by Cassandra Balentine
Part one of two
In a complex world where consumers face digital fatigue, print is often a welcome messaging medium. With the right tools, direct mail can be a complex standalone tool or a pivotal point in an omni-channel campaign.
In the May issue of DPS Magazine, we speak with direct mail providers to get their take on the future of direct mail. Here, we discuss innovative vendors supporting the direct mail space in a two-part series on direct mail trends.
Direct Mail Trends
Direct mail is an effective medium, especially when combined with the latest tools like big data, personalization, IP targeting, email, SMS, embellishments, and outer envelope printing.
“Direct mail is coming back as a preferred marketing channel,” states William J. Longua, senior director, Digital Print Group, Quadient. “Over the last few decades, I have noticed that when a macro event occurs—think the recession of 2008 or COVID-19—budgets get slashed and marketing dollars evaporate, and direct mail is a quick way to cut costs. But I have also observed that direct mail bounces back. Companies know this is a valuable medium. The numbers show that direct mail works.”
Further, expectations that the digital generations would have no interest in physical mail are proving untrue. “New generations that have grown up digital, never even knowing what a phone cord looks like, love getting physical mail,” adds Longua.
Another argument for digital fatigue comes from the fact that many consumers spent a lot of time working and living online during the pandemic. “As a result, they are growing weary of online advertising and taken steps to avoid digital ads—installing ad blockers, avoiding sponsored search results, and even abandoning websites altogether,” says Randy Hardy, North American representative, locr GmbH. “To cut through the clutter of this online marketing, many marketers are turning to direct mail. It has the unique ability to reach customers in ways that online communications cannot.”
He also points to research done for the Royal Mail UK by the Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology at Bangor University, which found that touching materials stimulates and engages our brain in dynamic ways—creating far more stimulation than digital content.
“The research notes that the touch of a direct mail piece’s texture, weight, and dimensions trigger more emotions and lead to greater engagement and, ultimately, better recall than any online ad can create,” says Hardy.
He adds that according to the US Postal Service, 68 percent of marketers said combining digital and direct mail increased website visits, and 60 percent said they improved return on investment (ROI). “This improved performance is why we see the integration of personalized, targeted direct mail into a digital marketing strategy as a key trend for 2022.”
Longua points out that mailing to existing customers has exceptionally high response rates, so using customized and targeted messages to speak to your in-house list delivers terrific results. “The type of mailing is changing as well, with postcard use increasing over the last few years and self-mailers declining. The higher postage rates and handling required for most self-mailers will most likely see this trend continue, but I believe that envelope usage will increase, based on new privacy laws, recent trends, and equipment sales.”
It is worth noting that mass mailing campaigns may not be the answer. It is important to utilize the technology available today to send targeted, high-value marketing pieces that drive a measurable response.
Cost optimization is an area of concern. Paper shortages have led to dramatic increases in paper costs. “Add the additional postage rates, and you can understand why marketers need to optimize their campaigns,” admits Hardy.
He says many marketers are finding new ways to use data and geoinformation to refine their mailing lists and precisely target prospects to reduce costs. “Our GEOservices technology, for example, lets printers select only the addresses in a location they know is suitable for their client’s business. Updating your list in this way saves both printing and mailing costs while improving the ROI of your campaign.”
No longer do mailings come with a send-it-and-forget-it approach.
Brad Kugler, CEO, Direct Mail2.0, points out that with omni-channel marketing the same creative and messaging gets a lift through multiple, strategic impressions. The company is able to utilize 11 different technologies, layered on top of one another, to improve response rates and offer measurable metrics.
This is involves mail tracking—including actual delivery; clickable, ride-along inspection; social media integration; and IP targeting.
Target and Track
Direct mail’s potential today is impressive. With targeted lists and variable data that correspond to electronic efforts, it proves to provide an impressive lift in results. Technologies are dedicated to upping the ante on this application.
In part two we discuss the effect of COVID-19 on this industry and highlight some of the today’s innovative technologies.
May2022, DPS Magazine