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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Be a Marketing Fashionista: Reconsider Direct Mail

Email vs. direct mail vs. print vs. interactive.  There has been a shift of how marketers reach their clients and prospects.  In today’s digital age, your clients and prospects are bombarded with email, web advertisements, mobile ads, texts, TV and radio advertisements all day long. So, how do you stand out in the clutter? 

To me, it all gets down to targeting and an integrated approach to reach those targets.  There is a time and place for “mass” marketing, but with marketing budgets under more tight constrain, targeting your efforts can lead to measurable ROI that can be used more efficiently (rolled out in more mass as the model is validated). 

So, what integrated approach works best?  It really does depend on what you are trying to achieve.  For a long time, direct mail was the only way to consistently reach prospects, so it was used extensively, and customers became turned off by all of the “junk mail." Over the last few years email marketing has taken a more front row to traditional direct mail.  Over the last 18 months interactive, such as web and social media, has been growing in importance.   

As marketers look at their mix, I want them to resurface the importance of direct mail. New studies have found that direct mail is taking a new importance in the marketing campaigns.  People have moved past their initial apathy to direct mail and are tending to respond again to receiving a piece of physical mail. Research by Mail Print1 found that “85% of consumers sort through and read selected pieces of mail every day. 75% of consumers are saying that they are examining their mail more closely in the recent months to search for coupons and discounts. 40% of consumers say that they have tried a new business after receiving direct mail, and 70% have renewed relationships with companies/products that they had previously ceased using.” 

Direct mail is not the end-all, but marketers who use direct mail are capitalizing on a venue that can drive increased brand exposure that can surface warm leads.  Direct mail is changing through the use of unique direct mail formats that include color, oversized formats and the use of interactive efforts such as QR codes and frontflip. Try an oversized envelope that stands out from the standard #10 envelopes that dominate a pile of mail. Try using a QR code that drives to a specific offer or even creating an app that is rewards based.  The new trend is “triggering” marketing – where a response from a marketing effort triggers another specific direct marketing effort.  This could be something like a birthday, where you can send a personalized email and special offer, or a follow up message a certain number of days after a quote has been delivered. Trigger messages are nearly always based on a customer action, whether it’s inquiring about your product or service, or providing a company with demographic information or preferences, so it is far more likely to be opened, read, and acted upon than a general, unsolicited email.

So, as you build your marketing campaigns, think like a fashion designer.  In fashion, layering clothing adds interest, texture, and style. In marketing layering messages adds reach, penetration, engagement, and conversion.