With e-commerce as the backbone of today’s modern retail world there has been an almost meteoric rise of online-only brands. While these companies have found initial success through the economies of selling online, operating as a digital-only brand has introduced its own unique set of business challenges, namely new customer acquisition.
Driven, perhaps, by the (natural) propensity to think digital first, many of these brands have been slow to leverage traditional marketing tools—like direct mail—who have a proven track record for attracting and nurturing new customers.
What follows are three ways in which direct mail helps digital-only brands attract and acquire new customers.
1. Direct Mail Creates A Tangible Brand Connection
Not surprising, because of their existence as an online-only entity, digital-based brands struggle to create the concrete, physical connection customers inherently receive from the traditional, in-store experience.
With its ability to engage all five senses, direct mail has proven an optimal tactic for creating a meaningful, sensory experience that bridges this connection gap. With an unparalleled variety of creative formats, finishes, coatings and effects, direct mail, unlike digital channels, has the ability to bring the physical manifestation of a brand to life.
Take for example, Perigold, an online-only purveyor of high-end furniture.
During their brand launch, they used a direct mail campaign featuring an intricate envelope mailer to physically convey their position as a premium home furnishings brand. The piece featured several refined elements including a custom envelope with a unique interior pattern highlighted through an external die-cut as well as soft-touch paper stock throughout the piece.
By integrating direct mail with their digital marketing activities, Perigold not only succeeded in creating a tangible connection with their intended audience, but successfully differentiated themselves from the sea of home furnishing retailers.
2. Direct Mail Is More Effective At Reaching Consumers
As marketers, we've all seen the numbers – each and every day the average American is exposed to upwards of 10,000 advertisements. Not only does the sheer volume of advertisements hurdled our way make it difficult for brands to break through the clutter, but it leaves more consumers longing for the “good, old days” when we only received too much email.
The sheer volume of content available today and the ease with which it can be published, attribute to the rising instances of ad fraud and “fake news” that have eroded consumers’ trust in digital content. It’s not surprising then that among this digital bombardment and eroding landscape, direct mail is often looked at as a welcomed reprieve.
- 98% of people check their mail every day and 77% sort through it immediately
- 55% say they "look forward" to seeing what mail they receive and
- 67% feel mail is more personal than digital marketing
Also working in direct mail’s favor – its naturally longer shelf life. Due to its physical nature, a single direct mail piece is often viewed multiple times as it tends to be initially inspected, set aside for follow-up and then picked up again. Not to mention, its physical presence means it is often viewed by more than one person in the household, increasing its reach and influence.
3. Direct Mail Is More Efficient At Acquiring New Customers
Recent headlines and studies have brought to the forefront what is, at its core, the scalability problem among digital-only brands – the high cost of new customer acquisition.
After the initial ‘honeymoon’ phase where brands acquire their bulls-eye customers for next to nothing, sustained growth depends on their ability to attract a broader audience – often comprised of consumers who are less loyal and more promotionally driven. As brands start to pump more money into Google, Facebook and the like, the cost to acquire just one of these new customers jumps to $100 or more. This can quickly become a matter of throwing good money after bad as brands struggle to combat decreasing digital marketing performance, increasing data privacy restrictions and the growing usage of ad blockers.
In the face of these challenges, direct mail offers a bright spot. Not only is it more effective at reaching consumers, but:
- It boasts a response rate more than 6 times greater than all digital channels combined and
- Earns an ROI that is on par with social media, and greater than both paid search and online display.
For web-only brands, the key to continued growth lies in their ability to efficiently acquire new customers. To do so means going beyond the natural propensity to focus on digital marketing channels.
While engagement ultimately takes place online, consumers expect brands to interact with them across channels, online and off, an expectation that isn’t limited to brands with brick and mortar locations. With today’s sophisticated data solutions and print production technologies, it’s easier and more cost efficient than ever to integrate direct mail into the digital customer journey.
At SG360°, we couple our versatile print production capabilities with best-in-class customer orchestration tools to execute seamless omnichannel marketing strategies. The result? Communications that reach the customer on the channel they want to be reached at the moment they're ready to take action.