As our clients continue to expand their inbound digital marketing efforts, we hear a lot of questions about the value of direct mail in a increasingly digital world. However, determining how it will best fit each particular client isn't always so cut and dried.
In past posts, we’ve talked about direct mail’s strengths:
“That all sounds great,” you say, “but how exactly do I use this traditionally outbound tactic to support my inbound marketing efforts?”
As with all marketing, it comes down to hitting the right target with the right message at the right time. However, the goal of your direct mail in this scenario is not to push prospects to act immediately. Rather, it’s to pull them deeper into your inbound channels—where you can more precisely track their preferences, develop a relationship and provide the relevant content necessary to nurture them toward conversion. That is, after all, what inbound marketing is all about.
So where do we start? It may seem obvious:
1. Identify your ideal audience
First rule of marketing: know thy customers. Before spending time and money on a direct mail campaign, make sure the customers you’re sending it to will be receptive. Check your prospects’ demographics, online behavior, preferences and needs to identify targets amenable to the medium.
Do they live on their smartphone? Do they own their own home? Do they even have a dedicated mail box? Have they already expressed a communication preference that would preclude mail from the mix? Are they a likely future consumer of your product—or just an online bystander who happened upon your content? Know the answers before you spend one diret mail dime on them.
2. Know where prospects are in the cycle
If your direct mail is going to nurture your prospects further into the inbound funnel, it must stand out from the clutter and be relevant to them. For that to be possible, you have to know where the recipient is in your inbound cycle.
For instance, brand-new subscribers to your blog probably aren’t good candidates for hard-sell product offers. They haven’t expressed sufficient interest yet to merit that kind of aggressive push. But they might appreciate a direct mail piece that thanks them for subscribing and informs them about other similar content you offer. That is, give them another free taste of what they’ve already enjoyed. Be sure to include a URL and a unique code they can use to access the content—whether it’s a whitepaper, video, e-book or the like. You can even front the free download with a form to gather more in-depth information and build your profile.
For prospects further along in your inbound cycle—say, long-time subscribers who’ve engaged a number of times with your brand—a more sales-focused offer might be appropriate. The key is to know what your prospects are primed and ready for.
3. Make a personal, relevant appeal
Whatever you’re pitching with your direct mail—whether it’s a word of thanks, an update on upcoming content, a free download or an invitation to an upcoming educational event you’re hosting—make sure your pitch is relevant to that particular individual. Make it personal.
Segment your lists to align offers with your prospects’ expressed preferences or needs. Just as with your digital marketing, providing content in your direct mail that’s highly relevant to your audience is the key to pulling them in rather than pushing them away.
4. Bring 'em back so you can track
Just because it’s an outbound tactic, don’t think you can’t use direct mail to gather more customer data. Today’s advanced print technology allows you to incorporate QR codes or PURLs on your pieces, so you can drive recipients back online where you can continue to track and measure interest, feedback and buying preferences. Use the information to continue shaping your inbound content to keep prospects coming back for more.
When paired with digital efforts to create a sound multi-channel marketing approach, direct mail can be highly effective at nurturing leads, converting acquisitions and boosting retention. But like anything, it has its costs—and risks. So take the time to understand which prospects in your inbound cycle are likely to be most responsive to an outbound touch. Do that and they’ll be yours—signed, sealed and delivered.
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