In this digital-centric world that we live in, it can be easy to dismiss the need for direct mail. However, despite the ever-changing technologies before us, direct mail is not dead. In fact, the collateral elements of so-called “snail mail” have proven to be a vital element for marketing conversion and overall consumer impact.
Direct Mail Innovations
This unexpected relevancy of direct mail primarily stems from some recent advancements of the medium. Technology today now allows marketers to have a greater understanding of their customers’ behavior. With more insights and a clearer picture of their client base, companies can hyper target customers for wherever they are at in the buyer journey.
Most notably, there are three main innovations that have changed the game for direct mail: retargeted direct mail, Informed Delivery® and Informed Visibility®. The latter two were created by the United States Postal Service (USPS®). Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors.
Retargeted Direct Mail
Retargeted direct mail takes a page out of the digital marketing playbook. On the Internet, retargeting is a form of online advertising that can help you keep your brand in front of bounced traffic after a potential customer leaves your website.
In simple terms, when a lead doesn’t convert on a website, a retargeting campaign will trigger advertisements in other areas across the web, like banner ads or social media, to entice the lead to reconsider. For most websites, only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit. Retargeting is a tool designed to help companies reach the other 98% of users who don’t convert right away.
Retargeted direct mail works the same way as online retargeting campaigns, but utilizes collateral pieces in the mail to engage with the potential customer. As mentioned before, modern technology provides the ability to see what actions customers take on websites, email or social media. By leveraging that information, you can then retarget customers with personalized direct mail sent within 12 to 24 hours of the initial interaction.
According to research by the National Postal Forum, marketers experienced up to a 400% boost in conversions after specifically targeting people who abandoned their online shopping carts with a direct mail follow up. That’s a massive impact on conversion.
Furthermore, in a 2019 USPS survey, 65% of marketers reported an increase in website traffic after using retargeted direct mail.
Furthermore, nearly half of all marketers in the survey experienced more conversions following a retargeted direct mail campaign. This element alone shows the power of combining direct mail and digital marketing.
Informed Delivery is another creation that leverages modern technology to make direct mail more relevant and useful. Informed Delivery is a consumer-facing feature offered by USPS that provides users with digital previews of their household mail arriving soon.
This technology gives companies the ability to integrate digital campaign elements to enhance and extend the impact of their direct mail content.
Here’s a brief outline of how this USPS service works:
Informed Delivery users receive scanned images of the exterior of incoming letter-size mailpieces, which are processed through automated equipment. Images and package tracking information is also available via email notification, an online dashboard, or the mobile app.
Companies can also choose to take part in an interactive campaign, which includes extra information to help direct the consumer toward a digital experience. The full details on how you can do this are available from the USPS, but the main advantage worth highlighting is that Informed Delivery allows consumers to interact with digital content associated with their direct mail. It also provides marketers with valuable data, such as email open rates and click-through rates. Research shows that roughly 68% of notifications are opened every day.
According to the same USPS survey mentioned above, more than one-third of marketers surveyed reported an increase in both website traffic and ROI.
Also created by the USPS, Informed Visibility gives companies full transparency of their direct mail so they can coordinate their physical mail with their digital campaigns.
If a company opts to use Informed Visibility, a notification will be sent when the mailpiece is delivered, essentially in real time. This provides the ability to trigger digital ads in conjunction with the real-time delivery of the direct mail.
The purpose of Informed Visibility is to increase touchpoints to boost conversion rates. The results are showing that this tactic is working quite well. The data shows that these timing-triggered campaign activations are correlating with more website traffic.
Nearly half of marketers surveyed by the USPS say this has been the case for them, which is yet another proven example of how powerful the combination of direct mail and digital campaigns can be for your marketing efforts.
Direct Mail Stands Out In The Crowd
Another key factor contributing to the revival of direct mail is that the digital realm has become increasingly more saturated. More and more companies have shifted their focus and marketing budgets to website and social media advertisements.
Of course, the Internet is where most of the attention is, so that tactic makes sense on the surface. However, there seems to be an overcrowding of content and advertisement taking place, leading to both overwhelm and trust issues for consumers.
Consumer Trust And Authority
On social media alone, where the average consumer spends at least two hours a day, there is a seemingly endless sea of advertisements. One person may see more than a thousand advertisements daily. That is a lot of stimulation. Add that to the growing amount of click-bait-riddled content and it is no wonder why there has been a decline in consumer trust and authority.
Research is continuing to show that over-targeting and saturation on the digital front is having a negative impact on consumers. This is typically linked to the constant bombardment of ads online, and how easy it is to hit consumers at all points throughout the day. This influx of advertisement on social media is also affecting the way consumers are reacting to content in other online platforms.
Don’t Get Lost In The Inbox
One thing that cannot be overlooked is the declining effectiveness of email marketing. The biggest reason, plain and simple, is that most consumers are receiving so many offers that they default to deleting most emails without even opening them.
There was a time when reading every email was the norm. In the early days, it wasn’t uncommon for companies to see open rates of more than 90%. While email open rates tend to vary by industry, most reports say the average open rate has fallen south of 20%.
Email marketing is certainly not dead, but the numbers do reveal the opportunity for tying direct mail into your marketing strategy. It just might be what makes your campaign stand out. In fact, science is even backing that sentiment up with some incredible data.
In a fascinating study funded by the Canadian Post, researchers used neuroscience tactics to find out how consumers might respond to direct mail in comparison to email and display ads. By using special eye-tracking technology and brain wave measurement devices, the study discovered that consumers had an easier time understanding and retaining the information on the physical mail items.
When it comes to direct mail in the 21st century, there is a vast amount of research proving that it is absolutely relevant and impactful for your company’s marketing efforts. Combining digital marketing with physical mail is the current marketing sweet spot and is showing to be the most effective tactic for increasing both conversion rates and overall brand awareness.
At Contemporary Graphic Solutions, a division of Rondo-Pak, we provide exceptional quality in complete in-house printing and mailing solutions to help you take your marketing and direct mail campaigns to the next level. We understand the benefits of physical mail and work closely with a variety of clients to ensure their mailers are optimized for modern-day marketing.