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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Let your customers design your messages

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

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

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

9 Digital Presses and Personalized Digital Books

Well the final 3 new digital presses are almost completely installed.  Special thanks goes out to our electrical teams and contractors for the building modifications and the massive grid of wires, power and network cabling. digital printing

We have been waiting with Christmas Eve enthusiasm to print our first booklets on these new digital presses. The idea of printing multiple paged booklets that gather pages, fold and stitch together and finally do the 3 sided trim is an incredible dream come true for us.

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

Once our facility is cleaned up from the construction we look forward to giving some fresh tours.  We have a few surprises in store for our favorite clients.  We are going to pee ourselves if we have to wait too long to share those surprises.

CSG Direct Mail and Mailing Lists

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

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

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

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

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

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

Casino direct mail campaign design and database artistry


Wouldn’t it be nice if your vendor knew your lingo, knew your challenges and also knew ways to increase your response or tweak a promotion? If you were to choose between two direct mail shops wouldn’t you select the one who could do that?

At CSG Direct Mail many of us have worked in casinos, primarily in database marketing and player rewards club positions. We also have a large team of affiliates out in the field promoting our services with their consulting packages.

With all this in mind we’d like to ask: Do you need more weekday guests? Would you like to get more return trips? How about some trip and player analysis? At CSG Direct Mail we are on your side of the equation. We have the tools, staff and experience to help you find the results you need.

In essence, you’ve found the heart of the casino direct mail industry. We specialize in bounce-backs, inactive farming, tracked redemptions, barcoding, birthdays, data appending of consumer file information, uploading NCOA files and so much more.

Casino direct mail marketing is a combination of visual art and database design. In order for this to be done effectively there are seven direct mail tasks we need to accomplish with your visual art and players club data.

1) Grab
2) Interest
3) Appeal
4) Convey
5) Compel
6) Track
7) Change

These are the 7 steps of the pros, which ones are you missing?

Grab your player’s attention at the mailbox. They get piles and piles of mail. If it doesn’t grab their attention they will surely throw it out.

Interest them enough to read your offers. Your artwork needs to pop and have catchy headlines. Make them want to open your offer!

Appeal to their personal wants and desires. With our digital variable data services we can easily rotate graphics to match the interests and personalities of your players.

Convey many details in a simple easy to follow format. People don’t like to read heavy paragraphs of text. Headlines with simple bullet points and easy descriptions are what you’re shooting for here.

Compel them to respond with physical action. Have them call to reserve their spot at that very moment! Adding personalized variable maps from their home to your casino will ease the complexity of the trip.

Track how the campaign affected response. We get stuck in the mentality that we need the best mailer quick and cheap. Don’t send out 1000 mailers to guests who aren’t interested in concerts, they won’t come. Think about cost per response as apposed to cost per piece.

Change the campaign based on the data from tracking. If the campaign didn’t work, try something new and innovative. Also keep changing it even though it worked. Your guests are constantly looking for new reasons to keep coming back to you.

The brutal reality about all this is that you probably need to accomplish everything in two days timeframe with five people critiquing your work and resubmitting changes to things they already changed. Take a breath! We’re here to help!

We become part of that process with you. We are postal Mailpiece Quality Control certified and have decades of experience on proofing copy and managing tiers. We know the data that drives the whole process. We optimize casino direct mail programs daily!

At your request we can also do the entire process for you. We do everything from creating in-house data pulling tools, customer ranking and tiers, direct mail campaigns, designs and offers as well as tracking and post-forma reporting.

We want you to relax because we’re the most qualified and affordable casino direct mail team you may ever meet. We are the people that really do the work behind the scenes. Our decades of unique casino direct mail experience bring greater value to the table every day.

Using Direct Mail Maps for Personalized Mailings

So you want variable maps on your mailers to give your customers directions to your business? Great! Let’s learn how to set it all up to make it work!

DESIGN AND SPECS
Your first step is deciding exactly what you want your mailing to look like and getting CSG Direct Mail your information so we can output your maps.

1) Design your mailpiece and decide where your map will be placed

Design your mailpiece

Design your mailpiece

2) Measure your map area and send us the dimensions of the map area in inches or pixels

3) Choose your markers using the pdf provided below and send us the codes for both the START and END makers you would like
DOWNLOAD MapQuestMarkers

4) Provide us with your database and tell us what locations you’d like for START and END

5) We will create your variable maps

 

PULLING IT TOGETHER
If we are doing your mailing, you’re done!
All you need to do at this point is send us your artwork and we’ll take care of everything else!

If we are providing you with maps and you are doing your own mail outputs, follow the instructions below for variable output in InDesign.

