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As the years go by, innovative packaging remains as important as ever. Digital technology has opened the door for new approaches to packaging that are geared toward customer expectations. Here are four trends to watch out for in 2014.

1. Personalization
With variable printing and other cutting-edge solutions, it’s possible to personalize items at a low cost. Presses can easily deliver short-run packages, whether this means 1,000 copies or just a few. As a result, more companies are inviting consumers to personalize their items. For example, Heinz created a campaign that allowed customers to customize soup cans for their sick friends and family members, marketing company Digital Surgeons reported. According to Graphics Art Mag, companies are offering more options for customization, from the copy on the label to the dimensions of the carton itself.

2. User-Friendly
As packaging becomes more sophisticated, it can also be designed to make life easier for consumers. No matter what customers are up to, they want packaging that meets their needs. For instance, those with active lifestyles want to take small packages on the go, while some consumers want bags that reseal between uses to maintain freshness. Others want containers that store easily. In addition, these days, health conscious consumers are often interested in snack-sizes that will prevent them from binging. Companies are being asked to fulfill the diverse needs of shoppers. Whatever wants these consumers may have, companies should look for innovative solutions. In one forward-thinking example from Digital Surgeons, a wine company used recycled cardboard to make a new kind of bottle that is 85% lighter than glass but still recyclable. This shows that some of the most innovative companies address desires customers have yet to express.

3. Sustainable459952319
Consumers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious and are often on the lookout for companies that use eco-friendly packaging. The Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability market has reached $290 billion in just the U.S., according to Digital Surgeons. These consumers feel a personal responsibility for the environment and believe companies should facilitate this interest by providing better packaging. Companies can meet this need in several ways, such as using environmentally-friendly materials or adjusting their packaging so it can be easily re-purposed. Another key finding from Digital Surgeons is that the higher the household income level, the more likely consumers were to rate environmentally-friendly packaging as important to them. This means eco-friendly packaging could be a key consideration for certain luxury items.

4. See-Through
Shoppers are growing more interested in transparency, both in terms of ingredients and in the packaging itself. As controversy grows over genetically modified organisms, consumers want to know exactly what’s in the products they are consuming. In addition to revealing exactly where ingredients came from and how products were assembled, showing consumers exactly what they’re getting can help alleviate any fears or misconceptions. Transparent packages allow the product to speak for itself. However, showing the product shouldn’t mean sacrificing creativity. Rather than making the package entirely clear, businesses can make a window that shows the product but incorporates it into a larger design. This approach is hip, but it also provides the same kind of transparency that shoppers want.

Heather Hill, Marketing Manager at a healthcare packaging & solutions provider, contributed to this article.

Weatherall LogoYes, Direct Mail is still alive and kicking and should have a place in your marketing strategy for 2014. In 2011, businesses spent almost $48 Billion on direct mail marketing. And, it isn’t slowing down with direct mail spending forecast to increase 3.6% through 2014.

Here are 10 tips to consider when designing your next direct mail campaign.

A Good, Clean List
The right mailing list is the key to your campaign’s success. Profiling your current clients and members is a great place to start.

Clear Offer
Be clear about your offer. Direct Mail works best when it is specific.

Be Creative
Get creative with your campaign, but don’t put it before steps 1 and 2. 80% of the success of your campaign will be determined by the list and offer.

Test, Test, Test
Test different offers and designs. Direct Mail is easily tracked. You can segment 10% of your list and experiment with different offers and designs.

Personalize Your Campaign
Personalize the copy and images. Incorporating the prospect’s name into the copy will increase  your response rate. Even better, use relevant information such as gender and ethnicity to version each piece.

Plan for the Majority
Make sure you plan for the majority, not the exception. Obsessing over the gentleman who goes by “Jim” but “James” was on his mailer does not ruin the campaign. Correct it and move on to the next mailing.

Make Responding Easy
Have an online response mechanism. It can be something as simple as an email address, or a more personalized approach using a Personalized URL (PURL).

Pair Your Direct Mail with Other Marketing Channels
Consider pairing your direct mail with other marketing channels, like email. When an email address is available, coordinating the delivery of the email with the mail piece drives up responses.

Repetition
Commit to more than one mailing. Direct Mail has a drip effect that increases the likelihood of a response through repetition.

Contact Weatherall Printing at 800-273-6043
Call us and let’s get started on your next direct mail campaign.

Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to get your prospect’s attention and grow your business.

 

Weatherall LogoIn “SNAP Selling,” author Jill Konrath explains that “To get your customer to grant you access, it’s imperative that you convey all your information in a series of 20 to 30 second ‘touches’ (via direct mail, email, and phone).”

Inspired by this sentiment, Nosco (a health care packaging and solutions provider based in Gurnee, Ill.), decided to experiment with the concept of conveying the same message in different ways to keep it top of prospects’ minds.

Nosco has tested many types of marketing campaigns and found the most success from a combination of efforts that utilize different mediums. Depending on the featured product or service, the order of the channels may vary, but they all incorporate direct mail, email, and a call or voicemail.

The company also discovered it is not the size of the campaign that matters, but the consistent messaging and laser focus on the right audience. This requires upfront research and an alignment with your sales team to determine the best possible targets.

Ultimately, it is not about one channel working better than another – it is the combination of all channels with consistent messaging. With each campaign, you should consider prospects’ personas, regions and, if possible, their needs. Although direct mail, email, and voicemail are standard (and easy) ways to communicate, don’t be afraid to learn and try new technologies to get your message out as one of your campaign touch points – even if simply to test.

Plan, communicate, test, measure and repeat, integrating both online and offline marketing efforts to determine what works best in combination and in what order for your product or service. Nosco has found a formula that has worked best for it by doing just that. The company has also found that when its communications are personalized, the results are better.

Heather Hill works in Marketing and Communications at Nosco

Weatherall LogoAlthough it is estimated that 57% of all businesses are using social media, with approximately 79% having plans to continue to or start using these platforms, many companies are still unsure why or how to use these sites.

Social media tools help a company brand, market and share information. They also allow  your company channels to engage with your target markets in more frequent and less formal ways. Social media sites enable companies to deliver updates on new products, technology and company information without bombarding customers with “too much” or irrelevant data. Your customers (and the world) will have access to this information.

The more engaged a company is on social media sites, the more customers can interact with your brand and identify with your products. For example, customers may comment on blog or Facebook postings. This type of engagement can lead to positive word-of-mouth marketing as prospective customers may see testimonials from happy customers.

Big Myths and Big Benefits
The biggest misconception most business owners have about social media is that there is a “right” and “wrong” way to do it. There is no exact science to social media’s success or which channels work best. Companies have different objectives and different audiences, so the social media strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all. Determine who you want to speak to and how, and what you ultimately want to achieve before establishing your company’s social media presence.

The biggest benefit for companies using social media is that you will engage with companies via the sharing of information rather than trying to “sell” the customer. Target markets will read your content via social media sites or refer to you for free information. As a result, you may have more prospective customers giving you a call.

Stacy Falconer is the Business Development Director for Westfield, Mass based Dion Label Printing.

As augmented reality (AR) and interactive print continue to grow, it is becoming clear that many more people now understand that a whole new world is emerging. We now have designers and engineers specifically working on AR projects, and with that comes an increasing amount of theory and best practices for AR user experience.layar

There was a recent article in UX Magazine called Augmented Reality and a Better User Experience and noticed how it related to interactive print in some places. In the article, authors Olli Siebelt and Michael Marina provide some starting guidelines for thinking about user experience when developing augmented reality experiences.

CONSIDER CONTEXT
They mention first to categorize and plan your project based on the intended use case, and the same can be said for developing an interactive print campaign with Layar. It is important to consider differences in context when enhancing a magazine page versus and billboard ad or product packaging. The experience needs to feel natural to users, and what feels natural will vary among these different scenarios.

REAL WORLD TESTING
Another tip – to go out and test in the real world before creating your project – can also be translated to interactive print campaigns.

DESIGN FOR MOBILE

And, finally, having an eye for design for the small screen is one of the big points made in the UX Magazine article. This also applies to interactive print. It’s very important that visual assets are easy to view and read on a mobile device, and that any web-based content linked to from your print is mobile-friendly.

This article was reprinted with permission by author Chris Cameron, who works at Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Layar.

For companies of all sizes, success often comes down to dollars and cents. Sales drives revenue and profit, and marketing can reach an audience that can ideally be converted into those sales. While major enterprise corporations have the luxury of spending millions, even billions of dollars on marketing and advertising annually to build sales and grow profits, small- and medium-sized business (SMBs) are often resource-strapped in three key areas; budget, time and expertise.

