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Weaving Direct Mail Into Omnichannel Strategy
Date: June, 2014 --
|By now data-driven marketers have largely bought into the “multi-channel” approach; i.e. they recognize that utilizing a combination of on and offline mediums within a unified campaign will have a dramatically positive impact on response metrics. Springing forth from this foundation, many a forward-minded organization have looked ahead and come to the natural conclusion that if two are better than one, then three must be better than two, four must be better than three and so forth. Brands undertaking efforts to have a seat in every ad medium vertical face new challenges in tackling what is primed to be the next buzz phrase: Omnichannel Marketing.
But it’s not
just the brands that are searching the horizon for the next big thing, as an
institution none other than the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the USPS
is taking a proactive approach to ensure direct mail has a meaningful and
effective place within any Omnichannel strategy, as evidenced in a January 2014
forum held in Washington, DC.
reached three important conclusions. First, as we mentioned and what is of no
surprise to any direct marketer, campaigns using multiple channels are the most
successful. Connecting channels in a personalized way raises brand awareness
and captures attention. Naturally, the
more modalities that are integrated, such as mail, QR codes, AR (Augmented
Reality), the more impact there is. One speaker from the market research arm of
Quad/Graphics indicated that using a number of media in a campaign could raise
response by 45%.
In fact, the
market research firm InfoTrends has shown that print (e.g., direct mail) with a
landing page OR a corresponding email can raise response by 27% over a letter
alone. Print and a landing page AND the email can raise response by 37%. Given
all that white space to be covered, writing copy becomes an even larger and
more critical job as messages and tone have to be consistent across all these
Let us recall
that direct mail has nearly always been “multi-channel” by asking the customer
to respond by taking an action. In the early days of direct mail the action
would have been to return a card or to write a letter for more information. The
last big “technological” selling step we deployed before the digital world
developed was to convince the reader to make a phone call.
are many other impressive tools available for the marketer to deploy which, in
fact, are more “relationship building” than “closing”. Remember that for the
consumer, the invitation to make a phone call can be somewhat nerve-raking,
since he/she knows there will be a salesperson on the other end. To the
contrary, an invitation to visit a webpage to learn something of value is less
threatening. In fact, it’s downright inviting, because we know we won’t have an
insistent person on the phone who won’t take “No.”
conclusion is that personalization is a powerful factor in success. Tasteful
use of the individual’s name, or reference to their town or profession help
build trust. The printing industry has helped out here with variable data
printing tools which enable marketers to personalize every letter, buck slip,
coupon, and catalogue. Research has shown that personalization can triple the
regular direct mail response rate of 2%.
personalization can backfire. For example, Target found that sending coupons
related to a life change, such as having a baby, caused customers discomfort. This
suggested to people that the store knew a bit too much about them for their
studies found that throughout the country people of all ages are proving to be
concerned about where marketers get information about them. Younger people are
proving more concerned than older generations about the personalization of offers
and selling copy. This same group is
also disturbed when it receives personalized letters with offers that are
irrelevant. This suggests their data is being trafficked around, which they do
One thing the
new generation shares with the older is that a well-targeted communication with
an offer of a product that is relevant elicits a positive response. In this
case the customers almost expect the company to have access to their name,
address and perhaps even credit card details!
Fabulous New Tools to Master
conclusion was that the new technologies play several roles in the marketing
process. First, they enable more
personalization and an enhanced and sophisticated multi-channel experience. In short, they provide a catalogue of
potential ways to interact with the customer and ways to link the various
elements of the campaign.
methods so far being introduced into the digital marketing toolbox are
augmented reality, NFC, and electronics in print.
These are way
beyond QR codes and imbedding links in email messages because they can lead to
more complex and data-rich experiences. They are not without their difficulties
and complications, however. For example,
augmented reality currently lacks agreed standards, so a consumer may have to
download an application, probably to a mobile phone, in order to access your
ad. Once there, however, the experience can be extremely compelling.
Nevertheless, getting a critical mass of potential customers to download the
app will be an obstacle; that is, until one app comes along to displace all the
But it can be
done. The cosmetics firm Maybelline has used augmented reality to sell nail
polish! In response to an ad in a letter or magazine, the consumer downloads an
app which provides the interface tool to enable access to the online
advertising content. In Maybelline’s case, the consumer uses their mobile phone
to take a picture of their finger nails and then, through the linked-to
website, try on different colors of nail polish! https://www.youtube.com/v/xtZVy67hRNE.
itself has used augmented reality as a customer aid. It created an app which
worked with the consumer’s webcam picture of the package she wished to ship.
The Postal Service could then recommend the right size box to use.
Communication (NFC) chips are now often included in new mobile phones. These chips communicate with other nearby NFC
chips. (And by “nearby”, we mean only an inch or two.) Once a connection is
accepted, the sending chip transmits new pages to the mobile phone, enabling
the communication of more information about a product or offer. While less
likely to be used in print communication, the chips enable deeper communication
with the consumer who is, for example, actually in a store in close proximity
to the product in question. One can imagine NFC being used in grocery stores
alongside check-out lines where captive customers could be presented all manner
of promotions and information. In other parts of the store, NFC could be used
to provide information discretely and tastefully about personal care products,
for example. One could also imagine NFC chips inserted in magazines to transmit
directly to the reader’s mobile, which would be especially effective in
environments lacking WiFi access.
The last new
technology of interest is printed electronics. This means literally printing
circuits on paper, such as on letters. These circuits can be used to light up
advertisements or even generate sound and deliver a message through a printed
circuit and speaker. We’ve even seen a printed “flashlight” on a small
card. It was perfectly adequate to light
up a menu in a dark restaurant. Several companies have experimented with magazine
advertising with printed circuits with remarkable success.
The use of
printed circuits in direct mail could well be next. Imagine opening an envelope
addressed to you which seems “just a little thicker than normal”. You unfold the letter which is accurately
addressed to you and it begins to recite, aloud, a tasteful advertisement for a
cruise to a romantic island, complete with the sound of waves and a setting sun
dissolving its way into the sea as the stars come out over the horizon. At the
bottom of the page the copy next to a QR code and an NFC chip each begs you to
take your mobile to use one of them to go to the website of the cruise company
for “more information”. There the Augmented Reality function is downloaded to
you. It permits you to picture yourself at ease in a variety of different
staterooms, where your name is embroidered into the towels.
new innovative ways of getting your targeted message across, direct mail is
poised to take a larger role in its ability to leverage Big Data in order to
enhance what is already arguably the most effective medium to engage and
acquire new and repeat customers.
means the time to ensure you have an effective data management strategy is
right now! Get in touch the experts at Data Services, Inc. for a complimentary
evaluation of any of your organization’s domestic or international data-driven
initiatives today to ensure you’re fully capable of leveraging current and
future opportunities to their fullest extent!