Uncategorized | Direct Mail Journal - Part 2
 

Direct Mail Journal

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Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy February,

Can’t believe it is February already!

We are a little slow in our routine this year, still, we can’t help embracing Lunar New Year.

Hope you had a strong finish in 2022. It was a challenging year in many ways. We are still coming back from COVID and adjusting to the new “normal”.

Virtual communication has now become mainstream for business, school, and even personal communication. This used to be the exception, rather than the rule — not so much now. Everyday mainstream social calls are done with video using applications like FaceTime or Google Meet.

In an effort to combat rising inflation, the Fed has been raising interest rates and reducing the money supply. There were five rate hikes in 2022, for a combined 3% increase, and potential for more to come in 2023. Mortgage rates surged in 2022, with the typical 30-year loan topping 7% by year-end, more than double the average rate at the beginning of the year. The discount rate hovered near 0% from 2008 to 2016, trending up slightly to 2.4% in 2019, and then hovering near 0% again in 2020 and 2021.

Increasing interest rates, and reducing the money supply, usually has the effect of contracting the economy. There has been lingering talk of an impending recession, but even the experts don’t seem to know for sure. In order to avoid that outcome, the Fed will need to know when to take its foot off the (economic) break; yet this is far from an exact science. There is always some lag between the actions and the corresponding economic outcomes. It is extremely difficult to predict the with any certainty.

We can’t predict the future with certainty, what can we do?

We can start by evaluating what happened in 2022. If you follow this newsletter, then you started the year with SMART goals. You also monitored those goals on a regular basis throughout the year.

How did you do? Were you overly optimistic in some areas? Were you overly pessimistic in others? That is completely normal. The one thing we know about goals and forecasts is that we will always be wrong! It is almost impossible to hit them on the nose every time. We just need to evaluate the results and be brutally honest. We need to celebrate our successes with gusto, we (you) deserve it! We also need to own our shortcomings and figure out how to address them.

Then we need to map out a plan to move forward, using our past results, our key learnings from last year, and all the information we have about the future. There are a lot of forecasts for the coming year that are available. There are lots of them that are available for free. There are a number of banks and investment companies that offer outlooks for the coming year. The Federal Reserve has annual and even quarterly forecasts. There are a number of industry groups that focus on specific verticals as well.

Create a new set of SMART goals for 2023. Communicate them to all the stakeholders who are affected by them. Then make sure that you have created an organizational structure, gathered the required skills, and funded the correct activities, to achieve those goals.

The rest of it depends on the business environment, our ability to execute, and there is also a healthy dose of good fortune required as well. That is where Lunar New Year comes in.

Whatever your plan, you know we are on your side, and want you to hit the ball out of the park.

Happy Lunar New Year – The year of the rabbit.

Please let us know how we can help.

Know it will be a great one!

The Zairmail Team.

Lunar New Years!

Here’s to the Year of the Rabbit!

The Zairmail team worked hard for you in 2022. We have big plans to do even more for 2023. We are always looking for your comments and suggestions. We are working hard to build the most powerful direct mail marketing tool on the planet for you. How are we doing? Are there features you love? Are there others that need to improve. We would love to know. Zairmail only exists because it is the fastest, easiest, and most reliable way to send mail. We need your help to make sure it remains that way.

Seasons Greetings!

Happy Holidys,

Wishing you a fun, festive, and safe Holiday Season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

We are looking forward to doing great things together in 2023!

Ho, Ho, Ho … Enjoy the season!

The Zairmail Team

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and your family a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Best Wishes;

Zairmail Team

Postcards in envelopes for marketing near holidays and special occasions

They are affordable, efficient, easy/quick to launch, versatile, and offer excellent branding opportunities. What are they? You guessed right — postcards in envelopes.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, direct mail postcards are not a thing of the past. Instead, they are fast gaining traction and causing so much buzz in modern-day marketing campaigns. And they have proven to be profitable for marketing tools.

What Does Thanksgiving Teach Us About Business?

It’s not often we stop to think about what a celebration like Thanksgiving actually teaches us. Rather, it’s something that businesses will jump on for their promotional messaging. The problem with this is… it often comes off as a bit flat. Holidays and celebratory days come around every year, and every year organizations will come up with methods and offers, simply because it’s a ‘special day’ and they feel obligated to do the same as everyone else. But consider this… if your business didn’t learn anything last year, what do you expect to gain this year? Here are four things Thanksgiving taught us.

Happy Veteran’s Day

I coached youth football and served on the Board of Directors for Lake Oswego Youth Football for 10+ years. I just love the colors of fall, the crisp fall days, and most of all, football. Cendix (Zairmail) still supports youth sports and sponsors young athletes. The Cendix website provides more details on our community activities, including our support of youth sports.