1) Set up your file in InDesign, and link to your database using your variable program

2) Define and assign your variable area however your program requires it

3) Place/link your map

4) At this point you will need to make sure that your map is scaled correctly for your variable area

Use the fitting command to do this

 

5) Once you have it looking the way you like, you can do your mail output

 

That’s all there is to it!


Variable Direct Mail Printing

Variable Direct Mail Printing can be one of the most powerful mediums of our times. However, most people who sell this to their clients are not even really doing Variable-Printing. 80% of all Variable-Print is nothing more than mail-merge and fancy fonts.

If I get another direct mail offer with my name spelled in sea shells on a beach I am just going to go insane. “OK, Great, you have a sea shell font – wow – thanks!”. What if I’m scared of the ocean? What if I am allergic to Seafood of any kind? Are you selling me something to do with a beach or shells?

If you don’t really know that much about your customers we can append over 100 fields of additional consumer data about them so you know if they like dogs or cats, drive Fords or Chevy’s, etc.. Ironically, done by real variable data teams in direct mail; we’ll still cost you less than all those printers because we do it every day without the baggage of all that crazy software they got sold.

At CSG Direct, we have over 2 decades in Real Variable Data: Variable Data Printing, Variable Data Coding, Randomization, Variable Data Email, Websites, and more.

New iPads coming with USPS Confirm

Direct Mail iPad AppWell the new iPads are coming.  We’re still not sure if they are the iPad3 or iPad HD but the biggest bragging points are the Retina Display, faster processor and 4G connection speeds with Verizon and AT&T.

One of our favorite out-of-the-box applications on the iPad that we enjoy most at CSG Direct Mail is called Facetime.

Facetime allows us to video conference our offices when we’re on the road. It also allows us to be at company meetings remotely using the 2 built-in iPad cameras. This application alone made the iPad2 worth getting.  It will be even better in the iPad3/HD.

us mail trackingNo mention about the iPad would be complete if we didn’t mention our own iPad app called CSG Direct Mail in the iTunes app Store.

Our US Mail Tracking CSG Direct Mail app includes some very powerful USPS Confirm services built to make single piece lookup easy using your normal customer account ID’s to see how every single piece travels across the US through the mail stream.

Nobody else offers this kind of service!  The app is free in the iTunes store. Every mailing you send with us are tracked live.

CSG DIRECT MAIL includes Live Project Tracking from the CSG DIRECT MAIL Processing plant and Live US Mail Tracking as your pieces travel through the US Postal Service.

You can also track all the direct mail production steps through our multi-plant project tracking features.  Know exactly when your mailings are going out and track every penny you spend.

This app helps your planning, budgets, timing and delivery tracking.

This has been THE DREAM in direct mail for decades and we made it a reality! These newest innovations are built on our proprietary Direct Mail Tracking Systems.

USPS Confirm are registered trademarks of the US Postal Service

Digital Presses are Coming – Part 2

Digital Press PicThe saga continues at CSG Direct Mail as we have unwrapped our new digital presses and started preliminary configuration of all the components. The shipping materials are removed, all the sections mate correctly, and monitors and internal components have been installed. It is very exciting to see all the pieces come together as the machine begins to take shape!

Electricians are hard at work pulling wire, setting plugs and configuring the power necessary to feed this magnificent piece of print engineering. Our Facility Contractor is assisting us in reconfiguring the floor to accommodate our new 23 foot behemoths and new workflow it will involve.

Once power and facility upgrades are complete it will be time to slide the pieces into place, bolt it together and begin power-up and testing procedures. After this, training of operator personnel will start with full production to follow quickly.

Growth and expansion can be stressful at times pulling all the elements together, but it also gives one a sense of destiny as we see the future of our enhanced printing services forming before our eyes. Increased production capability, faster turn times and new services for our customers is that future at CSG Direct.

Check back for more updates as we move forward!

Managing Personal Worth Deflation

Most of us understand that asset values go up as the value of the dollar and your buying power go down due to inflation (I bought a $1.20 standard size candy bar today), but what about your personal worth and why do Americans keep losing jobs?Personal-Worth

There is a lot of conversation lately about the economy, unemployment and jobs as well as who should provide them and who should get them. One statistic you should understand is the employment ratio of Americans from age 15-64 years old which was 66.7% as of 2010.

That means 33.3% unemployment. This does not account for stay at home parents, students and early retirees who do not wish to be employed. However, The numbers do tell us that we should feel blessed to be part of the “haves” with gainful employment.
104 million people are unemployed!

I want you to think about your personal worth as businesses and employers all over the globe struggle to keep doors open in this bankrupt economy. What are you doing to make sure you stay employed in your lifetime? What makes you different than the 33.3% unemployed people that don’t have jobs?

