A Resurgence in the Importance of Direct Mail as a Result of the Pandemic


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You’ve probably reevaluated your marketing strategies since the beginning of the pandemic. After all, consumer buying has changed quite a bit. As we move into the next “new normal” phase, then, be sure to consider an omnichannel approach that includes direct mail marketing.

For many, this begs a specific question: Why emphasize direct mail when you have digital marketing? In an era of heightened social isolation, direct mail matters: People have renewed their excitement for hand-delivered items. And according to recent USPS data, nearly two-thirds of individuals say that letters and cards improve their connection with the outside world. Likewise, around six in 10 consumers place more emotional meaning on a direct mail piece than an email.

All of this means direct mail isn’t just an ascending marketing tactic that guarantees ROI — it’s also a great way to ensure corporate social responsibility. Does this mean there’s a tiff going on between direct mail and digital marketing? Not at all. Yet this is an important reminder that to improve your return on ad spend (or ROAS), you can’t afford to forget any multichannel possibility, including direct mail advertisements.

As research from Omnisend notes, relying on at least three channels for a marketing campaign can translate to 250% improved engagement and increased buyer retention of 90%. In other words, you can drive measurable results by diversifying your direct marketing as much as you would diversify an investment portfolio.

Tips for Effective Marketing Using Direct Mail

If you haven’t used direct mail, you might wonder how to augment your marketing with this offline solution. Here are a few reliable ways to get started:

1. Define your target audiences (and know what they need). Effective marketing begins with a strong understanding of the consumer — but that doesn’t require you to spend a fortune. Find social media groups made up of the audiences you want to attract, do a little social listening, and keep detailed notes on what you uncover. You might even want to introduce yourself to the group and ask for their feedback in the form of a short survey or Zoom focus session.

Know that being transparent as a brand and reaching out to consumers won’t hurt you. In fact, most people are happy to provide information when asked! What you discover will help you refine your knowledge of your audience, which will assist you during your next step.

2. Create content that matters to your preferred consumers. After grabbing up data on the audience you’re trying to woo, begin crafting content that will appeal to them. Your goal should be to meet them where they are currently. Otherwise, you might make a misstep a la Dove: The brand lost traction with its core audience by not understanding what consumers needed in the moment. Fortunately, Dove realized its mistake quickly and rebounded with the hugely successful Project #ShowUs.

Ultimately, you’ll want to learn from Dove’s error (and not repeat it). With this in mind, be sure to do your homework and let your audience tell you what they want through focus groups, questionnaires, and other forms of feedback. Then, outline a series of digital and direct mail content ideas that will resonate with your target consumers.

3. Outline each target audience’s personalized customer journey. At this point, you know your audience and have creative content suggestions. Before solidifying any campaigns or tactics, then, construct customer journey maps. These should resemble life cycle charts, so make sure you designate each important “moment of truth” touchpoint of a customer’s journey. Those touchpoints are the most important to customers and are opportunities for you to make your brand more human, more real, and more loved with each digital or direct mail contact.

If you have pre-pandemic customer journeys mapped out, use them as guides. But remember that many of your fans have gone through some unprecedented experiences. Consequently, you’ll need to keep in mind that a pre-and post-vaccine journey might look different depending upon the audience. You can finalize your various content pieces after your journeys are complete.

4. Gauge omnichannel direct marketing performance regularly. After launching your multichannel campaigns, put a monitoring system in place. At a bare minimum, analyze what’s happening every week. That way, you can make tweaks in real-time and not lose ground.

However, remember that direct mail will take longer to provide data — it’s just not as instantaneous as digital tactics. Be patient as consumers use promotion codes, jump onto landing pages, call a dedicated phone number, or apply mail-only coupons. Evaluate your incoming metrics to figure out your digital and direct mail conversion rates. When you have a rate baseline, you can work on improving them.

Above all else, use this moment to become an irresistible brand by adopting a revitalized marketing strategy. And don’t forget to pepper your consumer connections with powerful, personalized direct mail.

Rhonda Basler
With more than two decades of marketing and operations experience, Rhonda Basler is currently the Head of Operations & Agent Experience for Compass in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Nashville. Throughout her career, Rhonda has held the customer in the highest esteem and intimately understands the relationship between employee satisfaction and customer experience. Rhonda's career has spanned both B2B and B2C companies including Dot Foods, H & R Block, Hallmark, and Compass Realty Group.


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