March is a crazy month. As if spring fever and wildly unpredictable weather weren’t enough, the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship is just around the corner. Yes March Madness is here. Aside from spiking your interest in the excitement of bracket busters and early favorites, you might be wondering how this relates to topics we typically cover. The answer lies in the digital madness that surrounds us.
In a recent article from Direct Marketing News, author Dianna Dilworth tries to put this situation into perspective by saying, “Despite all the digital hullaballoo in marketing today, the direct mail business is expected to grow 1.4% annually for the next five years to $13.8 billion, according to IBISWorld’s ‘Direct Mail Advertising in the U.S.’
Dilworth is on to something with her description. Between email overload and social media fatigue, the digital marketing landscape can sometimes bring madness to mind. Some digital channels are invaluable to the overall marketing mix, of course. And the most successful campaigns often utilize a cross-channel approach. But direct mail remains a proven and well-rounded medium that is actually preferred and responded to by a large percentage of consumers.
So what can direct marketers do to stay relevant in today’s world of “oft-distracted, multichannel customers?” Consider these three takeaways from Dilworth’s article on the evolution of direct mail:
- Make it personal. Debora Haskel covered this topic in depth with her article comparing the subtle differences between personalization and relevance. The bottom line is creating an offer that not only places the right variable data on the mail piece (name, images and personalized response mechanism), but delivers the right message, at the right time, and provides a compelling solution to the recipient’s problem.
- Plan holistically. It’s important to optimize the call to action of any direct mail piece. This holds true for cross-channel campaigns that include QR codes or other digital fulfillment. The days of leading recipients to a company’s homepage, as opposed to a mobile-optimized landing page or microsite that specifically targets the offer, are over. Click-to-call actions must also be set up for fulfillment – don’t drive the recipient to a call center if it’s not set up to handle consistent traffic.
- Remember those special days. Customer acquisition and loyalty programs often receive added muscle from effective trigger programs. Not only can they target your best and most loyal customers with additional points or rewards, but they can also center around birthdays, which Dilworth calls “especially effective for connecting with customers on a personal level.” She also calls out the importance of sending physical mail, as opposed to email, for these special occasions.
Direct mail continues to prove itself as a widely effective and preferred medium despite the digital madness in today’s marketing landscape, but it must continue to evolve and stay relevant. As marketers, these strategies are a great place to start.
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