Tag Archive | best practices

How to Create Stand-Out Customer Messages

If you looked in your inbox right now, how many messages and promotions would you see? From email to social media to direct mail, you (and your clients) are constantly bombarded with companies trying to get their message in the hands of their customers. So, the question becomes: how do you make your message stand out among the hordes of others? We’ve put together a few simple tricks designed to help your message grab—and keep—the attention of the reader.

1. Turn on the Right Channel

The first step is deciding where to send the message. Your customers have a litany of communication channels to choose from, and it is up to you to accommodate their channel preference. This is by no means a one-size-fits-all situation. A segment of your customers will prefer email communication, while others won’t even have email accounts. The right communication channel can be the determining factor as to whether your customer ever sees your message, so choose wisely.

2. Add Some Color 

Color highlights important information in your messages, drawing the attention of your reader. Using color can have a big impact, so it’s imperative not to go overboard. Pick 2-3 colors that are consistent with your branding and don’t be afraid to add various shades of those colors to enhance to your design. Use white space to your advantage; this will help to draw the eye to the important information you want to get across. As Chris, our in-house graphic designer puts it: “Leave room for white space. Not every inch of your message has to be filled with something. Blank space will actually enhance your design and draw more attention to the pertinent information in your message. Sometimes, as they say, less really is more.”

beforeafter-prototype2

3. Design for Action

You will want to create a design that is eye-catching, colorful and informative. Keep to your company’s branding to maintain consistency. Don’t overdo your design. Too much information can be off putting, leaving the reader unsure where to look. Make good use of your text, images and color to leave an overall good impression with your customer. A well-constructed design will be sure to get your reader’s attention!

4. Consider the Recipient

Personalization has become so prevalent across every industry that it is no longer acceptable to simply send out mass communications to your entire customer base. When your customer opens their email or direct mail, they want to see a message that relates to their specific interests and buying preferences. If it doesn’t, your carefully crafted and designed communication is headed straight to the (virtual or physical) trash. Utilizing data in your communications allows you to target your messages to each customer, ensuring you keep the customer’s attention by offering promotions and products that directly address their specific needs.

Don’t let your critical customer communications get lost in an inbox. Whether it is relaying vital billing data or checking in about a new service, each message you send relays important information to your customer—and important information deserves to be noticed. Still not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

4 Ways to Create More Effective Communication

Effective communication is about more than a smartly worded subject line or a crackerjack social media strategy. It’s also about more than just talking. Relaying information to clients is the backbone of any successful business, whether it’s through an e-bill, a marketing campaign, or an envelope. Here are four ways to do that more effectively.

  1. Listen first.

Or if no one’s spoken for a while, ask a question. It’s amazing how long someone might deal with something being wrong before speaking up about it. Check in with the client. Check in with staff. You can’t fix anything before knowing it needs repair.

  1. Simplify a complex process.

When we create transactional documents for clients to send their customers, we’re focused on a.) making the client’s cash flow more streamlined, and b.) creating materials that are readable, engaging, and clear. We’ve talked before about the two questions a bill needs to answer right away. You can apply that principle to almost anything communications-related. What are the most essential things that need to be stated? What’s irrelevant? Break down an intricate process into bite-sized pieces of content.

  1. Focus on storytelling.

You hear this a lot now: “Tell your business’s story.” A story has many elements, but they need to be adding up to the bigger picture. Be consistent with your design aesthetic. Share relevant updates. Stay in touch. Tools like OSG’s Letter Composer make it easier to send information and improve customer service while keeping branding consistent.

  1. If necessary, change the conversation.

At OSG, we offer a breadth of communication solutions, because we recognize that there are nuances to every industry and lifecycles that happen within them. Whether it’s a Back to School campaign in the summer or a new billing statement format, we can find something that starts a new conversation with your customers and increases your revenue.

How to Write a Letter the OSG Way

To Whom It May Concern:

Hope this post finds you well. We’ll get right to it: It’s time to improve your company’s letter writing process.

OSG Letter Composer℠ is our self-service program that will upgrade your letter writing game while also streamlining and simplifying the process altogether. You can compose and edit customer letters, collection letters, regulatory notices, and any other form of personalized communication.

Why is it worth it?

Writing a letter is about more than just crafting its content—it’s also about style. You can upload your logo and other branding elements right into Letter Composer, avoiding the all-too-common questions that come up in this process: “Where is our letterhead?” “Where is our logo?” “Is this the green we normally use?” Your company will speak in one clear voice.

There’s no special software required, and there’s no lost time waiting for approvals.

With this tool, anyone in your office can make a letter look more composed.

It makes a difference.

Write back when you can.

Best,

OSG

3 Reasons Lifecycle Marketing Works

From the Welcome Message to the WinBack Program, lifecycle marketing is a way of communicating with customers that adapts to their changing needs. Why is it so effective?

  1. Because lifecycle marketing acknowledges that customers aren’t static – they evolve.

You could say acquiring a new customer is step one of 100 steps, but it would be more accurate to say that it’s step one of an unknown number of steps. Customers’ needs change; what worked for them in January might be wearing thin by September. Keep in touch. Communication that’s tailored, creative and proactive–whether it’s done through surveys, milestone programs or referral solutions programs–has a positive influence on retention rate.

