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?

To QR Code or Not to QR Code?

Does a QR Code add value to direct mail? Well, yes it can. However, before you go put a QR Code on every direct mail piece you send out, let’s discuss what works and what does not. Before you even start down the path of adding QR Codes, what are you trying to do? Why would a QR Code help you do it?

Does a QR Code add value to direct mail? Well, yes it can. However, before you go put a QR Code on every direct mail piece you send out, let’s discuss what works and what does not. Before you even start down the path of adding QR Codes, what are you trying to do? Why would a QR Code help you do it? If your answer is because you think you should, well, you better rethink that.

When to use a QR Code on direct mail:

  • Drive online engagement
  • Facilitate a phone call
  • Provide a coupon
  • Provide access to additional information
  • Place an order

If you are placing a QR Code on a direct mail piece and it is not doing one of the four things above, is it really benefiting the recipient? What is in it for them to scan it? When you are planning out your QR Codes, make sure to look at it for the recipient’s perspective. QR Codes have good scan rates when used correctly. Another thing to consider when designing your QR Code is to have a little fun with it. You can use color as well as an image or logo to make it stand out.

Best Practices:

  • Instructions: Always include instructions on how to scan and why the recipient should scan it.
  • Buffer Zone: Include 1/16 inch of white space around the QR Code
  • Size: For direct mail, keep your QR Code between a ½ inch and 1 ½ inches for easy scanning and placement
  • Small URLs: Use a URL shortener to keep scanning time short.
  • Mobile Landing Pages: Since the user is going to be using a mobile device to access your content make sure that the landing page is setup for mobile use including the checkout page.
  • Test It: Scan the code in all different types of lighting and using many different mobile devices as well as scanning apps. You want to spot problems before recipients get them.

QR Codes will not be right for everyone. Look at who your recipients are, not just what you want to do. Sometimes they may surprise you, so test one out with a good offer and see what response you get. Many times QR Codes are used in conjunction with PURLs, that way you are providing two ways for them to access the landing page. They can scan the code or type in the URL. This also gives you a chance to see who prefers what method. You can use this information for future mailings.

Your mail service provider can work with you to create a mail piece that incorporates both QR Codes and PURLs. They can also help you with tracking. Compiling reports for your mail delivery dates, QR Code scans and landing page hits are easy and extremely helpful. It’s time to create your direct mail with QR Codes and track your results.

Michael Becker’s Inside Mobile Marketing: Playing Off the Success of Mobile Marketing

One sure sign of success is the company you keep. With household names such as Best Buy, Disney, Google, Kodak, Microsoft and MTV among the speakers at next week’s Mobile Marketing Forum, it’s clear that mobile marketing is a roaring success.

One sure sign of success is the company you keep. With household names such as Best Buy, Disney, Google, Kodak, Microsoft and MTV among the speakers at next week’s Mobile Marketing Forum, it’s clear that mobile marketing is a roaring success.

But success requires innovation and insights. Does adding a location-based component to a mobile ad increase its effectiveness, for example?

Absolutely. Nearly half of consumers who notice ads while using mobile, location-based services take at least some action. That’s roughly 12 percent more than those who notice ads while sending and receiving text messages, and almost twice the rate of those who notice ads while browsing websites.

Those figures come from a recent survey conducted by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and Luth Research, and they’re just one example of the types of actionable insights available at next week’s Mobile Marketing Forum.

Held June 7 through June 9 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, the Mobile Marketing Forum is a convenient, concise opportunity for agencies, brands, operators and technology companies to hear from some of mobile marketing’s leaders, including Microsoft Advertising, Alcatel-Lucent, Millennial Media and The Weather Channel.

Executives consider the Mobile Marketing Forum a must-attend event. In fact, 68 percent of attendees at the 2009 forum held positions of vice president or above. As one attendee put it, “The MMA Forum delivers on crucial industry needs in an open, engaging and interactive environment that truly fosters a real sense of community within the mobile marketing industry.”

