For many it is the happiest time of the year. For some, it causes stress and anxiety. For all, there is no doubt when the holiday season is back in full swing. It seems that every year (similar to back to school) retail stores and TV commercials alike are pushing the boundary of when it is acceptable to start rolling out the holiday "cheer". As marketers, we have learned to take advantage of the holiday-based interests and needs of our customers. Whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah, or New Year's, selection of which specific holiday marketers want to base their campaign around is important.
Marketers' next choice is what is the offering/message based on their customers' needs/behaviors; and lastly, what channels to use to reach these valued customers. Since consumers are using an average of 5-7 channels before making a purchase, an omni-channel marketing approach with a strong direct mail component may be a wise strategy.
The USPS estimates 15 billion pieces of mail will be sent this holiday season. See below a helpful infographic on USPS facts and deadlines for the 2017 holiday season:
Who doesn't enjoy a personalized, dynamic mail piece around the holidays? After all, Santa's main form of contact is a wish list sent by letter to the North Pole! As marketers, we need to embrace this concept to ensure the best response from our valued customers.
Below are four guidelines to follow when designing and implementing your holiday-focused campaign.
1. Establish your goal.
When constructing your holiday campaign it is important to set a goal and keep your message clear and direct. Marketers should have a plan on what they can offer to the customer before they decide to send a holiday mailer. Having a well-defined message with multi-channel support will increase your response rate. A message that is not clear can cause both aggravation and hurt your brand image in the eyes of your target audience. Often many people lack time and patience during the holiday season. Certainly marketers do not wish to add to that stress.
Instead it is a common goal for marketers to show appreciation to valued customers. By featuring your latest deals, offers, and discounts through your direct mail marketing strategy, you ensure that your customers will have continued excitement about your brand. This can increase word of mouth advertising on the latest news of your company/brand.
Really feeling the love this year? Many marketers decide to send a holiday gift with a direct mail component as a gesture of gratitude and to serve as a visual reminder for a continued relationship into the new year.
2. Find the right gift.
If you plan to send a customer a holiday gift, make sure it is worth their time as well as yours. While many may enjoy mail during the holiday season, a direct mail campaign (with gift) that is poorly planned will do more harm than good. Some have the uncanny ability to know exactly what to get their loved ones for the holidays. I am not one of those people.
But how can marketers know what to send their customers? The key to a holiday gift is that it should be about your customer, not you. How can you add value to their business or to their lives, and how can you convey an appropriate theme with the gift that is chosen? There are many options such as gift cards, memberships, subscriptions, a perishable food item, or even a donation in honor of your customer. But being specific to them, based on what you know that they need/want, is important. For example, it may be appropriate to send your customer a group experience where he/she can take their team rock climbing. Or if you know that your target is a dog lover, perhaps a BarkBox is a great gift. If you are sending a gift to the masses think of a handy new tech gift that will give your target audience a high sense of perceived value and thoughtfulness.
3. Use an omni-channel approach.
A great way to increase response to your direct mail campaign is through the use of multiple marketing channels. Sending an email first to your customer alerting them to expect a package from you will enhance the campaign with the art of anticipation. Your target audience is more likely to open your direct mail piece if they are looking forward to getting something and let's be honest, we don't want all of our handiwork to go to waste because the target lost our piece in the clutter of other holiday mail. A follow-up email and a call from a sales rep can also show a personal touch that the target audience will appreciate.
According to a Canada Post study, sending direct mail following digital (such as an email) increased effectiveness by 40%.
Knowing when to send an email is important too. According to VerticalResponse, a company email marketing and social media company, the best time to send email is between 11am and 3pm EST. In December, Tuesdays and Thursdays see the busiest email traffic so you should avoid these days if possible and even consider sending that promotional email on Saturday or Sunday. Harland Clarke found that users viewed 34.5% of emails sent on these days when consumers are out shopping or thinking of gift ideas!
4. Drive customer interaction.
Many of the benefits/results that marketers get from a holiday campaign may be intangible. But it is with increased brand awareness and customer appreciation that companies build strong relationships into the new year and beyond.
- Social Media- Make sure to also use social media as a tool for you to listen to your customer. Checking trends, news, and discussions will not only benefit you while creating a direct mail campaign but will also help you in the upcoming new year.
- Landing Pages- Having an infographic or a survey on a landing page could be worth your while when sending out a holiday direct mail. This will allow you to capture valuable data.
- PURLs (personalized urls)- taking it a step further with a landing page and making a site that is personal to the individual. PURLs have been proven to double the effectiveness of a marketing campaign and only increase cost of around 5-10%.You will then be able to see full reports at the individual level to analyze how well the campaign performed.
While there are many options on how to tackle a holiday mailer, our company decided to send our valued customers a high valued tech gift this season. After following these four guidelines when designing and implementing our holiday mail campaign we are excited to see the benefits it will provide.