Direct mail may seem like an antiquated communication channel that is dwarfed by the speed and ease of digital channels like email or PPC (pay-per-click) ads. But given the quantity of digital communications consumers experience each day, the truth is direct mail still very much matters to consumers, and it can be a powerful tool in communicating and engaging with your target audience.
For example, 75% of those surveyed said receiving direct mail makes them feel special, and a recent survey found that 62% of consumers say direct mail campaigns prompted them to act. What’s more, 76% of survey participants said they trust direct mail compared to other forms of advertising like TV, video, or radio.
These insights create a wide lane for direct mail as a valuable component of your print marketing strategy. Let’s look at a couple of reasons why direct mail campaigns are still our jam in 2023, and how joining the direct mail party can help you better connect with your audience and grow your customer base.
Direct mail doesn't have to be flat
Yes, we love a well-designed postcard with compelling content and a strong call-to-action, but we’re also fond of direct mail that has some dimension to it — something we lovingly refer to as a lumpy.
A lumpy is basically what it sounds like: a piece of direct mail that does not lay flat but rather, because of its size or shape, clearly differentiates itself in a sea of flat envelopes. Just like postcards or other flat mailers, lumpies can also use personalized content and customer data via variable data printing (VDP) to establish a more meaningful connection with the recipient faster, and to also demonstrate that you understand the landscape of your contact’s industry.
But part of what makes a lumpy mailer actually lumpy is that it contains a gift or other physical object that offers value to the recipient and makes them feel as if they’ve received a surprise offering — for example, one of our lumpy mailers included a travel-sized Lite Brite with our logo already created and the pattern and pegs needed to create their own.
Lumpies are ideal for account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns that use a tiered list of highly-targeted contacts where the content and offer have unique, specific value. For example, you might send a more premium offer to the true decision-makers on your mailing list, while those with influencing power may receive additional collateral or an offer of slightly less value.
What’s important to remember about this kind of direct mail marketing is that a lumpy is more than just a one-time mailing that includes a token or novelty item.
Part of what makes a lumpy such an effective direct mailing campaign is the follow-up communications that build on the content of the initial lumpy and continue the conversation with the ultimate goal of booking a meeting. These communications are best via an email campaign, which creates a multi-channel approach where you can track metrics like open rates and click-through rates.
With a strategic, well-conceived lumpy direct mail campaign, not only will your piece stand out, but it will also help demonstrate that you’ve done your homework on the challenges your contact faces and the opportunities you can help them unlock.
Here’s an example of a lumpy campaign we executed for Rittal, a global manufacturer of industrial enclosures and automation equipment, that drove nearly a third of recipients to schedule a meeting with Rittal’s sales team.
Direct mail can be interactive
While conventional wisdom may have you think direct mail campaigns are a more static form of customer communication, there are actually a variety of ways to infuse your direct mailer with digital integrations that not only create a more interactive experience for the user, but also connect the print and digital space for a more multi-channel marketing approach.
Designing your direct mailer for quick response (QR) codes can be an extremely effective way to make your content and messaging more interactive, and thus more meaningful to the user. Plus, given that 46% of people surveyed spend about 5 hours each day on their smartphone, QR codes take the interactivity of your direct mail piece to a whole new level via a device consumers are already using quite frequently.
QR codes can launch a variety of digital experiences like videos, landing pages, event invite pages, social media profiles, or even ecommerce websites to help streamline the purchasing process. What’s more, designing dynamic QR codes — those where the links and/or content in the code can be updated — for direct mailers can help drive long-term, repeated engagement provided you callout the content will be refreshed on a regular basis.
Augmented reality (AR) is another type of digital experience that can be launched using QR codes that transforms your direct mailer from an interactive piece to an immersive piece. AR uses a device like a smartphone or tablet to enhance your surroundings, or add depth and dimension to the real world.
There are a number of AR experience types you can build into your direct mailer that extend the user experience and create a more meaningful connection with the user. Some of which include:
- 3D objects, which can help users experience a product or solution in a new, surprising way
- 360° degree immersive views, which are ideal for helping users understand a space from a different perspective
- Information overlays that use texts, graphs, or photos to provide context or enhance the content of your direct mail piece
- An interactive game to infuse a sense of whimsy and discovery that can delight and educate the user
Another reason to go for QR codes or AR in your direct mail campaigns is the additional layer of performance reporting they provide.
While response rate rules the day with direct mail, QR codes offer key data points such as scans, website views, video views, or how and to what degree users engaged with your digital content. With an AR integration, you can look at which parts of your AR experience got the most clicks, or how long users stayed inside your AR experience,
These important insights can influence how you communicate with your customers, and also help you determine the messaging and content that is most useful to your target audience.
Where things can get really spicy is when you can combine a lumpy with an AR experience to create a truly unique, one-of-a-kind direct mailer. For example, we created an AR-enabled lumpy for Industrial Pump and Equipment (IPEC), a distributor of industrial pumps and water meters, for a list of highly-targeted accounts to demonstrate how their pumps can help oil & gas manufacturers solve their process efficiency challenges.
The lumpy nature of the pop-up mailer helped seize the attention of the contacts, and the AR component helped users experience IPEC products in a new, unexpected way that produced a robust ROI.
These are just two of the reasons why we still dig direct mail in 2023. There are a host of others that we would love to share with you. Tell us a little bit about your direct mail goals, and we’ll connect with you soon.