How the Seasons Affect Your Direct Mail Campaigns

For the best results from your direct mail campaigns, learn how responses vary according to the time of year.

Some direct mail marketers focus so much on what they mail to whom, that they lose sight of another variable that’s just as important: when they mail. In my experience, most industries have a good time of year to mail (when they get stellar results), and a bad one (when you wonder if anyone out there is listening).

Do you know which season is best for you?

While you may have a general idea of good times to mail, you may not know those weeks or months to avoid – when your response rate falls like a stone. As an example, one of my clients mails sales letters about commodities. You know, corn, wheat, sugar, etc. They teach people how to trade commodities based on technical principles.

As you can imagine, one of our target prospects for this offer is farmers. The idea is that they can learn how to “hedge” their crops by buying and selling commodities. This makes them less vulnerable to changing market conditions. When I first started mailing this commodity offer to farmers, I had tremendous success. But…it didn’t last! After a few months, the response rate dropped off the table, to almost zero. Why?

After testing exhaustively, month after month, I figured out the problem. It was very simple. Farmers were NOT responsive during their harvest season.

Why? They are working 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. They don’t have time to read the mail. Or think about learning something new. But…they are HIGHLY responsive in the off-season, after the harvest. Knowing about this seasonality allowed me to aggressively mail farmers in the off-season, and avoid mailing them during harvest season.

Here’s another example. If you are a financial planner, do you know the best and worst times of year to mail?

Financial planners get the worst response rates during holidays – Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, etc. Their response is especially poor in November and December when most families are super busy planning and spending their money on gifts, travel, and food. What’s the BEST time for financial planners to mail? The first quarter of every year. January is best since families are evaluating their finances, and trying to find better ways to save and manage their money.

I send out over 250 mailings per year. I ALWAYS have something in the mail – every day, every week. I’ve identified money-making seasons for dozens of industries. And by mailing at just the right times, we are able to make the most out of our mailing. Experiment with small mailings and compare responses over time.

Armed with information on the best times to mail, you can make the best use of your advertising budget.

Saving the Earth, One Email at a Time

Traditional marketing practices tend to use a lot of paper. Consider how you can make operations more sustainable with digital communications.

Marketing is not exactly known for being an eco-friendly industry. In fact, the U.S. uses about 68 million trees each year to produce 17 billion catalogs and 65 billion pieces of direct mail, according to the American Forest and Paper Association. However, as the world becomes increasingly more digital, marketers have an opportunity to use digital tools to boost their environmental sustainability and turn this reputation around.

Many businesses plant trees to celebrate Earth Day; however, marketers who instead champion digital communication within their companies will benefit from a sustainable practice that can become a foundational part of their business. Consider the following best practices to help your company become more environmentally friendly for a sustainable future.

Move from direct mail to email.

When it comes to eco-friendly behaviors, some industries are better — and some worse — than others. Real estate, for instance, is notoriously old-fashioned in its marketing habits, relying predominantly on direct mail to reach customers. On the other hand, retailers who have embraced the shift to ecommerce tend to lean toward digital marketing to communicate with their customers. Internet retailers, in particular, generate very little paper across their business practices, delivering receipts, catalogs and other solicitations electronically.

Reducing your reliance on direct mail to reach customers will have a significant impact on the amount of paper waste your business creates. Shift your focus toward email, and consider how your current marketing content could be delivered electronically. Could a digital newsletter replace a brochure, or an emailed promotion replace a print mailing? Begin introducing QR codes to your print mailings that, when scanned on a smartphone, lead prospects to a landing page where they can easily enter their email address to receive digital communications. Use your traditional marketing pieces to promote your email list generation, and show your customers how they’re supporting your commitment to the environment. Taking that first step to digital might keep thousands of trees firmly rooted where they stand, and drastically reduce paper mailings from ending up as landfill.

Switch to scannable content.

