Database Artists

The print and mail industries have merged in the last decade creating a lot of “full service” vendors.  However, if you peeled away the layers of marketing you would discover there are really 2 types of vendors in the industry.  There are “printers that mail” and “mailers that print”.  CSG Direct Mail is a “Mailer” at heart and a “printer” second.

We print some amazing projects on some crazy materials at record speed. But we are also building some beautiful databases that drive some amazing projects and recording details from all interactions with a campaign.  We really are database artists.

Putting ink on paper is the easy part. Printers have been doing it for hundreds of years and since we are primarily a digital printer it is a fairly simple task. Printers struggle with the part of the business we like most, database driven everything.  This helps us excel in the difficult world of high tech delivery systems, barcodes, tracking, personalized printing and US Postal Service regulations.

If you’re doing direct mail projects you want a “mailer that prints” like CSG Direct Mail.

DATA DRIVEN

data-driven

data-driven

Being a database driven company keeps us on the bleeding edge of the newest direct marketing systems. That is where the greatest results are coming from and we live and breathe in this category for you.

We make it all seem simple and seamless so you can enjoy better results fast without sweating details.

DATA MINING / ANALYTICS

Are you pulling a list of names that meet a criterion or are you mining your data to find customer patterns and create new categories of customers you can market too?  When you live inside database and do personalized printing you think differently than someone that just pulls mailing lists for a distribution of materials. When you track and record results into data sets you also think differently about what you are looking for inside a database during a marketing campaign.

We help you get better results fast by identifying customer trends.

A great example is a grocery store chain we worked with to identify customer attrition. Using the membership card tracking of 1 store location we identified which customers were increasing their monthly purchases in meat and dairy categories and which customers were reducing their average spending.  By doing this we were able to retain high income by not offering discounts to shoppers increasing spending. We were then able to focus on the only 16,000 people that represented declines in monthly meat and dairy purchases. Those people represented the entire reduced sales of the store and we were able to target relevant coupons and offers to drive increased sales from that group.

DATA APPEND SERVICES

If your database is a flat file with very few details then we need to add some details about your customers to help you customer trends to market with so you can keep costs down and results up. This service is call data-append.

We work with several comprehensive consumer databases that give us hundreds of fields of data we can match to the records in your database. We can find buying habits, age of children, marital status, ethnicity, special interests, credit ratings, type of car driven and so much more.  We use some of the same data sources as homeland security.

Once we append the selected data to your database we mine your top clients to create patterns that we chase through the rest of your data. This helps you identify other top clients.  We could also then build additional marketing data-sets from outside data sources to match your top clients.  Then we use all of these special data fields to drive variable content in your personalized printing campaign.  This is where the term “database artists” comes from.

NATIONAL CHANGE OF ADDRESS

17% of the US population moves every year on average (US Postal Service statistics). So your database is ‘aging” every day and your results are going down every day like a sinking boat. If you don’t keep your database updated with where you customers have moved your results are eventually to just wasted money being thrown in the dumpster.

National Change of Address (NCOA) is a light data-append service that compares your database to the US Postal Service National Change of Address registry.  The US Postal Service stores this information for a maximum 48 months and they now require your list be scrubbed against the NCOA database within 90 days of doing a mailing if you want lower postage rates.

Once your database is cleaned we can help you get it back into your primary data source to save you the headaches and labor cost of intensive data entry.  You need to keep your database up to date but you don’t have to pay a fortune and work long hours to do it.

MAPPING

Once we have your beautiful database built we build maps to display your data for your post forma reporting and historical marketing results binder.  We are also known for our personalized variable direct mail maps and personalized driving directions.

Mapping

Map tools in CSG Direct Mail Portal

Direct Mail: Permit 777

Permit 777

You’ve been looking through your mail and you notice a Postal Permit 777 that is a little different than what you are used to seeing!  You find yourself gazing deeply into the fascinating existence of glorious PERMIT 777.

