Perhaps you have noticed that the Deliver magazine masthead includes the line “Mail marketing strategies from the U.S. Postal Service.” Given that our mission is to promote the responsible and effective use of direct mail, some may wonder why we feature an increasing number of articles about — even urging — mixing direct mail with online marketing tools.
Simple. We are passionate not just about direct mail, but about what works best in direct mail. As this and past Deliver issues report, many direct mail professionals are using the Internet to enhance effectiveness. If dovetailing with the Internet makes direct mail even stronger, we would be remiss in failing to talk about it.
Moreover, the public has begun voting with their wallets for the integration of direct mail with the Internet, and history attests to the dangers of resisting market demand solely for the sake of purism. Consider the well-known coffee chain whose CEO refused to offer lattes made with nonfat milk. Italian baristas didn’t use nonfat milk, he reasoned, so neither would his. In time he capitulated, but only after losing customers. Today, nearly half of the lattes and cappuccinos the chain sells are made with nonfat milk.
So if customers reward you for folding the Internet into a direct mail strategy, our official position is: Go for it. In addition to a coupon, phone number and First-Class Mail Business Reply Mail® card, consider providing direct mail recipients a link to a website or landing page. You could also up the ante with a personalized URL, so you can send readers to a landing page that mirrors your mailing and greets them by name.
Add a QR code, and without so much as entering a keystroke, the fast-growing smartphone crowd can immediately see your website, coupons, phone number, online video and more, and use the smartphone to respond.
There are other features you could add as well: Augmented reality codes, snap codes, and audio and video chips will each enhance your direct mail campaign. The spectrum of offerings is rapidly widening.
Direct mail is the original interactive medium. No amount of on-screen personalization, animation or wow-factor can match direct mail for tangibility. The more online communication waxes ubiquitous, the more we anticipate that direct mail’s unique and personal nature will have the advantage in terms of involvement and persuasion.
Yet wise integration of online tools into a direct mail strategy promises to make direct mail stronger than ever. As the public embraces the digital world, it only makes sense for savvy direct mail professionals to capitalize on the trend.