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Dove Direct Print & Marketing Blog - 5 Ways to Improve Direct Mail Techniques for 2018

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Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today’s post, “5 Ways to Improve Direct Mail Techniques for 2018” expounds upon strategies that will improve response rates above current direct mail response rate benchmarks.

Brands and marketers remain committed to using direct mail because it continues to produce the highest ROI metrics. In fact, direct mail actually improves website visits, social media engagements, and online purchasing numbers. There are many surveys and reports that bolster the effectiveness of using direct mail, and to that end, the InfoTrends study confirms the efforts of other data mining resources and results. Today’s post is focusing on how to improve those benchmark numbers using direct mail techniques for 2018.

InfoTrends’ Direct Mail Study

Marketers and brands can dial up a number of surveys and reports that point to the effectiveness of direct mail. Nonetheless, direct mail marketing has evolved from the traditional norms of the past. That said, InfoTrends recent study produced the following statistics:

  • 56% of consumers responding to direct mail either went online or visited a brick and mortar
  • 62% of consumers responding to direct mail within the past three months completed a purchase
  • 66% of direct mail gets opened
  • 82% of direct mail is read for a minute or more
  • 84% stated that personalization made them more likely to open a direct mail piece

For those of you who have recently used direct mail marketing and may not have experienced the numbers reported by InfoTrends, or, for those who have met or exceeded those numbers, there are techniques that can improve upon those direct mail numbers across the board. That said, let’s look into the 5 ways to improve direct mail techniques for 2018. These 5 methods are listed in no particular order and should be addressed based on budget and resources. In addition, for those marketing efforts that are limited due to budget constraints, the QR Codes, PURLs and fold designs are the most cost efficient.

1.  Videos

For direct mail marketing considerations that wish to avoid online apps or software difficulties that may reduce consumer message view-ability, video is the answer. Direct mail video mailers are self supporting in that they contain a built-in audiovisual player!

The consumer opens the mailer and the video can either be triggered to play on opening or playback after the consumer pushes a button. Consumers are highly motivated to  instantly watch a video, especially videos that they can control. Brands and marketers can relax knowing that their direct mail recipients can watch videos outside of web apps, software constraints, and other technical requirements.  Video mailers are somewhat new to direct mail marketing and can be prohibitively expensive for some campaigns.  However, we believe that these prices will drop in the not too distant future as more brands adopt direct mail video marketing campaigns. 

2.  Geometric Structural Mail

Direct mail pieces that are designed with some degree of dimension will undoubtedly garner prospects’ attention and curiosity. There are enough direct mail pieces that fit the norm, such as brochures, postcards and fancy envelopes that make up the majority of direct mail marketing campaigns. Creating geometric mail pieces that are more dimensional in look and feel, such as plastic bottles, tubes, and boxes will cut through the clutter and bring a fresh perspective to your offering.

Geometric direct mail creatives generate a much higher response over single dimensional pieces that permeate the direct mail landscape. That said, before you endeavor to jump into creating geometric, multi-dimensional mail pieces, the investment can be expensive, so budgetary, shelf-life and conversion response rates must be carefully factored. However, the statement ‘you get what you pay for,’ drives this type of investment while keeping in mind that this approach will deliver a lift in response rates.  

3.  Augmented Reality

The widely popular Pokémon Go scenario that swept the nation is but one example of a fun, engaging type of augmented reality. It’s true that the Pokémon Go example was generated in the mobile phone environment, and you may be asking how can that concept be applied to direct mail creative.

There are a number of ways that this AI approach can be achieved.  Animated cartoons, for example, can be structured for users to either visit a mobile webpage upon scanning the direct mail piece, or have the cartoon loaded directly on the device upon scanning. The trick here is that the cartoon needs to convey information that results in an action the brand wishes to impart to the prospect. It can be a how-to, or a download of a white paper, a discount offer or anything the brand wishes to provide.  However, the final creative must be interesting, fun and easy for prospects to use.

