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May 12, 2021

The Role of Direct Mail in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Mark Pinard

Retail company thredUP knows the value of customer retention. They knew digital marketing alone wouldn’t driving the retention rates they wanted. The solution? A direct mail marketing strategy. Integrating direct mail into their digital marketing strategy allowed thredUP to increase the number of post-purchase touchpoints and drive a 10–15% increase in performance.

Direct mail is an essential part of any marketing strategy. Without it, you’re skipping over valuable touchpoints and losing out on some serious ROI.

Why do digital and direct mail marketing work well together?

Digital marketing is a broad category. It encompasses email, paid search, social media, SEO, advertising, and more.

Direct mail marketing is a bit more narrow—it’s all mail sent to your physical mailbox—but it can be done in a variety of ways. Think letters, postcards, catalogs, and coupons.

No marketing channel should exist in a silo; direct mail is no exception. And while marketers have gotten the hang of wrapping all these digital tactics together into one cohesive marketing strategy, far fewer have managed to integrate direct mail with their digital marketing strategy. Incorporating direct mail, however, makes your entire marketing strategy more powerful and opens up new avenues to drive, retarget, and retain leads.

They strengthen your omnichannel marketing

The more touchpoints you meet your customers at, the more likely they are to convert or make a purchase. While there’s no magic number of touchpoints, studies show it usually takes between 7 and 13 touchpoints (or more) to make make a sale or get a qualified lead.

Why not make some of those touchpoints physical? Neuroscience shows that physical objects improve memory and increase perceived value, making a direct mail marketing strategy a perfect way to strengthen your omnichannel marketing strategy.

They reach a wider audience

Not everyone is responsive to digital channels, especially when they’re oversaturated. As such, every channel you add to your omnichannel marketing strategy helps you reach people you might not otherwise reach.

Direct mail can help you circumvent many of the issues digital marketing presents on a variety of platforms:

  • Social media: Every social media platform serves a more niche demographic, but almost everyone has a mail or PO box.
  • Advertising: Over 25% of internet users are now using ad blockers, which can put a serious dent in digital advertising efforts. There’s no equivalent to ad blockers for direct mail.
  • Email: You can’t just delete a postcard from your mailbox—every recipient has to physically interact with your mail, unlike email.

And with COVID keeping people home (and near their mailboxes), the potential of direct mail marketing is higher than ever.

They get a higher ROI

Because you’re reaching a wider audience at more touchpoints, digital and direct mail marketing work in tandem to increase your overall marketing ROI.

Marketers see the following when combining digital and direct mail:

  • 40% increase in conversion rates
  • 68% increase in website visits
  • 60% increase in ROI
  • 53% increase in leads

A direct mail marketing strategy is especially valuable if you’re targeting enterprise companies. These companies have a lot of decision makers you need to reach before they make a purchase. Buying email lists can help you target specific individuals, but those lists can be costly. Casting a wide net with paid ads can be costly, too, especially when you can’t be certain everyone who gets served an ad is a qualified lead.

With direct mail, however, you can target business addresses, then personalize the direct mail for specific decision makers. The result? You spend less money on a smaller address list while still targeting the exact people you want to target.

Where does direct mail fit into your digital marketing strategy?

Direct mail amplifies your digital marketing strategy at any stage—or even better, all stages—of the customer journey.

In your lead generation

Whether you’re selling shoes or software, direct mail offers you another, more tactile touchpoint to encourage lead generation.

Let’s say you’re a retail business with both an online store and brick-and-mortar locations. You’re running social media ads, and you’ve got your hands in paid search, but, like many retail stores, you’re experiencing a serious decline in foot traffic in a few key cities. You want to generate new leads, but sending emails to anyone who hasn’t already opted in is risky, and unless your list is segmented by location, you may have trouble targeting the cities you want to.

With a direct mail marketing strategy, however, you can purchase address lists of new leads segmented by location and send direct mail to households in the cities you’re targeting and offer physical coupons that recipients can actually take to the nearest store.

You don’t need a storefront to find direct mail useful, however. If you’re a B2B SaaS company, you can use direct mail to target key decision makers at your target companies who have yet to discover you.

In your retargeting

Every industry, from travel and car rental to insurance and fashion, is suffering high shopping cart abandonment rates. The average? Over 88%. And form abandonment rates are just as bad. If you’re not reaching back out to these people, you’re likely to lose them forever.

Should you try digital retargeting? Absolutely. But adding direct mail into your retargeting strategy can help you take advantage of a less saturated channel and reach those who have become unresponsive to digital outreach.

In your customer retention

Wrapping direct mail into your digital marketing strategy adds a more personal touch to retention efforts. Got hundreds of thousands of customers? Millions? Driving loyalty isn’t always easy with that many customers, but it is worth it.

Beauty retailer Sephora drives nearly $6 billion in sales every year. A jaw-dropping 80% of that revenue comes from the 17 million loyalty rewards program members.

How do they drive that retention? In addition to providing online classes and a digital community, Sephora also regularly sends out direct mail with coupons, gift cards, product recommendations, and more. As a result, they’ve turned millions of first-time buyers into loyal customers.

How do you integrate your digital and direct mail marketing?

Integrating your strategies takes more than just throwing direct mail in randomly—it takes careful planning to get the best results.

Treat them as one cohesive marketing strategy

Treating your digital and direct mail marketing strategies as separate initiatives is a surefire way to create inconsistent messaging and miscommunication. Treating them as a single strategy upstream will ensure they work in tandem to create the best results.

For example, Lob customer and women’s clothing company Betabrand combines their direct mail marketing strategy with their digital strategy to drive repeat revenue.

To do this, get all your marketing teams (ads, social, digital, direct mail, etc.) in the same room (or Zoom meeting) during planning to create a cohesive strategy together instead of syncing up separate plans. Consider using a marketing plan template to guide the process.

Automate your direct mail process

The best direct mail marketing strategy is triggered by customers’ online behavior. Watching your customers’ behavior and then manually sending direct mail, however, is time-consuming. Automating your direct mail process will allow it to work in tandem with your digital marketing in a timely manner.

Invest in software like Lob to automate your direct mail so it can keep up with your digital marketing. Look for software that automates:

ThirdLove, an intimates company, used Lob to automate their processes and automatically personalize direct mail based on customers’ past purchases.

Integrate your direct mail processes and software into your current systems

Managing multiple software and platforms is a pain—unless they work together. Integrate your direct and digital marketing software to make sure everything runs smoothly and no one is left juggling a bunch of incompatible tech.

Look for software (like Lob) that can replace or integrate with your current tech. Lob, for example, can integrate with Salesforce, Marketo, Jotform, and more.

It can also be built into your proprietary systems as Lob customer and business intelligence company Saylent did. The Saylent team went from manually executing over 250 direct mail marketing campaigns every year to eliminating the majority of the manual labor after a quick two-week integration process.

Digital and direct mail marketing are more powerful together

Integrating your digital and direct mail marketing strategies takes some work up front, but once it’s done, you’ll be on your way to expanding your audience and increasing your ROI. Check out our case studies to get more inspiration for combining direct mail into your digital marketing strategy.