Digital Print, AR, and Experiential Marketing Evolve Direct Mail
Let’s just call them variable data presentations, says Ron Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs & Clevenger. Jacobs says the clients of his performance marketing agency are so ahead of the times that they’re sending consumers from hyper-personalized digital print direct mail pieces to interactive web experiences.
So said Jacobs to John J. Wall, host of the weekly podcast “Marketing Over Coffee.” During the 24-minute podcast on Nov. 8, titled “Now More Direct With Ron Jacobs,” the two talked about how marketing, advertising, and branding are evolving.
Half of his agency’s business is still direct mail, Jacobs says, but it’s not 1982’s bulk mail. Only one of his clients asks mail recipients to respond via print, and that’s a “live check,” Jacobs says. The rest of the direct mail presents recipients with optichannel response options, from augmented or virtual reality to personalized landing pages, and from call centers to videos. His clients, who tend to use variable data printing, have evolved direct mail beyond what many marketers are still touting as new — digital print that will wrest 21% of the business from analog print options by 2024, according to recent Smithers research. Jacobs highlighted direct mail that sends recipients to AR and VR experiences as becoming more prevalent.
“What we’re really doing now,” Jacobs says, “is trying to get people to go to things that are other than just static, that are much more inclusive, much more interesting, and much more dynamic. So that they become more interested.”
This change is happening even as many marketers are still so behind the times in digital marketing and direct mail that they’re spraying and praying with all of their efforts. Those who do make the effort to target direct mail, for instance, are only segmenting their audiences. And then many of the direct mailers are thinking of sending mail recipients from a mail piece to a personalized landing page as being the height of sophistication. (Target Marketing wrote about PURLs in 2009.)
Jacobs says segmentation is a good start, but his agency is using data to personalize and even hyper-personalize everything from direct mail to email and beyond.
That involved a lot of change for him, too, during his nearly 30 years helping Internet marketers with optichannel marketing campaigns, morphing his agency from mostly direct mail for direct marketers to a performance marketing agency that handles marketing campaigns in every channel.
“As most people know,” Jacobs says, “the way you view the world is through your own lens. So I look at a lot of things and see them as direct marketing. So we work with everything from content marketing to CRM, marketing automation, email programs, and we still do an awful lot of direct mail. About half of our business is traditional direct mail. But traditional direct mail isn’t so traditional anymore.”
Even though USPS is sending fewer letters, Jacobs says there’s a resurgence in direct mail because Millennials are using it, USPS emails opted-in mail recipients pictures of the content of their mailboxes, e-commerce companies are sending out direct mail, and other channels are too crowded.
“Mobile is making it harder for digital marketers to break through, so they’re starting to look for channels,” Jacobs says, explaining why companies like Amazon, Wayfair, Sephora, and Google are sending direct mail.
Wall seconded that sentiment, joking that his daughter’s perusal of Amazon’s mailed print toy catalog could cost him $50,000 this Christmas. But only if he buys her everything she circled.
Related story: Print Marketing Convergence Isn’t Coming — It’s Here