Archive for the ‘Digital Nirvana’ Category

Are Your Customers Targeting Consumers Aged 65+? Check Their Channel Mix!

Friday, April 18th, 2014

According to just-released data from Pew Research Center, 41% of all adults 65+ still have no Internet access at home. This changes for more educated, affluent adults, but particularly for those who are older, less affluent, and who have physical or health conditions, print is still a critical part of the mix.

The differences within this demographic are striking. Among younger, affluent, and more educated 65+ consumers, the percentage going online and having broadband access at home is higher than the U.S. adult population overall. But among those with lower household incomes, particularly those with physical or health conditions, the percentages are much lower.

Digital enablement also varies significantly between younger and older adults in this group. As reported by MediaPost:

  • Among U.S. adults overall, 86% go online and 70% have broadband at home.
  • Among seniors with an annual household income of $75,000 or more, 90% go online and 82% have broadband at home. For seniors earning less than $30,000 annually, 39% go online and 25% have broadband at home.
  • 87% of seniors with a college degree go online, and 76% are broadband adopters. Among seniors who have not attended college, 40% go online and just 27% have broadband at home.
  • 68% of Americans in their early 70s go online, and 55% have broadband at home. By contrast, Internet adoption falls to 47% and broadband adoption falls to 34% among 75-79 year olds. [1]

If you have clients selling products into the 65+ demographic, this article is a must read for channel mix. It impacts the channel mix in terms of print vs. email, and if they are doing email, the type of email sent (text only vs. HTML for non-broadband users).

These results also mean that if your clients aren’t tracking their customers by household income, education, and more detailed age brackets, you need to be working with them to get this done.  The difference between great response and dismal response hangs in the balance.

Avoid These 10 Marketing Traps

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Is marketing your friend or your foe? From printed collateral to social media, each of your marketing materials are your representatives, telling your brand’s story and making first impressions on your behalf. If you want to get loyalty, raise your profile, and make the sale, it’s vital that your marketing is the best it can be. Here are 10 marketing mistakes you need to avoid.

  1. Fuzzy messages
  2. Self-importance
  3. Lack of a plan
  4. Missing calls to action

To see these mistakes further explained, actionable solutions for each one, and the other 6 common marketing mistakes, download our article, Avoid These 10 Marketing Traps.

There are many marketing mistakes out there – these are 10 common ones that I thought would be beneficial for you to learn more about. Please take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilink.me/10Traps. What other common marketing mistakes do you see often? I’d love to get a good list started below!

Great Infographic to Share with Clients

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Looking to convince clients that they need to make a greater investment in updating their databases? Here is a great infographic that makes the point in a powerful (but sometimes funny) way. The infographic relates to business data (such as changing address or phone numbers) more than it does consumers, but the point is made regardless.

For example,

  • In the 30 minutes you spent checking your mail, 127 companies changed phone numbers.
  • In the 25 minutes you spent commuting to work, 40 businesses changed locations.
  • In the 15 minutes you spent eating breakfast, 27 business changed names.

It also claims that bad data costs businesses $600 billion annually and up to 20% of revenue. It’s a great attention grabber . . . and a great excuse for your customers to let you help them update their marketing databases!

The infographic was created by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and shared by Marketing Profs.

Day Worth of Data

It’s All About Choice

Monday, April 14th, 2014

As Barb Pellow highlights in this PressGo! webinar titled “Paper Perfect”, we sometimes forget the importance of paper in the marketing and communications sector. We can get hung up on multi-channel, integrated marketing, but at a foundational level we have to remember how paper plays a critical role amidst the digital mediums. Paper is the tangible, tactile carrier of the printed communications piece, which makes up one of the key channels within the multi-channel approach. Obviously the messaging found on the printed piece itself is the focus, but equally as vital in creating a successful communications piece is the product placed in front of that target audience or customer.

Canon Solutions America recognizes how important the relationship is between paper, ink, and print technology. This is reflected in their dedication to educate their customers on their choices and in their open-dialogue with paper mill partners. John Crumbaugh and Jeff Sarringar, both Marketing Executives at CSA, join moderator Barb Pellow in an overview on inkjet and cutsheet papers, applications, and the CSA Paper Program in this feature.

“Enabling the broadest choice of papers for our customers is an ongoing task for the Production Print Solutions Paper Program”, explains Crumbaugh. One way to accomplish this task is through testing at the CSA Media Lab in Boca Raton. Recently opened, the lab is fully equipped to test the runnability and color outcome of various paper, ink, and machine pairings. These reports are then delivered to paper mill partners and customers to enhance collaboration, innovate in R&D, and ensure an optimal end product. Want to have your paper tested? To get started, contact your CSA sales representative who will assist you in scheduling a test specific to your needs. Likewise, you can always refer to the Customer Expectation document provided with your machine, which lays out data on stocks and inks that have already been tested.