One fall, at the end of the season, I was talking with another coach. He was a decorated and retired career officer in the Marine Corps. His son had just been accepted to a prestigious military school. The once thing that stuck with me all these years, was when he said, “there is a lot of responsibility we are putting on the shoulders of these young people”.  At the time, I remember thinking that this response was probably tied to his many years of dedicated service.

As we watch the events unfold in Ukraine, his words come back to me, because we can see this principle at work. A lawless dumb-ass, in a country that has neither the legal controls nor the spine to stop him, is waging war on his neighbor, in what amounts to a vicious land-grab. Recent reports say that almost 100,000 soldiers have been killed or injured on each side. There are also tens of thousands of civilians who have died. The entire region will likely be scarred for generations by the senseless loss of life, property, and livelihood.

Yet, who is protecting the people of Ukraine? It is not the generals or the elected leaders. It is the brave young men and women of their armed services. Their country called, and they came together, to fight for their country, and push back on the evil that drives this conflict. The same is true of the United States, who stands with Ukraine, and provides the tools required to be successful. It is the young men and women of our armed services who help keep us safe. It is no small feat to protect a democracy and the freedoms we enjoy as citizens. It is also far too easy to overlook their sacrifices and contributions.

Today, on Veteran’s Day, please join us in giving thanks to the men and women of our armed services who sacrifice so much to keep us all safe. It truly is a lot of responsibility that we put on their shoulders. We also know they are more than up for the job.

God bless all of those who have served in uniform to keep us safe and protect our way of life.

Happy Veteran’s Day

The Zairmail Team

Lunar New Years!

Here’s to the Year of the Rabbit!

The Zairmail team worked hard for you in 2022. We have big plans to do even more for 2023. We are always looking for your comments and suggestions. We are working hard to build the most powerful direct mail marketing tool on the planet for you. How are we doing? Are there features you love? Are there others that need to improve. We would love to know. Zairmail only exists because it is the fastest, easiest, and most reliable way to send mail. We need your help to make sure it remains that way.

Here is a summary of some of the new features (50+) that we added for you last year.

2022 highlights

Regular stuff we do, bank accounts, permits, process improvements, USPS integration, fine-tuning and expanding the production network, training, …

We added Google Translate to the entire site, so you could have your mailing experience, in your language of choice.

We added the ability to pay in Euro’s, Pounds Sterling, or Canadian dollars.

We added new creative postal stamp designs (action stamps).

We are offering production proofs for clients who need an extra level of certainty. Just one more way we are adding to our existing Concierge-level service.

We increases the efficiency of large list uploads. Uploading a large (50,000 piece) list with over a dozen columns now requires less than 10 seconds.

We added a number of new features to our affiliate program and increased the compensation level.

We added a desktop app that allows Zairmail users to mail simply by dropping a file on the desktop app.

2023 highlights (so far…)

We just doubled server capacity and throughput for an even better mailing experience.

We are fine-tuning the desktop app so that you will soon be able to mail even a single letter.

We are now offering live Zairmail training/certification (no charge).

We continue to improve our efficiency and throughput. We already have the fastest ordering/mailing times in the industry. We are working hard to get even better.

We are looking at incorporating additional AI features to streamline managing orders and managing campaign timelines.

Got an amazing idea to help improve your mailing experience?

Please let us know. We are always looking for new ideas. Continuous improvement.

October Newsletter

October Newsletter

The leaves are changing, red and yellow piling up all over, and the weather is getting cooler. There is a spooky holiday just a week away and then the holiday season will be on us.

US mid-term elections are in just two weeks, which could change the political landscape. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates three times this year, as it tries to bring record inflation rates, currently near a 40-year high, under control. This aggressive monetary activity has prompted many pundits to speak of the possibility of a recession – policy actions, like rate hikes, are notoriously hard judge from a timing/magnitude standpoint. It is very easy to go to far or hold elevated rates too long.

Are there evil green eyes staring at us from the bushes, and strange sounds in the distance, in the dim light provided by the harvest moon up above? Should we be worried as we cautiously move forward towards the lights in the distance?

October Newletter

The leaves are changing, red and yellow piling up all over, and the weather is getting cooler. There is a spooky holiday just a week away and then the holiday season will be on us.

US mid-term elections are in just two weeks, which could change the political landscape. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates three times this year, as it tries to bring record inflation rates, currently near a 40-year high, under control. This aggressive monetary activity has prompted many pundits to speak of the possibility of a recession – policy actions, like rate hikes, are notoriously hard judge from a timing/magnitude standpoint. It is very easy to go to far or hold elevated rates too long.

