5 Direct-Mail Success Strategies For 2022
Direct mail is expected to generate $33.4 billion in revenue in 2022, according to AdWeek (subscription may be required), and even though it’s now in second place in local media spending behind mobile advertising, direct mail is still a vital part of a strategic marketing mix.
They key word is “strategic.” Spray-and-pray mailings are becoming passé, and that’s something to celebrate. In their place are mailings that are not just personalized but personal – designed to truly connect with customers in meaningful ways.
To get the most out of your mailings in 2022, consider these five strategies designed to make your direct-mail marketing more impactful:
- Take an intentional approach to data collection
- Integrate – really integrate – your campaigns
- Focus on the customer experience
- Revisit direct-mail metrics
- Lower the volume
Here’s what you need to know and do to maximize the effectiveness of these proven approaches:
Take an intentional approach to data collection
By now, everyone should know that recent privacy changes by the big tech giants have made organizations’ own data (known as “first-party data”) vitally important.
As a result, more organizations have placed a priority on collecting this data, very often at the top of the marketing funnel.
This is all well and good and as it should be. However, here’s the one thing that’s often missing from organizations’ top-of-funnel first-party data collection: intentionality.
If you collect data at the top of a funnel or at some other location early in the sales process, do you collect a mailing address? If not, why not?
Sometimes it’s hard when you’re marketing digitally to think about collecting data for a mail campaign, but look at it this way: You have very few opportunities to collect data from customers. You need to maximize those chances and collect as much data as you can – and that includes a mailing address.
When you do that, you have the potential to incorporate into your direct-mail campaign whatever contextual behavioral data you collect from an identified customer in the digital space.
In other words, by thinking “email address” and “mailing address” when you collect first-party data your digital marketing can enhance the effectiveness of your direct-mail efforts – and that’s pretty cool.
Integrate your campaigns all the way
Let’s be clear: We don’t hate email. There’s a time and place for everything – including email.
However, we do hate email campaigns that plow ahead and ignore all the other kinds of marketing going on around them, including direct mail.
What we want to see in 2022 are integrated campaigns that leverage the strengths of both media – email being used to reach large audiences cost-effectively, and direct mail being used in tandem to target key customer segments with dynamic, highly personalized packages.
We want to see common themes, messaging, and graphics. We want to see calls to action pointed in the same direction.
And then we want to see those campaigns linked to broader marketing initiatives, like new products, service enhancements, or customer re-engagement.
Just as with data collection, full campaign integration is all about thinking hard about your marketing and taking steps to cover all channels and eventualities.
Focus on customer experience
MediaPost recently asked top brands what their marketing imperatives are for 2022. At the top of the list for practically every brand? Customer experience.
Another article projected that the customer-experience-management industry (yes, it’s an industry now) will grow 17.5% annually through 2028.
Customer experience (CX) is hot in marketing because of its potential to go everywhere and do practically anything. If you treat your customers well they’ll do the heavy lifting of marketing for you, reducing costs and improving efficiencies. In addition, they’ll probably buy more, driving your bottom line still further.
On top of that, treating your customers well generally goes hand-in-hand with treating your employees well, meaning your employees will not only advocate for you, but they’re less likely to leave and need to be replaced … and yeah, that’s also great for your bottom line.
CX is the rising tide that lifts all boats, and direct mail can be the crucial piece in a CX-based marketing strategy through its unmatched ability to deliver experiences to potential customers.
It’s pretty simple to head down the CX/direct-mail road. Just ask yourself, “If I were a customer, what would I want to get in the mail from my brand?”, and take off from there.
Next to face-to-face interaction, direct mail is the best way of creating a memorable customer experience. It needs to be the key ingredient in your 2022 CX efforts.
Revisit direct-mail metrics
2022 also needs to be the year direct-mail metrics get their own place in the dashboard.
For too long direct-mail has been judged rather unfairly on one thing: its ability to directly lead to sales.
QR-code activation has added another layer to measurement, but even that is a relatively high bar compared to some of the important metrics attached to emails.
Are you judging your email campaigns on open rate or click-through, and your mail campaigns on sales? How unfair. Clicking an email is nothing like physically opening a piece of mail, reading through it, seeing a QR code, grabbing your phone, and scanning a QR code – much less filling out and returning a form.
It’s fine if you capture and report on QR-code activations, form returns, visits to PURLs and other specialized direct-mail metrics. However, it’s also acceptable to level the playing field and compare things like:
- Your email open rate versus a direct-mail open rate of 90-plus percent
- The average time spent with a piece of direct mail (five-plus minutes) with the average time a visitor spends on your website
- Direct-mail per-piece costs with cost-per-click numbers from your paid search campaign
We can’t and shouldn’t deny that we live in a digital-first marketing world. Instead, we should bring direct mail’s numbers into the digital realm and post them side-by-side with digital metrics to show how effective direct mail truly is.
Lower the volume
As mentioned at the top of this post, every-address mass mailings should be relegated to history for most organizations and campaigns. There are exceptions, such as political messaging, but in most cases at least a little selectivity is in order.
It’s okay if you don’t mail to everyone! If you have a solid mailing list with quality first-party data, and if you’re able to divide that list by demographics, customer behavior, or ZIP+4 location, it may actually make more sense to focus on hitting your best customers and prospects with super-targeted mailings that provide a great customer experience.
If you’re thinking that printing costs will eat you alive if you employ that approach, you might be surprised how little it costs to get that personal.
The key is to go beyond the salutation and incorporate content that shows you understand your customer as a unique person.
If that sounds impossible, contact us. We have ideas.
By Dan Topel 1/13/22