Online is the darling of direct mail

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Any direct mail campaign depends on careful planning to ensure that response rates are high and sales conversions numerous. A number of factors can intervene and impact its outcome. Among such factors are the season or even the time of the week the direct mail piece arrives, how relevant its message is felt to be by the consumer at that time, how strong the actual offering really is and whether the call to action is clear enough, compelling enough and easy enough to carry out.

Statistics regarding conversion to sale motivators in direct mail are, however, still hard to source. For this reason, we at CDMS decided to commission a survey to find out which factors really made British consumers more likely to make a purchase as a result of direct mail. Consumers clearly stated that the ability to respond to the campaign online was the most important factor, making them 20 percent more likely than average to respond and purchase. Timing of the campaign to reach the recipient when in purchase consideration mode (17 percent more likely) came in second, with personalisation of the campaign rated as 14 percent more likely than average.

UK consumers are calling for the ability to respond to traditional channels via the web, indicating that the internet is becoming more strategically important to the direct marketing process. Savvy marketers are thus investigating new techniques for tracking online response to direct mail campaigns. One tracking technique deserves a little more attention due to its popularity and promise of success: personalised URLs (pURLs).

This technology allows marketers to generate a unique and personalised landing page for every client in their marketing database. It typically takes the form of www.domainname.com/name and when the recipient receives a piece of direct mail and types the unique address into the web browser they are directed to their own dynamic microsite containing the mailings, offers, products, and/or services especially meant for them.

The activity of respondents can be minutely tracked on these personalised microsites, thereby providing an organisation with valuable information such as customer appreciation of content. With the learnings taken from customer behaviour on the site, it is easy to improve the accuracy of offers across all channels. Messages can be issued in reaction to the behaviour of the customer on the pURL, improving the timing of communications. For example, a message can be issued the day after a customer abandons a wish-list before taking it to check-out offering them an additional discount on the products they almost purchased.

These findings highlight that direct mail and the web increasingly depend on each other, allowing marketers to use the most up-to-date online information on the consumer combined with rich offline datasets to create targeted campaigns via any channel. These practices yield a treasure trove of data to constantly refine and improve the cross-channel direct marketing process.

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