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Design for Multichannel Marketing Starts with Direct Mail

Mike Dietz

Not too long ago, my colleague, Marcus Johnson, shared his thoughts on writing copy for different marketing channels. Creative design also needs to be tailored for each element in multichannel marketing.

When the IWCO Direct creative team designs multichannel marketing campaigns for our clients, we always start with the direct mail piece. Why? Because out of all the channels—landing pages, email marketing, digital ads, social media, etc.—it’s the most robust form of communication and lays the groundwork for all other iterations of the campaign.

Direct mail is the platform where we can reach customers with a complete story and implement best practices and marketing fundamentals. Once we get the direct mail piece right, we can easily transition its content, messaging, and design to other channels like email, landing pages, and online ads.

Direct Mail Provides the Design Building Blocks for Multichannel Marketing

Think about it: direct mail can easily encompass all aspects of an offer—what it is, its benefits, testimonials, brand information, additional related products or services, and it can even address barriers that might prevent someone from making the final purchase. That data can be presented in multiple ways (and should be if you’re following direct mail best practices), like charts, graphs, and pictures to display information in a way that’s reader friendly and easy to comprehend.

If a mailpiece includes an insert, brochure, or even a multipage letter, the design will need to be applied and adjusted to several individual pieces, mirroring what we do when we create marketing for other channels. Basically, by the time you have the direct mail piece down, you have all the building blocks for other channels. In other words, we do the direct mail piece first because it does the work for other channels.

Taking Direct Mail Creative Design to New Channels

Once the direct mail piece is done, we work our way down from the most robust channel, to quicker, smaller forms of the ad. There are also some channel-specific considerations that should be addressed. While there’s a growing number of ways for your marketing to reach consumers, I’ll go through some considerations for the big three: direct mail, email, and online.

Direct Mail

Outside of what’s already been said, it’s important to remember that the mailpiece is your chance to go big and say as much as you want. For some, this might not be a relevant factor—you might be able to communicate your offer in a short letter or even on a self-mailer. For others, a multi-page letter and brochure might be needed.

Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, it’s important to remember that this is the best direct marketing channel to say it all. If you don’t include content here, it’s probably not going to be mentioned in this campaign.


After direct mail, email allows for the most content. Since mail and email are so closely related, designing the email portion of the campaign mainly involves simply taking the mailpiece and whittling down the content and adhering to email best practices, like keeping the call to action “above the fold” (or, where the recipient can see it without having to scroll).

With so many emails of varying importance coming into their inboxes every day, consumers know how to quickly skim and prioritize. The subject line and opening text should be intriguing and entice someone to click and scroll for more. Copy should be condensed from a direct mail piece’s letter into a few bullets or a paragraph that list the key benefits and provide a clear next step, while graphics should be easy to read and provide interest.

Display, Online, and Social

Online ads, like display banners, differ the most from direct mail. While it’s still a direct marketing channel, it appears to be more of a public ad, like a billboard. And, like a billboard, these ads have a very brief window to catch someone’s attention, and not a lot of space to communicate. Typically, these ads consist of a dominant hero image and headline (in some cases, maybe a sentence or two of supporting copy), and a prominent call-to-action (CTA). It needs to be catchy and enticing and should make an impact.

Remember: Your Landing Page is Also Direct Marketing

I would like to give a shout-out to landing pages, which some marketers overlook as part of their sales funnel instead of a marketing channel. Really, it’s both. Landing pages should be easy to follow and reinforce what’s already been communicated through other ads, while still mimicking the rest of the campaign in terms of language, tone, and design.

In the end, you’ll have one channel that is encompassing (direct mail), one that is extremely minimal (display), and a few others ranging somewhere in the middle. This helps fulfill the mission of multichannel marketing by addressing consumers in their preferred channel(s) with the kind of content they expect, building an offer presence through repetition and cohesive messaging and design. If you’re looking for help designing your next multichannel marketing campaign, reach out to me here.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2021/01/20/design-multichannel-marketing/
Mike Dietz


Mike Dietz

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