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Why Is Insert Media Still So Relevant Today?

With 2022 well underway, there are still so many unknowns in terms of post-pandemic consumer behavior — are changed behaviors here to stay? Brands continue to launch omnichannel strategies hoping for the best possible outcome with growth and sales.

Insert Media has been a highly responsive media channel for over half a century. It’s a tried-and-true channel that is not only reliable, but it’s cost-effective. However, here’s why it is still so relevant right now:

1. The Tight Paper Market

With press and paper shortages, companies utilizing catalogs and direct mail face several macro challenges today (in addition to those mentioned above!). In fact, leading supplier of print and packaging, Lindenmeyr Central, recently reported: “Paper supply has never been tighter.” Brands that rely heavily on direct mail for Acquisition need alternative solutions. Since Insert Media involves smaller formats and therefore uses less paper, it is easier to get paper for this channel than others.

2. Cost-Effective, Targetable and Measurable

In marketing, response is everything. After all, our goal is to earn your brand more revenue — in a cost-effective way. Moreover, a brand’s performance with Insert Media is similar to Direct Mail at a fraction of the cost. Insert Media is targetable based on a brand’s audience. It can then be measured to determine the impact of the media on a brand’s campaign. This high-level of traceability will ultimately help your bottom line.

3. Implied Endorsement

In our post-pandemic world, partnerships are more popular than ever. Not only do they offer exposure to new audiences, but the shared resources are ideal. Helping brands with category or product expansion and customer loyalty, the power of partnerships is real (source: Shopify). With Insert Media, there is an implied endorsement — like partnerships — and trust is further established given that your brand’s insert is included in another company’s communications.

4. No Privacy Concerns

In today’s marketing landscape, privacy concerns are top of mind. As we continue to navigate our way through privacy issues with other channels, the great news is that there are no privacy concerns for Insert Media.

5. Different Types to Fit Your Brand’s Needs

From catalog blow-ins, package inserts, shared mail, onserts, and single-sheet inserts to statement inserts, there are many different types of Insert Media. Whether you’re a high-end retailer or mid-ticket company, there are Insert Media strategies for each brand. Whether you’re a high-end retailer or a mid-ticket company, there is an Insert Media strategy that fits your brand.

If you’re looking for new channels for your brand, get in touch with us today and discover all that Insert Media has to offer.

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Strategic Marketing Leader, Mark Friedman, Offers Catalogers and DTC Brands Tips For Making 2022 Their Most Successful Year

Recently, we sat down with strategic marketer, Mark Friedman, who has driven growth in the competitive digital marketing space for 25+ years. From Brooks Brothers to Warnaco–where Mark ran businesses for Speedo, Calvin Klein Underwear, and Calvin Klein Jeans–to Steve Madden, FullBeauty Brands, and Amerimark Holdings, Mark has led the charge in driving traffic to stores, websites, or phones, and optimizing conversion of that traffic for both offline and online brands.

In our latest discussion with Mark, we talked about how marketers can maximize their success in 2022. With so many macro factors at play–from the supply chain, pandemic, and consumer behavior to new technology–the playbook is being rewritten both for catalogers and DTC brands.

According to Mark, here are ways that catalogers and DTC brands can make 2022 their most successful year yet…

1) If you’re digitally native and not currently using DM, test it out!

Testing any form of Direct Mail (DM) will optimize your omnichannel strategy. You may try different forms, or just one–either way, direct mail increases customer engagement and therefore, will help drive response and brand awareness.

If you have already been in the mail with catalogs (or currently are!), you are likely experiencing the stress of paper shortages and press concerns. DM is a viable solution for this problem–and we can support the execution. 

2) Analyze “changed” consumer behavior.

As we all know, COVID-19 has created new customer behavior, changed brand loyalty patterns, and increased digital adoption. However, several brands have reported that the new customers acquired during the pandemic are similar to those they had been acquiring in the past.

This tells us that current customers are incredibly important. What are you doing to retain all these customers? It is especially important to focus on customers who have not purchased a second time.

