Should You Use Augmented Reality With Direct Mail?

Direct mail is a very effective marketing channel; however, when you add a mobile element such as augmented reality to it, you have the opportunity to skyrocket your results. I say “opportunity” using augmented reality with direct mail, because you need to use the AR effectively. Just adding AR to your mail piece for the sake of having a mobile component will not help improve your results.

augmented reality with direct mail
Credit: Pixabay by TeroVesalainen

Direct mail is a very effective marketing channel; however, when you add a mobile element such as augmented reality to it, you have the opportunity to skyrocket your results. I say “opportunity” using augmented reality with direct mail, because you need to use the AR effectively. Just adding AR to your mail piece for the sake of having a mobile component will not help improve your results.

There are many factors you need to consider before including AR in your mail pieces:

  1. Define: What are you trying to accomplish by adding AR? Of course you want to boost your ROI. What else?
  2. Customers: How will your customers use this technology? Why would they want to?
  3. What: What will customers get by using AR? Coupons, some fun or some other type of perk?
  4. How: Make sure that you understand how AR works and the best ways to use it.

So what are some of the benefits of using AR in your mail? You can make your pieces come to life so you add another sensory experience. You can provide more content than a mail piece alone can do. You can also track scans, clicks and downloads easily. Don’t forget that it will also provide a “wow” factor, as well as longer engagement with the piece. One last note about AR is that when you provide a fun experience, people will share that with friends and family — so you extend the reach of your campaign.

In order to get the best results, make sure to have easy-to-follow instructions on how the AR works and what people need to do. You also need to provide them with a good incentive to try it. Remember that it does take more work on their part, so convince them why they should. You want to use AR to enhance your customer’s experience with not just your mail piece, but your brand. How can you do that?

Other brands are using augmented reality and creating a fun, engaging experience.

  • Become Part of the Action Tesco and Disney allow children to create worlds where they are in the action with characters from “Frozen.” Imagine how you can use something like this to make your customers and prospects a part of your brand.
  • Calendar Cadbury created a holiday calendar experience where each day people were invited to view their calendar and see fun selfie opportunities, as well as other treats. Think of ways you can get people excited about your brand and sharing it on social media.
  • Shoes Converse uses AR to allow users to virtually try on shoes at home. When they find a pair they like, they can buy it right then. This is very functional and drives sales. How can your prospects and customers try out your product or service through AR?

There are so many things that AR can allow you to do with your direct mail. These three examples are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many creative ways to enhance the experience for your customers and prospects. Remember to use the technology to create an experience that is worth the effort and make sure to tell people in easy steps how to do it. Using an enticing message will help drive people to try it out, too. When you do, you will see a big difference in the interaction with your mail piece, as well as sales.

The power of AR is at your fingertips and can propel your marketing to the next level. Are you ready to get started?

How Direct Mail Fits in an Omnichannel Strategy

Many times, marketers look at direct mail as an old-school choice that does not fit well in an omnichannel world. This is just not true. Direct mail helps you integrate online marketing with the physical world. Research shows people like and trust direct mail across all generations.

Many times, marketers look at direct mail as an old-school choice that does not fit well in an omnichannel world. This is just not true. Direct mail helps you integrate online marketing with the physical world. Research shows people like and trust direct mail across all generations. Direct mail is the tangible component of your omnichannel strategy. It is a physical piece that draws attention and then is remembered better than marketing that’s in digital channels.

When customers and prospects get a mail piece that ties to multiple channels, not only is your branding more effective, but your engagement goes up. Why? Attention spans are shorter, people are inundated with ads all day, and they are very busy in this fast-paced world, so reaching them multiple times across channels gives you more opportunity to get them to buy from you.

So exactly where does direct mail fit in an omnichannel strategy?

  • Start — Direct mail can be the start of your campaign. Use it to drive customers and prospects to specific online landing pages. Then create triggers for other channels, based on mail delivery date, landing page visits or lack of action.
  • Middle — So after you have sent out emails, display ads or any other marketing channel message, you can then use direct mail as a mid-campaign push to action. Then your follow up will be with other channels, based on either their response or the in-home dates.
  • End — Lack of response does not necessarily equate to lack of interest, so ending with direct mail is a very popular method. Direct mail is a driver of response. You can time it to distribute after a set number of days from other channels or be triggered based on lack of response to other channels. Direct mail as the last touch allows a final push of your campaign that can easily be saved until they have time to respond and can be given to others to increase your exposure.

