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How to Combine Your Direct Mail Campaign with Your Digital Strategy

November 16, 2015

It goes without saying that marketing can make or break a business, as it is essentially the business' voice to its intended audience. Therefore, marketing is instrumental in getting your company recognition within your industry.

Regardless of industry, business today can be a minefield fraught with obstacles that need to be overcome and/or negotiated. One of the best tools any company has in their arsenal for competing effectively is their marketing department. However, marketing is a multi-faceted bow with a multitude of different components that all need to work in perfect harmony to be truly successful in driving your company's brand awareness and revenue forward.

Two of the most integral cogs of any marketing machine in 2015 and beyond are direct mail marketing, such as postcards, and digital marketing. How you create cohesion between these two different forms of marketing will underpin the overall success of your marketing campaigns.


Introduction

The world of marketing is an ever evolving one. It is fair to say that direct mail is something that is omnipresent in the industry because nothing has yet been able to equal its effectiveness in driving sales and enhancing brand awareness.

That being said, it has now become part of a much more diverse set of marketing techniques brought about by the dawn of the internet age and digital marketing. Therefore, in order to maximize direct mail's effectiveness, a systematic approach to marketing should be devised to utilize a variety of techniques which reinforce each online and offline channel. Implementing digital techniques in conjunction with your direct mail actions will ensure maximum impact for your marketing dollar.

It is evident from any successful company that they do not rely on just one channel of marketing to achieve their business objectives. Instead, they have a multi-pronged approach using television, radio, display advertising, webinars, blog content, social media, email and others with direct mail and digital marketing tactics as the tip of the spear.

Most marketing departments today are well-informed on the effectiveness of direct mail as a tool for driving engagement and sales and, similarly, they are very aware of the need for digital marketing - be it email, social media or SEO. By successfully combining these two channels of marketing, it becomes possible to produce much more cohesive and holistic marketing campaigns.


Direct and Digital, Together as One

A significant way in which marketing has changed in the last few years is that direct mail and digital marketing campaigns have become interdependent on each other, chiefly through the complementary benefits each marketing medium has to offer.

It is inadvisable to begin a direct mail marketing campaign without first formulating a digital marketing strategy to support it. Instead of directing mail recipients to your business website's homepage, try creating a specially designed landing page that recipients of the direct mail campaign can be directed to. This allows you ability to track the effectiveness of any direct mail that you are sending out. Using this strategy, you can begin to see the benefits from both mediums. Not only can you track direct mail's effectiveness using digital analytics on your landing page to begin testing direct mail campaign designs, but once they visit your landing page, you can employ inbound marketing tactics to capture lead emails and funnel them into your email marketing drip campaigns!

For brands, social media is one of the most important elements of digital media today. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can highly influence the strength of your direct mail marketing campaigns. Below are some of the best ways using social media can enhance the value you receive from direct mail data:

Improve Your Customer Profiles - Encouraging people to follow you on social media gives you access to a veritable treasure trove of data about your customers. For example, you can see what they post about, what topics they're interested in, which brands they follow and various other elements of demographic information that can be highly valuable for creating effective direct mail campaigns. Information like that addresses a common concern about properly understanding the audience and developing a relevant customer profile and campaigns that relate to those interests.

Use Social Media To Canvas Opinion - Your social media channels are fantastically positioned as a means for immediate engagement with your customers on a day-to-day basis for all manners of research and interactions. For direct mail purposes, the ability to survey customer opinions about products is one of the most valuable. For example, you can run a survey on your Facebook page to ask about product interaction stories and then use the data in your next direct mail campaign to showcase the popularity of your latest product. Perhaps you even use survey statistics, such as "90% of our Facebook followers surveyed agree that our skin cream improved their complexion." These sorts of figures help create a positive opinion and the credibility of your product and can be particularly influential when deployed with direct mail.

Social Media Reviews - Reviews are among the most important factors in helping convince "on-the-fence" people to make a purchase. Social media platforms have various plug-ins that can be installed to collate genuine reviews from your customers about your products. With consent, these social media reviews can be implanted into your direct mail marketing campaigns to reinforce the image of your product quality and to showcase how favorably your product is being received by similar demographics online.

