The new direct marketing - mixing offline with digital is the future

07.11.10 03:24 PM By S.Swaminathan

The world of direct marketing is undergoing a sea change where there is a marriage of new digital marketing tools & methods to the old world direct marketing principles & vehicles.

In fact, almost a decade back, I had coined a term "Hybrid marketing" as the future of marketing - the convergence of online and offline techniques. I am glad to see it come of age. The internet, mobile &  direct mail needs to converge and work together to drive better ROI for brand marketers. 

Peppers& Rogers has interesting article on the same. There are some interesting points and applications that has been brought out in this article:

Now, thanks to an emerging technology called QR Codes, or Quick Response Codes, direct mail can go immediately from print to interactive. A consumer with a QR Code reader on his smartphone can quickly scan this two-dimensional barcode on a direct mail piece and be immediately taken to online content without having to type in a Web address. In this way, QR Codes turn that printed direct mail piece into an interactive mobile response, transforming static messages into hyperlinks to just about anything online.

We know the positive statistics on the power of personalization, and now the Web itself can be personalized. A personalized URL (PURL) provides a Web address for an individual so that the content at the address can be unique for that visitor. When a direct mail recipient logs on to a PURL, information from the marketer's database can be used to tailor the Web experience for that person. Additionally, the website can track the respondent's activity and modify what is offered based on the consumer's actions. That interaction can also be very useful in making future print and online communications.

A QR code can link a smartphone user to a PURL, allowing a business to create unique QR codes linking to PURLs for everyone on its direct mail list. Once on a PURL microsite, a visitor may be invited to sign up for monthly newsletters, view an embedded video, or request a mailed fulfillment package. And the good news is that all of this online interaction can be measured for campaign ROI.

Email and SMS mobile text messaging can also be integrated into a multitouch marketing campaign. For example, a consumer receives a direct mail piece that contains a QR Code. She scans the code with her smartphone and is immediately linked to a personalized website. Then, shortly after that, she receives an email or SMS text response thanking her for visiting the site. Based on what information she chose to share, she may receive an additional direct mail piece, text, or social media notification as a follow up. Thanks to postal delivery alerts, it's even possible to spark curiosity and anticipation in a consumer by notifying them via email or mobile that a personalized package will soon arrive in the mail.

The fact really is that traditional direct marketers have to adopt these techniques by using them effectively in their marketing campaigns. The digital marketers have to get adept in using the direct marketing principles by seamlessly converging these new tools & techniques to the offline  marketing techniques.

Only  when this is done,will brand marketers see the benefits of " true" response, engagement and conversions.The reality of customer engagement, growing customer relationships and increased customer conversions will become visible.

I don't see too many direct marketers and digital marketers having the skills and competency in using these "ambidextourous" techniques of both the worlds. The faster they learn & adopt them, the faster they will be able to demonstrate the ROI in their marketing campaigns.

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