Explore the basics of a programmatic mail campaign, then try your hand at a fictional one. Select a digital trigger, format and element to test then see the results.
The months leading up to the holidays can be a particularly demanding time for senior-level marketers.
For some retailers, the holidays can account for as much as 30% of annual sales.1
And with customer expectations at an all-time high, marketers are increasingly accountable for their spending and under pressure to show clear-cut business results.2
Fortunately, by implementing various technologies, marketers can better reach customers, and track campaign success to understand what is and isn’t working. Read on to learn how you can use technology to make your direct mail campaigns intelligent for the holiday season.
How to make your holiday mail more sophisticated.
By marrying print and digital, you can ensure that your direct mail campaigns yield powerful insights.3 Consider implementing the following technologies in your next direct mail campaign:
Add a QR code to your mailpiece.
Quick Response (QR) codes, which look like barcodes, can be scanned with a smartphone, prompting a related app or website to open. Think of QR codes as a way to provide your customers and prospects with additional value. In one example, a grocery store retailer used direct mail to send food-themed magnets with QR codes, which, when scanned, allowed customers to instantly buy grocery store items from the comfort of their home.4
Include an NFC chip in your direct mail design.
Embedding Near Field Communication (NFC) microchips in your mailpiece will allow you to instantaneously transmit information through short-range radio waves to NFC-enabled smartphone devices. Unlike QR codes, NFC does not require users to download an app or open a separate web browser, enabling a seamless experience. In one example, a musician engaged her fans by embedding an NFC tag on a mail piece that gave them access to extended album content, including song lyrics, photos and videos.5
Consider incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) in your design.
With AR, you can transform a piece of mail into an interactive experience by layering digital graphics over a physical mail piece. In one example, a surf camp sent a mailpiece featuring an image of waves as the AR trigger that prompted recipients to download the AR app. This in turn, activated the AR experience, which concluded with a promotional offer.6
With each of these technologies — QR, NFC and AR — you’ll be able to gather a rich pool of data and learn about your most-interested customers, allowing you to refine and better target your future direct mail campaigns.7
Add a PURL to your direct mail design.
A PURL is a personalized URL that features the recipient’s name in the link and leads them to a personalized landing page. By including a PURL in your direct mail copy, the recipient can access and complete a response form prepopulated with information from the direct mail. This is a surefire way to capture leads.8
Go one-step further by adding a remarketing code to your PURL.
After a recipient views your mailpiece and visits the personalized landing page, you can then tag them with a cookie so that they can receive an ad later while browsing the internet, redirecting them back to your website to help drive conversions.9
Send your direct mail to a targeted group.
Similar to the above approach, you can serve online ads to the targeted niche group that received your mailpiece to leave a lasting impression.10
Direct mail is more intelligent than ever before. Each of the technologies described above can provide you with a rich pool of data, allowing you to better target your customers with more relevant messaging, ultimately resulting in a stronger return on investment.11 Consider how implementing smarter direct mail campaigns can help you reach your marketing and sales goals.
For many companies, the holidays are a crucial time to drive business. Marketers need a fine-tuned plan to capitalize on the busy shopping season and attract customers. Some include email in their holiday marketing mix, others choose to focus on direct mail. But choosing one channel over the other could do your business a disservice.
By combining email and direct mail, you can target and convert consumers even more effectively. For example, in one study, businesses increased their order value by more than $3 when using the two mediums combined; they also saw a 25% response rate.1 Learn about the benefits of email and direct mail, and best practices for creating a campaign that uses both channels in sync.
Two Potent Channels
Email and mail can make a real impact on holiday sales.
Email has serious reach.
eMarketer estimates that there will be 253.4 million email users in the US in 2018, accounting for nearly 90.6% of internet users and 77% of the population. By 2021, that number will grow to 266.3 million users.2
Direct mail has a high return on investment (ROI).
A 2016 report showed that, in the US, direct mail has a 27% median ROI.3
Email campaigns convert more with a house list.
The same report showed the following conversion rates:
House list rates:
- 21% open rate
- 10% click through rate
- 5.5% conversion rate
Prospect list rates:
- 16.4% open rate
- 5.9% click through rate
- 4.3% conversion rate4
Personalization makes a difference for both channels.
One study showed that brands that personalize the subject lines of their emails experience 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than those that do not personalize their promotional emails.5
By personalizing a direct mail campaign with a customer’s name and location, one company achieved a 9.7% conversion rate.6
Using both channels in tandem can capture more consumer attention during the holidays.
According to a study by Canada Post, marketing campaigns that integrate direct mail and digital media hold 39% more of a customer’s time than digital campaigns alone.7
Consumers prefer email and direct mail during the holidays.
