Get More for Your Money with Direct Mail

MarketingFile - Four basic direct mail tips
MarketingFile - Four basic direct mail tips

Whilst many of us are making the move into email and other digital marketing channels, print media is seeing a resurgence. Despite the additional costs and timescales, even in 2018, direct mail is still king when it comes to response and it’s no surprise either.

Research shows that over 60% of people admit they like receiving direct mail pieces, whilst other sources suggest print pieces stay in the house for an average of seventeen days. That’s not all either, as direct mail is passed on and re-read up to seven times, so why aren’t you involved?

The most common reason businesses avoid direct mail is cost, but there are several techniques you can take advantage of to reduce costs and increase ROI;

Target, Target, Target

Ensuring your only targeting worthwhile prospects is the number one way to keep postal costs to a minimum. Don’t waste your money contacting individuals who show no interest or don’t fall into your immediate plans. With GDPR approaching many people are nervous of contacting potential suitors but truth is that GDPR is a good thing for direct mail. The new regulations mean you can still contact potential buyers who have declared an interest in services you provide, the only people we are interested in anyway!

Clean Your Mailing List

If, like most companies, you haven’t managed your mailing list in the last 12 months, now is the time to do so. Chances are a chunk of your database has moved home or even become deceased. Every month your mailing list becomes less accurate, so keep on top of things to save those pennies. Doing so prior to each campaign means less undeliverable mail and a better return on investment.

Design with OCR Requirements

Designing for OCR allows for your mail campaigns to be machine sorted (rather than hand) saving in man power and therefore reducing your postal costs. OCR requires that a panel of set size be left clear on letters, whilst an additional return address and postal mark whitespace be left on postcard campaigns. The way we see it, what’s a little design real estate in exchange for reduced postage?

Know Postal Size Regulations

Knowing the physical restraints of post before you begin a project is a big must. You don’t want to spend out on additional design costs when your campaign is built incorrectly, reprinting or incur additional postage costs for larger or heavy items.

Give Your Audience Appropriate Channels for Follow-Up

Another cost-minimising method is to use mail as a tool to direct targets elsewhere. A single page print piece directing readers to a specially designed landing page (home to the full details) may be more cost effective than a sixteen page brochure detailing everything about your project. Bearing your target audience mind, don’t send individuals to a landing page if your audience isn’t tech-savvy in nature. That said adding a couple of sheets of paper may not affect your postal costs, so the additional print costs may yield a better return than sending users on a two-step process to gather information.

Go Big or Go Home

This depends on how you want to look at it. It won’t save you money but will get you more bang for your buck. By printing over 4’000 copies you become eligible for mail sort discounts and also open up the possibility of lithographic printing to help reduce print costs. If you’re looking at bigger quantities it’s certainly a viable option, although there is also the possibility your print piece isn’t eligible for lithographic.

The key to this is to do your research. A little bit of time spent here could save you a considerable amount moving forward. What is certain is that print media is certainly not a dyeing format so book your project in today.

We’re on hand to give you all the advice you need, from finding contacts through to design and campaign delivery. Speak to a member of our friendly team and make your next project a real success.

Are you a one-off?

MarketingFile - Are you a one-off?
MarketingFile - Are you a one-off?

With millions of records you’d think we’d struggle to find unique individuals amongst them, but that’s just not the case. Because we can segment people by their interests as well as the more common age and location, we really can find the exact people you are looking for.

Here are a just a few of the unique individuals we’ve found – no names though!


We’ll start with an unexpected snowboarder. Our dog owning pensioner is obviously a thrill seeker, because as well as being a boarder, he drives a TVR.


We have a female accountant who quite clearly wants to break a stereotype or two. As someone who rides a Harley Davidson, she’s not your average accountant, and her interest in DIY doesn’t immediately scream biker.


We’re split in the office about this cricket lover. Some of us think he is an Englishman renting a house in Aberdeenshire, others think he’s a Scot with a guilty pleasure.


This self-employed home-owner from Birmingham has 5 children. No wonder he is interested in beach holidays, it’s probably the only time he gets to relax.


