The Past, The Present & The Future of Direct Mail

Over the past few years we have seen great advances in technology that have opened doors to new advances in Direct Mail, with that in mind, Let’s take a look at the Past, The Present & The Future of Direct Mail.

Past

  • In the beginning, most companies would send the same piece of Direct Mail to everyone: There was no personalisation, no rotating offer, and no target audience, just a vast list of people to send your message to. This was known as “spray and pray.” The thought was that everyone would need your product; so let’s tell them all.
  • A real change came when the post office created Postcodes. This allowed marketers to communicate more directly to a smaller audience. For instance, if you needed to limit mailing to a defined geographic area, you could now do so with ease.
  • Modern technology came along in the early 1980’s that allowed marketers to create relational databases to more finely target individuals – You could now increase your response by sending relevant offers to the right people.

Present

  • Today we are using Direct Mail with QR Codes and PURLs. Some of us are doing this correctly, using mobile landing pages with targeted and relevant information, but too often the scan of the QR code just takes you to a website. This is a challenge for all of us as marketers, because when a user has a bad experience, they are less likely to scan a code in the future.
  • Mobile marketing is growing in popularity. Marketers are currently using mobile in many different types of campaigns. Mobile can work alongside Direct Mail with QR Codes, augmented reality (AR), SMS and MMS. People are constantly on their phones. They like to interact that way, so when you incorporate mobile into your Direct Mail campaign you can increase awareness and drive response.

Future

  • We can bring Direct Mail to life! Augmented reality has massive potential to bring real-time value to a standard Direct Mail piece such as a postcard. You can scan an image on the card and link that to a video, 3D graphics or whatever your imagination can dream up. The best part is that the linked material is interchangeable—you can constantly change what is seen when the piece is scanned so it remains relevant and interesting for much longer than standard pieces.
  • Near field communication (NFC) chips will drive customer engagement as well. You can transfer information to their phones just by being close to them. Imagine what you can provide to prospects and customers automatically. Smartphone’s in the very near future will be taking over the need for personal PC’s. Reaching people on their phones will be essential for marketers.
  • With Direct Mail driving the initial engagement, the recipient will have the ability to seamlessly link to all marketing channels. This will continue to allow marketers ease of coordination and increased ability to accurately track ROI. The physical link with the digital world will drive the future of marketing.
  • Further to the development of the NFC chips, we are very much looking forward to the day that the technology is, one way or another, implemented in with your everyday doormat… Lets say that a piece of mail you receive through your door contains an NFC tag, lets also say that your “everyday” doormat contained a inbuilt LED screen. Can you imagine seeing your doormat come to life the moment a businesses mail shot falls through your door. This will not only enable marketers to extend the amount of time a prospect is viewing their product or service, it will also add a whole new dimension to the way that the “general public” see Direct Mail.
  • Believe it or not, this form of thinking can be taken even further. The idea of the NFC chip doesn’t have to remain within the letter itself, it can be placed within an everyday object that is carried around by your customers, be it a pen, a keying, a bracelet, etc – again sent via Direct Mail. Imagine walking past a bus stop that housed an digital advertising board capable of detecting NFC chips, now imagine that advertising board bursting into life & displaying the brand or product you’re interested in, the chances are you will take notice and no doubt be more than impressed.

The versatility of Direct Mail over the years, combined with modern technology, proves that it will remain a relevant marketing channel well into the future. While based on printed sheets of paper, Direct Mail marketing is combining technology to bring about the future integration of offline and online marketing.

The future Direct Mail pieces will inspire action with more than printed words. The limits of that inspiration are fuelled solely by the imagination. If you can think it, the future can create it! There are exciting times ahead for direct mail; we at Central Mailing Services are looking forward to all kinds of possibilities.

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