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Optimize Email, Direct Mail and Landing Pages for Better Results

A Winning Combination - Three Marketing Methods

Billions of dollars are spent globally each year on marketing. Thousands of marketing agencies, directors and managers continually develop new approaches and innovative strategies to promote their products and services. Despite the many imaginative and novel campaigns that companies launch annually, many of them still rely on three basic marketing methods which consistently deliver excellent results when managed correctly:  targeted or bulk direct mail, which is one of the oldest marketing methods; its relatively young cousin, targeted or bulk email; and the newer ‘Big Kid on the Block,’ the landing page. These three marketing methods can work individually, but are far more effective when they are all encompassed in one campaign.

Top Marketing Methods

Direct Mail

With the advent of the internet and ease of communication through email, many marketers believed that direct mail would become obsolete. However, direct mail is still highly effective for several reasons. Statistically, a high percentage of over 60's are not computer literate. If a company is trying to market to this group, direct mail marketing can be effective if done correctly. In addition, there are fewer companies using direct mail marketing and therefore people are receiving less junk mail. Companies that continue to utilize direct mail have an advantage over their competitors that don't use it, especially when using an imaginative mail piece. Letters, fliers, catalogs, brochures and drop cards end up physically in the hands of potential and existing customers, many of whom like going to the mailbox and 'touching' their mail.

Recent research has shown that over 70% of customers respond better to new product launches and special offers when they receive literature via direct mail, whereas less than 20% state that they would be likely to respond well to unsolicited email. An email received about a new product launch is statistically likely to be trashed by over 50% of customers whereas in excess of 30% are likely to open unsolicited direct mail. It is clear that a direct mail campaign will yield significantly higher results and is still a highly effective marketing method.

Landing Pages

Keeping your website high in the search engine rankings is time consuming and requires constant attention. From time to time search engines change the way in which they index sites, so the process of ensuring you appear on top of the primary results page is ongoing.

Landing pages are essential for online marketing campaigns to be successful. A landing page is the web page that is accessed when clicking on a URL or hyper linked text within an advertisement. The page should contain full information about the product or service that is being advertised. There is only one opportunity to make a first impression with the landing page, so it should be customized to communicate what is being sold in the most attractive way possible. It is essential to integrate the landing page into all marketing methods that are being used, so that prospective customers are provided with a URL to visit where they can obtain further information easily.

Forms included on landing pages can be completed online by customers who wish to acquire more specific details. This is also an excellent opportunity to get opt-ins for print and or e- newsletters.

Analytics software can be incorporated into the landing page so that marketers are aware of how many visits have been made to the page, from where the visitors came, times and dates of visits, and many other customizable options that provide vital statistics to measure the success of a campaign. This analysis functions whether or not a visitor becomes a subscriber.

Email

There is no doubt that marketing with email has been popular with companies for several years, not the least because of its almost instantaneous delivery to the recipients. It is also highly cost effective, can be created relatively quickly, and sent to thousands of prospective customers at the touch of a button. As email technology progresses, it is now possible to create any image of your company that you desire, including a one line message, bold, animated colorful graphics or a simple professional, elegant letter. The creative possibilities with email are limitless.

Unfortunately, this amazingly simple marketing method has been abused so much that anti spam (the sending of unsolicited email) laws have been passed in bulk. The overloading of servers by spamming costs industry billions of dollars annually. Clearly this method has to be used wisely and ethically to be effective without incurring heavy fines for abusing the system.

Email marketing is best used to enhance customer loyalty, back up other marketing methods that are being used to create brand awareness, and as an incentive to increase sales of particular products and services. Existing customers are unlikely to automatically delete an email from a sender that is known to them.

Something to consider when using email in marketing is how you would respond to receiving over 150 junk emails per day. Recipients using web based email software will be more aggravated than those using programs such as Microsoft Outlook, because it is much more complicated and time consuming for them to add contacts to the junk email list or delete them online. Each email has to be deleted individually and the inbox reloaded; and considering that bulk email servers continue churning out unsolicited emails despite legislation, your email can be seen as a nuisance and impact negatively on the recipient. Conversely, when used correctly email marketing can bring many rewards.

Utilize Email, Landing Pages and Direct Mail in Marketing Campaigns

All three of these methods function extremely well in marketing when used separately, but to achieve optimum impact, combining them creates a permanent flow of information between your business and prospective customers. This process of constant information produces more sales as the prospective customer is exposed to a greater awareness of the products and services you offer. Through customer interaction, your business can learn more about each prospective customer's requirements. Armed with this information, you can improve customer service, expand product lines if necessary, and meet all your customers' needs more effectively.

There are several different strategies that can be implemented using a combination of email, direct mail and landing pages including the following:

1. By sending an email containing a link to the landing page and including an invitation on the page for the prospective customer to subscribe to your mailing list or newsletter, you can potentially gather the customer's name and address details. You can then send the customer a newsletter or other appropriate literature via direct mail. Prospective customers are not going to subscribe to something in which they have no interest, so your direct mail costs can be considerably reduced by not sending unsolicited mail. Furthermore, there is a much greater chance the mail will be opened because the subscriber has already expressed an interest in your products or services by accepting your invitation to join the mailing list.