We’re not sure how many palaeontologists there are in the country, but we have details of a married one in their 30’s.


It’s becoming far more common for young adults to still live at home with their parents, but we only have one who is 27-years-old has a full-time job and reads house & home magazines.


It may come as a surprise to you, it does to us, but not all London fashion photographers are like Austin Powers. We have a married one on our database who likes relaxing by doing puzzles.

It may come as a surprise to you, it does to us, but not all London fashion photographers are like Austin Powers. We have a married one on our database who likes relaxing by doing puzzles.

And the last one of our individuals for the moment is this lady. A married 25-year-old, who’s sports car is less than 3 years’ old.

You can run your data count by clicking here

What is GDPR & will it affect me?

MarketingFile - What is GDPR & will it affect me?
MarketingFile - What is GDPR & will it affect me?

In the first in a series of posts about GDPR, we are going to cover the basics of what it actually is, why it has come into being, and how it will affect both individuals and companies alike.

GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation and will replace the current Data Protection Act (DPA).

It was introduced by the EU in May 2016 with a two-year transition period and comes into force on May 25 2018. The aim of the GDPR is to unify data protection law within the European Union and even though we are leaving the EU, the GDPR will remain. There are two main reasons for this


The DPA is outdated. It was last updated in 1998 and so was not designed to cope with all the new data that has been generated by our current technology.


The GDPR will not just apply to members of the EU, but applies to all businesses, regardless of their location, who will hold or process the data of EU citizens.

Our current DPA was based on a 1995 EU directive that suggested best practice for its Members, but was implemented very differently by the individual countries. The GDPR grew out of a desire for consistency from individuals who wanted their details handled in the same way, regardless of which country they were processed in, and businesses who wanted to run a single system without the need to administer data differently in different locations.

Will it affect me?

The short answer is yes.

For businesses

Any entity that handles personal data, whether it belongs to customers OR staff, will be subject to the GDPR. Realistically, anyone currently subject to the DPA will also be subject to the GDPR.

For individuals

The GDPR gives you more control over the personal data a company holds about you and what they can do with it.

Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation

At its heart, the GDPR is about the rights individuals have over their personal data rather than a set of rules for businesses to follow.

The aim is to create some new rights for individuals and strengthen others that currently exist in the DPA. With the key principle of transparency running through the GDPR companies will need to show how consent has been obtained to process an individual’s personal data.

Companies will also need to be able to demonstrate how and why they have personal information, what they will do with it, how long they will keep it, and also to provide anyone with the following rights:


The right to be informed


The right of access


The right to rectification


The right to erasure


The right to restrict processing


The right to data portability


The right to object


Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling

The ICO have put together a PDF to help businesses to prepare for the GDPR. Click the link to download 12 steps to take now.

With under a year to go until the GDPR comes in to effect, businesses need to be taking steps to prepare for it. Unfortunately, with under a year to go, many of the finer points are still being worked on, making compliance even harder. To make things easier for you, we will aim to keep you up-to-date with changes as and when they become finalised.

Addressing the OCR requirement

MarketingFile - Addressing the OCR requirement
MarketingFile - Addressing the OCR requirement

OCR or Optical Character Recognition refers to the ability of machines to identify and read printed text. By making the addresses on your direct mail pieces OCR compliant it removes the need for them to be sorted by hand, making postage costs cheaper for you.

To prepare your direct mail pieces so they are OCR compliant we’ve put together this little guide for you.


While you can use any font you like for the body copy of your mailing pieces, the mailing and return addresses need to be one of the following OCR fonts:

  • Arial 10-12pt
  • Century School Book 10-11pt
  • Courier 10-15pt
  • Courier New 10-15pt
  • Verdana 10-12pt
  • Avant Garde 11-15pt
  • Geneva 10-12pt
  • Franklin Gothic 10-12pt
  • Helvetica 10-14pt
  • News Gothic MT 10-12pt
  • Franklin Gothic 10-12pt

The OCR fonts need to be printed in a dark coloured font to ensure it is easily machine read.

