By Dale ‘DataDale’ Filhaber

In 2018, marketers really embraced the use of multiple marketing channels. All the preconceived notions that younger people only want digital communications and older consumers want print have gone by the wayside.

The way we use today’s media is way different than it was just a few years ago. Today, we fast forward through commercials on TV; we’ve dropped print newspaper subscriptions in favor of digital editions. We carry our phones with us at all times and rely on them for communications, entertainment, information, travel and all sorts of transactions.

Even though we are all focused on electronic media and think email messaging will be a great generator of leads, it’s important to realize that over 30 percent of computer users (both PC and mobile) use ad blockers. That means almost a third of the money you spend on digital communication is wasted. Marketers need to rethink their ad spending on non-digital forms of advertising, like direct mail, if they really want to spend their money wisely and get their message into their prospects’ hands.

Do you have a mobile strategy?
The time spent on mobile now consists of over two-thirds of digital media time, compared to just one third for desktop. Website speed is a critical area that marketers need to get right, particularly as it is all too easy to bloat a site with un-optimized images, code and excessive JavaScript tags. (Google has said it will penalize marketers who are directing traffic to a slow-moving mobile site, so marketers really need to pay attention to the loading speed of their websites.)

Nowadays, when it comes to finding anything, mobile usability and consumer convenience are definitely the number-one priority. It’s vital to have a solid SEO/PPC (search engine optimization/pay-per-click) program. It’s important to be linked to other meaningful websites that can bring you traffic, such as the Better Business Bureau or local Chamber of Commerce.

Make sure you are properly signed up with Google local. The listing is free but you need to add or claim your business. Be sure to take advantage of clicks for directions/maps, hours and click-to-call button options. I hate to tell you how many businesses are not set up properly and are, therefore, losing a vital source of traffic and exposure. Do a self-test and type ‘buy water filter’ into Google on your phone. If you don’t come up near the top, you need to take action immediately.

Direct mail: resurfacing with renewed ROI
According to the 2017 Media Usage Survey results, direct mail is not only holding steady, but it’s growing. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of marketers responding to the survey are increasing their use of direct mail this year and 33 percent are keeping it the same. The US Postal Service has upgraded their own technology and is working closely with mailers, offering discounts, promotions and suggestions that can save your company money. By the way, make sure you find out about Informed Delivery and see how your business can get twice the media channel impact.

In the water quality industry, direct mail is still a top marketing channel and continues to generate leads month after month, year after year. Most dealerships mail to new homeowners, homeowners with children or health-conscious homeowners. Dealerships in high-alkaline areas mail to psoriasis and eczema sufferers. The list or combination of lists used depends on the dealerships’ focus and budget.

We are seeing a resurgence of print options for direct mail. Marketers can stand out from the crowd with unique shapes, sizes and virtual QR codes that take readers to a new reality. Experiment with textured envelopes or the new satin feel. Millennials continue to be a surprise, strong mail-market segment with seniors, parents of new babies and ailment sufferers relying heavily on the channel for information and offers. Did you know that 86 percent of consumers prefer personalization? With today’s variable print technology, this makes using people’s names a breeze. If your printer is already doing the addressing on your mailer, ask him if there is another place on the card he can personalize for you at the same time.

Compelling call to action
Don’t forget, the key to a strong ROI is making it easy for the prospect to respond to your direct mail. Make sure the phone number on your mailer is large and easy to read. Consider using one of the new visual QR codes to brand your dealership and drive visitors to your website, where you can capture their information and generate your own leads online for your sales people. Your call to action needs to push people to dial your phone number, visit your site or answer your call.

One of my new favorite direct mailers is mailable virtual reality glasses. Imagine mailing your top prospects a set of VR glasses that allow them to actually see your system in the comfort of their own homes. This is brand new in the world of print and mail. Today this costs about $8 each. Who knows what the next cool thing will be? Bottom line with print: if it’s great, people will read it and save it. If the offer is worthy, they will take action.

Stay in touch with your customers
Your own database can be a gold mine. A well-tuned database is a great source of referrals and continuous business. Your job is to keep it in tip-top shape. New technology makes list hygiene processes cost-effective for your businesses. There are new options that can correct and append telephone numbers to your database, both landline and cell phone. There are other processes to add email addresses to your list.

Your goal is to continue the dialogue with your customers and prospects via multiple channels. You need to stay in touch with them. They need to think of you as their water treatment expert. And in the 2019 marketing environment, your job is to engage them in a myriad of ways so they can respond to you the way that suits them best. Use all the tools at your disposal to enhance and improve your list— it’s a good investment.

While we all want to showcase our companies across every marketing channel, from a cost perspective, it’s just not feasible. For 2019, water quality industry marketers need to test their message in several different marketing channels to find the special formula that’s right for them.

About the author
Dale ‘DataDale’ Filhaber is President of Dataman Group Direct, a Florida-based direct-marketing company founded in 1981. She is an author, lecturer, Listologist and direct-marketing innovator. In the past 35+ years, Filhaber has trained many water quality dealers in direct marketing and lead generation techniques, ranging from direct mail to telemarketing to social media. Her latest book, Lead Generation for Water Quality Dealers–New for 2018, has received rave reviews and can be purchased on Amazon. Filhaber is also the author of Pure Water Profits, a blog on marketing, focusing on the water treatment industry. She is also a frequent guest lecturer at the annual WQA conference. Filhaber can be reached at (800) 771-3282 or [email protected] or visit the website, Dataman Group Direct is proud to showcase,, a dedicated website focusing on lead generation and direct marketing for the water quality industry.


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