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Aim High -
marketing best practise

Aim High -
best practise

Author: Andy Pond

November 2019

#Marketing #Personalisation #DirectMail

Every marketing campaign has a different audience, objectives, messaging and creative. When building an Automated, Integrated Marketing (AIM) campaign at Formara, there are some elements of Best Practice that we always try to follow:

Messaging (or WIIFM?)

Never over-estimate your audience’s interest in you. It’s a harsh truth but, in reality, you and your product or service is only of interest if it solves a problem, serves a purpose, or has some real tangible benefit to them.

They’ll ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” and, if they don’t quickly find a valid answer, we’ll have lost their attention. WIIFM has to be the Golden Thread that runs through campaigns and shines out of its various elements. Remember it’s not what you do, it’s what you can do for them. Crafting effective WIIFM messaging starts with:

Identifying the audience

Establishing who you’re talking to and demographically “how they look” makes it much easer to talk to them in a meaningful way. From the language we use, the tone of voice we employ, even the imagery, graphics and colours of our designs. For example, a Generation Z consumer has totally different needs and expectations to those of a retired, senior citizen. We need to reflect and respect those differences.

In addition, because automated marketing from Formara is capable of very sophisticated personalisation, where the data exists, we have the ability to not just segment an audience in to target groups but to treat every record as an individual.

Determining their needs or wants

How can we help this audience/segment/individual? What problems or issues do they have?

Presenting the solution

How will what we do solve this problem, provide resolution and “ease their pain”?

Proving it

Our messaging needs to demonstrate our worth. Showing research, providing a case study, incorporating a customer or donor quote make a message weightier and increases its validity to our audience.

Explaining the difference

How will we do it better than anyone else? Why we stand apart from our competitors and the key things that make us different. That could be our industry-leading service levels, faster response times, better use of donations, etc. Effectively, a means of sealing the deal!

Printed materials and direct mail

With an unrivalled print pedigree and decades of experience, Formara is perfectly placed to advise on all of the printed elements of campaigns. We can take finished print-ready designs from your in-house creative team or agency or, alternatively, work from a brief to create a compelling design from scratch. In either scenario we emphasise and advise on the importance of;


Branding and visual identity includes your logo and colours but goes beyond that to the types of imagery you use, fonts employed and consistency across all of your marketing. Print and direct mail, while a different medium, still needs to be familiar and similar to, for example, your website. Your target audience needs to recognise you easily and take comfort that you are a known and trusted entity


“Keep it simple” is a great print mantra and while good design is critical, overly complicated design can confuse. The message and the call(s)-to-action (CTAs) must not be lost and overwhelmed by too much detail. We advocate limited and simple fonts, attractive and compelling imagery, complemented by plenty of white space.


What is the key purpose of the piece of print? How do we want the recipient to react to it, and what should they do next? Answering those questions guides the design and ensures its success.


One of the overwhelming benefits of print over the online channels is that it is tactile and has a far greater ability to engage a reader. Using sensory materials (think textured paper or foiling) or clever finishing (e.g. folding, perforation) results in them spending more time with it. www.marketreach.co.uk/campaigns/the-private-life-of-mail/mail-in-the-home

Add to that innovative mobile and other technology applications such as pURLs, Quick Response (QR) codes, even Augmented Reality (AR) and Near-Field Communication (NFC), amongst others, and direct mail becomes a valuable tool for engaging customers and driving them along a customer journey.


Modern digital printing techniques, combined with a data source, can result in every single piece of print in a campaign being wholly unique.

Highly personalised direct mail, which is known to significantly improve response rates (https://graphicartsmag.com/articles/2017/07/direct-mail-myths-miracles-millennials/), relies on a design template which, when merged with the data, is populated as it prints. It can be as simple as adding a name to a piece or as complex as tailoring the entire message to reflect, for example, purchase history, directions from home to a local store, even a time-limited offer based on recorded shopping habits or regular donation value.


The fulfilment and postage/delivery of a piece so that it arrives safely and intact relies on good, clean data at the outset, a thorough knowledge of print production, and postage regulations, limitations and restrictions.


Email design

With the average amount of time spent reading an email standing at just over 11 seconds, it’s vital that campaign emails are designed to be effective and to “pack a punch”. With this in mind we create AIM emails that:

Are clearly sent from a known, recognisable sender

Have a subject line of 40 – 70 characters (more precisely determined by target audience / likely device)

Can be viewed clearly on mobile devices

Have “clear, large and clickable” call(s)-to-action (CTAs) which sit close to the top of the email and are repeated within its body

Tell a joined-up, consistent story between the subject line, the header and the content.

Use only HTML text/fonts (e.g. Arial, Verdana, Georgia, etc.)

Include, but do not rely on (in case imagery is blocked at server level) striking, attractive imagery

Ideally incorporate images of friendly-faced people

Consider animation, if appropriate

Use arrows and pointers for clarity

Are not bandwidth-hungry

Never more than 3 columns wide

Focused and don’t confuse with too much information, too many messages or too many choices of action

Reflect the “F Reading Pattern” – that is, keep important and relevant messaging on the left

Are A/B tested (sender and subject)

Have a consistent look and feel with the other channels and communications that make up the campaign

Email open rates

There is a wealth of factors that negatively impact email open rates and which AIM campaigns strive to avoid. These include:

Failed delivery due to old or unclean data

A poor or uninteresting subject line

An unrecognised or unfamiliar sender (name and/or company)

Non-segmentation of data and so sending to disinterested recipients

Poor timing.

We use the most recent Digital Doughnut (in partnership with DotMailer) Email Benchmarking Report to benchmark AIM campaigns https://www.digitaldoughnut.com/knowledge/reports/2017/email-benchmarking-report-2017 .

Personalised URLs (pURLs)

A Personalised URL is a web address created specifically for a data record which delivers a personalised landing page or microsite. pURLS form a critical part of AIM campaigns and their benefits are 2-fold.

1. The recipient receives a personal, specific and unique message that reflects them and the information known about them

2. Their activity and responses is measured and tracked in real-time

AIM uses simple and memorable pURLs that usually incorporate a recipient’s own name and that

1. are as short as possible and so less likely to be inputted incorrectly

2. work across email and direct mail

3. can be converted to a QR code for mobile device scanning

4. re-direct to a generic URL if a user error occurs

5. work across various browsers and devices

Get in touch to discover the benefits of an Automated Marketing campaign from Formara

Automated, Integrated Marketing
from the team at Formara

Call our team on 01702 613141 or fill in our contact form to see how we can help.


Call our team on 01702 613141 or fill in our contact form to see how we can help.



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01702 613141