Positioning for letters

For letters, you need to make sure the following sit within a window envelope correctly

  • The recipient’s address
  • The returns management code

Positioning for postcards

For postcards, you need to make sure the following are all positioned correctly

  • The recipient’s address
  • The return address
  • Postage stamps
  • RM4SCC codes

Supplying us your artwork

It is a complicated procedure so leave it to us! We will set up all the OCR positioning all you need to do is supply us your OCR compliant artwork.

We will send you a guide with all the clear zones measurements and then you can download one of our templates to see if your positioning is correct. Overlay your artwork on top and if it does not run over the boxes then you’re OCR compliant and meet the requirements.

The clear zones will need to be kept free of all artwork, text and colour – must be a white background.

You’re now eligible to benefit from reduced postage costs. Send 4,000 or more items and you’ll qualify for OCR mail sort which is even cheaper per record.

To speak to us about how we can help you with your design work or the delivery of your items, call 0845 345 7755

Why your business needs prospect data

MarketingFile - Why your business needs prospect data
MarketingFile - Why your business needs prospect data


Most companies aren’t lucky enough to just have people flocking to their website. So how do you reach new clients to generate sales?

The best approach is to have a balanced acquisition programme using a range of channels. Unfortunately for most companies, budgets restrict this.

TV advertising is expensive. Print has a declining circulation. Online display advertising is suffering from ad blocking software and low viewability. So most people resort to search engines.

Just Google it?

Improving your rankings on Google and / or paying for AdWords will help you increase sales. Sales to people looking for your products and services

The problem with relying on a search engine though is that it’s a reactive channel. You are reliant on people knowing that what you offer exists, and then being in the market for it.

While it may be true that good things come to those who wait, is this the best strategy for your business?

And even if you’re prepared to wait for prospective clients to come to you, are your competitors?

Be proactive

Don’t wait for your prospective customers to come to you, go to them. Not knowing they want your product is different from not wanting it.

This is where prospect data comes into its own.

You can choose email addresses and send messages that push people straight to your website. Or you can send out something printed – a voucher to use in-store or a copy of your latest brochure.

By offering them something with your introductory message you will increase uptake.


The best thing about prospect data is that we find the right people for your business, so you only pay for what you need. By segmenting prospects, it means you don’t send your message to inappropriate people. Our segmentation criteria include demographics, socio-economic background, location and many different interests.

We can even target people who share similarities with your existing customers. By finding the commonalities between them we can then find the best prospects. These people will be more likely to respond to your offers and buy your products or services.


By sending your message direct to prospective clients you cut wastage and save money. And in targeting people who are more likely to buy, third-part data can give a great return on investment.

To see how we can help you grow your business, call 0845 345 7755 or fill in our contact form.

To see the data we have available for your next campaign:

Make the most of your options in B2C targeting

MarketingFile - Sourcing your prospect marketing list
MarketingFile - Sourcing your prospect marketing list

Before you purchase a prospect consumer list it is important that you make the most of all the data options open to you. Make sure you take the time to build your data list with your perfect prospect in mind. To achieve this you need make sure you have a good understanding of all the data attributes you can apply. This helps you drill down to who will be most interested in you – reducing wastage and helping you maximise return on investment (ROI) on your data spend. 

For example, understanding the filtering options available for basic consumer data information can help you target and tailor your marketing campaigns more effectively.

Spider diagram looking at data filtering based on individuals

You can then overlay additional lifestyle attributes (on top of the basic data) which will get you one step ahead in reaching the right consumer with the right message.

Spider diagram looking at data filtering based on lifestyle

Household data provides further options when creating your perfect prospect lists:

Spider diagram looking at data filtering based on household

Consumer property data isn’t just utilised by the housing sector; use the profiling information available to target potential prospects who fit your consumer base:

Spider diagram looking at data filtering based on property

Pre-mover data can be very useful for targeting new home owners who are likely to be in the market to make purchases:

Spider diagram looking at data filtering based on pre-movers

Interested in niche local targeting for prospects? Then make sure you’re using data filtering which goes beyond the standard ‘postcode’ search for smarter direct marketing:

Spider diagram looking at data filtering based on region

Using and filtering financial data can help you build an image of potential customers:

