Is direct mail the innovation strategy marketers need in 2020?

November 16th, 2020 | Eric Fahey

COVID-19 sparked a paradigm shift in consumer needs, experiences, and habits. Direct mail can facilitate those shifts and initiate brand engagements with people from where they are most likely to be: at home. 

Formatting enhances messaging

Unique formatting drives engagement and can stand out in the mailbox. The outbreak of COVID-19 in March, and the resulting shift in marketers’ plans, budgets, and goals likely played a part in limiting uniquely formatted or playful direct mail campaigns over the past eight months. Now that a ‘next normal’ has been established, marketers should embrace new opportunities to fill a consumer need or offer a distraction with unique or creative direct mail campaigns. 

Connecting across channels

Social distancing measures means more time spent at home, and more time shopping from home. Direct mail plays a central role in omni-channel customer journeys. QR codes, URLs, and linked images within USPS Informed Delivery emails are ways to pull recipients from one channel to another and crucial to increasing response rates. Programmatic direct mail case studies show that direct mail linked to online actions doubled digital-only strategies.

Extending shelf-life

The marketing adage of having the right offer in the right place at the right time requires a mix of science and art – and neither have control over the precision necessary to always be effective. Making a direct mail piece useful to a recipient can extend its shelf-life, and thereby extending the life of the message, enabling it to be in the right place at the right time, with the recipient determining when that message is most relevant. 

3 innovative direct mail pieces to spark inspiration

These three examples demonstrate best-in-class strategies for extending the shelf-life of a direct mail piece, demonstrating empathy, and generating memorable multi-sensory experiences. 

  1. Geico Informed Delivery: As Informed Delivery is an increasingly popular means of screening one’s mail, brands are finding unique ways to use the outer envelope to grab attention and drive interest in their offers. Here, GEICO promoted its October 2020 “Stir Up Savings” Halloween-themed campaign.

    Source: Comperemedia Direct
  2. Ashley Home Store with the QR code appointment-booker: Brands found ways to use direct mail to foster customer engagement as COVID-19 social distancing measures and guidelines take hold. Ashley Home Furniture invited recipients to book an appointment at a store via a direct mail QR code.

    Source: Comperemedia Direct
  3. American Family Insurance Roadside Assistance Glovebox Guide: American Family sent customers a roadside assistance how-to guide, complete with tabbed pages outlining what to do in the event of a range of travel-related scenarios. Notably, the mailer was also mobile-optimized, with an American Family-branded QR code linking to the MyAmFam app, where users could report a claim. The ongoing relevancy of the piece, designed to be kept in a glovebox for emergency use serves the product, brand, and customer needs all at once.
Source: Comperemedia Direct

Interested in more recent examples of how companies and brands are using direct mail in clever, unexpected, and engaging ways (we have at least 10 more)? Get in touch and let’s have a conversation. 

Eric Fahey

Eric Fahey

Eric Fahey is the Director of Content and Analytics, Comperemedia. Eric specializes in telecommunications, financial services, and email marketing. In addition to researching and writing about industry trends, marketing strategy, and newsworthy developments, Eric oversees the planning and execution of custom and syndicated competitive intelligence reports for the Comperemedia research team.