Tips

10 Steps to Effective Direct Mail

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Think about your message

What are you trying to say and why? Obviously this is important for any form of marketing, but particularly where you are trying to generate a response. Does your message tally with organisational objectives? Will your sales team thank you for sending it? Does it comply with all relevant product/ service updates? Ensure other relevant departments have sanity-checked your message before it goes out.

Be clear about what success looks like

What do you want to achieve, and how will you measure this? Be very clear about this upfront, otherwise you will not be able to validate whether the campaign was a success.

Do you know who you’re talking to?

How clean is your data? Thirty five per cent of B2B data erodes per year, due to people moving job or companies moving offices. If your data is more than six months old, you should think seriously about having it cleansed.

Be creative

Grab people’s attention with compelling images and messages. This can be expensive, but remember that in B2B, spending more money on a lower volume campaign can ultimately reap bigger rewards. If you have a limited creative budget and can’t afford gifts, try the opposite route: write them a letter. It’s often the most effective way of generating cut-through amongst hard-to-reach people. Whatever you do avoid creative cliched library images such as businessmen shaking hands or running in a race.

Keep it clear and simple

Whatever else you do don’t bombard your audience with complex or confusing messages and make sure the call-to-actions are clear and obvious.

Integrate with other media

If you can run an email campaign to the same audience with the same messages, great. Definitely make sure your website references any offers made within the direct mail piece and ideally, establish a dedicated landing page or micro site. Follow up the mailer with telemarketing to ensure it was received and to arrange appropriate follow-up action.

Timing is everything

Think about when to send and when to arrive. If there’s a big industry event taking place around the time of the mailing, think twice, or try to factor it in.

Take advantage of mailing discounts

There are a number of alternatives to Royal Mail these days, but the national carrier is still leading the way in terms of innovation in B2B DM, and has plenty of ideas which will cut costs. You can also use the latest mailing technology to personalise your mailing and add impact to your envelope.

Think long term

Remember, B2B is all about relationships. Even if you don’t get a sale immediately, if your mailer was appropriate and any good, it will have placed your company in a positive light for positive future interaction. If you can engage them in dialogue, possibly through your website or through a sales person, all the better. Get feedback. Did they like your proposition? Did they like the communication? If not, why not?

Measure for measure

Make sure you are able to measure the response to your mailing. If you’ve met your targets, use this as leverage for more resources to run more and better campaigns in future. If not, conduct a thorough postmortem, but don’t give up and try something different next time, because practice makes perfect.

Tips for buying data

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  • What market are you trying to attract? Is this the same as your current market? Does the market that you are trying to attract definitely exist?

  • Is the data opt-in? Does the provider adhere to DMA (Direct Marketing Association) guidelines?

  • How often has it been updated?

  • How was it collected? This is particularly important because different collection methods can have a bearing on the responsiveness of the list. Don’t accept vague answers.

  • Is the data generic or personal? (eg [email protected] or [email protected])?

  • How regularly has it been sent to?

  • What kind of campaigns have been sent to the list? And what were responses like?

Test your email with our Spam Checker

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Once you have imported your HTML template into emailer, you can test your email design using our Spam Checker. In the Edit Campaign screen, select ‘Spam Check HTML Email’ from the Advanced Options list. This will kick-start the Spam Checker, and you will be told if your email has successfully passed with an associated points rating. Click on ‘Show Minor Points’ to see any issues that the Spam Checker has identified, such as a low ratio of text to image area.

Designing with images

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Follow these rules for the use of images in your emails

Optimize your images – taking a few minutes to optimize your images (ie reduce them in file size) will improve your results. The images will download faster, more people will be able to see them, and your brand and message will be delivered quickly and reliably. Use gifs for logos and Jpegs for images and pictures of things. And test your email – to ensure the graphics render in all the main email clients that your database contains, eg outlook express, outlook 2005, 2007, hotmail, yahoo, tiscalli etc Remember also that you cannot attach any additional files to an email in nor can you add flash or forms within an email.

Avoiding Spam Filters

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It’s virtually impossible to guarantee that every email you send will reach its intended recipient - regardless of your list’s source.

This is because firewalls, ISPs and other email virus protection methods have many different criteria for combating illegal spammers, some being more zealous than others.

helps you by being transparent about the origin of the mail it sends. Protection systems often check up on senders by performing a ‘reverse look up’ to see if the originating server can be identified. Unidentifiable servers, or those with a bad reputation, are frowned upon. can also integrate with your organisation’s own email accounts if needs be - this allows you to send from your own email address.