Whose permit is this? Who created this masterpiece? Why am I staring at it so much and for what reason do I suddenly want to touch it?  lol

You want Permit 777 on your direct mail, don’t you?

At CSG Direct Mail ~ We Are Casino Direct Mail and a casino direct mail piece is the mail piece you found us on, isn’t it?  Helping 30-40 Casinos reach their goals each month is no small task. It takes a team prepped with deep gaming experience and focus on casino goals to deliver better results fast!

If you are a Casino and would like an idea pool a mile deep for casino direct mail, you need to call us!  You can also check out CasinoDirectMail.com to get a small taste of who we are and what we do. We have what you are looking for. We’re inexpensive and friendly too! We pride ourselves on being “The Greatest Value in Direct Mail” and once you try us it will redefine the level of service you expect from now on.  We are a Direct Mail Marketing SERVICE company.

So, why am I blogging about a permit number?  I know people are curious about who’s permit it is and with a blog you will find us.  We get you Better Results Fast!  At least add us to your vendor bid list so you learn about new things happening in Casino Direct Mail.   You Deserve the Best!

Setup a Direct Mail Postage CAPS Account?

What is a Direct Mail CAPS Account and how do you set one up?

A CAPS Account stands for Centralized Account Processing System. The post office makes it easy for your business to electronically put money into your postal account, instead of the hassle of getting a check prepared and deposited at the Post Office before the 5:30 deadline every day. It is the easiest way to fund your permit, business reply mail, merchandise return service, postage due account, and express mail corporate account.
There are two different CAPS Accounts available for postal customers to use. There is a centralized trust account, where customers deposit funds using electronic funds transfer to the CAPS bank prior to mailing. Then, your account is automatically reduced when your local post office processes postage statements. The next CAPS account is the centralized debit account, where customers designate a debit-enabled bank account for postage charges. The bank account is debited for the total day’s postage on the next bank business day.
Each CAPS account customer will have their own unique account number and password to ensure that funds are properly administered. It makes it quick and convenient to mail under the same permit imprint that they have already held (if a personal permit previously existed.) Postal Customers can set up their accounts to have mailing and accounting fees administered automatically.
To set-up a CAPS account contact your USPS local post office, or you can call the CAPS Service Center at (650) 377-1334. You can also download the forms to sign up for CAPS at http://caps.usps.gov/business/caps.asp and mail them into:

CAPS Service Center Postage CAPS Account
2700 Campus Drive
San Mateo, CA 94497-9442

CSG Direct, Inc works very closely with the USPS and we know all about CAPS Accounts. If you need my help, I am just a phone call away 775-852-9777.

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (5 of 5)

Direct MailerStrategy #5) Tracking and Reporting for Success

Every sale in your company should be recorded where the sale came from.  EVERY SALE!!  If you miss this trick you will throw 3/4 of your annual direct mail marketing dollars in the trash.

I know it feels like you drive your own fate and ‘shoot from the hip’ with your ‘gut instincts’ but don’t be so vain that you don’t track the number of sales and value of each from every thing you sell.

This applies to direct mail as well.  Every redeemed piece should be recorded in your CRM tools.  CRM tools you say? If you don’t know what they are or don’t have them in place you and your job are at serious risk.  It’s the year 2010 – get serious.

The strongest businesses around got there by using math, reports and tracking sales. So how are you going to come anywhere near them if you don’t know where your wisest marketing dollar was last year.

Here are some things you should be tracking.

What brought the customer in? Did they see your sign or did a friend tell the to check you out? Did they see your ad n the paper or were they just at the store next door and liked your window display.  Whatever it is you want to focus some effort there.

How much did they spend? If the people than randomly walk by your store spend an average of $20 per visit, but the people that drive to your store directly spend $100; you’ll want to spend more time on your direct mail and print ads since they earn you more money.

Who are your multi-trip customers? If you have customers that return to your business time and time again would you know who they were?  Identify loyalty and reward it! Then give them an offer for them to bring a friend.  Birds of a feather do what?

