For years, marketers have relied heavily on Facebook and Google to do the heavy lifting in their digital sales funnels. While these channels are undeniably effective, the sheer market size of these popular platforms makes many marketers nervous. What many marketers don’t realize is that certain analog marketing methods, like printing and direct mail, function effectively when they’re combined with wider digital marketing campaigns.
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What are the benefits of direct mail?
Many marketers ignore direct mail, viewing it as expensive and imprecise. In reality, direct mail can serve as a cost-effective and highly targeted lead-generation source that you can easily integrate with broader digital marketing campaigns. [See our picks for the best direct mailing services of 2023.]
When used correctly, printing can even take a large portion of the sales-funnel load off of platforms such as Facebook and Google, thereby reducing marketers’ reliance on these digital behemoths.
Postal mail is a physical object, so it’s not as easy to dispose of as emails are. With email marketing, a simple click deletes your ad permanently. With direct mail, you are providing the person with something tangible that is more likely to elicit a response. Direct mail has more target segmenting opportunities than you might realize. You can choose the exact location of your ad recipients, which is a great strategy for real estate and other industries that depend a lot on direct mail campaigns to reach their target audiences.
Research suggests that despite being the first generation born after the widespread adoption of the internet, Gen Z responds well to print media and offline marketing.
Where does printing fit into a digital sales funnel?
A traditional digital sales funnel uses targeted advertising, usually from Facebook or Google, to drive traffic to a campaign landing page. There, users either take an action or, if they did nothing, be subject to a retargeting campaign.
Facebook and Google ads are effective because the two companies possess vast amounts of demographic data about their users. Many direct-mail list providers have equally detailed demographic data, allowing marketers to send highly targeted messages to potential customers. In this hybrid funnel, marketers use targeted printed marketing materials alongside Facebook and Google ads as lead generators, which direct consumers to a campaign landing page.
Marketers use personalized URLs, called PURLs, to measure response to a direct mail campaign, much like how you use Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) tags on your digital campaigns. PURLs allow marketers to measure response and conversion rates for a direct mail campaign and to create custom audiences for retargeting purposes. These new measurement techniques reveal how effective direct mailing can be.
Marketers who use printing as a component of their digital campaigns find their cost per acquisition is much lower than for channels such as Facebook and Google. In fact, some marketers have seen such impressive results from their direct mail campaigns that they’ve cut their digital marketing budgets in half.
Ways of integrating direct mail with digital campaigns
Combining traditional and digital campaigns can have a profound effect on your marketing efforts. These are some ways to integrate the two types of ads:
- Email follow-ups: Follow up with an email to your direct mail recipients. Send it a week or two after your mail campaign.
- QR codes: Add a QR code to your direct mail ad. When the recipient scans the code with a smartphone, have it take them to a dedicated video about your product or service.
- Digital coupons: Provide a digital coupon on your direct mailer. Give direct mail recipients a unique promo code to redeem an online offer.
>> Learn more: Using Coupons to Drive Engagement and Retention
Direct mail best practices
To get the most out of the printed components of your digital marketing campaign, it’s important to follow a few best practices.
1. Choose the right list broker.
Effective marketing is about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. To do this, marketers need the best information possible. Once you’ve determined your campaign’s target audience, choose the mailing list provider that can deliver your message to the people you want to reach.
The best mailing list brokers aggregate contact data from multiple list owners to create their own master files. That means you often get a more targeted database at a lower price by using a broker than by approaching an owner that sells only their own lists.
2. Personalize your marketing.
Whether you’re using mailing lists from brokers or customer data from your CRM package, make sure you take every opportunity to personalize each mailer. If you’re getting in touch with existing clients, try adding their account manager detail and signature to the mailer for even greater personalization.
3. Commit to more than one mailing.
A one-and-done approach doesn’t work well for direct mail. Data shows that response rates and your marketing ROI go up with the second or third mailer. This doesn’t mean you have to spend more money; it means you’ll likely get a better response by mailing 500 people three times than you would by mailing 1,500 people once.
4. Research mailing costs before starting design.
With mail, a small difference in size and construction can have a huge impact on postage costs. For example, an eighth of an inch could be the difference between postage for bulk standard letter rate or bulk flat-rate postage, which would increase your postage costs by as much as 40 cents apiece. This can add up to a lot of money. Good printing companies have resources available to walk you through your options and explain how they affect your mailing costs.
5. Include an exclusive offer and a CTA.
Your campaign offers and calls to action (CTAs) should be compelling for your potential customers and remain consistent across all your marketing channels.
6. Use PURLs.
Personalized URLs are the key to measuring and retargeting your direct mail recipients. Invest in PURL tracking software, and use the results to inform future marketing campaigns.
Once you’ve set up your direct mail campaign using these best practices, you’ll be ready to unleash the power of printing as a vital component of your digital sales funnel.