Are there evil green eyes staring at us from the bushes, and strange sounds in the distance, in the dim light provided by the harvest moon up above? Should we be worried as we cautiously move forward towards the lights in the distance?

We have endured a pandemic for over two years now. We are not completely out of the woods and it is not clear that life will ever return to (a pre-pandemic) normal. We know that business is open, and the magnitude of inflation tells us the customers are ready to spend – robustly. As a nation, we are all ready to move on, and we can not wait for all the lights to be green. As business owners we need to find a way to survive, and even thrive, in the current business environment – whatever that might be.

If you are in politics, then you sharpen your policy goals and value proposition, put your best foot forward, and communicate those ideas clearly to potential voters and constituents.

If you are in business, then you need to continue to create unique and innovative offerings, and promote them in a way the creates awareness, establishes preference, and drives demand.

With the holidays approaching, we also need to consider how we can embrace the season to build rapport and share goodwill with our family, friends, clients, and community.

There are a few ideas to help support these goals in this newsletter.

In some sense, we just need to shake off the fear, turn on the lights, and do what we have always done – identify new opportunities, drive demand, and deliver a solid value for our clients. The rest just has a way of taking care of itself.

That is the best way we know to get treats this Halloween season.

We would love to help you ward off the spirits and see the sun rise on a brand new day. The Zairmail Team

Zairmail is the fastest, easiest, and most reliable way to send (postal) mail.

Stamp Up Response Rates

Postcards are a popular format for direct mail campaigns. They serve as a small billboard in the mail which can provide an immediate impression for the advertiser. If the message (or image) is memorable, they might even win a spot on the fridge, and provide lasting value for advertisers.

How to Win More with Direct Mail Responses

When a business uses direct mail as a marketing method, its purpose is either to generate a response or build brand equity by staying connected. It’s worth us saying that while this article focuses on generating responses, it’s not always the only goal, you are investing in building a relationship.

Stamp Up Response Rates

Postcards are a popular format for direct mail campaigns. They serve as a small billboard in the mail which can provide an immediate impression for the advertiser. If the message (or image) is memorable, they might even win a spot on the fridge, and provide lasting value for advertisers.

However, if a message is long, or complicated, or contains personal information, or requires enclosures, then a postcard is off the table. We usually need to consider some type of letter format. The challenge with a letter-mailer, is that there is usually no immediate impression, an “open” is required before the recipient can see the offer and act.

One technique that can be used is to put a teaser on the outside – “personal and confidential”,  “time sensitive – please open immediately”, or my favorite, Postal Code 18 SEC 1702 (below).

OPEN ONLY IF A VETERAN OF THE US ARMED FORCESWARNING; $2,000 FINE, 5 YEARS IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH FOR ANY PERSON INTERFERING OR OBSTRUCTING WITH DELIVERY OF THIS LETTER U.S. MAIL 18 SEC 1702 US CODE.  

We have seen all of these techniques (and more) used in practice – still do. What does this type of message mean to you when you receive a letter? Do you automatically think,” this must be a great offer, can’t pass it up, can’t wait to open it and see what’s inside?”

How about this piece below? Does this look like something you might want to open? What is the difference? What elements drive your initial impression of the direct mail piece?

One aspect is that the letter has the format (shape/size) of a greeting card, it has a seasonal greeting, and it has a live holiday stamp. Research tells us that when we include a “live” postage stamp, response rates can increase. On balance, recipients know, when a live postage stamp is being used, then the content is probably more relevant/valuable. This should make an “open” far more likely.

Zairmail now offers the option of using a live “action stamp” rather than a postal indicia. There are more than a dozen different designs, and the choices continue to expand. Using an action stamp shows recipients that the message is unique (stands out in a crowd) and is valuable.

Just as with other tools/techniques, response rates will vary, and this format will not perform the same with every target audience. If the response rates you are seeing today, are a little soft compared with historical results, this may be a powerful option for you.

Just as with any other targeting, messaging, or change in the offer, you will want to conduct an A/B test with a smaller audience. Once you are comfortable with the results, then you can step on the gas, and increase the size of your campaigns.

Remember the discussion of postcards we opened with? We can also place a live stamp on postcards to deliver an extra boost in the mail and increase perceived value.

We can also put postcards in envelopes and add an action stamps to create a low-cost, highly effective, greeting card campaign for the holidays (image above). This is a standard option at Zairmail. We would love an opportunity to help you affordably build a closer rapport with your clients (prospects) this holiday season and supercharge your “open” rates.

Start pushing the envelope and increasing your response rates even further. Use action stamps to stand out in the mail and drive more responses to your campaigns.

