Winning with Effective Direct Mail
These days, digital marketing seems to get all of the attention. That’s with good reason – no company can afford to skip it given how reliant on the internet consumers have become. But what if you’re missing an opportunity connect with clients in a new way?
Believe it or not, we’re talking about… direct mail!
That’s right – but this isn’t your grandfather’s direct mail, or even your older sister’s. The key to using direct mail effectively in this day and age is to update it, twist it, and make it feel brand new.
Printed marketing materials have a permanence and impact that simply can’t be matched by looking at a computer screen. When you hold a postcard or brochure in your hand, it connects you to a company in a way that an email can’t.
So how can you update your direct mailers and make them relevant? Keep reading to learn six ways to do it.
Variable Data Printing
Did you know that there are printers who will segment mailers into small batches to print personalized information on mailers? It’s called variable data printing and it’s one way to bring information you gather digitally into your prospects’ homes.
You can choose to print mailers based on users’ geographical information. For example, if you were targeting a nationwide audience, you might do a different mailer for each state featuring an iconic image like the Empire State Building for New York or the Everglades for Florida.
If you wanted to get more specific than that, you could even produce postcards that showed customers in your local area how to get to your store from their neighborhood.
Alternatives might be based on customers’ previous buying habits or their ages. You can get creative with it and give your direct mail pieces the kind of personal touch that translates into sales.
One of the coolest ways to bring your direct mail campaigns into the digital age is to give customers a personalized URL (PURL). When they enter it in their browser, it directs them to a special page that you’ve created for your campaign.
What makes the page personalized is that the PURL you create incorporates their name. It might look like this:
The benefits here are two-fold. First, your customer feels that you have reached out directly to them, and that increases the chances that they will visit the website and check it out. Second, it gives you the opportunity to determine exactly who has responded to your mailer – and you can use that information to follow up based on the actions they take once they visit the PURL.
Another thing you can do is to combine mobile marketing with direct mail by including a Quick Response (QR) code on your mailer.
A QR code is similar to a barcode but it can store up to 100 times as much information as a traditional barcode. The people on your mailing list can scan the QR code with their smartphones and from there, the sky’s the limit.
You can use your QR code to direct people to a PURL or landing page, provide them with personalized coupons, or give them access to exclusive content. QR codes are easy to create, and they’re an especially good marketing tactic for local companies and companies with ecommerce stores.
While it’s definitely a good idea to try to combine digital marketing with print marketing, you can still create interesting and compelling mailers without a digital component.
For example, you might try creating a mailer with multiple folds that recipients have to open to reveal relevant information. They’re more interesting than sending a flat postcard or letter – and they can be a great way to create suspense and surprise.
Another option is to create an unusual mailer that changes in some way as the recipient interacts with it. Here are two suggestions:
- Use a magnetized mailer that encourages recipients to move one piece of your mailer (an attached cutout of an image, for example) and put it in a designated spot on the card. When they do it, the embedded magnet moves the object. Bonus points if you can use this one to illustrate one of the benefits of your product or service.
- Use interesting shapes to create movement. If you’re advertising an event that includes a meal, you might have a small round envelope shaped like a plate with food showing through a window. When the customer pulls out the insert, the plate is empty, and the food is in their hand.
These are just a couple of examples, but you can really get creative with this idea.
When you were a kid, you probably owned at least one pop-up book. While these books are aimed at children, you can take the same basic idea and use it in a mailer.
One classic example of this technique came from the retailer IKEA. They sent out a mailer that popped up and turned into an IKEA table when it was removed from the envelope. The mailer was fun and creative and made a big impression on their customers.
There are thousands of ways you could adapt this idea for your business. They key is to choose a pop-up that represents you, your product, or your service.
A variation on the pop-up mailer is creating a 3D mailer. Instead of simply sending a boring postcard of envelope, consider doing one of the following:
- Send a larger item, such as a poster, in a tube
- Print your marketing information on an object and send it in a box. For example, Amnesty International did a mailer that looked like a pair of chopsticks. When the recipients opened it, they turned out to be pencils. The enclosed material encouraged people to write letters to the Chinese government on behalf of political prisoners.
- Enclose a sample of your product. This technique isn’t new – but it still works! It’s especially effective if you’re launching a new product.
Again, don’t be afraid to get creative with these ideas. A 3D mailer is more likely to be opened than a letter.
From Inbox to Mailbox
What are you waiting for? Use these ideas to expand your marketing from your target audience’s inbox to their mailbox – and reap the rewards of giving them a reason to look forward to the mail truck’s arrival every day.