Effective marketing is all about an omnichannel presence. Omnichannel means using a combination of all possible marketing channels at your disposal and linking them together to make them coordinate. The goal is to create a marketing strategy that’s greater than the sum of its parts. And every smart marketer knows: if you want the very best omnichannel experience, you’ve got to include direct mail.
Maximizing Paper in an Omnichannel World
This is because where digital spreads, paper hones. Where digital makes an instant connection, paper invests for the long term. How can you maximize your paper-based marketing investments in this omnichannel world?
Harness the power of paper
Mail retains high response rates. One 2017 study even shows that it beats digital channels, including social media, email, and online ads! So if you’re trying to improve response rates, get paper to do a lot of the work for you. Here’s why:
- Your letters and mailers get at least a moment of face time, because people have to physically clear out the mailbox, whereas emails and pop-ups can be ignored (sometimes with disdain!).
- The appeal of tangibility remains remarkably high. The physical connection with materials seems to make a literal, cognitive difference in the way direct mail audiences receive and process.
In other words, paper isn’t going anywhere. The first step in making your campaign a success is to harness the power inherent in paper. If your mailer already has that few crucial seconds of face time, as well as a tactile appeal, leverage it with clarity!
Make sure your readers get the following, in just a few moments:
- A pleasant or interesting tactile/visual experience
- A sense of your identity and what you’re about (brand)
- An idea of what’s inside the mailer
- A reason to open
So for example, if you’re using an envelope, make sure it’s customized to lead to an open, with informative copy and inviting colors, fonts, and textures—even sizes, shapes, and weight. These can all add to appeal and send a message, such as “urgent news,” “storytelling moment,” “invitation to join an initiative,” “cool offer,” “one-time deal,” etc. The clarity and appeal of direct mail help keep those response rate stats high.
Attract new people
When it comes to attracting new people, start with who you already know, and consider a couple of tactics:
Plan a campaign in which the purpose and the CTA are narrow and needle-sharp. People are attracted to specifics. And make sure your mailing list to new prospects fulfills a very specific set of criteria, whether based on previous interest, a borrowed list from a similar organization, or a regional list.
For example, don’t send a generally interesting brochure about your new magazine to a zip code. Select households that already show crossover in areas that overlap with your vision, such as other subscriptions, email opt-ins, etc. Send a steep first-time subscriber discount along with a strong, brief pitch for your organization and what you stand for, with one compelling reason you’re uniquely relevant today, along with links and contact information to find out more.
How does direct mail work in an omnichannel strategy?
Paper is the only omnichannel medium that can be touched. Leverage paper for high response rates, personal appeal, and tangible aspects like texture and scent. Direct mail is often best used for special offers and invitations, relationship-building, large-format and long-form storytelling, catalogs, loyalty programs, and holiday communications.
When’s the last time you asked your audience for feedback on how to reach them?
Incentive-based surveys or brief questionnaires can help fill in some gaps, so you don’t have to keep guessing. For example, get more information on your current audience. Find out things like occupation, income level, gender, ethnicity, location, habits, and lifestyle preferences. Provide a link to a survey in current direct mail, or by email.
Then, if you’re receiving responses heavily slanted toward a handful of characteristics, that will tell you where you’re already hitting a sweet spot. The choice is how to continue reaching out. You could either reach more deeply into prospect pools using these target profiles or focus on sending mail to targets currently underrepresented among your constituencies. Or you could do both. Either way, you’re taking initiative to build a better picture of who’s benefiting from a relationship with you, and who seems to be missing.
Keep your friends involved
Whether they’re customers, parishioners, clients, or partners, treat those who already stick with you as friends. Direct mail is one of the best ways to sustain a long-lasting personal touch in a professional or organizational relationship.
There are so many creative options for keeping your audience in the know. A great relationship sustainer is the special quarterly or yearly check-in mailer, that includes an overview of the year so far, and invites the reader to share the future in a special way. These include information and offers audiences only receive if they’re on the “ins,” such as budget updates, personal stories, a personal letter or note from leadership, photos from the life of the organization, or special gifts.
Though storytelling can be done effectively with a well-designed letter (and we definitely recommend including great design, images, and photos, here), you’ve got other choices to make it extra special, including larger sizes, thicker paper stock (like cardstock), fold-outs, and binding (such as a booklet). Just make sure you keep the envelopes rocking as hard as your story.
There is nothing like a classic. Loyalty programs can include anything from special deals and discounts to birthday and holiday greetings. Paper communications are integral to loyalty programs, whether they’re for sending coupons, invitations, a thank you letter or a Christmas card. Building and appreciating customer loyalty provides great opportunities to play with more deluxe features of direct mail, such as foil, cotton, and linen weave papers, metallic inks, and die cut.
Maximizing direct mail takes some creativity and patience. But if you learn how to harness the power of paper, you’re tapping into some of the most powerful tactics to gain and keep partnerships in the market today.