5 Tips to Communicate Effectively on Social Media During COVID-19

In the wake of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to communicate well and often with customers and community members. Social media is a low- or no-cost method for keeping the lines of communication open, even during a crisis.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when communicating with customers via social media while navigating the impact of COVID-19:

  1. Engage as often as you can. Although you are likely very busy, it is still crucial to find the time to connect with customers. Updates on local news, ways your business is adapting to the crisis, well wishes for the community and advice for other businesses or customers, especially as it relates to your industry, is excellent content to keep your social media pages active.
  2. Respond to comments. Ensure that you are responding to every customer comment, post and inquiry you receive through your social channels. Especially if there are questions about how your business is handling safety and health requirements, be as reassuring and communicative as possible.
  3. Show your support for your community. In your messaging, express that your business is there for the community, providing helpful resources and support for individuals or businesses. Access the human side of your business and show you care.
  4. Avoid controversy. In times of crisis, emotions are running high. Your business may be struggling and your livelihood may feel like it is on the line. Despite this, it is vital to maintain your calm on social media, and avoid blame, anger or getting drawn into arguments, even on your personal pages. Avoid any language that can be perceived as political or insensitive.
  5. Act as an outlet for information. Encourage your customers to ask questions and stay in contact.  For example, if a customer leaves a question via comment on a Facebook post, you can continue the conversation by saying, “Thank you for letting us know, we always appreciate your questions and we’d like to discuss this with you further. Here is our contact info so we can connect with you further.”

As a business owner, you need to be compassionate, mindful and sensitive on social media. You also need to be accessible and responsive as customers reach out with concerns, and proactive about sharing ways your business is responding and adapting to the situation.

The more your nurture those existing relationships, the easier it will be to leverage them in the future when things stabilize. Count on Allegra for more effective ways to communicate with customers.

 

Tips to Focus on Existing Customer-Partners During COVID-19

One thing our current situation has done is make the first principle of marketing clearer than ever: focus on your existing customers.

When small businesses think about marketing, they often think of it as a tool to attract new customers. But as we grapple with a pandemic and a turbulent economy, in many ways existing customers are much more valuable.

How can you use marketing to enhance your relationships with your current customers? What else can you offer them as an additional product or service? Can you speed up your processes or sell more with a bulk discount? Can you encourage them to plan ahead and commit to services in the longer term, when wallets might be less tight?

Analyze your current customers

If you haven’t spent time digging into the makeup of your core customer base, your repeat clients and higher spenders, take the time now to gather data.  What do they buy and when? How much do they spend? Are they motivated by discounts? Do they willingly pay full price or a combination of both? Use what you learn to inform your COVID-19 marketing efforts to your existing customers.

Make them feel special

Check in personally with your customers and ask how they are holding up. See if there is anything you can do to support their business, and find a way to show how much you value them. This can include useable tips for other businesses also struggling through the impact of COVID-19, or just an update on what’s been useful for your business and an offer to share any strategies.

Stay top of mind

This can be an electronic or print newsletter, or a short email or call checking in. No need to be too promotional or push hard for a sale; aim to be clear, genuine and concise. Thank them for their continued support. Give an example of strategies you’ve seen working for other businesses. Share what is giving you inspiration during these challenging times. Share anything you or others are doing to support the community or individuals in need.

Connect on social media

Now is the time to use your social media presence to connect with your existing customers. Connect with them on LinkedIn and engage on their social channels. Ask for their opinions and questions on posts. At a time when so many people are cooped up at home, social media is an outlet not only for personal connections, but for businesses to continue to maintain relationships with local partners.

Take this opportunity to put a human face on your business however you can, and that starts with marketing to the people who know your business best – your existing customers. If you’re looking for more ways to reach out to existing customers, count on Allegra for helpful tips and ideas.

