Is Direct Mail Becoming … Extinct?

In this day of supersized technology, marketers and business owners might be starting to second guess their direct mail marketing. It is easy to see why direct mail is under the microscope, with e-mail campaigns, blogs, and Web sites with links to and from all areas of the Web, direct mail just looks so … yesterday.

Or is it? The goal of marketing has always been to reach prospects and customers alike, with campaigns that resonate with them and their needs, as well as to enforce the message or brand the marketer is trying to convey. A well thought out marketing campaign, may or may not include various forms of media, i.e. radio, TV, billboard ads, mass transit advertising, direct mail, and now E-mail campaigns, blogging and Web marketing. The point is good marketers have always layered their plans with multiple forms of marketing, with the goal of reaching many different prospects and customers, over a wide cross-section of demographics. Isolating marketing plans to just E-mail or Web marketing campaigns may not reach all of the intended audiences. Remember, there are still many prospects and customers who have not yet embraced all that technology has brought forth, and direct mail is still an excellent tool to reach out to this group.

I guess when all is said and done, I will continue to create a marketing plan that incorporates all that technology affords me, but direct mail will still hold a spot in that plan!!

What is the CAN-SPAM Act and How Does This Affect my E-mail Marketing?

Maybe you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and start to do e-mail marketing, but you’ve heard about regulations and wonder where to learn more? E-mail marketing is a great way to stay in touch with customers or prospects when done correctly, but there are definitely rules and regulations a business must follow! Read all about the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM Act and its requirements by clicking the link below.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/ecommerce/bus61.shtm

Be sure to read the details and regulations about e-mailing marketing before starting your first campaign. If you do not comply with these rules, you might just be sorry later on.

Payroll Benefits – Tips for Tracking Them More Easily

The task of managing payroll benefits can quickly become difficult once your number of employees starts to grow. What may have previously been handled in a starter or free payroll software application can often be easily handled in advanced payroll software. Here are some ways payroll software can help you track payroll benefits and be more confident in your data.

Predefined Benefit Deduction Codes

Some payroll systems come with a variety of standard predefined codes for tracking benefits. These ‘deduction codes’ make it easy for you to set up new employees and keep track of important information without reinventing the wheel, in order to simply track the right payroll benefits for your employees. Most payroll systems will include deduction codes for widely used benefits such as 401K, vacation pay, sick pay, and so on.

Benefit Deduction Code Customization

As your company grows, you may find that the standard predefined codes included in your payroll software are not able to handle every need when tracking payroll benefits. In this case, it is crucial to have a system that allows you to customize and use your own deduction codes. Not all payroll systems allow for this; however if you anticipate growth and unique benefit tracking, be sure your system does offer custom code setup.

Scheduled Benefit Deductions

Some benefit deductions may not be taken out of every single employee check. In these cases, it is useful to schedule benefit deductions, for example, on the first and third payroll of each month, and so on. By scheduling these benefit deductions; you can be confident that the correct amount is deducted at the correct time.

Retirement Plan Limits

Eliminate guesswork and worry when tracking retirement pay! As an employer, you may have a limit for your 401K contribution, your employee may have a limit, and of course the government has a limit as to how much can be contributed. The ability to set up plan limits within your software can tame the nightmare associated with 401K tracking. Once the limits you set up are reached, the amount will no longer be deducted, keeping all the involved parties happy.

Effective Dates

Are you worried that you will forget to activate an employee’s benefits after a probationary period or some other type of waiting period? Set up effective dates in your payroll system, so that benefits will automatically take effect on the specified date. This can take away the constant worry about forgetting to start an employee’s benefits from taking effect.

Take advantage of every tool at your disposal in your payroll system to ensure your payroll benefits are managed properly, and take the worry that payroll benefits are being missed or calculated incorrectly.

Green Ideas for Your Business: What Can Paper Reduction Mean to the Environment?

Here are some staggering facts about the impact of paper on the environment, taken directly from www.payitgreen.org:

In one year, by switching from paper to electronic billing, statements, and payments, the average American household would...

  • Save 6.6 pounds of paper
  • Avoid producing 171 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions—the equivalent of:
    • The emissions avoided by not driving 169 miles
    • The emissions avoided by not consuming 8.8 gallons of gasoline
    • Planting 2 tree seedlings and allowing them to grow for 10 years
    • Preserving 24 square feet of forestland
  • Avoid releasing 63 gallons of wastewater into the environment
  • Avoid using 4.5 gallons of gasoline to mail paper items

Many people and businesses making small changes add up to a big difference!

Here are some things your business can do to help cut down on the use of paper:

  • Send invoices electronically via e-mail.
  • Provide your customers the option of electronic billing and payment options.
  • Sign up your own business to receive and pay bills electronically.
  • Send financial and other reports via e-mail instead of printing them.
  • Use direct deposit to pay employees, and use electronic tax filing.

Internet Marketing: Landing Page 101

Have you heard all the talk about landing pages? Much like a landing strip for airplanes to land upon, a landing page is where you want internet searchers to land (once they have clicked on your online ad), so you can show your custom messages to them. You wouldn’t want an airplane to land on the grass, now would you? The landing strip is smooth and long enough for the pilot to land carefully and safely. That’s because it’s MEANT to be landed on. The landing page is a similar concept. You purposefully develop a page on which you would like internet searchers to land. If you are currently doing online advertising or are interested in giving it a try, maximize your efforts by creating landing pages with these rules of thumb:

  • Develop different landing pages for each subject/ad you are running. You want your visitors to know they are in the right place, so they don’t click away!
  • Have one clear, compelling call to action. Clearly show people what you want them to do, whether it’s to fill in a form, buy a product, call you, or something else
  • Keep the landing page clean and simple. Don’t clutter the page with lots of text and confusing layout. Make it simple, so people can easily find what they are looking for quickly.
  • Keep your fulfillment form simple. Don’t ask your customers or prospects to fill in 20 questions-- internet searchers want information fast.
  • Use short, simple points instead of lengthy paragraphs. Long paragraphs don’t work on the internet, where people want to get their information and go.

Having specific landing pages for your online marketing can drastically improve your results, and can also reduce your costs.