Overall, we recommend strengthening your marketing message o those who have not yet purchased a second time. In fact, we have a new solution that can help you with exactly this. Connect with us to learn more.

3) Double down on new customer acquisition.

As we just discussed, retention is always an important factor. But, even if you move the retention rate significantly, most businesses are still going to need 60-70% of their buyers in any given year to be new.

The most successful DTC marketers are successfully employing a broad media mix including paid search (brand and non-brand), display, affiliate marketing, retargeting, social (organic and paid), email and SMS, and marketplaces.

4) Realize that online is everything.

While some brands may view themselves as “offline” or “catalogers,” the web is where everyone needs to be. Of course, there have been several changes recently with the iOS 15 updates, Facebook adjustments, and more, but it is important to think about all the data that is still captured online. With more first-party data, loyalty programs can excel, preference centers can strengthen customer relationships and optimal site speed will not only drive higher conversion, but the customer experience will be enhanced. There is an opportunity for offline brands…online. 

5) Reevaluate your shipping methods.

The rising prices from shippers and increased number of backorders cause more split shipments and packages per order and therefore, the net freight expense as a percentage of your net sales is likely going up.

Brands must manage the current situation. You may do this by revising the value of a free shipping offer and the hurdles you use. Look at the methods for how you ship. If you have stores, how are you leveraging the store fleet (i.e., ship from store) based on where shipping costs may be lower? This may even help reduce the ship time for customers.

6) Be realistic about today’s supply chain and pivot.

Order earlier than you ever have before. Often, you cannot make changes once the orders have been placed due to lead times. Some questions to ask: Can you accept backorders? If not, can you build that capability?

Now is the time to focus on the innerworkings of your brand. What can you afford to shift? What is not adding to your success right now? Answering these questions honestly and realistically will benefit your bottom line.

7) Rely on your building blocks and best practices.

When in doubt, always rely on your foundational building blocks. Nobody knows your business better than you. Therefore, you can determine what to change and continue most efficiently. From this standpoint, it is all about the details. For example, can you extend a contract for a reduced price? Are there services that you can do without? Two words: Be relentless.

We hope you enjoyed Mark’s insight for how to add success for your brand this year. No matter your product or service, the recipe is the same. Whether we’re talking about macro trends, your unique strategy or tried and true best practices, Mark believes “the devil is in the details.” That said, we’re looking forward to collaborating this year and beyond!

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Bring It On, 2020-Too

As we enter the New Year, we can’t help but think of the newest popular saying: “2020 – too.” Get it? Beginning last month, several news outlets published their marketing predictions for this year by looking back at 2021 successes and failures as well as industry-leading brands. From increased customer loyalty to an emphasis on personalization, marketing in 2022 is surely unprecedented. Can you believe we’re using that word again?

Rather than add to the list of articles about predictions (though we are always happy to share if you are interested!), we thought it would be helpful to provide current scenarios and what they mean for your marketing strategy in the next few months and beyond.

Current Scenario 1: Brick-and-mortar closures due to not enough employees available to work.

This is likely due to several factors, but mainly people contracting COVID-19 (or having experienced exposure) and that people have found new work elsewhere. Reuters reported a record 1.35M COVID-19 cases on Monday, January 10th, which was the new single-day high (source: CNBC). Additionally, a record 4.5M Americans quit their jobs in November (source: SHRM). Whether this is a result of finding higher paying jobs, relocation due to the pandemic, or something else, bricks-and-mortar are suffering the consequences.  

What This Means for Your Marketing Strategy: Your target audience may not be what it once was. People are adapting to bricks-and-mortar closures in different ways. Some are becoming more brand loyal; some are finding other solutions and some are developing new habits. It may be time to revisit your house file, reevaluate your top earning channels and discover new marketing tactics (PS: Are you familiar with our New to File Direct Mail program? It helps with exactly this. Reach out here to learn more).

