Coordinating Direct Mail with Online Channels

I recently wrote about direct mail and the effectiveness of this traditional marketing channel for both communicating with customers and prospecting for new ones. Direct mail alone can be successful and it can be even more powerful when combined with digital marketing channels. Let’s look at these digital options, some you are using currently, and others that are up and coming.

Website Landing Pages
If you plan a direct mail campaign that leads the recipient online, you will most likely need to use landing pages. They are called landing pages because these are pages that a web visitor will arrive at, or land on, from a web address in your promotion. Landing pages have the single objective of moving your web visitor to take your desired action. For example, if you send a mailer promoting portable easels with a call to action to visit a web page, the URL in the mailer should go to a landing page all about portable easels. The page should include a call to action about purchasing, or attending a demo, or whatever action you want the recipient to take.

Most businesses are using email marketing with a database of emails and a method for building and broadcasting their emails. If your business is not yet using email marketing, I suggest you look into this channel as a way to communicate with your customers. There are many easy-to-use and affordable email services to choose from including MailChimp and Constant Contact.

You can combine direct mail and email to increase the impact of your message. Mailing a print piece and broadcasting an email with similar graphics and messaging helps increase recognition and response. Think carefully about what info each piece should include and where you will send the recipient of the message for more information, most likely a landing page on your website. To respond to the printed piece, the recipient must go online and enter the website address from the mailer. When responding to an email, it is as simple as clicking on a link in the email. 

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is essentially a web address and a pURL is a personal URL that will send the recipient to a web page personalized just for them. This custom web page should display their name and include other info that you have for that person such as their title, business name, location, etc.

Your direct mail piece needs to entice your recipient to respond by going to this personalized web page. That web page should continue the offer or message from the mail piece, leading the respondent to take your desired action. Do you want them to make a product purchase or perhaps to provide some additional information about themselves? Whatever it is, your challenge is to provide a compelling offer based upon your knowledge of the recipient.

QR Codes
QR (Quick Response) codes are bar codes that can be scanned by a smartphone or tablet. Once scanned, you are immediately taken to a web page.  QR codes have not shown the great popularity  many people were expecting when they first came out. This may be because they weren’t used very well. A lot of early QR codes took people to the home page of a company’s website. What a QR code should do is take you to a specific landing page about a topic. For example, I have seen QR codes on outdoor real estate signs that simply take you to the home page of the company’s website, when the QR code should take you directly to a page about that specific property. You don’t want to frustrate the user and stop their engagement, you want to guide them through a positive experience. Also, remember that when someone is using a QR code they are on a mobile device and that means the website they are taken to must be optimized for mobile viewing.

Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is very sophisticated and perhaps too expensive for many businesses at this time. But it is up and coming and may be more affordable as it broadens in scope. AR is now coming into the marketing mix because recent developments have made this technology accessible with a smartphone.  Augmented reality involves a real world environment that is augmented by computer generated sensory input that can include sound, video, graphics, or GPS (global positioning system) data. The goal of the AR system is to create an experience where the user cannot tell the difference between the real world and the virtual components that have been added.

Here is a website that has examples of AR in use today, including IKEA’s AR catalog that lets shoppers see how furniture will look in their home. You can see some very creative uses of the reality/fantasy experience and how effective it can be.

Create a Path
When planning a direct mail campaign that leads recipients online you’ll want to identify all the touchpoints that will be involved and fully understand how each one impacts the others. Your direct mail will lead people to your website, so you must plan out their entire experience, from receiving your mailer to where they will be sent online, and what you want them to do from there.

Your call-to-action will send people online where they should be sent directly to a landing page that continues your message. For example, if you are sending them online to register for an event, then they should be sent to the event sign up page. If your direct mail is promoting a sale on a specific product, they should be sent directly to that product page. They should not be sent to your home page where they will have to figure out how to find that product. At each step that you have created for your recipient, there should be a call-to-action to direct and encourage them to the next step and the final action you want them to take. Every step must have a role in improving your response rate. 

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