The COVID-19 pandemic and the move to a more remote, digital lifestyle has only served to increase the sheer volume of digital marketing we encounter every day. The explosion of virtual and digital marketing efforts in the last 20 months has resulted in what’s referred to as “digital burnout,” a phenomenon that’s leaving audiences cold to the barrage of screen-based marketing.
While print marketing strategies like direct mail have always been a way to differentiate yourself from the competition, this digital overload is driving a renewed emphasis on print media and direct mail specifically because consumers are responding to it.
A recent report from Valassis revealed 31% of consumers were more excited to receive direct mail today than prior to the pandemic. In addition, Forbes recently reported that 42% of people surveyed indicated they actually read the direct mail pieces they receive.
Digital burnout aside, the reasons for the surge in consumer response to direct mail pieces could be attributed to a number of factors. Direct mail pieces are physical objects that can create a stronger connection with a brand as opposed to an email or display ad. Direct mail pieces possess a physicality that has been missing in so many of our lives during the pandemic. A well-conceived direct mail piece fosters an image of an actual human being behind the creation of a physical object intended just for you.
But with so many marketers returning to direct mail as a key component of their marketing strategies, ‘well-conceived’ is the operative word as the ability to cut through the white noise in print media is perhaps more critical than ever before.
With this in mind, let’s examine a handful of ways to make your direct mail piece a cut above the competition to reach your print media goals and create a lasting relationship with your customer.
It may seem like a small consideration, but the physical space your direct mail piece occupies can go a long way toward making it stand out in a crowd. A large part of the size consideration comes from an acute understanding of the campaign you’re creating, the product you’re promoting, and your objectives for the direct mailer itself. A postcard might be the right size and shape for driving attendance to a webinar or an upcoming virtual event, while a lumpy is likely more appropriate for helping consumers understand the value proposition of a specific product or solution.
Choosing the right size is not only critical for the focus of the content, but it’s also key in making sure your branding is represented as holistically as possible. For example, a postcard may not offer you enough space to incorporate your logos or other visual elements that create brand recognition with consumers, whereas a dimensional mailer may not be the most cost-effective or focused application to announce an open house or virtual gathering.
Make your mailer targeted and relevant
Consumers cannot unsee their digital experience. In this day and age, they are very much informed on how online brands and social media platforms track, store, and leverage data at every touch point. In addition, consumers understand marketers use algorithms and analytics to serve up content and offers that are most likely to resonate with them.
Consumers understand the rules of the game — and the majority would rather receive personalized offers via print as well, as opposed to generic one-size-fits-all promotions. Leveraging critical data points about consumer behavior such as buying and/or browsing histories in both brick-and-mortar and digital spaces can help you create relevant content offers, and personalization methods like variable printing platforms help create a unique and individualized experience for your consumer.
This is also where auditing your leads and segmenting them into the appropriate buckets based on where they are in the sales cycle will help you pinpoint the contacts in your database who are best suited for a specific direct mail campaign, which will further help you tailor the content of the mailer to speak to their challenges or pain points.
Make your mailer useful & dynamic
Rather than just printing your website on the direct mailer or including information about your social media handles, consider how you can use technology to make the mailer dynamic, useful, and easy to use. For example, including a QR code or an AR marker to help your recipient interact with your business in an interactive, engaging manner will both increase the usefulness of your direct mailer and make a positive impression in the mind of your recipient.
It’s also important to include a clear and concise call-to-action that’s relevant to both the content of the direct mail piece and your target consumer. A concrete CTA accomplishes a couple of things in terms of targeted, relevant content: first, it transforms your direct mail piece into something that drives lead generation as opposed to a mere announcement that your company exists, and second, it helps you track ROI as you can measure the number of desired actions your CTA produces.
Connect the online and offline experience
To further this idea of linking the physical world with the digital space, creating a digital workflow to supplement your direct mail piece helps support continued engagement and interest in your product or solution.
If your direct mail campaign gets someone to make a first-time purchase, follow that up with a referral offer for them to share with a friend or a discount code towards their next purchase. Continue the communication sequence from there. Repeat business, retention, and loyalty cannot happen unless you engage your customers on an ongoing basis and through the channels where they spend their time. Consider your direct mail as the on ramp for consumers to experience your brand, products, or solutions in an omni-channel way.
Quality over quantity
Remember: a direct mailer is a tangible encounter. You want your recipients to stop, look, explore, and enjoy this experience. Lackluster creative, flimsy paper stock, and poor print quality are not going to entice recipients to truly engage with your mailer. If you’ve done your homework and created a targeted campaign aimed at those who will be the most receptive to your messaging, you can reallocate resources you may have used for a larger print run toward focusing on the creative elements to ensure a quality print piece that actually sticks with consumers.
Remember that print has a greater shelf life than digital communications, especially in today’s landscape where many consumers are at the tipping point with digital burnout. Your direct mail piece may sit on a desk or table for days after it arrives, or it may be passed around from the original recipient to those who may also find your offer of interest. As more marketers race to capitalize on the power direct mail currency wields, you want to ensure your piece has the metaphorical legs to hold up for the long haul.