The resurgence of direct mail in a digital world

This century has seen a decline in use of one of the most continuously successful marketing channels in the history of marketing – direct mail. As the world turned digital, mail was discarded as old-fashion, with the accompanying translation interpreted by those who’d never used mail as “mail no longer works”.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

People still love to read – just look at book sales during the pandemic, or J. K. Rowling’s bank account. Curiously, the digital marketing world is littered with more failures than successes. More often than not, the latest shiny widget hailed as the new-new-thing in digital marketing superiority, dies a rapid death and is soon forgotten as the next new-new-thing takes its place. Google glasses being an example.

QR codes for instance, were relegated to the digital dustbin. They had a short life mainly due to the hassle of downloading an app for scanning the code. Not all apps scanned all codes. Some were proprietary to certain code types – for example those used by magazine publishers to link you to more of the story on a website.

Sometimes they just didn’t scan easily, and not all phones worked with the apps as the phones weren’t so smart back in the day – mid-90’s to early 2000’s. So inevitably, frustration and impatience eventually killed off the humble QR code.

But then along came a global pandemic

Now, thanks to smart phones and contact tracing, QR codes are ubiquitous in our lives. Every retail store, cinema, theatre, restaurant et al, requires the humble punter to scan the QR code upon entry. We cannot live in society without QR codes. And therein lies the opportunity for direct mail.

It’s ironic that in a digital world, QR codes are helping to lead an already resurging interest in direct mail. The codes are printed on the envelope, letter and brochures as the response device. Scanning the code takes you to customised landing pages. A seamless measurable link between the real and the virtual worlds. The analytics of who uses the QR code to visit the site help determine the ROI.

The smartest B2Bmarketers know that direct mail is by far the best performing media channel to generate hot leads – always beats LinkedIn, email and online advertising hands-down. Until QR codes, direct mail was linked to PURLs (Personalised URLS). As a consumer you had to enter the PURL into your keyboard. But who wants to type when it’s much easier and faster to scan and link to the PURL on your phone?

But it’s not just direct mail that has adopted the QR code. Unaddressed mail is also tapping into them. Businesses such as Domino’s, real estate agents, local newspapers and magazines, florists, even council mayors and the Jehovah’s Witnesses use them in their leaflets and letters.

As financial statements no longer clog mailboxes there is less clutter in our mail. So, there is plenty of room to stand out in the residential mailbox, as well as through the front door of organisations.

So grab this opportunity now. While others are still focused on trying to get digital channels to work for them, you can leap ahead and grow your business with the tactile media channel that continues to work – direct mail.

Malcolm Auld
https://www.linkedin.com/in/marketingmal/

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