Who are your top spenders? If they like your products why do you wait for them to randomly come in?  Personally invite them for something they would like.  It’s really simple if you take action.

Your best Direct Mail Marketing strategies start with you understanding your clients and learning how to market to each type of client. If you are not tracking anything how will you ever do that?

Step up; it’s not a game you want to lose.

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (4 of 5)

I’m sitting down with a client the other day and we are discussing the direct mail giveaway offer and the size of the mailing list. One of the people at the table says, “We’ll if we’re mailing 10,000 people we need to reduce the size of the offer, we cannot afford to give that much away”. This is a typical answer from a newbie.

Strategy #4) Don’t be stingy with your offer

The entire idea is to make sure you offer everything you can to each individual where you maximize profit and results. This is what personalization is all about. If one guest is worth offering $20 to get them in and another person is worth offering $100 to, you can do that easily with variable data printing. If you only offer $20 to both people you usually eliminate the response from the $100 guest and your company is full of $20 guests.

As far as “Everyone showing up” You have to ask yourself how many people are really even paying attention to your offers. Direct mail is a numbers game and the more you water down your offers the fewer the number of people that really even care.

Let’s say for example I was giving away a free car and I mailed 1000 people to give them away.  I would only likely have to give away 50-60% of those at most.  First off there are a huge percentage of people in your database that don’t read direct mail at all. The there would be skeptics, then people that forget to respond, etc.  So you might get a 50-60% response with a free new car.

So when you take your $50 offer and decide to lower it to $15 you are likely taking your 3% and cutting it down to 1% or less. You are also drawing in a much cheaper crowd.  If $15 is important to someone they are not likely wealthy enough to be a good customer buying all your goods and services, are they?

Make sure you use your customer historical sales to manage to offer everybody the most you can, based on what they average to spend.  Then you get sales from all levels of your customers and not just the cheaper ones.  Don’t guide your business smaller and smaller by catering to your cheapest of customers by getting cheap on your offers.

But then again don’t offer the best you have to your cheapest customers either. I hope you are tracking your customer sales and building offers based on their value.  I truly hope you are!

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (3 of 5)

In Direct Mail Marketing we usually have a product we want to sell and we try to find the best way to sell it. We then work every trick and angle we can think of to develop the best response possible.  Have you ever thought that maybe this is backwards?

Strategy #3) Sell what your database tells you to! Direct-Mail shoes

Do not tailor your database to your offers, tailor your offers to your database. You need to send things your customers want, not just what you want to sell.

This is where direct mail tracking pays huge dividends.  On every mailing and every promotion you ever do you need to find ways to track and record sales and all sales details on each person.  This is the only way to develop what each individual likes about your products or services. Information is King!

An example is trying to sell coats to people that buy shoes. Sure you can likely sell some of them coats but for best results sell them more shoes.  Then, if they like black shoes; quit trying to sell them blue ones.  If they don’t like laces, promote shoes without laces to this particular person.

Variable data printing makes this easy!

Why are you pushing coats on your shoe people, anyway?

Sure, maybe you have an inventory of coats to sell too. But you should make those a secondary offer that follows directly behind what you know your customers like first.  “Buy 2 pairs of [insert favorite shoes here] and be entered to win this fabulous coat.” Then when they are buying all these shoes, you get them to try coats on and tell them about the coat sale this weekend too.

If you do not have the data to know what your customers have bought and how to personalize with variable data printing, you are at the right place here at CSG Direct, Inc.

Variable Data Print Sample

There is a huge separation in businesses that track sales and those that do not.

If you do not track your customers preferences you are going to lose in your competitive marketplace. You will lose!  Your competitors will win more sales with less money. You will win fewer sales and spend much more marketing dollars to do it.

Direct-Mail Perfect fit

Direct Mailing is still the Best Marketing

Direct Mail

At least with CSG Direct is it !!

