Marketing

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Creating Customer Loyalty

What does it take to create customer loyalty, the kind of loyalty that makes customers stick with you, even when their favorite sales representative, hair stylist or financial advisor moves on?

Here are some tips from the experts.

  1. Know your customer base. Customer bases are not homogenous. They are made up of different demographics, with different needs and with different motivators for shopping with you. Profiling your customers can tell you a lot about how to keep them. When was the last time you did a customer survey or conducted a focus group?

The more you get to know the unique makeup of your customer base, the more you are able to adjust products and services to respond to their unique needs and the more likely you are to hang onto their loyalty.

  1. Make it personal. Shift from mass mailings and generic communications to personalized print communications as much as possible. This should go beyond “Dear <<name>>” and include content driven by demographics, demonstrated preferences or past purchase history. The goal here is not just to let your customers know that you know their names, but to increase the relevance of your communications to their lives.
  2. Spread the communication around. Some companies assign each customer a specific customer service representative or sales consultant. This creates a special relationship between customer and sales rep that can be invaluable. The downside is that this relationship can become so valuable that, should the sales rep leave the company, your customer might be willing to leave with them. For this reason, encourage your customers to have multiple contact points within your company.
  3. Increase the frequency. Stay in communication with your customers on a regular basis, not just when there is a special promotion or event. This is the idea behind most drip marketing campaigns. They help develop a relationship that creates a value beyond price and convenience and keeps your company top of mind.
  4. Reinforce and reward loyalty. When customers are loyal, let them know that you appreciate it. Then reward them for that loyalty. Send them special “loyal customer” discounts, personalized to their unique habits and preferences whenever possible.

Retaining customers takes effort. It requires a customer retention plan and an intentional, focused effort to keep those customers you’ve worked so hard to have. What’s your plan?

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6 Principles of Marketing Persuasion

Understanding buyer psychology is key to grabbing consumers’ attention and getting people to buy. The 6 Principles of Marketing Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini is one of the most influential models in this approach. Cialdini’s six principles—scarcity, reciprocity, authority, social proof, liking, and consistency—can help boost results and get customers to act quickly.

 

Let’s take a quick look at each one:

 

  1. Scarcity. People want it more when something is in short supply and are more likely to act quickly. This is why marketers use messaging such as “Offer by invitation only!” or “Only for a limited time!” Offering free shipping if shoppers order within the next 20 minutes can increase checkouts by up to 300%.
  2. Reciprocity. The principle of reciprocity is when marketers offer something of value, such as a gift or sample, to customers right out of the gate. This triggers the natural desire of customers to give back in kind (reciprocity). It’s why nonprofits put personalized notepads and address labels in fundraising envelopes — because it works.
  3. Authority. Authority uses the demonstration of expertise to inspire trust in customers. Authority can be established through external sources such as press coverage or third-party endorsements. It can also be established through internal content like blogs, whitepapers, case studies, or interviews. By building authority, businesses can create credibility and increase the likelihood of customers responding to offers.
  4. Social proof. Social proof relies on peer influence to increase credibility and trust among potential customers. This could include customer testimonials, displaying reviews or ratings, showing celebrity endorsements, or featuring influencer posts.
  5. Liking. The principle of “liking” states that people are more likely to comply with the requests of someone they like or identify with. For example, popular influencers sharing their experiences and stories about using a company’s products is more likely to resonate with customers than regular advertisements.
  6. Consistency. People want their beliefs to be consistent with their values. If buyers see themselves as good parents, for example, they are more likely to respond to messaging that positions them this way. “As a great mom, you know how important it is to…”

 

These are essential principles, but it may take some testing until you get the messaging right. Subtle changes can make a big difference, so be patient. Keep testing until you get a winner.

 

 

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5 Tips for Data You Can Trust

The success of your marketing campaigns hinges on having excellent, reliable data. But how can you be sure that you are working with data you can trust? Here are five tips for getting it right.