AS a SMB, your company is probably looking for a partner to help it market and sell in today’s cross-media world. You need solutions that integrate and automate marketing across print, online, mobile and social media channels, while being agile enough to support emerging media types and channels as they rise to prominence.

Just like enterprises, SMBs are also becoming more data-driven. While you want solutions that can help drive demand and generate leads, you also want information on marketing effectiveness across all channels and a calculation of return on marketing effectiveness across all channels and a calculation of return on marketing investment (ROMI) so they can further optimize marketing and sales.

Marketing automation technology has emerged with the potential to meet all of these demands. Many solutions on the market today provide a central location to manage a business’ marketing efforts. Based on workflows a user creates, these solutions can automate the creation, distribution, tracking and management of marketing communications for many different applications.

funnel picIn the case of sales effectiveness, marketing automation is used to keep leads engaged and nurtured as they work their way from a lead to a sale, which is detailed in photo. Triggers are often used as a way to prompt when a message is sent to a recipient: A prospect or lead may fill out an online form for more information; triggering further targeted communication based on the information that person provided. Most marketing automation solutions available today focus on automating and optimizing the use of email to communicate with customers and prospects more effectively. With an expanding interest in using direct mail and other promotional print, however, more solutions are also adding support to automate print marketing. These solutions often integrate with leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to help manage and store captured information, such as behaviors and preferences, to drive more targeted (and successful) communications as these initiatives evolve.

WHAT SMBs ARE SAYING ABOUT
MARKETING AUTOMATION
Of the SMBs surveyed in the InfoTrends’ report Capturing the SMB Marketing Automation Opportunity, 14% are already using marketing automation solutions in their business. Many report improvements in marketing effectiveness and measurement capabilities.

Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement, and SMBs need to work on using marketing automation to help generate demand more effectively, improve the quality of sales leads coming into their companies and enable more effective communication with customers.

INFOTRENDS’ OPINION
SMBs face many challenges in this rapidly evolving world, especially as it relates to resource constraints around money, time and expertise. SMBs need easy-to-use tools, as well as sage guidance, to lead them in the right direction and help them get the most out of the resources they do have. Self-service tools and marketing automation technology help address a number of critical marketing and communication needs. These solutions are increasingly easy to use, provide time-saving functionality and leverage the Internet to provide a cost-effective choice for SMBs that think big.

Steph Pieruccini is a consultant for InfoTrends, a worldwide consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry.

Marketing is transforming right before our eyes at a pace never before seen. Sales-ready leads, data management, lead scoring and nurturing, tracking, and measurement at the contact level are just a few of the focus areas for marketers in 2013.

The fact that studies report that marketers are going to spend more on IT staff in the coming five years than their IT Market_piccounterparts demonstrates the importance of more effective marketing methodologies driven by new technology solutions.

This fundamental transformation is creating unprecedented opportunities in the fastest growth area of our industry. This also requires a new kind of technology solution – one that helps marketers create relationships – building dialogs across fragmented channels, one that helps them address then marketing ecosystem in a more effective manner, and one that is powered by deep insight and analytics.

THAT LEADS US TO MARKETING AUTOMATION
Wikipedia defines marketing automation as the use of a marketing automation platform to streamline sales and marketing organizations by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions. Essentially, it enables marketers to do more in less time and allows the marketer to focus on high gain activities while the technology delivers the marketing program methodologies.

Most of the marketing automation solutions today are cloud-based applications that enable print and marketing professionals to seamlessly integrate off and online media, such as direct mail, email, web, SMS (text messaging), social media and mobile to create a highly personalized and unified experience across multiple channels.

Since the No. 1 goal of most marketers today is to deliver sales-ready leads to their sales teams, a new and important marketing application within the marketing automation solution now takes on new significance for all marketers; the ability to create rule based, multi-touch drip marketing campaigns to generate, nurture and score leads – cost effectively.

What this does for the marketer is enable them to deliver sales-ready leads to sales for immediate follow-up, while the remaining prospects are lead nurtured until they move into the sales-ready category.

