Author Archives: Heidi Tolliver-Walker

About Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”

Home Depot Water Test Uses QR Codes Well

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After checking out of Home Depot, I walked into a QR Code — almost literally. The big white sign with giant red letters read, “Free Water Test for Home Owners. Watch this video.”

water-testI scanned the QR Code, which led me directly to a short informative video that told me what the water test was, demonstrated how simple it was to do, and provided a short call to action.

The whole presentation was smart.

  • I couldn’t miss the sign.
  • The CTA used the word “video,” which is probably the most powerful channel in marketing right now.
  • The QR Code led directly to the video, which was simple, inexpensive to produce, and well done.
  • The video demonstrated visually how easy the process was.
  • It was short enough to view walking between the sign and my car, giving me time to turn around and grab a test before I drove away (if I hadn’t already).

This campaign wasn’t complicated, and it worked. The only thing I would have added was short explanatory text telling the non-QR Code initiated to scan with a QR Code reader to access the video.

Videos like this cost little to produce, and the QR Code + video combination is something MSPs should become adept at producing and marketing to their customers. They require only good studio lighting, a good script, and a decent video camera. Adding the QR Code is free.

Studies show that people process information visually much faster and retain the information better than they do in text, and the ability to add video not only improves your customers’ engagement with their audience but gives them yet another reason to produce more printed collateral.

With such a low barrier to entry, shouldn’t this be in your bag of tools?

Critical multichannel, print, and other stats you need to know

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Looking for some stats on multichannel marketing, the value of print, and mobile marketing to throw into presentations, pepper your client conversations, or include in your print marketing or e-newsletters? Here are some interesting data I’ve run across recently that you might find useful.

Multichannel

  • Omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. (Google)
  • 90% of customers expect consistent interactions across channels. (DM News)
  • Brands can increase their ROI by 19% just by going from one channel to two, and up to 35% when using 5 different channels. (Statista)

Despite these numbers, Direct Marketing News reports that 55% of companies have yet to put a cross-channel strategy in place.

Print

  • 79% of consumers indicated that they preferred reading on paper vs. reading on screen. (Two Sides)
  • 90% of students prefer hard copy for schoolwork; this rises to 92% for longer texts (Educause)
  • Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital information, making it easier to process and understand. (Canada Post / True Impact)
  • Print results in higher brand recall. When asked to cite the brand of an ad they had just seen, in a study conducted by Canada Post / True Impact, recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to a direct mail piece (75%) than to a digital ad (44%).
  • Readers are less distracted in print. Only 1% are likely to multitask when reading print, compared to 90% who multitask while reading digital channels. (Words On Screen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World)

Direct mail

  • Nearly one-third of marketers’ media spending (29%) remains on direct mail. (Winterberry Group)
  • Target Marketing’s 2016 Media Usage Survey reports similar results — 28.5% of media budgets being spend on direct mail. 25% of respondents see their spend on direct mail increasing.
  • 58% of marketers are using direct mail for customer acquisition and 55% are using it for customer retention. (Target Marketing)
  • 47% of marketers say they will increase or maintain their direct mail spend in 2016; 14% plan to increase it and 33% plan to maintain it. (Statista)

Video marketing

  • 65% of executives visit a marketers’ website after having watched a video. (Forbes)
  • Using video on web pages increases conversion by 80%. (Unbounce)
  • 60% of marketers plan to increase or maintain their video marketing spend in 2016. (Statista)
  • 32% of marketers plan to increase it. (Statista)
  • Spending on online and mobile video is up 85% in the past two years. (IAB)

Social media

  • 53% of US consumers who follow brands on social media are more loyal to those brands. (Comperemedia)
  • 78% of people say that companies’ social media posts influence their buying decisions. (Comperemedia)

Put all of these stats together and what do you get? We live in a multichannel world, and one that includes both digital and hard copy channels. MSPs need to be prepared to talk to their clients about how these channels need to work together, and how digital doesn’t supplant hard copy and why.  Data are powerful, and they tell an objective story that is hard to argue. Know your data, and be prepared to put it in front of your customers and prospects.