 

 

3 Ways to Build the Perfect List for Your Next Direct Mail Campaign

According to this DMA Report, direct mail campaigns have high response rates. They found for existing customer lists, the response rate is on average 9%, and for prospect lists it’s 5%. A well-planned direct mail campaign can help amplify your marketing strategy, break through the clutter from competitors, and drive customer action.Allegra Direct Mail Campaign

The effectiveness of every direct mail marketing campaign is directly related to the quality of the mailing list. To reach the right audience, you’ll need to make sure you create the list carefully. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when you are in the process of building a mailing list for your next direct mail campaign:

  1. Analyze your existing data.
    A great place to start building a mailing list is by reviewing the data you have from existing customers. If you are in need of additional data, there are many different strategies marketers use to collect customer and prospect names, emails, and physical addresses. Some of these strategies include; gathering data with trade show registrations, social media responses, contest entry forms, white paper downloads, product warranty cards, e-newsletters subscriptions, and other simple sign-up forms. Once you start building your list organically, you will be able to use that information to track your customer’s behavior and make better marketing decisions.
  1. Harness the power of mailing list segmentation.
    As soon as you have the right number of contacts on your list, the next step will be to figure out which variables you can use to separate your contacts into smaller and meaningful groups. Highly targeted lists segment people based on things like geographic location, lifestyle characteristics or age group. Segmenting your house list will enable your message to be more relevant and meaningful.
  1. Personalize the message for each audience.

Today’s small and mid-sized business marketer can easily and affordably leverage the power of highly targeted data to reach a very specific audience. With variable data printing capabilities from your print marketing provider, you can personalize text and images by individuals or groups to improve response rates.

Are you ready to start planning your next direct mail campaign?

Your local Allegra can help you source and manage all the data you need to build a successful mailing list. Contact Allegra for all your business design, print, and mailing needs.

5 Reasons to Add Postcards To Your Marketing Mix

Do you remember the last time you received a postcard in the mail? Nowadays, postcards don’t come around as often as they used to, but when they do, they usually stand out. According to PRINTISBIG.com, 43% of people find print marketing to be less intrusive than online advertisements and tend to appreciate receiving a nice custom postcard in the mail once in a while.Postcard printing services

Many brands find great value in mailing postcards as part of their cross-channel marketing strategy. We’ve put together this list explaining the top reasons your business should consider adding custom postcards to its marketing mix:

  1. Postcards are a great way to build brand recognition. The internet has helped brands easily connect with their customers, which is why most brand interactions happen primarily online. But in this digital era, studies show people enjoy receiving things in the mail they can hold on to. The physical interaction that happens when people receive postcards helps create stronger emotional responses, making their message more memorable, and thus increasing brand awareness and brand recall.
  2. Postcard mailings can be highly targeted. Printing companies can now help your business streamline the postcard printing and delivery process with the help of automated software. Just like online ads, sending out postcards can also be a highly targeted strategy. Curated and personalized mailing lists can help you reach existing customers and prospects based on specific geographic locations, previous order history, and in some cases, even by household income. 
  1. Postcards are very affordable. Out of all the different forms of direct mail, postcards are one of the most affordable ways to reach customers. They are easy to design, print, and mail. The postcard size makes it perfect for sending short and compelling messages. Brands use postcards to highlight special offers, send thank you notes, extend holiday wishes, or to build brand recognition with minimal investment.
  1. Better response rates. A study by InfoTrends shows direct mail still resonates with people in different age groups, particularly with Millennials. According to this article by Prinova, Millennials respond to direct mail calls-to-action quicker than other generations, and they usually follow through and make a purchase from that brand within three months of receiving an offer via mail.
  1. They are a tangible reminder of your brand. Postcards are easy to distribute. They’re lightweight yet sturdy, which makes them ideal to be sent via mail, circulate from person to person, or include with other print marketing materials. They are also easy to keep; most people are likely to hang on to well-designed and colorful postcards. If you are trying to help increase brand awareness, a custom postcard can help you achieve this.  

Are you looking to incorporate postcards into your next marketing campaign? Your local Allegra can help!

Take advantage of the high-response rates of direct mail, and get your business noticed with high-quality postcard printing, design, and mailing. If you’re interested in learning more about our print marketing services, contact Allegra today.

