If you’re a marketer, chances are you’ve heard tips on how to combine digital and “analog” experience for your customers, mail with media. Whether that’s through bridging the gap between print and social media, running cross-media campaigns, or overhauling for omnichannel strategies, you’ve probably done at least some preliminary exploring. You may even have heard some whispers about what the future of combining mail and media might look like.
Marketers, Combine Mail and Media!
Did you know the post office has been keeping up, too? They can even give you a boost!
Yes, the good old USPS is leading the way in bringing digital experiences and old-fashioned, beloved snail mail together. We’ll let you in on what they’re doing (it’s pretty radical), and suggest a few moves you might make yourself toward combining mail and media.
Pitney Bowes has launched a platform called EngageOne Video. USPS is using it for what they call Informed Delivery campaign services, which allow mail recipients to view a preview of their incoming mail before they receive it. How’s that for engagement? It also sends emails and interactive links to recipients who may want to know more about the mail, connect to the sender online, or search for more information related to the contents.
How in the world could this be helpful to you?
Here are some potential pros and cons of engaging a service like this for your direct mail campaigns.
Digital plus traditional can create a “surround-sound” experience. It’s also highly flexible and can be highly personalized and targeted. For example, what if new prospects for a fundraiser received a corresponding email with their campaign, with a link to give for the first time; while current donors received a similar email with a link to a sincere thank you video and invitation to renew their commitment?
The “surround-sound” has its drawbacks, though. If not done at the right time or the right way, recipients can feel overwhelmed, taking away from the simplicity and two-dimensional nature of mail—part of its major appeal! It can also feel overwhelming coordinating and tracking this kind of campaign. You need to know what you’re doing and may need help to get it right. It’s an investment.
An absorbing marketing experience isn’t necessarily a good thing for its own sake. Think of the frustrations every day from hopping online to get something done and immediately losing focus on what you’re doing. One second, you’re pulling up a vital email, the next second, you’re shopping for shoes or scrolling through your aunt’s Facebook photos. Sure, you might find something great during these distractions, but studies show that the constant pull of digital media in different directions isn’t good for us. So use caution when combining mail with digital experience in a more intense way.
So what might this more-involved digital bridge be good for? A controlled and carefully used tool. The only way you can justify drawing people away from your IRL mailer is to take them to a truly helpful next step they would need anyway. If there is a service or a piece of information they would have to look for themselves, but you can save them a bit of time, there’s an opportunity to bridge the gap and hone in more quickly on your CTA.
USPS’ Informed Delivery services do sound pretty cool. But even if you never use that particular service, it opens up a door for ways of thinking about mailing campaigns in the future. Capture the concept and explore the benefits for your own context, and see where it leads you.
How do you combine direct mail with digital?
Combining direct mail and digital is part of a cross-media or omnichannel campaign. It links digital and traditional communications together in the sales funnel. The two reinforce each other and often lead to creative combinations. For example, a donation received by direct mail might be followed up with a thank-you video from the CEO via email or text.
Now, what if you’re the recipient? Informed Delivery could be useful if you need help:
This service lets you check out mail and packages that are on their way. If you have a large and frequent influx of mail, and knowing what’s coming would help you plan, Informed Delivery could help you with office and business organization. Instead of tracking package statuses form multiple vendors, you can see it all from one place. Finally, you can check out packages, letters and such whether you’re in the office or not. If you find that it’s helpful, you can give your office a heads up about important items, or help sort junk mail from urgent mail from home or the airport—anywhere you can take your smartphone.
If you really don’t have that much influx to deal with, though, or the “surprise” of receiving daily mail doesn’t put you behind in any way, this is probably one bell and whistle you can do without. Don’t add just to add.
One great way to get a birds-eye view of the relationships you’ve cultivated as a business (B2B) or non-profit is by looking through your mail. At some point, it could be helpful to do an “audit” of your relationships. Who are you receiving communications from, and why? Are these the relationships you want or need? What do the kinds of communications and the comparative numbers say about you? For example, if you’re a local business, are you receiving connections from other local businesses? What ratio of business to personal mail are you receiving from clients and partners? Getting a daily or weekly preview of your mail can help you keep track of relationships and gain yet another way of analyzing whether you’re where you want to be.
Not all futuristic moves may be right for you. But there may be something here to light a creative spark and get you out of your comfort zone.
Whatever the future holds, paper isn’t going anywhere. And we’ve got just the right envelope to match. Did you know Letter Jacket Envelopes can customize any envelope to match your campaign and offers free shipping on your first order? Not too good to be true. True. Check us out!