In past articles about direct marketing strategy, we’ve shared how combining direct mail with email can be especially effective for driving the success of multi-channel marketing campaigns. In our experience, using these marketing tactics simultaneously can lift response rates by 20% or more. Others have reported that when email and direct mail are particularly well executed in a multi-channel campaign, response rates can double. Even with well documented results of this nature, many of our clients still wonder, “How do I know if adding email to complement my direct mail campaign is the right decision considering the additional effort and cost?”
When it comes to acquisition campaigns, the reality – and the challenge – is that we need to reach consumers on their terms. We often don’t know if a prospect is more likely to pick up the phone, mail in a form, send a text, or visit a website. Seeing an offer or brand message multiple times, in multiple channels, with multiple response mechanisms can increase its impact and the chances to capture the sale. Whereas with loyalty and engagement programs, we may have more insight on how a particular consumer prefers to engage with the brand, but receiving multiple touchpoints and reminders of offers or rewards available to them can still play a key role in lifting response.
Follow a Test and Roll-out Strategy
To determine whether the potential lift associated with a multi-channel campaign is worth the investment, we work with our clients to develop a test and roll-out strategy and then analyze the potential results through a “hurdle analysis.” As part of this exercise, we outline the frequency, timing and segmentation strategy for an email campaign that would complement the client’s direct mail program. Once we know what we want to build, we can develop cost scenarios associated with it. That allows us to analyze the incremental response lift and revenue needed to clear that “cost-hurdle,” and compare against past client scenarios to determine how likely we are to achieve that pay-off. Finally, we test our theory with manageable audience and budget sizes to ensure the strategy performs as anticipated before fully rolling it out.
Use Email to Close the Sale
An approach we often find ourselves recommending for clients is to use email as a follow-up to direct mail efforts. A few days after receiving and viewing the initial direct mail offer, an email may just be the perfect reminder for the consumer to take advantage of the offer. We typically plan for email campaigns to hit the consumer five to seven days after the targeted in-home date of the direct mail. In some instances, it may also make sense to send a “final” or “time is running out” message via email when the expiration date of the direct mail piece is approaching. Because the cost of an individual email is generally less expensive on a cost-per-piece (CPP) basis vs. direct mail, it can be a cost effective way to stay top of mind.
Think about Value with a Multi-Channel Strategy, Not Just Cost
As you can imagine, we’ve also been asked, “If the CPP of email is less expensive than direct mail, shouldn’t I just funnel more of my budget in to email?” But as veteran marketers know, lower CPP is just that—lower cost—not necessarily better performance. Direct mail tends to have a longer shelf-life and offer a tangibility that email has a hard time replicating. Depending on the message, there will be times when direct mail is more appropriate and better performing, and times when email may provide stronger results. The key is to analyze the incremental lift relative to the cost of your efforts rather than just focusing on CPP and to remember that there is typically strong synergy provided through multi-channel efforts. Stripping out one channel completely in favor of another could have unforeseen consequences in terms of response and revenue generation.
Consider the Differences in Format Between Email and Direct Mail
Once the decision has been made to move forward with a multi-channel campaign, we like to remind our clients that people interact differently with email than they do with physical mail. Consumers subconsciously hold different expectations for format and structure depending on the channel they’re viewing, and therefore, design should be approached thoughtfully for both.
It’s important for the direct mail and email pieces to have similar design elements and messaging in order to reinforce the brand and campaign, but while the design should be complementary, it should not be a carbon copy.
A physical mailpiece has to stand on its own; the reader needs all the detail and supporting information in one spot. That’s why you’ll see reiteration of the offer and call to action multiple times within the piece, as well as features and benefits, charts, competitor comparisons and more.
Email design tends to be concise and more visual because the user is already on their computer or mobile device and can effortlessly click through to get more information.
And of course, personalization and relevant messaging are key to success regardless of channel. If you aren’t sending the right message to the right person at the right time, a well-designed multi-channel campaign can only take you so far. That’s why we tap in to our Proprietary Intelligence model to ensure that our data and strategy inform the creative and execution.
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