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How to Make 1 + 1 = 3: Integrate Digital With Direct Marketing

April 30, 2019

Because of constant pressure to cut marketing budgets yet improve results, marketers have turned to digital channels to help improve overall ROI. That works, but sometimes at the expense of brand impact. Optimizing online and offline channels to reach consumers where, when and how they want to be reached is the new challenge.

Case studies show that combining online with offline channels delivers an average 20%+ lift in response rates and double-digit increases in consumer spending, conversion and brand recall/recognition. It just takes the right approach.

With multiplying channels, direct marketers have more opportunities to be where consumers search for information and products. But it’s not enough to be present in more channels. For the best result and ROI, those channels have to work in sync.

Integrating digital messages with a direct mail piece is a case in point. When done right, a print + digital program achieves higher response rates and better ROI, which is especially important for big events or selling periods. But the “doing it right” part is the key. Print production timelines are typically longer than digital ones. Digital execution is often iterative, with spend moving across platforms based on digital performance metrics. So coordinating print and digital channels is challenging, but the payoff – significantly higher response-rates – is worth it.

Bring digital and print planning together

It’s hard to maximize response rates and ROI with channel-centric strategies that lead to each channel firing on its own schedule, sometimes without regard to what’s happening in other channels. This fails to optimally leverage the strengths of each channel because the objectives and timing are operating independently of each other.

Shifting objectives from channel-centric to a consumer-centric view makes integration easier. The campaign then becomes about moving the customer along the buyer’s journey .

Play to the strength of each channel

Campaigns are more effective when a marketer recognizes the role each medium plays in moving consumers from awareness to conversion.

  • Print stands out from digital with a tactile and highly visual experience
  • Email can be personalized with clear call to action, quickly and affordably
  • Digital reaches audiences wherever they are, and easily links to additional information
  • Mobile can target consumers based on location and device ID

Orchestrate touchpoints

To maximize impact, consumer “touches” must be orchestrated in the proper cadence. An effective campaign surrounds a print delivery with digital delivery. The in-home drop of a direct marketing piece is at the center of this coordinated execution.

Before mailing, social media, display ads and email “warm” the message, building awareness for the brand. Then the print piece engages the consumer with specific messages about the event, moving them through consideration. Following the mail drop-date, digital channels can keep the message top-of-mind and support it with easy ways to “click here” for purchase or more information.

The program’s pre-work starts with pulling CRM or mail file data. A typical schedule over a focused two-week span might look like this:

Week before mail drop:

  • Create a custom social media ad based on consumer data
  • Serve a geo-targeted display ad tailored to a mobile device location
  • Send an email alert to create anticipation for the event

Print piece drops in mailbox

Week following:

  • Deliver 1:1 digital advertising with content personalized to user data
  • Reinforce print messages with custom social media ad(s)
  • Send activation email that gives the consumer another way to purchase

Measure effectiveness

Integrating digital devices into the campaign makes it easy for marketers to track all transactions, whether store visits, customer acquisitions or purchases.

1 + 1 = 3

Truly integrating print with digital in a major campaign delivers more than using each channel in isolation. The collective strength of multiple channels targeting consumers with inter-connected messages increases conversions and improves ROI.