By Cassandra Balentine
Part two of three
Although the power of print is proven with direct mail, the addition of digital presentment, electronic distribution, and tracking options make it even stronger. “You need multiple touches to get a consumer’s attention,” shares Angelo Anagnostopolous, VP of postal, GrayHair.
“Everywhere you turn there is data showing the value and benefit in addition to customers and print buyers having an increase in desire for print programs that tie in digital integration,” offers Morgan DiGiorgio, SVP sales and marketing, DirectMail 2.0. “United States Postal Service (USPS) themselves has been advocating for this for years and even offers postage incentives as the digital integration improves the efficacy of mail. There has been an increase in quick response codes, direct mail retargeting, and leveraging digital channel integration to layer omnichannel campaigns on top of mail to lift the response. Additionally, there is sophisticated attribution technology to show the response to the mail, which is so important for an offline channel that historically has been challenging to track.”
“The combination of digital and physical communications has proven itself a winner. It has become more common with marketing campaigns for larger customers. Technology improvements helps bring this further downstream to smaller businesses that want to benefit from this integration,” says William Longua, senior director, Digital Print Group, Quadient.
Marc Mascara, manager, professional services, Canon Solutions America, Production Print Solutions, feels as though print has become the “enabler” for digital communications, especially with the overwhelming number of fake emails and security issues with digital communication in general. “Direct mail print with integrated opti-channel communications can drive consumers to a relevant and safe digital communication experience. Print has become that ‘enabler’ that drives digital communications, especially post pandemic.”
“Digital distribution is being integrated into direct mail campaigns with increasing frequency,” shares Troy Shatus, president/CEO, Capital Mailing Equipment. He points out that many businesses are using a multichannel approach to reach their target audience and engage them through a combination of physical and digital channels.
One common way to integrate digital distribution into direct mail campaigns is using personalized URLs (PURLs). PURLs are unique web addresses that are customized to each recipient and printed on the direct mail piece.
Social media is also being integrated into direct mail campaigns to extend the reach of the campaign and encourage engagement. “For example, businesses may include social media icons on direct mail pieces, encouraging recipients to follow them on social media or share their experience with others,” adds Shatus.
Overall, the integration of digital distribution into direct mail campaigns is becoming more common as businesses seek to leverage the strengths of both channels to achieve better results. “By creating a cohesive multichannel campaign that leverages the strengths of each channel, businesses can improve response rates, engagement, and return on investment,” comments Shatus.
“It’s now 100 percent essential to combine digital with your direct mail. You have to be on all channels. Omni channel is what moves you closer to conversion. If you are not doing an omnichannel digital campaign with your direct mail, you are doing a disservice to your client,” adds Brad Kugler, CEO, DirectMail 2.0.
Retargeting is another option gaining traction.
“This will definitely have an impact as digital retargeting technology—pop-up ads that seem to follow you everywhere—gets applied to hybrid direct mail. As long as it is wisely and ethically used, it has the potential to greatly improve the return rates of a fully integrated and well-run hybrid campaign with more urgency, relevancy and precision,” shares Longua.
Margaret Curry, national manager, major accounts and strategic alliances, RISO, Inc., adds that it is essential to have tools to mine customer demographics and send appropriate messaging via multiple channels to the target audience.
“I think there is great promise in this area. So does the USPS. That is why there is a promotion for that in 2023 and again in 2024. You just need to be careful with the ‘creep factor,’” warns Angelo Anagnostopolous, VP of postal, GrayHair.
There has been more attention on direct mail retargeting for many reasons. Firstly, customers want to use more targeted lists. “The vast majority of your success in marketing is based on the audience and when you can identify a website visitor who is literally telling you they are interested and retarget them with a personalized mail piece you can achieve astronomical response rates. Additionally, USPS rolled out five percent postage discounts for use of this technology this year for the first time ever,” notes DiGiorgio.
Brad Kugler, CEO, DirectMail 2.0, says retargeting is yet another new and essential tool. “No one needs anymore email in their inbox at the moment. Drop a card in the mail within 24 hours of a website visit or cart abandonment and it will go 100 times as far as another email layered into an inbox with 400 items already ahead of it. There is an urgency in the mailbox that now exceeds most emails. Take advantage of it.”
However, he says direct mail retargeting is still in the early stages and needs a few more years of iterations to fully develop and become the vehicle it should be; but it works now and more and more people have the capability to deliver with success. “Artificial intelligence is going to be huge in marketing; it already is with a few exclusive vendors. This will proliferate the digital marketing and print marketing world quickly over the next five years and have a huge impact on return on ad spend.”
Combining digital components with digital is proven effective, but not all have adopted this technique.
Curry points out that digital distribution is always offered as a solution in segments like transactional mail, but does not seem to be as necessary with direct mail.
Kenneth Tucker, senior manager, marketing business development, Ricoh USA Inc., admits that omni-channel and multichannel integration has been slow to progress even though it can provide significant value in improving response rates and data tracking. “One of the primary problems lies in having multiple departments rather than establishing an enterprise-wide policy and its internal resources.”
Direct mail is an essential marketing tool. Digital counterparts help bolster response rates and effectiveness even more.
Next week we look at where direct mail will be in five years.
Read part one of this series, Hardware Advancements For Direct Mail
Jul2023, DPS Magazine