Zairmail is the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective way to send mail.

Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.

Direct Mail Delivers for Candidates & Causes

When you are trying to sell your cause (business or political) there are lots of tools that you can use these days. You should definitely have a website, a Facebook page, and some additional keyword rich content posted on both, that are is optimized for search results. You can/should post relevant videos, boost your Facebook posts, and run some ads on Facebook and/or Google.

This is just the baseline for digital media in the world we live in. Still, we can/should do much more.

In particular, we need to pay attention to the offline world – that is the world that people “live” in.

Working on a recent campaign for a school bond measure, we used a whole compliment of digital tools, just as described above. We also used (old school) yard signs, posters, public appearance, social events, and yes, direct mail. In fact, direct mail was one of our single largest budget items – it was also one of our most effective promotions we used.

Here is why direct mail is still such an effective tool in the digital age.

Reach/Deliverability

The mail can reach every household and business in America. We do not need to worry about firewalls or SPAM filters. If we have a valid address, and we send a message in the mail, it will get there.

Based on extensive customer experience at Zairmail (www.zairmail.com), delivery times for First-Class mail appear to be pretty consistent right now. We are seeing three day delivery anywhere in the US – sometimes faster. This gives us the opportunity to deliver messages exactly when they are required.

In Oregon, all elections are conducted securely by mail, as they have been for over 20 years now. The ability to predict and track delivery, allows campaigns to deliver a compelling message, in the same week voters receive their ballot in the mail. This allows us to influence even early voters who will not wait until election day to submit their ballot. We can also reach-out days before the deadline to help influence any stragglers.

Demographics/Targeting

The demographics for mailing lists are very well developed. We can target recipients based on age, income, ethnicity, presence of children, home ownership (or not), credit score, debt/income ratio, and hundreds or other demographic or psychographic variables.

One thing that turned out to be important for our campaign, is that research from the state, showed that less than 25% of school district residents voted in the last major election. That told us that we didn’t need to reach every resident (or carrier route), we just needed to reach those who were most likely to vote. The County Clerk was able to generate a mailing list of all registered voters in the county – this type of list can also be ordered based on party affiliation when needed. This allowed our campaign to focus our message on those who would decide the outcome of the bond measure.

In Union County, Oregon, where this bond measure was offered to voters, school bonds are paid for using property tax proceeds. In this case, based on shrewd debt management by district administration, a pre-existing (2014) bond was refinanced at a much lower rate, reducing the debt service of the current bond. The district also secured a matching grant of $4 million from the state, which was contingent on voters approving the new bond measure. The net result is that the new bond would not cost voters more – although the district was asking voters to forego a slight decrease in tax rate per thousand.
Based on a combination census data and information from the consumer count estimates on Zairmail, we

Direct Mail Delivers for Candidates & Causes

When you are trying to sell your cause (business or political) there are lots of tools that you can use these days. You should definitely have a website, a FaceBook page, and some additional keyword rich content posted on both, that are is optimized for search results. You can/should post relevant videos, boost your FaceBook posts, and run some ads on FaceBook and/or Google.

This is just the baseline for digital media in the world we live in. Still, we can/should do much more.

In particular, we need to pay attention to the offline world – that is the world that people “live” in.

Working on a recent campaign for a school bond measure, we used a whole compliment of digital tools, just as described above. We also used (old school) yard signs, posters, public appearance, social events, and yes, direct mail. In fact, direct mail was one of our single largest budget items – it was also one of our most effective promotions we used.

Here is why direct mail is still such an effective tool in the digital age.

Reach/Deliverability

The mail can reach every household and business in America. We do not need to worry about firewalls or SPAM filters. If we have a valid address, and we send a message in the mail, it will get there.

Based on extensive customer experience at Zairmail (www.zairmail.com), delivery times for First-Class mail appear to be pretty consistent right now. We are seeing three day delivery anywhere in the US – sometimes faster. This gives us the opportunity to deliver messages exactly when they are required.

In Oregon, all elections are conducted securely by mail, as they have been for over 20 years now. The ability to predict and track delivery, allows campaigns to deliver a compelling message, in the same week voters receive their ballot in the mail. This allows us to influence even early voters who will not wait until election day to submit their ballot. We can also reach-out days before the deadline to help influence any stragglers.

Demographics/Targeting

The demographics for mailing lists are very well developed. We can target recipients based on age, income, ethnicity, presence of children, home ownership (or not), credit score, debt/income ratio, and hundreds or other demographic or psychographic variables.