If you want more information on ink, and the differences between ‘dye’ and ‘pigment’ options, check out the full webinar here! You don’t want to miss the complete list of benefits and the overview of the applications available to drive your business.

3D Printing in the Commercial Printing Industry: Think Dimensional Mail

Friday, April 11th, 2014

I’m stunned. I just looked back at my post on using 3D printing to drive digital printing and there are 68 shares on LinkedIn. I don’t think any post I have written — ever — has gotten that many LinkedIn shares. This tells me I’m on to something.

Part of the reason, I think, is that all of the discussions I’ve seen around 3D printing have to do with bringing existing products, services, and business models into our industry. That means discussion about whether printers should try to replicate what’s already being done, and done well, by companies that are far more entrenched and expert at it than printers are. Of course the answer to that is, “No!”

What nobody is talking about is how printers can apply the technology in a complementary way to drive more sales the products and services they already offer. That’s why I think that post resonated so much. As I discuss in the report “State of 3D Printing in the Commercial Printing Industry: 2014,” I believe 3D printing will provide significant opportunities for this industry, but most important applications will be the ones nobody has come up with yet (although I’ve proposed a few).

We are hearing many printers express concern that 3D-printed products are simply too expensive to be used in marketing campaigns, but I don’t think 3D printed products should try to compete with traditional response incentives or ad specialties. I believe 3D-printed products should be used for creating customized or personalized products (branded items), one-off products (personalized, highly unique incentives like action figures of company executives), or for ultra-short-run campaigns with a highly targeted audience.

In this, 3D printing would compete with dimensional mail. When going after corporate executives, marketers understand the value of sending a personalized box, complete with personalized marketing collateral, personalized sales letters, and personalized incentives ranging from radio-controlled cars to personalized baseballs. Now imagine a 12” action figure that looks just like the CEO of the target company staring out at the recipient (or his gatekeeper) from underneath a plastic window as part of a mailing box. I can imagine an open rate in that campaign of 100%.

So when thinking about 3D printing, forget replicating what’s already being done. Think how the technology can be applied in complementary ways to drive the business PSPs are already doing!

Did You Know Google Plus Can Do THIS?

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Lynford Morton, owner and founder of PhotoTour DC and PhotoCoachPro, has mad marketing skills. In addition to promoting his service through email, enewsletters, and traditional PR, Lyn publicizes his activities through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+.

For his webinar titled “Street Photography Ethics & Legalities,” Lyn recently discovered something he didn’t know about Google+ — how one click can shoot an email to key market segments—Google+ followers.

“Actually, the G+ email was a happy accident,” he says. “I was loading up the webinar message to share with all my circles, when I noticed a little box near the bottom of the screen asking if I also wanted to send my post as an email to my followers. I had not done that before, but I thought it was worth testing since this was an invitation to a free webinar about street photography—a topic many people in my circles are into.”

He adds, “Facebook is limiting the reach between a business page and its followers, while G+ is allowing us to reach beyond the platform and email into our followers’ inboxes. That’s a significant development for content marketers.”

You’ve got the list, now what do you say?
The pitch Lyn used to capture click-through featured short but provocative copy taken straight from the landing page (no additional writing needed) and, of course, linked to the webinar details. Once on the landing page, beautiful photos complement a compelling story. How he eventually got the photo he wanted, but decided not to use it, examines the real life circumstances that shape the ethics and legalities of street photography.

A+. Click.

 

 

QR Code Fail at Sweet Frog? Or Was It Just Me?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

I’ve written a lot on the subject of QR Code fails, along with best practices for designing and implementing these codes, so I thought I was on to another example when I scanned the QR Code on the loyalty card at Sweet Frog the other day.

I took out my phone (okay, who am I kidding? It was already in my hand), scanned the code, and nothing happened. I scanned again, making sure it was the proper distance for the camera to focus, and again nothing. Must be the low light, I reasoned. I moved the card underneath the overhead light and tried again. Still nothing.

I tried several different times at different angles, and in the end, I input my email address into the low-tech, most unmobile fingerpad device. As I walked to the table in defeat, I wondered if I would have done better to scan the QR Code on the wall poster instead. Was the code on the loyalty card too busy perhaps? Printed too small?

