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To be successful, DM needs to embrace — and facilitate — online consumer buying behavior.
Direct mail is special. How? It’s physical, and that separates it from every other marketing channel. But, no channel exists in a vacuum. As we move to an increasingly digital-first marketing environment, direct mail needs to take its place in that ecosystem.
The online CTA in direct mail is ubiquitous, and often, it’s the only CTA. That makes sense, as the vast majority of purchase decisions involve online research and/or fulfillment. We mailers need to embrace that reality and drive traffic where it’s headed anyway — to the Internet.
Direct mail faces an inherent disadvantage — recipients can’t respond ‘directly’ to a letter or a postcard. The prospect has to put the mail piece down, pick up (or move to) a device, and key in the vanity URL for us to get a fully attributable response. In a “click here” world, that’s asking a lot.
To overcome this channel response bias, we need to move towards integrated, cross-channel content — mailers need designs and CTAs that push customers to the online sales experience. Mailings should be less about completing the sale and more about getting the lead to an online landing environment — one that helps the prospect make the purchase decision and complete the sale. Here’s how we’re working towards that goal at Gunderson Direct:
- QR Codes:
Given a new lease on life thanks to the pandemic, these resurrected CTA images are the closest thing to a “click here” button we can hope for in direct mail. If a phone or tablet is within reach when the mail is being read, then we have an immediate — and easy-to-attribute — response path.
- Digital Surrounds:
Keep it simple: tie the effort directly to the direct mail program. We at Gunderson Direct deploy a three-pronged digital attack on either side of a mailing:
- Informed Delivery — This free USPS program displays images of incoming mail via a daily email digest. Roughly 25% of Americans are currently enrolled in the program, with numbers climbing.
- Mobile and Display targeting — GPS technologies let us accurately target mobile and display campaigns to the household’s physical address.
- Email — Emails are appended to a mail file for multiple touches before and after mail arrives.
The goal is not to chart the singular response to any one channel, but to build overall response among mail recipients through added awareness and multiple opportunities to respond. We are looking at response lifts of 15%+ with these efforts.
- Build Creative for Digital Sensibilities:
Other than direct mail solicitations, how often does anyone get a letter anymore? This is especially the case for younger Millennial and Gen Z targets. Graphically, we are experimenting with landing page and email best practices, plus using eye tracking research to communicate key points using more digitally inspired graphic approaches.
Copy is trending towards more topline benefits, more social proof, and strong CTA language driving prospects online. We are not abandoning storytelling, testimonials, personalized messaging, etc. Those are still a part of what DM creative can deliver more effectively than most digital-only campaigns. The key is to ensure that all our work is visually compelling.
- Illustrate the Digital Experience:
Visuals that show the online experience help sell online responses. Showing mobile screens and online forms jumpstarts the online experience right there in the DM. For example, when we added mobile device visuals of doctors to mailings selling Telehealth services, response soared.
A couple of final points to keep in mind as you optimize DM response to the web:
- Make sure your landing environment fulfills the informational and response needs to convert prospects who receive the mailing. Most clients build and host their own landing pages, so coordination between client and agency creative teams is a must.
- Targeting remains an essential component of success. Multiple touches to the wrong prospects are of no benefit. Increasingly sophisticated modeling and data analytics help drive the right prospects to take action. Good tracking and attribution through the entire funnel gives us the opportunity to analyze responders versus converters to improve overall ROI.
If you’re not implementing the above steps to improve your direct mail, you’re going to be left behind in an increasingly digital-first world. Let’s make direct mail more responsive than ever by driving people to where they want to go to research and buy — online!
Have thoughts to share? Want to talk about your direct mail program? Contact us!