Back in March of this year I wrote a story entitled Direct Mail: Alive And Kicking. It would appear that direct mail is not only alive and kicking, it's going "high tech."
Well, in a manner of speaking.
If you're a proponent of traditional advertising mediums like direct mail, email marketing, print, or radio, it's easy to feel like you are being left out of the technological loop. After all, it seems there is a leap forward every other day for sexy marketing venues like pay per click, search engine optimization, and social media, and so on.
On one hand, you like traditional media exactly because it DOES NOT change every other week. It's proven, and the results are (somewhat) predictable. This is good. You don't want to go throwing money at some new fangled marketing scheme and then sit back, fingers crossed, hoping it produces a return.
On the other hand, innovation is good. Innovation is GREAT, actually. Why settle for doing things the same old way when there is an alternative available that offers a BETTER return for LESS money?
And it's exactly this innovation that many business owners feel they are missing out on if they stick to their traditional marketing guns.
But is this really the case?
As it turns out - no. Case in point: the direct mail industry is currently undergoing a massive shift in the way it handles clients' campaigns. Gone are the days of, "Your cards are in the mail... Good luck." Here to stay are the days of, "Your cards are in the mail. They will arrive in prospects' mailboxes on the 23rd. Go to this web address to see how many responses you receive, and to listen to recordings of your sales calls. Also, we took care of your online follow-up for you. Don't worry about that."
Yes, it's a little bit of a mouthful. But that last part - about the online follow-up - that's the part that is revolutionary in the industry. The other things like tracking your mail and recording phone responses are advances, but they've been around for a while.
Direct Mail + Google - How It Works
We live in a world where the front door to virtually every business is their website. This is as true today of dentists and landscapers as it is of online retailers. If your website stinks, chances are your marketing will stink too. The direct mail industry is figuring this out, which is why many of the hands-on, innovative direct mail houses have started to offer web design services to complement their bread and butter.
This, in and of itself, is an innovation -- and a huge one. But not the latest...
What happens when a prospect receives an intriguing offer on a postcard, goes online to read more about the deal, gets distracted, and never goes back to the business' site? Used to be they were gone forever, but not anymore.
Google introduced a product called Remarketing for just this purpose. Google Remarketing is a program that is connected to Google Adwords, and it works like this:
- A business adds the Google Remarketing Code to their website
- A prospect comes to the site, but leaves before taking the action the business wants them to take (whether that is completing a transaction, filling out a form, or whatever)
- Google knows this (thanks to the code)
- Google displays specific follow-up advertisements to that prospect as the continue to cruise other sites, reminding them to go back to the business' site and finish what they started
- The business doesn't pay unless the prospect actually clicks the ad
The direct mail industry saw this as an opportunity to innovate and get better returns for their clients, so they bundled Google Remarketing in with standard direct mail services like postcards.
This is a small (but not insignificant) step for direct mail providers and an ENORMOUS step for direct mail marketers. Think about it this way: let's say that for every person that calls you off of your direct mail piece, another person goes to your website, but decides not to call. This isn't very hard to imagine. Those web visitors used to mean absolutely nothing to you. They were as useless as the person who threw away your ad without looking at it. NOW, that person is a legitimate lead being courted online by follow-up ads, just like your phone leads are courted by emails or phone calls.
It's very cool for sure and one of the best companies out there who have seamlessly incorporated direct mail with Google is postcardmania.com who offer what they refer to as "Direct Mail 2.0®" with the declaration that "the old way of handling direct mailing services is ancient history."
So, yes, traditional marketing methods can innovate, even if they don't get the airtime that sparkly new options get. Yes, the world of direct mail has finally integrated with the great Google. And YES, the next big thing in direct mail is integration with Google Remarketing.
At least until the next thing comes along.
Like feeding tuna fish mayonnaise. (very obscure movie reference so kudos to anyone who picks up my very vague remark)
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions.