With the increased bad press surrounding the U.S. Postal Service, it got me thinking about direct mail and the role it plays in HZ’s integrated marketing approach. Even as social media becomes a larger part of the overall picture, we still do a fair share of direct mail because often it is the right vehicle to get the job done. It can be a component of a larger campaign that also includes print and on-line advertising, or sometimes it is the centerpiece that gets supported by a micro site, videos and special events. We mix it up depending on the project but using various media to layer in messaging is the key—utilizing each medium to its best advantage.
Why direct mail?
You may be thinking that mail is such an old-school approach, but please consider this: as the volume of physical mail we receive decreases, the little we receive has greater potential to be noticed and read. Being able to hold and interact with something tangible still has a unique appeal. The tactile quality of paper (or any number of materials available) and the control we can exercise over the visual presentation and design is something the digital world currently does not offer. The variety of formats, sizes and dimensionality possible with direct mail makes it a very attention-getting way to deliver messaging.
Keep in mind that the direct mail industry is a mature one and has been using emerging technology to continually improve its ability to target. In fact, the focused segmentation used in social marketing has been at the center of direct mail for a long time. The mail lists we build are very granular, focusing on things like income, education, proximity and dozens of other very specific criteria. We all understand that the more we know about prospective customers, the better job we can do inciting them to act. Additionally, the more customized the message is, the better off the results. Innovation in digital printing technology has made this possible. Variable printing allows us to address individuals by name within the creative and serve them up images, messaging and offers very specific to their motivations and relevant to their buying habits. Direct mail allows us to get the right messaging into their hands in an impactful way.
What makes direct mail effective?
Here’s a quick run down of what we think is important when we do direct mail:
A clear idea of what the client hopes to achieve. Sometimes it’s just buzz in the marketplace, sometimes it’s securing a meeting, or sometimes it’s selling something.
Great creative. The powerful combination of the right messaging, an original and memorable approach and great design is critical.
Best production quality you can afford. Whatever you send, it should reflect the quality and value of the company it represents and what it is promoting. Good paper and unique printing techniques make a difference.
An element of interaction. Whether it’s an object in a box, a simple flap or a cool peel-off, it’s important to engage the recipient to increase response rates.
Personalization. The customization of messaging, images, and related media makes the piece more relevant and impactful.
Unusual shape or format. When the shape helps to reinforce the concept, like a door hanger that talks about the hotel-like amenities of a condominium, or an accordian-fold piece that allows the presentation of a panoramic view, the format is integral.
The ability to measure. Utilizing a call source number, a personalized url (purl) or QR code in the call to action, you can track responses directly back to the mail piece.
How it fits in the bigger picture. Understand how to put the unique benefits of direct mail to work in support of a campaign. The timed arrival of multiple pieces, for example, can trigger recurring and ongoing interaction with a micro site.
It’s all in the delivery.
Direct mail presents a great opportunity to enhance and build upon campaign concepts in a targeted and unique way. It has evolved and progressed, taking advantage of today’s technology while preserving the appeal of receiving and reading physical mail. A timeless experience, made even more special by the digital takeover of our everyday lives. Long live direct mail, even if we have to deliver it Fed-ex.