The Role of Direct Mail at Each Stage of a Customer’s Journey

06 May 2020 / By Mike Gunderson
The Role of Direct Mail at Each Stage of a Customer's Journey on gundersondirect.com
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A customer’s journey begins with awareness, climaxes with a purchase, and hopefully continues to repeat purchases and evangelism. Direct mail can make each stage more likely your leads will take the next step.

From awareness to purchase and beyond, prospects move through many mental states as they interact with your brand on the way to becoming loyal customers. Your direct mail strategy must include ways of interacting with them at every stage of that journey. By introducing a tangible, appropriate piece of mail at each step of the customer journey, you make stronger, more memorable brand impressions that guide customers to the next actions and increase your chances of making a sale.

Here’s an overview of what’s going on at each stage of a customer’s purchasing journey, along with how your direct mail can help.

1. Engagement — it starts with interest

Before the awareness stage of the sales journey, the customer might not even know that your company exists. Or, if the consumer does have an awareness of you, it may be vague and not include a lot of detail into what you do.

As a result, your goal in the awareness stage is to reach out to the customer and make your brand visible.

Generally, you won’t want to be too aggressive during the awareness stage. You aren’t trying to make a sale right away; you’re trying to put your brand in the customer’s mind to make a sale later.

Of course, if the customer takes your offer right away, all the better, but direct mail at this stage should focus on providing the prospect with essential information: What interest, need or want do your products address? Who are you? What do you have to offer? Then make a soft call to action.

This call to action might ask the consumer to visit your website for more information or set up a consultation to talk more about how you can help, but it shouldn’t usually include hard sales language unless that’s part of your brand strategy. As Seen on TV is an example of a brand that does come on strong at this, but that’s a considered brand strategy that’s more exception than rule — most companies focus more on education at this stage.

Examples of awareness stage campaigns include grand opening announcements, material sent to new homeowners, or just a simple brand awareness brochure.

The goal is to help the customer reach the next stage, inching them closer to buying your product.

2. Education — help them decide

Once a customer is aware of your product, marketing should increase interest and, hopefully, convince the reader to make a purchase.

This step is part of the consideration stage, where the customer has a problem and is seeking a solution. At this stage, your direct mail material should show that you’re aware of the consumer’s problem and have a viable answer to it.

When developing mail for the consideration stage, provide as much information as possible to help your customer make the decision to move forward. Rather than an overview of your company, offer insight into what you do and how you do it.

Personalizing mail helps a lot during this stage, as well, since it shows that you’ve taken the time to learn about the customer and aren’t sending generic piece mail to the entire neighborhood.

An example of a consideration-stage direct mail tactics is to follow-up an abandoned online cart with a mail piece featuring the forgotten items. You know that the customer is interested, so this is when you try to push the sale.

3. Purchase — make an offer that provokes action

During the decision stage, the customer will make the ultimate choice on which service provider deserves his or her business. The buyer now has all the necessary information and is ready to make the purchase.

Your goal here is to stand out from the competitors so your brand becomes the final selection. Prospects are making a purchase, and you can only make the sale if you provide the most attractive offer.

Direct mail at this stage should include your most aggressive offer. The proposal could be time-sensitive or in the form of an exclusive coupon, but the intention is to make the customer feel like he or she is getting the best deal available and must act before it’s gone.

4. Advocacy — your relationship continues post-purchase

Just because a customer made a purchase doesn’t mean the journey is complete. In fact, the real lifetime value of a customer comes in the post-purchase stage when your direct mail can help spur repeat purchases and word-of-mouth advocacy.

By continuing the direct mail relationship after a customer has purchased your goods, you can create brand loyalty, improve customer retention numbers, and, in some cases, upsell them to more items. According to Adobe, 40% of retail revenue comes from repeat customers in the United States, so you’ll want to follow up.

Further mailings also offer the opportunity to convince unhappy customers to try your offerings again, providing another chance to create repeat business.

Happy customers who continue to receive good promotional material may even pass those offers on to friends and family. When the customer becomes an advocate, word-of-mouth advertising could lead to many more sales.

Following the customer’s journey

Figuring out where customers sit in their sales journey is essential to developing an effective direct mail strategy. To find this information, you need an omnichannel presence that monitors your interactions with consumers and their reactions.

Gunderson Direct can help you adapt to every step of the consumer’s sales journey, from initial outreach to creating loyal, repeat customers. Visit our contact page to get started with a direct mail strategy that will support every stage of the customer journey.

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About The Author

Mike Gunderson

Mike Gunderson is the founder of Gunderson Direct, Inc., a direct marketing agency that helps businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail.

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