How to Get Your Direct Mail Opened

Direct-mail is one of the most powerful marketing tools a casino has!   Getting the highest direct mail response should be the goal but there is usually a lot of pressure to keep the costs down. These can be conflicting goals. If we don’t get our mailer opened and read we will get a poor response rate so let’s focus on getting customers to open our direct mail today.Get Direct Mail Opened

Here are a few tricks to get your mail opened.

  • Use a shocking or awe inspired headline

There is a reason why every band does their “last tour” every few years. It creates shock to their fans and creates deep interest in the event. Find something spectacular about your event worth creating some drama about like “biggest jackpot ever” or this is a very rare event or last of it’s kind.

  • Use mystery to make them curious about your mailer

Curiosity is a powerful tool.  If you use some lead-in text on the address side of your mailer (the primary side they see), you can tap into their curiosity and get your mailer opened.  Try a snipe like “You’ll never guess who is coming” but make them open the mailer to find out. Your mailer open rate will increase incredibly.  They could guess, but its more natural to open the mailer and see the answer.  It is a similar technique as a scratch-off for getting your piece opened.

  • Use a scratch-off on the outside to compare on the inside

If you design your scratch off with a compelling offer and easy to understand design they work very well.  You can create a nice scratch-off on the outside and have them check the inside of the piece to see what they have won.  You can create scratch-offs with variable numbers too so make a game of your mailer and it will have a much higher open and interaction rate than the rest of the mail that day.

  • A box-mailer always gets opened

Any box place inside your customers mailbox is the most important thing in the mailbox. If we are talking strictly open-rates than there is no higher interaction rate than a box mailing.  Higher open rates translate into higher response rates. You should definitely do some box mailings throughout the year and compare the post forma math to your other mailers.  You will be very pleasantly surprised by the increased response which can more than justify the additional expense.

  • Send relevant offers about things they like

The difference between direct marketing and junk mail is if you’re sending relevant offers to someone about what they like or want. If you send a country and western invitation to a rock ‘n roll person you are pushing that client away with things they don’t want (aka junk mail).

You want to be a property that has the things they like so you are their favorite place to go.  Code your database well so you can personalize relevant offers to the right person and you’ll always get your mailers opened and higher response rate too.

Personalized Digital Variable Book Printing

We’re printing our first digital booklets! Digital variable data printing at CSG Direct Mail has never been more alive! The idea of a press that prints multiple paged personalized booklets, gathers the pages, folds, stitches together, and finally does the 3 sided trim is an incredible dream come true.

Before this investment we had to print separate pages and then offline stitch and trim. That was not a great way to do personalized mail by a long shot. Too many pieces got destroyed in the process and the offline process increased costs and timelines. We’re highly focused on quality and speed!

Direct mail is a details business. Demand quality if you want success. We’ll help you find ways to balance cost and speed from there. Knowing what you’re dealing with is half the battle.

If you are printing booklets for your organization and would like to see samples printed on our new presses get in touch with us or get a quote.

Increase Direct Mail Response Rates By Learning To Fish With The Right Bait

I was invited to a charity fishing derby and was excited to go. It was a local fundraiser where every fish we caught and released earned a bonus for the charity. I wanted to catch lots of fish, so I grabbed my father’s tackle box, rod, and reel and headed to the event. I didn’t bring any special bait, so I just reached into the tackle box and pulled out the fanciest lure I could find.

This particular lure was large and full of beautiful colors. It was almost as large and colorful as a casino event postcard (hint). It caught my eye and appealed to me, so I was confident it would catch lots of fish that day. I cast my fancy lure into the pond and waited for my first response … uh, I mean fish. While waiting for my first fish to bite, I watched another guy do something very interesting. He started digging around near the edge of the water and caught a couple of small bugs. He pulled out some string and tied a lure that looked just like those bugs the fish were already eating.

To my amazement, he pulled fish after fish out of the water that day. I caught a few fish too, but I was intrigued to watch this great fisherman get such a high response to his bait that day.

It was a simple strategy: he used bait that would appeal to who he was trying to attract – I used bait that was attractive to me. He used information that was literally right in front of him.

