A recent survey revealed that the perception of marketers, when it comes to the success and influence of digital marketing, did not jibe with the reality of consumers, according to Print in the Mix. The power of digital marketing – including mobile, e-commerce and social media – has been overstated, as has the alleged demise of traditional channels such as direct mail marketing.
The Marketing-GAP report, conducted by UK company fast.MAP, revealed that fewer than 2 percent of survey respondents were happy to receive marketing messages via text or social media channels. This is largely in contrast with the recent motivations of most marketing executives, who have loudly touted the numerous benefits of social media and mobile marketing. The prevalence of Quick Response (QR) codes, coupled with the proliferation and explosion of new social media networks on a seemingly daily basis, would seem to suggest otherwise. This signifies a massive gap in perceptions between marketers and the consumers they are actively trying to reach.
“Marketers again and again prove themselves to be deaf to consumer demands and preferences by overestimating…people’s desire to be contacted via mobile call, social media and Twitter,” the report stated. “In fact, a sure way to alienate customers and prospects is to only provide information and offers via these routes.”
In an increasingly digital world, it’s no surprise that traditional forms of print material are giving way to their digital counterparts. While the numerous benefits of direct mail marketing remain intact and extolled by marketers in lieu of email marketing and other channels, one aspect of direct mail has indeed gone the digital way – business reply cards (BRCs). According to Target Marketing Magazine, these cards were standard response devices when accompanied with direct mail campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the rise of personalized URLs (PURLs) and Quick Response (QR) codes have banished BRCs largely to the wayside.
“The big news is that QR style codes…get higher response rates than other printed direct marketing tools,” Roger Matus, executive vice president at Nellymoser, told Mobile Marketer. “We never knew this before because this is the first time anyone has been able to measure the complete impact of printed mobile codes from the initial scan to the delivery of the mobile experience.”
As direct mail marketing continues its renaissance across-the-board, one industry in particular has seen high response rates through direct mail campaigns. The healthcare industry is well-suited to such channels of marketing for several reasons, including the advent of consumer data for a more targeted approach and the high returns on investment (ROI) associated with specialist programs.
According to USA Today, many healthcare providers are using direct mail marketing to promote their most lucrative services and specialized offerings, including cancer, heart and orthopedic care. Many healthcare providers are using the health and financial records of patients – as well as possible patients within a certain geographic region – to target specific consumers. For example, mailers promoting lung cancer screenings might be sent by hospitals to people who demonstrated a higher inclination toward smoking, based on age, income, insurance status and other specific demographic criteria. Targeting possible smokers who may harbor concerns about lung cancer will likely lead to a higher response rate. Additionally, patients with private health insurance are more popular potential clients, as their coverage plans typically pay higher rates to hospitals than government insurance plans.
A recent report revealed that Quick Response (QR) codes drove consumers to take action more responsively and at a higher rate than any other direct marketing tactics, according to Mobile Marketer. The report, “Scan Response Rates in National Magazines,” was conducted by Nellymoser.
“The big news is that QR style codes…get higher response rates than other printed direct marketing tools,” Roger Matus, executive vice president at Nellymoser, told the news source. “We never knew this before because this is the first time anyone has been able to measure the complete impact of printed mobile codes from the initial scan to the delivery of the mobile experience.”
According to the report, the median response rate for consumers using mobile action codes was between 4.5 percent to 5.9 percent, with the average coming in at around 6.4 percent. To contrast, the average response rate for direct mail was around 4.4 percent, while the average response rate to a catalog was 4.3 percent.
A recent survey suggested that direct mail marketing was favored by the public compared to other formats of direct marketing, according to Marketing Week. The latest Marketing-GAP report, produced by research agency Fast.MaP, revealed widespread public resistance to any format of direct marketing beyond mail and email. Additionally, the studies showed that coupons and personally-addressed communications remained effective incentives to get consumers to open mailers and read messages.
Only 6 percent of survey respondents revealed that they were happy to receive direct marketing messages via telephone, text message or social media. On the flip side, 38 percent were happy to receive physical direct mail, especially from local businesses and supermarkets. Overall, email and direct mail were considered acceptable and even welcome channels of marketing communications.
“With both [direct mail and email], you pick and choose when to interact,” David Cole, managing director of Fast.MAP, told the news source. “You can have filters on email and screen the junk, for example, and you feel far more in control. With mail, you can open it in a time and a place that’s convenient for you. But a text comes through and demands immediate attention. For a company to be contacting you on that personal device is overstepping the boundary in some cases.”