Spider diagram looking at data filtering based on finance

You can be smart when targeting consumers for technology. There are so many options you can drill down through, and by filtering data you can reach those who really matter. Make sure you understand consumer trends and habits to ensure you communicate in the most effective way to get noticed:

Spider diagram looking at data filtering based on online and technology

Targeting consumers based on insurance data is more than going by the timing of renewals; using intelligent data filtering can help you segment on product and consumer behaviour:

Spider diagram looking at data filtering based on insurance

So what’s the next step? You need to think who your perfect prospect is, once you know this you will be able to apply filters across various attributes in order to build a prospect database which will work for you.

Introduction to design

MarketingFile - Introduction to design
MarketingFile - Introduction to design

Add value to your business

Design is the way to differentiate yourself from your competitors, helping solve problems creatively – improving the way your business operates – and adding value to your products/services. The latest study by InVision found that when an organisation applies the principles of design to its strategies and structures, it’s making a conscious decision to innovate at all levels.

‘Design is changing the way we work, and how we do business’


Make that killer first impression

To be successful you need to stand out from the crowd. Have you ever thought about what makes you different? You only have a few seconds to make a first impression on someone; so well constructed and eye-catching design can keep them interested. If your logo and marketing material looks shabby and unprofessional the connotations that are attached will reflect on your business’ services/products.

Create a memorable brand

Good design keeps your brand memorable. Colour and imagery are especially important as most people remember an element as a visual cue to base memories on. Strong branding represents you and your promise to your customer, connects you with your customers emotionally, generates referrals and helps customers know what to expect. Design levels the playing field against other brands that are still trying to figure out who they are, what they stand for, and what they want to be famous for.

‘Design is thinking made visual’


Good design solves problems

Design is not only about making something visually pleasing but also about thinking of creative ways to address a problem to better meet customer needs. Designers consider the audience for everything they do, optimising content to suit their needs and using colour and type to help better communicate with them. Customers are often willing to pay more for something well-designed that can offer them benefits such as greater usability, increased functionality and improved aesthetics.

Perhaps now is the time to look at your design and think about what you are conveying to customers or prospects.

Consider your last email campaign – if you disregard the words, did the design send the right message?

Fact and Figures

(InVision, Product Design Trends, 2016;)

  • Design plays a leading role in 38.4% of the top 10% of companies across the world with at least 2,000 employees. Start-up percentage is much higher with 65% leading with design
  • More and more top decision-makers at companies see design as playing a crucial role at their company.

(The Design Economy: The value of design to the UK economy Executive summary, 2015;)

  • Design’s contribution to the UK economy is £71.7bn in gross value added (GVA), equivalent to 7.2% of UK total GVA
  • Workers with a design element to their work were 41% more productive than the average
  • In 2013, the total value of exports where design had made a key contribution was £34bn

(Design Council: The Value of Design Factfinder report, 2007)

  • Every £100 a design-led business invests in design repays £225 in increased sales
  • Shares in design-led businesses outperform key stock market indices by 200%
  • Businesses that add value through design see a greater impact on business performance than the rest
  • On average, design alert businesses increase their market share by 6.3% through using design
  • Turnover growth is more likely for businesses that increase their investment in design. Conversely, those that decreased investment cut their chances of growth.

The Complications of Constructing HTML Emails

MarketingFile - The Complications of Constructing HTML Emails
MarketingFile - The Complications of Constructing HTML Emails

Since starting the process of learning HTML and CSS, I have now been exposed to the challenges faced when designing for emails.  With the various amounts of email clients and multiple browsers to view them on, this has allowed for a vast amount of variation in regards to compatibility and support of HTML and CSS.

As a result, this has restricted the way in which designers go about creating their campaigns to ensure each consumer gets the best possible user experience. Your communication should be optimised when viewing it in your recipients chosen email client and/or browser. This means your email will look different depending on where and what the user is viewing it on. Rather than being able to use all the latest features in HTML and CSS, designing for emails is very restrictive.

The Email Standards Project is an organisation that aims to improve the email experience for designers and readers by working with email client developers to eventually ensure that designers will be able to rely on a solid, consistent level of web standards support when building HTML emails.