While the restaurant industry has, for the most part, made the initial transition to electronic communication, they’re still lagging behind other industries in how they’re using it sustainably. Restaurants frequently send digital coupons and promotions to their customers but require customers to print them for redemption. While the communication to the customer has minimal environmental impact, the customer becomes the culprit doing damage to the environment.

Make sure the coupons and offer codes you distribute via email can be scanned and redeemed directly from a smartphone or other mobile device. Use responsive design tools to ensure your entire message and the offers it contains are easy to read and scan regardless of the device. Think about ways you can entice your customers to use digital devices for redemption, such as extending a better offer like free delivery to those who don’t print. If your business has an ecommerce site in addition to a physical location, consider whether that promotion can be used online as well as in store, and give clear instructions for both use cases.

Transition processes to an online portal.

Amazon is a force of nature, driving seismic shifts in the ecommerce, marketing and fulfillment industries. The company is setting the stage for how to do business digitally today, and one way Amazon’s influence has reduced paper waste is through the company’s online portal to manage workflow processes. Rather than mail hard copies of receipts and product manuals with new purchases, Amazon gives customers access to digital versions of these materials through their online accounts. These records can be accessed anytime and anywhere, and they track a deep purchase history so customers need not worry about losing documents.

If your business has an online component, consider how building out a customer-facing portal could cut down on overall paper waste. Migrate workflows for receipts, instructions and manuals to this portal, and make it accessible through many mediums like web browsers, devices and even apps. Help your customers understand that they’ll always have access to the documents they need and that their use of your portal is benefiting a greater good — the environment.

Transitioning your marketing efforts to be digital-based might take a bit longer than planting a tree, but the impact on the environment can be similarly enduring. If you can’t get your hands dirty this Earth Day, think about how a few changes to your marketing practices can affect the world around you. We can all do our part by taking steps towards an environmentally sustainable future.

Alternatives to Cold Call Prospecting

Some salespeople rarely make cold calls. They’ve developed other prospecting activities that can produce the sales they need without having to spend long hours on the phone. If that sounds good to you, you’ll need to put in the time developing said alternative prospecting channels so that you’re getting enough leads from those sources that cold calling becomes unnecessary.

Warm Leads

The most effective way to cut down your need for cold calling is to build multiple sources of warm leads.

A warm lead is a prospect who comes to you already interested in buying. Building a strong network will, among other things, help you to achieve a stream of warm leads from contacts. However, keep in mind that a business network requires time and effort on your part to maintain. Network contacts expect you to help them out with leads and other assistance or they won’t be inclined to help you.

Another good source of warm leads is referrals from existing prospects and customers. The final stage of the sales cycle, after closing the sale, is asking for referrals to friends and colleagues of your new customer. Because these referred leads know your customer and he can (hopefully) confirm how happy he is with his new product, it’s much easier to close a referred lead than a cold lead.

Finally, warm leads can come to you from a website or social networking site. These leads are people who visit the company site or read its Facebook profile and decide they want to learn more, so they ask for a salesperson to contact them.

These leads tend to be eager to buy since they’re clearly interested enough to want to know about your products, but they are also likely to have solicited information from your competitors, so be prepared for some heavy negotiating.

If your warm leads aren’t enough to keep your sales high, you can consider other methods of contacting cold leads.

An email is an excellent option. You can craft one message and send it to a large number of potential prospects with one click. The biggest concern regarding emails to large groups is accidentally crossing the line into spamming. Sending spam can create a lot of trouble. Not only are there laws in place that make spamming illegal, but it’s also unprofessional and can result in fines, losing customers, getting a bad reputation, and even having your email account shut down by your hosting provider.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is a traditional way to reach out to prospects, but it is also the most expensive. A simple letter will only cost you for supplies and postage, but if you decide to put together a professional direct mail package with a brochure, you can end up spending a great deal of money on design and printing costs. On the other hand, if you have a good lead list you can end up with very high returns on direct mail solicitations.

