Direct Mail: Why It’s Still Relevant

Nothing feels more archaic in the post-digital era than direct mail. But you’d be doing your ecommerce business a huge disservice if you counted it out.

The Data & Marketing Association found that customer response rates for direct mail has increased 43% year-over-year. This might come as a surprise considering actual mail volume has steady declined since 2006. Apparently, fewer pieces of mail in the postal system means that less competition is seen in customer’s mailboxes.

And the generation most receptive to direct mail marketing? Millennials.

According to a report from the United States Postal Service (USPS), 47% of millennials check their physical mailbox daily. They also spend almost twice as much time sorting and reading their mail compared to other age groups.

So if you’ve been scaling down your direct mail efforts, perhaps it’s time to ramp them up again. Here are three reasons why:

Direct Mail Is Flexible    

Small budget? Try using postcards to keep costs down. Small companies can also include free samples. According to the Sampling Effectiveness Advisors, most consumers say they are more likely to buy a product after trying it. Coupons are also an effective way to recruit new customers. Overall, direct mail works for companies of all sizes and all budgets.

Direct Mail Feels Individualized

According to the USPS, as many as 55% of people are eager to read their mail. Seeing their name on a parcel only enhances the experience, which ultimately leads to more sales. If you’re going the direct mail route, we highly recommend personalizing your parcels.

Direct Mail Is (Perceived as) Trustworthy

According to the USPS, 82% of millennials view messages printed on paper as more trustworthy than digital ones. In fact, it’s believed consumers trust direct mail over email because of the unique way that paper-based advertising connects with the parts of the brain that influence how people feel and remember things. For example, a study by Canada Post found that direct mail marketing “requires 21% less cognitive effort to process” and “elicits a much higher brand recall” compared to digital media.

Another reason why you should use direct mail? Consider this: 50% of all email sent on a given day are spam. With consumers’ digital inboxes flooded with junk, a physical message feels like a welcome reprieve.

So while it may be tempting to focus your efforts entirely on online marketing, don’t neglect direct mail; it has earned a place at the omnichannel marketing table. Not sure where to start? Follow these direct marketing tips to maximize your return on investment.

Tips for Writing Better Product Descriptions

Product descriptions are the key to conversions for any ecommerce site. But how do you make them enticing enough to turn online browsers into buyers? Stop thinking of them as “descriptions,” for one. Specifications such as color and size may describe your product accurately, but they hardly have the persuasive juices to make a shopper “Add to Cart.”

Remember, a product description is also a sales tool. Here are three tips to help you write product copy to improve your bottom line.

1. Know Your Audience    
Who is your product for? Which demographic do they fall into? What are their interests? The more questions you can answer about your target audience, the better you’ll be able to relate to their needs.

Ask yourself why this person would be interested in your product. This will help you bridge your products’ features and benefits to your potential buyers’ motivations.

2. Link Features to Benefits
By better understanding your audience, you’ll recognize what their pain points are and how your products can help them.

Let’s say your online store sells thermal coffee mugs. One of the features of this mug is the stainless steel double wall. What is the takeaway for shoppers? Nothing, unless you let them know how this feature benefits them.

Example:  The Onyx Thermal Coffee Mug’s stainless steel double wall keeps your drinks piping hot for up to 8 hours while keeping your cup cool to the touch.
Always follow your feature with a clear benefit.

3. Nip Objections in the Bud
Buyer’s guilt is real and it usually strikes sometime before checkout. Objections that generally pop up include:

  • Do I really need this?
  • I shouldn’t be spending money on this.
  • Let me think about this some more.

According to Moz’s Martina Mercer, you can eliminate buyer’s guilt by using and avoiding certain words. Don’t, for example, use words such as “treat” or a “luxury” to describe your products. Instead, label your product as “essential.”  Highlight your products’ multi-use and target words that make them sound exclusive. Refer to your product as a “bargain,” and if your offer is a limited-time one, say so. It will create a sense of urgency.

Following these tips will help, but your product descriptions won’t make an impact if they’re hard to read. Avoid using long paragraphs when writing them. Use a couple of sentences as an introduction, but list out your features and benefits with bullet points. This will make your copy easier to scan.

Shoppers rely on your product descriptions to make purchasing decisions, so write description that sell! If you’re not sure about what content to include on your pages, here are some recommendations on the best information to include on your products pages.

3 Tips for Running a Successful Subscription Box Service

It’s been almost 10 years since subscription box services like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club hit the market and changed the way we shop. Now, you can pretty much get a box delivered to your door every month for whatever whim you have: beauty, gaming, fitness, pets, and more.

In fact, there are over 5 million subscription box shoppers in the U.S. alone, and the market is still growing. And it’s not just startups – established brands are jumping into the fray, including Sephora (with Play!) and Walmart (with Beauty Box).

With more than 600 retailers offering subscription boxes, how can you make yours stand out from the rest? Whether you’re starting a new subscription box service or trying to minimize churn rates for an existing one, here are some tips to help you succeed:

 

Think inside your curated box

Of course it's all about the box, but we don't just mean the random items inside of it. One thing box recipients appreciate most is the personalization, or the feeling that their box was uniquely curated just for them. Do the research and captivate your customers with your customization.