 

  1. Clean and update your data. When was the last time you ran your database through a mailing list cleansing and updating routine? Ensure that your mailing list is complete, accurate, and up to date. Even the most well-crafted direct mail campaign won’t be successful if the mailers themselves don’t get there!
  2. Enhance your data. You can do a lot with someone’s name and address (more than you might think), but having additional demographic or behavioral data can help you do even more. Use third-party resources to add information that helps you better understand your customers, create more targeted segments, and improve the relevance of your messaging.
  3. Verify your data. So, you’ve bought additional data to enhance your campaigns. How do you know the data you’ve purchased is accurate? Verification tools run data against a series of algorithms or an external database to ensure it’s right. Ask if your third-party data provider verifies its data before you make your purchase.
  4. Consolidate it. One of the biggest bugaboos in data-driven messaging is data in silos. Consolidate your data from different departments (such as marketing, sales, and purchasing) into a unified view of your customers. Is Susan Jones, who shops online, the same Susie P. Jones, who buys from your catalog? You need to know. If it is, ensure that everything you know about Susan is in the same place.
  5. Standardize it. It needs to be standardized to gain accurate insights from your data (including identifying relationships and patterns to inform your personalization and targeting). For example, if your system has your customers’ birthdates
    stored in multiple formats, such as October 1, 1963, Oct. 1, 1963, 10/1/63, and 10/1/1963, the system won’t “see” them as the same.

 

Your data is your greatest marketing asset. Let us help you make the most of it.

 

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During Times of Uncertainty, Market Like a Leader

In today’s times of uncertainty, it can be challenging to know how to strike the right tone. While consumer spending remains strong, there is still much uncertainty about the future. Some Americans are doing quite well. Others are still struggling. For marketers, this means crafting messaging that is both optimistic and sensitive. It can be a tricky balance. Here are five tips for getting it right.

  1. Exude confidence. During difficult times, people flock to leaders who exude confidence. Brands can inspire, motivate, and make people feel that everything will be okay. Reach out using the theme, “We’re here to help.”
  2. Invest in social and environmental justice. Consumers like to align with brands that “do good.” Promote your support for socially or environmentally conscious organizations and let people know about it. For example, a SheerID study found that, during the pandemic, 68% of respondents wanted brands to donate to programs that provided direct support for medical workers.
  3. Offer a helping hand. While the U.S. economy continues to grow, this is still a time of struggle for many. Offer deferred payments, ideas for lowering expenses, and so on. Even if your customers don’t need the help themselves, this kind of care for others builds brand equity that pays off in the long run.
  4. Show off your expertise. This is a great time to share meaningful expertise with your customers. Think “Top 5 Ways to Save on Lawn Care” or “3 Plumbing Fixes You Can Do Yourself.”
  5. Make your customers’ lives easier. When the world is uncertain, consumers want to feel that they at least have control over their own homes and families. Position your products in terms of how they can help your customers make lives safer and easier, even in small ways. “Let us help you save 10% on your home electric bill,” or, “We’re offering FREE delivery of pool chemicals all summer long so you can relax at home!”

Brands can play a positive role in helping their customers through uncertain times. Striking the right tone tells your customers that you are paying attention… and that you care.

 

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Designing an Effective Postcard

One of the best ways to use direct mail is to use postcards. Postcards are an inexpensive way to get your message in front of potential customers, and when done well, they can produce great results. How do you design a direct mail postcard that moves people to action? Read on to find out.

 

  1. Keep it simple.

The first rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Your postcard should have a clear and concise message that is easy for the recipient to understand. The last thing you want is for your postcard to end up in the trash because the recipient didn’t get your point or see the relevance immediately. So keep it simple and to the point.

 

  1. Create different messages for different target audiences.

While full personalization (each piece speaking directly to each recipient individually) is highly effective, it may not always be practical. Fortunately, dividing your audience into targeted segments gives excellent results, too. You will speak to parents with young children differently than you do single adults or empty-nesters, for example. Or talk to men differently than you do women. By segmenting, your copy will be more relevant, increasing the chances that your postcard will be read and acted upon.

 

  1. Use eye-catching Images

Another critical element of creating an effective postcard is using eye-catching images. With a postcard, you have limited space to get your message across. Studies have shown that people process visual information 60,000x faster than text, so when space is at a premium, let images help tell your story.

 

  1. Don’t forget the Call to Action

Last but not least, make sure you include a call to action. This is a step that many businesses overlook, then wonder why their results are disappointing. If you’re running a sale, your CTA might say, “Visit our website today and use promo code XYZ.” Without a call to action, people may set down the postcard without ever taking the desired steps. Don’t assume your audience will act. Always include a CTA!

 

Postcards can be a great way to reach your target audience and generate leads. To get great results, you must keep it simple, mail to carefully selected targeted audiences, use eye-catching images, and include a powerful call to action. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to designing postcards that get results!

