Why Marketers Should Incorporate Emerging Technology in Direct Mail

Technology can be a great way to engage your customers and prospects with your direct mail pieces, connecting offline to online marketing efforts. I previously shared the USPS’s 2020 Tactile, Sensory, and Mail promotion, and today want to highlight another promotion that can save marketers using direct mail some money, as well as encourage them to embrace new tech.

Technology can be a great way to engage your customers and prospects with your direct mail pieces, connecting offline to online marketing efforts. I previously shared the USPS’s 2020 Tactile, Sensory, and Mail promotion, and today want to highlight another promotion that can save marketers using direct mail some money, as well as encourage them to embrace new tech.

The 2020 Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion from the USPS runs March 1 through Aug. 31 this year, and encourages mailers to incorporate technologies such as “enhanced” augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, Near Field Communication (NFC), video in print (ViP) featuring shoppable video, integration with voice assistants, and digital into direct mail campaigns. You can create really fun and unique experiences while getting a 2% postage discount for eligible pieces.

For this promotion, you can use presorted first class, standard and nonprofit letters or flats, but please not that you cannot use it for periodicals, bound printed matter, or Media Mail. You must meet automation requirements for letter or flat size pieces.

Since there are quite a number of emerging technologies available for this promotion, let’s take a look at them:

  • Mixed Reality: This combines both augmented and virtual experiences through a combined immersive technology that can include sight, sound, and touch.
  • Virtual Reality (VR): VR is commonly defined as a computer technology that creates replicas of an environment, real or simulated, that includes a user’s physical presence to allow for user interaction. Virtual realities artificially create sensory experiences, which can include sight, touch and hearing.
  • Digital to Direct Mail: This is also known as automated or re-targeted direct mail. It encourages mailers to produce mail pieces that create a greater connection and elicit a higher response from consumers by using dynamically printed, personalized messaging that is automatically triggered based on a digital interaction. Unlike other options in this one starts with digital behavior such as a form filled out on your website that then creates customized mail pieces that get sent to them.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC): NFC technology generally consists of embedding a small chip into a mail piece that can be recognized by a NFC enabled device such as smartphones or tablets. The interaction is initiated by touching the mobile device on the NFC embedded item or by placing the device within close proximity to it. No app or download is needed to launch this technology so it is seamless for your prospects and customers.
  • “Enhanced” Augmented Reality (AR): “Enhanced” AR provides robust features that allow consumers to engage in experiences using the technology. “Enhanced” AR also includes video animation and 3D interactive graphics playing in front of or over physical objects so they appear to be interacting with the physical object. The “enhanced” experience can also use gamification or mobile game play. Think of the popular Pokémon Go game, this can be really fun for people to play around with.
  • Video in Print (ViP): ViP is video advertising that integrated into a printed mail piece. ViP can be integrated into a printed piece in several ways including, but not limited to Integrated video screen within a printed, mail piece, Integrated Video/Picture utilizing translucent paper, Personalized Interactive Video, or Shoppable Video. These are pretty cool, but they can be very expensive so make sure if you use this you are selling high end items that make it worth the investment.
  • Integration With Voice Assistants: Direct mail can be an effective way to educate recipients about the benefits of voice branding and how to interact with voice assistants such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Google Home and Nest. This should allow for the purchase of a particular product, provides a business related “tip of the day,” etc. with the assistant.

Each of these technologies gives you a different way to draw your prospects and customers into interactive experiences that not only have a wow factor, but work to generate more business for you and increase your response rates. Of course, be sure to refer to the USPS program document once you’ve thought about what you’re interested in experimenting with, especially to review the specific requirements of each technology. Are you ready to get started?

7 Interactive Direct Mail Marketing Ideas

Direct mail marketing can be fun! The more interactive it is, the better your results are going to be. With all the marketing messages people see each day; you need to make your mail stand out. How are you doing that now?

Direct mail marketing can be fun! The more interactive it is, the better your results are going to be. With all the marketing messages people see each day; you need to make your mail stand out. How are you doing that now?

Getting your customers and prospects excited about your mail creation is the key to driving better response rates. There are several ways to do this; the one that is right for you will depend on your goals, your message and your audience.

