Direct mail is very visible, and it's a part of the daily life of most Americans. For those two reasons alone, companies have traditionally relied on direct mail to get out their marketing messages. Other advertising avenues, such as billboards, TV commercials, radio spots and emails, also compete for prospects' attention and loyalty, but only direct mail physically gets into people's hands in their own homes.
For that reason, direct mail is also a frequent target of name calling ("junk mail!") and worse, legislation ("Do Not Mail") in many parts of the country. And lately, amid the economic downturn, it's also become the victim of lower response rates.
However, because of those reasons cited in paragraph one, direct mail is not going anywhere. In fact, with the powerful addition of personalized URLs to the arsenal, direct mail may even be positioning itself for a comeback.
1. Direct Marketing's Big 3?
While social media and mobile marketing are becoming more popular, they both remain small potatoes compared to what direct marketer Nancy Harhut, chief creative officer at the Wilde Agency, calls marketing's "Holy Trinity": direct mail, email and personalized URLs. She believes that SoMe and mobile will find their rightful place in the communications mix, but will always be minor players. Instead, she's adamant that the DM-EM-personalized URL approach will grow more prominent. "Smarter targeting, more data-driven communications and increased personalization will become necessities," says Harhut, who mentions that the historic problem has always been data quality, but that most companies have access to clean, robust data today.
2. Personalized URLs Help Create a Channel-less Future
Most companies have siloed their marketing efforts, but Harhut thinks that self-interest will begin to trump channel. "If the target sees something of value, then that will be more important than where he or she sees it," she explains. "The humble, closed-faced, teaser-less, 'hand addressed' #10 or 'greeting card' will continue to pull. Mail that carries an 'ignore at your peril' air about it will continue to get opened."
In other words, creative mail that skillfully employs the usage of personalized URLs will only enhance the chance a prospect will respond. Because personalized URLs are so eminently trackable, then the credit of a conversion will be given to both the direct mail piece as well as the landing page.
3. New Testing Group: the Landing Page
Just as testing remains a key to successful direct mail, the same is true with personalized URL campaigns. "Don't forget that testing here should still apply, yet is woefully missing," states Grant Johnson, CEO of direct marketing agency Johnson Direct.
For example, a test that shows conversion rates were much lower than anticipated usually points out that the landing page wasn't synced properly with the direct mail piece, and that could extend to the data, the personalization, the creative or the offer. "Not syncing the landing page with the direct mail piece that brought the prospect there is the No. 1 destroyer of conversion rates," affirms Bob Bly, copywriter and author.