How to Use Direct Mail Effectively in Your Integrated Marketing Strategy
The volume and pervasiveness of today’s fragmented media landscape has made it difficult to create lasting impressions on consumers, who are desensitized by the constant stream of promotional content they encounter. One ad is not going to win customers, and a narrow set of channels is not an adequate path to creating true brand awareness. The only companies that stand out and truly reach their audience are those that integrate their campaigns across a variety of strategically selected channels, ensuring that their brand is consistent and memorable.
Even with today’s wealth of digital media platforms, physical promotions can be incredibly effective, reaching customers where the noise is lowest and filters are minimal. If you’re reading this article, we’ll assume that you’ve done your research, created your buyer personas and determined that integrating direct mail into your strategy presents a strong opportunity.
The people who disparage this channel are usually the ones who use it poorly, but you can have great success if you follow a few simple rules.
Let’s start with the basic elements, and later in this post we will explain why each is so important. Good direct mail campaigns:
- Craft clear, bold headline and graphics that clearly support the message.
- Highlight the benefits of your service and your specific offer.
- Include well defined, easy to follow Calls to Action, and make sure your company name, logo, and contact information are displayed clearly.
- Use high quality materials. Postcards, brochures, and other collateral should be well-made, with distinct design and style that matches your existing brand.
- Consist of more than one round of mailers. A single glance at your brand won’t magically draw customers. You need to nurture that awareness.
- Target the right people. While some businesses like to “spray and pray”, the extra budget for good data will help your ROI if it gets your message in front of your target audience.
One of the most crucial factors – and one that people so often forget – is that “integrated” doesn’t mean “the same.” While it is important to keep your message and brand consistent across channels, that is not an excuse to get lazy with creativity. Integrated marketing is not just the same message on channel after channel; it’s about each platform providing a key piece of the larger brand story. They are all parts of a whole, not rehashed versions of each other.
The manner in which you present your core ideas within each specific medium is a crucial consideration; what works for social media won’t necessarily work for direct mail, and what works for email won’t work in your paid ads. Elements like visual appeal, voice, and Call to Action will vary, and it is crucial to consider the context in which each audience will be viewing your brand. Together, these channels will cover the main ideas your brand is trying to convey, and demonstrate the value of your product or service.
Direct mail involves a very distinct style, and correct usage hinges on a keen understanding of its role. Direct mail is NOT a channel for long descriptions of your product, it’s NOT a way to address competitors, it’s NOT a place to talk about pricing. So how does direct mail contribute to the larger strategy? Let’s go back to our rules, and see what each provides:
- Craft clear, bold headline and graphics: Direct mail generates awareness. There’s nothing too complicated about it – your audience didn’t know your service existed, and now they do. A standout headline and graphic will grab their attention long enough to take a look, long enough for them to learn that your services are available to them.
- Highlight the benefits: Direct mail has a good chance of getting through to your audience, especially if your business is B2C. About 98% of people bring in their mail the same day it’s delivered, and the vast majority go through it immediately. One of the weaknesses of direct mail – its minimal space – makes your audience likely to read the whole thing, IF it’s quick. If your few short bullet points speak to their problem or needs, your ad will be spared, and the audience member will look for next steps.
- Include well defined, easy to follow Calls to Action: There are two halves to acquiring new leads: getting their attention, and keeping it. Direct mail gets their attention better than most channels, and sends people to sources that will keep attention and facilitate the buyer’s journey. By including clear calls to action or a bar code to scan, you direct people to sources where they can find out more, such as a website or phone number. But it’s up to them to act on this, and any friction or confusion about next steps will lose their attention.
- Use high quality materials: This is a chance to convey to your potential customer what sort of company you are. Cheap materials, weak graphics, poor printing or bad design indicate sloppiness. But crisp, glossy postcards or brochures speak much louder than poor attempts (and louder than the majority of online ads), demonstrating professionalism and respectability.
- Consist of more than one round of mailers: Awareness isn’t achieved with one piece of mail – people need more touchpoints before brand recognition starts taking place. After three to six mailings, the repeated exposure solidifies your brand in their mind, so that all your channels will engage them.
- Target the right people: A targeted direct mail campaign not only saves you money, but also acts as a gentle push to customers who might still be putting off the call. Because they’ve already been identified as quality prospects, your direct mail piece acts as a reminder for them to get going.
Integrated marketing that includes direct mail can require a significant investment of time, energy, and resources; after all, most worthwhile things do. But if your marketing efforts aren’t coordinated, you’re likely to end up with low participation and lower ROI.
To streamline the process and reduce the time and labor involved, businesses now have the option to use integrated marketing tools that automate the execution of multi-channel campaigns while allowing for personalization and enforcing brand standards.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can control and automate your integrated marketing campaigns, we’re here to answer your questions.