Tag Archives: marketing

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.

Announcing the New and Improved RedPaperPlane.com!

We’re excited to announce the launch of our online ordering division, Red Paper Plane’s, new and improved website! Our goal with this redesign is to create a user-friendly browsing experience that makes it super-easy to find, design and order your perfect dimensional print mailer, brochure, invitation or promotional box. Here’s what else you can expect from the new redpaperplane.com:

More Choices: We’ve added new products, too! You can now design your own Cardboard Virtual Reality Viewers and explore our expanded line of Video in Print brochures and mailers in addition to our other customer favorites.

Improved Navigation: While we still have our customer success stories, templates and design interface, we’ve simplified our navigation bar to make it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for. Browse by product or by use. We’ve also included three featured templates and our latest customer spotlights right on the homepage.

Expanded Features: Now, you can drag and drop your artwork, instantly preview your proof, download and share quotes, and easily create multiple versions of your marketing piece straight from the website.

Easy Design: Our custom interface makes designing a dimensional print piece as easy as 1-2-3:
Choose your format.
Download your template.
Place your art.

Superior Results: The average response rate of dimensional mail is three times greater than traditional mail! Check out Red Paper Plane’s Customer Success Stories here.

With more products, expanded features and convenient benefits, Red Paper Plane’s website will make it easier than ever to set your brand apart. So, what are you waiting for?

Check it out at RedPaperPlane.com/.

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.

How to Link Dimensional Print to Online Views

Have you ever wondered how many people are actually seeing your marketing pieces? Do you have a call to action, but can’t track it back to your direct mail campaign?

We have just the piece for you.

It’s called a Web Key and its ability to link dimensional print to your digital presence is revolutionary for brands, marketers and agencies who are looking to not only to convert, but to provide more concrete metrics for their teams.

Here’s how the Web Key works:

First, you’ll need to decide on the landing page you’d like to drive recipients to. This could be the homepage of your website, digital document, webinar or a custom URL you’ve developed for your campaign. The only requirement is that it’s live.

The next decision is what format you’d like the Web Key embedded in. At Structural Graphics, we’ve been working with Web Keys for years and have seen clients use them in brochures, magazine inserts, event promotion, well boxes and so much more.

From there, we will link the die cut Web Key device with your unique landing page and send it to you for distribution. Plus, we’ll provide you with campaign analytics to help you learn who is visiting, for how long, and what they are interested in. Not to mention, when combined with a high-impact printed format, Web Keys are even more effective!

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! 

What’s NFC and How Can I Use it in My Marketing?

Image courtesy of The Verge.

So, what exactly is NFC?

NFC stands for Near Field Communication, a short range wireless RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) communication technology which allows two devices to communicate and share information with one another once they are within a certain range. What’s especially cool about NFC technology is that there’s no need to download or launch an application to use it – bringing the NFC-equipped devices near one another automatically triggers the action.

But isn’t that a QR code?

The short answer? Not exactly.

Though QR codes and NFC can both be used to transfer data and link content wirelessly, there are some key factors that differentiate one from the other. Here’s an infographic from www.unitag.io which illustrates how you can tell them apart.

Infographic courtesy of www.unitag.io.

Then how does this apply to my marketing?

To unleash the full potential of what NFC technology has to offer, we’ve compiled a few simple ideas and benefits to using it in your future marketing campaigns.

  1. It works everywhere. That bus station in the middle of nowhere? NFC works there. How about that national park with spotty cell service? Yup, there, too. What’s truly remarkable about NFC technology is that it’s usable in environments where Bluetooth or service is of limited use.
  2. It allows you to tell a bigger story. Does your business’ product or service have more to it than can fit on an ad or shelf-talker? NFC might just be for you. A simple NFC tag embedded in a shelf-talker, POS display or packaging can deliver additional information – such as free recipes, loyalty discounts, video demonstrations or educational material – that can provide more context for customers and motivate them to act. 
  3. It takes the online offline (and vice versa). 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.
  4. It helps create tailored offerings for customers. As marketers, we all know that the most valuable currency we have is data. The more we know about the preferences, geography, income and purchasing habits of each target customer, the better we can reach them at the right time in the right place with the right offer. With NFC, a direct connection is initiated between individuals and marketers. As a result, we’re able to learn more about them and develop tailored offerings they value. 
  5. It hands the power over to consumers, but not entirely. It’s been said that the average American sees or hears more than 4,000 ads per day. In a world where each one of us is bombarded with unsolicited advertising, NFC technology gives users greater control over their interactions.

Interested to learn more about NFC? Visit our Print and NFC page on the Structural Graphics website to see examples of NFC campaigns our clients have created.

Contact us for more information on the technology, how we’ve implemented it and what we can do using NFC to help your business. The possibilities are endless.

You’re Not Making These Silly Print Marketing Mistakes…Are You?

Are you a marketer who regularly uses direct mail?

Here at Structural Graphics, we’re big proponents of print marketing and have applauded its ability to generate feedback, loyalty and, ultimately, sales. However, if you’re not using it properly, these pieces – and leads – can end up in the garbage.

To help you better succeed with your direct mail campaigns, we’ve compiled this list of common blunders that can hinder your prospects.

