage for businesses looking to send direct mail, meeting the requirements will entail some work. Here, we’ve broken down two of the six promotions the USPS is offering in 2019.

  1. The Tactile, Sensory and Interactive (TSI) promotion is for mailers who enhance their customers’ experience through direct mail via the use of advanced print innovations in paper, specialty inks and interactive elements like pop-ups or folds. Mailers can register for this promotion through July 31, 2019 upon which they’ll be eligible for an upfront two percent postage discount during the promotional period on qualified marketing mail, non-profit letters and flats.
  2. The USPS’ second promotion, for Emerging and Advanced Technology, encourages mailers to incorporate emerging technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Near Field Communications (NFC), Virtual Reality (VR), and Video In Print into their direct mail pieces. The idea here is to make the physical direct mail piece more effective by incorporating it into a cohesive and multi-channel campaign. Registration is open through August 31, 2019 and the promotion runs from March 1 through August 31. Like the TSI promotion, the Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion gives an upfront two percent postage discount at the time of mailing. 

For more information and guidance on how to create a campaign that meets the USPS requirements, click here.

3 Simple Ways to Ensure Your Direct Mail Doesn’t Get Tossed

It’s a common scenario: after months of strategizing and laboring over copy or designs, your direct mail piece is ready to be shipped. But when you drop it off at the post office, it can feel like you’re throwing all that hard work into a black hole; from there you have no control over how recipients respond to it, if they respond.

Know the feeling?

Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of worrying whether your promo code will reach the right people or if the intended recipients will even open your mail piece, use these few simple tricks to make sure your marketing reaches the right people at the right time:

  1. Clean Up Your Mailing List. It doesn’t matter how great your copy is if you’re sending mail to the wrong people or to the wrong address (this goes for email distribution, too). If you’re using an incorrect or outdated mailing list, your mail has limited hope of landing in the mailbox you intended for it to. Instead, start with an accurate, updated distribution list. Perhaps that means scrubbing your current mailing list for duplicates, deleting any addresses that have been marked “return to sender” or removing anyone who hasn’t interacted with your communications in awhile. Whatever you do, ensure that you’re getting your contact information from a reliable source.
    Making sure your list is clean and correct not only guarantees that your mail will be delivered to the people you want it to go to, but it also eliminates the need to overspend on postage, printing, packaging and more.
  2. Pick Your Moment. Now that you’ve updated and scrubbed your mailing list, you have to choose the appropriate time to send your direct mail piece. Does it include a promotion that’s good for a limited time? Is there an urgency or a seasonality to what you’re trying to sell? This blog post goes into more detail on the best times of year to send various marketing pieces and the strategy behind doing so. The idea here is the make sure you’re targeting the right people with your marketing and provide value to them with your mail. 
  3. Capture Their Attention. When it comes to marketing, this is more easily said than done. Once your mail makes it in the hands of your target audience, the next crucial step is to make sure they’ll open it and see what you’re trying to communicate. Dimensional print is a great option for this. The pieces ship flat, but spring to life once they’re opened. A few of our favorite designs are the Flapper®, which constantly unfolds into itself, the Extendo®, which reveals hidden panels that triples the size of your marketing message, our SleekPeeks® Virtual Reality Viewers that showcase immersive experiences for your target audience, and the classic Pop Up Cube that automatically and unexpectedly pops into fully dimensional shape once removed from its envelope.