Even as new forms of direct marketing emerge in this new era, direct mailing is still setting the bar in response, results and accountability in marketing. Most every other media cannot get you out of the most expensive parts of marketing – prospecting. In Fact, most advertising dollars wasted on broad shotgun prospecting.

Direct Mail is very focused on sales and generating revenue.

Experience will tell you that there are 2 levels of marketing.

The first level is the most expensive and that is to find out who is interested in your product or services.  Prospecting or acquisition marketing is where you spend money to broadcast who you are to the public and see who responds with interest in your product or service. This is commonly done with Television, Radio, Newspaper, Billboards, Websites, Yellow pages, Magazine ads, Telemarketing and sure Direct Mail of course too (however it is more direct, personal and accountable in prospecting).

The second level of marketing is what you do with all the customers and prospects that contacted you with any level of interest. This is where all your long-term income is made. You see, once you have a list of people who like what you do you can build long-term relationships with a direct sales approach. This includes direct in-person sales, tele-sales, direct mail and email. (I will save social networking for a later topic – it follows email)

That is the proper order for results too:
1) In-Person sales cost the most and sell the most.
2) Tele-Sales still utilizes personality and relationship but you are easily pushed into voicemail hell.
3) Direct Mail is something they have to see and touch and they can save it and share it with others in the home or office.  They can keep it for later too. Direct mail costs much less than in-person or tele-sales but you can sell a proportionally less amount too.
4) E-mail, currently the lowest form of marketing. Sure, if you have a relationship and are working on projects with a client it is great.  But for sales and marketing it is the easiest to avoid, delete and annoy.

So the main point is that long-term SALES happen in a DIRECT approach not in broadcast prospecting or print ads. So decades of experience say you build a comprehensive database (or many) with as much detail as you can. Then you send very specific offers to very specific people.  You then follow that up in-person, via telephone and personal emails too. IN THAT ORDER FOR BEST SUCCESS!!

Only go back to prospecting when you have maximized your current list of interested customers and prospects.  Why would you go talk to 1000 people that are not interested when you have 100 that are and you haven’t sold them anything yet?

We can help you build a business plan for successful marketing too! Your first step is to contact us or let us give you a direct mail quote to start.

Direct Mail Services – National Change of Address

Mathematically speaking, National Change of Address (NCOA) is one of the most valuable services any Direct Mail Services company can offer you. With over 17% of the population moving per year many of today’s businesses are using mailing lists that are from 17-34% useless to begin with.

Most people send direct mail using Presorted Standard postage in order to save large sums of money in postage. The backside of this is that any pieces mailed to someone that has moved are thrown away by the US Postal Service.  This is because “Presorted Standard” (old 3rd class) doesn’t include address forwarding the same way 1st-Class does.

So, if you don’t get back the return-mail pieces with yellow stickers like you do with 1st-Class Postage, your mailing list begins to expire over time.  But 1st-Class costs 50% more to send.

So if your boss says they want a better response from their direct mail, tell them NCOA can help you find where all your people have moved.  That is what NCOA is afterall. It is the national Postal registry of every change of address database of every form submitted by moving people.  Your database is compared to this database and your movers are identified, flagged and updated.

On average, even a “clean” mailing list has 3-10% moves.  That is 3-10% of your print costs, your mailing costs and your postage costs being thrown away.  At CSG Direct we let you know where your people have moved BEFORE your mailing goes out.

We are a USPS NCOA Link Limited Service Licensee and have been doing NCOA for about 5 years now.

We got into NCOA because it helped our clients achieve greater marketing results. The US Postal Service has seen great results and is making the service mandatory within 95 days of mailing. They spend too much time and money trying to find people for your .44 cents so they are making cleaner lists a requirement.

From me to you, behind the scenes a technology revolution is happening at the US Postal Service.  Make sure you are working with a vendor that knows what’s going on. There is lots to be gained when working with a Direct Mail Company ~vs~ a printer “that does mail too”.