Because direct mail is a good fit in any phase of your campaign, you should include the channel to help boost your sales. Now, let’s look at a real example of how IKEA uses direct mail in an omnichannel strategy. IKEA is known for its catalogs that come to life when scanned with a cell phone to show you how its furniture will look in your home, but did you also know that it’s using email and social media in conjunction with the catalogs, not to mention TV and radio ads? Each channel feeds into the other and allows them to build up audiences across all channels, which increase sales.

Direct mail doesn’t have to include an AR or VR experience like IKEA, but it does need to tie into your online content and other channels. You want the flow for customers to be the same, no matter what channel they respond to, so create a workflow that accomplishes this. Of course, what they see first is based on where and how they respond; however, the overall flow should be driven by triggers based on what each person is doing along the way. Customer experience is the key to great omnichannel marketing. You can no longer put your money into just one channel, because you will not get enough bang for your buck. Omnichannel marketing allows you to create a complete campaign based on ease of use for your customers. Every customer is different so allowing them to respond in the most convenient way for them increases your ROI. Are you ready to get started?

Pokémon Go Finally Gets Augmented Reality Right

We here at Target Marketing have tried to get behind augmented reality on several occasions. I even once said “of course QR Codes are gonna work, it just makes sense!” Scott Stratten said they killed kittens. Turns out he was right. So imagine my chagrin to see Pokemon — a bunch of Bulbasaurs and Jigglypuffs led by an electric rat — role out an augmented reality experience that conquered the world in less than a week.

We here at Target Marketing have tried to get behind augmented reality (AR) on several occasions. QR Codes on the cover, Layar throughout the issue, some goofy stuff in our digital editions …

I even once said, “Of course QR Codes are gonna work, it just makes sense!” Scott Stratten said they killed kittens. Turns out he was right.

So imagine my chagrin to see Pokémon — a bunch of Bulbasaurs and Jigglypuffs led by an electric rat — roll out an augmented reality experience that conquered the world in less than a week.

Pokémon Go leaves Tindr too wet to light, aiming for Twitter next.
Pokémon Go leaves Tindr too damp to light, aiming for Twitter next.

In less than a week, the free Pokémon Go app, available on Android, iOS and the Nintendo DS handheld game, is on its way past Twitter in active users, and already bigger than Tindr. (Does that mean Millennials prefer catching Charizards to dating?)

And the player base isn’t so much kids (although there’s a lot of them too), but young adults who grew up with the earlier Pokémon games.

What does all of that mean for marketers? Here are five things I’ve learned watching the electric yellow rat take over the world … again.

1. There’s a Way to do Augmented Reality Right

I think a lot of marketers have seen that, when it comes to augmented reality, just because you build it does not mean they’ll come. The novelty of augmented reality isn’t enough, and neither is getting a piece of your web content launched from a ketchup bottle or whatever else your trigger is.

Pokémon Go is a game that asks players to walk around outside to capture Pokémon hiding out in he world. And players are doing that! Social media is full of jokes about the fact that young adults are running around all over cities and the suburbs to catch Pokémon. It’s working.

How is that different from what we did in Target Marketing magazine? Or even what Google offered with Google Glass? Well for starters it’s an experience that is 100 percent designed to be augmented reality. Pokémon go doesn’t treat AR as just a way to access existing content on a new device, it is an AR-only experience. If you want those Pokémon, you have to take your phone for a walk.

It’s also a very novel experience that’s put together well. Nantic Labs, the company that actually developed the game for Nintendo, has been doing similar games for a long time. They know how to deliver an experience that gets the best out of the platform. That’s essential to a successful AR experience.

2. Grant the Wish

An article on Vox made a great point about why this game is such a hit with young adults:

Pokémon Go is an attempt at realizing what fans always wanted from Pokémon … Since the games came out for Nintendo’s handheld consoles, fans all around the world have shared a dream: What if Pokémon weren’t limited to the games’ world? What if they were real and inhabited our world? What if we could all be Ash Ketchum, the TV show’s star trainer, who wanders the world in his quest to catch them all and earn his honors by defeating all the gym leaders? I want a Pikachu in real life, dammit!
—”Pokémon Go Explained,” German Lopez, Vox

Every market has an ungranted wish. If you can find that wish and make it come true, they will love you for it.

