4 Ways to Cultivate an Effective Direct Mail Experience

What direct mail experience do your customers and prospects get when they receive your mail pieces? The first moment when they touch and interact with your mail piece is the moment when you either get a second look or get tossed into the trash.

What direct mail experience do your customers and prospects get when they receive your mail pieces? The first moment when they touch and interact with your mail piece is the moment when you either get a second look or get tossed into the trash.

How many of your pieces are going into the trash? Probably more than you think, especially if you are sending to prospects who do not have a history with you. How can you turn your direct mail into a positive experience for prospects and customers?

4 Ways to Improve the Direct Mail Experience

  1. Personalization — This is more than just using a name: your offer, images, and copy should all be tailored to each individual and their needs. This means your data is crucial to get personalization right. You need to capture as much information about customers as possible, beyond just purchases.
  2. Touch — Direct mail is a great way to engage people with touch. There are so many options to add texture. Now, you can really make paper feel like just about anything you want it to. Tactile experiences are powerful, so take full advantage of them: Because other marketing channels are unable to give that experience.
  3. Visual — This is more than just images, it is your color scheme, and layout, too. You want to draw attention and keep it consistent with your messaging. If you are unsure of what the colors mean and how best to use them in marketing, refer to our post on colors. You can now include special effects inks to really get a pop in visual appeal.
  4. Something Different — People crave unique experiences. When you can provide something new and build curiosity around it, you have natural engagement. Get creative here! This can be augmented reality, video, die cuts, special folds, or anything you can think of.

Keep in mind that creating an experience with your mail piece is not all about entertainment, it is about engagement. The longer they spend interacting with your mail piece, the more your message resonates and gets acted upon. It is also about enhancing your message, not distracting from it. Many times, we focus too much on snazzy concepts, which take away from the message, instead of using the concept to boost the message. When you are able to integrate the experience with your message, you drive an increase in response rates.

Be bold and try something new. It does not have to cost a lot of money, but it does need to drive engagement in order to work. To maximize your potential, try personalization along with one of the other three, you will see a lift in results. Are you ready to get started?

Emoji: Digital Shorthand for Direct Marketers

Our culture is gravitating to visual displays of shorthand, and we’re relying less and less on words. For certain age groups and demographics, it appears that words and text is becoming out of date. Why? Emojis. You’ve seen them. But you may not have considered how you can leverage them in direct marketing. Here’s an emoji primer along with six ideas you can use for more visual emotion.

Our culture is gravitating to visual displays of shorthand, and we’re relying less and less on words. For certain age groups and demographics, it appears that words and text is becoming out of date. Why? Emojis. You’ve seen them. But you may not have considered how you can leverage them in direct marketing. Here’s an emoji primer along with six ideas you can use for more visual emotion.

First an emoji primer: Emojis originated in Japan, and means “picture letter.” Emojis are a single image that conveys an emotion or attitude. They are different than emoticons that are created with characters on a keyboard such as “:-)” to convey a smile. Emojis are shorthand in the digital age. Mobile has been a driver of the use of emojis because they are quick to use.

Unless you’re immersed in the emoji phenomenon, who would have known that last year some 2,834 new emojis were released by the Uniform Consortium (most of the 2,834 emojis have been in widespread use for years). Each has an official name and definition. By comparison, with a mere 26 letters in the alphabet to deal with, one wonders if adding a few well-chosen words may be quicker than scanning through nearly three thousand emojis for exactly the right one, but I digress.

Two recent observations in my life have prompted me to think about the emerging digital shorthand of emojis:

First, after the iOS 8.3 upgrade came through, I observed the sudden addition of emojis on the keyboard (at that time, I had mistakenly called them emoticons, which they are not). In fact, there are 300 emojis. And a Vulcan salute if you want it added. I like to use voice dictation for text and email on my iPhone. I don’t know about you, but I find the placement of the emoji buttons on an iPhone annoying because of my big fingers. I’m constantly touching the key that opens a flood of 300 emojis when I wanted the voice dictation button.

Second, while onboarding with a new digitally-driven client where everyone works virtual and all communications are posted on Skype chat, I saw team members answering questions using emojis. Even though emoji appearance is mostly intuitive, I still looked up the emoji so I was confident that I knew how team members were replying. On Skype, there are dozens of emojis ranging from the usual smiles and frowns to “TMI” (too much information), being worried and a birthday cake.

Then it dawned on me:

It’s clear that millions of people love emojis, so for direct marketers, it’s time to become aware of their power to transform how you communicate.

As our culture becomes more impatient, and attention spans are shortening, people want to shrink the seconds required to respond via email or text. An emoji can be the ticket to effortlessly conveying an emotion.

So how can direct marketers use emojis? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Direct Mail: A person doesn’t have to be a Millennial or Gen Z to recognize smiles, fingers crossed, a handshake or thumbs up. Remember: it’s visual shorthand.
  2. Social Media: Emojis are already built in and easy to use. Liven up content marketing posts with an emoji.
  3. Email Marketing: Why not? Put an emoji in HTML to add some fun and pizzazz.
  4. Website: Many emojis display movement, such as a bobbing head when illustrating someone laughing, and are a way to draw the eye to a desirable emotion.
  5. Blog Posts: I’ll let this light-hearted version speak for itself.
  6. SMS Text: With mobile as the reason emojis are taking off, it’s only natural to use them if you’re using SMS text (and especially you’re conserving on the characters you’re using). Of course, make sure your customer has opted-in to receiving your texts so your legal bases are covered.

Will emojis be the here for a long time to come, or a fad? Who knows? But I suspect that at least for the near term, you’re going to be seeing emojis more and more.

So what do you think? Would you ever use an emoji in your direct marketing messaging?