One aspect of direct mail marketing that has consistently demonstrated high return on investment (ROI) and strong retention and conversion rates is personalization. Direct mail campaigns that speak to individuals instead of the masses tend to be more efficacious in their goals. One way to increase personalization of direct mail pieces is to use variable data printing (VDP). According to Target Marketing Magazine, VDP produces a mass of customized documents via digital print technology. Instead of printing the same message to, companies can use this technology to customize individual messages and designs as they see fit.
“When marketers are able to share specific information with specific individuals…they are able to increase engagement,” Gina Danner, the CEO of Mail Print, told the news source. “Essentially with VDP, marketers make it easier for people to buy.”
Companies have increased access to customized data and information. Marketers are able to acquire mailing lists that not only provide names and addresses, but also more specific and detailed demographic information. This additional information includes marital status, income, personal interests and other personal information. One IMS suggests that using VDP allows your company to cater to this sensitive data by creating custom copy for a direct mail campaign.
Direct mail has been proven to be an effective marketing strategy for a variety of different retail industries and organizations. However, one area that has demonstrated particularly astounding efficacy for direct mail marketing is fundraising for nonprofit organizations and charities.
“Despite all the buzz about social media and other channels, direct mail still brings in more money than any other single fundraising channel,” Margaret Battistelli Gardner, Editor-in-Chief of Fundraising Success magazine, told the news source. “And yes, it’s also one of the most expensive channels, especially for acquisition, but the key is to be smart about how, when and to whom you mail.”
Tell a story
One of the most important tips for a successful fundraising direct mail campaign is an emphasis on telling stories. Successful fundraising depends on reaching out to and connecting with a reader on a personal level. Tugging at one’s heartstrings is more likely to get them to open their wallets. To this end, Fundraising Success Magazine recommends making an emotional appeal by telling donors exactly how their contributions will help your nonprofit organization fulfill its mission. Preying on a consumer’s guilty conscience is slightly cynical but highly effective. This fact is even truer when the story in reference takes place and touches readers close to home. Using vivid images is another way of effectively establishing a connection with a potential donor. Hundreds of small words printed on a mailer can be easily ignored or glossed over, but a haunting picture of a person, child or region in plight is less likely to be shunned.
Despite the advancement of digital technologies and the proliferation of online channels for marketing, print media and direct mail marketing campaigns are still considered to be a reliable medium by marketing executives. Yet it would be foolish for these same marketers to ignore the immense potential portended by the digital wave. In fact, the most successful print publications and direct mail campaigns contain digital elements. A successful marriage of the two disparate mediums could produce tremendous results and great return on investment (ROI) for marketing executives.
According to Marketing Week, more brands are prioritizing customer loyalty and turning to the combination of digital and print mediums. Adding multiple digital layers to an already-efficacious print campaign could result in a devastatingly-effective multichannel campaign that offers more opportunities for engagement and unique content. As such, more brands and publications are turning to Quick Response (QR) codes, augmented reality (AR) codes, ezines, social media networks and other technological innovations. This is all done in conjunction with the release of traditional direct mail pieces and customer magazines.
A recent poll from Harris revealed that parents are more apt than consumers without children to use print and online coupons to save money. Of the respondents, 33 percent of parents said they were looking for discounts and special offers through clipping coupons or printing digital promo codes, compared to just 26 percent of respondents who did not have children.
When the survey examined the sources of these coupons and savings, the value of direct mail among the parental demographic became readily apparent. Using coupons that arrive at their home through the mail was the preferred choice for 31 percent of surveyed parents. This was tied with clipping coupons from newspaper inserts for the most popular source. Following behind were other digital and high-tech options, including merchant email offers (30 percent), online coupon sites (29 percent), opt-in email offers from retailers (23 percent) and promo text alerts from retailers (14 percent).
Direct mail marketing can be an incredibly fruitful strategy for marketing and advertising executives. While there are a host of key issues that many of these marketers are aware of as to what goes into making a successful direct mail campaign, it might be just as important to keep track of what not to do. Here are some tips on the pitfalls to avoid when it comes to executing a successful direct mail campaign.
Perhaps the most important aspect of direct mail is the list of recipients the mailers will go to. Business 2 Community recommends that marketers avoid sending mail to an unclean list. Not cleaning your company’s mailing list with the National Change of Address (NCOA) prior to delivering the mailers could result in mail going to people who no longer live at those addresses, resulting in a tremendous waste of time, money and effort. To avoid this, consider building mailing lists organically – either through sign-ups or information from customer data – or purchasing lists from other vendors.