Companies can no longer afford to gamble on marketing campaigns that count on a single channel to reach customers. Whether digital, mobile or traditional, any marketing campaign can benefit from a targeted application of direct mail.
Integrated direct mail and digital campaigns elicit 39% more attention (time spent) than single-media digital campaigns.
“If it’s important enough to the retailer to get you to revisit an intent to purchase, then it’s important enough to send a postcard to the potential customer the next morning,” says Steve Falk, president of Prime Data. “In a few days they receive mail saying: ‘Hey, you left these specific items in the online shopping cart. Here’s free shipping and some free extras if you want to complete that purchase.’”
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Why not target online only?
Because retargeted ads need to run a growing gauntlet of ad blockers, while e-mail must fight its way through a wall of spam filters and then pique the interest of customers who ignore 70 per cent of commercial e-mail they receive, says Falk.
“Buying online is actually a very physical thing because it’s awesome to get delivered something you just bought,” he says. “Sending a personal note in the mail as an encouragement to buy is part of that same awesome experience.”
Falk notes that the win-back strategy boosts return on investment by eliminating the cost of mass cookie-cutter mailings and targeting fewer people more accurately and more persuasively.
“It’s simply a matter of replacing the volume of mail with quality personalized mail,” he says.
Jacob Watson is director, product marketing, with Just Energy, a retailer of natural gas, electricity and home services that aims to reduce price volatility in customer bills.
“It gives them peace of mind to avoid bill shock,” says Watson.
Enriching one-to-one experiences with mass marketing
The Just Energy marketing strategy drives awareness through mass marketing campaigns involving multiple channels, including radio, television, billboards and digital. It then builds on the ground it gained with direct mail.
“We are able to leverage the awareness and context that has been built through mass tactics to drive more effective experiences — and ultimately, purchase intent,” says Watson.
The company’s primary method for driving transactions is door-to-door sales by customer representatives. Direct mail paves the way for its on-foot sales patrol by targeting the homes they visit prior to their arrival.
“When that door-to-door salesperson arrives at the home, they’re not simply starting a conversation out of the blue,” he says. “The salesperson is having a conversation with potential customers on something they’re already familiar with.”
Direct mail’s unique benefits make a difference
Direct mail is an essential part of a marketing campaign that strives to reach each potential customer through the communication channel that’s most appropriate for them. When direct mail is used, it offers unique benefits unavailable through any other channel.
“By leveraging third-party data about the homes we are reaching out to, we can help to ensure that a direct-mail channel best meets the customer’s preference,” says Watson. “The beauty of direct mail is that you have that individual level of data and insight to ensure that the person on the other end is receiving information in the way that they want. When they get that piece of direct mail, it offers something tangible. It sticks around the home longer, is shared with other family members and helps to build relationships.”
A recent Canada Post study bears that out, indicating that direct mail is part of the ritual of arriving home and provides inherent noticeability and impact. When direct mail is considered noteworthy, it’s saved and shared with others. The study, A Bias for Action, reveals that direct mail’s tactile qualities have a deep, neurological impact on consumers and are 20% more motivating than digital advertisements. That makes direct mail more effective at triggering consumer choice and action.
“Direct mail allows you to deliver marketing based on individual insights instead of collective insights,” says Watson. “While we offer consistent value propositions and branding across our marketing channels, we can offer individualized direct mail to different homes, based on the data attributes of that home. We will change the way that we position our marketing or even the products that we offer to ensure that a home is receiving a value proposition tailored to that individual home.”
Ensuring that marketers can leverage granular data that best helps them reach their targets is a key responsibility for Tina Lavigne Lind, director, marketing solutions and innovation (digital and multi-platform) at Canada Post.
“Direct mail can be sent with data-driven granular accuracy,” she says. “For example, we can even target a postal code containing addresses where residents are high-frequency e-commerce shoppers. And unlike even the best targeted e-mail, there’s no ignore button on direct mail — you have to sort through your addressed mail.”
Enhancing customer experience with direct mail
Instead of competing solely on price, companies are now battling to provide the best customer experience, she says. When effectively targeted, direct mail only enhances customer experience and perceptions of the brand.
“When you’re delivered a personalized piece of communication with your name on it and information uniquely tailored to your interests, your lifestyle or your life stage, you definitely feel connected and special,” says Lind.
For Just Energy, Watson says that direct mail will continue to be an essential component of the company’s marketing mix as it continues to harness increasingly sophisticated technology driving direct mail with improving accuracy.
“Anyone who closes the door to direct mail is really shutting out a group of consumers who are choosing direct mail as their desired communication channel,” he says.
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