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Turning a Bank from “Stodgy” to “Personal”

Do you always need lots of data to make your mailings seem personal? No. Take the example of MB Financial, a Chicago-based financial institution that used segmentation to achieve great results. It’s a formula that any company can follow to make its mailings feel more personal and increase conversions without personalizing them down to the individual level.

 

MB Financial wanted to target more than 430,000 small companies in the Chicago area. MBF has 86 branches, but it wasn’t connecting well with its audience. Small businesses saw the bank as an old, stodgy institution like all others. MBF wanted to put a more friendly face on its branches and make banking at each location seem more inviting and accessible.

 

To do this, MBF developed a four-pronged messaging strategy: “We deliver the personal attention you want, the banking services you need, business advice you can use, and business connections you wouldn’t expect.” The heart of the campaign was direct mail, but it also used radio and digital media ads.

  • First, MB Financial used customer modeling to identify 30,000 small businesses that were its most likely prospects.
  • Second, it broke its mailing into highly versioned segments, one for each local branch.
  • Third, it created targeted postcards that appeared to be coming directly from the bank manager at each SMB’s closest branch.

 

Each postcard included a photo of the branch manager, a personal message from the manager, and an invitation for the recipient to call their direct line. To sweeten the pot, MB Financial included an offer to receive “bonus cash” for opening an account or line of credit.

 

The results? High visibility and a 205% increase in sales leads attributed to the direct mail campaign alone. What a great way to make a large business seem small!

 

Inspired? Let’s discuss creating a similar campaign to reach your target audience!

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Why Our Brains Prefer Direct Mail Over Email

Want to geek out on marketing science? Check out neuromarketing, a field examining consumers’ responses to marketing stimuli. Neuroscience looks at how the brain receives and processes information, and neuromarketing looks specifically at the impact of this process on the various marketing channels. Spoiler alert: These studies consistently find that while email is an important channel, it isn’t for everything. Especially for higher-end products that require more thought processing, direct mail is a better approach.

 

How do researchers come to these conclusions? They use three primary methods:

 

Eye tracking: Camera and infrared technology that monitor eye movements in speed and duration of attention. Eye tracking tracks visual attention in reaction to predetermined areas of interest.

 

Core biometrics: Sensors placed on participants’ fingertips that measure heart rate, skin conductance (sweat), motion, and respiration: Core biometrics gauge the depth of emotional engagement.

 

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FRMI): Brain scanners measure changes in oxygenated blood flow to reveal regional activation during a task or experience. FRMI pinpoints specific deep brain activity beyond surface cognitive function (e.g., empathy and reward).

 

What do these methods show? A good example comes from one study conducted by Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making in concert with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG). The study found that while participants could process the information from digital ads more quickly than from print ads, the details weren’t retained or recalled as easily later.

 

What made participants more likely to retain and recall that information more easily in print?

  • They spent more time with physical ads.
  • They had more robust emotional responses to those ads.
  • While they stated similar preferences and willingness to pay for the item, whether it was delivered in physical or digital format, their brain activity indicated a greater subconscious desire for printed products.

 

“These findings have practical implications for marketers,” note the report’s authors. “If short on time, the digital format captures attention quicker. However, for longer lasting impact and easy recollection, a physical mail piece is the superior option.”

 

So, there you have it! When given a choice between print and digital media, especially for products and services that require deep cognitive processing, the brain loves print.

 

 

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Four Data “Buckets” and How They Can Benefit Your Messaging

Shoppers today expect their marketing messages to be highly targeted to their wants and needs. The good news is there is a ton of data for use in targeting, whether you gather it yourself or purchase it from a reputable list company. But what are the best ways to use that data? There are many different categories of data, and each can be used for various purposes. Let’s look at four data categories and how they can be used.

 

Demographic data: Demographic data are the most specific data types and create large customer “buckets” that can be used to market the right products to the right people. As two straightforward examples, the types of clothing you will offer teenagers will differ from the types of clothing you will offer thirty-somethings, and the type of landscaping services you suggest will differ whether someone’s home sits on a .5-acre lot or a 15-acre farm. There are limitations to how much demographics can tell you, but they can be an essential starting point.

