Did you know we offer Stericycle placards?

Check out what we recently completed for Salem Leasing Corporation in Winston-Salem!

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New Informed-Delivery Puts Direct Mail’s Power Into Digital Channels

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Most SMBs use some type of direct mail in their integrated marketing campaigns. From simple sales letters and two-sided postcards, to interactive and three-dimensional pieces, direct mail offers marketers an attractive combination of flexibility, engagement and cost.

This close (arguably dependent) relationship with direct mail is one reason why marketers naturally keep a watchful eye on the US Postal Service (USPS™). When they do something new or unexpected (besides hiking up their rates), smart marketers want to know.

Informed Delivery Pilot Programs

Recently, Postmaster General Megan Brennan announced that over the next five years, the Postal Service will invest billions of dollars in capital projects designed to transform the mail system as we know it and “bring it into the digital age.”

The linchpin of Brennan’s new digital strategy is a free service option for residential customers called Informed Delivery, which is currently beta testing in pilot programs in Connecticut, Virginia and New York.

A Daily Snapshot of Incoming Mail

To aid in mail sorting and delivery, Postal Service inserting equipment takes digital photos of mailpiece front-exteriors. Now, with Informed Delivery, it uses those images for a secondary purpose: to give customers a sneak preview of the day’s inbound mail before it arrives at their home–a convenience, the Postal Service says, that lets people monitor receipt of letters, checks, legal papers, jury duty notices and other important correspondence.

How It Works

Each day, after mail is scanned and imaged, small black-and-white pictures of each piece are compiled and emailed to opted-in participants. Every member of a household can receive individual notifications. In the future, traveling customers may preview the day’s delivery from anywhere, at any time, using a smartphone app or web portal.

Digital Consumer Engagement

“Informed Delivery engages customers where they want to be – in a mobile and digital environment,” says Postmaster General Brennan. “It puts the power of [direct] mail onto digital channels… and creates an opportunity to bring mail and packages onto [consumers’] smartphones and devices.”

A Game Changer for Marketers?

Maybe. Brands could conceivably embed links to websites or digital offers within the daily email notifications. Analytics would also enable the Postal Service to track when and which mailpieces consumers view, and what actions they take, which could improve personalization. Effectiveness of both capabilities should become clearer after pilot programs conclude.

Actual engagement, thus far, seems promising, with 90 percent of beta testers reading notifications four times per week, usually within 52 minutes of receiving them, according to USPS survey results. “This is game-changing for the industry,” Postmaster Brennan claims.

As USPS watchers and integrated marketers, we’ll just have to wait and see.

5 Social Media Tips You’ll Actually Understand

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Social Media is the most important client channel for my company.

In fact, it drives more than 50% of our total client engagements. I am by no means a social media expert.

Rather, I’m just a business owner who learned (through trial and a lot of error) how to make social media work for my business.

Here are 5 tips I learned along the way that helped grow our social media presence.

1.  Get Started

If you have been on the outside looking in or are new to social media, start with Facebook.1.5 Billion people access Facebook daily and 1 out of every 7 minutes spent on the internet is spent on Facebook.  No other platform comes close to that. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ all have value and can be added later. I recommend that you build (focus) your initial presence around Facebook.

2.  Get Liked

In order for the platform to deliver any value, people need to “like” you. For a Facebook business page a “like” is simply a passive subscription to your content. Once people “like” your business page, Facebook will deliver all, or some, of your content to their newsfeeds. This is the most basic form of engagement. Once your customers like you, you can become part of their daily social media experience.

So how do you get liked?  Here are 3 easy, and free, ways to build likes:

  • From your personal page, share your business page with friends and family and ask them to “like” your business
  • Add the Facebook logo to internal and external signage and ask customers to like you – maybe provide a sample of the kinds of content you intend to share
  • Ask your newsletter subscribers to follow you on Facebook, the major email platforms like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp have this feature built in

3.  Get Serious

If you are using your kid, the neighbor’s kid or the babysitter to manage your social media presence – stop! It’s more than likely your social media posts get more eyeballs than your print ads or direct mail. You need to start taking this seriously. I am not kidding when I tell you more than a third of business owners I talk to have a teenager or very junior employee managing social media for them.

