Can product labels help you sell? Is it possible to use shipping labels to do some marketing for you?

The answer is yes.

Ecommerce shops online are plenty. Not many businesses, however, use what they have to make sure that every piece of paper, packaging, and even invoices/way bills/ or receipts work. Most of these elements that go into your business are often ignored.

That’s a huge opportunity cost, if you think about it. Customers almost always notice shipping labels. Others — including shipping staff, customs officials, etc. – also notice labels.

Blame it on us but we are marketers. Every viewing eyeball is a marketing opportunity and labels ship out in volumes.

Here’s how to design and work with shipping labels that work for your business:

Ship marketing along with your product

Most ecommerce stores (and even traditional businesses) ship out hundreds of packages a month. The average shipping volume in the U.S alone is staggering. According to Internet Retailer, UPS reported a 3.5% increase in their second quarter delivery volume for the year 2012. In the U.S alone daily domestic packages increased to a total of 13. 08 packages. International packages stand at about 2.28 million packages.

That’s a lot of packages going out but why are these packages ignored as “things to do” rather than “things we can leverage on”?

Traditional marketing avenues are usually ignored. Emails suffer a pathetic open rate. Social media gets crowded by the day. When you send out product packages in physical mail, they are almost never ignored. Customers love to open their packages and fish their product out – that’s a lot of attention going to a single package.

Is there a way to leverage that attention? There is. Products have shipping labels on them and that’s your key to marketing.

Make labels work for your business

Labels are supposed to have product information such as address of manufacture, and other details such as shipping information, addresses, bar codes, etc. No one stops you from adding more information, though. Labels have space constraints too but they have more space available than what you could do with a business card, for instance.

What happens if you add a single, custom graphic and some content to each label on every package? What would happen if you add a QR code to a label to have customers’ signup for a loyalty reward (offered in appreciation for buying the product)?

If you ship out 100 packages a day with labels on each of these packages goading customers to signup for your newsletter, would this campaign fetch you better ROI than paid advertising?

You are already spending on labeling, printing, and shipping. So why should you ignore labels?

Forget traditional labels. Design labels that work for you

Work to develop labels that help you with repeat sales. For every label sticks to a product package, you could redirect customers to sign up for a variety of different offers that’ll benefit your business. Here are a few ideas:

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  • Make customers signup for your dedicated loyalty program.
  • Help customers earn more money from your private affiliate program (different from an affiliate program that you’d open to other affiliates).
  • Invite repeat customers (or lifetime customers) to become dedicated partners.
  • Use labels to redirect customers to landing pages where you could offer them special offers on another related line of products.
  • Make your customers signup for a special email series on how to use their products better.
  • Use QR codes on your labels to get your customers to leave testimonials through a contact form.
  • Offer your customers special coupons for their next purchase from your store.

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Those labels don’t have to be black and white with boring information. You could use these labels as lean and mean marketing machines.

Keep it cost-effective by using label design software

If you are making a lot of offers and a variety of design styles for each label, you can only imagine the overwhelming volume of designs that you’d need to develop if you have to make your product shipping labels work for you. If you have the budget, you could hire in-house design teams to work on label design. If you are a small business owner or an individual with a Magento store, the workload to just design labels can equate to a full-time job.

That’s when you’ll find the need for special label design software or all-in-one design software that you could use to speed up the time needed to design labels.

With label design software – that also ships with plenty of templates and easy to use interface to design a variety of marketing collateral for print – you can create multiple variations for designing labels and use them quickly and effectively.

Some web-to-print vendors and solution providers also provide you with print fulfillment services so that you don’t even have to print anything out. Place orders after you design your set of labels (or any other print material that you design online or by using the software) and the printed material is ready at your door for you to use.

Get labels. Stick them. Profit from them!

Track and repeat

As for all other forms of marketing, it makes sense to know what’s happening to each of your campaigns. Marketing by using labels for your store is another category of campaigns.

You’ll need to track results for each campaign by using tracking codes or other forms of tracking available. While it’s difficult to track results offline, a simple integration with your online properties such as opt-in forms, program signups, applications, form inputs, QR codes, and landing pages can all prove to make your label campaigns work for you.

The key is to use labels to get customers take action of some sort. When these action steps happen online, it’s easy to track your results.

Not every label you design will get you the results you seek. Not all campaigns work for you. Tracking results is another to help you design better, get feedback, rework on your label designs, and repeat campaigns with refined designs to get to the point where conversions happen automatically.

Do you use your labels effectively? Or are you wasting this unexpected marketing space on every product package that you ship out? What do you think about the effectiveness of this sort of a marketing campaign?

Spill out your ideas in the comments below!!

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