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​Taking a Look at the Future of Direct Mail Marketing

December 4, 2015

Mar 16, 2016 10:09:39 PM

As with many forms of marketing, direct mail must evolve in order to remain as effective and efficient as it's been traditionally. This is especially true to keep up with the ever-growing realms of digital and social media marketing.

Direct mail is one of the oldest and most successful forms of marketing to specific groups of consumers. There are multiple factors that have allowed it to remain a leading strategy for many companies whose goal is to achieve the optimum return on investment.

For objectives such as building brand awareness and encouraging consumers to take action, direct mail marketing still delivers results and offers innovative advancements to the tried and true method. Thanks to integrations with CRM and tracking tools, direct mail marketing maintains a strong and effective position among the many tactics offered to businesses today.

Introduction

Business who use direct mail as a primary means to communicate to their customer base have seen the enhancements over the years and are able to capitalize on its ability to engage and measure customer interaction.

Direct mail marketing encompasses many forms of printed promotional materials such as postcards, brochures, and flyers, but paper size is no longer the only customizable feature of direct mail. While deciding the size and display of your direct mail marketing piece is crucial, communicating the right message can make a positive impact by being easy to take action and relatable. Thanks to current technology, it's easier than ever before.


Increased Personalization

Customers today expect personalization. It has been made clear through a variety of research performed through surveys and studying buyer behaviour.

The ability to accurately segment consumer databases and personalize messages, wording, and visualization are capabilities companies should consider utilizing in their current and future direct mail strategies. Furthermore, as technology increasingly integrates with the direct mail marketing medium, personalization can play a larger role in crafting your customer's journey through your online portals. Campaigns can harness new opportunities to set businesses apart from the competition by capturing attention, therefore placing itself in the front-of-mind of its consumers.

Customization may seem more predictable for tactics similar to email marketing because of an assumed simplicity of digital communication. However, much of today's direct mail marketing capabilities are based on similar CRM data and correlating custom fields. Now, creating direct mail campaigns with customized fields is a cost effective way to improve the return on investment because of the more effective messaging. Not only does this help you stand out to your And the best part is many companies are still not yet aware of this capability, so it puts you in the driver's seat to be a marketing guru within your industry!

Even if a return on investment is more important to you than brand building when you think about possible direct mail actions, then personalization will still have a direct relationship to your campaign's return on investment (ROI) potential. Anything that you're sending out over the next 12 months that facilitates a feeling of specialty for the recipient will increase the likeliness of conversion to whatever call-to-action your campaign is optimized for.


Test, Test, & Test Again

On the other hand, I don't want us to kid ourselves: optimizing the message and design of direct mail, as with any marketing medium, is still an essential practice for the ROI-minded marketers (which we should all strive to be). It is easy to personalize and order campaigns, but to be successful in marketing, there are few undertakings more essential than testing your direct mail because, without it, it's difficult to determine the most effective way of engaging your customers (the whole purpose of advertising in the first place). Luckily, technological innovations and improvements are also making it increasingly straightforward to create ways of testing the impact of your direct mail campaigns and, as time is any indicator, these capabilities will continue to improve.

One example in which we've been able to lead this charge is by creating specific landing pages for a mailing campaign where each individual mail piece carries a unique web code, QR or login code that, when used, allows us to track exactly who accessed it, their address and from which campaign they responded to. Then, we send you an email with all of that gathered information in real time so you can act on it with no lag time and can help you move that prospective customer into your lead funnel. All of these added services are possible because technology has enabled us to include these services with no extra cost for the mailings. Not using us? The alternative method, although more cumbersome, is still extremely effective in telling you which campaigns are driving customer engagement:

  1. Create unique landing page URLs on your website that correlate with specific direct mail campaigns
  2. Enable Google analytics on those landing pages
  3. Include those URLs as a call-to-action on your mail pieces in order to direct prospective customers to these pages
  4. Set a time each week to monitor the analytics of those pages.

In this way, you can successfully determine which direct mail marketing campaigns are outperforming the others. We highly recommend a lead capture system on those landing pages in the form of an opt-in email list or some other form to capture the customer data to enable your action of qualifying prospects.

Split testing direct mail campaigns will become more advanced and simplified as the fusion of technology continues with this marketing space and it will be one of the most integral tools for understanding how to create a cost-effective, high-performing marketing strategy using direct mail such as postcards, brochures, and catalogs.

Utilizing technological tools such as Google Analytics and other analytical tools will (if not already) become the norm for all marketing teams over the next twelve months as it is key to understanding, and then replicating, both the successful and unsuccessful components of any given strategy that is implemented, and both are important. There is a veritable treasure trove of data and knowledge to be unearthed from within these types of analytical tools and they really supplement the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns by giving you a much more insightful understanding of how your strategies are performing.

Keeping abreast of the latest technological and analytical innovations pertaining to direct mail will definitely help companies stay ahead in 2016 and maximize the potential of their marketing activities. Any business that doesn't use testing tools to their advantage over the next twelve months will likely see themselves slipping behind their competitors in the direct mail marketing realm.