3 Ways to Use Pokémon GO to Get More Print

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Looking to give your customers more reason to print? Try Pokémon Go.

That might sound like a strange combination, but I just read an interesting article on SuccessfulMeetings.com that offered a number of suggestions for incorporating Pokémon Go into a successful meeting strategy. A number of those suggestions just happen to involve print.

pokemonNot only could you create new opportunities for your clients to print with you, but you might even be able to ucapture more share of the customer print by getting into their event and trade show marketing side of the business if you aren’t already.

The goal of Pokémon GO is to locate and capture more than 100 types of fictional creatures that appear in your smartphone layered over the real world. Grab them, store them, and use them to battle others playing the game. The game includes designated landmarks called “Pokéstops” where players can gather items to help them catch more Pokémon. It also includes “gyms” where players wage battle.

People are crazy for Pokémon, and Pokémon fanatics are always looking for new opportunities to play and new people to play with (and against). You can help your clients create those opportunities while marketing their business and drawing more foot traffic to their store, restaurant, or venue locations at the same time.

Here’s how:

Idea #1: Create PokéStop maps. Whether created for a specific event, such as meeting or convention, or for a local shop or restaurant who wants to draw in out-of-town visitors, printing and promoting maps for PokéStops is a simple way to create value . . . and more print for you. Successful Meetings gave the example of the Cincinnati Zoom and Botanical Garden, which created a complete map of the grounds showing the 26 PokéStops, two gyms, and all of the Pokémon located in the venue so people could be easily find and capture them.

Idea #2: Get promoting! Once the maps are printed, it’s time to promote them. Create a direct mail campaign. For storefront locations, print window clings, sidewalk signs, and in-store signage promoting the map and letting people know it’s available.  “Get your PokéStop map here!”

Idea #3: Organize and promote Pokémon hunts. With so many people crazy for Pokémon, encourage clients to create and promote their own Pokémon hunts. It’s a great way to draw people into the store, restaurant, or local venue to meet, connect, and go searching for Pokémon together. For you, it means direct mail, in-store signage, and other printed products to market the event.

The digital world offers tremendous opportunities to grow your print business. Like Pokémon, you just have to go out and find them.

 

A Peek at Kohl’s Multichannel Marketing Strategy

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According to InfoTrends, marketers’ top two goals when it comes to their marketing communications are customer experience and customer loyalty (43% and 35% of marketers citing these as top marketing goals, respectively). Retailers are accomplishing this with smart, integrated, and personalized multichannel strategies that we can all learn from.

One of these multichannel marketers is Kohl’s. Comperemedia recently did an analysis of Kohl’s cross-channel strategy and outlined its efforts in three key areas: direct mail, email, and social media.

Here’s what they found:

KohlsDirect mail

Kohl’s is actively using direct mail in the following ways:

  • Adding QR Codes to send direct mail recipients to Kohls.com.
  • Promoting “buy online, pick up in store” to drive foot traffic.
  • Allowing people to scan the direct mail piece to download the Kohl’s app.
  • Mailing personalized birthday cards to Kohl’s shoppers and giving them a “special gift.”

Mobile-optimized email

Kohl’s updated its confirmation emails by optimizing them for mobile in the following ways:

  • Adding reminders to bring in their receipt.
  • Adding images of in-store signage to help csutomers locate the pick-up location.
  • Adding a CTA button on the order summary to allow customers to access directions via GPS

Social media

Kohl’s created microsites for all of its products discussed in its social media posts. Posts are linked to the microsites so that followers can click to go right to product information. For example, followers on Pinterest can “shop the look” by clicking a link to the Kohl’s site.

What is notable about this strategy is how integrated it is. Each channel is not “doing its own thing.” It is integrated with and supporting the others. This isn’t a direct mail + email + social media strategy. It’s a customer experience strategy that uses multiple channels toward a common goal.

