Direct Mail + Targeted Ads

This is the third part of a 5-part series on combining digital and print marketing. If you missed the first post, you can catch up here. You can find the second post here. You can also get these posts sent right to your inbox, if that’s more your style.

Romeo & Juliet would have been a very different story if the Montagues and Capulets had realized they didn’t have to be enemies.

Can you imagine those two star-crossed lovers as a cute old couple sharing frozen yogurt and complaining about how their grandkids spend too much time sending carrier pigeons to their friends? Adorable.

Ok, so maybe that conflict was good for Mr. Shakespeare’s story, but it’s not good for your marketing.

Digital marketing is great and targeted ads are a really efficient way to get your message in front of a very specific crowd. But just because targeted ads are good doesn’t mean that direct mail is bad. These two don’t have to be rivals and no one has to take poison.

This post will show you how to use both targeted ads and direct mail to generate results that read like poetry.

How To Combine Direct Mail and Targeted Ads

First, let’s get some baseline definitions to work with.

Direct Mail: A marketing method in which carefully targeted prospects (chosen on the basis of age, income, location, profession, buying pattern, etc.) are presented with custom-tailored offers for goods or services via ordinary mail or email. Marketing firms usually “rent” lists of prospects from mailing list compiling firms who maintain a large inventory of names and addresses of prospects, divided into hundreds of categories and subcategories. – BusinessDictionary

Targeted Ads: A form of advertising where online advertisers can use sophisticated methods to target the most receptive audiences with certain traits, based on the product or person the advertiser is promoting. – Wikipedia

Each have things they’re really good at and some things that they aren’t so suited for. Knowing the difference is crucial for any marketer who doesn’t like wasting money.

Direct Mail – Pros

  • Highly targeted
  • Heightened sensory appeal (tactile, physical)
  • People absorb info 21% faster when it’s printed
  • Longer attention spans (online users experience more distractions)
  • More opportunity to deliver a larger, more complex message
  • Higher comprehension and better recall than digital ads
  • Greater emotional reactions than digital ads
  • More ventral striatum stimulation (area of the brain associated with desire) than digital media

Direct Mail – Cons

  • Effective direct mail can be expensive to create and produce
  • Long lead times – digital ads can be seen instantly while mail takes days to get to recipients
  • Environmental impact
  • Acting on impulse takes longer than on a digital ad
  • Response rates are typically low (below 3.7%)

Targeted Ads – Pros

  • Instant access
  • Ability to convert desire to a sale in seconds
  • Highly customizable
  • Powerful personalization options
  • Ability to use video for highly attention-grabbing ads
  • Low cost
  • Low risk
  • Trackable – you can gather tons of info on every person who clicks your ad
  • Optimizable – improve your ad’s performance during it’s run based on data

Targeted Ads – Cons

  • Very low attention spans
  • Ads shown to people who have already made their purchase and are out of the market
  • Too targeted can feel creepy (How do they know that about me?!)
  • Taking advantage of the ability to personalize drives costs higher
  • People sharing computers or devices can lead to faulty targeting (husband seeing ads for shoes his wife searched for)

How can targeted digital ads and direct mail benefit each other?

When your marketing mix lacks balance, you end up relying on a tactic to do something it’s not good at. Top-of-the-funnel Facebook ads for a product that requires a long explanation aren’t going to work. Instead, send a direct mail first that introduces your brand and breaks down your value prop and proves it through eye-popping stats. Then make that targeted ad look just like your mailer and continue the conversation.

You can also leverage the data collected for your physical mailing list when you sit down to target your digital ads. That mailing list you bought with all those demographics doesn’t stop being applicable once the image becomes pixels.

Did your mailer do well? Replicate the creative and targeting online. And vice versa. If you run an ad on Instagram that gets a ton of clicks, use that as the cover panel of a direct mailer where you can expand on the concept. When art and copy click, it’s a powerful thing. Don’t just run it once and shelve it.



Practical Takeaways: Direct Mail Tips

Get specific: A broad message that tries to appeal to everyone is like trying to hammer in a nail sideways. Find your point and put your weight behind it. To do this, you need to first segment your audience so you can address each buyer persona’s needs and pain points specifically. Then segment by where they are in their buyer’s journey. If you just added them to your CRM, you may have better luck pushing for a call with a sales rep than going right for the sale. If they’ve already had a call with a rep, your mailer needs to recap all the reasons they need to pull the trigger.

Consider the size and shape: If you need to deliver a significant message, don’t try to squeeze it all on a postcard. Your message needs room to breathe. Look at how much better this is than this. Talk to your printer. If they’re any good at all, they’ll be willing and able to give you great advice on how to best get your message across.

Nail the cover: Nothing else matters on your mailer if the recipient doesn’t get past the cover. It is crucial to find a captivating image and a bold headline that commands attention.

Use bullets: Bulleted lists make for easy reading, and that’s exactly what you need. Replace a big block of text with bulleted lists every chance you get.

Your CTA makes the money: A CTA, or call to action, is what pays the bills. It’s what gets the recipient to act. It should be “you” focused, rather than “I”, “me”, or “we.” First make sure you’re asking something that makes sense for who is looking at it. Go back to your targeting and think about this person – what motivates them, what pain or aggravation can you help them alleviate, what reward can you offer? Then make it as easy as humanly possible to act. Don’t ask them to do anything complicated or more than one step.

Practical Takeaways: Targeted Ad Tips

Master Facebook and Google’s ad platforms first: Sure, there are great opportunities on YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and others – but Facebook and Google are dominating the ad game for good reason. They work better. Their targeting allows you to get your message in front of exactly the right people at the right time. Learn how to use those two ad platforms effectively and you may find even your most optimistic growth objectives within reach.

Consider the Lead Ad: Speaking of Facebook’s ad platform, they have a new(ish) ad type that is worth reading about: The Lead Ad. They let you turn a stranger into a lead with a single ad, without even making the user leave Facebook. This all may seem minor. It’s not. You can turn strangers into leads with one touch. That’s big. Learn about it, master it, and start adding new leads like crazy.

Target only people who haven’t been to your website: One downside to well-targeted ads is that you risk spending time and money preaching to the choir, so to speak. People that have recently purchased your product aren’t going to buy again this soon. Facebook lets you skip anyone who has recently been to your site. But you have to install Facebook Pixel first.

Create a lookalike audience: Facebook lets you reach people who have the same or similar behavior and interests as your current fans. It’s a perfect way to expand your reach without much hassle, so get after it.

Google Adwords is worth your time: If you have a good site but no traffic, Google Adwords is a powerful tool you need to get familiar with. Here’s the Google Adwords Youtube channel. It’s like Hogwarts for digital marketing. Accio, web traffic!

This probably feels like a lot to learn. But if you can just get a basic understanding of Facebook and Google’s ad platforms, you can get your ads in front of a lot of people for a great cost. Then, commit to getting a little better every week. As far as time investments go, the ROI here is really hard to beat.

Next up in our series: Email Marketing + Direct Mail: The Marketing Alley-Oop

We’ll cover why it’s crucial that these match, how to ensure that they do, and what makes digital and print branding good.