The elephant is in the room and reading a personalized direct mail.
The elephant, of course, is customer communication. During the past year, companies, particularly brands, have reached out to customers with growing numbers of direct mail pieces.
What’s so special about this? We’ve constantly been flooded with direct mail. Just a few years ago, we declared direct mail dead, and now, supposedly, it’s back.
Direct mail is an integral part of a multi-channel customer communication strategy. But what should be in your customer communication strategy in the first place? Let’s recap before we move on:
- Social Media
- Email marketing
- SMS/WhatsApp marketing
- Content marketing (website, blog, whitepapers, videos, audio, webinars, and more)
- CRM-based retargeting
- Direct mail/catalogs
- Mobile apps
Depending on your business, you may work with all the above, some of the above, and hopefully, not with none of the above.
Generally, B2B marketing works best with a digital mix; B2C marketing still works well with a combination of digital and paper.
Most of us are used to email marketing and social media. Hopefully, as we collect more data and use CRM systems, CRM-based outreach to strengthen relationships, and to cross and upsell has become an integral part of a regular customer review and sales approach.
SMS & WhatsApp
SMS marketing works well for B2C, and WhatsApp groups can work well for B2B.
Mobile apps are great if they work and offer added value to a simple email or phone call. Stay away if you want them just because it’s cool to have one. Apps should cover your products and services offerings, access to customer accounts, the status of support requests, ordering/re-ordering of consumables, PO and invoicing/payment, placing a support call, chat functionality, and a space to advertise your latest and finest offerings. Ideally, your app also offers a self-service option, such as an AR-based how-to guide to fix a problem such as a paper jam.
What about email marketing? How meaningful are your newsletters? Are you monitoring how they perform? Is anyone on your team following up on the bounces, unsubscribes, and, more importantly, the opens? Email campaigns, like everything else you do, must be meaningful and engaging. You have a CRM; you know details about your audience, use them, and get personal!
You must do it, but don’t do it half-heartedly, and choose your channels wisely. If unsure, work with an expert in B2B and B2C marketing.
So, we’re down to good old direct mail. Does it work? It depends on whether it is meaningful and personalized. Nobody needs your “Hello, Petra, here’s a special offer for you” low-quality paper, USPS-distributed advertisement. Paper-based communication must make a difference. Look different, smell different. It has to offer an experience. Direct mail is cost-intensive, and you need a return on investment!
Use your CRM to drive personalized content. Engage with graphic designers to create visual experiences. Work with a print services provider to guide you through the paper quality, color, and embellishing jungle. If you send a letter to get people curious about the latest hardware you’re selling, include AR experiences or at least a QR code that points to a video experience.
You also want to work closely with your print services provider to use special USPS discounts, informed delivery, recommendations for the best delivery day of the week, and end-to-end tracking of your communication pieces.
Why use AR and QR codes? Because these, too, help you track the impact your direct mail is making. Unlike email, you need something to get your target audience online to follow your campaign performance. If you don’t track, why waste the money? And do you have a follow-up process in place? Will you reach out to those who engage with your digital experience? How?
Direct mail is simple until you do the math and think about the aftermath.