Here are just a few examples of what’s on the agenda this year:

  • Keynotes from CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, Microsoft Advertising, Best Buy, Electronic Arts, ESPN Mobile, Google, Kodak and the United Nations Foundation.
  • Presentations on the role of ad networks, mobile-enabled loyalty programs, going beyond banner ads, measuring campaign success, couponing, applications, hyperlocal marketing and premium content.
  • Success stories that provide models to follow.
  • An agency panel offering tips on using mobile to build brand recognition.
  • Battle of the regions: The MMA’s regional managing directors face off, presenting case studies from Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Latin America, and North America, to prove which region is leading the way in mobile marketing.

There’s also a pre-event workshop, held June 7, that features a crash course on mobile marketing, including an overview of the types of companies that help facilitate campaigns and strategies for building awareness and participation. Also on June 7, qualified agencies, brands and retailers can participate in a newly added preconference Agency, Brand & Retailer Roundtable, which is followed by a cocktail reception. (To find out if you qualify, simply email your complete contact information to forum@mmaglobal.com.)

Another first for the MMA Forum, the “Adopt-a-Brand” program offers a convenient, cost-effective way to introduce more companies to mobile marketing opportunities. “Adopt-a-Brand” lets MMA members subsidize the cost of a pass for agencies, brands and retailers that want to attend the forum.

Finally, this year’s Mobile Marketing Forum marks the debut of the Mobile Experience Lab, an interactive opportunity to hear from the industry’s thought leaders, experience mobile campaigns firsthand and interact with brands using mobile as part of their integrated marketing strategy. Each mobile campaign features a booth that provides attendees with an interactive, hands-on opportunity to experience the campaign from an end user’s perspective.

For the latest updates on this year’s forum, follow @MobileMktgForum on Twitter and visit www.mobilemarketingforum.com.

Silver Apples Shine Brightly This Year

In some good (finally) news surrounding the direct and interactive world, the Direct Marketing Club of New York announced that its Silver Apple Awards 25th Anniversary Gala is sold out.

The awards, which honor industry leaders for their outstanding contributions to the New York direct and interactive marketing community, will take place at New York City’s Hudson Theatre on Nov. 12.

In some good (finally) news surrounding the direct and interactive world, the Direct Marketing Club of New York announced that its Silver Apple Awards 25th Anniversary Gala is sold out.

The awards, which honor industry leaders for their outstanding contributions to the New York direct and interactive marketing community, will take place at New York City’s Hudson Theatre on Nov. 12.

Stu Boysen, executive director of the club, told me that its maximum seating capacity of 300 was reached on the evening of Nov. 6. And tickets are not cheap: Members and previous Silver Apple honorees paid $195 a pop, while nonmembers paid $235.

Each year, the club’s past presidents gather to select individuals and a corporate honoree to receive Silver Apples. The recipients must have at least 25 years experience in the business, a commitment to volunteerism and leadership, and records of vital contributions to the growth of the industry.

Maybe it’s the recipients of the 2009 Silver Apple Awards that made it such a hot ticket. They include:

And the Corporate Silver Apple Award will go to Acxiom Corp.

Or maybe it’s because the club is planning a gala event this year to commemorate the awards’ 25th anniversary. In past years, the awards were made at a special club luncheon in Manhattan. This year, however, the optional black-tie evening event will go back in time and pay tribute to the outstanding direct marketers who’ve received the award over the past 25 years.

The gala is also a key fundraising event for the club. The organization raises money from direct marketing organizations and industry vendors to provide program support and scholarships for college-level educational programs in direct and interactive marketing. Organizers hope to raise more than $30,000 for education this year through table sales and other donations.

Whatever the reason — or reasons — it’s good news for all involved. Way to go DMCNY!

The Future of DM: It’s Interactive

Earlier this week, the Direct Marketing Association released a qualitative report on the future of direct marketing, concluding that it will most certainly be interactive.

More on how the report was put together in a moment. Bottom line: Customers will be in control, analytics will rule and digital marketing will increase.

Earlier this week, the Direct Marketing Association released a qualitative report on the future of direct marketing, concluding that it will most certainly be interactive.

More on how the report was put together in a moment. Bottom line: Customers will be in control, analytics will rule and digital marketing will increase.

The DMA asked more than 35 well-respected direct marketing leaders — including copywriting maven and columnist Herschell Gordon Lewis of Lewis Enterprises, Alan Moss of Google, Jeanniey Mullen of Zinio, and Akira Oka of Direct Marketing Japan — their opinions on the future of direct marketing and their industries/segments. The report provides insight into what these leaders think about the short- and long-term future of direct marketing.

