Direct mail is a cornerstone of omnichannel marketing experiences for B2C companies.
Imagine this: you’re using a retailer’s app to shop online for a new jacket. You find some styles you like and add them to your cart. Later, you’re out getting dinner and you notice the same retailer’s storefront across the street. You pop in and your phone buzzes. You have a notification about the jackets in your cart: some of the styles are in stock in the store, ready to buy. You buy one, and the jacket is part of a specific collection: you’ve bought a lot of pieces from that collection.
In a few weeks, a catalog arrives at your home. It’s filled with sneak-peeks of a new collection that is perfectly tailored to your tastes and a 10% off coupon you can use online or in-store.
This is top-shelf omnichannel marketing in action with a powerful direct mail component that turns customer experience into repeat revenue. You can flex your omnichannel muscles with intelligent dimensional mail, and this guide will show you how. But first, let’s clear the air on what exactly omnichannel means.
Omnichannel Marketing Defined
Omnichannel marketing is an ideology, not a strategy. The word marketing is misleading because a true omnichannel marketing experience isn’t just a way to get messages in front of customers: it is a whole new way to do business.
It has become a buzzword, currently spreading from B2C into B2B organizations, but omnichannel experiences are not a new idea. In fact, the concept has been used in some industries (like luxury retail) for decades. As digital marketing becomes ubiquitous, so too have tools that block digital channels. Customers have earned a powerful seat at the table, controlling how and when they’re reached by marketing. When they are reached, they demand a concierge experience that must be at least as good as the last great experience they’ve had.
Omnichannel Marketing vs Multichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing is not multichannel marketing, though there is overlap between the two concepts.
Multichannel marketing describes the delivery mechanism. Omnichannel marketing refers to the strategy of creating seamless, consistent experiences across every channel.
You can email customers, send them direct mail, ping them with retargeting ads and lure them in with clever content and still not have an omnichannel experience. Why? Omnichannel marketing is about the consistency of messaging. Your brand must be on point regardless of channel. Your value props, ethics, and mission can never stray.
If you’re using social media, email and retargeting ads to reach customers, you’re already doing multi-channel marketing. If you’re delivering a conflicting experience on each channel, you’re not ‘doing omnichannel marketing’.
Omnichannel Experience is Important
Omnichannel marketing is important because it drives customer spend on every channel.
The Harvard Business Review reports retail customers experiencing omnichannel marketing:
- Spend 4% more every time they go shopping.
- Spend 9% more when shopping in-store.
- Spend 10% more when shopping online.
- Are more loyal, with a 23% uptick in repeat purchases.
These customers are being guided through omnichannel touch points in a way that feels organic to them. That delivers an engaging customer experience and as a marketer, you gain a wealth of rich behavioral data that streamline the effectiveness of your channels.
Here are the biggest challenges facing brands that want to dive into omnichannel experiences.
- You must know what your brand stands for. If you don’t really understand your market position, value prop, and trajectory, you can’t move forward.
- You must create an experience, not just a campaign. This means tapping logistics, operations, finance and customer service (just to name a few).
- You need to understand how your customers want to use your different marketing channels, even if they can’t right now.
How to Build an Omnichannel Experience
Building an omnichannel experience is no small task. It requires alignment across your organization and a clear focus on tasks and duties in a variety of cross-functional teams. Here are the big concepts that will help you form your strategy.
1: Choose Your Goals
What do you want to achieve from building an omnichannel experience? How will creating a seamless experience across devices, channels and business segments (such as customer service and marketing) really impact your business? As always, start with realistic goals and grow them as you see more success with omnichannel marketing.
- Increase in returning customers.
- Increase in average order size.
- Happier customers/ stronger brand loyalty.
2: Identify Target Cohorts
Identify customer cohorts that will be light, medium and heavy users of your omnichannel experience. For example, younger customers may be more willing to purchase online but will be less responsive to email marketing. Affluent customers may be more interested in a VIP rewards program, etc. Think about how your customers will use your omnichannel experience and use that to map the touch points where they interact with your brand.
- Use demographic data as a starting point.
- Find out where and how you can capture better customer data.
- Create customer personas and stick to them.
3: Map Touch Points
Map customer touch points with your brand. Each one of these touch points is a critical opportunity to message your values, brand and foster engagement. What channels do you support? Which devices? What channels do your competitors support? Are there touch points that are losing? If so, figure out why.
- Where are your customers engaging? Where are they abandoning you?
- How many touches do they have before a conversion?
- Should you reduce or increase your touch points?
- Are competitors targeting customers at a particular touchpoint?