The Importance of Printed Handouts

While the advertising space has grown more diverse with the increase of digital ad platforms, print handouts have not lost their importance. Thanks to digital, the significance and value of print has grown richer. Understanding the common types of print advertising handouts and how to use them is an important part of reaching the right audience with the right message and staying competitive.Flyers

Target Marketing refers to print marketing as an “engagement goldmine” when it’s marketing to Millennials. In fact, Target Marketing reported that 65% of Millennials bought from a catalog, and 63% purchased because of a mail piece. Print is perceived as more trustworthy and the fact that they can pick it up and touch it provides a level of sensory engagement digital ads cannot. Plus, print advertisements stand out from all the digital ads with which users are bombarded while on their phones.

So what are print handouts?

Print handouts are anything that is printed and handed out free of charge for advertising purposes. This includes flyers, brochures, pamphlets, and postcards. Several factors come into play when choosing the right ones to use for your business, such as the type of business you are advertising, the goal of your print campaign, and your budget. Most companies will benefit from using all these popular handouts in the right context!

  • Flyers: These are typically single-sided sheets printed with an advertisement. They are a low-cost option used for reaching many people with your message. This message is usually short and sweet – announcing a sale or a grand opening or simply reminding recipients that you exist to help them. They can be mailed, handed out by a sales team (on a street corner, at a tradeshow event, or canvased across a neighborhood), or pinned up on public bulletin boards.  Flyers are also known as leaflets.
  • Info Sheets: A single sheet containing product specific information. These are usually handed out by employees to individual customers at the shop or made available during trade show events.
  • Postcards: Printed on card stock or heavyweight paper, they are comprised of one flat piece with no folds. Most people picture a rectangle when they think of postcards; however, postcards are not limited to the traditional rectangle but can be designed in all manner of shapes to intrigue and delight your audience. Like flyers, they’re a great way to promote a sale or build brand recognition.  The message is usually pretty simple; your postcard is not the place to unload product specs and details. Instead, postcards are used to encourage the recipient to come engage with your business to redeem an offer or to supply a reminder of what your company does. They are a popular choice for direct mail campaigns because they very flat, lightweight, and sturdy, thus making them perfect for sending in the mail. As one of the simplest pieces to create since no folding or binding is involved, postcards are great for budgets and distributing to a broad audience.
  • Brochures: There are a wide variety of brochure formats readily available at your local Allegra. Brochures can be created from single sheets or multiple sheets folded to form a small booklet. Multi-sheet brochures can be bound or unbound. Unbound brochures are also called pamphlets. Printed brochures are utilized in many ways to effectively increase sales. A few common distribution methods for reaching your desired audience through brochures includes placing them in public display racks, sending them out to a select audience via direct mail, giving them to a client during a consultation, or placing them in brochure holders in your own office or shop for interested parties to pick up.

Do you need to create custom print handouts that are sure to impress? Your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail location is ready to help from start to finish.  They’ll guide you in choosing and designing the right type of print handout for each of your marketing goals as well as handle all the printing, folding, and binding for your marketing print handouts!

How Brochures Can Help You Reach Your Business Goals

There are many creative ways brochures can be used by business owners to promote and education about their business offerings. They attractively present a solution to a problem and the benefits of choosing your company, as well as how to obtain the product or service. Here are a few examples on how businesses use brochures for different purposes. 

  • To Raise Brand Awareness: A perfect example of this are travel brochures. When placed in a hotel’s brochure rack, they inform visitors of local attractions and services. A 2018 study tested the impact brochures placed in a hotel lobby have on travelers. The study revealed that 85% of visitors became aware of an attraction or business as a result of picking up a brochure and 61% of visitors planned to purchase tickets or merchandise, they learned about from a brochure.
  • To Start a Conversation: Dentist offices often have brochures in the waiting or examination room explaining treatments or services such as teeth whitening. An interested patient can grab a brochure and discuss any questions they may have about the service with their dentist.
  • To Close a Sale: Businesses, such as massage clubs, use brochures to provide a visual to potential customers while a staff member walks them through pricing packages and services. Circling the best value option or jotting down a promo code during the conversation can make it personal. If the client is unconvinced and needs more time to think about it, the brochure serves as a reminder of the brand, the product, and the special attention received.
  • As Handouts for Different Occasions: Many companies distribute marketing brochures at trade shows or sends them as a targeted mailing. These methods allow for a larger reach rather than waiting for a customer to select one in-person.

