January 8, 2015
The Comeback Kid: Direct Mail Is Back
Today’s consumers are exposed to 30,000 commercial messages a day. With this constant bombardment of marketing ammunition, how can a brand stand out from the noise? Television ads? Billboards? Direct mail? Consider direct mail. Some say the continual increase in junk mail has rendered direct mail to be ineffective. Others say the price of printing and shipping of catalogs, postcards, offer letters, and other content items yields a cost per acquisition (CPA) that isn’t sustainable. But is this really true?
Direct mail is back
Contrary to what many believe, direct mail may be a quiet winner. Recent studies show that 77 percent of Generation X and 63 percent of Generation Y consumers have purchased products through direct mail. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that direct mail has a better response rate than email. These suggest that direct mail is a potentially under-used arrow in the modern marketer’s quiver. One reason for direct mail’s bad rap might be that we’re still getting over the ‘90s hangover, when companies sent millions of awful mailings to broadly-targeted neighborhoods, and depended on the law of big numbers to attain ROI. Fast forward to today though and things have changed. Consumers are fatigued by email, and many have given up on “Inbox zero” thanks to spam, forwards, group emails, etc. Yet our post boxes are light, and a beautiful mailing can actually brighten our day. Also, today’s marketer can use big data to find-target audiences by geography, profession, demographics, and online/offline behavior, and easily design beautiful content using web-based software. Sending a personalized note or card in the mail lends credibility and authenticity to the fleeting nature of online relationships, and brings a fresh element to the multi-touch lead to customer conversion funnel.
How to personalize direct mail - the easy way
So how are innovations in direct marketing technology, such as access to lead intelligence and automated mail services, coupled with growing consumer email fatigue, creating new opportunities for marketers? One is to provide an unforgettable customer experience at every decision point of the buying journey, by offering a string of consistent nudges both online and offline. Imagine this: someone requests information about your most popular product on your website. Over the coming weeks, you email them curated links to consumer review sites, highly-cited articles by industry thought leaders, and buyer considerations to review and study before investing in area x. Your extremely busy and important buyer is skeptical yet mildly interested in your emails, and eventually clicks one. This action triggers a mail service, such as MailLift, to send them a handwritten note, personalized with content you’ve pre-typed and dynamic fields that populate names, titles, and recent history pulled from your CRM or marketing system. Your buyer is impressed when she receives your well-intentioned letter, so accepts the offer to request a free sales evaluation by following a QR code to fill out an online form (which triggers an immediate “thank you” text message).
Getting physical with direct mail in 2015
Technology is making it easy to put the personal touch into digital marketing, while saving hours (or days) of manual effort on the execution. Adding personalized direct mail into your automated marketing campaigns, as described in the customer journey above, is an interesting way to bring leads (who are people too), companies, and customers closer together while ensuring a consistent online/offline experience. Try strategically incorporating personalized direct mail into your marketing, and share the results with us below!