But until then there are a few dos and don’ts on how to construct a successful email across all platforms – here are a few of the main ones!


✔  Use tables

This is the only universally accepted method that renders emails correctly and will not break across email clients.

✔  Make your CSS inline

Popular email clients strip out CSS in the <head>. An easy way to solve this is to write your CSS in the <head> and then use an inliner such as Zurb’s to convert your CSS inline ready to send. Also ensure that you write out your CSS in full declaring each property – do not use shorthand.

✔  Provide image dimensions

Some clients automatically apply their own which can cause major issues when rendering so make sure to apply a width and a height in your style tag as well as individual attributes for each image.

✔  Keep it 600px max wide

This allows users to scroll down rather than side-to-side and enable the user to view your email the way it was intended


✖  Rely on images

Not all email clients display images by default, they require the user to actually enable the download. This is especially important if your main message is on an image as half of your subscribes will never see that message. Therefore, make sure to use the ‘alt’ and ‘title’ attributes so they can still see what it is they are missing.

✖  Use PNG Images

Not all web browsers support them; instead use JPEG’s and GIF’s.

✖  Use only custom fonts

Not all clients support @font-face so make sure to set web safe font’s such as Arial and Times New Roman as fall backs e.g. font-family; ‘bebasregular’, Times New Roman, serif

✖  Use Paddings or Margins

Outlook 2007/10/13 does not support padding on

and tags and does not support margins therefore in Outlook your layout will be destroyed. Instead you can set your widths in each cell not table or apply padding and margins to a class to create space when needed. Do not use ‘float’ to position your content use the ‘align’ attribute.

Although this will help when initially beginning to design emails, there are many other issues you will discover when testing that I haven’t touched on. For example when linking an image to a webpage some email clients will automatically add a blue boarder around it to indicate that it is a link. Obviously this is not aesthetically pleasing and you will soon get used to adding ‘border: 0’ to the style attribute in the image tag whenever a link is wrapped around an image. Part of the process is to uncover the strange add-ons – especially with Outlook – and the hacks to correct them. A handy link to have up while designing is The Ultimate Guide to CSS. This allows you to check if an element you are unsure of is supported across the 10 most popular mobile, web and desktop email clients.

Moreover, the key to a successful campaign is testing it. You can do quick tests of your emails in PutsMail. It is a good idea to create different email accounts across the various email clients. This way you can view your campaign exactly how your recipients will see it.

Finally, you need to send your campaign. This needs to be done by an Email Service Provider (ESP), the delivery engine behind your marketing campaign. You cannot use your own personal email as you risk blacklisting your IP address as ‘spammy’ which would affect your personal regular communications from getting through. Using an ESP such as Touchpoint, is a much more effective way as it not only saves you time but it also provides figures and analysis on how many people engaged with your email, click-though rates and which ones they clicked. For more information about our direct marketing platform, Touchpoint and how it could benefit you, please click here


A guide to email marketing

MarketingFile - Get your subject lines in order
MarketingFile - Get your subject lines in order

Email is often one of the most important aspects of the direct marketing mix for both business and consumer marketing. In a study just published in March 2016, 64% of companies rate email marketing as the most effective marketing channel. With this in mind, this guide addresses the vital, basic factors to consider when doing email marketing.

Have a read and let us know your experiences with email marketing.

Subject Lines

When a potential customer receives your email in their ‘in-box’ you have only a few seconds to make an impact.

In those few seconds the recipient makes a simple decision:

  • Open the email then
  • Open it later
  • Delete it immediately

That’s why it’s extremely important to be explicit and as appealing as to the subject matter of your email as you can.

Being cryptic or mysterious may cause suspicion causing your email to be deleted immediately – we’ve all received junk mail that we’ve trashed immediately because of the subject line. Don’t let it happen to you.

It’s also worth remembering that the space most in-box’s allow for subject lines is limited, so make your subject line is succinct and get as much of your ‘hook’ into the first 30 characters as possible.

