When thinking of direct mail, you might imagine big, colorful postcards from the local car dealership or the latest advertisements from a mortgage company, all of which end up in the same place: the trash.
Knowing this, why would you, as a marketer, want to reach out to customers through direct mail? After all, most your customers are using digital channels. Wouldn’t that be the best place to reach them?
Statistics tell an interesting story, one that might change your mind: a 2011 report found 50% of customers preferred direct mail over email, and up to 80 percent say they open most direct mail – even if they consider it to be junk.
And while marketers are sending less direct mail and more emails, open rates for marketing emails are steadily declining. Direct mail and digital marketing, however, aren’t an either-or proposition. Combining these two marketing methods creates a powerful synergy, one that could create amazing results for your next campaign. But where should you start? Check out these five ways to begin integrating direct mail and digital marketing now.
1. Fusing direct mail and email
According to DMN, when executed correctly, combining direct mail and email could lead to response rates that are more than double the typical results. This could seriously impact your ROI. When starting your campaign, it’s important to send direct mail to prospects first.
A week after prospects receive the letter, follow up with an email. Continue to follow up through email up to four times for each printed mail piece. Also, don’t forget to create a strong call to action for each marketing piece. Readers must feel a great sense of urgency to respond to your offer. Test different calls to action in both your email and direct mail pieces to determine which one provides the best results.
Key takeaway: More effectively capture your target market’s attention through direct mail, and continue to drive them to action through email marketing. Since email marketing is used more frequently by marketers, it’s best to start by sending a direct mail piece first.
2. Tie direct mail to interactive marketing
A Utah-based digital marketing agency combined direct mail with digital marketing to drive greater engagement with its customers. The company sends a holiday card to customers each year, but recently, it decided to combine digital and direct mail for greater results. The company started by sending a holiday mailer to its clients. The front of the card included a poem focused on the company’s core values, and inside, there was a $20 bill and a QR code. Scanning the code led customers to a YouTube video that featured staffers expressing their sincere gratitude to their customers.
But what about the cash? Why send a $20 bill?
The video asked recipients to use the cash inside the card to do a charitable act and then share those actions via a tweet using the hashtag #20helps. It showed that small acts of kindness add up.
For example, one client tweeted, “Getting in the spirit. $20 gift cards to help @VOAUT and SLC homeless teens.” Another shared how they gave the $20 bill to a cashier at a local store during checkout to apply to the next person in line. Integrating direct mail and digital marketing helped this company communicate its core values and solidify its relationships with customers.
Key takeaway: Use direct mail and digital marketing to amplify messaging. When using these channels together, keep the message simple and consistent throughout both types of marketing efforts.
3. Drive customers to a digital offer
One great strategy that fuses direct mail and digital marketing is mailing a printed piece and then driving customers to a high-value lead magnet online. For example, Verizon and Motorola joined forces to reach their shared target audience. The goal was to capture prospects’ attention prior to a major upcoming event: the Super Bowl.
The campaign kicked off with a direct mailer sent to a targeted list of prospective customers. The call to action drove customers to a landing page that provided a shot at winning a pair of NFL Super Bowl tickets.
Customers could reach the page by scanning a QR code included in the direct mailer or by entering the landing page URL (both allowed easy tracking). Once at the landing page, prospects were asked to watch a short video about the companies’ offerings, and then they were provided with an opportunity to enter the contest. The companies used the entry information to move customers through their sales funnels in the future.
Key Takeaway: Moving prospects from direct mail to digital channels requires a compelling reason. Evaluate your target audience and ask the following critical question: “What will drive them to action?” Create an offer they simply can’t refuse, one that will motivate and entice them to take quick action.
4. Driving engagement and spreading awareness
You can also merge direct mail and digital marketing efforts to drive engagement with your existing audience and spread the word about new offerings or upcoming changes. Software company Adobe did just that when it made a major change to its Creative Suite (which would only be available via the cloud in the future). A direct mail and digitally integrated campaign was created to reach the target audience and drive engagement at a critical point in time.
In the past, a core segment of the company’s target audience, namely, print designers, were ignoring the company’s offers. The company wanted to reach this important group of designers prior to the upcoming software change. It launched a campaign titled “Print is dead,” which would address a major pain point.
Designers who read the piece would find it actually explained print is not dead, and instead, the piece honored the work designers were doing.
The audience loved the piece, and since Adobe made it available through digital channels, they shared it through Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. Customers even requested additional printed pieces of the mailer to share with friends.
Combining print and digital allowed Adobe to reconnect with an important part of its target audience at a critical point in time, which helped drive adoption of their new product.
Key takeaway: Direct mail is an effective tool for capturing attention and sharing details about upcoming changes or product launches. Blend direct mail and digital channels for greater impact and to reach audiences more effectively.
Creating Synergy between Direct Mail and Digital Channels: Dos and Don’ts
Are you ready to launch a direct mail and digital marketing campaign but not sure where to start? If so, check out these dos and don’ts to create greater success in your first campaign.
Do drive the audience to valuable digital marketing pieces. Create high-value content, such as white papers, eBooks, and reports address the audience’s pain points. Use customized URLs to track results so you know where leads are coming from and can iterate based on these results moving forward. Also, consider gating these assets, which requires prospects to enter their name and email, to help continue to move prospects through the sales funnel.
Don’t hard sell in the first mailing. The first direct mail piece is all about starting a conversation. Building this relationship will create the framework for future sales. So, with the first direct mail piece, ask for a small action (not a sale). For example, “Download this white paper by visiting this URL or using a QR code.”
Do use only one call to action. Customers may get lost if you include more than one call to action. For example, “Download this white paper or visit our website to learn more.” Barry Schwartz, author of “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less,” says, “Choose less and feel better.” A single call to action helps customers feel better; they know what to do next.
Don’t give everything away. Create an element of mystery in your direct mail piece. Key in on the audience’s specific pain point, then drive them to the next action in the sequence, which can be a digital channel. For example, “Check out Twitter to find the answer” or “Download this case study to learn how you can increase sales by 400 percent in 4 weeks or less.” Keep customers in suspense so you can move them from one channel (direct mail) to another channel (digital) more seamlessly.
Customers are more digitally connected than ever. They are tethered to their devices, feeling a sense of panic when they’re more than a few feet away. As a result, they are also becoming numb to all the digital noise. When you use direct mail to capture that critical first piece of attention, you effectively cut through all that noise. As the THX message in the movie theaters says, “The audience is listening.”
As marketers, this solves the first and very critical challenge: We must capture attention. Once you have that attention, you can more effectively communicate marketing messages and generate the desired results.