By: Summer Gould
Marketers continue to use direct mail in 2016 because it still leads in ROI. However, traditional direct mail marketing has changed dramatically. InfoTrends did a study on direct mail that found the following statistics: 66% of direct mail is opened, 82% of direct mail is read for a minute or more, 56% of consumers who responded to direct mail went online or visited the physical store, 62% of consumers who responded to direct mail in the past three months made a purchase, and over 84% reported that personalization made them more likely to open a direct mail piece.
For the last 25 years, I have seen many changes in direct mail, from the "send it to everyone" phase to the current hyper-targeted mailers. Direct mail continues to be a great marketing channel. If your direct mail response rate is not as high as you'd like it to be, consider these five ways to spice your next direct mail campaign:
- QR codes and PURLs: To make landing page content unique to each person, create personalized QR codes or personalized URLs (PURLs). This landing page content can be changed and updated as needed, creating an easy way to keep people coming back for new content. Make sure that your content is using responsive design since people can use a mobile device or PC. You can use the same landing page for both the QR and the PURL, providing the recipient with the choice of which method they prefer.
- Augmented reality: Creating a direct mail piece that comes to life and can be manipulated by your prospects and customers is very powerful. You can create a fun user experience without going over your budget when you take the time to plan it out. Look at your idea from your client’s perspective: Is the experience fun and easy to use? (Pokémon Go is a widely recognized and fun example of augmented reality.) How can you create an experience with your direct mail? Our agency crafted an experience by creating an animated cartoon that was launched by scanning the mailer. The cartoon showed people how to use a service and the pitfalls of doing it incorrectly. This campaign was funny and informative at the same time. Whatever you do, don't be boring.
- Dimensional mail: Grab your potential customers' attention with mail pieces that are not the envelopes or postcards that people are used to getting but ones that have dimension, such as bulky items, boxes or tubes. These have a much higher response rate than the mail pieces you are sending now. Switching from your current format to a dimensional piece is very costly, so before considering doing this you need to know your budget. However, you can expect a lift in response. One of my favorite examples is sending a "message in a bottle" in the mail. This direct mail campaign featured a little plastic bottle with a label on it. Inside was a note on how to buy the company's product. Something like that stands out and gets opened.
- Endless folds: Create a fun mail piece by taking a normal, folded piece and creating a new look with endless folds. These go beyond touch by requiring people to manipulate the piece, unfolding over and over again to reach the next page. They create an urge to see more by building up people’s curiosity. What will they find on the next fold?
- Video: Video mailers have a built-in audiovisual player. The video plays after opening the mailer or by pushing a button. With a built-in video screen, people are inclined to instantly watch it. You don’t have to worry about applications or other software; you know that once opened, people will watch it. Since this form of direct mail is relatively new, they can be costly and not affordable for all campaigns. But the costs are starting to come down, so keep an eye on them until you can afford to try them.
When planning a direct mail campaign, don’t forget that you still need to follow the basic direct mail rules. A good list, a good design and a strong call-to-action are a must in order for your direct mail to be a success. Provide information on how people can use the technology you are including and strong content for them to view. If the content is not well designed, then your effort will have been a waste of time.
There are so many new and fun options to take advantage of. If you want to try something new and not put too big of a dent in your budget, start with the QR Codes/PURLs and the endless folds options -- and make 2017 your most successful marketing year yet.