A 2017 survey showed that Internet users most preferred email and direct mail to receive their holiday deals.8
How to Create a Multichannel Campaign
Consider these best practices when implementing a holiday campaign featuring email and direct mail.
1. Decide on the optimal timing.
When planning a direct mail and email campaign, mail is typically the first touchpoint. Once the mailpiece is sent, choose two to four different moments to send out emails. The first email should go out a week after the mailing to keep the original mailing top-of-mind. Send the other emails a few days apart to not overwhelm the recipient. According to HubSpot, Tuesday is the best day of the week to send an email, while 11 am ET sees the highest email click-through rates.9
2. Make sure your branding aligns.
Creative elements in the mailpiece and subsequent emails should match. Leverage the copy and visuals you’re using for your holiday campaigns in both. For example, your holiday tagline can be used in header copy of the mailpiece and the subject line of your first email or its body copy. Be sure your mail and email also leads to the same final touchpoint – whether it’s your website or a holiday microsite.
3. Personalize the content.
Help boost conversion rates by personalizing the copy in your mailpiece. For example, you could include the name of the recipient in header copy and customize content in the rest of the mailpiece to their specific customer segment. For the first email sent out, consider including the recipient’s name in the subject line. This small change can bump up email open rates and direct mail responses.
4. Use a comprehensive mailing list for your campaign.
Creating a house or prospect list for your campaign will be more complicated, since you’ll need to match email addresses to physical addresses. For a house list, work with your internal teams to merge the address data you already have. For a prospect list, work with a list supplier that can tap into a multichannel database. You don’t want to buy a list that’s missing email or physical address information for the same prospect.
5. Consider using programmatic mail instead of a list.
The latest trend in direct mail leverages programmatic technology to send personalized mailpieces triggered by digital interactions. You’ll need to be sure the programmatic database has customer information that includes email and physical addresses. Once a visitor interacts with a specific touchpoint on your site—whether your homepage, a category page or product page—the programmatic technology will send a mailpiece within 24-48 hours of the interaction.
Nailing down the right marketing mix during the holidays is crucial for year-round success. Sync up your email and direct mail efforts instead of choosing one channel over the other. With a well-timed, well-designed campaign, your business could see increased sales during the holidays.
The United States Postal Service’s new Informed Delivery® feature allows organizations to connect their hardcopy mail and digital marketing strategies by providing users with a preview of their mail before it arrives — viewable via USPS® mobile app, email notification or online dashboard.1 This coordinated, double impression allows users to interact with digital content associated with their mailpiece. As a result, the Informed Delivery feature provides businesses with the opportunity to further showcase their well-designed mailpieces by expanding the reach of their mailing campaign.2
The Informed Delivery feature also provides mailers with valuable data, such as email open rates and click-through rates. This data appears in reports that allow businesses to evaluate the success of their campaign and root their decisions in metrics.3 Read on to learn more about supplemental content and find out how a real company has used this innovative feature.
Using Supplemental Content
Informed Delivery users can view a grayscale image of the exterior, address side of their letter-size mailpieces.4 At a minimum, organizations conducting an Informed Delivery interactive campaign are required to include a ride-along image and target URL to accompany this grayscale image. This supplemental content makes a campaign interactive and helps businesses enhance their call-to-action by providing consumers with an additional, digital impression. Following the best practices below can help make campaigns more effective by driving user action5:
- Sync the design of the ride-along image with the mail piece and grayscale image to maintain consistency.
- Treat the ride-along image as a branded, clickable button with a strong call-to-action, such as “Click Here” or “Sign-up Today.”
- Include a target URL that takes the user to a website or social media platform.
- See our Campaign Image Requirements document on our Informed Delivery for Business Mailers website for image specifications.
Mailers also have the opportunity to enhance their Informed Delivery campaign by replacing the grayscale image with an optional, full-color image known as a representative image. Mailers conducting campaigns on flat-size pieces, such as periodicals or catalogues, are required to use a representative image as images of flats are not captured or presented to users.
How One Company Used Supplemental Content
ESPN was one of the very first mailers to test Informed Delivery interactive campaigns with the USPS. For each periodical they mailed, they conducted an Informed Delivery interactive campaign by providing USPS a color copy of the front cover of their magazine to use as a representative image. The ride-along image demonstrates how supplemental content can strengthen a campaign’s call-to-action; the image prompts users to give a gift subscription. This ride-along image uses the design best practices outlined on the site linked above to encourage users to take a desired action. Additionally, the representative image gives subscribers a preview of the magazine arriving soon. ESPN’s Informed Delivery campaign enabled the company to connect and engage with subscribers in new, innovative ways.
