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Smart Marketers Will Be Heading to the Post Office Post-Pandemic

Posted by Emily Hegland on May 14, 2021

You are ZOOM-ed out. You’re Webinar-ed out. You’re emailed out.

And — if you are — you KNOW your customers and prospects are. So, what’s the best way to reach the digitally exhausted, the weary-eyed masses in the post-pandemic world?

The answer: Direct mail.

But not your father’s direct mail. No, we’re talking about a sleeker, more modern direct mail. Direct mail that looks and sounds quite different than it did just a few years ago. And different than it will look in the future, where it will need to be even more innovative, with new ideas and a fresh perspective.

Until then, here’s what’s working in direct mail today:

Hyper personalization — More personalization in your direct mail has always been a good idea. But today, it’s a necessity. And we’re not talking about just adding a first and last name to your copy. Today, you need to talk to your audience on a much deeper level.

The good news is, you can — because data sources have more – and more accurate – information. The key is to be specific. A specific message to a specific person about a specific problem in a specific area of their life will make your message more effective. All this data means you can give returning customers an entirely different offer and different message than you give prospects.

Today’s Variable Data Printing (VDP) is a great way to do that. You can use all the data you have to engage with customers on a truly personal level. Your offers, copy, and images can all be variable — all driven by the data. Send this type of tailored, laser-focused message to your best performing segments and you’ll be sitting on a powerful campaign that is relevant to each and every customer.

Tap into emotion — When you engage your customers’ senses and trigger an emotion, you stand a better chance of creating a connection. Here are a few ways you can do that:

Specialty Inks – Adding a soft-touch coating changes the “feel” of the mail piece and can not only save some money (with postal discounts) but also give you a lift in response.

Specialty Papers – If you really want to create a memorable experience, use something like scented paper. It can cause readers to seek out your product and increase store traffic.

Interactive Elements – Interactive mailers that use engaging pop-up or moving parts can provide an element of intrigue or humor while promoting an offer or event.

Augmented Reality – AR brings your message to life. It heightens engagement with the mail piece and links it directly to the online channel to facilitate the sales process.

Have empathy — You have more data at your fingertips than ever before. All this data lets you really know and understand your customer. What’s important to them? What matters right now? What do they find useful? What challenges are they trying to solve?

Another name for it is “empathy marketing.” And with all that you know about your target, you should be able to muster a good degree of empathy. You should be able to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. In fact, this is critical when you’re communicating with customers in 2021. Understanding your customers, gaining their trust, and building a relationship with them is more important than ever.

Keep it brief. Short copy. Short sentences. Short words. Short paragraphs. Today’s best responding direct mail is short and sweet. People have an attention span of about 8 seconds. You must connect with them quickly and tell them what they stand to gain/lose by taking advantage of your offer. There’s no tolerance for fluff, self-serving copy, or chest beating. They don’t care. All people care about is “what’s in it for them.”

Stay active. This means in your copy. Use active sentences rather than passive. For example, this sentence: “The barn was hit by lightning” is passive. The lightning is doing the action. The barn is the object of the action. To make it active, the lightning should be the subject of the sentence. “Lightning hit the barn.” It’s one way to keep your copy moving and your readers engaged.

Use fewer components and stronger copy. The direct mail you see today is much more streamlined than it was even a few years ago. You don’t often see full packages with BREs (business reply envelopes), BRCs (business reply cards), lift notes, buckslips, brochures or tip ons (think coins, cards, clings or stickers) anymore. Usually, it’s an efficient (and economical) letter and a URL or 800 number. That means every word in your letter is that much more important. Choose your words carefully. Make each one count. As they say, copy is king. That’s never been more true than it is today.

One last point. The advertising landscape has fundamentally changed. Everywhere we look, ads flash before our eyes at blazing speeds. Each time we search, stream, watch, read, scroll, click, or swipe, we are bombarded by advertisements.

And on social media, where the average person spends nearly two hours per day, ads are relentless. But it’s the digital age, the age we live in. It’s also a time when trust and authority have become fleeting at best. The channels we use to consume media, whether mainstream or social, have been so ravished by clickbait headlines and disinformation that consumers no longer inherently trust them.

Gone are the days when the news was the news

That’s why today, whether it’s a massive, phone book-sized Restoration Hardware catalog or a self-mailer introducing you to a new staff recruiting tool, direct mail just makes sense.

Last year, a Canadian neuromarketing firm conducted a sweeping study for Canada Post that compared the effects of paper marketing (direct mail) to digital media (email and display ads).

The firm used advanced eye-tracking and high-resolution EEG brain wave measurement tools, along with conventional methods such as questionnaires, to gather data.

The study produced two major results:

1. Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable.

Overall effectiveness, referred to as the motivation-to-cognitive load ratio within the study, showed that direct mail scored an average of 1.31 compared to 0.87 for all digital channels. This is significant because, in this type of test, values greater than 1.0 are indicative of broad in-market success.

2. Consumers who received direct mail offers were able to recall the brand 75% of the time.
Consumers who received digital-only versions remembered the brand only 44% of the time. According to the Forbes evaluation of this scientific research, “Science clearly shows paper (direct mail) can be more impactful and memorable than digital.”

…which is why it may just be the perfect channel for a post-pandemic world.

If you need help building your next direct mail campaign, contact J&C today. 

Topics: Direct Marketing, Direct Mail, Creative

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