Optichannel Marketing Campaigns Get an Additional Boost With Direct Mail

Not every brand has a big brand’s marketing resources. Here’s are two case studies in how optichannel marketing is being used at a more reasonable level of investment by real, medium-sized businesses to increase campaign effectiveness and bottom-line results.

Not too long ago, we looked at how some of the biggest companies in the world — including Disney and Neiman Marcus — use optichannel customer experience strategies to deliver great marketing ROI. Even among big brands, though, the customer experience magic of Disney may be out of reach. So let’s take a look at how optichannel marketing is being used at a more reasonable level of investment by real, medium-sized businesses to significantly increase campaign effectiveness and bottom-line results.

Response-Lift Modeling Finds New Campers and New Revenue for Summer Learning Initiative

The hard part of operating any business focused on school-age children is the built-in rate of attrition. Students grow up, graduate, and otherwise age out of your programs every year. It’s likely that at least 25% of your customers won’t be back the following year due to matriculation alone.

To refill those seats without breaking the bank, these institutions must focus marketing on lead generation and new customer acquisition — two of the most expensive goals in marketing. It’s challenging to do that and still find a way to market profitably.

One such program is Galileo Learning, which operates 75 children’s summer camps across parts of California and Chicago, Ill. Age limits on the program mean that large portions of the customer base graduate out every year.

Finding a way to replace those students quickly becomes prohibitive. Summer Erickson, head of marketing for Galileo Learning, saw that many direct mail strategies were becoming too expensive for the ROI. The answer she found was to combine a very effective mail piece with tight customer models built on the data of current customers.

“The customer modeling tool was a game-changer for us,” says Erickson. By using response-lift modeling to identify prospects on external lists who were highly likely to respond, Galileo was able to market much more efficiently. They used the savings to create better mail pieces that would also drive better-than-normal response, and the mailers were localized to each of their nine markets where Galileo operated camps.

The results, Erickson says, surpassed her most optimistic expectations. The campaign brought in 155 new campers and $66,000 in new revenue. And she expects even better success from a wider program launched later in the year.

Holiday Direct Mail Adds Optichannel Targeting, Gets 6X More Impressions, $200k-Plus in Donations

Sometimes you need to break out beyond a single channel to get the best results. Meals on Wheels (MOW) in the Diablo Region of California spurred $230,000 in new donations by doing exactly that with its holiday donor appeal campaign.

The campaign broke with MOW’s traditional strategy in two main ways:

  • They built three audience segments defined by demographics and customer look-a-like modeling.
  • MOW added targeted digital advertising to amplify its direct mail, which made sure the target audience saw 6X more campaign impressions that they would have in a mail-only strategy.

First, much like Galileo, MOW and its agency starting working from the donor database, using existing data from real donors to identify three list segments who would be most responsive to this campaign: current donors, lapsed donors and prospective donors. Although the names sound straightforward, the segments were developed by examining the demographic and engagement data of known donors across dozens of factors.

Each person on the list received a personalized donor appeal letter with infographics highlighting the benefits of donating to MOW and a coupon CTA to make a donation.

Overall, the campaign blanketed the audience with 75,000 pieces of direct mail alone. But that was just the beginning of the campaign.

In addition to those 75,000 mailpieces, MOW built email, social media, and online display advertising to amplify the direct mail message. Together, this added 467,542 additional marketing impressions for the campaign — more than a 600% increase in overall brand exposure, compared to a mail-only control group.

The results were impressive for MOW, even for a holiday appeal: $230,000 in donations, 43% new donors, and donors from the optichannel campaign averaged 169% more than donors in the control group who only received direct mail.

Taking Omnichannel Marketing Outbound in 2020!

While a strong omnichannel customer experience is important, it’s equally important to incorporate omnichannel marketing into your lead generation strategy. Content optimization, customer modeling, and profiling through a strategic optichannel plan will produce a strong customer acquisition system.

Omnichannel marketing is an important piece of any brand’s customer experience (CX) strategy, but too often it stops there. While a strong omnichannel CX is important, it’s equally important to incorporate omnichannel marketing into your lead generation strategy. Content optimization, customer modeling, and profiling through a strategic optichannel plan will produce a strong customer acquisition system.

Here are three ways to use the power of omnichannel marketing to enhance your outbound marketing and generate leads, acquire customers, and lay the foundation for strong customer relationships.

