Direct mail is without a doubt one of the most old school of traditional direct response techniques. Paper, printing, postage…it can all seem like the stuff of cavemen to marketers weaned on all things virtual.
But there is room for snail mail in the new DR world. Electronic enhancements like personalized URLs (PURLs) and quick response codes (QR) can make direct mail an effective traffic driver for websites and mobile platforms.
“Mail is still the best way to drive prospects to a call to action to websites, microsites, YouTube and social media outlets,” says Grant Johnson, founder of Johnson Direct LLC.”We have seen a huge increase in demand from firms trying to use direct mail more effectively to drive results.”
Call to Action
Late last year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) was able to build its female membership through a direct mail campaign, coupled with a companion website, email blasts and social media presence.
Last November, the organization sent 75,000 postcards to female war veterans ages 18 to 35 asking them to join. The call to action was the website http://www.joinsheserves.org.
In the eight weeks following the mailing, 411 women veterans joined the VFW, 337% more than the previous eight weeks, says Johnson.
The campaign also included Facebook and MySpace pages and a Twitter feed.
Other mailers are using PURLs, personalized URLs that direct prospects to personalized microsites customized to suit their particular needs to interests. At the microsite, marketers can easily capture individual responses and data.
Pittsburgh-based financial entrepreneur Derek Bayer tested PURLs for the first time last November, with a 4,000 piece postcard campaign to draw attendees to his Wealth Accelerator personal finance workshop.
Prospects were homeowners ages 32 and above living within five miles of the workshop’s location with incomes greater than $65,000. The workshop covered such tops as asset protection, tax strategies, marketing techniques and credit restoration.
The results were promising enough that Bayer plans to use PURLs in future direct mail efforts.
“PURLs are useful for creating curiosity—if people see their name in a URL they are more tempted to visit the site over a URL without one their name attached to it,” Bayer says.
Direct Mail/Email Synergy
Last fall, TPT Home, a retailer of home goods opening a new store in Costa Mesa, CA, got about 700 responses to a 5,000-piece direct mail campaign asking recipients to opt-in to their email list.
The call to action was the store’s URL (http://www.tpt-home.com), with a request for prospects to click on the “special offers” link on the home page. Once they got onto mailing piece’s landing page, they could then get coupon offers such as 25% off any item by a certain date. All they had to do at that point was print out the coupon from the landing page.
“Distinct landing pages for direct mail pieces help marketers register prospects for ongoing e-mail targeting,” says Allan Whetzel, director of client services for Mob Media, TPT’s agency. “That allows the retailer to create a very nice e-mail list and it also allows it to track engagement beyond just store coupon redemption,” he says.
Mail Going Mobile
QR codes are another way marketers are using direct mail to drive consumers to microsites created for mobile users.
“The use of QR codes and more relevant microsites are driving a more personalized experience for users, and a better ROI,” says Johnson.
RSVP Publishing, a franchise network that sends postcard decks to affluent homes in more than 100 U.S. markets, has developed what it calls “talking postcards” that are imprinted with a barcode. Those barcodes enable smartphone users to scan and tap in a video advertisement for one of the home improvement companies advertising in the deck, says Lawrence Golden, CEO of the Tampa, FL firm.
Golden says he saw a 1,200% increase in QR code scanning during the second half of 2010, with 44% of scans coming from households earning $100,000+ per year. Users ages 35 and over accounted for 58% of the scans, and 64% of the scanners were female.
One recent adopter of this technique is Bluejack Concrete Surfaces in Knoxville, TN, which recently sent out 50,000 postcards to local upscale homeowners. CEO Dave Wallace says that over half of 25 phone inquiries he received after the mailing came as a result of people pushing the call icon on their smartphones. The rest were from local yellow pages ads.