Door to Door

The classic door-to-door approach can also be effective. If you’re selling to consumers, you can pick out a good neighborhood and start knocking. B2B salespeople can target large office buildings and stop by every suite. In-person visits are time-consuming but can also lead to quick closes, if you can talk to the right person at the right time.

Most salespeople will find that these methods can supplement but not replace cold calling. A salesperson who is a keen networker with strong social media skills and a willingness to put in a lot of time can cut cold calling down to a tiny fraction compared to a salesperson with no network or Internet marketing. Still, there’s no reason you can’t shoot for the gold ring and try to get to the point where you never need to make another cold call!

New Study Shows Business Owners How to Reach Gen Y Consumers

New research from suggests that mobile and social media marketing to play even greater role in the future.

It’s important for every business owner to be constantly thinking about and planning for the future. No matter how large and power a company is now, if they don’t adapt to changing market trends or consumer expectations, they are doomed to fail in the future. Blockbuster Video, Circuit City and Yahoo are examples of companies that went from being the leaders to the losers of their industries when they failed to adapt. To help business owners plan for the future, a new study highlights what is known about the up and coming shoppers of tomorrow, Generation Y.

Generation Y consumers are often thought to be shoppers who are between 20 and 34 years old. This may just seem like an unnecessary subdivision of Millennials, but there’s a reason it’s valuable to look at Generation Y consumers on their own. The Savvy study estimates that this group currently represents around a third of shoppers, but by 2022, they will account for nearly half (47 percent) of shoppers.

Though this may seem like an obvious place to start, one of the key takeaways from the report is that mobile marketing will be integral to reaching audiences in the future. Four out of five (80%) of Generation Y saying they look at their phones multiple times an hour.

Generation Y consumers are attached to their devices and use them in many shopping situations. According to the Savvy report, 66 percent of Generation Y shoppers say they regularly use their smartphone to buy products and nearly half (49 percent) regularly use their smartphones while in the supermarket.

This is group is also highly active on social media. The lion’s share (97 percent) have accessed social media in the past month. And 95 percent have used messaging services like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. By comparison, only a little over half (55 percent) of this group had read a printed newspaper (including free papers) during the past month.

“The rapid rise of the connected shopper reflects the enormous influence technology now has in our lives as shoppers – digital media inspires us, is our go-to place for product research and, in many cases, is where we buy products,” says Alastair Lockhart, Insight Director at Savvy Marketing. “Shopper behavior is evolving more quickly than ever before, and the onus is now firmly on retailers and brands to keep up and be fit for the future.”

Business owners who use this advice to help create better campaigns for young adults will benefit from more than just increased business from Generation Y consumers. Mobile, social media and search marketing are useful to all consumers.

Even Savvy reminds business owners that 80 percent of all shoppers own a smartphone, 86 percent access social media, and 61 percent have searched for a product using a search engine in the past month. This is truly a situation where ‘a rising tide lifts all boats”
There are many ways business owner can use mobile marketing and social media to improve the shopping experience for their customers. As has been discussed in many articles in the past on, businesses that effectively use data and technology can give customers the information they need to convince them to buy a certain product or make shopping easier with in-store pickup for items bought online.

Technological advances have been driving much of the change in marketing and business, in general, and this study on Generation Y shoppers shows that this will probably not change anytime soon. For more news about the best way to use technology to improve your business, read this article on creating a better business website.

10 Types of amazing businesses you can build after 6 p.m.

That daytime job of yours may be terrific. But there’s one thing that is far more rewarding and meaningful than good pay and benefits: being your own boss. There are several different, quick, and easy ways that you can bring in some extra income while still in your day job. Whether you live in a metropolitan city or any other city you can find variety of offline as well as online part time jobs in your city.

Here are the 10 Types of Businesses You Can Build After 6 p.m,

1. Start your own blog

The internet is filled with different kinds of blogs that are devoted to all kinds of topics. Many of them do not make any money, some make a decent amount, and there are some that draw in lucrative and regular income.