So, how do you get a better response rate as a casino
marketer? I’ll break it down into two steps:

  1. Focus group testing
  2. Utilizing what you have learned from the focus group
  3. Testing with variable data printing

Step 1: Focus Group Testing
Just like fishing, direct mail marketing is a science of proven techniques. The one direct mail marketing science that has been proven time and time again to have huge payoffs is focus group testing (like the fisherman used to build his bait). In focus group testing, you survey your clients with different styles of images, messages, taglines, and calls-to-action to find out what is most appealing to them.

In the past, we would do this to determine the most commonly chosen items so we could design a single mailer that would suit the largest cross section of customers. That is still a solid idea, but with the advent of personalized printing, we can easily take this to a whole new level of success.

In a survey process, your guests tell you exactly what brand messages and images they want. Once we have that information, why would we send them anything else? Your clients tell you exactly how to get the best results from them and now you just have to make that happen. You can get better results fast!

The right casino initiatives can easily improve response rates for years.
The closest most casinos get to a focus group is the new guest signup survey. Let’s leverage this survey for the highest results by making some simple changes to it. Don’t be concerned about what type of gambling they will be doing because you can get that from the tracking system later. What you want to know is information to affect the visual bait that they will respond to most. Perhaps you tell them that you are considering a new tagline for your property, like “Every Player’s Best Odds” or “Stay Here, Play Here.” Give them a list of options and ask them to choose the one they like best. Then, give them a series of themed graphics, like spa services, sports, concerts, blackjack, dance club shots, and others that relate to your individual amenities so they can choose their favorite.

For the final question, maybe present 4-5 different color themes and ask which they find most appealing. For the call-to-action, you want them to tell you what message they will respond to most. This can be done many ways and could be an entire article by itself. Let’s use an example of asking guests if they like things like “last minute deals,” “monthly getaways,” “girls’ night out,” “pizza and beer,” “sportsbook parties,” “VIP parties,” or other themes.

With this simple survey your guest has designed their own mailer by choosing their own images and describing in detail your best brand and bait for them. So instead of printing one piece that you hope will please everyone, use digital variable printing to send mailers with the best bait. With rotating graphics, taglines, branding, and calls-to-action your guests chose, you can create a highly personalized appeal for each of your guests. When you communicate with guests in this manner, your results go way up.

Create an ongoing contest for your active guests as well and let them update their own style preferences as often as they want so you always send the best bait. If you do this as an ongoing game and make it fun, your marketing messages can get peak response rates.

Step 2: Utilizing the information gathered with Variable Data Printing
What is it? Well, it is not your grandpa’s mail merge! We were doing mail merges in the 1980s with word processing programs. In the late ‘90s, we started using fancy seashell and cloud fonts for fun. That was cool, but it is not relevant to modern casino marketing. Modern, advanced variable direct marketing is a graphics and database programmer’s dream. The options are truly endless and can be set up to be very simple, yet still highly effective. Everything can be different on every mailer! You can now send every single guest a direct mailer with all the bait choices they personally picked out with you. Everyone gets their favorite colors, brand messages, themes, images, and variable art. This same data can be used for variable themes, images, and calls-to-action in all of your emails and every other direct marketing effort as well.


Let your customers design your messages

Did you know that banks now let you choose what image you would like printed on your credit cards because they know you will favor it more if you design it yourself? They let me upload a picture of my dogs and now that credit card is my pride and joy. The riskiest thing you can do is to send your guests an untested, broad appeal, single branded message. Letting your guests design their own brand experience with your property individualizes the experience for each guest and maximizes your property’s direct marketing results and profits.

That is how you fish with the right bait in casino marketing!

This Article was featured in Raving’s Strategic Solutions Magazine.
Download a copy of it here.

US Mail Tracking systems at CSG Direct Mail

Our proprietary US Mail Tracking systems have successfully tracked over 45 million pieces of direct mail advertising through the US mailstream online, in real time. That’s 45 million pieces followed across the country individually, like you do packages.

Using our new proprietary system, coupled with the USPS’s new Intelligent Mail Barcodes, a business can finally track the progress of its mail campaign using its own customer ID or account number.

Some of the system’s more popular features are the interactive reports as each piece crosses the country. Bulk mail can now be tracked just like more expensive alternatives such as UPS and FedEx.

