Editor's Notes: Direct Mail: Marketing's First Killer App
This issue is a special report about the convergence of marketing and technology. You're not going to find our usual columns or departments inside. Instead, we are examining in detail the options and the opportunities in today's marketing technology, as well as the new roles marketers are taking on.
Target marketing has always been about technology. Direct mail itself was a technological advance. So was the customer list and, in its own way, the offer. Each of these things became a piece of the marketing toolkit. The hammers, wrenches, chisels and files that built profits. Today, we have some power tools in the shed, too, but most of them represent new ways to implement the fundamentals.
The screwdriver never went obsolete (one look in your IT guy's toolbox will confirm that); all the new technology just meant you could build even better things with it.
Direct mail was arguably the first killer marketing app, and it is still one of your most useful tools. We talk about geotargeting digital ads? Well, direct mail is the ultimate geotargeted media, and it's always personalized—at least to the address it reached. And with today's technologies, marketing can be far more targeted and personalized than ever before. Innovations in printing technology (which many marketers aren't even aware of) can make mail pieces that dazzle and dance, and are very tailored to individual recipients. You can sync up mail receipt with email or other online advertising, or call for mail recipients to visit your website for even more selection.
Not only will leveraging those technologies boost response, the USPS also is sweetening the pot with significant 2015 technology discounts. From May through October, mail innovators can take advantage of the "Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion" and the "Mail Drives Mobile Promotion." The opportunities to blend the technologies are there.