2. Direct mail can be expensive in comparison to many other marketing methods. Unsolicited mail is often placed in the trash without being opened, so whatever mail piece is sent relies heavily on the recipient either opening the letter or scanning the card, at a minimum, to ascertain whether or not it is relevant to him or her. There are many ways that this can be achieved. One of them is to personalize a URL specifically for the recipient that directs him or her to a landing page. The PURL is an excellent way to attract the prospective customer's attention. Printed on the letter or card, the PURL will encourage the recipient to visit the link out of curiosity, if not already interested in the relevancy of the message. Once on the landing page, the customer has the option to subscribe to your electronic newsletter or online catalog, and you can also capture his or her email address.

3. You will doubtless have a database of existing and potential customers containing their contact information. Use this database to send out regular emails directing them to your landing page via the link you have included in the email. If you design a mail piece that emulates the look of the email, both in color and design, your potential customers will form a mental association between the two, building brand recognition. 

Is it absolutely necessary to combine these methods? No. They will work individually, but if you develop a combination strategy you can expect better results than individual separate campaigns will yield. The reason for this is that the existing and potential customers are not always online. By sending out traditional mail, companies can add a more personal touch to their marketing while maintaining contact electronically through the internet with regular emails. None of this is rocket science. The more potential customers see your message, in different mediums, the more they will remember what it is you are offering.

Combining marketing strategies are not only effective in the commercial world. They can also aid charitable organizations by encouraging donations through direct mail, which leads the recipients to visit landing pages where they are able to make their donations. In this way the email address of the recipients are gathered for future marketing campaigns. The modern way for charities to encourage donations is to use a combination of direct mail, email, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, together with PURLs and landing pages. Those that advertise on television always direct viewers to landing pages.

Successful Combination Campaign Strategy

As with other marketing methods, combination campaigns require creativity, both in design and content, and an identical message throughout the individual parts. If you are going to direct a potential customer to a landing page it is essential that the link you send functions, because if it doesn't function, not only will you lose a potential sale, but you will appear incompetent. Keep an eye on the small details if you want your campaign to yield optimum results.

Well Written Content

Interesting content that holds the reader's attention is as important in combination strategy marketing as it is in any other campaign. The branding should be the same across all the components including color, font type and size, and overall design. If individual members of your staff are working on the various components, make sure that they work closely together and carry the same theme across email, direct mail and landing pages.

Landing Pages

Landing pages are created to encourage potential and existing customers to take some form of action. The 'Call to Action" should be clearly displayed and as near to the top of the page as possible. There is plenty of space on the page to include more details and further calls for action, but the primary call to action should always be visible from the start.

Bear in mind that not all of your customers utilize the same browsers, so before your landing page goes live, get your IT staff to ensure that the page is fully functional within the main browsers, including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google, Chrome and Safari. This way you can be certain that all prospective customers are able to view your landing page in their preferred environment.

Email

Having ensured that your landing page is easily viewed in all the main browsers, you need to apply the same principle to email. Web based email, including Hotmail, Gmail etc., can display content differently from other applications such as Microsoft Outlook or Express. If HTML code is being used make sure that it displays the text and graphics correctly before sending the email out. Pay particular attention to the width of the email because if it is too wide, most recipients will not want to scroll across and will be more likely to delete it without reading. The width is very important considering the problems that can be caused if your recipients are attempting to read the email on their laptops, iPhones or any device with a smaller than average screen. Working on the principle of “one size fits all” will make your campaign infinitely more successful.

In much the same way as landing pages, your email should have a button to encourage the recipient to take action, at the beginning of the email. Statistically buttons achieve more than 25% higher click rates than text links.

Direct Mail

Encouraging your potential customers to visit your landing page via direct mail is relatively simple. You can print the URL address on the card, letter and/or envelope. PURLs will attract more attention since the customer's name appears in the link. Special codes can be included to offer discounts when the recipient visits the landing page. Once again, consistency between each component is the key to the success of the campaign: direct mail, landing page and email.  

QR Codes

QR codes are 2-dimensional codes, or specific matrix barcodes, that can be read by cameras and dedicated QR barcode readers.  They are a series of black modules that are arranged on a white background in a square pattern which contain specific information such as data, text, or URL’s.  The key difference between standard barcodes and QR Codes is that data is encoded on a horizontal plane with barcodes whereas data can be encoded both horizontally and vertically on a QR code. 

QR Codes have a broader range of applications then standard barcodes and are extremely useful.  One of the primary benefits of QR Codes is that they can be employed in order to integrate a company’s direct mail marketing campaign with their online advertising endeavors.  Our company specializes in designing and setting up QR Codes for our clients so that they can be directed towards a landing page or a website page.  We can easily show you how using QR Codes in your direct mail marketing campaign and online advertising efforts will result in more traffic, sales, and profits.

Other Keys to Successful Integration

Never underestimate the power of social networking sites. You can measure the success of working with them by visiting the websites of businesses in virtually any sector of industry and commerce. Most businesses will have a button link to Facebook or a “Follow us on Twitter” link. If you consider your own website as your Head Office, and social networking sites as your distributors, you will see how it is possible to expand and enhance your brand awareness and advertising. You can include social networking site information on your landing page, in your direct mail, in emails and newsletters, but it should always be secondary to the main promotion of your products and services.

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