I realized this morning, no, it would not have done me any good because the problem was not the code. The problem was that I had not launched the scanning software on my phone first. I had simply pointed the camera at the code and expected it to scan.

I can laugh now (and I’m sure you’re laughing at me now, too), and I’ve just embarrassed myself publicly . . . but to make a point.

It would be great if mobile phone cameras activated automatically to scan barcodes without launching software first, and I’m sure that some day, they will. But QR Codes won’t live or die by people who don’t have the software or forget to use it. They will live or die by the value of what they will receive on the back end. If the code doesn’t work or they don’t know how to use it, your clients should make sure they have another way to access the content.

Over time, non-QR-Code-scanning consumers figure it out. Once technology has reached critical mass (as it has with QR Codes), people always do.

Is Gradation Still an Issue in Digital Print?

Friday, April 4th, 2014

I ran across this discussion in one of the digital print groups on LinkedIn this morning and thought it was interesting. I wonder what you folks think here. What are your experiences?

The original question was why the member was having trouble with gradations on his digital press. The discussion was highly technical and beyond what is appropriate to reprint here. However, among the potential culprits named in the discussion were the following:

  • Resolution
  • Line screen
  • Different resolutions based on XY axis, i.e. 2400 x 600 dpi (especially on older presses)
  • Dot size and shape
  • Level and frequency of calibration of the press
  • RIP interpretation of the data (and, consequently, the age of the RIP)
  • Age of the digital press
  • Whether the press is using standard elliptical halftone dots
  • Whether stochastic screening is used
  • Trade-offs in recording resolution and speed of production
  • Whether color curves are calibrated to match the offset press and stock

One participant suggestion: Use a Gaussian blur. (“Best gradations ever.”) Another posted a link from Adobe (“Illustrator / printing gradients, meshes, and color blends“) that breaks down all the potential issues to help with troubleshooting gradient issues.

One participant noted:

Gradation in digital printing is not appearing like offset because of the physical resolution of the technologies you compare. Standard offset reproduction of the image is 2400 dpi arranged in 150 lpi. This is how the RIP is setting the image before physical reproduction by the imagesetter on the offset printing plate and then by the printing press onto the substrate. This standard RIP setting gives a visually smooth image for the human eye when printed because these settings guarantee reproduction of all 256 grades/tones used by the RIP to reproduce the picture. Remember the RIP uses the rule of 16 x 16 = 256 for calculating grades/tones. Offset technology can go to a sharper image with, for example, 4800 dpi (smaller dots) and 300 lpi. Even 9600 dpi and 600 lpi is possible. Only on the condition that dpi is increased proportionally with lpi will you reproduce all 256 grades/tones to see a smooth image at the end. That means you will see a sharp or very sharp picture with smooth gradation only when increase dpi together with lpi. (Lightly edited for clarity.)

What are your experiences? Are you still having gradation issues in your jobs? If so, which of these do you see as the culprit(s) most of the time? How do you handle these issues?

Keeping Twitter Interesting

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Customers, prospects, and experts in the print industry are having a business-boosting conversation. Do you want to join in? Of course you do, and that’s why you need to be on Twitter. But with millions of tweets being sent daily, how do you make sure yours stand out? Follow these top four tips to create compelling content in 140 characters or less.

  1. Develop a Strong Brand Presence. Your Twitter account is a representation of you and your business, so make sure it’s a good one. Customize your background by incorporating your logo and using your brand colors. Choose your profile picture carefully. If you use your logo, make sure it looks good at a small size. Or, if you’re representing a smaller business, you could opt for a clear full-face picture to make your account more personal.
  2. Keep Content Interesting and Varied. Twitter is a conversation, so be a good conversationalist. Instead of constant self-promotion, offer useful and interesting content – share some news, participate in trending topics, join in on popular hashtags, link to a free resource such as an eBook, add a video or picture. Focus on tweets that your customers will enjoy seeing – this will not only keep them interested, but give them a good reason to retweet your content, too. Compose your tweets carefully. Believe it or not, it is possible to waffle in 140 characters, so be sure to keep your tweets to the point.
  3. Encourage Engagement. At the risk of being obvious, if you want your followers to engage with you, encourage them to engage with you. Reach out to your followers by replying to or retweeting their posts. And don’t forget your call to action – whether that is “retweet this,” “let us know,” “drop us a line,” or any other way of encouraging your audience to take the action you want them to take. Use hashtags to start specific conversations. You could also try using Twitter to run a contest. You could use something simple such as “retweet to enter a prize draw,” but why not craft something that actively encourages engagement, such as asking entrants to answer a question, hunt for an answer on your site, or create something and tweet it to you. It will not only encourage interaction with your current audience, but it will also increase your overall exposure through sharing and engagement.
  4. Be Mindful of Twitter Etiquette. Just like in any conversation, good manners are a must when using Twitter. When you write a tweet, use good spelling and grammar. If someone mentions you in a particularly positive manner, consider using Twitter’s favorite function to acknowledge it. And never spam your followers with constant self-promotion or repetitive tweets. Treat Twitter like you would any other customer facing communication – reply to questions and comments, resolve conflicts, and rise above drama and negativity. If you would like some additional tips on how to handle complaints and negativity on your social channels, check out my article, Taming the Beast of Social Media Complaints.

