DIRECT MAIL - present and future
In recent years, we have witnessed the great development of technology, which has opened the door to innovations in direct mail. Let´s look together at the past, present and future of direct mail.
In the beginning, most companies sent the same version of direct mail to everyone: no personalisation, no variable offer and no target group, just a wide list of recipients to send a message to. The system was known as “scatter and pray”. The main idea was that your product should be needed by everyone, so everyone should be familiar with it. The real change occurred when the post office created a postal code system. This allowed marketers to communicate in a more targeted way - focusing on smaller target groups. For example, if you need to limit mailing only to a defined geographic area, you can do so easily today. Modern technology from the early 1980s allowed marketers to create more comprehensive databases that can be used to specify individuals in a database. Nowadays, you can increase your direct mail feedback by sending relevant offers to the right people.
Change is something you can be sure of in life. It happens every year. Today we use direct mails with QR codes and PURLs. Some people deal with them correctly by using mobile landing sites with targeted and relevant information, but very often we encounter situations in which the scanning of the QR code will always take you to the general website. This is a challenge for all marketers, because when a customer gets a bad experience, it is unlikely that they will scan the code again in the future.
Mobile marketing´s popularity is rising. Marketers are currently using mobile phones for many types of campaigns. The mobile phone can work in parallel with direct mail with QR codes, augmented reality (AR), SMS and MMS. Nowadays, people use their phones continuously. By using them, they are in constant contact with the environment, so when you include mobile phones in your direct mail campaign, you can get to customers more quickly and control the response.
In addition to linking direct mail to mobile communications, other key elements of marketing that can make a difference today are:
Blurring the boundaries
Few customers expect you to sell them anything. Most just want information, education and entertainment until they decide whether to purchase or not. In the traditional sense, direct mail was a “hard-sell” tool aimed at pushing a product into the customer´s horizon until he finally nods in agreement and places an order. For 2016 and later, experts predict a clearer blurring of the boundaries between inbound marketing and former outbound methods than direct mail. This means that campaigns will place more emphasis on communication and less on sales to succeed.
The competition in getting customer attention has never been so high and you have one to three seconds until the recipient decides whether to read or discard your direct mail. The more complicated it is, the more likely it is that he skips it and moves on, so get back to basics and design easily, cleanly and strikingly to grab the recipient´s attention.
Direct mail is one of the simplest forms of marketing for testing. Before you start spending millions on a huge campaign, try the A/B testing options to see what works and what doesn´t. You can do this by comparing two different mailings for the same product, each sent to one-half of a segmented sample. Then record where the answers come from and which offer brings the best responses, and analyse the results before preparing your current campaign.
Personalisation is closely linked to return on investment. Personalised offers are popular in e-mail marketing, but direct mail has not yet been able to effectively optimise their use. However, the situation has changed, we have technologies to create personalisation based on data we collect about our target groups, using our own production methods that are hard to beat. With the development of direct marketing in 2016 and in the years to come, we will see increased pressure to personalise every form of communication we send. Fortune favours the prepared mind Start working on your future marketing strategy today so that you can gain from the benefits of direct mail in the future.
How to be personal and non-intrusive at the same time
Digital printing has fundamentally changed the way you work with direct mail. With variable display and messaging, marketers can create more relevant communications. But how do we avoid being discouraging in the end?
First of all, it is recommended to use more than just the name of the person. There are a number of elements that could be of interest to the recipient. It is a good idea to look at specific places, even in specific neighbourhoods, or study the shopping patterns of the locals and play with what your recipient is interested in.
However, it is not recommended to say: “We have seen that you have purchased product X, here are products Y, Z that will nicely complement your recent purchase.” Be creative instead and use what you know about your customers. If, for example, they regularly buy the same can of tomatoes, why not rather send them a recipe using their favourite product and attach a coupon?
When it comes to obtrusiveness, the Internet monitors more and discourages users. Think about it - today, practically on any website´s sidebar will immediately pop up ads that advertise the very product you were looking for a minute ago. This is no longer intimidating, but normal.
Digital printing also allows you to print optional messages on the outside of envelopes, which can grab the attention of recipients and guide them to find out what´s inside.
Augmented reality has a huge potential to bring the benefits of a real-time solution to a standard direct mail, such as a postcard. You can scan an image on a card linked to a video, 3D graphics, or anything you can imagine. The biggest advantage is that the linked material is interchangeable. You can constantly change the content visible after scanning the relevant direct mail, so that the content offered is still relevant and interesting for a much longer period than standard paper direct mail.
Near Field Communication (NFC) chips will also guide customer relations. The transfer of information to the phones of potential clients will take place automatically in their vicinity. Imagine what you will be able to provide to your customers. In the very near future, the smartphone will take over the role of PC. Reaching people through their phones will be crucial for sellers.
Direct mail will easily guide the recipient´s attention to a range of marketing channels. This will also allow sellers to more easily and accurately track the return on investment. The physical connection to the digital world will determine the future of marketing.
The further development of NFC chips is very interesting. A day may come when this technology will be connected in some way with a doormat, for example ... Let´s say that a postal item that is delivered to your flat door contains an NFC tag and that your doormat will have a built-in LED screen. Can you imagine seeing your doormat come to life as the item walks through the door? Not only will this give sellers the opportunity to extend the amount of time when a potential customer views their products or services, but it will also bring a whole new dimension to public perception of direct mail.
Believe it or not, you can go even further with this form of thinking. The principle of the NFC chip does not have to focus only on the letter itself, you can also use it for everyday items, whether it is a pen, keychain, bracelet and the like, again sent via direct mail. Imagine walking around a bus stop with a digital billboard capable of detecting NFC chips that shows the brand or product you are interested in. How likely are you to notice this message? There is no doubt that it will catch your attention.
The versatility of direct mail over the years, combined with modern technology, proves that it will continue to be an important marketing channel.
Although still built on printed sheets of paper, direct mail marketing combining technology will bring the integration of offline and online marketing in the future.
Future direct mail shipments will inspire not only the printed words to take action. Above all, your imagination pushes the limits of this inspiration. You can create what you think about in the future! Exciting times are ahead of us.
Nowadays, we are increasingly learning about digital inkjet web technologies and how they have affected the digital printing industry, from highly variable books, where practically every page is unique, to variable coupons paired with variable perforation.
The next step will be inkjet printing on separate sheets. The ability to print on separate sheets can help increase productivity and, in addition, is cost-effective for senders who do not reach the volume required for web-based digital inkjet printing solutions.
The future is exciting! Anyone who has been in the field of direct mail for the last 5-10 years knows how fast the digitisation of the world affects the press component of direct marketing. It will be the same in the future. Whether you're looking for an interaction or just want to be more creative with larger volumes, the future may be exactly what you expect it to be.