Businesses want consumers on their website. That’s a given. Why? Because once on the web, your audience can explore what you have to offer and – potentially – purchase right online.
Businesses want consumers to read their print promotion pieces. That’s a given. Why? Because once your audience is holding your catalog, or letter, or promotional offer, they are experiencing your brand and – potentially – responding with a purchase.
So how do marketers use direct mail to drive traffic to the web – and then use the web to drive their direct mail campaign? It’s not as complicated as one might think.
Many people suffer from an “oil and water” mentality when it comes to mixing online and print media. But the fact is, they work extremely well together and can quickly boost your campaign’s success.
According to ExactTarget’s 2009 Channel Preference Study, direct mail influences 76 percent of Internet users who buy a product or service online. Better still; direct mail remains the one medium that gives you direct and reliable access to nearly everyone in your target market, whether they are online-or offline buyers.
Here are some ways to have the two mediums work for each other – and for your business:
Make a compelling offer. As beautiful as your website is and with as much work you put into designing and writing the copy for it, your audience needs more than a mailer inviting them to visit. You need to give them a reason to physically go to their computer, iPad, or mobile phone and type in your URL.
A compelling and valuable offer – such as a free trial, seminar, white paper, savings coupons, or sample – goes a long way in getting them to your site. It must be something they want, not just something you want them to see. Think, “what’s in it for them?”
- Use an easy-to-type URL. Unlike e-mail, where you can include a clickable link to your landing page, in direct mail you can only print a URL. Your prospect must type this into a browser. The shorter and easier it is to spell, the easier it will be for people to visit your page. Ideally, you will use a simple URL created specifically for that campaign so that you can track the mailer’s success.
- Test a series of campaign-specific URLs. These allow you to test variations of an offer in the same campaign to see which one generates more interest, and revenue. Campaign-specific URLs can route each of your recipients to one of several campaign web pages with different messaging or graphics: using variable data integration feature makes this as easy as having another column in your spreadsheet that is mapped to an offer box on your mailpiece.
- Try personalized copy. Personalized teasers, headlines, subheads, and body copy attract attention and encourage reading. People love seeing their name in print, especially on calendars or news articles. makes personalizing your mailers easy with a Mail Merge-like system.
- Issue a clear call to action. If you want your prospect to complete a survey, for example, say “Go to JimSmith.azcentral.com and fill out our survey to claim your $100 savings coupon.” People are more likely to respond when you specifically tell them what to do and offer a benefit to them if they do so.
- Create a sense of urgency. As in most direct marketing situations, people are more apt to respond immediately when they know they have limited time. With whatever offer you make, state a deadline near the call to action.
- Build a special landing page. Generally, it’s not a good idea to drive traffic to your home page. There are too many choices and too many ways for prospects to get lost. By creating a unique landing page and driving people to that page, you can control the message, track response, and collect information (such as updated mailing addresses) for follow-up and future direct marketing efforts.
- Capture contact information. A one-time visit offers limited value. Good direct marketing practice dictates that you use a first visit to begin a dialogue. And to do that, you must at least ask for an e-mail address and maybe a first name to personalize future communications. Depending on the value of the offer, you might also be able to get full name, mailing address, and other information to build your in-house database.
- Test various formats. Because of printing and postage costs, many people use postcards to drive web traffic. But you can also test self-mailers, flyers, and envelope packages. The amount of pre-sell required should dictate the format. The simpler and more valuable your offer, the less pre-sell you need. Only testing can show you for sure.
The best marketers never stop testing, measuring, and tweaking, and makes it especially easy to test and tweak. Since there are no minimum volumes and your mailers are sent the next day, you can test several variations this week and have your response results in hand within a few days.