Direct Marketing Article
Embrace New Technologies for Better Direct
Marketing Campaign ROI
By Jamie Klemcke
With the growth of social media and online marketing, many marketers have
turned away from direct mail campaigns, arguing that traditional mailings
are no longer an effective way to market to prospects. But I contend that
abandoning direct mail right now would mean that you miss out on some of the
most effective and cutting-edge prospecting strategies today. In fact, I
believe that direct mail is more important than ever for launching a
multi-channel direct marketing effort—especially when it leverages digital
media and innovative marketing technologies. Today's direct mail can be a
cost effective way to target prospects, collect valuable lead data and
measure campaign performance in real time.
Direct mail campaigns now are vastly different from the days of huge
mailings that were sent to every known address in a zip code. Advances in
the printing industry have streamlined the direct mail process, making it
easy to present each targeted recipient with a unique and highly relevant
message. Additionally, innovative digital technologies now make it possible
to pinpoint specific prospects based on demographics, launch direct mail
touches based on event triggers, and capture real-time response metrics in
order to determine immediate ROI.
Let's take a look at some of these technologies and explore how they can
enhance your integrated marketing campaigns, ultimately leading to improved
Personalization and variable data printing
Marketers have been using personalization in direct marketing for years now.
Personalization, however, is much more than addressing a recipient by their
first name. Today, personalization implies that a marketing communication
piece delivers not only a personalized greeting, but also customized images,
messages, and offers for each recipient, enabling the piece to not just
capture the recipient's attention, but to back it up with content relevant
to that unique prospect. The more a client knows about each recipient, the
better they can target individuals, creating offers that are uniquely
relevant, and thus establishing more of a connection with the customer or
potential customer that can improve conversion throughout the sales
Of course, it's easy to decide that each recipient should receive an offer
and creative that is uniquely targeted to them, but prior to the development
of variable data printing, the cost of producing pieces customized for each
individual recipient was simply too high. Today, digital printing allows the
use of variable data in the production process that gives marketers the
ability to personalize printed marketing messages for each individual
recipient and a lower price point.
Technically speaking, variable data printing (VDP) is a form of on-demand
printing in which elements such as text, graphics and images may be altered
from piece to piece without slowing down the printing process. By using
information from a client's database, each direct mail piece can have
specific fields based upon previous behaviors or information that a
potential client has provided in person or via the web. Examples include a
personal salutation, an image of a product they've previously purchased, a
unique promotional code tied to that specific individual, a personalized
URL, quick response code or custom text-in mobile code.
It is also important to note that variable data printing is powerful in
testing marketing materials before rolling out a full campaign. In short,
VDP provides the flexibility to test marketing materials using short print
runs, and then to adjust messaging and creative as needed.
In addition to improving response rates by featuring customized offers,
variable data printing makes it possible to implement a variety of tracking
methodologies to easily measure responses at the individual level. At the
simplest level, each recipient can be assigned a unique code to respond to
their offer. For example, a postcard could provide a 20% discount on a
product purchase and require entry of a discount code during the checkout
process. If the code is unique to each recipient, it is remarkably easy to
determine which recipients have responded to that offer.
Personalized URLs (PURLs)
A PURL is a domain name, usually containing the recipient's first and last
name, that takes that person to a personalized landing page. These URLs
function similarly to unique codes in that they drive a responder to a
unique URL which has been created specifically for that individual. The
resulting landing page can potentially be a response form that has been
pre-populated with information already obtained about that individual. Such
information may include, for example, name, address and account number.
Since pre-populating forms generally leads to better completion rates,
offering a PURL can improve a campaign's ROI. Landing pages associated with
each PURL can also feature specific information about the person's recent
transactions, offer customized surveys, and be tied to an automated email
Fortunately, PURLs aren't uniquely tied to direct mail campaigns. They can
also be used in email or text marketing campaigns, though the availability
of variable data printing now makes them more available for use in printed
Quick Response (QR) Codes
QR codes refer to a two-dimensional barcode included in a marketing piece.
Using a smart phone with a reader, a recipient can easily scan the code with
their mobile device instead of entering a code by keyboard. Scanning the
code drives the responder to a specialized mobile page, making it easier to
go to the website immediately. Codes may be used to drive a variety of
actions, which might include requesting more information, booking an
appointment or securing a coupon.
QR codes take advantage of the ubiquitous nature of smart phones and can
easily be assigned to every recipient in a campaign. These codes connect
people between traditional media and new media in just a matter of seconds,
making printed materials truly interactive and immediately trackable. They
can be used anywhere that a link to information in the online world would
quickly assist consumers.
It's no secret that offering multiple response methods improves response
rates, so it stands to reason that offering a text response option can lead
to better campaign ROI. Adding a text response option can be as simple as
offering a number to text for additional information. More complex campaigns
might provide a mobile coupon which can be scanned at the cash register
during checkout, or allow the user to opt-in to an ongoing text message
communication stream with a keyword and a short code. This communication
stream would allow the individual to receive promotions, product alerts,
mobile coupons and virtual mobile loyalty cards.
I believe that direct mail is here to stay, at least as part of a
multi-touch marketing campaign that may also utilize email, mobile, and even
telemarketing. But today's direct mail is no longer the costly, mass mailing
of the past. New technologies ensure that marketers can create direct mail
campaigns that specifically target individuals, present personalized offers
and enable credible, even real-time, response tracking. Better tracking,
plus more affordable variable data printing, means more effective direct
mail programs and a stronger ROI for your campaigns.
It's a very exciting time to be a marketer, but don't discount the role that
direct mail can play as part of a sophisticated, multi-channel marketing
About the Author:
Jamie Klemcke is the Director of Marketing for QuantumDigital (www.quantumdigital.com),
the technology leader in digital print, providing direct mail, email
marketing and multi-channel marketing services.