1. Omnichannel Content Optimization

The biggest difference between omnichannel CX and omnichannel marketing is that the CX mostly happens on your owned channels, and it mostly engages existing customers and lower-funnel prospects deciding to become customers.

But how do you get those prospects into the pipeline in the first place? Traditional mass marketing? That’s not the right way to introduce prospects to a highly targeted, personalized, omnichannel experience. Maybe Disney can pull that off, but most brands need to put more effort into building a strong foundation for the customer experience.

That’s where omnichannel marketing comes in. We recently dove into how four brands deliver great omnichannel customer experiences by anticipating individual customer needs and removing obstacles that would have a negative impact on customer experience. In omnichannel marketing, you take that same approach to outbound marketing content. That can be as simple as offering a discount or as complex as creating videos to counter known buying objections.

Great omnichannel marketing comes from understanding what your target audience wants and needs, and providing content that addresses those drives. At a minimum, you must develop ad content tailored to the specific segments you’re targeting. Blasting the same offer to all of your audience models is not omnichannel marketing.

For prospects who are already pretty far down the funnel, target them with ad content that makes it easy to see that you offer the things they want and will make them easy to get.

Not all prospect segments are going to be that far down the funnel, though. You may be using omnichannel marketing to drive awareness and get top-of-funnel prospects to sign up as leads and receive your newsletter. Here, educational content can be highly effective. If they’re new to the market, promote blog content that answers common newbie questions. If they’re experienced — but not looking to buy yet — promote high-value content that makes an impression and encourages them to come to you for answers (technology companies like Cisco and HubSpot do a wonderful job of this).

Keep in mind that a targeted audience offers new opportunities to optimize content. For example,  Google affinity audiences allow advertisers to loosely target visitors of competing websites. For these kinds of campaigns, you can talk specifically about the kinds of things those websites cover.

2. Turn Customer Data From a Microscope Into a Telescope

Every brand has customer data, but even though that data lets marketers examine their customers in small — even microscopic — detail, most have a hard time using it to do much more than send birthday emails and make fairly shallow product recommendations.

In order to use your data for true outbound omnichannel marketing, you need to turn that data around so it can be your telescope instead of a microscope. You can do this by examining the data to extrapolate traits from your existing customers that also should appear on likely customers — i.e., look-a-like modeling.

The process is two-fold data science. First, you identify the segments you want to model in your customer data and look for data points they have in common. These traits may indicate someone is likely to become your customer, but it’s not a single-factor analysis. Each segment may have demographic, psychographic, and behavioral variables you can synthesize to create models that will help find other likely customers.

Then you use those models to target both online and offline marketing. For example, Facebook has long offered look-a-like targeting to its audience. Google offers similar options across its whole online and mobile ad network. You can also use these models to identify mailing lists that include the right kind of audiences and target them with relevant marketing.

Omnichannel marketing is not just for direct response, either. It is highly effective at getting the right content in front of your target audience on social media. You can use these models to target content promotion on social networks and make sure the right stories from your accounts wind up in the feeds of the right people on each network.

3. Make Omnichannel Marketing Optichannel

As mentioned, omnichannel marketing takes everything you do to build your omnichannel customer experience and applies it to lead generation and customer acquisition. You can take this further to an optichannel strategy by constricting your outreach to just the channels where each customer prefers to engage with marketing. That may sound counterintuitive as part of an omnichannel strategy, but consumers and business audiences are both showing fatigue with being hounded by ads from every brand on every channel. There are benefits to actually limiting the channels you use for specific customers by selecting ones that can be effectively optimized.

If you can identify the preferred channel of a specific audience segment — or, ideally, individual prospects — and create a great experience for them on that channel, you stand a much better chance of laying the foundation for a great omnichannel customer relationship.

Omnichannel CX has been a breakthrough for many brands. Done well, the techniques it uses can provide your customers with the kind of experiences that keep them coming back — it’s like customer relationship magic. But if you can’t take those principles and apply them to your outbound marketing as well, you’re doing a disservice to brand growth. Use these tips to turn your CX strategy around and leverage the power of true omnichannel marketing.

Why Include Direct Mail In Optichannel Marketing?

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing.

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study, “Multichannel Marketing Maximizing Program Engagement and ROI”. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing and the power of intentional, coordinated marketing efforts.

The goal of the study was to collect data to identify best practices and help marketers know how to reach specific audiences, and when to use particular tactics within their multichannel campaigns. The results indicate that direct mail needs to be a part of your optichannel marketing strategy.

