It’s no secret direct mail campaigns garner significant response rates and return on investment (ROI) compared to digital media advertisements.
However, recent interactive innovations drive already impressive direct mail engagement, brand recall, and overall media effectiveness even higher.
In today’s attention economy, capitalizing on the latest tech advancements yields myriad benefits, including greater brand recognition, emotional and cognitive impacts, a ‘wow’ factor, and personalization that stays ahead of industry trends.
What Is Interactive Direct Mail?
Simply put, interactive mail “excites customers’ senses,” states the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)’s “2022 Tactile, Sensory, Interactive Promotion” presentation. These unique, captivating pieces call customers to engagement and action, through digital-pairing technology, touch, augmented reality capabilities, and so much more.
Although direct mail marketing already boasts 112% ROI, and 9% and 5% response rates for house lists and prospects respectively, modern interactive strategies elevate engagement and brand recall to whole new levels.
For instance, Germany-based tea company Hälssen & Lyon revolutionized its beverage marketing strategy by sending customers handcrafted, limited-edition, drinkable tea calendars in 2013. A year later, Coca-Cola Zero promoted the return of the ‘Rock in Rio’ music festival by launching a VIP kit containing special-edition cans within impressive, 3-D paper amplifiers.
Whether designing elaborate pieces such as these or merely adding elements of scent or touch, addition of interactivity enhances the overall customer experience. According to Canada Post’s 2016 neuromarketing study “Connecting for Action,” the sensory experiences of direct mail significantly triggered consumer emotions and action, maximizing recall and attention, as well.
“In this study, it held participant attention for 118% longer and stimulated 29% higher brand recall than digital advertising,” it states.
By leveraging specialty ink, paper, cutting-edge tech, and other features, businesses willing to invest a bit extra financially will likely win the battle for attention at the postbox, maximizing already significant direct mail benefits by adding a novel layer of interactivity.
Types of Interactive Mail
The U.S. Postal Service shines a spotlight on such modern innovations in its Irresistible Mail gallery, a collection of head-turning techniques incorporating a combination of direct mail, mobile technologies, and so much more:
- Textured Varnishes & Finishes: Vivid textures, inks, finishes, and varnishes make brand messaging pop and enhance memorability. From sleek gloss lettering to a scratch-and-sniff of your company’s latest perfume, such enhancements expressively and aesthetically amplifies your messaging for meaningful recall.
- Near Field Communication (NFC): Utilizing short-range radio waves that connect with NFC-compatible devices, this cutting-edge technology seamlessly enables customers to engage with brands online by simply taping or waving their smartphone over a piece.
- Augmented Reality (AR): Where virtual reality meets direct mail, this revolutionary capability transports prospects into generated online worlds through their smartphone cameras, where they might simulate product use, customize items, and more.
- Innovative Folds & 3-D Structures: Dynamic folds and 3-D offerings are sure to make an impression, not only for their utility, but also because of lumpy mail’s inherent ability to stick out from otherwise flat pieces.
- Quick Response (QR) Codes: Simply implementing a QR code enables customers to engage with your brand online in a few clicks.
- Digital-to-Direct Mail: Intelligently target your audiences with customized content based on their online activity, turning an abandoned shopping cart into a second chance at a purchase.
- Embedded Social Media: Incorporating company social media handles or corresponding QR codes promotes instant access to your online presence, shopping, and more.
- Digital Response Tools: Utilizing NFC, AR, QR codes, and other intelligent measurement modes enables easy tracking of engagement, empowering you to leverage results for more informed strategies.
- Variable Data Printing (VDP): To ensure each item contains a personalized touch, invest in VDP technology, creating stunning customized text, promotions, and imagery.
Key Benefits of Interactive Direct Mail
Whether through special visual effects, infinite folds, or designs that excite the senses, the options to expand your interactive postage campaigns are limitless—as are their associated benefits.
Coming home from work, sifting through letters, and relaxing while peeling open the envelopes is somewhat of an ingrained ritual, reads the 2015 Canada Post analysis “Breaking Through the Noise.”
When participants in Canada Post’s aforementioned neuromarketing study were asked about their reactions to receiving addressed advertisements, their primary response was “It’s a personal experience that makes them feel special and valued by brands.”
“I always think it is important and give it a keen eye because it is for me and they probably know
something about me,” reports one of the study’s participants. “It makes me feel special and valued.”
From impressive 3-D objects to stunning VDP-generated graphics, the vast personalization options available in interactive campaigns communicate unparalleled value and care toward your customers, making a meaningful impression with a personal touch.
The sheer innovation of these designs are enough to make an impact. Whether boasting elements that pop off the page or transporting prospects to a virtual world through NFC, these strategies help your brand stand out from the crowd.
In fact, when direct mail is considered “interesting,” customers might save it for later, share it with others, or even display it in their homes, states the aforementioned Canada Post analysis.
Emotional & Cognitive Impacts
In addition to the immediate interest and excitement these specialty pieces generate, recent studies reflect deeper, neurological reasons behind the stellar performance and impact of such campaigns.
According to research, physical mail pieces—and specifically, those incorporating some sense-stimulating details—tend to be more effective in generating cognitive engagement than digital media ads.
In their 2015 study “A Bias for Action,” Canada Post measured overall media effectiveness through two indicators: ease of understanding (cognitive load) and persuasiveness (motivation). Compared to a postcard (0.90), envelope (1.40), or dimensional mailer (1.46), envelopes with scent (1.75) were most effective at engaging the brain, demonstrated by an increased motivation-to-cognitive load ratio, reads the related Canada Post whitepaper “The Research Behind the Science of Activation.”
For reference, ads with a motivation-to-cognitive load ratio greater than 1 are more predictive of success, the study continues.
Meanwhile, email smartphone (0.91), banner smartphone (0.89), email laptop (0.84), and banner laptop (0.78) all failed to meet this threshold, proving overall less engaging than physical mail pieces.
In comparison with digital media advertising, direct mail marketing recall is notably higher, with 66% of participants in the aforementioned “A Bias for Action” study remembering the brands they had seen (and outperforming all tested digital ads).
In fact, prospects might not just recognize your brand with these stand-out designs, but 47% of consumers reportedly visited a store in response to direct mail, reads the Canada Post whitepaper.
Staying Ahead of the Trends
In its 2022 Promotions Calendar, the USPS entices marketers to utilize these fresh new techniques, incentivizing a 4% discount for those leveraging tactile, sensory, and interactive engagement via marketing mail letters and flats, First-Class mail letters, cards, and flats between now and July 31, 2022.
Whether through specialty inks, sensory treatments, or other elements, the agency encourages incorporation of cutting-edge interactive techniques to “create a multi-sensory experience,” reads the promotion’s guidebook.
Of course, to fully capitalize on your interactive direct mail strategy, it is a prudent consideration to partner with organizations with ample industry experience and parallel maximization of today’s most revolutionary printing technology.
By trusting industry leader Design Distributors with your next campaign, you do just this.
With decades of curated expertise in the direct mail industry and committed investment in today’s state-of-the-art printing tech and trends, our experienced team is fully equipped to empower you in exceeding your next interactive campaign goals!
Contact Design Distributors today to take your marketing efforts to the next level with the latest interactive mailpiece designs, technology, and printing.