US Mail Postage Rates Summer Sale

The US Postal Service is having it’s first ‘Sale’ that I have seen in my lifetime of 20 postal years. They are going to give you 30% off of your postage rates for every dollar you spent ‘above your average’.

The details are best to come directly from the US Postal Service so here is the quote from the Post Office customer Relations:

“The Postal Service will offer qualifying Standard Mail customers a 30 percent discount on eligible mailings this summer. This will provide those mailers with an incentive to prospect for new customers and reconnect with existing customers.

We think Direct Mail has tremendous value in growing your business. With Direct Mail accounting for 22 percent of the $250 billion spent nationwide on advertising each year, it’s big business. Direct mail is targeted and measurable to an extent other advertising media can’t match.

The summer sale is currently under review by the Postal Regulatory Commission. We plan to begin the discounted pricing July 1. The sale will run until September 30.

Obviously, this is a new initiative for us and we’re anxious to see how well it will work. Are any of you going to take advantage of the summer sale?”

– Steve Kearney, senior vice president, Customer Relations

The catch is, to be eligable you must mail over 1 million pieces of mail from October 1st 2007 through March 31st 2008. From those dates a ‘threshold’ is being established to compare your current summer mailings to.

You will pay your full postage rates through this season and then after October 31st the US Postal Service will determine your rebate and put that back on your permit by December 31st.

So there is a Sale, but only a handful of our direct mail customers will even apply for it as the discount is 30% of the postage spent above your average amount. Of course you still have to mail at least a million pieces in the 4 months as well.

I estimate that this will affect the ‘publishers clearinghouses’ and ‘Capital Ones’ of the world the most.  I just wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t tell you about it. If you would like us to help you calculate, monitor and apply for your savings with you we will.

Does Direct Mail Experience Matter?

During difficult economic times, I find that the marketing professionals that I work with are more price-conscious than ever. Budgets are slashed, staff is reduced and expectations on marketing teams are raised. How do you do more with less?

Well, first of all you want to partner with a team that has A LOT of experience in dealing with direct mail marketing. Direct mail is the most targeted and trackable form of advertising. Savvy marketers have learned that having experienced vendors/partners is crucial when budgets are tight.

The anguish of having a budget overrun due to postage upcharges or undeliverable mail is an experience that has destroyed more than one career. One needs to analyze the true value of experience and leadership in their marketing campaigns.

You wouldn’t hire an attorney or surgeon based on price. The end results are just too important. The same philosophy holds true on your marketing – the lifeblood of your company. A vendor who is less than qualified to properly assess, critique (really), analyze, and process your mail probably is not going to save you any money on your overall campaigns.

A Direct Mail specialist, such as you will find at CSG Direct; is trained and versed on postal regulations, design elements, USPS rules and regulation changes, and targeted marketing strategies. Our staff of fully certified USPS MQC (Mailpiece Quality Control) specialists often find design elements, size constraints or data problems that would get past the most experienced of mail shops.

We also offer creative solutions to save our customers money on production and postage rates, which sometimes makes an individual project less profitable for us… but we are here as a partner, for the long haul. Your projects deserve the experience and expertise that comes from seasoned mail professionals.

Let your competitors work with the inexperienced, fly by night companies while you shop for a company that makes you shine.

You will look better for two reasons:

#1) Your campaigns are effective because you found the true value of experience and expertise. The mailings are dropped in an efficient and timely manner to the intended recipients. You can track your mail through the mail stream (a CSG Direct exclusive) to identify when your target markets are receiving their mailings. You have confidence that your projects stay within budget, and are offered the tools to fully justify the mailing.

#2) You sleep well at night because you know you are working with detail oriented partners who care about your success and are certified in every avenue as meticulous professionals.

The next time you plan a mailing campaign, take a moment to reflect on who you are working with. Are you getting true value?

Are you comfortable with the experience level of your direct mail partner? Are you taking advantage of all of the benefits of a great response and postal discounts that are available?

Either way, get a quote from us so you can compare your vendors to the benchmark in direct mail. You deserve a good nights sleep!