Key findings:

  • When direct mail is personalized and tightly integrated into the channel mix and campaign technology: Average response rates improve significantly, with a 62% increase in those reporting good or very good response rates. The ROI of multichannel campaigns improves significantly, with an 80% increase in those reporting good or very good ROI.
  • Just over half of this study’s participants include direct mail in their multichannel campaigns, and 80% of them report that direct mail improves multichannel campaign performance.
  • The executive, or C-Suite, audience is the most sought after by study participants. Events and direct mail are the most effective channels to reach them.
  • While postcards are the most frequently used direct mail format, the dimensional format does the best job of representing the brand.
  • More channels produce higher response. Respondents using seven or more channels in their mix are 26% more likely to indicate their multichannel programs produce good or very good response.

Respondents use a multitude of channels that include:

  1. Email: 91% usage
  2. Social Media: 81% usage
  3. Events: 73% usage
  4. Display Ads/Remarketing: 60% usage
  5. Direct Mail: 56% usage
  6. Search/PPC: 51% usage
  7. Outbound Business Development/Sales Development: 47% usage
  8. Content Syndication: 35% usage
  9. Other: 5% usage

Most marketers are using between three and five channels on any given campaign, but results show that you should consider adding more channels. When marketers use seven or more channels, they report a 77% “very good” or “good” response rate. The report also found that marketers are not consistently using the most effective channels. The top three most effective channels are: events at 83%, integrated and personalized direct mail at 78%, and Search/PPC at 73%. What are you using?

Direct Mail Needs More Attention From Marketers

The report shows that marketers are most familiar with postcard and letter formats, and report that they use those formats most. Postcards are the least expensive direct mail format. Many marketers favor postcards because there is nothing to open: the message is easily visible. Dimensional mail formats are a close third in usage. This format includes pieces that are not flat, like the other types, but have an element of depth to them. A dimensional mail piece is often sent in boxes or tubes, and its very form invites opening it. These pieces evoke natural curiosity and tend to drive higher response rates. Have you tried dimensional mail?

According to study participants, direct mail clearly enhances multichannel campaign performance. In this study, 52% report a moderate to major improvement in campaign performance when direct mail is one of the channels. When direct mail is part of the channel mix, campaigns have slightly better response rates. Personalized direct mail generates significantly better response rates to multichannel campaigns. Are you using direct mail enough?

As you can see, adding direct mail to your optichannel marketing campaigns is significant. The more personalized and integrated it is, the better your response rate is going to be. Are you ready to get started with more personalized direct mail?

The Secrets Behind 3 Great Optichannel Experiences

How can any business build a positive brand relationship with its consumers? The only way to do that in 2020 is to create awesome optichannel customer experiences. People don’t remember your marketing; they remember how it feels to do business with you.

In 2020, every consumer will be interacting with marketing content across a thousand channels all the time — by some estimates, they already see as many as 5,000 ads each day. It’s a cacophony of impersonal, untargeted media that barely makes an impact. But if everyone is bombarded by marketing media constantly, how can any business build a positive brand relationship with its consumers? The only way to do that in 2020 is to create awesome optichannel customer experiences. People don’t remember your marketing; they remember how it feels to do business with you. And the optichannel experience is what leaves them with a positive or negative feeling.

Here are three companies that have made a science of optichannel customer experiences, and what your brand can learn from them.

Leverage Identity Like Neiman Marcus

Customer identity crosses into the retail-online threshold, but not enough brands use it to improve the customer experience. Neiman Marcus does.

It starts as soon as customers enter the store. Interactive directories and “Memory Mirror” smart monitors allow them to have a digitally enhanced fitting room experience. Meanwhile, the retailer’s app enables users to take pictures of outfits in the real world and then use augmented reality to match them with similar looks from its catalog. This comes together to create an award-winning omnichannel retail experience that empowers consumers and removes barriers along the buying journey.

Neiman Marcus also leverages that information to personalize the e-commerce, email and direct mail experience of every customer. “Identity is the core of personalization,” says VP of Customer Insight and Analytics Jeff Rosenfield, “and if you don’t get it right, you’re not talking to the entirety of that customer.”

The retailer put these ideas into practice with several CX features. For example, when you search for specific sizes on the Neiman Marcus website, your visits will start using those sizes by default. Email and printed direct mail pieces then feature items you looked at, and sales offers are tied to your user data.

What Makes Neiman Marcus’s Optichannel Strategy Successful

Identifying visitors and targeting them with optichannel marketing across social networks, online ads, direct mail, and email is within every business’s reach. You just need to dive into the data to make it happen.