7 Direct Mail Marketing Ideas to Make Your Mailings Fun and Interactive

  1. Consider 3D Mail: There are so many choices for dimensional mail. These can be expensive for postage as most are considered parcels; however, the response rates for this type of mail are significantly higher. They are well worth the postage costs.
  2. Use Cut-Outs: Create cut outs that, when put together, create fun objects: such as paper airplanes, buildings, dolls and so on. Make sure to send instructions on how to assemble your design. You can also create a special hashtag for social media sharing.
  3. Print a 3D Image: Create 3D art for the recipient to enjoy. This is a fun throwback technology. Make sure to send glasses, too.
  4. Try PopUps: These are fun and surprising for people to interact with. The recipient pulls out the piece and it pops from a flat form into a 3D one. This is usually accomplished through the use of tuck tabs and rubber bands.
  5. What About Scratch-Off or Scratch-and-Sniff? This can really be a fun one when doing contests; people like to scratch off and see what is beneath. The fun twist is when you have scratch and sniff, which works really well for floral, food, perfume or anything that smells good. It’s probably not a good idea to have them scratch a bad smell.
  6. Incorporate Augmented Reality: Bring your mailer to life with the technology of Augmented Reality (AR). This is a really great way to showcase how interactive direct mail can be. It is super cool and fun to play with. If you think this is too expensive, you are wrong. Check out Layar or HP Reveal.
  7. Think About Video: You can add video to your mailers! These have actual screens embedded into the mailers. They can launch content when the mailer is opened or when a button is pushed. These are on the more expensive side, but if you are selling a high-end item and want to really showcase it, this can be a great choice!

These ideas can spice up your mail campaigns and get your customers excited to see your mail pieces. Get creative and have fun, but remember that there are many postal regulations. So before you create your desired format, check with a mail service provider. You will want to avoid paying extra postage. What interactive and fun mail pieces have you seen or created?

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?

Direct Mail Fun for the Holidays 

I always like this time of year — not just because of the fun I have at the holidays, but also because of the really fun direct mail pieces I get. If you are not currently creating some fun direct mail pieces to stand out amongst the influx of mailed advertisements this time of year, you are missing out on a great opportunity.

direct mail holiday mailI always like this time of year — not just because of the fun I have at the holidays, but also because of the really fun direct mail pieces I get. If you are not currently creating some fun direct mail pieces to stand out amongst the influx of mailed advertisements this time of year, you are missing out on a great opportunity.

Here are four ideas for creating fun holiday mail:

1. Make It Interactive

Draw attention to your direct mail messaging by making it interactive. Get creative here. Direct mail is tactile — how can you take advantage of that? Endless folds, scratch-and-sniff or coatings can be a great way for people to have fun with your mail. What else can you think of? The idea here is to maximize the qualities that can only be used with direct mail. There is no other marketing channel like direct mail: Command that power in your own creations.

2. Use Mobile

Everyone has their cell phone with them at all times, so how can you make your direct mail fun by getting recipients to use their phones? Sure you can use QR codes and PURLs, but what about going the extra mile and using augmented reality, like Pokémon Go does? How can you do something that people will really like and respond to?

3. Consider Video Mailers

People love to watch videos! Have you considered how you can add them to a direct mailer? This method is not widely used in direct mail yet, so they really help your mail stand out. How can you make this fun? Dress up in holiday costumes and dance around? While that would be funny, how can that wrangle business? Make sure you are not just entertaining, but also selling.

4. Use Die Cuts

Using special die-cut shapes for your mailers is a great way to grab attention. Incorporating a holiday theme with your shape is fun and easy. I have seen some really good ideas with die cuts, so put on your thinking cap. We have even seen mail take on a whole new shape with each unfolded panel as you open it. This is fun for recipients and draws them into the mailer.

You now have some creative juices flowing — don’t let them fizzle out. Write down a couple of ideas right now. Once you have the creative ideas, it’s time to plan out a strategy. What are you trying to accomplish?

Remember that you still need to execute your normal due diligence. Target your mailing list, formulate your message and plan your call to action. Just because you are going to do something fun, does not mean that you get to skip past the drier tasks. Your goal is a higher return on your investment, but a lack of proper planning is just throwing your money away.

