Interactive Technologies in Direct Mail Campaigns Drive ROI, Postal Discounts
On July 27, Victoria Stephen, director of mailing services, new products and innovation at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), joined Printing Impressions Editor-in-Chief Mark Michelson for a webinar exploring the convergence of direct mail printing and interactive technologies to maximize ROI. The webinar, "Convergence of Print and Pixels to Maximize ROI, Postal Discounts for Innovative Mail," was sponsored by Canon Solutions America and took an in-depth look at the annual USPS direct mail advertising promotions and discount incentives program, as well as its "Irresistible Mail" sample and awards campaign that's currently in its third year running.
Stephen explained to the attendees that the idea behind the Mailing Promotions incentive program is to encourage direct marketers, and printers working with them, to incorporate new interactive technologies, print techniques and mobile technologies into mail that will help drive results.
"If people engage with the mail they respond to the mail," Stephen said.
By incorporating technologies, such as augmented reality, NFC, QR codes, virtual reality, personalized video and more, mailers and marketers can save money on direct mail campaigns. However, she said that because mail can do things that other channels of communication can't, it's important for marketers to understand how print fits into their omnichannel marketing strategies. Here are some things that need to be understood before developing a marketing campaign that incorporates direct mail:
- Millennials respond well to direct mail, as long as it's visually interesting and relevant
- Contrary to popular belief, millennials respond well to direct mail, regardless of the fact that they spend a lot of their time interacting with digital platforms. As Stephen explained it, "They are everywhere and nowhere" all at once. Of the people who responded to a poll asking if they like to see what they have received in the mail, 52% of the respondents who answered yes were millennials. Although millennials receive less mail than their predecessors, they tend to spend more time with it, solidifying the need to develop direct mail that will spur recipients to give pause and engage with the mail that they receive.
- Mobile is exceeding typical necessities
- Stephen explained that shockingly, as of 2017, the number of smart phones in the world not only exceeds the number of literate adults, but exceeds the number of toilets and toothbrushes in the world … that's a lot of smart phones. Direct mail should incorporate technology that meets recipients where they spend their time. The Irresistible Mail program provides samples of techniques that could be applicable to a wide variety of direct mail campaigns. She said that a call to action can be added to any piece of direct mail via a QR code, NFC, augmented reality, virtual reality, bluetooth and more. "The sky is the limit," Stephen quipped.
- Use digital interaction strategically
- Stephen mentioned mailers and marketers should consider incorporating digital to direct mail strategies to make communication with a consumer more effective. As of 2016, pop-up advertisements exceed TV advertisements. She explained that attention spans have diminished to approximately 8 seconds in adults and, with the flood of pop-up ads, it's not likely to get as much attention as intended. Rather than increasing your digital interaction by using pop-up advertisements after initial engagement, which are fleeting, consider transferring the follow-up with a consumer to printed media. She points out that although digital ad spending is up over the past few years, so is the response rates for direct mail, which is up 40% in the past two years. For example, after a consumer interacts with a brand — such as putting a product in an online shopping cart and then abandoning the cart — send a personalized, interactive piece of direct mail to increase chances of driving home the purchase.
To learn more and to hear all of Stephen's presentation, as well as a lively Q&A that addresses next year's Mailing Promotions program, click here. Also visit Printing Impressions' webinar page to register for upcoming webinars and to view other educational webinars currently available on-demand.