Hardcopy mail and digital marketing strategies should not stand alone. Informed Delivery bridges the gap between the physical and digital worlds to create an innovative experience for consumers. This feature allows businesses to reach their customers in a new way that aligns with today’s increasingly digital environment.
It can be tough to create an effective marketing campaign that cuts through the daily digital clutter. It often means changing strategies, testing new concepts and broaching new messaging territories — all things that you might approach with hesitation.
But Informed Delivery from the United States Postal Service (USPS)® can help your business break through. The service allows participating customers to see what’s coming in the mail, from their email.
The Informed Delivery email, sent daily, includes black and white images of the physical mailpieces, as well as connected calls-to-action that the sender — a business owner like you — can customize to get the most out of the service.
If you’re interested in using Informed Delivery for your next direct mail campaign, here are three best practices, learned from real marketers who use it successfully.
Optimize Your Mailpiece
In the daily Informed Delivery email, your mailpiece is displayed in grayscale. Take this into account while designing: will the color contrasts still read in black and white? Does your message still come across?
It’s also important to think about the format of your physical piece. Odd shapes — even squares — and catalogs can’t be scanned like traditional postcards and letters, and thus won’t be displayed as images in the email. Instead of investing in that format of direct mail, consider investing in ride-along digital content that connects with the mailpiece. That video, animation or digital experience can be linked in the daily email to add a second touchpoint with your customer.
Entice with Ride-Along Content
In the daily email, ride-along content appears in color beneath the image of your mailpiece. Consider it a personalized, helpful complement to what participating customers will see in their physical mailbox. For example, did you know more than half of bills are paid online? If your business sends bills and uses Informed Delivery, ride-along content could feature a link, driving recipients to pay their bill online.
of bills are paid online.1
If you’re mailing promotions for new stores or products that these customers may not have connected with in person yet, build awareness quickly and effectively by sharing content that introduces the business in a memorable way — like a great video — or encourages another connection — like following your company on social media.
Enhance Using Data
of customers view their Informed Delivery alerts on mobile devices.2
They also value seeing what’s in the mail while they’re traveling as a top reason for using Informed Delivery. These types of data points can help you continuously improve on customer experience. Make your ride-along content mobile friendly, and offer the convenience of acting on your mailpiece’s call to action — like paying bills or taking advantage of a sale — even if customers don’t see the physical mail.
As you continue to use Informed Delivery, you’ll also gather data more specific to your business. Use that information to retarget your audience in a more effective and personalized way, whether with more physical mail or through other digital experiences.
Enhancing your direct mail is easier than you might think. With Informed Delivery, you get three touchpoints — email, digital ride-along content and the physical mailpiece — all in one swoop. Don’t hesitate to make the most out of your direct mail and create lasting engagements with shoppers.
In a world inundated by ads, it can be challenging as a business to reach your audience effectively. Help your marketing messages make a greater impact. With Informed Delivery® from the United States Postal Service, you can connect one direct mail campaign with potential customers three times: through email, digital ride-along content and the mail piece itself. Watch our video to see how your direct mail can reach customers in the physical and digital worlds, and help deliver improved sales and ROI.
Even though online buying is becoming an everyday practice, shoppers and retailers alike are showing that paper is still the way to go in terms of marketing. Because, while they are bombarded with online ads that they rarely trust or click on, consumers consistently show a strong attachment to physical mail that they can interact with on their own time.
Print marketing might mean more time and money than digital, but catalogs that positively engage your customers are worth the investment. Follow these eight best practices when creating your next catalog campaign.
Inspire Your Customers
First and foremost, your catalogs should inspire your consumer. Gone are the days that a catalog is a simple product list. Now–through thoughtful design, photography, and copy–you can tell the story of your brand and connect with customers that have the same aesthetic tastes.
In an age where people are curating their lives through social media, brand images can now be aspirational rather than just advertisements. Make a goal of creating an emotional connection through your catalogs in addition to being informational.
When designing your catalog, it is important to design with your audience in mind. Visuals can go a long way and, from start to finish, should reflect the aesthetic of your customer. Even if the product comes from the same category–say fashion–a catalog for young professionals will look much different than a catalog for mothers.
Consider personalizing catalogs to show items based on previous purchases or to show items that are available in nearby stores. This level of personalization will set you apart. Consider working with vendors that offer variable data printing.
Present a Strong Brand Identity
Catalogs are always competing for space in a consumer’s mind. However, many of them look so similar, it’s difficult to differentiate between the companies. In order to create brand loyalty, you need to stand out among the crowd, and you can do that by creating and showing a strong identity.