Current Scenario 2: Privacy Concerns, Apple’s iOS Updates, and More…Signal Upcoming Tech Changes.

From privacy concerns and Facebook’s policies changing social media, technology modifications like Apple’s iOS updates affecting email marketing, Google’s algorithm adjustments affecting SEO, to Instagram’s new focus on video, marketers’ tech stack is shifting.

What This Means for Your Marketing Strategy: Marketers must rely on partners–to be the most cutting-edge, to understand the latest laws and best practices–to continue driving your omnichannel strategy forward.

Current Scenario 3: More Channels for Consumers Than Ever Before

Since 2020 (and arguably even before), there has been a theme of disruption. The pandemic stimulated widespread digital adoption, facilitated changed consumer behavior, and impacted the supply chain. Each day, we are dealing with the impact that these changes have had on our businesses.

What This Means for Your Marketing Strategy: Marketing will continue to be a challenge. In fact, Forbes reported: “Marketing is getting harder, and there’s no end in sight…numerous disruptive changes have dramatically impacted marketing and advertising in the last several months.” However, while people are consuming more channels than ever before, marketers may also utilize this opportunity to test new channels, find new customers and thus, drive success.

In looking at the above current scenarios, we hope your mind isn’t spinning, but if it is, lucky for you we understand the marketplace. With our 30+ years of industry experience, we know the ins and outs of this landscape. At our core, we are flexible and adaptive, which is how we help our clients daily. While we do not know what the future holds, we do know how to grow your customer base and thus, revenue using our building blocks: open communication, sharing and collaboration, innovation and problem solving and personalization. We look forward to collaborating with you this year

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Building Blocks: 2021 Holiday Season Learnings

As marketers, we understand that the landscape is changing daily. From branding to promotions, best practices are constantly evolving. In the last few months, we have posted about the all-important holiday season in terms of planning for it and selling successfully. With the holiday season underway, we wanted to provide a roadmap for the last few weeks of the year – to ensure you close it out successfully.

(1) Attempt to Clear Any Excess Inventory to Protect Margin

  • – It is important to remember that the work is not over once the holiday season is here. In fact, it is a critical time to ensure you end the year in a profitable way.
  • – Analyze what is left in stock, and what you can promote right now (or in early 2022). Build a post-holiday marketing calendar and campaign to stimulate sales.
  • – Use your hard-won list growth from the holiday season and continue the conversation with customers. Tip: ignite a sense of urgency!
  • – Use both personalized marketing and bulk tactics.
    • – Examples include an exciting subject line that is transparent or show products that are on sale in emails. Better yet? Personalize emails with previously viewed items that are now on sale or abandoned cart positioning.

(2) Reflect & Learn to Stimulate Growth in 2022

  • – Dedicate time to learn and document your wins / losses while they are fresh in your mind.
  • – Reference your calendar with campaign reporting. Observe traffic, measure results and identify selling trends. Record your marketing successes; use them for future planning.
  • – Assess your inventory and determine:
    • – Were your best sellers those that you expected them to be?
    • – Were different items more popular?
    • – Were there more items that needed to be discounted than you thought?
  • – Use tools like customer surveys to help with marketing decisions for next year.

As you can tell, our themes are absorption, education, and growth. We believe that evolution is the key to success – especially in this ever-changing retail landscape. Most importantly, this evolution will trigger success. We hope you are having a successful holiday season and look forward to even more prosperity in 2022!

Information sourced from Mailchimp eCommerce Masterclass Series. 

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What You Need to Know About Apple’s iOS 15 Updates & Its Potential Effect on Your Email Marketing Efforts

Data privacy continues to be top-of-mind for marketers especially for some of the largest – and arguably most influential – players in the digital space. Recently, Apple announced its iOS 15 software update that will significantly impact marketers. More specifically, it will influence how we measure email success.

Be In the Know

With the iOS 15 update, it is likely that email open rates will be inflated. The level of inflation will be determined by number of Apple Mail users in a company’s email file or customer-base. In 2020, about 50% of emails opened were from Apple products using the Mail feature.  

