Direct Mail & the Internet - Unlikely Best friends

Nick Buxton | Associate Director of Sales

Danny Devito & Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ying & Yang, Tom & Jerry, salt & caramel…

Anyone who has seen the brilliant film “Twins” or watched Tom & Jerry knows that sometimes when two things are combined they just work in a way you didn’t think possible. The irony of a genius IQ bodybuilder with a simple outlook on life and a short balding shyster being brothers should have been a script destined for wherever terrible Hollywood scripts go to die. However, the ridiculous reasons it was probably laughed out of a few agents’ offices were the same reasons that made it great; much greater than the sum of its parts.

When two ingredients have distinctly different strengths and weaknesses there is a fantastic opportunity to achieve a result that isn’t possible if the two were working independently.

Is Direct Mail (DM) and the Internet another example?

I think so.

Despite being traditionally reliable and consistent, in the flashy fast paced world of unified commerce, DM is not held in particularly high esteem and is often considered an expensive legacy to maintain. Conversely, classic catalogue and DM businesses have been slow to adopt the ecommerce business model. This is a real shame because it means few businesses are combining this powerful duo.

As I see it there are 4 core reasons B2C businesses should be combining DM and the Internet:

  • Tracking customer activity online. After sending a DM campaign you can not only see how much extra traffic you get to your site but what products and services are being browsed. This is a great way to quantify if your DM campaign CTAs are working and will also help improve content for future DM.

  • Google does it! Flippancy aside, Google sends DM to customers with discounts on PPC advertising with great results.  The unexpected and trusted DM channel can be used to strengthen engagement with the entire base or even reach a different audience not engaged through email.

  • Drive website traffic. DM is a great source of generating site traffic through clear CTAs, personalisation and compelling offers if they visit the website. DM is also one of the only channels with a high probability of being seen by more than just one person, giving you the opportunity to drive a household’s worth of eyes to your site.

  • Reduced DM costs. Understanding which customer segments are engaging with DM or email and tying this information together allows customers to fulfil their own channel preference. Customers who respond and purchase through DM can continue to receive it whereas those who don’t can be targeted more cost effectively with email.

Should I stop spending all my money on social, SEO and PPC and put it all in DM then?

No.

However, if you aren’t testing and trying new strategies you are standing still. Smart professionals and successful companies are willing to test and measure what works and make decisions based on those results. So if you haven’t considered it before or deemed it not relevant to your business think again.

The final thing to consider about DM and online is how you quantify and action campaigns across channels. Tracking multi-channel behaviour is not easy but if you can do it in-house or work with a supplier that can, it makes true website, SMS, email, DM and offline personalisation possible.

(Apologies for ruining the plot of Twins for anyone who hasn’t seen it).

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