The first step is to resolve customer identity. Ideally, you should have a way for them to log-in to the website and a good incentive for them to stay logged in. Loyalty programs and member discounts are great ways to do this. The insights you glean from logged-in user sessions should be collected and used to optimize your overarching strategy as well as that individual’s user experience.

Cookies and user session data will allow you to note where they went and what they did on your website. Even in a retail store, you can still note what customers bought or what they asked your salespeople about and add it to a customer profile. When that customer interacted with your brand, what did they do? Did they focus on one product category? One set of sizes? Are they moved by certain discounts or occasions?

Identifying these kinds of user behaviors and supplementing them with demographic data creates a predictive-marketing tool you can use to improve your campaigns. Follow-up emails can feature products in their favorite categories and discounts on the things they looked at most. Instead of sending the same mail piece to every address on your file, you can use customer segmentation based on demographics and behavior to create targeted mailings for each segment that specifically leverage their buying factors.

These tactics are viable in industries with more complex sales cycles than retail, too.

Bring the Magic to Life Like Disney World

Walt Disney World gives its customers the automated equivalent of white-glove concierge service across every touchpoint of the optichannel journey. Families move from booking on a mobile-responsive website to planning trip details on the My Disney Experience app to a next-generation resort stay powered by “magic band” technology. The magic bands use NFC tech to act as tickets, wallets, line-cut free passes and more.

Each step is personal and empowering. Disney recognizes its customers from the first touch to the last and uses everything it knows to deliver an ultra-convenient vacation experience. The resort truly creates optichannel magic by empowering its customers across every channel.

What Makes Disney World’s Optichannel Strategy Successful

You may not be able to give every customer a piece of technology as cool as magic bands, but you can connect the dots of their activities across channels and use the data to deliver white-glove concierge experiences of your own.

Try to remove as much frustration from the buyer’s journey as possible. Whether a “visit” happens on a website, phone or face-to-face, try to capture where they came from and what they did. Use that data to identify what they want and to make every future experience with your brand easier and more magical.

What that looks like will vary by brand, but the key is to understand the customer journey and smooth out the steps that cause friction. Is it hard for customers to find items they looked at previously? Try to bring them back up if they revisit the site, or perhaps promote them via targeted web and social media ads. Can you position follow-up emails so they speak to the products they looked at and remove buying obstacles? Can you identify special offers based on user behavior that will make it easier for them to say yes? Are there come customer behaviors that indicate a sales phone call would be welcome?

Make Local Personal Like MB Financial

There are more than 430,000 small businesses in Chicago, where MB Financial had 86 local branches. However, MB was not connecting with any of those businesses. To these prospects, the bank was just another old, faceless institution. So it set out to put the real managers from those branches on its  “MB Is Me” optichannel campaign to create personal connections and generate leads.

The campaign ran print, radio and digital media ads throughout the area featuring four messages: MB Financial delivers the personal attention you want, the banking services you need, business advice you can use, and business connections you wouldn’t expect.

Those ads set the stage, but the real conversion piece was a localized direct mail campaign that featured the local branch managers talking directly to the small business owners they served. Using customer propensity models — like response lift modeling — the bank identified 30,000 small businesses that were likely prospects and sent postcards to each of those businesses from the manager of the closest branch.

The postcards were versioned for each branch’s business area. They featured professional photos of the branch manager, a personal message, and an invitation to call their direct phone numbers. There was also an offer to get up to $550 in bonus cash for opening an account and/or line of credit.

The optichannel campaign built trust in MB Financial’s commitment to small business banking needs, and the direct mail piece converted a 205% increase in sales leads.

What Makes MB Financial’s Optichannel Strategy Successful

This is the only campaign we’ve discussed that specifically focuses on lead generation and customer acquisition, but it shows the power of optichannel experiences in generating qualified leads.

By extending optichannel strategies to outbound marketing, MB Financial created personal connections in a faceless marketing environment. Customer modeling, personalized creative and strategic channel execution all work together to form your next customer’s impressions.

Every prospect experiences your brand as an optichannel phenomenon. The campaigns they see shape the reaction they will have to your direct marketing.

MB Financial tied those pieces together. It didn’t need to be personalized to the individual level, just versioned so every prospect business was able to personally connect with and recognize their local branch managers.

From public messaging to targeted engagement to a personal experience: That’s how optichannel marketing continues to change the game.