What to Expect

  • Open rates will be inflated.
    • With iOS 15, Apple Mail automatically downloads images. This then triggers the tracking pixels embedded to send an “opened” response back to the ESP server.
    • Even if a user does not open an email, this new feature will trigger an “opened” response the moment that images are downloaded.
  • Date and time could be inaccurate.
    • With Apple Mail, the “opened” signal is sent the moment the images are downloaded. Therefore, marketers will have no way of knowing that when the images are downloaded, the prospect or customer was viewing the email.
  • Triggers or workflows based on an “opened email” will be disrupted.
    • It is common practice for marketers to resend campaigns to consumers who did not open the email the first time a campaign is launched. With iOS 15, marketers will not know who specifically opened the email and therefore, would risk resending the email to the wrong individuals.
  • Location-based email targeting relying on IP address will no longer be reliable.
    • This new feature masks Apple users’ IP addresses, so their online activity and location will not automatically link.
    • The functionality of the “countdown” clock widget may be impacted, but we do not know for certain yet.

What This Means For You

We understand that this update is creating new hurdles for marketers. We are with you! However, it is important to look at the bright side:

  • This update will not impact all email subscribers. Right now, Google, Outlook and other email users make up more than 60% of the global share and they have not announced any updates.
  • Clicks and click-through-rates (CTR) will not be affected by this update, which are often even more accurate metrics to determine engagement.
  • This is a time to get creative. We can tie site traffic to an email campaign, enlist the help of clickmaps, and analyze unsubscribe rates.
  • A/B testing is still an option! Taking subject line testing as an example, marketers will still be able to determine an outlier even though open rates will be inflated. As a secondary option, clicks can also determine this winner. If a Call-to-action (CTA) is featured, marketers can measure success through conversion data or site activity.

As marketers, we understand not only the importance of data & analytics, but why keeping data privacy at the forefront of your omnichannel strategy is necessary. In fact, a couple of months ago, we published articles encouraging your proactivity regarding data privacy and how to be data compliant in 2021. However, no one can prepare for the updates that the industry’s largest players have made, and will continue to make. We can only accept these challenges, and design new systems and processes in accordance with them. We are steadfast in bringing you the most innovative and cutting-edge solutions, and we will continue to do so, even with the iOS 15 update in place. 

Sources include Lift Engine, Hubspot, Apple, and AdWeek.

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The Truth About Your Campaign Metrics: Facebook Announces that Apple Data Is Skewing Conversions

As digital adoption continues to soar post-pandemic, it is evident just how interconnected we really are. This week, Facebook began to quantify the negative aspects of this interconnectivity.

On Wednesday, September 22nd, Facebook announced that it underreported ad performance due to Apple’s iPhone privacy update for its iOS operating system. Specifically, Facebook estimated that it is currently underreporting web conversions on Apple’s iOS by approximately 15% and that this could affect advertisers of various sizes in many ways.

Why This Happened

Recently, Apple made a pivotal update for its users; now iPhone and iPad users will need to opt in to being tracked when they launch an app for the first time. It is now evident how much this new parameter affected advertisers’ campaigns.

What This Means For You

Facebook Vice President of Product Marketing shared in a blog post: “We believe that real world conversions, like sales and app installs, are higher than what is being reported for many advertisers.” Therefore, the results that you are seeing are likely lower than how your campaign is actually performing. 

How We Can Help

Partnership is at our core. We understand that this is not an ideal situation, but because of our strong industry ties and media relationships, we will get through this together. In fact, our digital and data & analytics teams are already working on solutions and adjustments considering this news, which includes:

  1. Working with our Facebook reps to further understand the percentage of users/conversions being impacted across each of our individual clients, and then building models that factor in the potential data loss
  2. Leveraging our clients’ website analytics tools (Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, etc.) to measure key engagement and conversion data points to supplement data coming directly from Facebook.
  3. Researching additional technology solutions to layer on top of Facebook and website analytics platforms to help fill any gaps in the data (however, we are in the early days of these new data privacy issues, and this is more of a longer-term play).

