The Direct Marketing Voice Has Moved

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About Luis Paez

As part of QuantumDigital’s marketing team, Luis Paez provided analytics and reporting to help various teams. To see what Luis is up to now, visit his profile on LinkedIn.

The Most Effective Marketing Email Ever Created

Posted by Luis Paez on September 15th, 2011 | Leave a Comment

Email Used With Direct Mail can be Incredibly EffectiveEmail marketers all over the world are pulling their hair out A/B testing subject lines & images within email versions to try to increase open rates & CTR but 95% of them aren’t thinking a more basic element of marketing: Coordination.  I just received this email from a company that I evaluated last year, and because I get 100+ emails daily, I normally would have scanned the email and moved on to the next marketing email in my inbox, but something resonated with me about this email.  I suddenly realized that I received a mailed flyer yesterday from the same company, and it was still hanging around on my desk.  I took the time to both look through the direct mail piece which had an intriguing gift card offer, and the complementary email with the same imagery and branding, and realized that I was thinking very critically about the value of their software.  In other words, the email worked!

The email was extremely effective because it was paired with another marketing touch AND the timing was coordinated so that the email hit my inbox at the approximate time that I had received the direct mail piece.  These days, with intelligent mail & digital printing it’s Read More »

Google’s “Goggles” App Gives Consumers a New Way to Respond

Posted by Luis Paez on November 17th, 2010 | Leave a Comment

If you’re familiar already with QR Codes, a couple of us on the blog have been detailing how this mobile mechanism can be a useful complement to a marketing campaign.  One extremely interesting new tool released by Google this week may give companies (and marketers) something more to think about in terms of how you are using your logos and products.  It’s called Google Goggles, and the easiest way to explain it is to direct you to Google’s own video:

YouTube Preview Image

As you can see, it suggests that any physical thing that can be photographed by a cell phone can now be used as a search term using Google’s image search technology.  This applies to landmarks, bits of text, and more importantly to this discussion – logos and products.  Someone using this app could take a photo of an image on postcard they received, or of a product pictured in a full page print ad, and “goGGle” it.  Or they may take your logo and goggle it.  This was so interesting, I had to test it out on my Android phone.   Here are my results: Read More »

Why Your Next Business Card WON’T be Virtual

Posted by Luis Paez on June 30th, 2010 | 1 Response

I have to take issue with an article on American Express’ OPEN blog titled “Why your next business card may be virtual”, because it’s a little misleading on the widespread use of “virtual card” technology.  Applications like Bump and LinkedIn’s iphone bluetooth app provide simple proximity exchanges of vcards but there’s 2 problems with them that my favorite tech blogs forget to really detail:   1) You have to have the right phone , and 2) You have to have the right App. LinkedIn’s app is iphone-only and Bump is limited to 2 types of smartphones.

Even considering the only major virtual card format, the pervasive “VCARD” (files in .vcf format), there’s obvious shortcomings on adoption of this standard across platforms.  I have been very impressed that Apple’s taken the standard that Microsoft popularized, and integrated it into their own world.  So, .vcf files are indeed an option for exchanging contact information if you are in your office communicating with someone over the internet – whether they have a Mac or PC.  However, what if you aren’t in the safety of your office?  When you go to a conference or seminar and meet 12 people at your networking table – how long will it take you to ask each of them individually to spell out their email address so you can punch in an email on your iphone and attach your .vcf file?  Or do you just want to get their phone number, and have to call them later to ask for “the rest of their information”.  That’d be an awkward phone call. Read More »

How Many Times Should I Advertise?

Posted by Luis Paez on June 23rd, 2010 | 2 Responses

I’ve been thinking alot about this question, as some who are new to direct marketing have a hard time understanding the time-tested methods that result in positive return on investment.  It might be a generational or technological culture of instant gratification that makes us want to see our first marketing campaign rake in the dough.  It might even be the direct marketing companies that tempt those new to the field with the DMA’s latest ROI metric (and if you haven’t heard it, it’s essentially “For each $1 spent on DM advertising, it results in $10+ of ROI”).  I just feel it needs some more context, to put it in the correct light.