This is your business, your brand, and your voice. There should be a plan.  It doesn’t need to be complicated, but try to accomplish a specific goal through social media engagement. For most, the goal is to drive traffic – either into the store or onto the website. Social media allows you to have a conversation with your customers about who you are, what you do, and why you are special. It allows you to answer both the emotional and rational questions a buyer may have. Social media is more than just reposting a pretty picture or clever quote.

4.  Get Organized

Once you start posting to social media regularly, you will be hungry for tools to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your posts. Whether you use only Facebook, or a variety of platforms, an aggregation service like HootSuite can be a huge help. Services like this allow you to schedule posts in advance and post across multiple platforms at once.

They also provide a single dashboard to view and measure engagement on a real time basis. I happen to be a fan of HootSuite as they have a great FREE option that allows users to grow with the service, but there are many such services available today.

5.  Get Going

The saying, “A picture says a thousand words” has never been truer than on social media. Pictures and videos of the products you sell, the creations you make, or the jobs you do are incredibly influential. They speak directly to your skill and passion for your work.

No matter what your business does, you can share pictures and videos of both the finished product and the process of making it.  Imagine a landscape design firm that regularly posted updates of a large project. Customers will come back to view updates like tuning into HGTV. Or a restaurant that not only posts pictures and recipes of its food, but also shares a weekly 5-minute video of the chef preparing a special dish.

Any smart phone is capable of producing social media ready pictures and videos. Even better, the content can be shared directly from the device itself. You should never struggle to come up with content; your business is your content. What do you sell, make, or build? Start sharing it with the world. Someone out there is looking for you.

5 Design Tips for Improving PPC Landing Page Conversions

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Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising in on the upswing in many companies, as integrated marketers become more comfortable with the practice and more convinced of its payback potential.

Of course, attracting clicks, through catchy, targeted ad copy and other factors, is a discipline all its own, and only the first hurdle to PPC success. The second is landing page (LP) performance–how well your content converts once customers click the ad and reach the page.

In an informative article over at SearchEngineWatch, ClickZ Global Editor-in-Chief Graham Charlton, recommends these and other tips for improving your LPs’ performance.

  1. Make relevance obvious
    Driven by a stronger-than-average purchase intent, PPC ad-clickers highly expect that your ad and landing page will clearly be related. If they get even a small whiff of irrelevance they–and your conversion–will bounce away faster than one of these.
  1. Provide a smooth transition
    Visual and tonal continuity between the ad and its associated LP instantly reassure visitors that they’re in the right place. Nothing throws cold water on purchase intent and conversions like a disjointed or confusing connection. Tie ads and pages together by using the same or similar images, tone and language.
  1. Placate non-converters
    Even perfectly designed landing pages won’t convert every time. Still, by providing other take-action options, you can add value and keep visitors engaged. Examples include offering an email sign-up, live chat, and linkable paths to other areas of your site.
  1. Make it mobile friendly
    In the U.S., mobile purchases account for more than 30 percent of all e-commerce sales, Charlton says, which is why you absolutely must optimize landing pages for mobile. Pushing PPC visitors to a desktop-formatted page is a surefire way to lose the conversion and waste your ad spend.
  1. Present clear calls-to-action
    Even an expert like Charlton is quick to admit that what constitutes a ‘good’ CTA is hotly debated. One thing that all PPC authorities agree on, however, is that CTAs should clearly stand out and be easy to find. Experimenting with colors, wording and page position will eventually produce a winning combination.

Find other tips and insights into conversion-centered design in our post “Build a Landing Page that Makes Visitors Take Action.” Or glimpse Kissmetric’s vision of perfection in their “Anatomy of a Perfect Landing Page” infographic.