Cross Promotion Across Platforms - Using social media channels to cross-promote is an essential marketing strategy. If you're not already using it, it is one strategy that is likely to drastically increase your marketing campaign's success. An example of the sort of cross-promotion you can carry out over direct mail and social media marketing is a new product launch. You can use direct mail to gain and gauge interest by redirecting mail recipients to follow you on one of your social media channels so they can be the first in their neighborhood to own the product or receive beta invites, thus creating a buzz about your product launch across your various social media channels. Following the launch, you can reinforce the chance of product success with a well-coordinated direct mail campaign to targeted demographics based on initial users.

The most important element to effectively utilize social media alongside direct mail is the understanding that consumers don't simply engage with companies via one channel, but instead respond to multiple different touch-points and marketing channels both online and offline. Make sure that you factor this knowledge and your customer demographic information into how you market to them, as it is crucial to accomplishing your business objectives.


A Question of Perception

Another reason using digital marketing and direct mail marketing alongside each other is so critical is because these avenues are invariably perceived differently by recipients. Perhaps one of your customer segments only responds to offline marketing because they feel it is more personal. Perhaps the reverse is true, and they only respond to online interactions because that can engage the business in conversation directly. Either way, making sure you have all your bases covered will be a catalyst for driving successful marketing results because the reality is that the majority of people will fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

When compared to digital marketing strategies, tangible pieces of marketing like direct mail postcards and brochures will seem to evoke different responses in the recipient. Don't believe us? A great example of the way consumers respond to different types of marketing can be witnessed in a study by Millward Brown that showcases how, generally speaking, a piece of direct mail marketing feels more "real" to the recipient and, as a result, is a far more effective tool at brand building and brand awareness than its heavily used and competitive digital counterparts (like email). This is something that needs to considered when combining your direct and digital marketing campaigns as digital exhaustion can be slightly offset with tangible marketing materials.

Additionally, the research goes on to say that the sensation of holding something physical will trigger something in the recipient's brain that makes them more predisposed to taking an action. Therefore, if the direct mail piece received by the audience is genuine with engaging copy, its marketing effectiveness really is difficult to top just because of the medium in which the message was delivered. Generally, the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns can only be topped by manual interactions via phone or in-person visits, which are not efficiently scalable.

But we're not here to say that one medium of marketing is SO MUCH better than the other that it should replace it. Remember, digital marketing and direct mail aim at the same goals - to create more engaged consumers, improve brand awareness and increase sales/revenue. The methods of your approach to manipulating all the tools in the marketing shed will be instrumental in accomplishing your goals, and it would be foolish to engage in the marketplace without a comprehensive understanding of the interconnectedness of marketing mediums. You wouldn't participate in a golf tournament with no putters, would you? How could you expect to succeed? Every golf club and every market channel has its benefits and must be used in consort if you hope to be competitive.


Powerful Allies

Sometimes, when two complementary forces join together, they become exponentially stronger as a result. This is certainly applicable to the synergies created by direct mail marketing and digital marketing, with a caveat - consistency, specifically brand consistency. Few things will prove more confusing to consumers than a brand that doesn't maintain a high level of image consistency across their various marketing channels (this is why logos are important) and anything you're doing in your direct mail should reflect the branding and tone of your online presence and vice versa. We talk in more detail about this in our blog post, Using Direct Mail to Increase Brand Awareness.

For companies that don't maintain a high level of consistency (in branding, message, and frequency) across their marketing, their marketing efforts can actually have a negative impact, resulting in disengagement amongst your target demographics. Combining traditional methods of marketing (like direct mail) with more modern digital marketing (like email and social media) channels is what today's consumers have come to expect from their favored brands. If you're not performing consistent marketing across both channels, then it is possible, and likely, you're missing out on plenty of potential revenue and customer engagement.


Feeding Digital with Direct

Throughout this post we have established that direct mail and digital marketing are a team, where one stream feeds another. Consequently, marketing campaigns should always be approached with this mentality.

