hidden marketing

There are a lot of tactics employed by professional marketers today. Some of those tactics have been around since the dawn of advertising, and others have evolved from the constant change in technology that floods virtually every industry on the planet. One method that’s still in practice today is direct mail marketing. To many, this comes as a surprise because this particular method of marketing is loaded with potential pitfalls.

Generally speaking, direct mail marketing is very costly to implement, and the response rates from the efforts are minimal, at best. Most organizations that still invest in traditional direct mail marketing will incur costs not only in the creation of the mailed material but also a substantial bill for printing and postage. If the end result of those efforts is the recipient simply tossing the piece of media into the trash or shredder, the return on investment is a big, fat zero.

The hidden marketing idea that beats direct mail

Savvy marketers have found a new alternative to the traditional direct mail marketing practice, and they’ve discovered that their company mail room is the source of hidden marketing assets.

In fact, for many companies, their mail room is delivering a far greater ROI than any marketing team could ever hope to deliver by way of one particular item. Statistics show that this particular hidden marketing asset is viewed by a staggering 97% of the folks that it goes to, and that’s a figure that out-performs virtually any other social media, television or radio effort. And when compared to direct mail marketing it’s not even on the same playing field.

Related topic: Mailroom Management Technology Delivers a Competitive Advantage

The hidden marketing asset we’re referring to is the practice of including marketing messages on billing statements. There are some impressive facts and figures that support this method of marketing.

First off, somewhere around 24 billion billing statements are mailed out to customers each and every year. While you might assume that most folks these days now prefer their billing statements to be delivered electronically, anywhere from 60% to 90% of customers who subscribe to any given service actually still prefer their billing statements to be delivered on paper. The reasons for so many folks wanting paper copies vary, but in most cases, it’s for one of four reasons.

Why paper billing statements?

Many people prefer the paper copies so they have something they can keep in their physical records. Others like having the paper copies around so they have a physical reminder to actually make the payment for the service they subscribe to. Some customers simply find it too difficult to access and read their statements online, and the last group generally prefers paper copies because they don’t trust the levels of security (or lack thereof) as it pertains to electronic records.

Another reason that billing statements make such a valuable hidden marketing asset is that the cost of creating them is generally very low. If your company already operates a robust, in-house mail room, you might already have some equipment that’s capable of creating very attractive and personalized marketing messages. With affordable mail room equipment (i.e. printers) and software you can easily include additional marketing content on the bills and material your company is already producing.

There’s a chance that you may have personally experienced exposure to this hidden marketing trend already. If your utility bills have ditched the traditional black and white format in favor of colorful content and pictures, your particular utility company has probably already jumped on the bandwagon. You’ll also notice that the content on your bills read more like a company newsletter, and you’ll likely see personalized content and offers on additional products and services.

How can your company take advantage of these hidden marketing opportunities?

If you think your company could benefit from this hidden marketing opportunity, there are few things you can do to get the ball rolling. First off, take a look at the actual design of your billing documents. Document design will be vital if you’re going to use a bill as a hidden marketing vessel. A combination of white space and color is vital, as is the use of shading important pieces of information.

The hidden marketing opportunities aren’t restricted to the “inside” material, either. The envelope you use to send the bill can act as a hidden marketing asset, too. When you print a personalized message on a customer’s envelope the open rate will be even greater. Color text and graphics can be just as important on an envelope as the interior content. In fact, studies have shown that 7 out of 10 people are more likely to open an envelope with color text and graphics than one without.

Working closely with your company’s data insights and IT teams is a partnership that can open up a lot of hidden marketing opportunities, even with something as seemingly unrelated as billing statements. Take cable TV for instance. If your company is able to create a customer profile regarding the types of shows a customer watches and the frequency and volume they watch them, it would be easy to come up with personalized recommendations as far as service upgrades.

Lastly, you should ensure that your company is fully integrating all of their marketing efforts, including those hidden marketing opportunities that might lie within your customers’ billing statements. In other words, make sure your billing statements have the same calls to action as your social media, website and various other digital efforts. The physical mail you’re sending to your customers should reinforce any campaigns you’re pursuing in other channels.

It’s a proven marketing method to combine digital and physical efforts. Your company will see an increase in response rates and greater return on investment. Furthermore, this is a situation where “more is better.” The more channels you add to your marketing campaign, the more successful you’re likely to be. InfoTrends recently published the results of a study that suggested that response rates are generally 45% higher when direct mail is used in combination with email, mobile and landing page-style marketing.

Your company’s mail room may very well be a profitable source of hidden marketing assets. If you feel like your company could benefit from this type of hidden marketing solution, Superior Office Systems can provide the necessary equipment and software solutions to make it happen. Check out this Shipping Solutions Comparison Checklist to see which products have the capabilities to enhance your mail room’s marketing capabilities.

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