Additional tools and applications are being built around this new system to make this new innovation accessible for every direct mail customer in America. Track Direct Mail’s uses seem endless. The technology allows database-marketing companies another level of strategy to reduce postage, find lost mail and help customers that may experience problems with the nation’s mail stream.

With all of these innovations it was only a matter of time until we put all of our CSG Direct Mail Tracking tools on the iPhone and iPad. CSG Direct Mail for iPhone was released into the iTunes App Store May 7th 2010. Track every aspect of your direct mail projects with Live Project Tracking from the CSG DIRECT MAIL Processing plant and Live US Mail Tracking as your pieces travel through the US Postal Service.

This has been THE DREAM in direct mail for decades and we made it a reality! These newest innovations are built on our proprietary Direct Mail Tracking Systems. We continue to redefine the Direct Mailing industry! CSG Direct Mail brings you Better Results Fast!

CSG Direct Mail and Mailing Lists

One of the most effective innovations provided by the USPS has been access to all National Change of Address (NCOA) records to update your mailing list. Unfortunately you have to twist some companies arms to do this service for you. That is why the US Postal Service has decided to make it mandatory.

17% of your database moves every year on average and when you mail Presorted Standard (old 3rd Class) this mail is thrown out by the Postal Service unless you pay to get it sent back you.

The value of recovering even 5% of your database is huge, let alone 17% for 1 year or 40% if you haven’t done it yet at all. We have been doing this so long (early adopter) that we have some very specific tools and methods to take it to the next level for you. Database Marketers know the value of the cleanest data possible and you will too.

If you want to maintain response rates from 2-7% you must be on top of your game and NCOA Link® is one of the tools we pros use everyday.

Direct Mailing Innovations and the best Variable Data Printing from CSG Direct Mail get you Better Results Fast. Find out how our newest innovations and decades of proven results make us the direct mailing services partner and variable data specialists you are looking for.

Ak us anything or give us a call at 800-881-2150.

Mobile Commerce and Personalization Promotion Update

Additional Information on the Mobile Commerce and Personalization Summer 2012 Promotion: A Notice of Price Adjustment was filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on February 21, 2012, and the promotion is still pending PRC approval.

Building upon last summers mobile barcode promotions success, the USPS is offering it again from July 1, 2012, through August 31, 2012. In the final rule Federal Register posted today on Postal Explorer, they describe the conditions for eligibility for the promotion and the revised mailing standards to implement it.

Here is information to help you take advantage of this revised special offering:

· Qualifying mailings are Presorted and automation mailings of First-Class Mail cards, letters, and flats and Standard Mail (including Nonprofit Standard Mail) letters and flats with a mobile barcode inside or on the mailpiece.

· The mobile barcode must lead the recipient of the mailpiece either to a webpage that allows the recipient to purchase a product or service on a mobile device, or to a personalized URL, which leads to a web page that is unique to an individual recipient.

· Qualifying mailings may receive an upfront price reduction of 2 percent of the eligible postage.

· Participation requires electronic documentation.

· Commingled, combined and co-mail mailings are allowed, but a separate postage statement is required for pieces with mobile barcodes.

Using mobile barcodes is a great way to integrate direct mail with mobile technology.

For more information visit our previous blog on This Summer’s 2012 Barcode Promotion or visit the RIBBS website. You can also email mobilebarcode@usps.gov

Direct mail marketing with CSG direct mail

Direct Mailing Innovations and the best Variable Data Printing from CSG Direct Mail get you Better Results Fast. Find out how our newest innovations and decades of proven results make us the direct mailing services partner and variable data specialists you are looking for.

We live and breathe direct mail strategy, digital printing and results!

• America’s 1st Live Direct Mailing Job Tracking Systems in Direct Mail – 1999

• America’s 1st public bulk US Mail Tracking Systems – 2008

• iTunes 1st iPhone Direct Mail app in the iTunes app store – 2010

• 25 USPS MQC Certified Employees working in all aspects of your projects

• Over 2 decades in personalized Variable-Data-Digital-Printing

POSTNET Barcode Discontinuation Proposed

dmm-advisoryToday, the POSTNET™ Barcode Discontinuation proposed rule was posted on the Federal Register website and soon it will be posted on the Postal Explorer® website under Federal Register.