In addition, you should encourage your recipients to add you to their address books. Some of the bigger email providers, such as Yahoo, allow users to block by default mail from anybody who isn’t on their address book. Many users will simply forget this when they sign up for a mailing, so it’s a good idea to remind them in as many ways as possible.

Technical matters aside, follow these steps to help stop your emails being misinterpreted as spam;

  • Avoid large graphics, or a high proportion of graphics to recognisable, plain English text that can be scanned by a spam filter.
  • Don’t use lots of different colours for text and links.
  • Don’t include an excessive number of links relative to the number of words in your email.
  • Avoid suspicious subjects. Aside from the obvious, words such as ‘free’, ‘special offer’, etc should be avoided as much as possible, as should lots of exclamation marks - they’re beloved of spammers.

10 tips for email marketing

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Want to do some email marketing but not sure where to start? Follow the tips below to make sure your email campaigns get through the spam filters and generate positive results.

Get Permission

To ensure compliance with Data Protection legislation make sure your email marketing is permission-based which means you need the customer’s consent to contact them. To build up your contacts database, collect email addresses from your customers at every opportunity!

Plan your campaign

What do you want to get out of your email campaign? If you want to increase sales, think about how to achieve this. Will you make special offers designed to appeal to specific groups of customers? Do you want to invite customers to an exclusive shopping evening?

Call to action

Include a call to action in every email you send. For example you could invite customers to download discount vouchers, purchase a discounted product online, or agree to attend an event.

Links

Make sure you have links to your website so customers can find out more about individual offers. By monitoring customer click-throughs you will be able to measure your campaign’s success.

Subject line

The subject line has a major influence on whether recipients open and read emails. Keep it short and avoid using CAPS, exclamation marks or words like ‘free’.

Design

Make sure your design works! An HTML design will make your email look more professional, but if you don’t get it right, it will fail to render correctly across all inboxes or will get caught in spam filters. If in doubt, try using the free templates provided by email marketing solutions such as emailer.

Targeting

Targeting will ensure your email marketing sends the right content to the right people at the right time. By tailoring email content to different customer groups, you will significantly increase your chances of success.

Experiment

Find out what works. Consider doing some split testing, by sending slight variations on your email to different customer groups. For example, find out what happens if you change the sender’s name from male to female, or use a different subject header, or send the same email at different times.

Deliverability

Believe it or not, the main obstacle you will face is getting your email into your customers’ inbox! ISPs delete billions of emails each day. Make sure you choose an Email Service Provider with good deliverability rates.

Measurement

Measurement is the key to future success. By finding out how many emails were delivered and opened, and which links customers clicked on within the email, you can fine-tune your next campaign.

Tips on Promoting your Website

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You can get high rankings and increase web traffic to your site by doing the following steps.

Please contact us if you need to know “the why” to the below statements:

  • Research what keywords people use most often on search engines that pertain to your products or services; use these keywords as text in the design to increase website traffic.

  • “Keep It Simple” - 99% of all web designers use too many graphical images and programs like Java, Flash, etc. which results in lower rankings and less traffic..

  • Web pages, like a spread sheet, are made using cells and tables. Use as few cells and tables in your web design as possible.

  • Create good Meta Tags. Each page should have different keywords in the Title and the Description Meta Tag.

  • Limit the number of times that you repeat words in your Keyword Meta Tag.

  • Place your important keywords at the top of the page as text headers.

  • Your most important page and keywords should be on the first page of a website.

  • Frames based websites should only be used for Intranet (a site only for company employees) and not for Internet.

  • Do NOT include pages that re-direct (a page that automatically sends you to another page) people to other pages.

  • Run an analysis program to count the number of times keywords are used in the first 7500 characters of computer code.

  • Limit your use of services that automatically submits your URL to the top 10 search engines.

  • When finished with a page, run a spell checking program and then compress the html code.

  • Keep track of your search engine rankings and website traffic.

  • Once a website is indexed, a good web designer should go back and improve pages that didn’t get high rankings on key words.

  • Every 3 months you should make a small change on each web page. Search engines like to see that changes are being made to a site and that it just isn’t sitting there for years with no upgrades.

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