Pokémon Go lets fans who grew up watching these cartoons and playing these games break that wall they never could and hunt Pokémon in real life.

What does your target market want that no one’s ever been able to give them? Maybe it’s not a specific thing, but a way to access a product or service, like Uber putting taxis at the tap of an app. Maybe it’s an experience they could never have before, like Pokémon Go.

Identify that wish and think hard about how you could do it. You may have five or 10 years of new technology to make something happen that no one realized could be done before.

3. No, You Can’t Buy a Pokéstop

The One About the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference

Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, the brainchild of my people here at Target Marketing, goes live on June 23. Please, take it from the girl who’s been adding every speaker, session, sponsor and giveaway to the website: This year’s show is inSANE.

Join us at #IMV15 !We’ve dipped our toes into June, and lots of exciting things happening already. Election things, hockey things, Starbucks’s new cold brew vanilla coffee, lots of equally important and life-defining events. And since a good marketing coordinator never misses out on the opportunity to subtly self-promote (aka blatantly announce when she’s about to do so) I thought I’d add one more notable event to the June pool.

Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, the brainchild of my people here at Target Marketing, goes live on June 23. Please, take it from the girl who’s been adding every speaker, session, sponsor and giveaway to the website: This year’s show is inSANE. Every time I think we can’t possibly have another huge name or more impressive content, I get a notification in my inbox that it’s time to update the site again. With eight live sessions, 10 on-demand sessions, more than 20 speakers (and counting!), this is the biggest and most comprehensive IMV to date.

Wanna join the party? Click here

The up-to-the-minute agenda is here, and it all looks incredible, but for today’s post I thought I’d just give a shoutout to a few sessions that might be of particular interest to the copy/creative-focused marketer.


Messages That Move: How Video Should Play In Your Marketing Mix and Content Strategy

Starts: 12:00 pm | Ends: 12:40 pm

Video killed the radio star, and now it’s back to dominate the internet. But what makes a video a successful cog in the marketing machine? Learn it all in this session, featuring Jon Mowat, the owner of Hurricane Media — the UK-based video production and content marketing agency taking the world by storm (ha HA!!!!!!).

Jon will address points like:

  • How to adopt a “video” mindset
  • Trends in how marketing videos are being watched
  • Types of video marketers are using, and how to make them
  • How to make use of video across channels

Get ready for your closeup.


Online Marketing Strategies That Work

Starts: 12:55 pm | Ends: 1:30 pm

Self-explanatory title? You bet it is. You do marketing? Check. Online marketing? Check. Want it to work?

I’m guessing … check?

For this session, we’ve got Anne Ahola Ward, CEO of CircleClick and O’Reilly Media Author, to share how to make the sale with Image-centric content marketing, simple and mobile-centric messages, diverse social media usage and retargeting.


The Content Show That Never Ends: Repurposing Like a Media Company

Starts: 1:35 pm | Ends: 2:10 pm

You’ve probably heard of Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at Content Marketing Institute. He’s kind of a big deal. We’re thrilled to have him at IMV this year, presenting a session titled after a Lamb Chop song.

We all know how key good content marketing is in the current landscape. Successful, solid content marketing pieces can continue to grab attention, inform and inspire long after their premiere. Feel like your assets might be stuck in a spin cycle, losing value and getting those nasty little sweater pills with each re-use? Carve out a half hour and join Robert in this session. He’ll share a new approach to building a content marketing media asset that never goes stale.


AR for Marketers: How to Implement Augmented Reality into Your Marketing

Starts: 2:15 pm | Ends: 2:50 pm

Okay, even though I pretty much know what Augmented Reality is at this point, to me it still absolutely sounds like it belongs in the Doctor Who universe. Like the TARDIS is bigger on the inside because of Augmented Reality, no??

If you’re like me, or even better, if you’re not like me and actually have a handle on the reality of Augmented Reality, how it can pump up your print and direct mail marketing, this will be an engaging and worthwhile session. Cindy Walas, Principal of Walas Younger Ltd., is leading the charge to discuss the latest and greatest in the AR world, and all the “how-to’s” you need to know to create and launch a killer AR program.

I’m still banking on alien involvement.