Standing out in the mailbox is the best way to get your message not only read, but responded to. Many studies have found that direct mail is a more trusted by consumers than other methods and that a message in direct mail is better remembered than one in email or digital marketing. And yes, millennials like direct mail too — so do not leave them out of your next campaign. Have some fun!

Turn Drab Direct Mail Into Fab

Have you considered how to have some fun with your prospects and customers using direct mail? Consider trying out a scavenger hunt that’s launched with the direct mail piece — it can lead to a better ROI.

direct mail scavenger huntHave you considered how to have some fun with your prospects and customers using direct mail? It can lead to a better ROI. Consider trying out a scavenger hunt that’s launched with the direct mail piece. You can have everyone start the same way or use variable data to start them off at different locations. Are you unsure of where to start to create a direct mail scavenger hunt? Scavenger hunt options include:

1. QR Codes

You can use QR codes on print items starting with your direct mail piece. Then, lead them to strategically located posters or flyers around town or your store where they scan additional QR codes to activate new clues to the next location.

2. Augmented Reality

You can create a virtual scavenger hunt where your prospects and customers scan the direct mailer to launch the content on mobile devices in their own home to start the adventure. Since people are very busy these days, you may end up with more participation this way. It will really depend on who your audience is.

3. NFC

You can create a direct mail piece with an embedded NFC chip that can be used in your store locations to launch content to drive them to the next location in the hunt. Since Apple does not currently support NFC, your best bet is to have people take the mailer into your store to use the NFC on an android device station that you set up in your store. (This also gets them in the door to buy from you.)

4. Store

Not sure your audience is ready for mobile technology? Go with the old fashioned hunt. Send a mailer that has them start at your store and check in to get a clue. You can then drive them around the store or to other locations nearby in the shopping center.

5. Online

Create an online scavenger hunt where they can visit special landing pages you have set up for the hunt. You will send them a direct mail piece that has the initial start landing page you want them to go to. This makes it easy for people to participate from a PC or mobile device.

Get creative and have fun with this. Yes, it is a marketing tool so you will want to highlight special offers and new products or services, but keep it light and fun. When you are able to do that your prospects and customers will enjoy themselves, share with others as well as buy from you. In order to pick the right hunt for your audience, consider how they currently buy from you. If they come to your location, consider using the store hunt. Another consideration is how much of a budget you have. The least expensive options above are the store and the online. You can create a great hunt without breaking the bank.

Before you start, map out the journey your customers and prospects are going to take. You want it to be fun, not super complicated. Once you have that down you can create the special offers they will see along the way. Of course you will save the best offer for the finish. You can even set the rules so that the first 5 people get a super offer and the rest get a smaller one to entice people to engage and finish quickly. There are so many opportunities here to create a really fun and engaging hunt. If your audience has children, you can create fun for them too. Remember to get testimonials you can use for future hunts and if it is a slow media day, get your local TV station to announce it. The more buzz you have the more people will participate.

9 Content Marketing Tips From Cleveland

Cleveland: It’s not just home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, LeBron James and the Cavs, and one of my favorite speakeasies. It’s also home to Content Marketing World — one of my favorite conferences.

Content is a big dealCleveland: It’s not just home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, LeBron James and the Cavs, and one of my favorite speakeasies. It’s also home to Content Marketing World — one of my favorite conferences.

I missed Content Marketing World this year due to a huge project I took lead on — and if you asked any of the people on my team — that made me super bummed.

But the good news is that my “What Were They Thinking” partner in video antics, Taylor Knight, was able to make the trip and soak up all the glorious content marketing knowledge in the great orange glow within Cleveland’s convention center.

Aside from coming back with a ton of video footage from interviewing some of my content marketing heroes, like Ann Handley and Robert Rose, Taylor also had a bunch of relevant takeaways to share.

So without further adieu, here’s Taylor doing a little Sass Marketing guest blogging about her favorite things from Content Marketing World 2016:

content marketing worldLast week, I had the opportunity to attend Content Marketing World in “The Land” — Cleveland. Thousands gathered to hear the best minds in content marketing speak about their successes, challenges, failures and predictions for the future.