This is exactly what InfoTrends is talking about when it talks about focusing on customer experience. It’s not just the experience with the direct mail piece, the online shopping experience, or being in-store. It’s the seamless and integrated experience that customers get when interacting with the brand regardless of channel they are using, and all of the channels are working together to drive the others.

Don’t let this scare you off. These things aren’t rocket science. The steps Kohl’s is taking are within the scope of capability of most savvy MSPs — and they will work for a wide range of clients, not just large retailers. Is Kohl’s strategy a model you can use with your customer base?

Cleaning Authority Does QR Codes Well

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I am seeing more and more direct mail campaigns with QR Codes done well. Cleaning Authority provides yet another example of how you can use QR Codes to help your customers boost their direct mail results.

IMG_8629Cleaning Authority is a national housecleaning service, and the other day, I received a simple self-folding mailer with a QR Code on the front. Right away, I was informed that I could win a free housecleaning by scanning the code. The CTA was clear. I understood the value of taking the extra step of scanning the code, and for those who didn’t know how to use a QR Code, there was a URL.

Once I scanned the code, I went to a well done mobile site. It contained customer testimonials, social media share buttons, and more clear CTAs. The share buttons were a nice touch, allowing The Cleaning Authority to spread its message. With a free cleaning in the mix, there was value for respondents in making the share.

IMG_8628In case respondents didn’t win, and now that they had been exposed to multiple testimonials an easy-to-use site, The Cleaning Authority invited people to call for an in-home visit and free housecleaning estimate.

Simple, clean, and quick. This was a well-crafted campaign that accomplished its marketing goal, and its use of QR Code moved that goal along.

This is something you can do. It’s something your clients can do. For the right campaigns, it’s something you should.

Why You Need to Know Your Forest Stats

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Earlier this week, I stopped into my local Verizon Wireless store to pay my bill and save a stamp. After making my payment, the salesperson went to print my receipt, and while he was away from the desk, I received one by text. When he got back, I joked about the double receipt and said that, while Verizon’s text negatively impacted the environment by pulling power off the grid, hopefully he’d counteracted that negative impact by printing one out. He looked confused.

I told him that, by using paper, he was helping to preserve America’s forests. This Millennial leaned forward and wanted to know more.

We talked about how 60% of America’s forests and commercially owned, and if the landowners can’t make money by selling forest products, those forests risk being sold off for other uses, such as real estate development and agriculture. His eyes widened.

We talked about how landowners can optimize their forests for various recreational uses by attracting different types of wildlife depending on how the forest is managed. Create more open spaces with low underbrush and you’ll attract more deer, for example. Using the right practices, you can even draw in different species of birds. That translates into the ability to manage your forest for specific types of desired recreational income, such as hiking, birdwatching, ATV riding, or hunting.

“I had no idea!” he exclaimed.

We talked about how two-thirds of the energy used to produce paper comes from renewable resources and how printers are among the heaviest users of renewable energy credits.

He thoroughly surprised by all of this, and it was abundantly clear that I was telling him things he didn’t know and wanted to hear. At the end of the conversation, which took no more than a few minutes, he had a completely different take on the value of paper.

These conversations matter. There is still a tremendous misunderstanding about forest and paper industry and its impact on the environment. Most people still believe that print kills trees, and according to a recent Two Sides study, 55% of respondents believe that U.S. forests have decreased in area. This rises to 62% of 18 to 24 year olds. More than 70% of respondents think that less than half of waste paper is recycled. (In reality, it’s 67%.)

Especially among young people, it is critical that print and paper’s environmental story is told. These are our rising generation of marketers and business owners who are making decisions about how to spend their marketing dollars. Studies consistently show that, among Millennials, the environment is a top concern and they are more likely to stay loyal to brands that have a strong environmental story to tell.