One thing that turned out to be important for our campaign, is that research from the state, showed that less than 25% of school district residents voted in the last major election. That told us that we didn’t need to reach every resident (or carrier route), we just needed to reach those who were most likely to vote. The County Clerk was able to generate a mailing list of all registered voters in the county – this type of list can also be ordered based on party affiliation when needed. This allowed our campaign to focus our message on those who would decide the outcome of the bond measure.

In Union County, Oregon, where this bond measure was offered to voters, school bonds are paid for using property tax proceeds. In this case, based on shrewd debt management by district administration, a pre-existing (2014) bond was refinanced at a much lower rate, reducing the debt service of the current bond. The district also secured a matching grant of $4 million from the state, which was contingent on voters approving the new bond measure. The net result is that the new bond would not cost voters more – although the district was asking voters to forego a slight decrease in tax rate per thousand.

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

The world is a dangerous place. You only have to glance at the news to see that play out in Europe.

Our hearts go out to all the brave men/women in the Ukraine who are fighting to keep their families safe, to retain their freedom, and stand strong against violence and tyranny. It takes a lot of fortitude and courage to stand up to a larger enemy and scream freedom at the top of your lungs.

Thank you to our own service men/woman who risk life and limb to keep us all safe every single day.

It is not an easy job, it comes with a lot of responsibility, and the cost of failure is catastrophic.

Thank you for ALL who serve or have served.

We will forever be in your debt! Zairmail

Zairmail is the fastest, easiest, and most reliable way to send (postal) mail.

The Most Bang For Your Buck

The Most Bang For Your Buck

We are often asked by clients, “how do I get the most bang for my buck, with direct mail”?

Of course, there is not one “right” answer, it will depend on your audience, the nature of your offer, and the goal of the campaign (e.g., awareness, lead generation, direct response…).

There are three factors that have the most impact on price.

First Class or Standard A Postage – First Class postage typically takes 3 days for delivery anywhere in the United States. First Class also provides a return service if the mail can’t be delivered, so that the sender can update their database.

Standard A (Marketing Mail) usually requires 7 to 10 days for delivery and there is no return service. The delivery times can be highly variable. Since Standard A is still called “junk mail” in some circles, there can be a slight stigma with some audiences (e.g., open/response rates may be slightly lower).

The difference in cost is ~$.10/piece. With smaller mailings, it typically makes sense to go with First Class because results are faster, and the cost difference is small. When sending millions of pieces, the cost differential can be significant. In those cases, a hybrid approach sometimes makes sense. We start out sending campaigns First Class to prime the pump, and then transition to Standard A, as volume builds.

BW or Color – BW is going to be less expensive. The difference is also typically ~$.10/piece. Color stands out in the mail and creates a more visually appealing product. Research shows, with many audiences, opens/responses increase when color is used. BW is more common for notices and other common transactional (informational) mail. 

With postcards we have the option of using black & white, color one side, or color two sides. Color both sides it the most expensive, black and white both sides is the least expensive. The most common choice we see is color one side – the address side is black and white; the image (message) side of the card is color. This approach still provides a pop of color in the mail, yet reduces the cost on the address side – which contains mostly return address, recipient, and postal information.

List Size – The majority of the cost (70%+) in direct mail is postage. The USPS offers pre-sort discounts on jobs greater than 500 pieces. Those discounts are passed along to customers in the form of lower prices.

If a job is less than 500 pieces, then we can still use an indicia (square box on the mail piece that says “postage paid”); however, we don’t get any discounts on postal rates. In this case, there will be a slight uplift in the price to cover the higher postage rate.

If the job falls below 250 pieces, then we do not get pre-sort discounts, and we also cannot use a postal indicia. In this case we need to use a live postage stamp. This type of mailing requires full retail postage rates and an additional step in the process to apply the stamps.

It would be common to have a list of (at least) 500 pieces when possible. If not, that is fine, we will always mail using the most cost-effective postage choice.

There are customers who want to make their mailing appear more personal. In those cases, we have clients who choose to use a live stamp on their mailing or use a colored envelope and incur the extra cost. Some also choose to use a handwriting font in the mail piece and/or for the addressing. There is no charge to use a handwriting font or personalize with variable data – we offer this as added value.

We understand that budgets are limited, and cost is always an important concern.

It is always a priority at Zairmail, to give you the best possible value.

Please let us know how we can an assist you.

The Zairmail Team

 

 

About the Author

Wilson Zehr is a Direct Mail Industry Expert, Direct Marketing Specialist, and CEO of Cendix (www.cendix.com), the leading provider of Web-to-print solutions that increase sales both online and offline. He is also the founder of Zairmail (www.zairmail.com), the company responsible for many "industry firsts" in direct mail.

 

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