If you manage to make $400 each month from blogging, that can certainly be useful, especially when you are unemployed. So, if you are passionate or have a lot of knowledge about a subject which others will be interested in learning, you may able to make some extra money by setting up a blog and generating revenues from sponsored posts or affiliate marketing.

2. Teach online

If you have a skill, a trade or knowledge of a certain foreign language, you can easily make money by teaching others. There are many websites that are looking for people who can teach these skills online.

There is one bonus that comes with this. You will get an experience you can put in your resume and help you score a job later on. But be careful; many people have managed to make a successful career out of teaching people online, however, not everyone can do this successfully.

3. Sell what you know

Packaging your skills and knowledge into an ebook for people seeking to learn a skill or build their career can be highly profitable if you have a strong value proposition and know your target audience.

If you’re an expert on any topic, there’s likely an audience of people willing to pay to learn what you know. If your expertise does not lend itself to ebook form, you might also create and share online courses. Either way, once you create the digital content, you can continue to sell it over and over again. There’s no inventory threshold or manufacturing cost.

4. Entertain and educate

Podcasting is another terrific way to use an hour or three in the evening to build a regular audience around a specific topic of industry. Build your audience enough and you can start to pick up show sponsors that will pay for product discussions or short advertising spots.

There’s a small investment in equipment, but hosting a podcast online is free.

5. Set up a Youtube channel

Starting a Youtube channel and becoming an “online celeb” might appear easy on the surface but, truth be told, not many make it to the big time. You may have to purchase some recording equipment as well as have a new and exciting idea but it’s not impossible to make good money. The way to profit from creating videos is becoming a Youtube partner. This means you get paid for impressions and clicks on ads that show up during your video.

6. Become a freelancer

So-called freelancing takes selling your skills to the next level whereby you offer a more professional service to a small number of clients. As a result this path commands higher income for your time.

Freelancing will appeal most to entrepreneur minded types, with the most common freelance professions being copy writing, graphic design, web design and even social media. Starting off is now relatively easy thanks to websites such as Upwork which allow you to advertise your services to a global audience. Once you have a few jobs under your belt you should have some good references and possible referrals.

7. Give music lessons

You’ll probably want to stick to the instrument(s) you know well, but you can bank the most income and build a solid businesses teaching multiple instruments, or those in a particular class, like strings or woodwinds. Start by giving lessons to individuals to grow your business and get your name out among the community.

8. Manage social media accounts

There’s a good chance you’re guilty of spending a little too much time on social media. So, if you’re going to be there in the evenings anyway, why not get paid to put your expertise to work? Plenty of companies, especially startups in retail, want to build a strong social presence, and they need people to help them make that happen.

9. Draw art to sell online

Perhaps you are a decent artist. If that’s the case, then there are various places you could sell your talents. DeviantArt is one of the best places to sell art. It allows users to upload their art, sell prints, take commissions for others, etc. You control your own work, sell it how you want, and talk to your fans directly.

10. Content writing

Content writing is one of the best part time option if you love writing. There are number of ways you can make money writing content.

You can check the job sites like Indeed, Quikr etc. where you can find jobs related to writing work or join the sites like Lexiconn, Fiverr, UpWork & other freelance sites to find work related to writing.

Branding 101: Mistakes communicators should avoid

When I started my etiquette business 20 years ago, I hired a college student named Ed to design my logo and website. It was a quick, easy and inexpensive way to get my name out into the world.
However, when it came time to update my materials, Ed was nowhere to be found. He left town and did not provide me with his new contact information. I ended up hiring a more expensive and reputable company to design all of my marketing materials and it made all the difference in the world. Even today, my website is my number one marketing tool. It establishes me as “The Etiquette Expert.” It’s my brand. Your brand is equally important. It is the first symbol people see, it is the last thing they remember, and it is the theme that runs throughout your entire marketing strategy. Big corporations like Coca-Cola, Google, and Apple spend large sums of money and time determining and establishing their brand. So why shouldn’t it be that important to a smaller, more entrepreneurial company? It should be.
If you are just starting out on a shoestring budget or if you have created a business in random chunks, without a formal brand strategy determination, it’s never too late to put a brand in place.
But before you do, you must first be aware of the most common branding mistakes many entrepreneurs make.
1. Amateur logo.
Nothing screams “inexperienced” more than a homemade-looking logo. Even if you are proud of what your teenager came up with, take the time and spend the money to hire a professional graphic designer specializing in branding and logo development. Your designer will also create graphic standards defining the color palette, visual style, font size and style, and usage requirements for your logo. Use these standards to set the tone throughout your entire marketing campaign.