 

Geographic data: Where someone lives can give you important insights, too. Customers in the Northeast will be open to different products in January and February than those in the Southwest. Customers in urban areas generally have other priorities and needs than those in rural settings. There are many geographic “slices,” so find the right ones that make sense for your products.

 

Interests: Cross-referencing your customer data with interest-based data can also be incredibly useful. For example, knowing whether people in your database donate to charitable causes, purchase hunting or fishing equipment, or participate in ultra-marathons will give you even more ways to divide your target audience into relevant segments.

 

Past purchases: Tracking customer purchases can teach you a lot about your customers and help you anticipate what they might need next. If someone purchased a pair of general-purpose walking shoes in January, for example, they will likely need a new pair one year or so later. If, on the other hand, they purchased a pair of high-end trail running shoes, they are likely logging serious miles and will need replacements within the next three to four months.

 

Customer targeting doesn’t have to be complicated. It just requires finding the correct type of data to match your marketing goals, then being intentional about how to use it.

 

Need help? Just ask!

Effective Communication Breeds Customer Loyalty

Are you up for a surprise? In a customer satisfaction study of 10 major industries, nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents indicated that they were delighted with the products or services they purchased, yet 88% said that they were willing to switch providers for any reason!

 

How can this be? If customers are happy with the products they buy, how can they switch so easily? Because so many companies offer products and pricing similar to one another’s. That’s why maintaining customer loyalty takes more than the basics. You have to make people feel valued, not just by offering them great stuff, but by how you treat them. Give them a great customer experience.

 

According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, 73% of consumers consider customer experience important in purchasing decisions. This means that all things being equal, they will go where they feel most valued and appreciated.

 

That’s why a consistent, high-quality drip of customer communications is so important. It makes customers feel noticed and valued, not just when you want them to purchase something.

 

• Set up a series of “nurturing” mailers throughout the year. Make it a continuous client contact program that demonstrates that you are sincerely grateful for their business at regular, pre-planned intervals.

 

• Use the data you’ve collected to grow your relationship with these customers. Offer valuable tips, newsletters, and case studies that remind clients of your commitment to service, value, quality, innovation, and loyalty.

 

• If you are going to cross-sell or upsell, make those suggestions valuable and relevant to your customers based on the information you have collected, such as their past purchases or subscriptions that are expiring.

 

• Ask for their feedback. People love when you ask their opinions. Now act on what you learn. Communicate through tangible actions that you not only care about what they have to say but are willing to act on it, too.

 

Direct mail isn’t just for customer acquisition marketing anymore. It is a critical part of effective customer retention.

Keep Them Thinking About You

In marketing, there is one thing worth more than gold. It istop of mind. Being top of mind means that when someone thinks about your product category, they think of you. Delivery services? Most people think of FedEx and UPS. Soft drinks? They think Coke and Pepsi. Laundry detergent? Tide. Are you top of mind in your category? If not, how do you get there?

 

Here are five ways to stay top of mind with your customers:

 

1. Promote your selling proposition.

 

Every company has (or should have) aunique selling proposition. This is the reason people should buy from you. Think about DiGiorno frozen pizza. “It’s not delivery. It’s DiGiorno,” right? Their selling proposition is a compelling one — it tastes like delivery without the wait. What’s your selling proposition? Identify it, then articulate it clearly, consistently, and briefly in all of your marketing communications. Keep saying it!

 

2. Create a consistent visual identity.

 

There are certain brands you can identify from a mile away: their colors, their design style, their spokesperson, or mascot. A consistent brand identity isenormous when staying top of mind. Create a consistent look and feel in everything from your direct mail to your company stationery. Use templates if necessary.

 

3. Stay out there.

 

A one-time advertising blitz can get your message out quickly, but you build credibility and stay top of mind with regular, timely communications. Drip your marketing communications a little at a time to remain part of the conversion.

 

4. Use multiple touchpoints.

 

Direct mail is highly effective in reinforcing a personal bond between your company and your customers. Multiple media support that message by touching prospects at different times and ways. Send a customized letter giving your best prospects the inside track on a new product. Follow up with email. Send a postcard or brochure when the product is available. Send a note of thanks when the client makes a purchase.

 

5. Timing is everything.

 

Strategically plan repeated communications so customers perceive you as a provider of helpful information rather than an intrusive pest. This requires both organization and dedication.

 

Never before have consumers had so many choices. Staying top of mind will lift you out of a noisy marketplace and increase customer retention and response rates.