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The power of paper

How paper is still a dominant channel in an omnichannel world

Trend watchers have been predicting the disappearance of print media for decades and have declared that all printed material is “dead”. One thing we can say is that they were/are wrong and that statements like “print is dead” are exaggerated and don’t reveal the full potential of the medium. Let’s face it, impersonal messaging has declined enormously, be it print, email or any other kind of impersonal medium.

So we can argue that irrelevant media are dead, whatever channel you use.

How can you use smart printing solutions in an e- and m-commerce world?

Conversion rates in the digital world are a fraction of those of direct mail. Sometimes even a 1 to 10 comparison (most digital conversion rates are below 1%). So this means that transferring your marketing euros to a digital world in full or only investing in digital channels may not be the right strategy. This could mean that you lose out on important leads or sales.

The impact on the audience is therefore greater in print compared to digital channels. It should be noted, however, that some products and target audiences, or even stages in life, only require a digital push to get you buying or interested. Think of airline or cinema tickets. Convenience plays an important role here as the ease of booking outperforms any traditional way. So look at the results for each audience type and you’ll probably discover different trends.

Metrics in Belgium (from the Letterbox Consumer Survey) show that even the keenest e-commerce or social media fans still convert better when they receive direct mail. Think about the impact of a letter too. That one letter in an otherwise empty letterbox gets the full attention of more than 80% of all Belgian consumers every day. Even youngsters show similar results.

So what are some of the best practices?

  • Demographic profiling: use personalised and targeted direct mail to promote products and services with a higher margin and a higher spend per lead.
  • Loyalty: it costs less to keep your loyal customers than to acquire a new target audience. Direct mail can help to create more loyal buyers as the impact is higher.
  • Long-lasting impact: create direct mail pieces that are kept all year or that are shared with others. As the holiday season approaches, where do you think your “best wishes” will come to rest? On the mantelpiece along with the other cards on display for all family members and friends to see. If you target families with children, think about fun concepts that the little ones can play with afterwards.
  • Relevance is key: the more relevant, the better people will convert. If you have budget restraints, this means slightly lowering the amount of items sent and increasing relevance through personalisation. This can lead to a higher revenue.
  • Go real-time: move from static and bulk campaigns to programmatic marketing and automate even your direct mailing campaigns. This means connecting your printing company to your CRM/ERP environment and opting for trigger-based campaigns combined with real-time profiling of your audience. This also means that you won’t have just 1 version of the campaign, but maybe 100,000 versions. Talk to your e-marketing expert to find out how they (should) have been working for years. And I hope that those guys/girls are also in the same team and not a separate division ?
  • Test, test, test: every campaign should have an innovative side. Something new to test out. Be it a different format, new timing, a different way of personalising etc.
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