The Power of Direct Mail + Digital to Tell a Cohesive Holiday Story

We’re officially into the month of November, which means retailers are drawing closer to some of the most crucial shopping days of the year. In fact, we’ve already seen big box retailers like Amazon and Walmart kick off their “Countdown to Black Friday”, giving eager customers a sneak peek at the deals soon to come their way. Marketing decision makers have likely already geared up their media plans to capture new customers and revenue for Holiday; but with today’s customer empowered by virtually limitless information and choice as related to products and brands, staying on your toes, and optimizing throughout the season is key to attracting the high intent shopper.

With so many critical touch points at play to make an impact, it’s important to make sure your holiday “story” is cohesive, timely and relevant to individual audiences across the entire shopping experience. This means mapping promotions across channels, and creating clear call to actions that make it as easy as possible for customers to research, engage and buy. The digital sphere will be buzzing with holiday messaging, but many brands are also thinking about the added power of an offline approach to complement online.

Putting Direct Mail to Work

According to a 2016 Holiday Shopping Survey by Epsilon, 77% of shoppers say that direct mail influences their holiday purchases. That same study discusses the growing movement of “slow shopping”, as consumers express the desire to, “slow down and be in the moment with friends and family, and experience unique brand offerings.” While that unique brand offering should certainly happen in a seamless fashion across digital, it also leaves the door open for direct mail marketing to make a strong impact. As we’ve discussed in the past, direct mail is somewhat of a refreshing experience for a customer feeling bombarded by digital noise, particularly during the holiday season. It gives shoppers the chance to familiarize themselves with the brand in a more physical, tangible way – perhaps different from a display or social media ad, for example. The conversion power of direct mail on its own is reason enough to explore its influence on customers during the holiday season, but an even greater opportunity comes with creating parallel strategies between your online and direct mail offer to shoppers. Whether it be the initiator of a brand interaction, or the physical reminder that later compliments an array of other digital experiences, leveraging direct mail as part of your holiday strategy both increases your visibility and maximizes the impact of your marketing dollar.

Take a look at some recommendations for putting Direct Mail to work during the holidays:

  1. Analyze Browsing Behavior to Reach More Audiences:

Marketers are already accustomed to analyzing online behavior in an effort to better target their digital offer to shoppers. This same approach can be tied to direct mail, both for customers who already might be on your mailing list and for those who may only have engaged previously through digital and ecommerce. With people spending added time browsing various products and websites during the holidays, marketers would be wise to use this valuable intent data to build new, relevant shopper audiences to mail to. If someone is spending a lot of time looking at, for example,  a toy set on your ecommerce site, you can target that interest through a piece of direct mail that reminds them of the product they’d been checking out. Tracking browsing behavior can give you a better sense of customer interests at the individual level, but it’s also equally valuable at an audience segment, or persona level. For instance, you may be able to group customers based on their product preference, who they’re “shopping around for” (kids, significant others, etc.), and how much time they spend with each product online. Through the holidays, you can refine your digital messages based on this data, but you can also more granularly target interested audiences with a direct mail offer. Particularly if a customer is already on file for having purchased through ecommerce, you’re in a great position to influence conversion offline to complete the shopper journey.

  1. Incentivize Through Personal Calls to Action

Marketing messages and content may entice someone to make a purchase, but when there’s a clear and personalized call to action, the chance that your customer will convert likely increases. Using the previous example, you may send that customer a piece of mail with a personalized discount code for the toy set they showed initial interest in, but may have left in the shopping cart.  This kind of approach lets your customer know you’re paying attention to their interests, and price-savvy shoppers will always appreciate a discount. Using QR codes on your mailers also creates a clear connection with the digital content you want customers to engage with, and encourages a more complete shopping journey with your brand, which can fuel future loyalty.

Direct mail may be the crucial pivot point, from consideration to purchase, for many shoppers during the upcoming holiday season. It can also give brands a competitive advantage when it comes to creating an aligned experience between their customers’ online and offline worlds. While it may be a bit late in the game to mail this holiday season if you haven’t already geared up a strategy, implementing direct mail into your overall integrated approach can prove itself a valuable method at any point of the year.

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