This article originally appeared in the March/April, 2018 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.
Synergistic marketing both in the physical world and digital world are going to soon be as necessary as having a website and a social media presence. Today, a business wouldn’t be considered legitimate if it didn’t have a social media presence, just like 10 years ago you were definitely missing out if you didn’t have a website. Things are certainly moving in that direction when it comes to bridging offline and online marketing efforts. They have to be done together, kind of like hot dogs and mustard, apple pie and ice cream... you get the point. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you are going to have to very soon.
Google and Facebook as standalone marketing initiatives have value; there’s no doubt about it. However, just as with the evolution of mail to email, the noise level on these platforms has reached the pitch of a constant roar and is rapidly approaching the status of background noise. By contrast, the postal mailbox has become less crowded, therefore making it a great place for promotions to get noticed. Millennials are finding physical mail a new and shiny item after having grown up looking at LCD screens since birth. Consumers are 77% more likely to remember what they read in print over what they see on a screen.
This leaves the million dollar question: If direct mail is an effective offline marketing tool, what is the best online marketing vertical to combine with direct mail?
Some methods to consider include:
- Landing Pages, QR Codes, and Personalized URLs (PURLs) These tracking methods will work to a degree and are more effective in specific industries such as financial, real estate, healthcare, and auto. As far as QR codes, although a good idea, they have never gained wide acceptance (although that may be changing). When using these tracking methods, just be aware that most respondents will navigate to your main website, thus muddying the results.
- Retargeting on FB, Google, etc. It’s all about impressions and repeat messages that reinforce the printed materials. Get more bang for the buck and help sear that printed image into the minds of the consumers. Eighty percent of sales are made between the eighth and 12th contact. Retargeting interested people will ensure that no money is left on the table and those interested people are driven back to your website to convert…. which is trackable.
- Cookie-less Targeting, IP Appends, and Other Cutting-Edge Technology I am an early adopter by nature and think these technologies are going to develop and mature. They aren’t cheap, but it’s looking like they can actually have some real value to targeting the same people as the mailings online. Keep your eye on these as they are exciting possibilities.
- Call-Tracking/SMS Response This is another effective way to capture responses coming in and leveraging the investment of the direct mail campaign. Tracking the calls, capturing identities, and allowing your prospects to respond via SMS is well worth the investment — and it is cheap to boot!
- Hyper-Personalized Direct Mail This, too, I would call an emerging technology to be watched and tried. It’s direct mail… in reverse! This takes the anonymous visitors to your website and through some magic of IP Appends and data merges drops a personalized piece of direct mail into their street mailbox. The piece is specifically designed to prompt the visitor to buy or take some action based on personalized information obtained from their visit to the site. Some might consider it wizardry and cool, while others might consider it kind of creepy. Either way, it’s becoming more mainstream and is proving its effectiveness with groundbreaking stats.
- Informed Delivery by USPS This is probably the only real integration between offline and online, and it’s controlled by the USPS. See your snail mail on your mobile device or computer before it arrives and click on the offer! Right now, there are fewer than 10,000,000 subscribers to this service, but I love it. Sign up at USPS.gov.
- Email Oh, email… the least expensive marketing vehicle around and one of the most complained about. The bottom line is you have to email; however there is a time and a place to make it effective. Combining email with a direct mail strategy can increase its effectiveness and enhance its relevancy.
Basically, you have to integrate. I know it’s confusing and I know it’s a lot to learn, but like most things new and complicated, we have the opportunity to outsource it to someone who knows what they’re doing. There is no magic bullet for any marketing effort — it’s all trial and error!