4.  Die Cuts and Folds

Matryoshka, aka, the Russian Nesting Dolls, are synonymous with creating intrigue and suspense for those going through the process of opening the decorated wooden dolls.  In the direct mail universe, creating multi-fold, die cut pieces that open up to different layers through various folds provides a similar experience of fun, intrigue and suspense in order for the prospect to get to the message. The opening process also builds curiosity among direct mail recipients that will keep them engaged to the end of discovery.

5.  PURLs and QR Codes

Adding a PURL (personal url) to your direct mail piece dramatically increases your response rates by giving your prospects another channel to respond to online. Secondly, a PURL can direct a prospect to a safe, personalized landing page or micro-site that is free from Google and the brand’s competition. Further, brands can generate reports and smart analytics to track campaigns from start to finish to measure the success of the campaign and drive revenue.

Driving prospects to landing pages or micro-sites via direct mail using QR codes is much more cost efficient than the aforementioned methods, which includes using automated marketing software. The direction a marketer or brand needs to take to create a PURL or QR code is outlined in the following steps:

  1. Compelling Content - Any direct mail piece begins with the content itself and care should be taken to ensure that the piece is creative, engaging and delivers relevant information to the targeted prospect. Place the PURL in a distinctive section of the direct mail piece and use a “call to action” offer when the PURL is visited.
  2. Prepare Personalized Mailing List - Create your mailing list with your customer/prospect’s name and address information. Edit this list using variable data, a feature which can create new data columns, based on your information such as past purchases, product information and demographics. Then, add the new variable data columns to your personalized list to further personalize landing pages for more impact.
  3. Build Landing Page Template - Create your own landing page template and upload to your chosen marketing automation software, or design a landing page from your marketing automation software choices. Then, locate the template manager area and construct a landing page that presents your prospects/clients with variable data, survey questions, data gathering forms, pre-filled forms, coupons, and more. In some cases, especially if just starting out, creating two landing pages for A/B testing is a good idea. Depending on the marketing automation software capability, creating an effective landing page makes all the difference.
  4. Create The PURL Campaign - Navigate within your marketing automation platform’s email campaign creator and follow the various steps to set up a PURL campaign. Upon completing these steps, you are now presented with a modified downloadable mailing list file which now has all your personalized mailing list data as well as a new column for PURLs.
  5. Send the Direct Mail Piece - Send out the direct mail piece and start to track campaign activity. Email alerts will generate instant notifications depicting PURL activities, which provides you with a mechanism to track the status and pulse of your campaign. In addition, you can even access admin tools and generate a variety of reports in real time while a campaign is running.
  6. Analyze Campaign Results - Big data provides detailed analytics and is considered the most effective method to measure campaign success results. Generate a full report to analyze how a campaign performed. The beauty of analyzing campaign performance results is the capability of being able to download data for lead generation usage which also aids in planning and building subsequent campaigns.

In summation, whenever a brand or marketer is planning a direct mail campaign, care must be taken that direct mail rules still apply. It starts with compiling a credible list, a responsive and engaging design all culminating with a strong call-to-action. These are must have rules to ensure that any direct mail campaign is successful. In addition, it is helpful to include information directing prospects how to use technology included in the direct mail pieces so they have no problem engaging with the brand's content.

The Net-Net

Being creative with all that direct mail has to offer, coupled with online landing page and mobile technology will add a significant boost to your ROI results. Happy Direct Mail Improvement Technique Development for 2018!

Let’s have a conversation about direct mail strategies, printing, print software, transactional documents, variable digital printing, brand equity and unified marketing collateral during our next Open House. We invite you to join us on Thursday, May 31st, 2018, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce your costs, and maximize your organization’s printing, letter shop and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct does have an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. And, if you bring us your files, we will create a demo file for you. For more information call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider offers organizations end-to-end data, printing and mailing solutions: Data Management, Variable Digital Printing, LetterShop and Fulfillment, Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau, Marketing and Production Management Support and Secure Data Life Cycle Management.

If you don't want to wait for the Open House, you can reach Dove Direct today by calling 404-629-0122 or use the contact form for Dove Direct.

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Leland Hicks is the CTO of MatterMax Media, a digital marketing agency that provides business strategy, web design, social media management and training.  He can be reached at lahicks@mattermaxmedia.com