Five Ways to Improve your Direct Mail Channel
Can We Just Change the Channel? Five Ways to Improve your Direct Mail Channel
POV by Renea Keish
Living in a digital world, with everything we need located on our mobile phones or laptops, it’s easy to dismiss direct mail as a viable, effective, or profitable marketing channel. Infotrend statistics state that 66% of direct mail is opened and 82% of direct mail is read for a minute or more, while “page views” typically last 15 seconds – so there really are some provocative statistics to think about. To capture the attention of the consumer in this media requires two hooks; personalization and creativity. We all understand that communications containing personalization will almost always outpace a mass media messaging strategy, and the most sophisticated direct mail pieces contain at least a little “creative spice”.
Well known security company, ADT, tried a little unconventional campaign in Chile, to create more brand loyalty with a “direct mail” campaign that slipped a flat box under apartment/condo doors, which automatically unfolded into a large box and read “Breaking into your apartment is easier than you think” – perhaps a little too aggressive in their approach, (given the call volume) but memorable, none-the-less.
It’s no big surprise to learn that many leading digital channels have been inspired and influenced from decades of direct mail experiences.
So what creates a successful customer experience in direct mail campaigns?
- Personalization is critical to capture a consumer’s attention right away
- Leverage data to target the right person using algorithms/models to optimize
- Engage with a strong CTA and test variables such as alternative envelopes, size, packaging, and creative content to maximize response
- Reinforce direct mail using other channels or an Omni-channel campaign
Here is an easy 5-step check-list that can help you assess the current experience you are delivering to your direct mail customer.
Doesn’t Have to Cost an “Arm” or Leg
There are some simple and effective direct mail examples which create pause for consumers, and won’t break the bank. After optimizing with steps #4 and #5 from the checklist, the San Jose Blood Bank developed an effective awareness campaign with a visual paper image of an arm, wrapped around a newspaper, using a rubber band tourniquet. It doesn’t get much easier than that to create a memorable piece!
Who Wants to Play?
A great example of an interactive mail piece was provided by BMW, for those that can afford to invest a little more in the customer experience. Optimizing with steps #1 and #3 these types of interactive mail pieces contain enough gamification that consumers will take a little extra time to play them, which makes it harder to simply trash. A consumer’s curiosity will provide a few extra minutes of attention to your message. Some creative, playful tactics are just irresistible for consumers.
Don’t take yourself so seriously
One of our loyalty program clients did an amazing job of taking a serious subject, their annual report, and utilizing step #2 in the checklist, created a fun, bright, colorful, easy to digest direct mail piece, which was supplemented by email. Normally, a rather dry read for most companies, they immediately catch the consumer’s attention with the front page.
The entire annual report was filled with beautiful photography and enough points of interest, that consumers and stockholders could easily navigate the entire 216 pages without issue.
When the budget doesn’t support much creativity, consider these two basic steps to improve ROI on your spend:
Find the right Direct Mail provider for your needs. They all have their unique strengths. Decide if you need a full-service provider (creative, design, strategy, analytics) and check with the DMA for a list of vendors. Request overviews and pricing at various quantities and mailing formats, since cost per piece, should drop significantly as mailing volume increases.
Don’t ignore postage/delivery costs. They are typically the largest expense. Bulk rate postage should be the most cost effective, but may be further reduced through tactics like commingling and ride-sharing. With commingling, you would pay a nominal fee for the direct mailer to sort/optimize packages by commingling with other customer mailings in similar delivery zones to qualify for additional discounts. Ride-sharing shares space with other customers’ mail that is freighted to a USPS processing center, saving on freight cost to ship the mail. Keep an eye on special incentives from USPS. For example, including a QR code or personalized URL (PURL) in a mailing may qualify the communication for a discount.
Direct Mail channels can be more effective when supplemented by other channel messaging
Ultimately, utilizing an omnichannel messaging strategy will yield greater success with direct mail pieces, as you can supplement the direct mail with email offers, trigger social media retargeting ads, and coordinate mobile messaging to stay top of mind. Using a personalized and creative approach, direct mail can be a strategic, profitable investment with tangible results.
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Check out the rest of our series 'Can We Just Change the Channel?' for more tips on optimizing your mobile, social media, and e-commerce channels.