And don’t just consider demographics like age and location. In your personalization questionnaire, find out what your customers’ biggest challenges are, and what their level of expertise is with your products. This will help you deliver a more tailored experience, which is critical for any subscription box provider.

The better you can predict what your subscribers will like, the more likely they are to keep their subscription going.

 

Don’t get boxed-in

It’s OK to break some of the rules, some of the time – especially when it comes to subscription box services. For example, is it written in stone that you have to ship monthly? (Hint: it’s not.) Maybe your box is more of a quarterly thing.  Or maybe your box could be part of a loyalty program for a legacy retailer.

Another thing to consider is letting subscribers choose their level of service by offering different subscription tiers. A customer reconsidering a $21 monthly subscription might be OK spending $10 on a smaller one.

Don’t limit your service by what everyone else is doing.

 

Capture that unboxing feeling

You know that rush recipients get when they open their curated box of goodies, eager to discover what’s inside? Think about ways to prolong that feeling until the next delivery. The last thing you want is your customer spending the next four weeks contemplating the service.

Make sure to engage your subscribers all month long. Here are some suggestions to keep the momentum going:

  • Encourage subscribers to post unboxing videos or better yet, Facebook Live them. Engage with your subscribers on social media by liking or sharing their posts and reactions. And don’t stop there. Encourage subscribers to post reviews for the individual products inside their boxes as well.
  • Create a loyalty program that allows subscribers to earn points they can redeem for more products. Points, for example, could be earned for referrals, product reviews, videos and social media shares.
  • Build anticipation by adding teasers about next month’s loot to this month’s box, posting sneak peeks to your social media accounts, and emailing safe “spoilers” to your subscribers.

Bottom line: don’t let your subscribers get bored. If they do, it’s on you.

One tip that can’t go unmentioned: fulfillment is key to the success of your subscription box business. Whatever kind of unboxing experience you want to create, our custom kitting services team can make it happen. Learn more about our services.

Color Psychology for Branding & Merchandizing

The science and psychology behind colors is important to consider when measuring the effectiveness of your customer-facing collateral. The colors used for your web pages, advertisements, and exclusive products impact the way current and potential customers perceive your brand. You want to be sure that the color schemes you use resonate with your brand messaging while also evoking the right kind of emotional response from your audience. Whether you're adding a new line of products to your ecommerce site or thinking of re-branding, it's worthwhile to consider how color psychology can work for you. In this post, we'll explain the common psychological associations (from a U.S. cultural perspective) for a spectrum of colors that are useful to retailers and e-tailers alike.

Red    
Associated with: Hunger, Urgency, Danger, Love, Heat
Red is an effective color when placed on call-to-action buttons or ads to grab users’ attention and inspire them to take action.
    
Black
Associated with: Power, Formality, Mystery, Elegance, Expensive, Gravitas
Black is often seen as a color of sophistication and authority, but can come off as intimidating if overused. When used sparingly, black has a grounding effect and pairs well with a spectrum of other shades.

Brown
Associated with: Historical, Traditional, Rustic, Earthen, Classical
Brown shades are very effective when promoting products that have “rugged” qualities, or appealing to audiences with more austere or conservative sensibilities.

Violet
Associated with: Luxury, Magical, Imaginative, Majestic, Passion
Consider the use of violet or purple when unveiling a new or innovative product, as the color invites shoppers into an imaginative experience.

Green
Associated with: Progress, Health, Money, Freshness, Growth, Environmentalism
Most commonly found in the promotion of healthy or environmentally conscious products or services, green can also be used to evoke the concepts of wealth and bountiful prosperity.

Orange
Associated with: Creativity, Expressive, Warm, Exciting, Energetic
Orange is known as the color that “pops.” Consider using for calls-to-action or to highlight product features you would like to bring attention to.

Blue
Associated with: Trust, Calmness, Professional, Reliable, Cool, Peaceful
The color blue puts people at ease. This color works well for promoting customer services or authoritative information.

White
Associated with: Cleanliness, Simplicity, Easy, Purity
White is often used to evoke efficiency, but can come off as cold and sterile if overused. White works best when combined with other colors to soften their impact and add clarity to designs that may otherwise come off as too busy or bright.  

Best Practices for Emailing your Ecommerce Customers

When running an ecommerce business, email marketing is one of your most powerful tools to get products in front of shoppers and convince them to buy. Many sites have leveraged email to build brand reputation, engage with customers, and increase order volume. However, designing and writing emails that drive those kinds of results can be challenging. Follow these best practices to ensure that your emails are more effective.
    

Subject lines

The subject line is your first (and sometimes last) chance to grab the attention of a customer or lead. If the subject line of your email isn’t compelling, your email will get deleted without ever being opened. Make your subject lines concise (which will also keep them from appearing in the inbox as truncated), intriguing, and to-the-point.

Imagery

Images are a great way to enhance the visual appeal of your email, but they should not be the only way your message and/or call to action is conveyed. Additionally, most email services have images from incoming messages disabled by default. If your email only makes sense when the images are visible, then you’re not reaching all of your readers.

Design

Your email message shouldn’t look like a wall of text. Break up written information with sub-headers, images, video links, calls-to-action, etc. to make emails more accessible to your busy readers. You should also make sure that you're emails are optimized for mobile by adjusting the dimensions for mobile displays, decreasing the file sizes for faster loading on mobile networks, and limiting the amount of text.