The Power of Interactive Communications: A Framework for Driving Customer Engagement with Direct Mail

With more and more organizations competing for the same audience, marketers continue to seek ways to grab and hold the attention of their intended audience. As a result, many print providers have already reshaped their product mixes to include personalized print to help their clients differentiate and stand out.

Research continues to show well-executed printed mail remains integral to delivering engaging and effective communications. Due to the widespread availability of technology capable of personalization, however, brands must be even more creative with the stories they tell on paper.

Making a Case for Printed Communications

Making a compelling case for direct mail starts with understanding why organizations use it for transactional print and marketing as well as acknowledging what they’re trying to achieve. At the center of every business, you’ll find the same fundamental efforts to support some common themes—retaining existing customers, winning back past customers, and attracting new customers. Each of those efforts is traditionally supported by various touchpoints and marketing activities. According to recent research from Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends, 75% of brand owners already use direct mail to follow up online activity or plan to start doing so soon.

Following Online Activities with Direct Mail

Does your company follow up online activities (e.g. opening an email, clicking a website link) with a direct mail piece? Majority: Yes. Less than 25%: Not yet, but plan to start soon. Less than 20%: No, and no plans to start. Remaining: Don't know. N=235 Enterprises in the U.S. and Canada.

Source: Annual State of Marketing Communications Business Research, Keypoint Intelligence –InfoTrends 2018.

This finding demonstrates how market leaders understand the importance of maximizing each customer touchpoint. Adding an interactive element to a direct mail piece or even transactional pieces like statements and invoices is a viable practice for increasing the impact of the print on the page. A few of the most common elements leveraged to integrate print with digital and create an interactive experience include QR codes, NFC tags, and augmented reality. The ability to engage your audience with timely, relevant, and interactive messaging can help establish loyalty and increase brand engagement.

Let’s look more closely at each of these applications and explore why your customers should consider adding an interactive element to their print communications.

Direct Mail

Effective direct mail blends offline information with online information. By using a QR code, for example, you can unite offline audiences with online resources. Customers respond best to businesses that provide immediate access to information—adding a QR code to a postcard can grant them this access. In many cases, a QR code can prompt a consumer to act on an offer, place an order, register for an event, or follow directions to a physical business address.

Transactional Print

The communication landscape is evolving, and bills and statements are naturally evolving in kind. Although some of today’s businesses opt for digital-only presentment, a huge opportunity exists with printed communications. For example, including an interactive link that brings up a video on the recipient’s phone can be a quick and effective way to explain a statement or bill while also providing other important information. Think about how many customer service calls a link like this might prevent! This solution can be more cost-effective for enterprises while also providing a better experience for the customer.

The Bottom Line
Linking Print with Digital

What percentage of your print-based marketing messages have the following digital links or interactive enhancements? 29%: QR code linking to a general URL. 26%: QR code linking to a personalized URL. 24%: NFC tags (e.g. Apple's iBeacon). 23%: Virtual Reality (VR). 21%: Augmented Reality (AR). N=235 Enterprises in the U.S. and Canada.

Source: Annual State of Marketing Communications Business Research, Keypoint Intelligence –InfoTrends 2018.

Industry leaders understand the importance of making a deliberate effort to improve the customer experience by maximizing each customer touchpoint with timely, relevant, personalized, and integrated messaging. Growth and development require considerations beyond the design of the communication, whether printed or delivered electronically. Choice, relevance, and consistency are the keys to communications that improve the customer experience. Conditioned by online interactions, today’s consumers have grown accustomed to accessing goods, services, and information at the touch of a button, on their terms. As a result, a well-designed document with interactive elements can connect the audience with a brand in a way static print can’t. Don’t let your customers miss out on the opportunity to increase brand awareness and provide a better customer experience!

Did you know… According to the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail is the second-largest channel for ad spend in the U.S.