Joseph Manos is an Executive Vice President for Irvine, Calif. Based MindFireInc, which specializes in marketing intelligence software and services that enable the creation and deployment of targeted, trackable cross-media marketing campaigns. You may contact him at jmanos@mindfireinc.com

There is no doubt that mobile is now table stakes for marketers, advertisers and media companies. The sheer size of the mobile audience, along with the diverse capabilities and immediacy that modern mobile technology can deliver, has prompted organizations to go back to the drawing board with their website and application designs to account for the unique features of mobile devices. Smaller screen sizes, touch interfaces, push notifications, location services … they are all pushing practitioners and technology firms to rethink their approach to design to help them reach their audience in a clear way.

It should be noted that the “large screen” desktop interfaces are not going away anytime soon, especially in the workplace, meaning that design ultimately needs to be multi-modal. Some companies are approaching this issue by building responsive layouts that automatically adapt depending on the browser or screen size. Others are taking a more piecemeal approach by designing for a particular channel or, in the case of mobile apps, designing for a particular device or operating system.

Interestingly, some of the design elements born out of the necessity to create usable interfaces on smaller screens are now becoming common in designs for larger screens. The interface of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 OS is probably the starkest example of this phenomenon, but there are plenty of others. Forms are becoming less dense and easier to use due to the lack of space of many inputs and large drop-down menus, and icons are being designed and implemented in more meaningful ways to reduce interface clutter. In other words, mobile is driving more simplicity in interface design, which is a step in the right direction for creating more user-friendly digital experiences.

The Road Map for InfoTrends’ Digital Marketing & Media Trends (DMM) Consulting Service helps companies understand how to harness the power of interconnected media effectively to meet their business objectives. To read the full DMM report, visit http://www.infotrends.com.

The whole “big data” phenomenon may be overstated in the business and tech media at this point, but for good reason: Companies are proving time and time again that a data-driven approach leads to smarter business decisions and can develop a competitive edge. As a result, more businesses — even small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) — are turning to solutions that help them harness the power of big data to help them do everything, from more accurately tracking inventory to listening and engaging with relevant online social conversations.

As the data universe continues to grow exponentially, tools are rapidly being developed and deployed to analyze larger and more diverse data sets to make it easier to make quick, actionable decisions. Marketers and advertisers are shifting their spending to digital channels, which means more metrics but also more noise in an already-noisy media landscape. Technologies and services that help marketers filter out this noise to capture actionable insight, while also automating manual tasks in intuitive ways, will deliver the most value and, as a result, find the most success.

The Road Map for InfoTrends’ Digital Marketing & Media Trends (DMM) Consulting Service helps companies understand how to harness the power of interconnected media effectively to meet their businessobjectives. To read the full DMM report, visit http://www.infotrends.com.

Consumers definitely know their personal information is more readily available for companies to use than ever before. While this type of data can be used to give consumers more personalized experiences from the businesses they use, they still do not have a lot of insight into the scope of personal data floating around in tracking cookies or in third-party marketing databases. Similarly, they do not have a lot of power to control how this information is used and shared, which now happens in real-time and can be influenced by each user’s specific web activities.

While the marketing and advertising industries successfully deflected major regulations in 2012 through intense lobbying efforts, new regulations in 2013 are highly likely to be passed due to the sheer number of bills and other initiatives currently in the works, along with the need for laws to catch up with the fast pace of innovation in this area:

• Following the release in March 2012 of a two-year
investigation on consumer privacy in the digital age,
the U.S. Federal Trade Commission endorsed
legislative action around data privacy, including
the creation of “do-not-track” mechanisms in web
browsers that help consumers opt-out of online
behavioral tracking and targeting. Efforts by the
industry to self-regulate DNT were stalled at the end of
2012; the consequence may lead to legislative action
on the issue.

• Retiring Democratic Senator from West Virginia, John
D. Rockefeller IV, launched an inquiry into information
brokers like Acxiom, Epsilon and Rapleaf last October to
better understand their practices and determine if they
are handling consumers’ personal data appropriately.

• Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) recently released a draft
bill called “The Application Privacy, Protection, and
Security Act of 2013,” or the APPS Act, targeted at
creating guidelines for data collection, retention and
sharing practices of mobile app developers. With other
initiatives at various stages in the works, expect more
attempts — and some successes — to introduce new
marketing and advertising regulations in 2013.

The Road Map for InfoTrends’ Digital Marketing & Media Trends (DMM) Consulting Service helps companies understand how to harness the power of interconnected media effectively to meet their business objectives. To read the full DMM report, visit http://www.infotrends.com.