Let’s compare business competition for sales to your personal competition for jobs.

A business owner has two paths to choose to sustain business. The most common method (the most dangerous) revolves around trying to be low-cost leaders for easier sales. In this method they usually hire the cheapest employees to create a profit at the lowest prices with this undertrained and under-appreciated workforce. They then attempt to copy what their competitors are doing long after they are doing it for as cheap as possible since tiny profit margins don’t afford you to lead at anything.

This is service and value deflation, you are behind your competition and worth less than those around you. This could easily describe the personal struggle for good paying jobs or the struggle for businesses to remain relevant and profitable.

In the personal-worth world (as a person), if you follow this model you will never create personal wealth because you quit creating personal worth. Businesses go broke everyday using this model too when just a small drop in the business cycle sends them to bankruptcy.

People lose their jobs everyday because they quit learning new skills and fail to increase their value to employers including the one they currently depend on. They become a labor commodity and they are easily replaced with cheaper labor or someone more eager to work and/or more skilled.

The other path for businesses is to increase value to their clients every year with new services, new products, unique programs and ways to help customers make money when they use your company. This is service and value inflation. This is where we inflate the worth of our services by increasing the value of those services to our clients. This is positive for all parties involved. It helps a business keep up with inflation, it provides an R&D budget for new products, helps your clients make more money and helps them inflate their values and worth to their clients as well.

What is your personal business model?
You compete in the marketplace for jobs and wages, what are you doing to increase your worth?
Are you unknowingly becoming a lowest wage commodity by not increasing your worth each year?

You are in a very weak position if you ever come to your employer for a “cost of living increase”. This means you are doing so little to better yourself that you are hoping your employer will give you more money for the exact same skills you had last year. You are asking for more money to offset your rising expenses in your personal world even though you have never invested in yourself or increased your skills, your offerings to your employer or your worth. You are not actively managing your personal worth.

Just think about those 33.3% unemployment rate. Those are college grads, ex-military men and women, machine operators, graphic artists, sales people and managers all looking for work just like what you have. How are you worth more than they are if they have skills a business can use and you are on personal-skill-cruise control?

As your value declines due to lack of growth (deflation), everyone else’s ongoing improvement makes them much more valuable (inflation) than you are. Who would get cut first if it came down to cutbacks and layoffs? This is how people lose jobs. They lose value (deflation) compared to those around them and they are pulling down the entire team by being the weakest part of the team. You need to help the team and yourself by getting better with new skills, knowledge and experience.

Even as a business owner I take new classes every year. I study and create new technology on my own time. I come up with ways to help clients save or make money without reducing our costs. I study the competition, I study industry trends and I do everything I can to stay ahead of my competition. That is what it takes to survive as a business.

Do you forget about work after 5pm or do you study and learn tricks and trends that make you more competitive in the workplace? Do you create value for your employer and yourself in a win win situation and inflate your skills and worth? Maybe you are unknowingly on skill-stand-still and will one day be worthless to any high paying employer. It’s worth your time to understand the difference.

It’s up to you to judge your personal growth and long-term goals but if you are not a valued leg of your company team you may want to rethink your long-term job prospects and the 104 million people that are looking for a job just like yours. Businesses are all looking for growth oriented employees and the win-win partnership of a truly growing and expanding skill set. Alternately, the skill-stand-still team are the first ones to get cut in a business down cycle. Don’t let that be you.

In the ultimate example of personal worth deflation (with no disrespect intended) the average Wal Mart greeter was once a very popular employee in the workforce that just let their skill set devalue against the rest of the population until they had no real value in the common workforce. We all joke about not wanting to end up there, but in all seriousness don’t let society required skill growth pass you by.

Here are some things you should ALL know by now:

  • MS Office
  • Blogging
  • Company Products
  • Customer Service
  • Twitter
  • Calendar Management
  • SQL
  • Smart phones
  • Online banking
  • email setup
  • online research
  • Linkedin
  • HTML
  • posting pictures
  • online security
  • virus avoidance

These are all skills needed to just get caught up with the rest of the workforce. To get ahead you should take classes related to your employment every year the rest of your working life. Step up your game folks. Survival of the fittest is a law of nature that you should not be ignoring.

Direct Mail Trained Professional Certificates

Mail Value ProfessionalSerious direct mail professionals continue to learn everything they can about the past, present and future of direct mail.

The team at CSG Direct Mail takes our profession seriously.  We are not a printer ‘that mails too’. We are the prime example of direct mail professionals ‘that print too’.

We are professional direct mail trainers, equipment specialists, barcode nerds, and database marketing wizards. Nobody has the direct mail innovations that we continue to create here at CSG Direct Mail.

We are The Greatest Value in Direct Mail,
and proudly support our community.