Easing Your Etailer Client into Direct Mail

It started a few weeks ago. Some days there are two catalogs and direct-mail pieces in my mail box, other days even four, and as we get closer to the holidays, the number is climbing by the day. There are your usual storefront companies sure, but also, and increasingly so, ecommerce sites: Zappos, Amazon and Shutterfly to name just a few.

A few years ago, Amazon started this trend, and other online retailers have followed suit. While they initially focused on e-mail as their primary tool of communication, over time (and while you and I got increasingly weary of their daily messages) these same retailers have now discovered that direct mail is a very effective tool—to acquire new customers, as well as for keeping the old ones.

The distinct advantage of print
To capture an audience, there is no better vehicle than a high-quality, visually alluring catalog. Of course you and I have always known about the distinct advantage catalogs have thanks to their photography, paper and print quality. And of course their attention-grabbing size.

Over the years, catalogs have proved to be the most successful driver of Web traffic with their one- to two-punch strategy: attract them through direct mail, fulfill their orders online.

The dangers of entering the direct-mail space
I see you shaking your head. So far I haven’t told you anything you don’t already know…But…

While those online retailers might have their e-marketing down pat, entering the direct-mail realm is new to many of them, and not as easy as it might seem. And this is where you and your expertise come into play. This is where they need your help.

You know only too well the basics they have to consider, from the way they should put together their direct-mail campaign (catalogs only, or a mix of postcards and catalogs, or…), to their frequency, the critical call to action, the size of their mailing list, the cost per piece, to the actual fulfillment.

Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

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  • Ashley

    I too would love to hear others methods for proving ROI on direct mailers. I will have to keep an eye and ear out for new solutions. While the use of email campaigns is definitely easier to track, I would completely agree that physical prints capture an audiences attention more so than that email they can click on just so it is marked as unread in their inbox!