  1. Because it’s much easier to convert a lost customer than to win a new one.

It may seem counterintuitive that a “lost” customer would be more likely to return to the fold than a new customer would be to sign up, but the numbers don’t lie. Marketing Metrics show that probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. And consider it from customer’s perspective. Say the cost to renew a subscription to your favorite magazine increases. Even if you love the content, there’s a good chance you’ll pass. It’s not a rejection of the product; it’s a hold out on the price.

Imagine how much more cost-effective it would be for the magazine to send you a discount offer to renew rather than devise a completely new strategy to get the attention of a prospective customer.

  1. Because it’s more than just an invoice.

Would you want to hear from someone only when they’re asking for money?

OSG offers an array of lifecycle marketing solutions. Get in on them.

 

Are the Bills and Invoices You Send Readable? (Spoiler: They Might Not Be)

There’s a reason major companies like UPS and DirectTV devote pages on their website to topics like “A Simple Guide to Understanding Your Bill” or “How to Read Your Bill.” They’re anticipating an all-too-common issue: Bills are hard to read.

In fact, the most common cause of late payments is that people have trouble reading their bills. Poor organization and confusing design can slow down a person’s quick scan to see what’s owed and when. It’s a strange phenomenon given that these organizational choices will also slow down a revenue stream for the company issuing the bill. And since paying bills isn’t an activity typically linked to pleasure in the first place, the easier clients make it for customers, the better. Because what’s a common reaction to stress and confusion? Avoidance.

Two Things to Consider:

  1. Composition is an essential element of a bill’s design.

Beyond logos and color scheme, the placement of a bill’s key components is crucial. The total amount due, the due date and the summary of charges need to be nicely organized and obvious. This isn’t the time for bold artistic expression. Keep it clean.

  1. Every element of the bill/invoice should also be working to that same end.

If you’re incorporating dynamic messaging into your billing (which we highly recommend!), use that marketing as an opportunity to get a customer’s attention. Make it eye-catching and smart, but don’t overwhelm the space and add an additional layer of confusion.

Tips to Design a Full Color Dynamic Message for Your Invoice

By Guest Author, Ashley Sherrow, OSG Manager of Production Graphics

Did you know that a dynamic message on an invoice or statement is a designated area that allows you connect directly with your audience?  It’s your monthly opportunity to relay a specific message to your customer. And since research tells us that invoices are opened 97 percent of the time, you are virtually guaranteed of having your message read.

Using a little bit of creativity you can create a message that is eye-catching, colorful and informative. The OSG data-driven application, Campaign Composer, gives you full transpromotional marketing capabilities that compliment your statement or invoice package.

So what do you need to do?

First you’ll want to compose your message.

    1. You can do this using design programs such as InDesign or Illustrator. Designing your message in one of these programs makes the design process easy. Also, since these are the same programs we use in the OSG Creative Studio, should you need help, we can guide you through either of these programs to help you get the message you need created.
      • Tip: If you are designing multiple messages within an area, it is a good idea to separate the messages with a thin line between each message, or a border around each message.
    2. This space provides a great opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell your services or even your customer’s services. Not sure what to feature? Think about deals, sales, promotions or even important messages you want to share with your customers.

Next, as long as you’re designing a bill or invoice, why not create a whole invoice package? You can coordinate by utilizing other OSG communications tools such as Envelope Messaging, Additional Message Page and OSG Inserts.

You’ll want to be sure you’re designing your message to its full potential. To ensure this, here are some things to pay attention to:

    1. Is the message sized correctly so that it will fit into the message space on the bill?
    2. How will your message look on the invoice/statement? Make sure your messages blend in with the colors and style of your invoice/statement.
    3. Have you used imagery and colors to your advantage?
      • Choose bright colored images and text that will stand out and grab your audience’s attention.
      • Remember, less is more – you don’t need to plaster the message area with tons information. Short and sweet. Then direct the customer to a website for them to gather more information.

3 Simple Branding Check-Ups That Make a Big Difference

While the Big Branding Things at a company get done, it’s the Little Branding Things—the ones that seem too obvious to mention—that can slip through the cracks. It happens. Here are three quick check-ups to ensure your company branding is in tip-top shape.

1. Sincerely, All of Us.

Anything that leaves your office is your office, which is why consistent email signatures are important. If Diane, Jim and Sam have the same sign off, but Todd changed the font and added his favorite GIF to the bottom, someone should ask Todd why. Personality is important, and there may be allowances depending on the industry, but there’s something reassuring about clean messaging. Consistency is not boring; it’s got a nice hum.

2. The newest logo is the only logo.

If you’ve refreshed, tweaked or bulldozed your company logo over the last few years, make sure everyone has the latest one. Even better, make sure that logo is on everything: invoices, press releases, business cards, brochures, t-shirts, etc. When there are too many files floating around, you’ll see this on the computer:

ThisCompanyUpdatedLogo1

ThisCompanyNewLogo

ThisCompanyLogoNew

ThisCompanyLatestLogo

One file, with the year, that’s easily accessible for everyone. Done.

3. “Is this still what our company does?”

It’s not a silly question. Maybe your advertising firm didn’t become a candle shop overnight, but as an organization grows and changes its scope based upon revenue, customer feedback or demand, the message sent out to the world needs to match those shifts. At the very least, scan your website to make sure something you stopped doing in 2012 isn’t still on home page. Even if a brand refresh is in the works, quick five-minute (or even five-second) changes can save hours later.

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