Cruise PURL

I created this demo personalized URL page  for a client that is going to be pitching the technology to Cruise Ships.  Thoughts? Comments?

You can view the site here: http://cruisepurl.com/Mike.Jones

Personalized URL (PURL) example cruise

Mailing Personalized URL Postcards

Trying to decide the best way to mail your  personalized url postcards can be very overwhelming. There seems to be a million different options. The short answer is to let your printer handle the mailing. Most print shops have mailing services, and if they don’t, they know somebody who does. From my experience, you can plan on paying $80 – $150 to have your printer prep your mailing to send to the postoffice. Preping includes Address verification/NCOA certification/Cass certification & Presorting.

Benefits of mailing through your printer is that they understand how to get the lowest possible mailing rate with the postoffice. Chances are you will make the mailing service fees back in the amount you will save on postage. For example, if you were to mail a standard size (4″x6″) postcard, you would normally pay the full first class postage rate of 28¢. But a printer can usually bring that price down to 23¢ using their mailing services.

The only time to consider using standard postage (as opposed to first class) would be when you are sending postcards that are larger than 6 inches long by 4-1/4 inches high. In this case it you could save up to 10¢ per card mailing standard. The two big drawbacks of using standard mail typically will take an additional 10-15 days to deliver, and it is not undeliverable addresses are not forwarded or returned. A typical mailing will have 8% undeliverable addresses, so it is valuable to know which addresses these are for future mailings.

PURL Email Drafts

Added a new feature to Purlem today that allows you to save email drafts. Previously, there was no way for you to save an email that was to go out to the entire campaign.  Now you can press the ‘Save Draft’ button, and the email will be saved for future use.  Access the email drafts by clicking on “Drafts” in light blue email menu.

Avatar – Where is the 1:1 Marketing?

I’m typically not a sci-fi fan, so I went to see Avatar last night with low expectations.  Really, just wanted to see it for the new 3D technology before it left theaters.  But I left extremely impressed.  I would go as far as to say it is the best movie I have seen in years. Even my wife, who I had to drag to the movie, thought it was great.

But what I really thought was intersting about the success of Avatar is how they utilized Web 2.0 technologies to promote their brand.  They of-course had Twitter and Facebook pages. This is standard for every movie today.  But they took it a step further by reinventing the online preview with Adobe Air, and a MTV webcast with James Cameron himself.  The premier was even broadcast online on ustream.

But where is the personalization?  Couldn’t a movie such as Avatar really knock it out o the park with some quality 1:1 marketing techniques?  I think we will soon see movies start to market this was as 1:1 marketing hits main stream….

Best to send emails outside office hours.

It might come as a surprise, but according to a new study by U.K.-based e-mail service provider Pure360, the best time to send a commerical email is outside of office hours.

In a study of 660,000 messages sent by 34 companies, Pure360 reports that just 9% of e-mails were opened between noon and 2 p.m., and 62% of those messages were news or magazine alerts.

However, according to Pure360, almost half, or 48%, of marketing e-mails in the study were opened outside office hours.

When I think about my email habits this actually makes sense.  If I receive a commercial email during office hours that is not from a client, friend, or prospect I immediately delete it.  However, if I receive a commercial email and it sparks my interests outside of office hours, I’m much more likely to explore a little deeper.

You could actually test this theory yourself with PURLs.  Send a campaign during office hours and track the response rates in real time.  And then do the same thing during office hours.  Doing this one thing could drastically increase your email marketing response rates.

Rock Climbing – Trusting A Stranger

The other day we met a group of Rockclimbers in Tucson and they were kind enough to take us out.  There’s something about trusting a stranger with your life as you repel down the mountain.

Me rock climbing in Tucson AZ

By Baltimore.. Hello Tucson

My wife has been working as a “Traveling Nurse” for the past year.  She picks up a new assignment every 13 weeks and the past year has taken us from San Diego, to Connecticut and finally to Baltimore.  I got my computer and Internet…  My portable office is good to go!  We finished our stay in Baltimore just in time to miss the big snow!  Spent Christmas with family in Chicago and took off over New Years to Tucson.  Its been a little chilly at 60 degrees 🙂 …sorry.    I can’t wait to get out and explore all that Tucson has to offer.  The sunsets here are absolutely breath-taking!

Photoshop Postcard Design Template

I was having a hard time finding a postcard design template to use as a starting point to create my Personal URL postcards. So I decided to create one for myself and share with you.  I created a 4.25″ x 5.6″ postcard template and a 5.5″ x 8.5″ postcard template.  Use the links below to download. Enjoy!

To download: (Right Click link below > Save File As)

4.25″ x 5.6″ Postcard Template

5.5″ x 8.5″ Postcard Template

Unique Printer Website

Throughout my research on printers that offer variable data printing I have come across several hundred websites of printers.  It is amazing how many printers use a template website service.  These websites are often dull and boring.  It is very refreshing to come across a printer who really takes advantage of their internet presence to promote their image and brand.  Hook & Ladder Printing Co did just this.  Their website’s look is what all printers should strive for.

HTML vs. Text Emails – What do you respond to?

5 years ago everybody wanted their email marketing to use HTML. The obvious benefits of HTML emails are that they have additional text formatting capabilities, incorporate graphics,  and puts more creative options at the marketer’s disposal.

841Take this email from Pottery Barn for example.  This is a great example of a strong HTML email.  It is visually appealing, the message is clear and it contributes nicely to the brand’s image. But what I think makes this email work, is that I am familiar with the brand.

I think HTML emails make perfect sense for any large business that has a developed brand and strong customer loyalty (not to mention a huge design budget).

I’m just talking from personal experience here…  If I get an html email from Pottery Barn, or Best Buy (for example), I’m interested in their promotion and how I might be able to benefit from a special.  If the special intrigues me enough then sure, I’ll click to visit their website and learn more. But, on the other hand, if I get an email from some small business that I never hear of, my ‘JUNK’ radar immediatly sounds.

Take this html email a client of mine was thinking about sending out. (Thanks Steve for allowing me to use this as an example).

email_tease_v1

The goal of this email was to send people to their Personal URL landing page, and ultimately sign up for their wine of the month club.

By the way this is a great deal for all you wine lovers out there.  Go to http://uswineassociation.com for more info.

Now this email, like Pottery Barn, is also able to carry the brand for U.S. Wine Association with their colors, logo and font choices.  It looks nice and everybody is happy….  But how will prospective customers react to the email?  If they are anything like me  my ‘JUNK’ radar immediately goes off. What about you?

My argument is this. For small businesses who don’t have a strong brand and loyal customer following (or thousand dollar design budget for each email), it is better to use plain text emails. The biggest reason is that it looks like a PERSONAL message.  From experience, I would rather receive a personal message from a company that I am unfamiliar with, than something that looks like it went out the a million people.  What do you think?  Do you have the same reaction as I do?