NEW “Intelligent Mail Barcodes” mandatory in January

The US Postal Service brings new innovations to YOUR programs

When I first started in the direct mail business I was a mailing equipment installer and trainer.  I remember clearly the day ‘Zippy the postal carrier’ was retired and the first Postnet Barcode was put into use.  It was a corner-stone of my career at that time.  It seems goofy now.

Of course this was a long time ago and at the time Zippy (derived from ZIP-codes) was a big move for the Postal Service.  It was an even bigger step for mankind to move past him and start using barcodes and optical character recognition, which we did in the early 90’s.

NEW “Intelligent Mail Barcodes” mandatory in January

Starting in January 2013, postage rates climb dramatically if you are not using new intelligent barcodes. Well, ‘mandatory’ is the negative part, but this is a new dynamic service and there is no turning back. Honestly, it’s about time.  These barcodes are an upgrade to your direct mail program that is costing you absolutely nothing.

What ‘mandatory’ really means is that in 2013 The US Postal Service is eliminating older technology permanently and implementing the new barcodes going forward. You will be getting all kinds of free new options you would have normally paid good money for.  I can’t wait for you to see what these new barcodes can do.

The New Intelligent Barcode and older Postnet barcode being retired in 2013:

Intelligent Mail Barcodes
How does this apply to you?

An average of 80% of all casino room nights and gaming revenue is achieved through response to your direct mail.  Your team can win big if they keep up with the changes and advances from the US Postal Service.  There is a lot of strategy, profits and savings in the nooks and crannies of direct mail that you might not notice at first glance.  Let’s talk about the opportunities ‘required’ in January of 2013

The added “intelligence” in the new postal barcodes has many cool features built in that you normally had to pay for.  Services you wanted in the past are now included free.  US Mail tracking, deeper postage discounts & address correction services are all very powerful free add-ons that you will want to leverage.  Starting in January those are all free if you know how to tap into them .

The New Barcodes include popular USPS Confirm Services, USPS Address Correction Services free as well as room for custom extra tools we can build for you to meet special needs as well.

REMEMBER, starting in January 2013, if you do not use these your postage rates will go through the roof.  Don’t leave this one in your vendors’ hands.  Many large and small printers all over the country are still struggling to utilize these and it will cost YOU big if they can’t.

OK, Cool.  New Features, Mandatory in January, Got it!

You see, ‘the Check’ really is in the mail. Keep your eyes on the finer details of your mailing programs so you can make big money and save big money too.

Marketing Parcels Build Customer Loyalty

In this article we talk about how Marketing Parcels increase customer loyalty.

Marketing Parcel for higher responseI went to my mailbox today as part of my regular check for bills, offers and coupons.  Normally I expect a stack of envelopes, postcards and newspaper coupons that I pull apart and sort into stacks.

Today was just like every other day but when I opened the mailbox I was surprised to find a box inside. “What is this?” I wondered.

My birthday was over a month ago. Could it be a belated birthday gift? I don’t know.  Maybe I ordered checks and forgot to expect them.  Maybe it’s something from Amazon.com or Ebay?

WHAT IS IT?  All the other mail was quickly forgotten.

As I walked back to the house that the box was all I remember about my mailbox.  I stuffed the rest of the mail in my folded arm and carried the box home like it was something special; something fragile and that box had all my attention.

We are all so easily excited and highly curious about sealed boxes.  It’s like we are programmed as a child on Christmas day or birthdays and special occasions.  This curiosity of this moment was no exception, my heart actually raced a little. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

In the marketing space of the mailbox, the box wins, hands down.

When you think about that moment at your mailbox don’t you think we should all be mailing boxes to our most important customers?  If we can make them feel special and have them hold our brand in their hands with excitement and curiosity then we can create a lifetime relationship.

It’s not as expensive as you might think; especially when you look at the increased response rates and long-term relationship the investment creates for you.  Our best guests have so many options delivered to them each month.  A box from you can increase your wallet-share of business.

What’s that worth?  Perhaps millions!

Quite honestly it doesn’t have to be too elaborate either.  You can use a very thin box and insert an invitation, 2 tickets to your event and a special parking pass.  I would also include a personal note from the host as well.  Make it special!

The US Postal Service even has a special category of box mailing called “Marketing Parcels” that allow for up to 16 ounces of weight and up to a 9”x12”x2” box that gets special discounts.

Get your best clients to brag about your casino to their friends. Make them feel special and prove you care about their business.  Postcards have their place but don’t let them replace the more effective approach to client loyalty that includes irregular parcels, boxes and fed-ex or UPS envelopes.  Show guests they are special to you and that you look forward to spending more time with them.

The increased loyalty will be obvious to your bottom line.

