by Cassandra Balentine
Part two of two
Direct mail is a tried-and-true print application that experienced doubt and decline as digital generations entered the consumer market. However, with digital fatigue hitting hard, direct mail is a way for advertisers to stand out in an age where adverting is overwhelming.
In part one of this series on direct mail, we discuss some of the latest trends and how the newest technologies have transformed this traditional solution, including tracking, geocoding, and multi-touch marketing.
Here we discuss how the pandemic has specifically shifted thinking on direct mail the past two years, and highlight some innovative technologies that future-proof mail.
In the Mix
There are several ways the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the print industry, specifically direct mail.
William J. Longua, senior director, Digital Print Group, Quadient, points out that knowing a larger percentage of the workforce is going to be working remotely—all of the time or some of the time—the ability to communicate in a more meaningful way should increase. “Getting the mail may be a welcome break from video calls and email, so the ‘mail moment, ’ as the USPS talks about it, will become more important.”
He stresses that targeting with direct mail can talk to these customers who are spending more time at home and improve the connection to digital communications that marketers leverage. “Even corporate communications can benefit from using more physical mail to stay connected to remote employees without adding to digital burnout. Allocation of marketing dollars should flow back to this proven and dynamic medium.”
Brad Kugler, CEO, DirectMail2.0, sees the importance of standing out, whether it be with variable data or special effects like die cutting and embossing. He notes that you don’t get that type of impact with a digital-only campaign.
However, getting businesses to make a change and invest in the latest technologies can be a difficult task. “For most of the print industry, the latest technologies aren’t their wheelhouse and it’s difficult to understand,” shares Kugler.
The acceptance of digital is pushing the demand for added-value campaigns, specifically variable data.
“As more digital solutions are placed—making variable data and graphic printing more attainable to a wider group of mailers—variable data printing (VDP) will continue to be adopted and refined. It does not take million-dollar digital presses anymore. Personalization is an excellent way to increase response rates and be more creative with the messaging used,” offers Longua.
Randy Hardy, North American representative, locr GmbH, agrees, noting that variable data is an essential tool for creating the type of direct mail that makes an impact in these post-COVID days. “That’s because variable data enables printers to create a highly personalized direct mail campaign that resonates with consumers, promotes engagement, and inspires the recipient to act.”
He stresses the ease of adding personalization to their direct mail campaigns. “The software has become easier to use and there are now more ways to go beyond just ‘Dear First Name’ and add a variety of personalized elements to a direct mail,” explains Hardy.
For example, personalized maps show customers how to get from their location to the location of a business. So, when customers receive direct mail, they can connect with the message and the company—they visualize where the business is and how to get there.
“Using location to create a connection is especially effective for small businesses who, after the pandemic, want to get customers back to their restaurants, health clubs, and retail stores,” offers Hardy. He notes that location has also become a powerful resource for healthcare providers. Including a map in direct mail to patients ensure that they can easily find the care they need.
Optimizing the available space on an outer envelope is also a cost-effective way to promote services or products that your customers will appreciate. “More use of color on the outer envelope or mailer is also proven to increase the open and response rates for direct mail,” shares Longua.
From omni-channel marketing to tracking and personalization, many tools are available to mailers and brand owners.
DirectMail2.0 partners with printers, direct mail service providers, and agencies to provide white-label digital add-on services that bring direct mail into the 21st century with a suite of nearly a dozen digital integrations. Since being founded in 2016, the company says it has executed and tracked over 40,000 digitally integrated direct mail campaigns on behalf of its clients.
locr’s maps and geodata service help the printer add value to the services they offer a customer without adding complexity to their workflow. “As we mentioned, personalized maps are a great way to improve response rates in your direct mail campaigns. We have customers who have been running location-based marketing campaigns for years. Scientific research shows that using a map as a form of personalization stimulates the brain’s emotional area, promoting increased engagement that ultimately leads to better responses,” says Hardy
In addition, its GEOservices technology enables printers to select only the addresses in a location suitable for their client’s business. For example, say you are working with local healthcare practice. The client knows that 90 percent of their business comes from customers within a ten-mile radius. GEOservices lets you segment the list to only target prospects in that exact geographic location.
Quadient offers digital inkjet printers, such as the MACH 6 digital color printer, designed to print on postcards, envelopes, and mailers. It has full-color printers for short-run, custom color jobs, so that print service providers can produce full digital customization on converted envelopes and materials—even padded envelopes and cartons.
Quadient also offers solutions for omni-channel communications, so its customers can provide physical or digital communications or a combination of both for optimum results.
Today’s latest technologies add unique and custom embellishments and utilize data and tracking to ensure improved response rates for direct mail. Those that want to stand out in the mailbox should consider the possibilities of the new generation of mailing capabilities.
Read part one, High-Value Direct Mail.
May2022, DPS Magazine