The proposed rule includes the basis for discontinuing use of POSTNET™ barcodes and allowing only Intelligent Mail® barcodes (IMb™) for automation price eligibility by January 2013. The Postal Service™ understands that many mailers currently use POSTNET barcodes and we are committed to providing information to and working with individual mailers and software providers to ensure that the use of an Intelligent Mail barcode is achievable for all mailing customers.

The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) is available on Postal Explorer (pe.usps.com). To subscribe to the DMM Advisory, send an e-mail to dmmadvisory@usps.com. Simply indicate “subscribe” in the subject line

2012 Mobile Barcode Summer promotion

This year’s big summer promotion from the US Postal Service will offer a 2% discount for mail that sports a mobile barcode that sends consumers to e-commerce or personalized websites.

For the second year in a row, the USPS will be “giving money away” in July and August to demonstrate the value of physical mail in an increasingly digital world, and encourage its customers to try out technology linking physical mail to online content via mobile phone scanning codes.

BACKGROUND AND PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
The 2011 Mobile Barcode Promotion was successful in generating increased interest in the use of mobile technologies in direct mail. Mobile technologies continue to be one of the fastest growing marketing sectors, and mailer resources will be increasingly diverted to this medium. As technology changes the marketing landscape, the Postal Service must ensure that direct mail continues to be a relevant part of the marketing mix.

The 2012 Mobile Commerce and Personalization Promotion provides mailers with an upfront postage discount on qualifying Standard Mail® and First-Class Mail® letters, flats, and cards that contain a mobile barcode or similar print technology that can be read or scanned by a mobile device. The technology must lead the recipient to either:

1. A webpage that allows the recipient to purchase a product or service on a mobile device.
OR
2. A personalized URL, which leads to a web page that is unique to an individual recipient.

Registration Begins: May 1, 2012
Program Period: July 1 through August 31, 2012
Discount Amount: 2% of eligible postage. The mobile barcode discount is calculated in
PostalOne!® and applied to the mailing statement at the time of mailing.
Normal postage prices as listed in the published price schedule apply to
the mailing, and the discount is applied to those prices.
Eligible Mail Classes: Standard Mail® letters and flats
Nonprofit Standard Mail letters and flats
First-Class Mail® presort and automation letters, cards and flats

Program Registration: Participants and/or mail service providers must register on the Business Customer Gateway. Mailers agree to participate in a survey about the promotion. Registration opens May 1, 2012 and will continue throughout the promotion period.

MAILING SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS
Documentation/Postage Statement: Mailings must be submitted electronically via mail.dat, mail.xml or Postal Wizard.

Participating mailers will be required to affirmatively claim this promotion on electronic postage statement submissions. All mailpieces in a mailing statement must be eligible for the promotion. Note, the discount must be claimed at the time of mailing and cannot be rebated at a later date.

Mailing Date: Mail must be tendered for acceptance during the promotion period, July 1, 2012, through August 31, 2012. Qualified PVDS mailings that are verified and paid for by August 31, 2012, will be accepted at destination entry postal facilities through September 15, 2012.

IMB Requirements: Automation mailpieces must contain an Intelligent Mail barcode.

Postage Payment Method: Postage must be paid using a Permit Imprint, or Precancelled Stamp permit. Some Meter Permit mailings may qualify. OMAS and “Official Government Mail” mailings are not eligible for the promotion.

The two-dimensional barcode or similar print technology which takes a consumer to a mobile optimized site that either enables mobile commerce or is personalized for the recipient. All qualifying mail must contain a mobile barcode or equivalent technology that can read or scanned by a mobile device (this includes two-dimensional barcodes, tags, and watermarks). The mailpiece must also contain text near the barcode or image providing guidance to the consumer to scan the barcode or image. Additional requirements are listed below.

Mobile Commerce
If the barcode is used to facilitate mobile commerce:
• The destination web page(s) must contain information relevant to content of the
mailpiece, and some or all of the service(s) and/or product(s) advertised in the mailpiece
must be available for purchase on a mobile device.
• The destination web pages must reside on a web site platform that contains (or is deeply
integrated with) a checkout functionality so that consumers can complete the purchase of
the good or service referenced in the mailpiece through a complete mobile optimized
experience.
• Websites used for e-bill payment of prior purchases, or regularly scheduled payments
(weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, etc.) for goods and services are not eligible.