There were so many amazing sessions and keynotes (including Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill and comedian Michael Jr.), so I wanted to share my top three takeaways with everyone who wasn’t able to attend. Here they are:

Takeaway 1: It’s Not the Best … It’s the Best Promoted

Andy Crestodina, principal and strategic director at Orbit Media, shared in his keynote that it’s not the best content that wins, it’s the best promoted content that wins. He said marketers should concentrate on two things to succeed:

1. Original Research
This can be observations you make about a trend, an aggregation of information from other sources or surveys you conduct. “What do people in our industry often say but rarely support? Find the missing stat,” explains Crestodina.

2. Strong Opinions
Your content should take a stand because strong opinions lead to shares. Crestodina suggest marketers answer the following questions to create great content:

  • What do you believe that most people would disagree with?
  • What do you think will happen in the future that people don’t agree with?
  • What questions are people afraid to answer?

Takeaway 2: Slow Down

Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs, told marketers to “slow down.” It may be hard to know when to slow down because the norm has been to rush, rush, rush and create as much content as possible. Handley says answer these three questions before creating content:

  1. “So what?” This is a shortcut to empathy and connecting with your audience.
  2. “Wait, what?” This is figuring out the “why” before you even get to that what.
  3. “Does this sustain us?” This can mean either be sustaining you or your brand.

Takeaway 3: Build a Network for Success

Mitch Joel, president of Mirum, gave a keynote titled “Content Is Dead.” This seemed a bit shocking considering we were at Content Marketing World, however, Joel gave the audience great advice.

He told marketers that they should concentrate on building a network, and then the content you produce for that network will succeed. In the future, (when every marketer builds up that network) other changes will happen. Joel says the future of content marketing is:

Augmented Reality + Virtual Reality = The “Next” Platform
Data + Machine Learning + Artificial Intelligence = Actionable Content
Permission + Marketing Automation = Customer Loyalty

Extra, Extra

I couldn’t stop with just three! Here are a few more of my favorite tips and takeaways from Content Marketing World 2016.

• Facebook “views” are counted when someone watches the video for three seconds or more. Measure for longer views and a better sense of engagement. — Chelsea Hunderson, social media marketing manager, HubSpot

• Measure content in real time, then change strategy in real time. Things are constantly changing and they don’t always go according to plan. — Lars Silberbauer, global director of social media and search, LEGO Company Ltd.

• When it comes to content marketing, executive needs to do more than buy in — they need to endorse content marketing. — Deanna Goldasich, CEO, Well Planned Web

• If you want people to share something, you have to know what they want to say, then say it better. — John von Brachel, SVP of content marketing, Bank of America

• A one second delay in page speed can decrease conversions by seven percent. — Arnie Kuenn, CEO, Vertical Measures

• Dates on your blog will make your content look old. — Andy Crestodina, principal and strategic director, Orbit Media


Content Marketing Master ClassAhhhhhhh it sounds like this year’s Content Marketing World was sooooo good as usual!

But guess what? If you’re like me and missed it — and that realization is eating away at your soul … no? Just me? Okay then —guess what? You could attend one of six Content Marketing Master Classes!

The Content Marketing gurus will be touring the country with this 1-day master class, so check out the site to see if there’s one coming to a city near you and sign up! You won’t regret it, AND you’ll have fun!

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!

3 Ways to Introduce Augmented Reality in Your Direct Mail

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very savvy when it comes to direct mail and technology. Although I use them a lot now, I was a late adopter in scanning QR codes. So when augmented reality (AR) first came along, I was a little skeptical that I would ever use it, or care about it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very savvy when it comes to direct mail and technology. Although I use them a lot now, I was a late adopter in scanning QR codes. So when augmented reality (AR) first came along, I was a little skeptical that I would ever use it, or care about it.

Now that I’ve seen it in action, I’m very convinced that it can really make some direct mail campaigns stand out, and provide a more enriching experience with print materials for customers.

