Direct Mail Isn’t Dead — It’s Evolved

December 13, 2021 by Theresa Nguyen

Who said that direct mail was dead? Though consumers have flooded to digital channels since the onset of the pandemic, with 55% now having a higher expectation of their customer experience, traditional methods shouldn’t be cast aside. On the other hand, sending printed mail without adapting to consumer demands may leave recipients disengaged and less likely to act. So, where does that leave marketers? How can businesses create a balance between traditional and digital credit marketing?

Before diving into that discussion, it’s important to note that direct mail is still effective and when done right, can help businesses win the hearts and wallets of today’s consumers. According to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Certified Direct Mail Professional (CDMP) program, 79% of households say they read their daily mail, while 70% of recipients are curious to find out what’s in their mailbox. So, how can credit card marketers capitalize on these trends to generate higher response rates and returns from their direct mail campaigns?

It’s simple – businesses must weave interactive elements and technology into their direct mail pieces to make them more effective and engaging. Here’s how credit card issuers are leveraging technology to level up their direct mail campaigns:

  1. QR codes

QR codes, which allow consumers to read restaurant menus and make touchless payments with their mobile devices, have become a global sensation, with the number of interactions having grown 94% between 2018-2020. More recently, credit card marketers have included interactive QR codes into their direct mail pieces, allowing recipients to learn more about the offer, download their mobile app or quickly apply for a credit card. A few brands took it a step further by matching their QR codes with the colors of their logos to add more brand recognition and personalization.

  1. Voice Activated Call to Action (VACTA)

According to Mintel, over 25% of U.S. adults own at least one smart speaker. To capitalize on this trend, many credit card issuers have included a Voice Activated Call to Action (VACTA) in their direct mail pieces. A VACTA allows recipients to respond to direct mail offers verbally by using their Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device. Instead of reaching for their smartphones or laptops, consumers can call out to their smart speaker with the offer code. This low-effort, hands-free method is a quick and convenient way for consumers to engage with businesses as it enables them to respond to offers even when they are performing other tasks. Once their smart speaker receives the code, a link is then sent to the consumer’s phone so that they can examine the offer at any time. Giving consumers more flexibility enhances their experience and increases the chances of them responding to future offers.

Additionally, including a VACTA in direct mail pieces allows marketers to manage, track and optimize their marketing campaigns in real-time. Because VACTAs make offers immediately redeemable, businesses can easily measure the performance and effectiveness of each direct mail piece.

  1. Informed Delivery emails

What better way to build anticipation and excitement for direct mail offers than to give consumers a sneak peek of what’s to come? USPS’s Informed Delivery is a service that allows consumers to digitally preview their direct mail before it arrives in their physical mailbox. Until the physical mail piece is delivered, consumers can look at what the mailing might reveal or offer to them through email, an online dashboard or a mobile app. The best part? Informed Delivery emails meet today’s consumer expectations for convenient digital experiences as they are available to view them anytime, anywhere.

Currently, one in five households has an Informed Delivery participant. What’s more, the average open rate for an Informed Delivery email is nearly 70%. By incorporating Informed Delivery into direct mail campaigns, businesses can generate additional impressions, improve customer engagement and drive more conversions.

Doing direct mail, the right way

Direct mail isn’t outdated, antique or ineffective – it has evolved and adapted to meet the expectations of today’s consumers. The use of QR codes, VACTA and USPS Informed Delivery, are just a few examples of how credit card marketers are leveraging digital enhancements to improve the success of their direct mail campaigns.

While it’s clear that direct mail is still an effective way to reach consumers, businesses should not overlook the power of digital marketing. Expectations for seamless and connected digital experiences are higher than ever, making it crucial for businesses to develop strong digital marketing strategies. By engaging with consumers in the way that works best for them, with the right messages at the right time, you can drive more opportunities, reduce costs and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

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