If you send only 1 Ad / Impression, then Give Away the Farm

First off,  most marketing campaigns require more than 1 touch. (If you haven’t heard the term “touch”, touch = impression = ad; but it can also be a phone call or other interaction.)  In fact, marketing campaigns require multiple touches over time to a given customer before they’re ready to buy – just think of any relationship you’ve made in the past – you’re more likely to buy from someone who you’ve had multiple interactions with, than someone you’ve met for the first time (given that choice).  The only exceptions to this marketing rule, are in those cases where a product or service is incredibly cheap or incredibly scarce.  In terms of offers, think $10 round-trip airfare specials  or a seller with an experimental iPhone not available to the public…. you get the picture. Read More »

Women Want a Personalized World

Posted by Luis Paez on April 28th, 2010 | 1 Response


There’s an interesting consensus as society settles into

understanding what a personalized experience means.  It means we’re creating a “world” (i.e. consumer experience) that’s tailored to you.

In the online ad space, one marketing agency, Q Interactive , conducted a study regarding online ads that were served up based on behavioral data:

Women’s Channel, an agency that researches online trends among females, reported that 65 percent of its participants were intrigued by the system of behavioral marketing. They were especially interested in how the ads seemed to “know” what they wanted. A sizeable number of them — 88 percent — said that they wanted more tailored ads served online.  (

This study is relevant to offline marketing in that it focuses on the question of “how did you like the experience” – when it comes to personalizing an experience for a recipient / web user.  The women who were part of this survey found, on the whole, that advertising that is tailored to them as an individual, creates a better experience.  It implies that the marketer has done the legwork necessary to intelligently recommend a product, instead of past approaches of simply yelling out a feature or benefit to anyone within earshot (or on a mailing list… or on a webpage…).

To some extent the personalization and relevance that some websites have (think facebook’s recommendations or personalized homepages like alltop) have shown us how useful this technology can be – and now offline technology like PURLs and demographic selects will translate a similar experience through the mail.   True this is but one study, but I think if you focus on the ad experience, we’ll find it to be a better world when even your dinner menu arrives personalized.

The Importance of Sustainable Forests

Posted by Luis Paez on April 14th, 2010 | 1 Response

For those of you designing green print pieces or managing print marketing campaigns, the paper that you print on sometimes isn’t at the forefront of your mind – but increasingly it might be on the mind of your readership. According to a recent report, approximately 25% of consumers tell other consumers not to buy products because of a company’s poor environmental practices.  As marketers, sometimes we don’t do a good enough job of communicating how environmental we actually are – and with printed campaigns, this starts with paper.

In order to address what some consumers believe is “greenwashing” (the practice of falsely portraying a product as green), every industry from Autos to Retail Food depends on third party organizations to provide credence to a company’s claims of environmental responsibility.  Our company achieved chain-of-custody certification from the Forest Stewardship Council to provide some transparency to how we print and use paper.  There are alot of aspects to this accreditation, from their website :

The intent of the FSC system is to shift the market to eliminate habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples and violence against people and wildlife that often accompanies logging. Just like other forest products, in order to use the FSC logo as an “environmental claim” on paper, the product must have flowed through the FSC “chain-of-custody” from the FSC-certified forest, to a paper manufacturer, merchant, and finally printer who have FSC chain-of-custody certification.

FSC is probably the largest of the independent certifications that one can get with regard to printed paper products. However, there are other organizations like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative with a long list of conservation supporters that endorse timber and paper companies like the one we use.  These organizations exist to provide both transparency and a source of information to consumers, so why not help educate by mentioning that chain-of-custody responsibility which passes on to your brand (if you use a provider that is certified).

Besides the marketing benefit of mentioning this in a message – think about what this really means – that we can know we’re doing the right thing to both live in society and manage it sustainably.

Dear FitPregnancy: We’re not pregnant. But thanks for assuming.

Posted by Luis Paez on March 25th, 2010 | 1 Response

Some background on me – about 8 months ago my wife and I had a beautiful baby boy.  A few months into our pregnancy we found a magazine called FitPregnancy and ordered it.  My wife enjoyed several months of reading FitPregnancy’s articles geared toward women who are going through those 9 months of wonderful growth.  Fast forward a couple of months, we get our last issue of our subscription period and it has this wrapper on it:

Fit Pregnancy's renewal cover

Fit Pregnancy's renewal cover

Now I realize that with almost every other magazine out there, that this wrapper is pretty typical marketing tactic to spur renewals… But think about it for a minute.  Your reader was pregnant 12 months ago. That’s why she ordered your magazine – but at this point it’s highly unlikely she’s still pregnant.  I know that my wife is not currently pregnant – and if FitPregnancy knows before I do … well, I will need to start a whole other rant – and probably not on this blog :)

From a marketing perspective, it would make better sense to put this in some context.  I researched FitPregnancy’s owner – American Media, Inc. and it seems that they own a wide variety of magazines, including 3 other magazine titles aimed toward health-consicous women, including Shape and Muscle & Fitness Hers.  So why couldn’t FitPregnancy cross promote those titles in addition to this renewal call-to-action?