2. You have no consistency.
If you started getting inquiries before establishing your brand, you probably had to rush to get basic marketing materials in place. Your business card, letterhead, social media banners, website, marketing brochure, handouts, labels, invoices, and more should all carry a themed and branded look. Use the same font and colors throughout.

3. No motto.
Big companies create a tagline or motto that encapsulates the message they want to convey. “Think different” is Apple’s, “Let’s Make Today Great” is Kellogg’s, and “Go Further” is Ford’s. Products also carry slogans: remember Alka-Seltzer’s “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz” and Burger King’s “Have it Your Way”? Develop a catchy tag line that represents the benefits your clients and customers will receive. Can’t afford to hire a marketing company? Hire a freelancer by the hour.

4. Not monitoring the competition.
Before you brand, check out your competitors. They have a similar—or the same—audiences as you do. Research similar businesses in other markets as well. Look at their logo, tagline, overall look and feel, and any marketing materials you can access. Review their websites to see how their services stack up to yours. Note any good ideas and revise them into your own unique brand.

5. Not knowing who your customers are.
Not everyone is your customer. In fact, knowing the data on exactly who your customer really is can result in an incremental 241% return on investment, reports a Clickz study. Hone in on and “own” a niche. For example, my niche is business etiquette. That means that I target my marketing efforts to corporations, colleges and universities.
Specializing in a niche requires less investment than mass marketing, and comes with the bonus of free word of mouth advertising and brand loyalty. Niche market members are passionate about their interests, values and hobbies and are more likely to talk about those interests and your brand with others in their network. They also are more apt to keep coming back for more.
Spend some time reviewing your current brand, and if it needs work, make it your top priority. After all, it is the lasting impression that defines your business and will keep you in business for many years to come.



3 Simple Ways to Make Sure Your Direct Mail Campaign Is Opened

Learn the three things you can do to increase the chances that your sale pieces do their important job of selling your product or service.

Sometimes dropping your mail off at the post office can feel like you’re throwing it into a vast abyss. Once it’s out of your hands, you have no more control over it. Will it get to real people or will it end up in the dead letter office? Will the people who receive it read it or will it end up in the trash unopened?

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to increase the chances that your sale pieces arrive at the right place and get opened.

1. Get Your Mail Delivered

It doesn’t matter how great your copy is, how perfectly designed the sales piece is, or how sweet of an offer you have. If you use the wrong mailing list, your mail will not even show-up at the door. The key element to getting your mail delivered is to make sure you start with an accurate, updated mailing list that you get from a reliable source.

25 to 30 percent of your mail can end up undeliverable if you use a mailing list made up of bad names (wrong addresses, old names that have moved, etc.). One of my clients sent a direct mail campaign using first class mail, so the undelivered mail was returned to them. They knew they had picked the wrong list when they received about 20 percent of their campaign back. Consider the money lost due to a bad mailing list.

Making sure your list is right not only ensures that your mail will be delivered, but it is also instrumental in making sure that you get your mail opened by your target audience. If your list doesn’t target the people most likely to respond to your offer, it can be useless.

2. Get Your Mail Opened

Once your mail makes it in the hands of your target audience, your next step is to get them to open it and look through it. You want to make sure you are using the right format that will most appeal to your prospects. Every market niche has its own qualities and you need to find out and employ the format that works best for yours.

