In a highly competitive marketplace, many businesses agree that gaining new customers – and keeping them – can be a challenge. Integrating direct mail into a holistic, omni-channel marketing campaign not only serves as another visual way to get in front of consumers and tell your story, it can also give you the power to drive business and convert customers in different stages of the marketing life cycle. 

When looking at marketing response rate, one study found direct mail outperforms digital channels, including email, online display, paid search, and social media (“DMA Response Rate Report 2017”). With direct mail remaining a relevant and integral part of the marketing mix, consider these tactics to help you attract, retain, and even win-back customers when planning your next marketing campaign. Direct Marketing News, 4/25/2018 asked Dennis Nicoski, SVP, Sales and Customer Relations for the U.S. Postal Service, to outline some best practices for us. 

Q: How can we continue to attract new customers? 

A: Remember not to overlook what – and who – you already know. Analyzing current customer demographics can shed light on potential audience segments likely to be interested in your product or service. To learn more about your current customer base, try posting a survey on social media with an incentive for completion and gather information such as gender, location, age, marital status, income, interests, etc. 

With a better understanding of current customers, you can then target your mailings to reach people like them. If your business focuses on home services, retail, restaurants or gyms, leveraging location-based targeting may be particularly helpful (“What is EDDM® and is it Right for Your Business?”). As you develop messaging, ensure it catches prospects' attention quickly with a strong call to action (CTA) for what to do next. Remember to also focus on customers' needs and wants – for example, if you are selling home security systems, try highlighting peace of mind and safety before detailing what type of sensors are used. When you do showcase the products, rely on supporting data like statistics or customer testimonials to complement your product-focused messaging. 

After your messaging has been developed and shared with the new audience, tracking campaign response and ROI is essential, but doesn't have to be complex or expensive. Using the CTA messaging in your mailings, keep a pulse on the campaign with a personalized URL (PURL) code for each recipient or a QR code that can be scanned for a designated coupon and redeemed in-store or online. 

Q: What's the best way to effectively retain customers? 

A: As you welcome new customers with direct mail, do not lose sight of the importance of keeping current customers engaged. Loyalty programs are one way to encourage customer retention, and brands are noticing with 57% of brand respondents in one survey reporting they would increase their upcoming loyalty program budgets (“The Loyalty Evolution: Growing Investment and the Multichannel Promise"). The case for integrating direct mail into your loyalty campaign marketing is clear: in the same survey, 88% of respondents who reported using a multichannel approach for their loyalty programs rated it as successful. 

In order to develop a successful loyalty campaign, first identify the goals of the program – whether it's an increase in customer spend, engagement or retention. From there, you can segment your customer list and tailor messaging accordingly. For example, a supermarket chain may leverage personalized mailers by sending coupons based on past purchasing habits to its best customers. 

Another crucial part of retention is handling customer complaints and turning them into a positive experience. While processing negative feedback can be difficult, addressing concerns such as customer service or shipping issues can contribute to repeat business. To do this, try sending a personalized mailpiece offering to help remedy the situation. Showing customers this attention may make them feel appreciated and positively impact their perception of your business. 

Q: And what about winning customers back? Do you have any tips for that? 

A: While direct mail can be impactful for acquiring and retaining customers, it can also re-engage those customers who have lapsed. Seeking insight as to why a customer left can demonstrate your commitment to them and to improving their experience. To understand why a customer is no longer interacting with your company, try sending a short survey mailpiece with questions asking why they stopped frequenting your business. You can design your mailpiece with a simple business card reply (BRC) and a prepaid, preaddressed postcard and provide an incentive for completing the survey or becoming a customer again. Mailpieces can also be useful in showing past customers your newest products and promotions. 

As you look to win-back customers, be sure to remind them how important their business is through personalized and genuine messaging. 

Q: Any final thoughts? 

A: Many businesses, regardless of size, can benefit from direct mail marketing. I encourage you to take your direct mail a step further by considering these tactics in future omni-channel campaigns. Not only can direct mail help your business stand out, it can support stronger engagement with new, current and past customers alike.