Subject Line Tips

1. Always include your company name in the “from address”, don’t disguise your identity.

2. Make sure the subject line reflects the content of the message.

3. If sending out a newsletter, include this in the subject line e.g. Your December Newsletter.

4. If possible test different subject lines for your message. The slightest change of wording can make all the difference to the open rate.

HTML tips

Your email creative may look like a web page, but that doesn’t mean it will work like one. Bear in mind these tips and techniques to give your HTML email more chance of making it through firewalls and spam filters, so it arrives still looking as it was intended to look.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to building your email HTML.


Make sure your branding and contact details are displayed within the first 3 inches (300 pixels) of the message – this is called above the fold
Use images sparingly – keep to a 60/40 ratio for text and images
Use a dedicated HTML editor
Specify any references to images as absolute URLS
Link to forms
Specify height and width for image tags especially small ones
Use table or cell background
Use inline CSS


JavaScript, Flash, Java, Active X or other plug-ins
Image mapping
External style sheets
Complicated layouts
Background images
Images for text content
Forms embedded in your document (link to them instead)

Plain text

Some recipient servers still refuse to accept HTML emails. Most email broadcasters will enable you to include a text version of your HTML.

Then your recipient will only get the version applicable to them so you don’t need to worry about repetition.

Using a text editor such as Notepad (not Word this is not a straight text editor) you can easily create a plain text file. While there is no fancy formatting included, with creative use of characters such as asterisks, hyphens and underlining you can still apply emphasis to your message.


Some email broadcasters will not allow you to send attachments as it isn’t sensible to send a PDF or similar attachments along with every email – therefore we recommend you set up a link to your file on a server.

Including a video in your email may be tempting, but think about what will happen if multiple recipients try to view it at once.

Copy & Content Tips

1. People have short attention spans when it comes to email – Write your email so that it can be scanned quickly for the essential message and make sure you deliver your message within the first 3 inches of the message (the preview pane).

2. Give your email a strong headline.

3. Every email should be a call to action – you want your communication to continue beyond just reading the email. You need to make it clear what you expect the customer to do next.

4. Personalising your email can be effective – e.g. addressing the mail to Dear xxxx and using words like “you” and “your” as well as “I” and “we”.

5. Proof read your email.

Design & Format

Keep it simple. Don’t overuse graphics – there is a great deal of evidence to support better responses to text-based emails. Up to 40% of emails are not read because of the simple fact that the consumer has to download the images before they can see the email. There is nothing worse than receiving an email full of red x’s.

Design & Format Tips

1. Use two or three fonts at the most.

2. Use fonts that exist on the web. Common fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, and Verdana exist on most people’s computers. Choosing a font you have on your computer but is not in general use, will be substituted for something else by the recipient’s computer and the impact of your campaign could be lost.

3. Use bullets where appropriate.

4. Research other companies’ creative, especially in your field.

5. Design for your target consumer.

Links & Tracking

Last but by no means least, when creating your message think about how you intend to measure the response.

One of the best ways to look at email marketing is as part of a bigger marketing plan, a way to warm the contact up for further contact or maybe even a call.

A good example of this is to use traceable/tracking links; any good email broadcaster will have this facility.

Traceable/tracking links

An e-mail campaign was sent on behalf of a holiday company, within the message they had traceable links on various destinations such as:- Barbados, Miami, and Florida.

Once they received their campaign report from the broadcaster they could see that:

  • 32 people clicked on Barbados
  • 21 people clicked on Miami
  • 12 people clicked on Bermuda

As they purchased email, address and telephone details, they are now in a position to send a covering letter and the relevant brochure to each of the clicks.

This could then be followed up with a telephone call at a later date.

There are many things that can be done with the information that is presented in a “Campaign report”, so it’s always a good idea to seek advice from your data provider or email broadcaster on how to best use the results.


There are many things that can be done with the information that is presented in a “Campaign report”, so it’s always a good idea to seek advice from your data provider or email broadcaster on how to best use the results. There are many things that can be done with the information that is presented in a “Campaign report”, so it’s always a good idea to seek advice from your data provider or email broadcaster on how to best use the results.

Now, do you feel confident with your email marketing?