Understanding Attribution

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half."
- John Wanamaker

There is a famous saying within marketing circles attributed to a merchant by the name of John Wanamaker who said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half." This is indicative of a chief problem that faces marketing teams both now and in the future - namely, that of attribution - but innovations within the marketing world are making it a more streamlined process to successfully attribute the results of campaigns efficiently.

In order to really make the most of your understanding of attribution as a marketing entity in 2016 and beyond, you need to make sure all your touchpoints, both on and offline, are coordinated and working in tandem as opposed to separate entities which can often make them more difficult to track.

More and more companies today decide that working with an agency is the most effective means of ensuring that they are successfully tracking their attribution from direct mail and marketing actions in general and this could be something that would be beneficial to businesses of a certain size.

For example, for small-to-medium-sized businesses that might not be particularly knowledgeable in factors such as split-testing, attribution, and analytics, it can prove invaluable to defer to companies like marketing agencies who will be able to steer your campaigns in the right direction.

Attribution is, of course, of value to a company if you know what to do with the data that it is serving up and this isn't always as straightforward as it might seem. It is crucial to look at the data that emerges objectively and not let any pre-existing notions you have about certain forms of marketing or advertising methods influence your analysis.

Direct mail has always been a great way of generating buzz about a company, particularly when it is delivered with forethought and insightfulness. This fact won't change in 2016, but there is now a critical importance in understanding technological innovations in the marketing industry in order to guarantee that your direct mail is effectively reaching its potential.


Direct Mail - Immortal Marketing

In the marketing sphere, the unique capability of direct mail to engage consumers is what sets it apart from other marketing channels. When compared to channels like social media (which can be hit or miss) and email (which is often seen as obtrusive if not done correctly), direct mail really does excel at grabbing the attention of consumers, which is why it remains in the arsenal of marketing departments as a "go-to" channel.

The most compelling reason that direct mail can be described as immortal in marketing is largely because of its ability to provide a platform for brands to deliver lengthy and persuasive messaging that really drives interaction and engagement from customers in a way that email and social media often struggle to do. Not to mention the fact that people today are increasingly feeling internet fatigue via their email and social media channels.

So, over the next few months and into 2016, you should strongly consider implementing direct mail as one of the cornerstones of your marketing campaigns.


Direct Mail to Drive New Customers

One of the main things likely to be noticeable in direct mail in 2016 is that more and more companies will look to utilize the platform to acquire new customers as well as to sell to existing ones as a form of customer loyalty. This is because direct mail has ironically re-entered the public domain with the new fusion with technology as one of the most innovative means of outreaching to specific demographics. This trend is something that an ever-growing number of companies are beginning to realize and capitalize upon its resurgence.

Acquiring new customers isn't something that is always easy but it is clear that direct mail will be more and more intrinsic to how companies capture potential new clients and customers and 2016 will likely see various new innovations that make this even more likely.

In the last few months, we've seen things like near-field communication really take off in direct mail and it will be exciting to see what sort of advancements become mainstays within direct mail and other forms of marketing over the next 12 months.

It is innovative campaigns that will really help to ensure the acquisition of new customers in 2016. Be prepared to think outside of the box with the sort of direct mail that you are delivering and be smart about who you're delivering it to, as it will be instrumental to bring about an increase in return on investment.


Importance of Storytelling

The trend for most successful direct mail marketing pieces is moving in the direction of telling an ongoing story as opposed to using throwaway deals or content pieces that don't resonate with consumers.

By telling a well-written compelling, on-going and coherent story, you can connect your business to your recipients on an emotional level and thereby make them more likely to complete an action such as making a purchase or becoming brand evangelists.

It is extremely noticeable which brands are doing direct marketing well and it is the ones that dedicate the time it deserves to it to make sure what they're are producing is genuinely engaging, informative and compelling and isn't merely the process of creating content for content's sake.

Telling a story with your marketing collateral will become the chief consideration for marketing departments over the next 12 months. Any brand that is failing to connect and resonate with their consumers through well-written, emotive copy and campaigns are definitely going to be missing a trick from a marketing point of view.


Tried & Trusted

One of the principal reasons that direct mail will continue to prosper in 2016 is the fact that it has a track record of success that goes back decades. There are few things for which the old adage of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is more suitable than that of direct mail marketing.

It is abundantly clear that the future of direct mail is one that will reinforce its position as a successful and integral form of marketing. It will continue to be assisted by, rather than replaced with, emerging forms of technological advances in marketing. Direct mail has never been stronger positioned and it remains just as influential now in a digital age as it has always been.

The year 2016 is sure to bring plenty of technological innovations related to how companies choose to market their services but direct mail won't be making way for them. In fact, most of these new innovations will be created as a means of making direct mail stronger and more relevant, not less.

For anyone concerned about the sun setting on direct mail marketing, the reality is that it has never been stronger. It isn't in danger of being replaced by new technological introductions and, instead, is becoming ever more valuable because of them. As marketing teams continue to use these new innovations alongside the tried and tested effectiveness of direct mail, their potential to create more engaging, action-enticing marketing campaigns only increases.