How to use direct mail to reach your end-of-year goals
Well, you made it through another one. The end of the year is almost here, and so it’s time for one last hard look at your end-of-year goals.
If you’re like a lot of marketers, you’re looking at those goals, comparing them against performance to date, and feeling like you’ve come up a little bit short.
It’s okay; consider all the obstacles you’ve had to overcome in 2021 – not even taking into account the pandemic:
- The start of a slow, lingering death for third-party cookies
- Declining metrics – declining reliable metrics, at least – for Facebook and many other social platforms
- Higher social-media acquisition and advertising costs (per Merkle)
- Slowing growth in global marketing budgets
- Staffing issues affecting key customer-facing areas like customer service
- Declines in organic search traffic
- Higher advertising costs on platforms like Amazon (also per Merkle)
That’s the tip of the iceberg, but you get the picture. If you’re facing a last-minute crunch to hit your year-end numbers, it’s not pretty out there. Fortunately, you have tools – and chief among them is that old standby, direct mail.
If you need to pull a rabbit out of your hat to hit your year-end numbers, direct mail might be the rabbit – or the hat. It’s not entirely clear. But you can use direct mail regardless, and here’s how:
- To present deals and offers to selected segments of your customer base
- To grow your stash of reliable first-party data
- To test and qualify your mailing list in anticipation of 2022
- To drive web traffic
- To take the pressure off stressed parts of your organization
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Presenting deals and offers to segments of your customer base
This is probably the most obvious, but it’s first because it’s arguably the most important. If you have revenue numbers you need to hit, at this particular juncture nothing will get it done quite like directly delivering personalized, targeted offers to key segments of your customer base.
The keys to this delivering the goods are “personalized” and “targeted.” The legendary Mary Meeker noted that nine out of every 10 customers want a customized experience – and a personalized experience that crosses the digital and tangible realms is even better.
So here’s what you do: Look at the most marketable segments of your customer base and devise an appealing offer or promotion for them – ideally one that involves surplus products. Tie it back to your website’s brand voice and image. Work with a direct-mail specialist on appearance and delivery. Then light the candle.
It probably won’t be a panacea, but it may help you out of a hole or at the very least make your year-end numbers look a little less bleak. And key findings from the mailing can be applied to your 2022 marketing roadmap.
To grow your stash of first-party data
If you haven’t yet realized or accepted that 2022 will be the Year of First-Party Data, consider this your bucket of ice water in the face. The only data you can count on in 2022 is your own, so use the very last days of 2021 to make deposits in the First-Party Data Bank.
Direct mail is the original first-party data-getter, and end-of-year is the perfect time to team with a direct-mail specialist on a campaign that offers a tchotchke in exchange for a form-fill, or encourages recipients to enter a contest.
However you design it, an end-of-year data-collection campaign probably won’t help you hit year-end revenue goals. However, if stockpiling first-party data has been one of your 2021 marketing goals, this is the perfect way to finish the year.
To test and qualify your mailing list
Again, you’re going to need the cleanest, best, highest-performing list if you’re going to flourish in 2022. The only way to know how good your first-party data is to test it.
Get together with a direct-mail specialist and put together a mailing that tests the quality of your list. The campaign may look a lot like the one we just described, only targeting current customers.
Make the barrier to entry low and the reward significant enough to justify their time. You can send them to a landing page with a URL or use a QR code to express them to an online location … or you can just use an old-fashioned entry blank or reply card. Try to capture name, address, and email at a bare minimum.
However you structure it, remember that the end goal is to get your first-party data into shape so it can power your marketing in 2022.
To drive web traffic
A lot of websites are seeing lower traffic numbers in 2021 – less than 2019 in many cases, and less than 2020 in some. The reasons aren’t always clear, but if you’re having trouble getting people to visit your website, much less get them into a marketing funnel, try direct mail.
A direct-mail specialist can work with you on campaigns that drive customers to your website, whether it’s to the home page, a landing page, or the top of a funnel. These campaigns can use offers, QR codes, or just simple requests – and the beauty of these campaigns is they’re completely trackable, and great sources of first-party data.
If you need to meet web analytics goals and you’re falling short, put direct mail to work.
To take the pressure off of stressed parts of your organization
If you’re short of resources in a marketing department, what usually suffers? Social media. They’re just isn’t enough time in a day to “feed the beast.”
Similarly, if you have an ecommerce operation, customer-service people are often inundated nonstop.
Direct mail can help. Catalog campaigns have predictable cycles that allow you to staff up or down to meet demand. Also, one direct-mail piece can alleviate the need to continually push products on social media.
Make no mistake: These are short-term solutions. But if you’re up against it, direct mail has answers that can help relieve the pressure.
Year-end is as stressful for marketers as it is for accountants or salespeople. Fortunately, marketers have direct mail to fall back on. Sorry, accountants.
Contact us for more ways we can help with your year-end dilemmas.
By Dan Topel 11/16/21