This sentiment was heard repeatedly in different iterations throughout the halls at the recent DMA &THEN conference. In fact, one session on this topic was in such high demand, the room was at capacity. Marketers want to know how print fits into today’s multichannel marketing.
Direct mail continues to serve as a key driver in most omnichannel marketing plans. It’s complemented well by online efforts, and fills a much-needed niche. Where online is generally low-cost, low impact, print is higher-cost, higher impact. Where online marketing is passive, direct mail is active. Direct mailings are proactive and tactile – demanding that the recipient DO something with it. The better response rates make the return on the investment worthwhile for both retention and acquisition.
However, the 2015 statistics are in and they’re telling us what we direct marketers predicted: 2015 direct mail volume was down while spend was up, most likely driven by postage increases. On the bright side, the USPS has taken notice and is offering at least 3 discounts in 2016, for:
- interactive mail
- online video content
- driving to a mobile-responsive website
But there’s no denying that print, and thus direct mail are undergoing an evolution. And that leaves the questions: What has it become? And what is the next step in its evolution?
As it’s been for the last several years, efficiency remains king for all print marketing. Yes, the economy is in recovery, but direct marketers haven’t forgotten the lessons the recession taught us about efficiency. Additionally, extremely fine, targeted segmentation is now a given, as evidenced by the 4.3% increased data spend in 2015.
Direct mail is one of the most measurable of all media, boosting the quality of analytics for any campaign. An omnichannel marketer knows when mail is arriving and can use this knowledge to activate other touch points like email and telemarketing. It’s direct mail that anchors the campaign and drives the support tactics that can boost the overall effectiveness of an omnichannel effort.
The addition of web browsing data to the modeling process is furthering the connection between online behavior and offline marketing tactics. Scoring consumer behavior on websites is becoming an additional performance indicator for building responder files in the database arena.
Variable printing is another tool that’s being leveraged to capitalize on that data, and the lag time between the site visit and mail drop has decreased dramatically. In other words, a shopper browsing handbags on the web could receive a second touch in the mail within 24-48 hours. That’s a powerful way to motivate customers to take action.