Tag Archives: direct mail

We’ve Seen the Future of Direct Mail, and It’s Awesome

We’ve Seen the Future of Direct Mail, and It’s Awesome

By Christine Alexander | January 8th, 2015

crystal-ballIf I had a crystal ball and could look into both the past and future of direct mail, I can guarantee I’d see two completely different scenes. Direct mail from five years ago is drastically different than direct mail today.

Just ask print guru Jim Hamilton, a 27-year direct mail industry veteran. As a group director at InfoTrends, Hamilton oversees production consulting services, including digital printing, wide format, packaging & labels, production workflow and variable data tools, document outsourcing, market research, and forecasting for product and market analysis reports.

In a recent conversation, Hamilton shared his thoughts on the direct mail industry – both where it is today and where he thinks it’s headed.

What’s the hottest thing happening in direct mail right now?

According to Hamilton, marketing automation is the hottest trend right now. Giving people what they want when they want it is crucial in the grand scheme of the marketing mix.

Perhaps most importantly, you have to be able to do this across multiple channels. You want to connect with your consumers online, with social media for example, but you also need mobile and email marketing.

With tools like quick response (QR), augmented reality (AR), near field communication and personalized URLs (PURLs), marketers can use print pieces to engage with consumers online. PURLs also help in the automation process. Campaigns can be set up to trigger emails to customers based on activity and inactivity, and connect with social media networks to reach consumers. At the same time, PURLs track the campaign numbers, which you can use to help figure out your marketing return on investment.

How can you be personal—without being creepy?

Digital printing has changed the landscape of what’s possible with direct mail. With variable imaging and messaging, marketers can create more relevant communications. But how do you avoid coming off as creepy?

First and foremost, Hamilton recommends leveraging more than just a person’s name. There are so many elements that you can consider when making collateral more relevant to the recipient. He suggests diving into specific locations, even a specific neighborhood, or looking at buying patterns and playing off what interests your recipients.

Hamilton suggests not saying, “We saw you bought product X; here are products Y & Z that complement your recent purchase nicely.” Instead, get creative and use what you know about them. If they’ve been purchasing the same can of tomatoes on a consistent basis, why not send them a recipe featuring their preferred brand and offer up a coupon?

When it comes to the creepiness factor, Hamilton made an excellent point that the Internet has greatly impacted what will creep consumers out. Think about it – today you can go to virtually any site and ads will pop up in the sidebar that advertise the exact product you just Googled. That’s normal, not creepy.

Digital printing has also made it possible to print variable messaging on outer envelopes that can capture a recipient’s attention and drive them to find out what’s inside. Pitney Bowes client, Wilen Direct, did just that with Pitney Bowes Print+ Messenger™ Color Inkjet System, and their customers are reaping the benefits. You can read their success story here.

Where is the industry going?

Perhaps my favorite part of our conversation was hearing what Hamilton had to say about the future.

We currently hear a lot about digital inkjet Web technologies and how they’re impacting the digital sphere of printing, from highly variable books where literally every single page is unique, to variable couponing paired with variable perforation.

The next step, according to Hamilton, is towards cut-sheet inkjet solutions. The option of printing on separate sheets can help boost productivity rates, plus it’s cost-effective for direct mailers that don’t quite have the volume to consider digital inkjet Web solutions.

The Future is Exciting

Anyone who’s been in the direct mail industry for the last five to 10 years understands how quickly the digitization of the world is affecting the print component of direct marketing. The future will be no different.

Whether you’re looking for interaction, or simply want to get more creative with variability at larger volumes, the future may just be what you’re waiting for.

Article Provided by Brilliant Communications

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507

New trends can enhance direct marketing offerings

Business that have used direct marketing for long enough know the power of a well-managed and properly crafted mailing campaign. A company can’t simply decide to send out mailers to customers without any sort of planning or behind-the-scenes work to craft an appealing message and image.

Putting the time and energy into this effort will definitely pay off. One of the most important parts of keeping direct mail efforts exciting is tactfully incorporating new trends into a campaign. Businesses do need some restraint to avoid simply following the bandwagon of the latest trend, but using a few new ideas can improve the effectiveness of mailers. With that in mind, here’s a look at some hot concepts in direct mail:

  • Reminding and bringing back lapsed customers: Forbes stated this area has been underserved by direct mail in some instances and is increasing in popularity. Attracting a client who hasn’t made a recent purchase may seem more difficult than encouraging a loyal, repeat buyer, but it’s likely easier than reaching out to a completely new person. This type of lapsed purchaser is already familiar with the brand’s product or service, so the business can focus more on highlighting new offerings and recent developments. Providing an incentive for these customers to once again buy from the company can be effective. Having good mail list management to keep track of this subset of buyers is especially important, as it’s likely that lapsed clients may have moved, gotten married and changed their names or experienced other life events that require an update to contact information.
  • Combination campaigns: The use of direct mail to draw attention to campaigns on the Internet and in other marketing channels has become more popular in 2014, according to MarketingProfs. With social media playing a strong role in consumers’ lives, having a piece of direct mail that leads readers to a Facebook page or Twitter account can be very successful. Similarly, posts on social networks about a mailer arriving soon in certain regions can generate excitement. A piece of mail that is exclusive or only offered in a limited area can help build interest as well. Another strategy is to include a discount or coupon that can be activated though a website or social media page. Incorporating QR codes into direct mail and allowing smartphone and tablet users to quickly access these sites can also provide good results.
  • Customized printing: Advances in the printing field have made it easier for companies to make direct mail offerings more personal and pique the interest of recipients by putting their name on the envelope. The once-common approach of writing “current resident” on a mailer has been realized by the majority of consumers as shorthand for direct mail, so personalization can help a mailer make it in front of more eyes. Printing technology has also made it easier to change substantial parts of the body of a message, not just the address field. Increased customization, such as including the name of recipients in the body of a mailer’s text, can hold readers’ attention longer. Using this tactic requires businesses to make sure they have the correct spelling and even the preferred casual form of a recipient’s name on file, or the effectiveness will be mitigated. Using list management software to update and clean name and address records can help businesses avoid mistakes in this area. A business that decides to use a trend such as customized printing or attracting lapsed customers needs to make sure they’re doing everything possible to make the effort a success.

Article Provided By Satori Software. Visit Satori Online.