April 27, 2016

Back to the Future: The Digital Marketer’s Return to Direct Mail

(Via Total Retail)

Believe it or not, print as a medium is making a comeback, one that’s becoming increasingly necessary for any digital marketing campaign. Don’t agree? Take a look at the recent news coming from Time Inc. and Nielsen Catalina Solutions (which connects TV and digital ad exposure to in-store CPG sales), showcasing how combining print, digital and TV in a cross-platform campaign has a positive impact on sales.

Time Inc. and Nielsen Catalina Solutions collaborated with Crystal Light to measure a cross-platform campaign for the brand. What did they find out? There’s a significant increase in sales impact when you add print and digital to TV. Kazim Gunay, head of consumer insights and strategy, beverages and snack nuts, The Kraft Heinz Company, said, “print continues to play an important role in our media strategy.”

People Love Direct Mail, Especially When it’s Personal
According to direct mail statistics from Compu-mail.com, almost two times as many U.S. adults react positively to receiving mail than negatively, and 55 percent look forward to getting their mail. What does this mean to the consumer? Think about this: How often have you shopped for an item online and added it to your cart, only to realize you could probably find the same item or something similar for less elsewhere? And how often after leaving that first site were you followed around by digital ads on Facebook or an unrelated content site?

If you’re like a lot of consumers, these ads are distracting. For many retailers however, remarketing delivers results. By using digital media, shoppers are flooded with retargeting campaigns in the form of banner ads and personalized emails. Over half of marketers now spend 10 percent to 50 percent of their budget on remarketing. Thank you, digital marketing.

Related story: Remember Direct Mail? It’s About to Become A Disruptive Marketing Tool

The Whole Marketing Breakfast
While many of these new routes to the consumer are inexpensive and easy to produce, they lack the personalization and tangibility to which consumers respond well. Consumers want to feel as if brands and retailers understand them and their needs. After all, each person is different.

What marketers got away from in the rapid growth of the digital era is the need to serve the whole marketing breakfast — i.e., the ability to understand who wants their eggs over easy and who opts for oatmeal. This means marketers need to bring their digital, data-driven approach to all marketing efforts, combining the best of digital with more traditional forms of advertising, like television, print, radio and direct mail, using that data to achieve the “right place, right time, right message” approach marketers long for.

Quality Over Quantity
At the most recent SXSW conference, that exact return to quality was laid bare to a digital audience by Robert Candelino, vice president of marketing at Unilever. He said, “While there’s a lot of energy and excitement around these emerging channels, we [as marketers] have to be mindful that it’s a balancing act. The threshold on the quality of content and the importance in the value you add to someone’s life has never been higher. You’re one swipe away from being irrelevant.” In this very strong statement, Candelino expresses the need to show customers that you understand and care about them.

Direct mail in particular complements digital by sending an impression — e.g., a branded card or promotional offer — to a consumer’s home, making them feel important and understood. One of the benefits of using direct mail to reach consumers is the trust and tangibility that direct mail brings. By applying digital data to direct mail, marketers can programmatically determine who to target and with which creative, test offers ranging from free shipping to percent discounts, and determine the best message to drive the most return visits and conversions.

A Viable Real-Time Medium
The use of direct mail by brands and marketers shows the effectiveness of this traditional marketing channel in the new world of digital. Consumers already respond to mail. According to Compu-mail.com, 67 percent feel that physical mail is more personal than electronic. However, the fact that it’s rarely timely or targeted has made direct mail seem largely outdated in the digital age. As marketers see the need to vary their media strategies, they can’t ignore the role and importance both digital marketing and direct mail plays in attracting and keeping customers. By applying digital concepts to make direct mail more “digitally reactive,” mail has become a viable real-time medium.

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