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How to Include Print in a Marketing Automation Strategy

Like many terms in the digital marketing lexicon, “marketing automation” is widely used in discussions and presentations but isn’t truly descriptive. Marketing automation usually focuses only on email automation and never embraces integrating print into the marketing automation mix.  Adding direct mail is easy and combining triggered email and postal mail boosts the results exponentially.

 

What is Marketing Automation?

Before discussing why you should add a non-digital medium to an automated digital process, a brief description of marketing automation will be helpful.

Marketing automation is any practice that automates the marketing process. Automation kicks in when a customer or prospect responds to a blog post, social media post, or cold outbound email produced by a marketing organization. The prospect may, for example, respond to offers for a free download, webinar registration, or request more information. Marketing automation software (popular brands include HubSpot, Marketo, and Salesforce Pardot) registers the customer’s response and initiates another action.

While dozens or even hundreds of actions are possible, a few typical activities include:

Email Marketing: Sends an immediate email to the customer and schedules additional automated emails to be delivered later in the sales cycle.

Lead Nurturing: Any marketing communication intended to further develop the relationship with a lead or contact, moving them through the buying process. Organizations can track the engagement of these activities and personalize the communications based on behaviors, interests, and perceived intent.

Social Media: The marketing organization can track what their audience posts across social platforms, who shares content, and with whom they share it.

Analytics and Reporting: One of the greatest benefits of automated marketing is accumulating data and providing analytics and reports. This helps the marketing organization decide what is working for them.

What might be missing here?

 

Print and Direct Mail

As marketing organizations customize the digital experiences of their audience, they have a chance to create a more relevant and personal experience by adding printed direct mail into the equation. Direct mail marketing continues as one of the most powerful marketing tools available, yet digital marketers using automation software tend to ignore it and therefore are missing an entire touch point opportunity. Adding triggered direct mail with email promotion and nurturing escalates message effectiveness in both channels.

 

Marketing Automation and Direct Mail

Before adding direct mail to a marketing automation program, you must define criteria and guidelines of who will receive postal mail (i.e. those most likely to respond to the offer). Each criteria will affect a trigger point. When a contact meets the criteria, such as a lead score, they automatically receive a piece of postal mail that matches the actions they have taken online. An inquiry from a male contact looking at a specific pair of shoes online would receive an entirely different direct mail piece than a female who clicked on an ad for a luxury purse. A contact living in Detroit could receive an entirely different mail piece than a contact living in Atlanta, and so forth. The more personalized and relevant the printed piece, the better the response.

The underlying thread of everything you’ve read about digital marketing and direct mail is the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, when considering response rates.

 

When to Mail: Lifecycle Based Triggers

Direct mail isn’t just for nurturing the prospect to complete the sale. While the medium excels in closing the deal by placing something tangible and permanent in a contact’s hands, it also supports the relationship post-sale. Post-sale communications should begin right after customers place an order. Don’t wait until it’s time to renew. Marketing automation systems send triggered emails based on customer behavior or events. The same strategy applies to direct mail.

Events that could trigger a direct mail piece or package include:

  • Welcome letter or welcome “kit”
  • Printed thank-you card for placing a new order
  • Printed certificate after reaching a loyalty or rewards point goal
  • An anniversary card celebrating the customer’s first order, along with a discount or gift

A direct mail piece is the perfect, personal way to complete a sale started by a digital response. Print is also a great way to build brand awareness and loyalty by adding direct mail to the marketing automation sequence. Several studies over the last few years have revealed that direct mail integrated with personalized digital messaging can produce a sales lift of up to 19%. Electronic media creates consideration, but print closes the deal.

How to Design a Successful Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign

While many marketers continue to rely on single-approach marketing tactics—email, search, direct mail—for many others, there has been a monumental shift toward a multi-channel approach, and with good reason. Multi-channel marketing campaign success has been well-documented and with the advancement of tracking, analytics, and reporting tools, a multi-channel approach is easy to plan and manage. Whichever side of the tracks you are on – you are either demonstrating marketing strategy prowess or marketing strategy mistakes.

Year-over-year, research has shown that few consumers are single-channel shoppers anymore. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 73% of consumers use multiple (three on average) channels to research a product or brand before they make a purchase. Why is this good news for retailers and marketers? According to the same study, the more channels a consumer uses, the more valuable they are—spending an average of 4% more on every in-store shopping experience and 10% more online than single-channel consumers. And with every additional channel they used, they spent more money in the store. For retail, the statistics go on to include 23% more repeat shopping visits to the retailer’s stores (loyalty) and a higher propensity (brand advocacy) to recommend a brand to family and friends than those who used a single channel. And, not be overlooked, the value of the data points collected on your audience from different channels can be used to develop future offers, messaging, and entire campaigns. Let’s explore ways marketers can expand their campaigns into the multi-channel world.

