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July 10, 2018

Direct Mail Goes Digital: 5 Technologies That Are Ready to Deliver



In today’s tech-heavy world, it may seem counter-intuitive to announce that direct mail is making a comeback.


But look closer at some of the recent statistics and the reason becomes clear: in 2017, direct mail’s household response rate was 5.1%--the highest reported since the DMA began publishing reports in 2003. More critically, the medium’s response rate among 18-21-year-olds is even higher at 12.4%!

Still, 2018 is not 2008—and technology does play a more involved role in our day-to-day behavior. So incorporating those preferences into your direct mail campaigns only makes sense. Fortunately, advances in technology haven’t just changed consumer behavior—they’ve given direct marketers a whole new playground of opportunities.


Below are just a sample of the ways—as featured on the USPS Irresistible Mail website—technology can be incorporated into (once) traditional direct mail to create an engaging experience that drives response and increases ROI.


Augmented Reality (AR)
This “new dimension to commerce” is an interactive experience that overlays digital elements on a mailer’s physical surface, bringing further context, movement, and connection to the piece. This is achieved by triggering the mailer with a visual prompt that can be activated through a consumer’s smartphone, camera, or tablet.

AR helped Palm Beach Surf Camp bring the waves to those from afar. The mail piece featured an image as the AR trigger and instructions to download the app. When positioned over the trigger, the mobile device activated the AR experience.


Augmented_Reality_Use_This.png © United States Postal Service. All Rights reserved. Used with permission.

Download Now: 12-Page USPS Postage Rate & Direct Mail Guide

When did you last find yourself doing a double take on an unexpected mail delivery? First impressions are everything, and having the ability to hit ‘play’ on a page is something your consumers will not soon forget.


In-print video can be carried out in a number of different ways, such as driving customers to a live stream, embedding a paper-thin video screen into a mailer, or by using video-enhanced print.
A pet adoption center showcased its kittens in a direct mail piece through live-streaming content, enabled by an embedded Wi-Fi hotspot and video player.



 © United States Postal Service. All Rights reserved. Used with permission.


Redesigned QR Codes
With the swift scan of a smartphone, Quick Response (QR) codes can transport your customers to your online store, a product video, or a live stream of video content. The new wave of QR codes presents a sleeker look and allows for more branding and messaging within its design. Work a dotless QR code into your icon or logo, or blend it into your graphics for a powerful physical-to-digital effect.

QR codes are a convenient way to immediately deliver more information to your customer. Or, in this case, delivering groceries straight to your doorstep. Go-Ceries, an online grocery delivery retailer, used direct mail to send customers magnets with QR codes to place on their refrigerator to instantly buy their favorite grocery items. By scanning a grocery magnet, the item loads into the customer's digital shopping cart for purchase.


QR_Use_This.png                                                      © United States Postal Service. All Rights reserved. Used with permission.


Buy Now Technology

Social media, in large, has transformed from a browse to buy experience. A simple scan of digitally-enabled mail can drive new followers to your social media platforms and, thanks to Buy Now Technology, convert them into paying customers.

Pinterest recently introduced transactional capabilities with its Buyable Pins feature. In the direct mail sample below, recipients are driven to buyable pins through a QR code.


Buy_Now__Use_This.png                                                         © United States Postal Service. All Rights reserved. Used with permission.
Near Field Communication (NFC)

Using microchip technology, NFC allows recipients to instantaneously engage with your digital content without having to download an app or open a web browser. A microchip embedded in your mail piece emits short-range radio waves that communicate with mobile phones to activate the digital experience. Your recipient simply has to hover an NFC-capable mobile device over the mail piece and your content will automatically open on their screen.

In the example below, a British musician engaged with her audience by using NFC technology to give fans access to extended album content like lyrics, liner notes, photos, and videos with the first NFC-enabled album.


Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 9.28.41 PM.png © United States Postal Service. All Rights reserved. Used with permission.


Want to discover more great ways to ensure your direct mail produces excellent results with every campaign? Download our FREE Direct Mail Production Checklist today!


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Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published March of 2017 and has been updated with fresh content. 


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