Mobile Personalization
If the barcode leads to a personalized website:
• For each mailpiece recipient, the web address is unique to the recipient, as is the content
of the web page.
• Unique web page content is based on relevant customer data such as prior behavior, life
stage, segmentation, and demographics.

REQUIREMENTS AT THE TIME OF MAIL ACCEPTANCE AND POST- MAILING
At Mail Acceptance: The mailer must provide a hard copy, unaddressed sample of the mailpiece showing the placement of the mobile barcode to the acceptance clerk. If a mailing contains mobile barcode mail from multiple mailers, a hard copy sample of each mailer’s
mailpiece must be presented. If mobile personalization is used, at least two samples must be submitted in order to demonstrate that the web addresses are unique to each recipient.

Post Mailing Requirements: All mailers who receive the discount must retain an electronic or hard copy sample of the mailpiece until October 31, 2012, and if requested by the Postal Service must forward such sample to the promotion program office.

The great thing about all this is that it WORKS! Our personalized Christmas card program got a 21% response rate. That was easy and fun! This program was creative, inexpensive and easy to execute. In the past this kind of campaign was intimidating for most people. But now you can enjoy the giant response rates and stay within your budget too.

We’re known for The Greatest Value in Direct Mail – Better Results Fast, Bonus Bucks, Free Online Advertising, and comprehensive Direct Mail programs. We live and breathe direct mail strategy, digital printing and results! You will get your greatest results right here! We have the testimonials, the skills and experience, you have a project. So Let’s do your next Direct Mailing Together!

Information provided by the United States Postal Service. Download the 2012 Mobile Commerce and Personalization Promotion Guide.

Digital Printing Can Be Green!

The call to be “green” is evident everywhere in our society. It is a great thing to be good stewards of the beautiful blue marble on which we live. At CSG Direct, we are always looking for new ways to enhance our green initiates. This can be a challenge in the direct mail and digital print industry, as we generate tons of paper and parts waste during our processes. It takes a bit of effort, research, and reaching out to partners to get it going, but it is easy to maintain and enhance once it is incorporated into a company’s processes.
And in some instances, it gives the company a chance to recoup a bit of the operating expenses.

Digital printers and presses have become much more environmentally friendly over the past few years. Most large printer manufacturers have green initiative programs for recycling parts and used consumables, which one can participate in for little or no cost. These printers are more energy efficient and are EnergySTAR® compliant which is always nice for a company’s energy costs. Toner technology has made huge progress with biodegradable toners that don’t require fusing oil, smaller particles that require less toner to be applied to the sheet and is easier for the printers internal parts which means less replacement and manufacturing of parts.

Recycling of paper, cardboard and plastic is huge in the print industry. In the printing process we receive paper wrapped in paper, plastic, or cardboard boxes. We cut paper to put into our machines to imprint and then trim it creating tons of paper waste. That’s a lot of material that would go to a landfill. Better to partner with a local company that recycles. They will usually provide large containers for recycling different materials and will pick them up when full.

Toner and ink cartridges are a huge cost for any printer and create a huge waste. There are many companies that will buy back various empty cartridges, pay for the shipping and send your company a nice check in the process. One just needs to set up a program to place the empty cartridges somewhere (usually on a pallet so it is ready to be shipped), and wait until you have a large quantity. Then, contact the company, get shipping labels, wrap the pallets, ship them and wait for the check. It’s a beautiful thing!

Recycling used printer parts is becoming more readily available and printer manufacturers are enhancing their recycling programs. Many new parts will come with return shipping labels to send back the old part with. Just replace the part, put it in the box and call for pickup. Again you are reducing waste at no cost to the company. In addition, one can purchase re-manufactured parts that are close to OEM parts at about 60 to 70% of the cost. You just return the used part to the company where you purchased the part. One usually has to pay shipping for this, but it is easily offset by the cost savings of the initial purchase.

There are many benefits to having a green program for your company. It is fairly easy to implement into your process and enhances over time. It will reduce environmental burdens, be attractive for potential customers, can be cost effective, and provide revenues back to your company. It’s a real win-win for all involved. And who doesn’t like that!