Printers need to be prepared to have these conversations when and where they come up. Visit sites like Two Sides NA. Know the data. Be ready to combat misperceptions and tell the story of paper. It’s critical with clients, but it’s critical in these impromptu conversations, too. Who knows whether the guy I talked to today is a lifer at the Verizon store or whether he’s a graduate student who will end up running the marketing department of a major brand company one day. Or what he might share with a friend in a casual conversation, and what influence that comment might have.

If I can start that conversation, so can you.

Does AR Need to Replace QR Code Use? Not Always

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I have run across another great implementation of QR Codes, and while AR is advancing in leaps and bounds, I’m not sure there is a reason for it to replace QR Codes for every application. This is a good example of why.

QR Code 1The QR Code was on a catalog, inviting shoppers to scan to shop. When I scanned the code, I was immediately taken to a page that invited me to sign up for email alerts for discounts and sales. Nicely done. Once I made a decision on that, I could move on to the mobile shopping site.

This implementation was simple. It worked. It didn’t need to be complicated, and it wasn’t. Unless the catalog is going to have AR components, I don’t see any reason for AR to replace it. Plus, this QR Code implementation is free.

QR Code 2Catalogs arrive at home, so why would someone scan a QR Code as opposed to going to their computer? Two reasons.

First, human beings are inherently lazy.  We do everything else on our phones. Why would I want to walk all the way across the room to my laptop and type in the URL when I could just open my QR Code reader and scan the code without going anywhere?

Second, I’ve come to prefer mobile shopping in many cases. I like the simple interface without all the options. I like the way the information is laid out. It simplifies things, and when it’s a retailer I don’t know well and I’m not looking for something specific, this works for me.

Plus, once I scan that code, the pathway remains in my phone to refer back to later. All I have to do is go into the history inside the reader and I can re-access any of the information from codes I’ve scanned. I’ve done it. I may not want something right then and there, but later on I realize there was something I want to refer back to, and it’s right at my fingertips. It’s not a reason to scan a code at the outset, but it’s a nice bonus once I’ve done it.

I get the move to AR, and there is a critical role for AR going forward that the printing industry needs to understand. It will replace QR Codes for many applications, but it’s not necessary to replace all of them. Not all marketing applications need AR. Sometimes marketers just need a really good bridge from print to mobile, and QR Codes provide that.

It’s important for our industry to remember that AR isn’t just a better version of QR Codes. It’s a fundamentally different technology and provides a different experience. QR Codes are simply a bridge from print to mobile. That’s it. They are like clicking a hyperlink in an email, and sometimes, that’s all you need.

Tale of two AR campaigns

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Last time, I touched on how, in this industry, we are essentially chasing augmented reality (AR) from behind. What we see on product packaging and the retail shelves is what was being produced months ago. By the time it shows up for us to see, it’s already out of date.

MJ Anderson, CMO of Trekk, which is on the leading edge of augmented and virtual reality, recently sent me links to two AR campaigns. One is largely what’s wrong with AR and one is everything that is right.

The “what’s wrong” with AR is the gimmicky use of augmented/virtual reality that, like the early days of QR Codes, often leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. It’s the mediocre “what did I bother” experience that, unless they are truly bored, makes people feel that scanning isn’t really worth the effort.

The experience is from deadmau5 and Absolut Vodka. Here is the assessment of the writer of RoadOVR:

Playing the experience on my Oculus Rift, I got the very clear sense that nothing I did in the app really mattered—from driving on the freeway to dodging sound equipment carts in a night club hallway—it all seemed like a trick to make you think you’re playing a game when in reality you’re just being guided by the hand through a hollow advertisement.

Sounds like just the kind of experience that will kill AR/VR before it gets started. Now compare it to where Anderson sees the real future of this technology in real solutions to real business problems.