For example, suppose you are selling joint pain supplements. It turns out that the most successful type of format to get your mail opened in the joint pain niche is a magalog style. On the other hand, if you are marketing an information-based product and the purpose of your piece is to drive customers online, you will have the best results if you use a postcard or a four-page self-mailer.

So, how do you know what format you should be using? Find out who the most successful marketers are in your niche and follow what they’re doing. Here’s how:

1. Identify the biggest direct mail company in your niche and then see what they’re mailing. If you don’t know who the biggest mailer is, contact a list broker and ask them who mails to the biggest lists in your market. Then you can get a sample of what they are mailing.

2. Get samples of their pieces. This is the best way to find out how often they mail and what kind of offers they advertise is to get on their mailing list. When you request to be put on their lists, you can use a less recognizable name and a home address or a PO Box, if that makes you feel more comfortable about it contacting your competition.

3. Research your niche in SRDS. If you can’t find this reference book at your public library, request it and they may be able to get it for you on interlibrary loan.

3. Keep Your Mailing List Clean

Don’t rely completely on your list provider to give you a clean list. If you are getting lists from several sources, there could easily be duplicates, so always have your mail house run its own list hygiene procedure.

If you don’t clean your list you could run the change of mailing to bad addresses, wrong ZIP codes, and duplicate names. About 10% to 15% of every list has these. That means you could easily end up mailing 1,500 names that won’t respond out of a list of 10,000. Let’s do the math: If you are paying $0.65 for printing and postage, that will cost you $975 of lost money that did you no good at all.

If you don’t clean your list, you can be sure that you will have a bunch of pieces that did not get delivered. That kind of thing wastes your money, ruins your delivery rate, and reduces the number of orders you will receive.

Don’t throw your money away and threaten the results of your direct mail campaigns. Follow the three simple suggestions given here, and your mailings will be much more successful.

How to Successfully Track the Results of Your Mail Campaign

Increase your mailing response rate by tracking and taking a serious look at your results.

Imagine you just spent $3,000 on a direct mail campaign, the mail pieces are out the door, and you’re finished with the whole process. Now it’s back to business, fulfilling all those orders that are about to flood in. There’s nothing more to do with the mailing, right? Wrong.

Now comes one of the most critical parts of the whole operation. Assessing the results of your campaign so you know:

  • Was it worth it to spend the $3,000 in the first place?
  • Of the two versions of sales pieces you tested, which one did better?
  • Which list of names did better?

In other words, you need to start tracking your results. Tracking your mail campaigns helps you understand every element of the campaign so that you can refine everything you do for future mailings. That’s the only way to systematically get better results as you grow your business. I can’t tell you how many companies I’ve talked to who tell me they don’t really know the results of their direct mail campaigns. They have a sense that orders picked up after sending out a mailing, but they don’t have any hard data. And maybe they tried several different sales pieces over the years, but they don’t really know which one did better.

That kind of lackluster effort doesn’t allow you to make any progress. Sometimes a mailing works, sometimes it doesn’t, but if you don’t know why you can’t use the information to create more effective campaigns. After mailing more than 200 million sales letters, I am certain of one thing: Direct-mail is no place for guesswork.

Tracking your mailings down to the smallest detail, every sales piece you’ve sent out, and every mail date you’ve used, will all help you refine your mail methods and increase your response rate.

Many businesses find that there is a best and worst season for their direct mail campaigns. They know this because they tracked their results, and now they can use this information to help boost their response rates. Getting helpful information like this requires tracking every single mailing, for every single campaign.

If you can’t easily look at and compare your mailing list history, seasonality, and sales piece trends, you are leaving money on the table. You need to track every single detail.

Case study: What brands can learn from the integrated Share a Coke campaign of 2013

Summer 2013 saw Coca-Cola replace its iconic branding with 150 of the UK’s most popular names for its multimedia Share a Coke campaign, which produced some impressive results. But just what can other brands learn from it? Market research company YouGov shares the secrets of Coke’s winning campaign.