Twitter is a rich and varied platform which fosters conversation. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it, and you’ll be a sparkling conversation starter.

More Data Follies: Who’s Minding the Store?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

My penchant for publishing direct mail and data bloopers continues to win me great stories to share here on Digital Nirvana. This one came in this morning and left me scratching my head. My question for readers is this: Do you have processes in place to catch these mistakes before they get mailed? Or are you content to play clean-up later?

Last fall an environmental organization sent us an annual renewal notice which we responded to with a check to extend our membership for another year.

Five months later, we got another “renewal” notice to which we responded to with another check, not remembering that we had already renewed our annual membership. For this double renewal, we received a complimentary, inexpensive hat.

Four weeks later, we received an offer for us to become members for the first time, this time offering multiple more valuable premiums, including several shopping bags, a calendar, and a children’s gift (we’re retired).

Needless to say, I was not happy. I contacted the organization, and they quickly responded, apologized, and are sending yet more complimentary items.

We’re not interested in free gifts. My complaint to the organization was that, first, they were not acknowledging that we had already responded to their renewal request—twice. Also, that we were being penalized for our prompt response to the first notice by not receiving the multiple and higher valued items as our “free gifts,” which makes me feel like we’re being played. (Did we have to send another contribution to receive these annual renewal gifts? Are we being leveraged to send even more  money, even though we’d already renewed twice?)

It’s frustrating on both counts. It alienates the donor and makes it very clear that a favorable response has not been recognized—as in, “We didn’t notice you, so we’re sending you another renewal notice . . . in case you didn’t notice either,”  or “We don’t care that you responded, we’d  just like to get as much out of you as we can,” or, “Our tracking system is so inefficient we can’t distinguish between those who do and those who do not respond to our overtures.”

If this were not an organization that we would support anyway (and it were it not a non-profit but a direct business relationship), the likelihood of their getting a favorable response the next time the mailer came is pretty much zero!

This reader’s tongue-in-cheek writing style is so funny that you might be tempted to think this is an April Fool’s joke, but it is not. Rather, it has has shades of my father-in-law, Lt. Col. John Walker, U.S.M.C. (Ret.), who is regularly receiving solicitations to John Usmc and Col. Ret.

You would never let this happen to your clients, right?

Using 3D Printing to Drive Digital Print Marketing

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

For the last several months, I have been poking around, interviewing printers who have purchased 3D printers, reading 3D printing case studies, surveying 3D industry data, and trying to answer the question, “Is 3D printing relevant to the commercial printing industry?” The answer is yes, but not in the way I think many people believe.

One of the biggest opportunities for commercial printers, I believe, will come in using the production capabilities of these printers to drive the need for multi-channel marketing. Let me give one scenario.

Your client is a pediatric orthodontist who wants to increase his patient base, but there are several competing pediatric orthodontists in his geographic area. So you come up with an ingenious marketing plan that none of his competitors are using. You promote the dentist with a unique incentive for using his services — a 12″ action doll that looks just like the child. Then you purchase a list of households with a specific income level, with children under 18 years of age, within a specific geographic radius, and send out a postcard featuring a young girl with braces, with beaming smile, holding a 12″ action doll that looks just like her — braces and all.

Is this an expensive incentive? Yes, it is. But it’s only provided with the purchase of braces or other orthodonics. It can be printed in-house at the print shop or outsourced to a provider like ThatsMyFace.com. This model could be applied to nearly every market vertical. What incentive could be printed to encourage test drives of luxury vehicles? Or product demonstrations of high-dollar items. Say . . . a new digital printing press?

The value of 3D printing isn’t necessarily going to be in producing 3D-printed items for their own sake. It’s going to be for the larger marketing opportunities that these 3D-printed items create.

For more on 3D printing in the commercial printing industry, you can check out my article “Early 3D Adopters” in Printing Impressions or my report “The Status of 3D Printing in the Commercial Printing Industry.”