There you have it, just four of the eighteen sessions that will be available to you at the show on June 23. Plus, for the first time, the virtual conference will feature several on-demand sessions spotlighting marketing issues and know-how in several specific industries like travel, media and entertainment, and healthcare.

The opening and closing keynotes feature superstars Jay Baer (President of Convince & Convert) and Dr. Jerry Wind (The Wharton School,) and word on the street is attendees to their sessions can win a copy of one of their best sellers.

And so friends, here is where I leave you The Link, and bid you adieu.

THE LINK. CLICK THE LINK. YOU DO LIKE THINGS THAT HELP YOUR MARKETING, RIGHT? OF COURSE YOU DO.

Hope I’ll see you on June 23 — say hi to me in the networking lounge or info booth!

Adieu!

Margie Chiu’s 15 Minutes Ahead: Augmented Reality – Sure, It’s Cool, but What’s in It for Me?

If 2009 was the year of iPhone apps, then augmented reality may be the darling of 2010. It’s that Hollywood technology that’s found its way into Burger King banner ads, a slew of “must-have” smartphone apps, the cover of Esquire and soon Adidas shoes. 

If 2009 was the year of iPhone apps, then augmented reality (AR) may be the darling of 2010. It’s that Hollywood technology that’s found its way into Burger King banner ads, a slew of “must-have” smartphone apps, the cover of Esquire and soon Adidas shoes.

So, what’s it all about?
AR enhances the “real” physical world with contextually specific imagery or information. The AR experience is typically triggered in two ways.

The first is through location recognition via GPS/compass-enabled smartphones or other devices. With Wikitude, for example, you can point your camera phone toward a famous landmark and see an overlay of information about the destination pulled directly from Wikipedia.

The second is through image recognition via a video camera in your laptop, desktop or phone. With the USPS Virtual Box Simulator, you can hold up a package to your webcam and the simulator helps you determine the shipping box size you need.

What are the facts?

AR has captured more than its fair share of press coverage lately due to a handful of high-profile marketing application launches and the entry of major players into the space, including Google with its Google Goggles (think search on steroids), Nokia and Apple. But is 2010 the year AR takes over? Probably not.

Penetration of webcams is still limited, and the market share of GPS/compass-enabled smartphones is even lower. The installed base for webcams is estimated to be in the 15 percent to 20 percent range. As for smartphones, despite all the excitement (and what you and your tech-loving marketing friends are toting), more than 80 percent of all U.S. mobile phones are still limited-function, “nonsmart” phones.

Does this mean you don’t need to be thinking about AR? Try again. It’s a technology that will hit mass penetration in a couple of years. Many newly shipped computers now have webcams preinstalled. And two-thirds of Americans will be getting new phones within two years — and many of them have their sights set on smartphones.

What are the opportunities?
Whether and when AR should be considered as part of your marketing mix depends on your company, brand and audience. But the following are three potential marketing applications for AR:

1. Riding the buzz wave. Want to be perceived as hip and of the moment? This is the low-hanging fruit with any new technology. This opportunity is most applicable to the entertainment industry and/or companies targeting youths and early adopters. This is a tricky area, however. Speed is of the essence, as you want to be seen as being on the “bleeding edge.” Remember, though, to hang with the cool kids, you have to be, well, cool. Halfhearted attempts without a strategy or purpose will be viewed skeptically.

2. Bridging offline and online. AR can be an opportunity to smooth sales or service friction points that result from a lack of in-person interactions. Natural fits are with beauty, apparel or home furnishings e-commerce sites. Ray-Ban’s Virtual Mirror is a good example of this. It helps consumers find the perfect sunglasses. They just look right into their cameras and “try on” different looks.

3. Enhancing the real experience. Possibilities include helping customers find their way through a store or shopping center, on-demand product information, and more. Unfortunately, the limitation of GPS indoor signal strength and the complexity of image recognition will be significant near-term hurdles. But you might be inspired by the Voodoo Festival and its custom AR app, which enables festival attendees to use their camera phones to get details about performances and navigate the festival venue.

Thinking ahead
What would you do differently if device penetration wasn’t a barrier? Are there processes or experiences that can be enhanced through AR — either made more entertaining, informative or relevant? The possibility of AR is exciting. Creatively it opens a good many doors and forces marketers to look at customers’ experiences in a different way.

Stay tuned.