Over the last decade, there has been a veritable explosion of content of every kind. There is more entertainment media than ever, and where entertainment goes advertising media inevitably follows. With this kind of saturation in advertising, the ‘shotgun’ approach to marketing is becoming ineffectual for many businesses and brands. To cut through the noise, you have to get personal with your consumer, and that means microtargeting.
What is Microtargeting
Microtargeting is a marketing strategy that incorporates all of the information about consumers that has become available via sophisticated consumer data technology. This data provides not only a detailed snapshot of a specific customer, but tags along for the digital ride, tracking browsing activities, buying patterns and preferences, capturing information across multiple devices and platforms. Today, Martech (Marketing Technology) is an essential tool in developing highly-targeted advertisements and campaigns.
Major digital marketing players like Facebook, Google, and Instagram collect data on a consumer’s demographics, interests, behavior, and location, then provide that data at a cost to marketers to help them design and deliver content to well-defined but narrow audience bands. Naturally, these same companies want you to push your campaigns using their own digital marketing platforms, such as Google Ads. However, if personalization is what you are after, there may be a far better solution.
While the shift towards digital content consumption and the arrival of sophisticated marketing technologies onto the scene may appear to suggest that digital is the future of marketing, the evidence suggests that the true powerhouse of microtargeting is direct mail, a channel that emerging technology providers have forecast as a medium on its way out.
It is true that there has been a massive decrease in direct mail over the past decade, with total mail volume having declined by over 29% since 2006, according to the United States Postal Service. However, a decrease in raw volume does not mean marketers should shy away from direct mail campaigns. In fact, it may be a boon – with fewer pieces of mail in the pile, you can stand out from the competition, especially with an eye-catching presentation or compelling messaging.
It is estimated that people receive 107 emails and see 63 display ads each day, while only receiving 2 pieces of mail per day on average. This means a piece of physical mail is far more likely to stand out when it is seen and be remembered later.
The Advantages of Direct Mail
All the metrics indicate that direct mail is expected to be going strong in the new decade. According to the 2018 Response Rate Report prepared by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), direct mail had an average of a 9% response rate for house lists and 5% for prospect lists, figures that far surpass that of channels like digital display and email which in some cases are well under 1%.
Direct mail remains the biggest medium by ad spend for local advertising and is expected to continue to grow through the rest of this year, both for B2B and direct-to-consumer marketing. The same ANA/DMA study reported that 81% of marketers surveyed planned to maintain or increase direct mail marketing in 2019, and was equally as likely to be used as social media by marketers. What is it, exactly, that makes direct marketing so potent?
Direct mail is highly targeted, and with new technologies can be highly personalized with people’s names, information, and interests, it is highly measurable through the inclusion of coupon codes and other more creative attribution techniques, it is affordable even at high volume, and is incredibly customizable, allowing for unique value adds like samples, coupons, and QR codes to be included with your advertisement. However, apparent benefits to the marketer do not guarantee a better response from consumers. The answer to the question of why direct mail drives interaction lies in inherent differences in emotional and cognitive reactions between direct mail and other mediums.
Multiple scientific studies have established that direct mail is easier to understand, more persuasive, and more memorable than other mediums – in short, it provides everything a marketer is after when it comes to their advertising. Part of the trick is that mail has true substance – it feels more ‘real’ than digital advertisements, which yields a stronger emotional response. As marketers, we appeal primarily to emotion to drive interaction with the brands we represent, which makes this emotional connection to mail a powerful benefit to direct mail strategies.
People look forward to looking at their mail, not to clearing out their inbox. Direct mail is also considered by many to be more trustworthy than digital marketing – in an age of scams and viruses, opening a piece of mail seems safer than interacting with email or digital display. Direct mail is as alive and thriving even among younger generations – according to Gallup, 36% of people under the age of 30 enjoy going through their physical mail and another study found that 74% of millennials considered direct mail to be safer and more secure.
Compliment Your Other Marketing Initiatives
This doesn’t mean you should shutter all of your digital marketing in favor of direct mail – far from it. Direct mail only gets stronger when it is combined with effective personalization and micro-targeting, which in turn is only possible through the data provided by more advanced marketing technology.
One eager adopter of direct mail as part of an omni-channel, microtargeted marketing strategy is the political industry, and for good reason. Something as simple as personalizing a piece with a consumer’s name can increase response rates by as much as 135%, according to one 2017 study. Political campaigns utilize micro-targeted data to identify relevant audience segments that are receptive to certain messaging about key issues, then reach out with direct mail to create a bed of grassroots support built on the back of an interaction that feels personal and meaningful to their potential constituents.
By choosing to get smart about direct-mail microtargeting for your brand you can develop the same relationship with your customers, turning cold leads into raving fans that drive business growth and success.
If you are looking for effective ways to target your audience, contact us today.