Specifically, they were asked the following questions:
* Where do you think direct marketing will be in five years? Ten years?
* How should direct marketers prepare for these changes?
* How will your industry/segment change during this time?
* How is the state of our nation’s economy impacting your industry/segment?
* How do you think the election of Barack Obama will affect the direct marketing community?

The report revealed the following about the future of direct marketing in the next five to 10 years:

Customers will be in control. Technology has given consumers myriad choices, options and resources that let them find what they want and skip over what they don’t. Technology also will continue to advance, opening up great opportunities for both consumers and marketers.

Measurable and accountable marketing will increase. The health of the economy has made marketers think and rethink about where to put each dollar of their marketing budgets, according to the report. As a result, allocations will move away from traditional channels such as catalog and direct mail into digital channels, which are intrinsically more measurable.

Traditional DM will decrease; digital marketing will increase. Environmental pressures, postal rate hikes and the potential for a do-not-mail bill will result in a decrease in both direct mail and catalog volume. Digital has many advantages over traditional DM, such as its ability to track real-time measurements; create more targeted, relevant and personalized messages; and reach new generations of consumers who were born with a mouse in hand.

Many channels, one message. It’s not all bad news for direct mail and catalogs, though. Integration always has been a key component to direct marketing and will only increase in importance as the number of viable channels increases, the report says. There also will be a movement from single channel campaigns to more integrated, multichannel strategies. These campaigns have the same message across multiple channels, allowing marketers to reach more customers, who have more opportunities to respond via the channel of their choice.

While the death of direct mail will not come in 2009 — or any time in the near future — interactive marketing clearly is growing in importance. If you’re not participating in any interactive marketing programs now, it’s time you start. Your future depends on it.

Vendors in the Interactive Marketing Space React Positively to New FTC CAN–SPAM Rules

Vendors from the interactive marketing space are reacting positively to the news from earlier this week that the Federal Trade Commission has approved four new rule provisions under the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM).

According to the FTC, the provisions–which are intended to clarify the Act’s requirements–address four topics:

Vendors from the interactive marketing space are reacting positively to the news from earlier this week that the Federal Trade Commission has approved four new rule provisions under the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM).

According to the FTC, the provisions–which are intended to clarify the Act’s requirements–address four topics:

(1) an e-mail recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her e-mail address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply e-mail message or visiting a single Internet Web page to opt out of receiving future e-mail from a sender;

(2) the definition of “sender” was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single e-mail message is responsible for complying with the Act’s opt-out requirements;

(3) a “sender” of commercial e-mail can include an accurately-registered post office box or private mailbox established under U.S. Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act’s requirement that a commercial e-mail display a “valid physical postal address”; and

4) a definition of the term “person” was added to clarify that CAN-SPAM’s obligations are not limited to natural persons.

Quinn Jalli, Chief Privacy Officer for online marketing firm Datran Media said he believes that legitimate marketers will embrace the new regulations, as they significantly reduce the complexity of complying with the law in a joint-marketing scenario.

“The FTC’s position is well in line with the prevailing philosophy in the industry, and the new regulations align the law with common-sense expectations,” he said. “[The new regulations] are a win for marketers and consumers alike.”

In a press release, Matt Wise, CEO of Q Interactive, an interactive marketing services provider, also announced support for the FTC’s revised definition of e-mail “sender”.

“Since CAN-SPAM’s inception, there has been pervasive confusion in the marketplace over responsibility for including opt-out links in e-mail, which has led to inconsistent execution of the unsubscribe process, increased risk of unsubscribe list abuse, additional and unnecessary costs for advertisers, and an overall reduction in the efficiency of the medium,” Wise said in the release.

Q Interactive said that under the revised ruling, companies advertising with e-mail can now designate a single e-mail “sender” responsible for adhering to the rules of CAN-SPAM, which include having the “sender’s name in the e-mail “from line” and providing a working opt-out link and physical address.

The FTC’s revised “sender” definition, Wise said “eliminates the confusion and frustration over multiple opt-out links for consumers and makes it as easy as possible for them to unsubscribe from unwanted e-mails, which, in essence, is the primary purpose of the CAN-SPAM Act.”