4: Have a Mobile Strategy
How do you reach your customers across devices and in the physical world? If you don’t have a mobile-friendly experience that reaches across phones, tablets, and laptops, you must make that a priority. That is table stakes in our mobile world.
- Which types of customers use different mobile devices?
- What do you want customers to accomplish on different mobile devices?
- What channels are best on different devices?
- How will mobile actions, data and messaging remain consistent across other experiences?
5: Plan Your Pre-Conversion Touch Points
Touchpoints that happen before conversion are great opportunities for messaging value, branding and delivering a VIP experience. Here are some examples:
- Send a few useful emails to customers as they engage with different milestones in your app.
- Create intelligent suggestions for content to navigate customers through the funnel.
- Deliver messages via direct mail to return focus to your digital channels.
- Compliment digital retargeting with personalized tactile marketing, such as offers and catalogs tailored to specific customer interests.
Map out these touch points, which messages will be included at each touch and use data to predict where and when your customers will convert. Once they do, your messaging, voice and approach should change.
6: Plan Your Post Conversion Touch Points
Post-conversion touch points should continue to reinforce your brand messaging, but now the focus is on customer service and experience.
This is the hard part!
Here are some examples of how to win with post-conversion touch points.
- Welcome a new customer with a welcome kit, tips for using your product or service or just a thank-you email.
- Send digital and direct mail that is personalized to the customer’s experience, suggesting the right content or next purchase for them.
- Sync all of your customer interactions into a CRM or database and use that to make service calls faster and more efficient.
- Empower employees across your organization to directly address customer needs.
Across all touch points, remember that your customer is comparing you to the last best omnichannel experience they’ve had. Regardless of the industry. Focus on reducing friction between touch points. There shouldn’t be stuck-points in your funnel
Direct Mail + Omnichannel Marketing
Direct and dimensional mail remains a healthy channel in most B2C companies’ marketing mix, but the channel has changed significantly, allowing it to truly become part of the omnichannel experience. Modern direct mail is not working in the blind, it uses customer behavioral and demographic data much like a familiar digital channel. In the example above, a catalog is personalized based on past purchases.
Intelligent direct mail isn’t working in a vacuum; as direct mail is sent, delivered and earns responses, that data is added back to customer data. This adds visibility to a previously opaque channel and completes the 360-degree view of your customer.
How to Add Direct Mail to Your Omnichannel Experience
Direct mail cannot replace a digital channel and it shouldn’t. Direct mail boosts response rates for email marketing, content marketing and is a powerful driver of lifetime value and repeat purchases. Here are some effective ways to layer intelligent direct mail into your omnichannel experience.
Direct Mail Retargeting
Banner ads not working? Try hitting the mailbox. Find touch points where customers are abandoning your funnel. Reach out to them with direct mail that drives them back to your digital platforms.
- Customers with abandoned shopping carts are sent postcards with a discount or offer that directly references their abandoned items.
- Customers that sign up for email marketing but never engage can be sent an offer to spur in-store or online purchases.
- Customers that evangelize your social media accounts can be rewarded with a discount that references their brand loyalty.
Direct Mail Drives Online and Offline Action
Find touch points where customers are failing to engage digitally. Use direct mail to deliver calls to action that lead back to your digital properties.
- Target customers that haven’t created online accounts to do so.
- Remind offline-only customers of your online offers and properties.
- Drive online customers to local events and community building projects by sending tickets to their door.
Use Direct Mail to Welcome New Customers
Your first post-conversion touch points should include a welcome kit. Sending a physical item to your customers solidifies your partnership and builds a powerful human connection.
- Include personalized documents and onboarding paperwork for your customer.
- Give your customer a guiding hand to getting the most out of your product or service.
- Welcome your customer to your brand with actual gifts, and leverage this goodwill to urge them to complete missing account data.
Reinforce Brand Values with Direct Mail
For many brands, connecting brand values to customer lifestyles is a high-level goal. Direct mail makes it possible to deliver important messages in a channel that resonates.
- Use your seasonal catalog to deliver relevant brand values.
- Weave lifestyle messaging into direct mail creative.
- Build direct campaigns that reflect your brand mission, focusing on awareness and demand generation.
Omnichannel marketing is a philosophy, not a campaign. It enshrines the customer experience as the only thing worth focusing on and requires alignment from every corner of your business. Developing an omnichannel experience for your company will not be easy, but you can start small by growing a robust multichannel marketing program. Adding a tactile marketing channel to your mix allows you to bring your consistent message and dedication to customer experience into the offline world.
We hope these best practices and examples inspire you to leverage intelligent direct mail into your omnichannel experience.
Want more information on leveraging intelligent tactile marketing? Check out these related resources.