Last summer saw a flurry of activity down the supermarket drink aisles – adults and children alike scrambled through stacks of Coca-Cola, all eager to grab a bottle bearing their name. It seemed like almost everyone was sucked in by the Share a Coke campaign which exploded across Facebook, Twitter and TV advertising.

This unique and innovative approach to personalisation triggered research firm YouGov to roll out a study to ascertain just how and why Share a Coke was so successful and what other brands can take away from this success.

Background to the campaign Share a Coke, created by Ogilvy & Mather Sydney, launched in Australia in 2012. The integrated campaign was launched in Britain on 29 April 2013 and ran until the end of the summer. The soft drink giant replaced its usual branding with 150 of the UK’s most popular names. It was a multimedia effort, with TV adverts, billboards, and experiential marketing in the form of Coca-Cola ‘tours’ where participants could have their own custom bottle made. Each bottle also carried the hashtag #shareacoke to encourage users to share bottles with their names, as well as those of friends and family, using social media.

Reasons behind the research YouGov decided to study its progression and impact with UK consumers for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was already tracking Coca-Cola and its sub-brands, Diet Coke and Coke Zero, using its consumer perception tool. Second, YouGov was drawn by the dynamic nature of the campaign, and how it cut across multiple mutually-reinforcing mediums, including TV, Twitter and Facebook. Finally, Share a Coke’s innovative approach to personalisation made it a fascinating prospect.

Analysis strategy YouGov used connected data to combine actual (rather than claimed) advertising exposure with daily brand perception data to understand the impact of the advertising campaign, and which elements were most effective.

Actual exposure came from panellists who completed daily media consumption surveys, allowing YouGov to access to their social media feeds and let it track their web behaviour. Brand perception came from its daily BrandIndex survey – monitoring views on over 900 brands across 15 metrics each day.

Combining the two meant YouGov could accurately assess the impact of the campaign and understand the impact of each element. In this case it looked at the impact of TV, Twitter and Facebook by taking those exposed on each platform and assessing how their perceptions of Coca-Cola compared to matched samples who were not exposed.

YouGov focused on four measures that were most relevant to the aims of the Share a Coke campaign.

  • Buzz: Over the past two weeks, which of the following brands have you heard something positive/negative about (whether in the news, through advertising, or talking to friends and family)?
  • Impression: Which of the following brands do you have a generally positive/negative feeling about?
  • Recommend: Which of the following brands would you recommend/tell a friend to avoid?
  • Consideration: When you are in the market next to make a purchase, which brands would you consider?


TV Consumer perception of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero improved substantially on virtually every measure for those who were exposed to Share a Coke TV adverts. The uplift in perception for Diet Coke and Coke Zero was slightly more modest than for Coca-Cola, but still impressive. The data shows that 18-24 year-olds who were exposed to the campaign view the brand much more positively than those who were not exposed to the adverts.

Social media As with those who had seen the TV adverts, respondents who were exposed to the campaign on social media had a substantially better view of Coca-Cola than the nationally representative sample. Consumers who had seen the TV adverts and those exposed to #shareacoke on Twitter experienced a similar uplift in consumer perception. However, the consumers who were exposed to the campaign on Facebook showed the most dramatic improvement in how they perceive Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero (up 18 per cent).

What can other brands learn? Share a Coke has emerged as one of the most compelling campaigns in recent memory. The overarching theme that gave Share a Coke its edge is the way a brand so ubiquitous that it can replace its logo with individual names reached out to consumers and spoke to people as individuals.

The campaign showed that when personalisation works it can be highly engaging and effective. However, consumers were also cautious with warnings that when personalisation is attempted it can backfire if it doesn’t deliver. Examples cited were the Starbucks ‘name’ on cups campaign that can be a source of irritation when well-meaning staff members make mistakes.

Another element for marketers to consider is that in the world of social media, personalisation only works if it is something that can be shared with the wider community. This campaign provides people with a reason to share, but one that users can choose to do in their own way – there is a choice, it is customised and left up to individuals to be creative in how and when they use it.