Custom brochures can do more than just promote a business’s full range of products or services. They can help advertise upcoming events, raise awareness for a cause, or serve as map or program guide. A advantage brochures have over other forms of marketing is they don’t have the character limit often found in digital ads or smaller print mediums. The multiple panels in a brochure allow you to break up text into easily digestible pieces. This also allows for you to get as creative as you want, playing around with the use of images, layout, paper stock, and finishing techniques to communicate your message.

Allegra has the experience and expertise to help create a high-quality brochure. To get started, contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail location today.

5 Ways to Boost Your Trade Show Presence

Trade shows are a great place to find new customers and build relationships to help your business grow. These events are often industry-specific and not open to the general public. Most of the people who attend trade shows are company representatives in a position to influence purchasing decisions. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research found that 86% of trade show visitors are decision-makers.Trade Show Booths

Before signing up for your next trade show, it’s crucial to do some preliminary research and figure out what will be the goal your company wants to achieve during this event. Your company may be launching a new product or service, or they may be looking to get feedback on an existing offering, or they may simply want to generate new sales leads. Whatever the objective is, you will need to find out what type of audience will be attending the event. After you figure out who will be attending the event, you’ll be able to determine the best ways to attract them to your booth.

Participating in events requires a substantial investment and advanced planning is necessary to guarantee a good return on investment. Redefine success and step up your 2020 trade show game by focusing on these five event marketing strategies.

  1. Reach out to attendees before the event. Build interest before the event by sending emails to encourage attendees to visit your booth. It may seem unnecessary, but doing this will plant the idea in their heads to stop by your location when at the event. You can say something as simple as, “Stop by with our booth with your business card for a chance to win a prize.”
  2. Invest in a memorable trade show booth. Choosing the right event company to produce your display is just as important as selecting the correct trade show to attend. That’s where Allegra comes in! We can help you think of every detail, from graphics and flooring to lighting.
  3. Invest in proper signageSigns are often the focal point of any booth and they are responsible for representing your brand. Make sure you have enough signage not only in your booth but also around the event floor to help people locate your booth. Use eye-catching graphics to draw potential customers and communicate the value of your products and services. There are many different types of signage that work well for events, from trade show banners to ceiling and flooring graphics.
  4. Pick unique promotional items. With today’s printing advancements, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the type of products you can brand. Use this opportunity to your advantage by picking an unusual giveaway. Giving people something unexpected they haven’t seen before will give your company an edge over other exhibitors. The items companies distribute at events should always be useful, valuable, or entertaining. Trends to keep in mind in 2020 when picking out promotional items are: self-care or fitness items, eco-friendly products, tech accessories, weather-friendly attire, and brain teasers.
  5. Make your booth fun and interactive. An excellent idea to attract people to your booth is to offer a convenient service. An example of this would be to set up a cell phone charging station. Since most people will probably be using their phones, they are likely to stop by and use the station. Another idea to make your booth more interactive and fun is to invite people over for games in exchange for prizes. People are more likely to spend some time with your company if you are providing an experience they can enjoy.

Allegra has the experience and expertise to save you time and money with trade show displays, banner stands, giveaways, and more. You don’t need a big budget to make a significant impact! We’ve helped lots of companies just like yours. And they’ve been kind enough to give us a 5-star rating in return. That’s a win-win!

For quality and service you can trust, contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail location today!

3 Easy Ways to Enhance Your Email Marketing Results

Enhance Your Email MarketingEmail marketing continues to be one of the top strategies for customer acquisition and retention. A 2019 Statista report found approximately 281 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2018. This number is expected to increase to about 347 billion email per day in 2022.

Email has become the most popular communication tool for businesses. According to Marketing Sherpa, 72% of adults in the United States prefer using email to communicate with other companies. But this is only one of the many reasons why every company should be doing email marketing. Here are three other important reasons why most businesses use email as one of their primary marketing channels:

  • Emails are convenient. You can send and receive emails directly on your mobile phone.
  • Emails can be personal. Email marketing platforms allow companies to personalize each one of their messages easily.
  • Emails are quick. Email is one of the best ways to reach anyone to let them know about last-minute deals or offers.

