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7 Do’s and Don’ts for Cross-Channel Direct Mail Campaigns

A big theme at the National Postal Forum is the integration of digital methods into traditional direct mail programs to wring maximum results from expensive print programs—made more so by this year’s huge postal rate increase. Right on the money during workshop sessions at the Forum was Rhea Friederichs, solution specialist at the John Roberts Company, who offered a common sense guide to cross-channel campaigning for career direct mailers ready for a little digital diversion. A sampling:

DO create a campaign flow chart that lays out the timing of the various channel components before the effort launches. What are the behavior-based touchpoints and when will interactions there take place? Is fulfillment part of the program and, if so, when and how will it occur?

DON’T leave any stakeholders in your organization out of the cross-channel campaign planning process. Have your project leader call a planning meeting of key players from IT, customer service, sales, and any other unit that will be involved with the campaign. Recipients who visit personalized URLs often think they’ve landed on the main company website, so Web managers, for instance, need to be brought into the process to ensure a relevant and clear customer experience.

 DO, at the outset of the campaign, define primary and secondary goals for projected revenue, customer actions, and data acquisition like email and phone number. While you’re at it, define success for the overall campaign and for each individual channel. “How on earth do you know if you’re successful if you don’t define success?” Friederichs asked. “If your goal was 5% and you hit 15%, there’s going to be excitement at the next stakeholders meeting. That’s especially valuable when things start getting rocky between the silos.”

DON’T use email to send recipients a digital facsimile of the direct mail piece they’ve already received. The average length of consumer interaction with a direct mail piece is 1.7 minutes, Friederichs said. Use digital methods to “add a smile” to your print pieces with personalized appeals that will make recipients want to re-engage.

DO test all your cross-channel campaigns to see what combinations of channels are delivering the best results. The average direct mail response rate of 6.5% can be increased by as much as 35% using refined multi-touchpoint strategies, Friederichs claimed.

DON’T deploy a refer-a-friend campaign—which incentivizes current customers to recruit friends and family via email and social media—when your company is experiencing troubling service issues. “People respond negatively to a request for referrals when they’re having problems with your company,” Friederichs said. Imagine the backlash Target would have faced from customers had it asked them for referrals during its recent customer data breach.

DO gather your cross-channel team when the final reporting is in and review results by channel. Take a close look at metrics for sources of engagement. “If 17% of people hit your landing site via mobile, that’s notable,” Friederich said. “Document the behavior-based results in each channel and disseminate them internally to inform future campaigns. Avoid the one-and-done syndrome.”

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