Let’s All be Friends: Integrating Direct Mail and Email Marketing Marketers understand that first impressions mean everything. And they also know that those good impressions need to be sustained. Messages should be reinforced – many times, and in multiple channels – until your audience sees you as recognizable, trustworthy, and someone they want to do business with.
Unfortunately, using only one channel – say, email exclusively – to communicate your message forces the recipient to interact and respond via the channel you choose, not the one that is most comfortable for the recipient. That one-size-fits-all approach often leads to less-successful campaigns; but it can be avoided by using email in concert with direct mail. Indeed, response increases across the board when direct mail and email are combined in a multi-channel campaign. This two-ply marketing strategy will also strengthen your brand by reinforcing a consistent theme across channels.
Fortunately, the tools to coordinate a synchronized, direct mail and email campaign do not need to be overly complicated. Where do you begin? There are four elements to consider: branding; timing; the call to action; and analysis.
1. Branding and consistency: Both your direct mail piece and your email should contain the same slogans, logo, and other marks that help your prospects identify your company. If your marketing campaign includes a tagline or other brand-reinforcing slogans, you can repeat those in both the email subject and the envelope copy or a prominent line in the postal piece. Simple and to the point is best: keep your headline between 30 to 40 characters and try to make it brand-specific, action-oriented, or benefit-driven. To maximize the effectiveness of your direct mail and email campaign, play one off the other – and play to each channel’s strengths. You might, for example, consider sending the direct mail piece first, introducing the benefits you offer the prospect. Let the recipient know that in a week you’ll be following up with an email with a special online coupon.
2. Timing and frequency: Much has been studied and written about the day of week and time of day that maximize email open rates (it really depends on your audience – test and see what works best for you). More important is the timing of your email relative to your print mailer. In most cases, it is best for the first email to hit a week after the postal mail arrives (give or take a day or two). The printed piece goes first because it has a longer shelf life. Emails should continue at regular intervals.
How often should you mail? It depends on what you’re sending. Brochures and catalogs are often mailed quarterly, accompanied by monthly emails. Postcards and smaller printed pieces can be mailed more often. The general rule is to send two to four emails for every printed package.
3. The call to action: The importance of the call to action really can’t be overemphasized. Every piece in every channel needs a strong call to action. By using multi-channel vehicles, you have the opportunity to restate your call to action multiple times, and perhaps in multiple ways (maybe the print mailer asks the recipient to visit your store and the email asks her to visit your website).
4. Analysis: Some businesses measure a marketing campaign’s success by identifying responses by channel. Yet this is not as accurate as viewing the results as a whole. Remember that the whole point of integrated marketing is that channels reinforce each other. So the consumer may respond to an email, but it is possible the initial postal piece was the reason why he opened the email to begin with. Or the customer may phone in an order after reading both a direct mail piece and an email. So it’s important to test your email and direct mail campaigns individually, but to also measure how well they worked in coordination with other channels. In an effective integrated marketing campaign, the channels will work in harmony and, therefore, it is best that they are evaluated that way.
Direct mail and email have different strengths. But sending a consistent message through both channels is a great way to generate multiple contacts with your prospects, reinforcing your consistent messaging and building a relationship with your targets (which is, after all, the key to the sale).