Even if you are following email marketing best practices, the main problem many companies are facing is the high levels of competition in their customers’ inboxes. According to this Emarsys, 81% of small and medium size businesses rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel.

In 2020, we encourage you to evaluate your existing email marketing strategy and use these three ideas to enhance your results:

  1. Clean up your list.
    Before Before permanently removing from your list those who haven’t been opening your emails, try to re-engage them with a custom campaign. Using a subject line such as “We Miss You,” coupled with a special offer to encourage interaction, can go a long way toward increasing your open rates. After you deploy this campaign, evaluate the results. If you see multiple consecutive deployments go unopened or they bounce, remove these addresses from your list.
  2. Dedicate time to perform split testing.
    Segment your customer lists based on consumer behavior. Creating smaller lists will help when you start doing split testing. Take one of those custom lists and send half of the people one email version and send the other half a slightly different email. This sort of testing will help you identify and refine your message. Once you have the results, you will be able to determine which type of email performs better. Another good idea to try is sending your email at different times of day and week. Finding out the best times to send your emails help you positively impact your open rates.
  3. Combine this with a multi-channel strategy.
    Though email is a fast, affordable, and efficient marketing channel, it’s best used as part of an integrated marketing approach. According to Invesp, 52% of marketers use 3 to 4 marketing channels as compared to 44% in 2015. These are often email marketing, social media, print, and direct mail.

Start the year with a new approach to your email strategy. For assistance with setting up a multi-channel marketing campaign for your business or organization, contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail today.

Five Tips to Help Prospects Find You, and Keep Them Coming Back for More

Inbound MarketingBusinesses have been hearing about inbound marketing since 2006 when Hubspot coined the term. In contrast to outbound marketing strategies such as advertising or direct mail used to interrupt prospects to grab their attention, inbound marketing focuses on tactics that earn it.

How are businesses earning the attention of their prospects? Earning attention from prospects is a four-stage process:

  1. The first step is to create compelling content and personalized experiences to attract a steady stream of qualified people interested in your business.
  2. The second step is to convert people who visit your website or business. This step is about getting people to make their interest in your business known. On a website, every time a person submits a contact form, clicks on a specific call-to-action, or visits one of your targeted landing pages, it can be counted as a conversion.
  3. The third step is closing the deal and turning those interested prospects into customers.
  4. The fourth and final step is called delight, and it’s about keeping your customers engaged after they make a purchase. There are many ways to do this, for example, online surveys or royalty programs.

Driving people to your website is not enough. After prospects get there, you need to keep their attention, provide support, encourage them to take action, and help them connect with your business. The end goal of inbound marketing is to pay close attention to those interactions and create opportunities to connect with your audience.

To build compelling content, every business needs to have an in-depth understanding of its target customers. This is what marketers refer to as the process of creating a target persona, and you can do this by reviewing all the data you have about your customers, from website analytics to sale records.

After you have a clear understanding of who your audience is, you will be ready to get started making the necessary adjustments to strengthen your inbound marketing strategy:

  1. Claim your local listings. The way people find businesses now is primarily online. Make sure your company invests the necessary time to claim and manage your business’s website with online directories like Google My Business. It’s important to pay special attention to the accuracy and consistency of your listings to make sure prospects can easily find and reach your business.
  2. Make the most of your website. According to Clutch.co, two-thirds of small businesses rely on their website to connect with their customers. Keep your company’s website updated with relevant and useful content. Use multi-media content, like videos, blogs, how-to guides, infographics, case studies, and success stories to attract searchers and rank well on search engines.
  3.  Access your inner writer and blog. Companies who blog receive 97% more leads to their websites than companies that don’t, according to SevenAtoms. The best blogs are those that contain engaging and informational content that speaks to your target audience and answers their questions. Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to enjoy a positive return on investment.
  4. Engage with social media. The relationship between social media and search engine rankings is not clear, but what most marketers have concluded with their research is that it does matter. In addition to helping with your website’s visibility, it’s essential to build a loyal fan base. More than half of businesses who have been using social media regularly for two or more years have been able to establish thought leadership. Sharing engaging content on social platforms, and quickly responding to customer concerns and feedback is a great way to start and keep the conversation going.
  5. Be exclusive with email. When all of your best efforts start to pay off in visitors, fans, followers, and downloads, integrate them with an outbound strategy, like email marketing. Continue to deliver relevant content and exclusive offers as new relationships with prospects develop and convert to sales.