 

You Do It Your Way. We’ll Do It Ours.

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Apparently, some smartphone and tablet users avoid online ads every chance they get. At least AdWeek thinks so.

What’s to be done?
The Big Dogs are beyond calculating what we do. Now they’re bent on figuring out how we feel—giving us what we long for, pandering to our emotions, and, of course, selling us stuff. If these masters of manipulation have anything to say about it, when they’re finished, we will like it. To wit:

Microsoft
Septimu, a Microsoft research project is focused on monitoring user head posture and  exercise patterns to create a personal health/lifestyle diary of users, while also sensing mood and affection via speech, activity, and heart rate data (the better to ad you with).

Apple
A new Apple patent for mobile ad delivery will gather physical, behavioral, and spatial-temporal data to gauge user mood. As reported, “Apple wants to leverage user mood and mood-associated characteristic data to provide a more accurate method of ad targeting.”

Alternatively ..
Or, maybe, we should just put a print ad in front of people.  How ‘bout that as a cure for the moody blues?

 

“We are always fans of having the medium be part of the message”

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

“We are always fans of having the medium be part of the message.”

This is a quote from Rosser Clark, creative director for the award-winning marketing firm Fixation, whom I had the privilege to interview this morning.

Fixation had produced a really interesting “exploding page” product for Reno Tahoe USA, a firm promoting trade shows and events in the Reno Tahoe area. His comments about the medium being part of the message were very interesting to me in light of the discussions these days about the relevance of print.

What makes print relevant to an audience today? It’s matching the specific, tangible characteristics of print to the right marketing goals. It’s not a “one size fits all” kind of thing. It’s strategic pairing, and the Reno Tahoe campaign illustrated this concept extremely well.

An Exploding Page (produced by Structural Graphics / Red Paper Plane) uses scores and die cuts to allow the piece to fold down into a flat square. When opened, it “explodes” into a much larger size, opening like a 360-degree fan. So like Reno Tahoe, it, too, is “a lot more than you expect.”

Exploding Page“It is more memorable than a plain sheet of paper, and their tagline is ‘Reno Tahoe:  A lot more than you know,’” says Rosser. “Likewise, this piece is a lot more than you’d think. It’s small, but huge inside. It mirrors the message really nicely. The headline on the cover also says, ‘OPEN.’ That is the message: Open your mind to Reno Tahoe. It’s also a command: Open this piece. That works nicely. The headline pays off the inside. Reno offers you a lot more than you know, and this pieces does, too!”

It’s a great example of how print offers something that no other medium can. . . and it is this kind of creative thinking that will keep print fresh and relevant in today’s burgeoning use of digital media.

By the way, the piece, which is being used as a handout at conventions, was produced in a run of just 500 copies.

Scanbuy Making the Back End of QR Codes Easier

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Ever since QR Codes have come on the scene, there have been complaints about the often poor experience scanners are receiving on the back end of the scan. Much has been made out of these poor experiences (although some codes lead to user experiences that are exceptional) as if such experiences, in themselves, will kill QR Codes.

Now Scanbuy has come out with a remedy, it believes, for the poor user experience. It has developed a new platform for refining the back-end experience of what the person sees after scanning the code. The idea is to start the process with what the marketer wants the user to see rather than starting with the code itself.

The platform uses templates to force — I mean, make it easy for — marketers (or their PSPs) to create more positive, useful experiences after a scan. Templates can deliver dynamic and customized results that change based on factors like device operating system, time of day, location, and consumer loyalty. Marketers can embed YouTube videos, Google Maps, and photo galleries. Other post-scan activities can be launched, as well, including making a call, receiving a contest winner notification, displaying a note or sending a text or email.

I’m not sure this solves all of the problems of back-end experiences, but it takes a positive step in getting marketers an their PSPs to think in the right directions.  Or they can just think about those things on their own, during the development stages of the marketing campaign. Still, having a template-based solution always makes things easier. When things are easier, people are more likely to do them.

For me, I just like having an excuse to remind people that back-end experience is really the most critical element. Just as finishing needs drive design, so too, the user experience drives the QR Code.

So when you think QR Codes, remember: strive for a back end everyone wants to see.

How to Boost Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) and its importance is an extremely crucial part to your organization’s success. SEO means taking steps to make sure the search engines will like your site and rank it favorably. This has two key components:

  1. Relevant and high quality content
  2. Getting links back to your site

Learn more about SEO and how to improve your company’s online presence by downloading, Bring Your SEO to Life, free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at ilink.me/BoostSEO! Do you have any additional tips for improving SEO performance? I’d appreciate your feedback below!