Using direct mail to break through the digital marketing clutter

Institutions are pushing retail and small business customers toward online marketing, making digital channels more cluttered than ever. With many people at least somewhat homebound for the foreseeable future, direct mail offers financial institutions an alternative that may be effective, especially within a multichannel approach to engage current customers and attract new ones.

Here are three ways to ensure your direct mail works as well as it can:

Use direct mail to enhance digital performance: In a recent study by Demand Metric, 80% of marketers surveyed said direct mail improves campaign performance when paired with other channels. Incorporating direct mail into a targeted digital display campaign, for example, ensures an additional touchpoint with prospective and existing customers. The two channels can be timed around each other for an even more holistic effect. Plus, the addition of direct mail increases the likelihood of your brand or offer being noticed.

When targeting existing customers, combinations of direct mail and email often do well — especially since you have customers who already receive emails from you. By adding direct mail to an email campaign, you increase the chance that your message will be seen. Statista reports that only 18% of marketing emails get opened, whereas 90% of direct mail gets opened. When these two channels are combined, however, response rates have been shown to increase by up to 35%.

If banks only use email or digital channels to communicate changes, then they potentially miss an entire audience. This audience is also less likely to be digitally savvy and use online banking services. In this instance, banks can leverage direct mail to inform nondigital customers of any business changes and encourage customers to use online banking channels for greater efficiency.

Take advantage of direct mail’s superior precision: With direct mail in your marketing mix, you’ll be able to reach prospective audiences and initiate new relationships in a more targeted way than with strictly digital campaigns. If you know who your target audience is — as defined by demographic and behavioral data — you could rent or purchase a list of names and addresses of people who meet your target criteria.

To take things one step further, you can tighten your digital targeting by securely matching home IP addresses to your mail list. This ensures you’re serving ads to the most qualified targets. Digital display can then be timed to coincide with the in-home mail dates.

In our experience, the most effective approach is launching targeted display ads about five days before the estimated in-home delivery and then continuing the advertisements for 10 days past that point. The idea here is to prime your audience with an online ad, deliver more information via mail and then reinforce your message with additional digital touches. In tested campaigns, we’ve seen sales increases of 11 percent to 44 percent when these two channels are paired.

Personalize and test behavioral triggers: Personalization is expected in today’s environment, whether you’re a consumer or a small business. Through dynamic and variable printing capabilities, direct mail can be personalized to include recommendations around products and offers, mentions of prior interactions or even references to specific industries.

When cross-selling or upselling existing personal banking customers, banks can personalize by referencing existing account relationships to make a recommendation around the next best product. Whether looking to cross-sell or acquire new customers, banks can take a multichannel approach and leverage website activity to trigger personalized direct mail tailored to site visitors’ search behavior.

Lending is another great use of personalization in direct mail. For example, credit scores may help drive the loan limits or rates you offer. When targeting small business prospects, banks can personalize direct mail beyond the customer’s name to reference industry or include images that may more closely align with the target. If you know you’re targeting tech companies, for instance, you can select imagery and use copy that resonates with that industry.

There’s a reason why 70% of financial services companies use direct mail during good times: It consistently engages and converts when used in tandem with digital methods. But in times of uncertainty, direct mail may be even more useful. Increased digital clutter and CMO accountability are legitimate problems, while direct mail is a tangible, highly targetable channel that allows you to reach a more qualified clientele while raising your bank’s visibility.

Megan Allinson is integrated marketing director at BKM Marketing.

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