In this day and age, one could say "Green is the new Black." More than ever, consumers are engaged in environmentally sound practices. And companies can easily leverage this "Green" trend to not only show their customers their concern with the global environment but also reduce the continually increasing cost of the direct mail process.
There will always be a place for direct mail. However, if you look closely at the type and frequency of your printed pieces that you are sending, organizations can easily identify those items that would be a good fit in the email realm.
Many large travel, banking, and other service providers were the first to jump on the email bandwagon for regularly scheduled statements, newsletters, and other already-existing direct mail advertisements.
Properly executed, consumers find many advantages in receiving these types of communications via email.
Advantages for Consumers
- Review, retrieve, and save electronic pieces for easy reference and reduced clutter.
- Immediately respond to offers or call-to-actions with clicks, not postage.
- Share information electronically by forwarding to a friend.
Advantages for Advertisers
- Reduce cost associated with direct mail pieces.
- Shorten the amount of time and reduce the resources needed from "concept to distribution."
- Customize electronic pieces with more personalized content to increase relevancy for each recipient.
- Decrease the amount of time to provide customers with information that they have requested by using "triggered" or "recurring" messages to send electronic collateral or links.
- Track success of email campaigns through electronic reporting within minutes/hours, not days/weeks.
- Collect other customer information that can be used to tailor unique and customized campaigns based on subscription-collection pages as well as by tracking user activity via visited links.
Identifying the Opportunities and Making the Move
But moving direct mail pieces to an electronic format doesn't happen overnight. Also, not all direct mail pieces are a perfect fit for the email world.
Email-design constraints, along with best practices, need to be fully fleshed out to ensure that you are providing a message that is visually pleasing and relevant, and renders properly in the email inbox.
Steps and Considerations for Print-to-Email Shift
One of the biggest obstacles when moving from a printed direct mail piece to email is not having an email address, or having an email address that is not opted-in to receive your messages.
Direct mail itself has an integral role in converting direct mail customers to email customers:
- Include a subscription link/address for individuals who are receiving printed pieces via your direct mail campaigns.
- Provide a review of the benefits of "Going Green" as it relates to the environment, direct costs back to the consumer, as well as other perceived advantages for your customer.
- If you plan to phase out a particular printed piece, be sure to clearly call out any dates that the customer will need to "enroll by" to ensure that they don't miss future communications.
- Offer incentive for the customer to start receiving your message electronically: a discount on a future purchase, points or miles in a loyalty program, enhanced area for VIP access within your Web site, early announcement of discounts, or special or unique offers tailored exclusively for you email-recipient customers.
- If enrollment incentives are non-transferable (unique to those whom you are specifically collecting email addresses for), create your registration page to require your customer to provide his/her "Customer ID" or "Membership ID." Additional database work on your end is needed to ensure that those you have intended to receive the offer are the ones who qualify.
- Collect email information the correct way: Use two email fields that require the customer to enter his/her email address, and verify that both fields entered match. Use a double-opt-in email communication plan that will generate a message confirming the email subscription selections to further ensure a correct email address.
- Ensure that your Web site has an "Sign Up Today" link on every page to capture new customers
- If you require a "Customer ID" or other type of "Membership ID" to access your Web site, create reminders that ask for their email and subscription authorization.
- Promote your "Green Initiative" on your Web site as well as your current printed direct mail materials.
Taking the steps today to create a road map to a "greener" marketing program can result in significant cost savings in the direct mail channel; doing so will also show your customers that you are a responsible marketer, playing in an ever-growing field with businesses that are trying to make the world just a little better.
The ability to track ROI and campaign success with email can also help drive sales and provide for a more unique and customized user experience that will help strengthen your brand.
by Chris Lovejoy