  1. An unclear message: Does your headline match your CTA? Do your graphics tie into your angle or story line? Is your copy clear, concise and appropriate for your audience?  
  2. Wrong audience: Do your research beforehand. Consider not only the age, location and interests of your target demographic, but also the appropriate time of year to contact them. For instance, tax season may not be the appropriate time to contact small business owners, and members of a senior housing community likely won’t respond to real estate marketing. 
  3. Being too self-indulgent: There’s a delicate balance between asserting your strengths and overindulging in them. Recipients don’t want front row tickets to the “Me Show”; they care about “What’s in it for me?” Great marketing always focuses on the recipients, not the business or agent reaching out. Highlight your brand’s value by showing how your product or service can help change people’s lives, making them easier or more fulfilling.
  4. No contact info: Print or digital, your marketing should always have the first and last name of someone for the recipient to contact. This simple touch point creates a connection between the consumer and your business, and saves them the hassle of having to go looking for someone to reach out to.

Cool Startups Love Using Direct Mail. But Why?

When was the last time you had a mailbox full of actual mail?

Us too.

Print magazines and books now have “e” in front of them. People are paying their bills on the Internet. Customers are opting to go paperless and companies have scaled back printing catalogs, opting instead to use their budgets for websites and social media advertising.

Yet there seems to be a print resurgence of sorts among new, digitally-savvy, direct-to-consumer companies. Brands like Casper, Glossier, Quip, Wayfair and HelloFresh have taken to targeting customers in the mail, not just via email.

“The rise of young, digital brands spending money to mail us stuff speaks to the cyclical progress of shopping trends,” says Chavie Lieber in this Vox article. “A decade ago, companies looking to reach customers would often buy email addresses from third parties. They’d do giveaways and, if existing customers handed over their family and friends’ email addresses, they’d offer discounts too.”

But today, it’s a different story.

“[T]he virtual mailbox today looks a whole lot like our parents’ IRL mailboxes back then: A total s*** show,” Lieber continues. “Our inboxes are overflowing with newsletters, real letters, ride-sharing receipts, lunch-sharing receipts, bills, fake bills, breaking news notifications, not-so-breaking news notifications, brand promotions, sales promotions, social media alerts, spam… How do we all stay on top of this?”

The answer: We don’t.

Every day, we’re inundated with hundreds of emails. Add that to the excessive number of ads we’re faced with on social media, TV, radio and the Internet, and it almost makes you want to scream “Uncle!”.

“People our age get hundreds of emails a day, but they only get ten pieces of a mail a day, if that many,” says Pete Christman, the head of acquisition marketing at the shaving company Harry’s, which counts on mailers as part of its marketing. “From a numbers perspective, email is a much noisier environment.”

But it’s not just consumers who are feeling the effects of playing in this noisy digital space. Businesses are feeling it, too. Many are finding themselves fishing in a small pond, targeting the same age group, living in the same heavily populated areas with the same general income. In a word, it’s crowded.

This is why direct mail is often a more effective way to capture the attention of new and existing customers. Instead of pouring money into a Facebook or Instagram ad (the price of which increases based on how effectively it’s performing), direct mail pieces not only encourage trust in the brand that sent it, but the customer also retains the information in the mailer longer than if they were to have seen it in an email. Not to mention, when a high-impact printed format is received by a consumer it stands out in an engaging manner, which is more than we can say for the cluttered digital ads still sitting in their inbox or smartphone applications.

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 Ways to Engage Customers in Your Brand’s Marketing Strategy

If you’re doing a good job supporting your clients, they’ll become your best (perhaps presently untapped) marketing resource for your business. Research shows that prospects are more likely to take action on or interact with your brand when they hear about someone else’s experience with your products or services than if they were to only hear a sales pitch from you or one of your sales agents.

Clearly, things like testimonials and case studies can go a long way when it comes to marketing your business. However, how can one harness all the great stories, experiences and, overall, customer feedback? Here are a few ideas.

Narrow Your Social Listening

We all love seeing the photos customers post of our products on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. So, why not use those to your advantage? By creating a unique hashtag or searching for a specific location or product name, your social listening will be much more targeted and allow you to cultivate added content to use across your own channels. Not only does this translate to better brand loyalty, but it also encourages other customers to post their own images, casting a wider marketing net for you.

Experiment with CrowdSourcing

Looking to implement a new tagline, logo or packaging? Ask your customers what they think first. A great way to make customers and clients feel valued is to engage them in your marketing efforts, involving them in decisions they can be proud of. Maybe it’s as simple as a survey that’s sent in the mail; maybe it’s a single tweet. With Instagram’s new question feature and platforms that allow you to answer questions and get feedback in real-time, there’s never been an easier time to help your audience feel a sense of ownership to your brand (plus you’ll get great insights).

Turn Customers into Advocates.

Here’s the thing: customers and clients are already talking about you, whether you like it or not. Research suggests that we still give substantial weight to the recommendations of our friends and peers, so, why not give those with positive experiences an opportunity to share them? To get started, why not invite them to do “takeovers” of your social media accounts, present at an event, or review products on their own YouTube channels. Word-of-mouth marketing will validate your brand’s credibility and turn your most loyal fans into advocates of your business.