nextbigthing“A game changer”, “a channel killer” “digital revolution”… it seems that each time we discover a new communication application or new approach to lead generation that people can’t wait to write off a whole channel or discipline.

But is this either/or, do or die approach really realistic or even appropriate? Doesn’t marketing 101 tell us to choose the most appropriate channel for our target audience and keep your messaging consistent?

Even with all the talk around digital channels, in the US alone, direct mail is expected to grow to $13.8 billion in the next 4 years. By merging digital and physical advertising, using above and below the line applications, marketers can see improvements to their ROI that are just too good to ignore.
But, Direct Mail seems to so often have it’s neck on the chopping board! Rather than ripping direct mail completely from your plans, why not grab it by the scruff of the neck, give it a good shake down and demand it work harder for its place in your campaigns?
It may be a while since you’ve used it so here’s 3 quick reminders on how to make good old direct mail work harder!
Farm the database
Make your data work as hard as it possibly can for you. Collecting data is one thing, turning it into usable information is another. With all this talk about big data, let’s just strip it right back. Make your message as personal and as relevant as possible by farming your database and using profile, transactional and behavioural data. Farm your “smart database” and through testing and iterations use direct mail to reach an audience that are proven to respond to that channel, who are interested in the specific message delivered in the mail piece and who’s reactions you can measure.
A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.
An offer of an incentive is one thing. Sending them the potential reward to touch and feel in advance is a completely different proposition.  By including an actual eftpos gift card, (rather than an image of a store card), in your mail packs, you can dramatically increase response rates; whether it’s as an enticement to change behaviour or to provide you with information. Because eftpos gift cards can be sent inactive, you can control your budget by only paying to load the reward dollars to those  who qualify. Corporate gift cards can be branded to match the cards creative and prolong the feel good factor associated with your brand once activated and because your audience actually has the eftpos card in their hand, the enticement can be just too attractive to resist!
Where 2 worlds collide
Once you are farming your database efficiently, PURLS (personalised URLs), offer the ideal way to continue the personalisation of your recipients journey and are a perfect example of using multiple channels to their best advantage. It’s important though to use PURLS effectively –

  • Ensure they link to a dedicated campaign page or micro site which clearly outlines the call to action and is not littered with distracting external links.
  • Make sure your PURL landing page only asks the questions which are really necessary

The path from visiting the landing page to clicking the “submit” button should be as easy as possible.

  • Make your database and future communications even smarter by ensuring you use all the valuable data a PURL gives you -who visited the PURL and acted, who visited and bounced and who didn’t visit at all – use this information to further develop your database and as triggers for your next communication efforts.

So rather than jumping from one communication channel to the next, or cutting whole opportunities from your budget, make sure you are thinking customer first.
Right message, right channel, right time.

Think about the whole customer experience and every possible touch point. Be smart with your integration and applications…at least until the next big thing comes along!

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