How to Combine Direct Mail and Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is much discussed in today’s media, leaving more traditional marketing methods somewhat forgotten. We’re constantly being reminded that everyone shops differently online and responds to different triggers and messages, but direct mail isn’t often highlighted.

The truth is, it can be an ecommerce retailer’s secret weapon when combined with digital marketing in a carefully considered campaign.

Direct mail response rates still considerably outperform digital channels. With an in-house list, the response rate for direct mail averages at 3.7%, way ahead of its closest digital contender, Mobile, which can only boast a response rate of 0.2%.

Email response rates are next in line at just 0.1%, but when you add direct mail to an email campaign you increase the potential response rate by up to 4%.

Get the Right Marketing Mix

The key is creating a multi-faceted campaign. Direct mail can act as a bridge between the virtual and the physical, breaking down barriers and building awareness and familiarity with your brand.

It can take some experimentation to find the right combinations for your business but it is well worth exploring if you’re serious about increasing sales and market share.

Using Direct Mail as one piece of a multi-pronged campaign gives you an opportunity to reach a customer via many different touchpoints.

A message received through mail, email, text and even apps is going to have much more impact than an offer sent via email and lost in a busy inbox within hours.

You can plan specific drop dates for your mailing and back it up with digital action at just the right time. Scheduling appropriate follow ups and further contact with consumers is a must, too.

Track Your Direct Mail through Digital Actions

Those of us used to digital marketing might find tracking direct mail is challenging, but it doesn’t need to be.

There are plenty of tracking mechanisms that allow analysis into the online activity generated by direct mail, but these need to be planned before you release your campaign.

QR codes or personalised URLs could be added to the mailer, which allows tracking via familiar web analytics packages like Google Analytics. This can offer an in-depth view about the kind of digital interactions your direct mail is producing.

If your campaign offers a specific offer or discount, include an exclusive voucher code.

This could be a general code for the whole campaign or you could break it down into specific target groups, distribution routes or even provide unique personal codes.

Track the sales made using these codes and you have plenty of data for analysis at your fingertips.

Make sure you monitor social networks for increases in brand mentions, an effective direct mail campaign will get people talking. If you can correlate an increase with your mail drop you’ll know you’ve had an impact.

You could also encourage feedback with incentivised online polls or competitions to spread social reach as well as gaining insight into how your mailing was received.

Combine Marketing Channels

Ultimately, it’s important to practice integrated marketing. Try not to separate online and offline, as a more holistic approach can yield much better results. If your business has been built on mailing, consider integrating digital and vice versa.

But don’t keep each channel in a silo, or in a detached department.

Start at campaign level and work through the channels to assess the benefits each one could bring.

You might be surprised at the results. After all, when brand advocates receive direct mail they’re 50% more likely to share online content which results in purchases. So what are you waiting for?

Test and Learn

If you plan, execute and analyse your campaign well you will be able to pinpoint what is really working. This will allow you to engineer costs down over time to produce a better ROI, keeping your focus on the most profitable marketing mix.

For example, you might find a particular demographic or customer group that responds well to direct mail, and another that doesn’t.

Investing into either mailing the more responsive group more often or finding more prospects like them to mail with digital marketing reinforcement will make your investment work harder and ultimately result in higher profits.

You don’t know what will work for your market until you try, but if you’ve set out your criteria for success and measurement mechanism before you start, you’re well equipped for learning some valuable lessons about your customers.

Jess Glinn

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