Use direct mail marketing such as postcards or brochures to redirect recipients to your online landing page, social media profile, or shopping cart. There's no escaping the fact that a large percentage of sales today happen online, so driving traffic to a website that is ready to convert prospects and leads into a paying customers is a highly valuable marketing tactic. There's a wide range of call-to-actions direct mail can promote to your target audience, so test them out and find the best fit for your product, industry, or audience to improve your customer journey experience.

You'll likely need a little out-of-the-box creativity when designing your direct mail campaigns in today's competitive market. Mailbox real estate is at a real premium, and it is becoming ever more difficult to stand out from the crowd. In addition to creatively designed postcard to drive traffic to your website, should consider additions like promotions, incentives, and memorable marketing campaigns to help compel your consumers to visit your website and ultimately funnel them through to the checkout or sign up form.


Setting Up Your Goals

It is always a good idea to consider your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) when marketing your business in order to monitor the value you receive from your marketing dollars. Goals are extremely important for achieving progress with the growth of your business. They should be clearly set (i.e. To be the #1 Real Estate Agent in my city by 2016), but achieving goals can sometimes be a murky endeavor. This is the purpose of KPIs, a quantitative means of measuring your progress towards a goal. Perhaps it is one of the metrics below, or perhaps something else comes to mind. There is no limit to the measurable metrics that can be important to a business. They help to dictate which type of marketing tactics you should roll out in order to achieve your KPIs and eventually your goals. Some frequently used performance factors to consider include:

  • Cost Per Lead (CPL) - This is highly utilized metric, and one that can largely dictate your marketing strategy as a whole. If you know your lifetime value of a customer, you can set parameters in which your CPL and Cost per Acquisition (CPA) should not exceed your range to make a profit. Both direct mail and digital marketing avenues can yield impressive results in the CPL sphere. Making sure that you've set up a means of tracking acquisition costs is crucial for you to accurately apportion the CPL amount to the various avenues of marketing that you are using.
  • Response Rate (RR) - Response rate can be a relatively generic term in most circumstances, because a response can mean anything from generating a website visit to capturing an email or social media follower based on the specific campaign you're running. Basically, a response is considered to be whatever action your call-to-action requests from your campaign recipient. When it comes to maximizing response rates, as we've discussed, it makes sense to combine your direct mail and digital marketing tactics. Again, this is imperative to think through and have a system set up to collect the response rate you receive from your various marketing activities. This allows you to justify your marketing activities and expenses. You can accomplish this by creating customized URLs on your direct mail campaigns, so you can track that website's traffic with tools like Google Analytics.
  • Reach - This is essentially the number of people your marketing efforts touch. In the digital world, we sometimes call this the number of "unique impressions." It is quite clear that through combining direct mail and digital marketing you will be able to enhance the impact of your marketing reach at the cost of increasing your total reach. However, in many cases, it is possible your databases will be different between your direct mail and digital customers. As a side effect, it can increase your reach unintentionally. This metric can be further qualified to track impactful impressions with parameters to include only those which receive your direct mail and email or targeted Facebook advertising impressions.

Establish clear performance factors that are important to you as a business.


Understanding Strengths

Marketing is multi-faceted and requires a systematic approach to engaging with customers. Each different type of marketing has its own particular strengths and weaknesses, which is why combining digital and direct tactics and strategies are so important.

For example, when it comes to response rate, it is generally accepted that direct mail has the highest response rate. This is because it typically resonates more than other online marketing activities. However, this does not mean all your marketing eggs should fit into one basket. Direct mail's effectiveness scales its impact as you add additional marketing channels. This is why the biggest brands see the importance of requisitioning the help of all marketing options at their disposal.

In 2015, the three most popular channels that companies typically utilize to market to their customers are direct mail, email, and social media. Integrating the three channels with a cohesive strategy to enhance their customer journey generally achieves above average results.


Conclusion

As a marketer or business owner, engaging with customers on social media or in-person to create full customer profiles will put you in the best position to understand what your customers want. Then from a marketing point of view, the best practice is to craft your messages coherently, in innovative ways. Continue engaging your customers across your direct mail and digital marketing strategies. Rinse and repeat.

Integrated direct and digital marketing campaigns are always going to be the most successful, from a return on investment (ROI) point of view. Coherent and consistent messaging across your different marketing platforms to your core customers will improve your brand and business results.