A catalog should be an extension of your brand and should support whatever messages you stand for. A successful catalog will both display products and present a clear individuality. Don’t let your catalog get bogged down with product details. Use the unique voice of the brand to carry your products forward.
Focus on Quality
Hand in hand with a strong brand presence is quality. This means quality in design, size, and type of paper – everything that goes into a catalog should be purposeful, and it should represent your business in the best way possible. These small details can enhance the overall appearance of your catalog and ultimately say a lot about your brand.
Make It Easy to Navigate
Catalogs should have a user-friendly layout and be designed in a way that naturally leads from page to page. Readability and scannability are both essential in clear design.
There should be a clear hierarchy to each page, with one or two items standing out and other elements lending support. Remember: using different fonts can be confusing, white space is your friend, and important information should always be clear and up front.
Use Impactful Photos
Catalogs that are image-heavy give a sense of brand personality and allow customers to scan through with minimal effort. In general, environmental photography–that show products in a surrounding where they would naturally be–is most effective, especially when the people in the photos are interacting with your products.
However, don’t group too many products in one photo as it will be distracting to the viewer. It is best to show items individually or in very small, related groups. Make great photos the centerpiece in your catalog. They’ll do the work to keep your reader engaged.
Make Ordering Easy
Think beyond aesthetics, as well. If a reader can’t figure out how to place an order or what items they want to purchase, then you stand to lose out on sales. This is why it is essential to organize your catalog to make ordering as easy as possible. Often top-selling products are lost among similar items. Focus on these items and position them with products that would go well in addition to rather than instead of. Any opportunity to cross-sell companion products through copy or callouts can increase sales up to 15%.1
As a customer browses the catalog, it should be clear how they can place an order. Include website URLs and a phone number that are easy to find within the design, and then push orders with promotions and time-sensitive offers.
Successful catalogs will help lead your customers online to make purchases, but should only be sent with controlled frequency as to not overwhelm or annoy them. While 53% of consumers like the number of catalogs they receive and 25% want even more, a fine line exists between more catalogs and too many.2
For consumers that desire catalogs, once a month should be the maximum frequency. However, quarterly or seasonal catalogs are optimal for most effective brand-customer interaction.
Engaging catalog marketing has been a proven method of boosting online sales. By following these best practices, you can provide your customers with a memorable experience that makes them feel inspired, connects them to your brand, and drives them to shop.
Print has proven time and again to play an integral role in marketing. While digital ads are ever present, a U.S Postal Service® survey showed that 92% of households report having a strong attachment to mail and even look forward to receiving mail each day.1 Catalogs especially are known to have positive associations, improve brand recall, and drive customers to a brand’s website. The challenge is standing out from competitors.
Engagement and brand storytelling are essential in creating memorable catalogs, and technology can add new dimension to an already popular and successful marketing tool. Read on to learn about four ways to elevate your next catalog campaign.
Augmented Reality (AR) technology seamlessly combines the digital and physical worlds to provide your customers with an interactive experience that’s exciting and unexpected. Utilizing this technology has been proven by one study to increase the likelihood of a purchase up to 88%.2
AR layers digital graphics over your customer’s surroundings. Incorporate a visual trigger into your catalog for your customers to activate with a smartphone camera. Then they’ll see your product come to life in any way you imagine.
Virtual Reality (VR) is another game changer. Now your catalogs can deliver a message that comes to life before your customer’s eyes, right from their living room. Proven to revolutionize the shopping experience, the VR industry is expected to become a $10-15 billion market by 2022.3
Utilizing this technology and including a mailable headset in your catalog gives your customers everything they need to see your products in a whole new light.
Video content is versatile and delivers your message instantly. You can incorporate this technology in your catalogs in several ways: embed a paper-thin screen into a mailpiece, direct customers to dynamic digital content or have your visuals come alive right on the page with video-enhanced print.
One simple way to incorporate this technology is through a QR code®.4 Launch digital content from your catalog with a QR code® that leads customers to time-sensitive promotions or your online shop. Catalogs with video-enhanced print can help mesmerize your audience and increase your product awareness.
Near Field Communication
Near Field Communication (NFC) is the new frontier of wireless technology. There are many exciting ways to use this technology that bridge a physical catalog with the digital world.
NFC tags–usually an embedded microchip in a sticker or a product label–can launch tailored digital content on an NFC-capable mobile device with short-range radio wave. With a tap or a wave of the smartphone, your customers can seamlessly connect to your brand online.
Reinvent your catalog marketing with technology. Tell your brand story and immerse your customers in what your business has to offer with these innovative digital additions. Incorporate technology for richer customer experiences and potentially larger returns for your company.