Jane Carn, head of qualitative research at YouGov, commented: “Share a Coke was a multimedia campaign, so we needed a holistic approach that allowed us to understand the power of each component. We combined data sets covering media consumption, brand perception surveys, and social media exposure, so we were able to see whether someone was being influenced by the campaign even if they didn’t necessarily remember seeing one of the TV adverts or posts on Twitter and Facebook. We could also tell which elements of the campaign were working hardest, and while Share a Coke was extremely effective across all mediums, where we saw the greatest uplift in perception of the brand was among those who were exposed to it on Facebook.

“People loved that this campaign spoke to them directly by using their names, or those of their friends and family. They were also engaged in the participative element of the campaign, particularly by sharing images of the personalised Coke bottles on Twitter and Facebook. Share a Coke spoke to them as individuals, while making them feel more connected to the brand and to one another – and that is the secret to its success.”

Let’s bring back direct mail, and make it personal

Marketing has seen a shift in tactic; podcasts and direct mail – approaches that had previously fallen out of favour – are making a resurgence. Is it nostalgia or the changing economic and political climate that is turning agencies’ heads backward, or is there something else at play?

With so much noise in the market place in almost every industry, and concerns that budgets will tighten thanks to Brexit, brands want to talk to consumers on an individual basis. Audiences are becoming increasingly discerning about the information they consume, whether that’s choosing to listen to their favourite bloggers in a podcast, curating a playlist in Spotify or picking what they view through on demand services (Amazon Prime, Netflix, BBC iPlayer). With this new level of control, we want to feel that brands are making the effort to vie for our attention.

To be clear, this is not just about using our first name or slapping it on a bottle of Coke or jar of Nutella. This is about creating a connection on an emotional level and really engaging with both prospective and existing customers to build brand loyalty and leverage ROI. This means agencies need to be ever more selective in their approach – whether it’s the comeback kid of collateral, the direct mailer, whispering sweet nothings via a podcast or cutting edge tech in chatbots and personal web content.

Inbox overload is a daily occurrence and for every newsletter you signed up for that you actually read, there are probably five you delete without even opening. Yet, it’s likely that the last time you received a beautifully designed piece of direct mail, it is from event you can recall. We’re not talking about the crumpled pizza delivery flyers you get stuffed through the letter box or the latest begging letter from a charity including a free pen in the envelope, but something eye-catching and interesting. Segmenting your audience can mean the ability to discern who to talk to, making an investment from your budget in physical collateral that feels relevant and shows your recipients some love.

By the same token, we know that, depending on your business model, a direct mail campaign might not be the best use of your budget if you are seeking quantity reactions over quality ones. We’ve seen first-hand how different business models’ customer bases can react to a smart email campaign that sends carefully timed reminders and follow-ups based on client reactions, such as opens and clicks. It’s not about whether the customer feels the nostalgic pang of a piece of post. Instead, it’s about demonstrating that as a business, you not only care about your customers, you understand and empathise with them.

Likewise, visiting a smart website that has learnt your preferences and shows relevant content first offers an improved UX and helps engender brand loyalty. It benefits the business by knowing what stage of the journey your customer is at, offering tangible data about your customer reactions and experience through the sales funnel. Details specific to certain personas such as their needs, wants and possible roadblocks mean your website can offer the most relevant content supported by marketing emails.

With brands embracing technology as much as nostalgia, will we actually care if it’s a chatbot rather than a person behind a social media channel? We expect instant responses, immediate solutions and a certain level of reverence for our status as a valued customer as a consumer – so long as the AI has advanced enough to pull the wool over our eyes in short exchanges, making us feel like we matter, we will continue to retweet our direct messages or responses from companies none the wiser. We will feel cared for and understood by the brands we feel loyal to. It doesn’t matter whether it’s old school or new cool, because, for us as consumers, it’s personal.