In the other example, Fast Company described how architects are using AR/VR to create virtual spaces that solve real-world problems. In this use, architects are using virtual spaces to share their designs with team members, clients, and construction partners. Especially in large spaces, like the one being designed by IA Engineers for LinkedIn described in the video, AR/VR lets the architect share the virtual design with those who will be using the space. This allows users to experience a 360-degree, immersive view and provide feedback before the construction is complete. Changes can be made, if necessary, before it’s too expensive or impractical to do so. Another example given in the Fast Company video was developers looking to rent office space. While the building is still in process, virtual tours can be sent to prospective renters with the goal of renting as much of the space as possible before the building is even complete.

In uses like this one, AR/VR becomes a business tool like any other. It’s not fancy. It’s not promoted by rappers and movie studios. But it’s the kind of mundane problem-solving tool that rapidly becomes indispensible. As it does, it simultaneously increases users’ comfort level with this technology that will translate into other uses, including marketing.

What are some of the most commercially viable uses of AR/VR that you are seeing?

Chasing AR from behind

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The other day, I had a conversation with MJ Anderson, CMO of Trekk, one of the companies on the forefront of mobile technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) with a focus on how they drive the world of print. A lot happened in that conversation, but there is one point I’d like to bring out here.

When we look at the AR applications in the marketplace, it’s kind of like looking at the stars. What we see is the result of something that happened long ago, and what we are seeing is an image of yesterday. The AR we see on the retail shelves, for example, was created by agencies and production houses six months ago. In the world of mobile, that’s an eternity.

When I talk to MJ about the projects Trekk is working on, it’s far different than many of the gimmicky applications we see being produced by marketers right now. These are real solutions to real business problems. They just don’t make it into the trade press because they create competitive advantage and, like the early days of 1:1 printing, their clients often don’t want to talk about them.

This creates a challenge for printers, MSPs, and marketers trying to figure out where to take their clients and customers. What we read about new technology is often visionary and may or may not come to pass. But in the world of mobile, when we read about what has already been done, what’s possible is already beyond that.

What to do? Keep up with the commentary, the case studies, and the articles in business magazines. Then pair that with real conversations with the real people on the forefront of creating these applications. Let them tell you want they are doing now and what will show up on the shelves tomorrow.

In the next day or two, I’ll write about some of the applications MJ sees as representative of the current state of AR that printers, marketers, and MSPs need to be aware of.  Stay tuned.

Consumers: We’re Tired of Being Pressured to Go Digital Only

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Is it just me? Or are you tired to being pushed into digital-only communications from the companies you work with? If so, a new study shows that we’re not alone.

According to the study, commissioned by Two Sides and conducted by Toluna Inc., 79% of respondents want the option to continue receiving printed information as “more permanent record,” and 77% would be “unhappy” if they were asked to pay a premium for paper bills and statements. Seventy-nine percent indicated that it’s easier to read on paper compared to a screen. They want to be given a choice.

Consumers are also suspicious of why companies are trying to get them to go digital. Businesses such as banks, utilities, and credit card companies say going digital helps the environment, but most of us know this isn’t true. They are doing it to save money. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of respondents to the Two Sides survey (85%) say that cost-saving is the main reason why companies use environmental claims such as, “Go Paperless – Go Green” or “Go Paperless – Save trees,” and 57% of respondents reported that they question the validity of those claims.

This lays the groundwork for education on the benefit paper to the environment, and in fact, the message seems to be resonating. There has been a more concerted effort in this industry to spread the word, and it’s working.

Overwhelmingly (88% of) respondents to the survey agreed that when forests are responsibly managed, it is environmentally acceptable to use trees to produce products such as wood for construction and paper for printing. Ninety-one percent agreed that print and paper can be a sustainable way to communicate when responsibly produced and used.  This is up from 19% in a similar survey Two Sides conducted in 2013.

So let’s keep talking about it! If you’ve been among the evangelists for the environmental benefits of paper, you’re doing a great job. If you aren’t yet doing so, maybe it’s time to start.

Click here for the Two Sides press release, which is chock full of great stats to share with your customers in your newsletters and blog posts.