Compete with igaming, bring on the nerds

Bring on the nerds
To compete with igaming you need to “bring on the nerds”

Every incumbent gaming operation has had to deal with the expanding gambling landscape and new, large and well-funded competition opening down the street. The barrier to market has always been the huge expenses of buying land, building giant brick-and-mortar properties, staffing and then finally marketing against us. Well a new dawn approaches!

This time though, the battle won’t be on the strip.  This battle is on the internet.

So how strong is your internet team and what are they focused on?
(please don’t say Facebook, please. lol)

The real battle will take place on the search engine.  If we do our jobs right we can beat them on the internet. What every casino needs now is an expanding army of programmers, bloggers and online search engine experts.  The more you understand about search engines the more you will understand the large advantage you have on the internet over the online casinos.  You truly can win this fight if all physical casinos massively outperform online casinos at the search engine screen.

Bring on the Nerds!
I’m a nerd so it’s ok.

There is a story in the Las Vegas Review Journal about a current online battle the cosmopolitan is having with an international company trying to get their online business. Article Here

What you see in the article is a typical online battle that you may all be dealing with in the months and years ahead.  These new online casinos will have to create clever brands and spend tens-of-millions marketing those brands.  They will try and save those millions by hijacking your brands online.  It’s already happening to The Cosmo.

But, The Cosmopolitans website kicks major Search Engine butt over the hijacking site. A search engine strategy report shows newcosmopolitanlasvegas.com (the online hijack) with an SEO score of 44 out of 100 but cosmopolitanlasvegas.com (the real site) has an SEO score of 66 out of 100.  The Cosmo is winning but still needs to step up their search engine strategy above that 66.

In their local market, Palms.com has a grade of 88 out of 100. They are really working their online strategy obviously.  You can’t just build pretty websites folks. This is an online battle for the modern customer and one of your most valuable marketing dollars you can spend.

You can never learn too much about search engine marketing!  Do you know that your own blog is worth 200x more than facebook, but many casinos have staff focused on facebook and don’t even have a blog.  What is your H1-tag strategy?  How about your meta-tag strategy?  You even need an image and alt-text strategy too. What are the actual names of your images anyway?  What does Google think you do?

Google cannot “see” your pretty website like humans do.  What is your website SEO score? More importantly, when a customer decides to plan a trip and types “Hotels in [your city]” are you on the top of the results?  A successful search engine strategy pays off big! It’s time to take your site to the next level and protect yourselves from igaming too.

Average Casino Database is only 76.5% deliverable

On a typical monthly casino mailing, that’s up to $3,500 in cash gets flushed down the drain.

Not sure how deliverable your casino database is? Let’s make you the hero with your CFO this month, and save you some money on your next mailing.

First, how did I come up with the number above?

Printing for 30K                  $0.18 each
Postage for 30K                 $0.26 each
Mailing Services                 $0.06 each
Average Cost Per Piece   $0.50 each

Second, where did I get the 76.5% number from?

Direct Mail Deliverability

Third, the ugly truth
Multiply total cost per piece (.50 X 7,050) times the 23.5% that did not get delivered. This is how much money you can then be flushing down the drain that month: $3,525, which totals to $42,300 per year. This is high-value, low-hanging fruit.

Finally, the SOLUTION (and you become the HERO)

How hard is it to clean up your database BEFORE you mail? Not hard at all. As a start, you need to enlist your direct mail provider by cleaning up your database through NCOA quarterly updating. Seventeen percent (17%) of the US moves each year. The real trick is to get that data back into your player tracking system.

How much your direct mail provider will charge you for this always depends on the size of your database and if you want it uploaded back in to your system. It can typically range from $80-$1,800.

While they are scrubbing your list, have them run an off-property “near-duplicate” report to help you find the Mikes, Michaels, and other obvious duplicates.

Bonus ways to save even more

The 76.5% number above just includes errors in your address database. It does not take into consideration internal database maintenance practices you can be doing now:

Return mail
Appropriately code all returned mail in your database so that you don’t continue to mail and waste resources. Make efforts internally to get correct information.

NO MAIL requests
ALWAYS respect your guests’ requests to be removed from your marketing distributions. THEY WILL STILL PLAY!

86’d client lists
You don’t want them in your property. DON’T INVITE THEM! Code your database appropriately. You can always change it if you have made amends with the previously barred guest.

Duplicate accounts
Install procedures at point of intake to make sure duplicate accounts are not added. Ask questions …
~   Ask if they have ever visited before.
~   Ask if they have ever had a club card before.
~   If the same name appears, check the DOB.
~   If the same name and DOB appear, ask if they have recently moved.

Linked accounts
Two people living in the same household may share one disposable income. Do they get separate offers or one offer together? Establish a policy and make it clearly known. Don’t waste resources — make a plan that works for your guests.
Bottom line, be sure you are not flushing money down the drain, when the “fix” is pretty simple.