At our Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk Virtual Conference & Expo in March, Cindy Walas of Walas Younger Ltd. delivered a good overview of AR’s capabilities. She’ll get into more of the nitty-gritty how-to’s at next month’s Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference.

But ahead of that, I thought I’d provide a quick look at some mail from Who’s Mailing What!. Here’s how a few marketers deal with a steep learning curve in getting customers started with AR.

1. Make It Easy
Don’t assume your audience knows what to do. You have to tell them or show them what app to download, and from where. And customers need to know what content is enhanced with AR on the pages or panels of your direct mail piece. Icons are a simple but effective way to designate them.


Ikea_031This key is a good example I found from the 2015 Ikea catalog. It not only explains the basics of how to identify AR content but also what types of experiences customers can have.

2. Make It Worthwhile
Your customers should know that the additional content they can access may be worth their time and effort.

Raymour_01Home furnishings retailer Raymour & Flanigan regularly sends out a direct mail style guide that provides customers with something of value — ideas on home decorating — as well as drive traffic to its brick-and-mortar stores and website. As this page from a recent issue shows, the AR symbol promises additional value.

3. Make It Fun
Most toy catalogs are already pretty cool, but Toys “R” Us did something interesting with its 2015 Christmas catalog: it tied in AR to a game.

TRU_01First, kids (and their parents) had to download an app. Then, they had to open it and scan wherever they found a gold coin featuring Geoffrey (the store’s mascot) to win prizes, as explained by this page.

AR really has a lot of potential to make a big difference in how some brands use direct mail and print. It’s important to remember though, that even with a 2 percent USPS discount for using an “enhanced” or interactive form of AR in 2016, you still have to understand what your audience needs before you get started. Like any other direct mail campaign, you’ll also have to have a clear goal for your campaign, a smart design in both technologies, and a precise call to action.

9 Ways to Make Direct Mail ‘Irresistible’

Creating direct mail can be a challenge, as many marketers struggle to create direct mail that is irresistible to recipients. Many times, taking a look at what others are doing to either grab good ideas or avoid bad ones is a great place to start.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.16.01 AMCreating direct mail can be a challenge, as many marketers struggle to create direct mail that is irresistible to recipients. Many times, taking a look at what others are doing to either grab good ideas or avoid bad ones is a great place to start.

Another idea is to check the USPS’s irresistible mail website to help you generate direct mail ideas. Once there, you will find all kinds of information.

Here are a few USPS ideas to make your direct mail irresistible:

1. QR Codes provide access to many forms of online content from the direct mail piece. They can go to websites for more info, pages for purchasing, videos and so much more.

2. Social media adds to the reach of direct mail. Tell people how to connect with you on your social media channels and make sure to allow people to make purchases from the channels.

3. Near-field communication gives users an experience on their mobile devices that does not require an app download. This can send them the content you want them to see — there are so many great ideas on using this newer technology.

4. Textures create a way for people to feel your message. This can’t be done with digital channels, so how can you take advantage of this?

5. Embed video in your direct mail with a paper-thin screen, a URL to live stream content or visuals that come alive right on the page with video-enhanced print.

6. Augmented reality can spark your creativity and the recipients’ curiosity. Take your printed direct mail into a whole new dimension with this powerful combination.

7. Formats that are unique and grab attention have a high response rate. Think of folding options, sizes and other ideas. What can you do to make your design new?

8.Variable data is a great way to make each piece relevant to each recipient. Remember, correctly targeted messaging gets the best results.

9. Analytics are the key to successful direct mail. You need to know what’s working and what needs improvement.

Whenever you add extra elements to your direct mail, like the ones listed above, you are adding to its value. The more value recipients feel they are getting, the better engaged they will be with your mail pieces. This gives you better response rates. Keep in mind that you can incorporate more than one of the elements without the worry of causing confusion. The idea is to get creative and provide a fun, engaging experience for your recipients.

Direct mail has the highest response rate when you do it correctly. Make sure you have your design approved for postal regulations and you get feedback from people outside of your organization about your design and message. People like to get direct mail, so make sure you are giving them something good — not something that is going to go immediately into the trash can. When you haven’t targeted your list and offer properly, you’re not sending direct mail — you are sending junk mail and no one likes that.