As marketers, we always aim to keep our tech stack fresh, current, and innovative. We are looking forward to solving the challenge Facebook and Apple have presented to us. We are especially looking forward to delivering to you the positive results we know your campaign is driving towards. Stay tuned!

Sources include CNBC, Facebook, and AdAge.

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It’s Not Just the Summer Weather – Direct Mail is HOT!

Almost 500 years after the end of the European Renaissance, direct mail is beginning its own Renaissance. Here is why we are seeing this revival: Forty-one percent of Americans look forward to receiving mail. Beyond that 31% used direct mail to make their most recent purchase decision. Due to this, 25% of marketers planned to raise their direct to consumer mail budget last year to account for the uptick in interest and results. We understand that “direct mail” is a very broad term. It is helpful to note that direct mail is more than just catalogs. We are seeing many types of print formats as well as a variety of specifications and volumes. These pieces complement traditional catalogs. View below more detail on the various types of mail that is sent directly to customers. These are hot right now, so you can make an informed decision as to what best suits your marketing needs.

Funded Direct Mail

Definition: Conventional direct mail without incurring the upfront capital investment. Why It’s Hot: The use of mailing directly is predicted to more than double this year. Funding accelerates your growth and profitability without the costs associated with a traditional direct to consumer mail plan. More specifically, you pay a fixed amount per customer while taking minimal risk and it frees up spend for other channels.

Programmatic

Definition: Allows brands to send triggered or automated direct to consumer mail to website visitors. Why It’s Hot: Fifty-seven percent of marketers reported that direct to consumer mail contributed a 12% increase in response rates to multichannel campaigns. By mailing directly to online shoppers, a programmatic strategy puts your brand in front of the prospect or customer multiple times for a more manageable cost.

Campaign-Based Direct Mail

Definition: Directly mailing campaigns yields a high ROI, and work even more effectively when tied to a specific event or holiday (i.e., Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, Mother’s Day, Store Opening, Anniversary, Birthday) Why It’s Hot: Campaign-based directly sent mail promotes testing at a low, all-inclusive per piece price. More specifically, it allows a brand to pivot quickly in terms of format, layout and creative if the response rate is favorable or unfavorable. In these changing times, this is a viable strategy.

Insert Media 

Definition: A pre-printed advertisement that usually features a special offer. Hundreds of brands use inserts to acquire new customers across a wide range of demographic and lifestyle segments. Insert media delivers numerous new customers at a low cost and with significant reach. Why It’s Hot: Insert Media is a cost-effective, reliable and revenue generating solution for brands. More specifically, it is targetable and measurable, drives cross-channel results, offers category exclusivity, and serves as a brand endorsement. From catalog blow-ins, package inserts, shared mail, onserts, and single-sheet inserts, to statement inserts, Insert Media is turnkey with us. What’s more: Insert Media is not affected by the postage rate increases. We understand that there is “no one size fits all” when it comes to your brand’s marketing strategy. We are here to help you determine the right direct to consumer mail “fit” to further elevate your plan and join the Renaissance happening now. In the meantime, you might be wondering: “What about all the news on the USPS rate increase that I’m reading?” We have you covered. Next week, we’ll be sharing all that you need to know about these upcoming changes and our recommendations for your continued success. Sources include Oxford Languages, Plumb Marketing, Pebble Post, and Marketing Chart.
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Millennials Actually Value Direct Mail

Checking my mail one day, I received an oversized postcard from a restaurant called Lena’s Italian Kitchen, offering 20% off my first order. As a New York City resident, I can say that this was the first (and only) solo Direct Mail piece I ever received from a restaurant. As a direct marketer, I applauded their strategy… what a great way to stand out in a very crowded landscape. Just how crowded? According to a recent report from Crain’s New York, crowded to the tune of over 26,000 restaurants across the five boroughs!