Informed Delivery Transforms Direct Mail into Multi-channel Marketing

Direct mail has risen to the top as an effective marketing tool to drive consumers to digital information. Marketers use engagement responses such as coupon codes, personal URL’s, or QR codes to connect physical mail pieces to online videos, landing pages, shopping sites, reviews, and contests. The postal service delivers physical mail to customers without the filters and obstructions common with digital communication channels. Mail is a perfect starting point for businesses seeking to take advantage of multi-channel marketing benefits.

A straightforward way to connect physical mail and digital content is with Informed Delivery® (ID) from the US Postal Service. ID scans every piece of mail that enters its system, and emails consumers digital images of the mail that will arrive in their mailboxes each day. Over 20 million households have subscribed to the free Informed Delivery service. Marketers can leverage this technology by attaching a digital marker to their direct mail, transforming the black and white scan image to a four-color clickable image that is emailed to the registered recipient. This image becomes a digital ad that promotes the content in the soon-to-be-delivered mail. Mailers can double their impressions and send customers directly to destinations such as donation pages, signup forms, special sales, or grand opening messages with no added postage costs. Think of it as a “two for one”! The best part? Informed Delivery is a complimentary service from the USPS. Mailing experts at Bolger Printing can help you add ID to your direct mail campaign, making it instantly multi-channel!

(NOTE: During special promotional periods, mailers can even earn a postage credit on qualifying Informed Delivery campaigns. Ask us for details.)

Social Media Connected to Website

Posting relevant social media content that includes links back to your website is a simple, uncomplicated way to communicate over multiple channels, but it must be part of a coordinated social marketing plan. You can use social networks to present special offers to your loyal followers, connecting them to a landing page on your website with additional data capture points. Lead capture forms can collect additional information (such as an email address) in return for a valuable discount or limited-time offer. It can also offer an opportunity to share the unique offer with their friends and family, creating a referral program.

Don’t forget about the social part of social media marketing. Utilizing it as a broadcast medium is the baseline use of social media, but you can raise lead quality by monitoring your social networks, responding to inquiries, participating in discussions, and interacting in other ways. This aspect of social media requires human interaction—preferably someone comfortable with social networking and time to monitor, manage, and respond on your social networks every day.

Email Marketing and Multi-channel Campaigns

Once you’ve acquired email addresses via lead capture forms on your website, you’ve opened yet another marketing channel. Use the email address for the delivery of digital newsletters or email drip campaigns that further promote additional content and offers.

Many organizations can be successful at promoting their brands and developing leads using their website, direct mail, email, and social media. The costs are minimized by using your creative assets in multiple ways. Re-using content also ensures your branding and presentation is consistent across all channels.

Multi-channel marketing can be as complex or simple as you’d like to make it. If you’re just starting out, keep the effort small and manageable to avoid being overwhelmed with too many inter-related communication channels. Develop content that supports your marketing tactics across multiple channels and then use that content to fuel your channel strategies. The marketing experts at Bolger can help you map out a cross-channel marketing strategy that supports each individual marketing goal you have. Give us a call and let’s put together a time to hear what your sales, fundraising, or recruitment goals are, and we’ll help build a plan to support it.

Extra Impressions of Your Message (for free)

Informed Delivery from the US Postal Service sends consumers a preview of the mail they will receive later in the day. Consumers receive a morning email that displays images of soon-to-be-delivered letter-size mail. The great news for direct mail marketers and others communicating with their customers is the USPS distributes your message in an additional channel at no charge!

This is one of the few times you can get something for nothing. The base program is automatic and requires no special preparation by the mailer. About 17 million consumers have subscribed to Informed Delivery and are receiving previews of their mail in their morning inboxes. The open rate on these emails is extraordinary-about 65 percent.

Marketers should take advantage of these extra free impressions and add compelling text and graphics or teasers to their envelopes, postcards, or self-mailers. These efforts will make the scanned pieces stand out in the morning emails and increase the chances of engagement once the physical mail pieces arrive in consumer mailboxes.

The USPS doesn’t support flats, catalogs, and magazines in the basic service, but read on to see how mailers of these materials can still take advantage of the Informed Delivery program.

 

Informed Delivery Campaigns

Mailers can substitute the default monochrome images with full color ads that include a call to action and a link. Again, the Postal Service charges nothing for this service! A campaign requires little extra work. Most times, the artwork and landing pages will already exist as part of your marketing campaign. Mailers can work with print and mail service providers like Bolger Printing to design and submit an Informed Delivery campaign.