If you stop and back up a moment, this is relevant both from a direct marketing perspective for those with magazines they’re steering but also for the rest of us who aren’t in the magazine game.  How unique is your product that perhaps the typical ways of marketing oneself needs to change depending on who you are?  Or a better question – what is the end experience that your prospect / customer receives?  Do you have the tracking (qualitative and quantitative) that would tell you the moments that your audience has disconnects with your marketing message?  Have you invested in people on your marketing team that are “listening” to what your audience is saying?

Companies that are both tuned into what their customers are thinking and saying AND have that feedback loop that enable them to translate those things into tweaks to future marketing touches will mean greater customer engagement and loyalty long term.  If you aren’t willing to go the “listening” route, then you better be really good at knowing the moment your customers start “expecting” again…

Why is Direct Marketing Spending Increasing?

Posted by Luis Paez on February 3rd, 2010 | 1 Response

To all the social media consultants out there who downplay the role of direct mail and direct marketing, there are two standout points that they should be considering very closely from the DMA‘s latest economic impact study:

  • As an industry, the amount spent on direct mail will rise by $1.1 billion this coming year (to $45.5 billion)
  • 2009 will mark the fifth year in which direct marketing has captured more than half of all advertising spend nationwide

To be clear, I’m not arguing that there are not rates of increased use of the newer marketing vehicles (commercial email,  online advertising and social media) – certainly marketers everywhere are finding the best ways to use these mediums.  What is happening is that firms, small and large, are realizing the effectiveness and special role direct marketing has in a firm’s overall marketing efforts.  When asking ourselves the question “Why is direct marketing spending increasing?” there are a couple of main drivers that come into play (and because of time constraints, I’m going to quote the latest Wall Street Journal article about direct mail mostly for anecdotal evidence):
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Is there Interactive Marketing Burnout?

Posted by Luis Paez on December 30th, 2009 | 1 Response

It’s true that direct mail sometimes has a tougher challenge of trackability when compared to the email realm.  This is the way it should be – no one should be in my home looking over my shoulder as I open my mail.  It’s a question of place, and privacy. Direct mail gives us the time to consider a message before acting upon it or recycling it.

There was a comment on a blog about the trackability challenge of direct mail vs. email – that was not on topic.  It didn’t talk about effectiveness metrics, but instead cried out at the emotional appeal of a message sent through the physical mail.  Here is an excerpt:

I don’t know about anyone else – but I LIVE on my computer 8-10 hours/day – nearly all of it either in research or in email correspondence. Although only one lady’s experience and therefore hardly a trend…I must say I now look forward to mail delivery (again) and opening traditional envelopes and reading traditional postcards. Beyond the visual impact – it’s tactile and it’s (now) DIFFERENT! I own a business that needs to make decisions on which medium to use, and based on this personal experience, I continue to use at least color postcard mailings in my mix. This is backed up by a duplicate digital mailing to both the same as well as wider audience. – Jane

Are we headed this way as a society?  Are we on the cusp of societal online burnout?  Having been at technology companies for the last 10 years as a “knowledge worker” in sales, marketing and tech roles,  I can say that personally, I love to unplug when I get home.   Frequently, I’ll go a few days time without dilligently going through all my email messages – only will scan any emails from friends/family.  It’s all about catching up at the dinner table, seeing the family, and talking about the physical real world things that we are going to do that week.  It’s at those moments when we talk about any flyers or mail correspondence we got in that day… and that is the moment that marketing departments who focus on exclusively “interactive marketing” are missing out on.  They’ll just have to wait another few days until I sit down for an hour and sort through my personal email.

I love digital. I love online. But there’s no replacement for the physical.

The Worst Direct Mail Postcard?

Posted by Luis Paez on December 3rd, 2009 | 1 Response

I am going to use a postcard that my wife received in the mail as an example that might be good to share with a wider audience.  I typically want to support small hispanic-owned businesses, so in this case I’m going to hide easily identifyable information to protect their identity.  There are two main reasons to use them as an example of “what not to do”:  First, they make many of the common mistakes that small business marketers make when embarking on a direct mail campaign.  Second, this postcard is in spanish – enabling most of you who don’t speak spanish to focus on the postcard design elements, indicia, & miscellaneous mistakes that can be made.

With that as a caveat, take a look at these images.  I am showing the image side (non-address) first, because that’s the first image that I saw when I picked up the piece.


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