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?

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.