Informed Delivery presents full color ads first in the list of a consumer’s daily summary of mail pieces. A link in the ad can lead directly to landing pages for special sales, donation collection, event sign ups, video demonstrations, customer online portals, and more. Mailers can include flats, catalogs, and magazines in their Informed Delivery campaigns featuring substitute images.

If you’ve been thinking about running a multi-channel campaign, Informed Delivery is an easy and inexpensive way to start.

 

High Value/Low Cost

To make Informed Delivery campaigns even more effective, segment your mailing list. Your customers will see different graphics or links, depending on criteria you declare. A bank for instance, might provide links to different branches depending on the mail recipient’s location. Or an airline might alter their offer according to consumer loyalty points. The possibilities for targeted marketing, including extra free impressions and website links, are endless.

After the mailing, the US Postal Service compiles Informed Delivery campaign statistics. Mailers can view detailed reports on campaign delivery dates, email opens, and clickthroughs. Pre-mailing file analysis is also available so you can estimate the number Informed Delivery subscribers in your target zip codes or on your mailing list.

The US Postal Service runs promotions to encourage mailers to give Informed Delivery a try. Call us to hear about the schedule for the next promotional period and save money on postage while still doubling your impressions for free. It can’t get any better than that!

Learn more about the Informed Delivery program and see a personalized video explanation at www.usps.com/business/informed-delivery.htm. Don’t worry about the technical items or campaign set-up steps. The mailing experts at Bolger Printing will take care of those details for you. To experience Informed Delivery for yourself, sign up at www.informeddelivery.com. Within a few days you will receive your digest of daily mail via email. Once you see how it works, call us to double the impact of your next direct mail project.

Forget What You Know About Millennials and Print

 

Popular stereotypes lead observers to believe that millennials think print is dead, but that isn’t true. Research shows this demographic group appreciates a more diverse collection of communication channels than you may have thought. They see value in printed material and sometimes engage with print more deeply than do older adults! The key in reaching millennials with print is making sure the content is relevant and personalized. They will reject messaging meant for a different demographic and they expect companies to use information they have compiled about consumers to influence future communications.

In a report entitled “Millennials and the Mail” the US Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General published findings about how millennials interact with direct mail marketing. Surprisingly, 62% of millennials participating in the survey said they had visited a store within a month of receiving information in the mail. This response outpaced Gen X consumers and baby boomers.

Millennials especially appreciate local business and restaurant coupons. Over 65% of millennials said they liked receiving this type of advertising mail. Ads for restaurants and local businesses without coupons also fared well.

Since technology keeps millennials constantly connected, they are exposed to lots of advertising, but it’s not always effective. About half the members of this generation say they ignore digital ads, but direct mail breaks through the clutter. Perhaps because they receive fewer ads in physical form, 87% of millennials say they enjoy receiving direct mail.

Strategic Print Works with Millennials

That doesn’t mean marketers can revert to traditional “spray and pray” methods for attracting millennial attention via direct mail. This generation doesn’t like to be “sold”. Heavy handed sales pitches will turn off millennial buyers. Honest and straightforward approaches will forge stronger connections with the target audience.

Though they appreciate being contacted by mail, millennials would like to see advertisers making more of an effort through better segmentation and personalization. They will instantly discard irrelevant mail. Updated direct mail that uses multiple channels or technologies such as augmented reality or near field communications will also get attention from millennials.

All advertising should be easy to consume, but messaging aimed at millennials should be brief and easily understood. Save the in-depth details for linked communications you can deliver via video or other formats.

More than any generation before them, millennials are interested in helping others. Campaigns featuring matching charitable donations or other demonstrations of social responsibility will strike a chord with this group.

 

Political Mail for Millennials

Though political campaigns have definitely gone digital, mail remains a critical component of a multi-channel approach. Millennials read their political mail and are more likely to discuss the material with others and visit a candidate’s website referenced on a printed piece. They are also likely to go online to research opponents or be exposed to contrasting views.

In a study by the USPS and the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC), researchers found millennials are accustomed to verifying information through multiple sources. They use political mail as a means to integrate information and access websites and social media relevant to the mail pieces. Printed materials with no online references are viewed by millennials as incomplete.

Political mail can also be an educational resource about elections. Printed materials tell millennials when and where to vote, inform them about registration, or remind them about early voting deadlines.

From a trust perspective, millennials consider political mail as coming directly from candidates. They believe the information is being delivered with no filters or news source bias. This is an important factor considering all the concern about misleading information disseminated via social media.

The AAPC study includes several direct mail design tips and strategies still relevant for today’s national, state, and local elections. Download the white paper HERE for good ideas about how to leverage print for political campaigns.

Millennials are not digital addicts who engage exclusively with online material. They see print as relevant and a good percentage of them have taken action after seeing printed marketing material. If millennials are a segment of your target audience, don’t miss the opportunity to connect with them via print.