The Differentiator You Need in Difficult Times

3 ways to bust out of the digital box and thrive through economic uncertainty

It might seem counterintuitive to ramp up marketing (and marketing budgets) during an economic downturn, but history has shown that those who do so often come out on top.

Marketers today have an opportunity to seize the opportunity in this downturn and turn a tough time into an occasion for deeper consumer connection. This means drilling down on channels and touchpoints that can deliver real results and setting KPIs that ensure success.

In fact, marketers today have even more tools to connect with and acquire customers. But how can you know which tools and channels are right for the current moment?

With Covid-19 keeping the majority of consumers close to home and eager for distraction, direct mail is a channel that shouldn’t be overlooked. Let’s take a look at three ways direct mail can help you get you the results you need to thrive through the uncertainty of the next few months.

1. Build brand awareness to fuel future acquisition

The first part of acquiring new customers is getting them deeply entrenched in your brand’s culture, products and values. Trying to do this solely through social media and other digital channels is challenging, especially with consumers increasingly distracted by recent events.

You can only create so much engagement through a screen. But by combining digital campaigns with direct mailpieces that consumers can physically interact with, you can create a much deeper connection.

For example, a shoe company that bases its value proposition on being sustainable and eco-friendly might consider targeting millennials. To really tell the story of its sustainable supply chain, it would need that millennial consumer’s undivided attention.

Consider the options—you could send an email campaign that has a high chance of getting lost in their inbox or you could send a piece of digitally enhanced mail with a QR code that links to a video about your supply chain and a 20% discount. Since 88% of millennials take the time to look through their mail, according to USPS research, they will likely open your mailpiece and then, because of the unexpectedness of the QR code, take the time to interact with it. Even if they don’t make a purchase right away, they are now aware of your brand and primed for future campaigns to move them further down the funnel.

2. Use retargeted direct mail to reconnect consumers with abandoned carts

There is nothing more frustrating than a consumer who spends time browsing your site and researching products, only to abandon their would-be purchases at checkout. In normal times, this behavior would stay at irritating, but in an economic downturn, it becomes a threat.

So, what’s a marketer to do?

It’s well documented that many consumers are tired of being followed around the web by products they viewed but never bought. To avoid adding to this retargeting fatigue, use retargeted direct mail to call their attention back to the site. Because of the time between their online activity and when they actually receive the mail, they won’t feel like they are being followed and will be more motivated to act. Just like with programmatic retargeting, direct mail is triggered and automatically created when a consumer takes a specific action on your site.

Remember, it’s more than likely that your competitors are also going to be ramping up their retargeting campaigns. Driving mindshare will come down to thinking outside of the digital box and catching consumers’ attention in unexpected places.

3. Going above and beyond with personalization

If marketers have learned one thing over the past few years, it is that consumers love anything personalized. So, it’s critical that you work towards creating campaigns and content that will surprise consumers and make them feel valued.

According to research conducted by the USPS in 2019, 75% of survey respondents said that receiving personal direct mail made them feel special. That special feeling could create the toehold you need to begin moving a consumer down the funnel.

To add another layer of persuasion, you can incorporate customized URLs or PURLs into your personalized mailpieces. Once a consumer receives a piece of mail that contains a PURL, they can type it into their browser and be taken to a personalized microsite that contains an offer or content that speaks to their unique needs.

The best thing about PURLs is that they provide you with nearly real-time data that shows which consumers visited the PURL and took action. It’s a win-win situation—the consumer gets something they need in the form of a discount or other offer and you get information on which customers are closer to converting and should be pursued.

All in all, the coming months are going to be tough. You must go out of your comfort zone to get prospects and customers to take action on your messaging, and drive the results needed to carry your brand through.

Bob Dixon helps develop products and services for the U.S. Postal Service that meet customers’ needs in the digital age. He leads a team that supports a variety of online tools, including Informed Delivery, which is changing the way people interact with their mail.