As we emerge from two years of lockdowns, isolation and remote working, marketing is having to adapt to suit a new breed of consumer- one that hopes to step away from digital screens and welcome more direct forms of contact. Direct mail now has the unique opportunity to reach a larger audience than ever before, with people more eager to check their post-boxes than their inboxes.
Incorporating direct mail into your business’ marketing strategy is certainly worth the investment as direct mail leads the way on ROI, generating £14 for every £1 spent. Don’t let the figures do all the talking, however; the following five trends are likely to have a strong influence on many businesses choosing to embrace the diverse opportunities offered by direct mail this year.
source: Capitol Communicator
Postcards are no longer reserved solely for updating friends and family about your latest trip overseas. These small, envelope-free cards are quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of direct mail amongst marketing teams, with postcards achieving the highest response rate compared to catalogues and standard mail. Given that a recent study suggested that just over 50% of recipients rate postcards as the most engaging type of direct mail, it’s hardly surprising that more B2B and B2C companies are planning to incorporate postcards into their 2022 marketing strategies. Not only does their small size help prevent them from getting lost in a sea of letters, but the fact that postcards don’t need an envelope means they are read and retained by customers.
Postcards are one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising mail. This is because postcards save businesses the need to print individual address labels or splash out on envelopes. Lower manufacturing, printing and mailing costs aren’t the only benefit, however, as postcards are an incredibly versatile form of direct mail. In fact, postcards are often likened to a business card, with the added bonus of more space. This extra space can be used to incorporate different types of CTA (Call to Action) into the postcard design, including QR codes and sales coupons.
The Rise of Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing has taken the marketing industry by storm. B2C companies are always searching for new and exciting ways to attract customers, whether that be through the introduction of more interactive methods of communication or a series of enticing offers. Omnichannel combines both of these, and more, to create a seamless user experience for new and existing customers.
But how is this relevant to direct mail?
Although it may not seem like a major player in the world of digital marketing, in recent years direct mail has evolved into a pathway to higher levels of online engagement. Postcards and other forms of direct mail are often the first touchpoints for customers looking to make a purchase, particularly if a piece of mail boasts an exclusive offer. As discussed earlier, QR codes printed on mailers are an easy way of directing customers to a specific page on your website or even a YouTube video, drawing more traffic to digital channels.
Incorporating direct mail into your business’ omnichannel strategy not only provides another touchpoint for customers to interact with your products or services, but also gives you the opportunity to direct them to another marketing channel of your choice. To promote its Google Partners agencies, Google created a special direct mail campaign wherein customers received a piece of flat plastic and a set of detailed instructions. Recipients who followed these instructions were able to build their own holographic prism; when placed on a phone playing Google’s latest YouTube video, the prism would produce a hologram offering hidden tips for savvy mobile users.
Contrary to popular belief, personalisation consists of more than simply sticking an address label to a plain white envelope and addressing it ‘To the Homeowner’. There are so many more options than generic mail that blends in with the same white and beige envelopes. Direct mail is now targeted at specific individuals and designed to speak to their individual needs and interests. In a recent Forbes survey, 84% of recipients said they are more likely to open direct mail if it’s specifically addressed to them. This is hardly surprising, however, as reading your name, or even ‘a birthday offer just for you’ rather than ‘Homeowner’ provides a far more personalised and direct experience.
Although personalisation requires more time, all it takes is some creative thinking and a few changes to your marketing strategy.
So, how do you take your personalisation up a level?
Data analysis and digital printing technology can lead to higher levels of engagement and even drive your customers online. Data analysis and digital printing technology allow companies to learn demographic information about their customers, their product preferences and key interests. This information is crucial when it comes to incorporating personalised offers and online coupons in your direct mail campaign. By personalising direct mail to target individuals, the recipient is likely to feel valued as a customer, leading to them activating the coupon and dramatically increasing response rate. However, targeted offers and coupons are only the tip of the iceberg- there are even consumer-based images, colours and layouts that companies are incorporating into their direct mail. As mentioned before, whilst personalisation may seem futile for old-school paper mail, it’s certainly becoming the way forward for improving overall customer experience.
Even though paper direct mail may seem a thing of the past, interactive elements are now making it wildly popular amongst marketing teams. Companies are integrating QR codes, augmented reality, 3D imaging, and even cut-outs. Augmented reality (AR) is perhaps the most popular form of interaction for marketing teams at present, and rightly so. Recipients are prompted to scan a mail piece with their smartphone which triggers an interactive, internet-driven experience that would be impossible to achieve with a regular piece of mail in a corporate envelope. A recent article from The Drum reports that AR can capture the recipient’s attention for as long as 85 seconds and increase the interaction rate by 20%.
However, the interaction rate isn’t the only benefit of augmented reality. These interactive elements are easily trackable, especially when they’re activated for the first time. When a recipient scans a QR code, or activates a digital reality, companies are able to find out who the individual was and collect extra valuable data for their website. Not only is this extra data valuable to marketing teams, but it also helps companies learn more about their customers and figure out what is working for their website and what isn’t.
However, you don’t need to get all fancy with your interactive direct mail. Even something as simple as innovative pop-ups and textures have impressive track records for boosting interaction and engagement rates. Check out this example from Irresistible Mail, which combines pop-up features, innovative textures and AR all in one.
The Rise of Digital Fatigue
The two-year long pandemic has seen many of us retreating to our screens for comfort, whether that be by Facetiming our loved ones on a tablet or hopping onto social media trends through our smartphones. Plus, with just over 60% of the UK’s population working from home during the first national lockdown, meetings over Zoom quickly became the new normal. This has led to a rise in cases of ‘digital fatigue’, defined simply as a state of exhaustion that people experience after being exposed to digital tools for long periods of time.
Now that we are emerging from the pandemic, people are finding themselves craving face-to-face interaction and direct contact, with adults having spent an average of 40% of each waking day staring at a screen during the last lockdown. Consumers are more eager than ever to escape the digital realm and return to more traditional forms of communication, creating a greater demand for direct mail. In a recent survey, 75% of consumers admitted to being overwhelmed by the number of digital ads they see daily, particularly via email. UK households are therefore becoming more open to receiving direct mail in the post, as they do not have to scroll through pages of emails to find the information they’re looking for. Despite being the more expensive advertising method, it is likely that businesses will invest more of their budget in direct mail campaigns, especially if open rates continue to exceed 92%.
This article only scratches the surface of how exciting and creative direct mail can be. If you believe direct mail is too ‘old-school’ for our current digital landscape, you’re missing out on the most reliable marketing method for return on investment. However, this doesn’t mean you should forget your digital marketing campaign, quite the opposite, in fact. Your direct mail campaign and digital marketing campaign will work hand-in-hand to strengthen your campaign and deliver the results you need.
With these rapidly evolving trends set to infiltrate the market throughout 2022 and beyond, the printing and delivery of direct mail campaigns will be just as important as their initial creation.
Citipost Mail can help with your whole direct mail journey, from planning to print and fulfilment. As a Citipost Mail client, you’ll be the first to hear about incentives that will save you money and time when it comes to delivering your marketing mail campaign.
Ready to get results? Talk to us about your direct mail campaign today.