Inbound marketing delivers solutions and opportunities to attract and convert prospects. Need help formulating or executing your inbound marketing strategies? Contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail location today!

10 Customer and Employee Appreciation Gifts for the Holidays

Employee Appreciation GiftWith the holidays just around the corner, many businesses are looking for creative ways to let their customers and employees know they care. Larger companies with substantial budgets have standardized strategies to reach as many people as possible, but smaller businesses have a significant advantage when it comes to showing their clients and employees some holiday appreciation.

Never underestimate the business impact of excellent customer care. Herein lies a rare advantage that favors smaller operations. A new study revealed 61% of millennials expect to shop at small businesses in 2019. One of the reasons behind this is they understand the positive impact supporting local businesses has in their communities. Another reason is they enjoy the personal customer service they experience at a small business.

Customer and employee appreciation strategies don’t need to be costly. They simply need to be creative and consistent. Is the retention worth it? Absolutely. Ian Altman, a contributor at Forbes.com, says: “It’s always a good idea to show clients your gratitude.” And according to a business satisfaction report by Knack “Employee gifting can play an important role in employee retention in a tight labor market.”

Appreciation and recognition initiatives should be a must for every company. When formal and informal
recognition is built into your business, it can help you retain customers, improve sales, and retain top performers in your organization.

If you are looking for budget-friendly options to recognize customers or employees this holiday season, check out these ten creative ideas.

Customer appreciation gifts and retention ideas:

  1. Send a card. Custom cards or postcards are always thoughtful and often unexpected. Use them say thank you after a customer makes a large or repeat purchase or sends an important referral your way. While email may be efficient and easy, nothing tops the touch and feel of a personalized, handwritten note on high-quality stationery or a notecard with your logo embossed or foil-stamped on the front.
  2. Bring lunch. For companies dealing with business-to-business clients, bringing lunch to their location can be a great call. You can use this as an opportunity to bring some branded promotional items like reusable lunch totes, water bottles, or travel tumblers.
  3. Extend the goodwill. If you want to go above and beyond for a client, invest in a customized gift. This appreciation gift can be something reusable your client can continue to use. For example, a branded crystal candy dish filled with treats can create an opportunity for your sales team to refill on subsequent visits.
  4. Get personal. If your customer data includes birthdays, anniversaries, or other significant dates, you can build in recognition beyond holiday-related occasions with personalized offers and gifts. Do you have any clients who are into fitness? Branded pedometers or exercise mats are a great way to show them your company cares.
  5. End on a high note. Year-end holidays are a prime time to send customer appreciation gifts. Printed wall calendars are still well-received despite having many other electronic options. Other welcome desk accessories include journals and portfolios or electronics, like power kits or Bluetooth speakers.

Employee appreciation gifts and retention ideas:

  1. Be specific. Acknowledging an employee of the month is good, and it can be even better if you include a branded gift as a reward. Go for trendy promotional products such as: drawstring backpacks, headphones, or travel blankets.
  2. Encourage peer recognition. Enable your employees to acknowledge one another for going the extra mile or being a team player with whimsical “high five” trophies or golden tokens redeemable for office perks.
  3. Put it in writing. Recognizing people in writing can help you raise morale and encourage productivity. Make a point to give shout outs and reward those employees who embody your company values. Send a company wide written communication highlighting their personal stories and achievements.
  4. Tie rewards to company goals. Get the most from your employee appreciation program by linking some awards directly to your goals: increasing sales, improving customer service, or identifying cost savings. Traditional plaques and crystal trophies can instill pride in your organization.
  5. Remember remote employees. Reinforce the sense of connection of remote workers by including them and leveraging your online capabilities. There are many ways to do this, for example, feature them on your social media pages, your website, or include them in your monthly companywide emails.

Before the year ends, try some of these small investment ideas; in time they will pay big dividends for your company. Your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail location offers many promotional product options to support your customer and employee retention strategies.