As we find our way through this unprecedented COVID-19 situation, things will evolve in both predictable and unpredictable ways. Right now, one thing is for sure… something is true that has never been so in our lifetimes, and likely will never be true again. That is the combination of consumer audiences spending most of their time at home, and that mail volume is extremely low.
Why is mail volume so low?
As soon as companies realized the lack of control and unknown level of impact the pandemic presented them, spending tightened dramatically. This is a prudent and appropriately fear-based reaction. But, like all crises, danger is not the only factor at play. There is inevitable opportunity. The largest opportunity far and away for many marketers right now is the aforementioned combination. Let’s explore this.
Visibility like no other time
How much mail have you received in the last couple months? Where have you spent almost all your time? How have you felt receiving a piece of mail with something engaging on it? I received a single retail direct mail piece in the last month, from Peridot for outdoor furniture. And I was giddy. During this time, we long for human connection, leisure, and the outside world. The well-done piece reminded me what that’s like, and that this isolation is temporary.
Even before COVID-19, the ANA’s latest Direct Marketing and Analytics Response Rate Report shows direct mail has a 9% response rate to house lists, compared to 1% each for social media, email, and paid search.¹ Further, to get the most out of your current marketing dollar, consider that when direct mail is used in combination with digital channels it elicits 39% more time spent with campaign elements than the digital channel alone.²
Key considerations for success
There are a few key areas you need to address to ensure your best outcome in taking advantage of direct mail’s open playing field. These things are controllable, and your competitors will catch on to that very soon. Address these now and emerge a victor.
We’ll be sharing more on properly messaging direct marketing efforts during this unique time in an upcoming article. For now, you’ll get 90% of the way there with these two points.
- Run all communications through a “COVID filter”. Be sensitive to what your specific audience may be experiencing and feeling. Don’t overthink it; put your team’s heads together and use common sense.
- Your message should communicate your value proposition unique to this time. Show how you are essential to them now.
Focus on Customer Retention
With marketing budgets limited, it is a crucial time to remember that gaining new customers is more expensive than maintaining current ones. When asked what marketers should be doing right now to hit their goals during COVID-19, CEO of DemandGen David Lewis advises,
The best way to ensure revenue stability during this period is to focus on reducing attrition and drive revenue growth within your installed base.
Plus, as this situation has caused priorities and perspectives to shift, there’s an opportunity to connect with your customers in ways that will help cement their loyalty to you.
As states begin to re-open, it will be more important to work with partners and vendors who can grow your initiatives from one or a few regions to more and more.
For direct mail, that means working with a partner that has multiple press types and a broad range of capabilities. In addition, a partner that is singularly focused on direct marketing translates to flexibility and scalability.
For illustration, at SG360°, as a client needs to scale up, we are able to move their program across our press platforms as needed. Plus, as a G7® Master Qualified printer, the outcome is consistent as we do this. We can grow a program from 10,000 pieces into millions seamlessly, as needed. The other benefit is redundancy. Needs will change rapidly as new regions open, and possibly as others revert back. There will be many anticipated and unanticipated moving parts, and your messaging will likely need to evolve. Find a provider that has the flexibility across printing platforms to ensure redundancy and flexibility. At SG360°, that combined with our tenured and deeply knowledgeable production team is a powerful combination that enables us to minimize delays even when things change at the last minute.
Watch for our upcoming article on messaging and targeting during this unique time, including additional guidance on direct marketing for customer retention and acquisition. Additionally, we’ll be publishing next on how to put your direct marketing toe back in the water as regions partially and fully re-open.
If you’d like to discuss with our team what a direct mail program could look like during this time, contact us.
¹Demand Metric Research Corporation. (2018). ANA DMA Response Rate Report: Performance and Cost Metrics Across Direct Media (p. 14).
²Canada Post. (2015). A Bias for Action: The Neuroscience Behind the Response-Driving Power of Direct Mail. Retrieved from https://www.canadapost.ca/assets/pdf/blogs/CPC_Neuroscience_EN_150717.pdf.