Wow, times have changed. In the two-plus years in my job as editor of Inside Direct Mail, the multichannel universe has exploded. Few direct mail pieces—no matter how brilliant and previously successful—and the companies behind them can afford to be without a comprehensive and, ideally, coordinated multichannel marketing plan—and the Web site as a major part of it all.
"It is more important today than ever that direct mail campaigns be integrated with multichannel online campaigns," declares Michael Bloom, general manager of direct marketing operations for New York-based Datran Media. "The goal of every marketer in our rapidly evolving direct marketing landscape must be to deliver speed and convenience to consumers by enabling them to engage and transact easily via the channel they are most comfortable with."
For many, usually sooner than later, that inevitably involves their Web sites, perhaps moments after prospects get the mail pieces. Here's how your Web site can best support your direct mail (and vice versa).
1. Be very consistent.
According to Bloom, direct mail works most effectively with Web sites when the offers, creatives and engagement processes are consistent across the multiple channels. In some ways, it's remarkably simple: Consumers driven online by direct mail are most likely to convert on Web site offers when the look and feel of their Web site experiences are consistent with the look and feel of their direct mail experiences.
"The objective of a Web site must not be to compete with direct mail," Bloom points out. "Rather, Web sites must enhance the consumer's multichannel experience." He mentions that while the golden ticket for each company always should be to increase the consumer's total engagement across all marketing channels, it's vital for companies to track the performance of each channel in contributing to that engagement. One easy way to track the impact of direct mail on Web site traffic is by including a specific source code or tracking number on the direct mail piece, which consumers must then type into the Web site to "unlock" valuable rewards.