Social Media vs Direct Mail: Adopting a Holistic Approach in the New Era of Marketing

In the age of digital prominence, the battle between social media and direct mail services as marketing channels intensifies. But instead of seeing them as contestants, marketers can embrace the benefits of each and fuse them in a bullet-proof marketing campaign that touches upon all customer points.

The merging of digital and physical marketing channels is an effective marketing strategy for the majority of brands. According to research by Royal Mail Marketrech, campaigns with mail in the marketing mix are 52% more likely to experience ROI benefits.

David Beasley, director at Washington Direct Mail, said: “Throughout the years, it has been proven to us that the most successful marketing campaign is one that is customer-focused rather than channel-focused. Once marketers establish their customers’ needs, preferences and interests through comprehensive data collection, they can evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each marketing channel and match them to their target audience, creating tailored campaigns that embrace the synergy of the digital and the physical.”

Cross-channel consistency increases brand visibility

Social media platforms offer instantaneous access to a vast audience, enabling businesses to connect with potential customers in real time and achieve immediate conversion. Nevertheless, social media posts and ads can often be overlooked due to the intense saturation of content.

This is where direct mail’s tangible quality comes in handy. Direct mail can foster a meaningful connection with customers, as receiving physical mail can leave a lasting impression on recipients in an increasingly digital age and deliver a sensory experience like no other. According to WARC’s research, 70% of consumers feel valued when receiving mail, particularly when highly targeted, hence increasing retention and building trust and credibility.

A campaign that utilises social media’s instantaneous reach and direct mail’s tangible quality and lasting impression can help enhance brand visibility.  

Beasley said: “Marketers need to be able to keep their audiences engaged at all times. While social media can cause digital fatigue, physical mail can spark the excitement of receiving a piece of mail in your mailbox and then following up on a social media ad that reminds the customer of the brand. Keeping brand consistency across all channels is important to create a unified brand experience. Essentially, marketers are leaning towards brand consistency and visibility.”

Data synchronisation for more targeted campaigns

Both social media and direct mail are excellent at collecting user data and helping create targeted campaigns. Instead of relying on only one channel to collect data and create lists, marketers can use the advantages of both in gathering specific data and populating it across the platforms.

If you’ve been running direct mail campaigns for a long time, you likely have existing lists with valuable data about your loyal customers. This can be uploaded to social sites such as Facebook to create targeted ads and further expand those lists, layering it with more data and creating comprehensive customer profiles.

In the same way direct mail data can enhance your social outreach, social media can help refine your direct mail lists. What you are capitalising on is the interest those who have clicked on your social media ads have expressed. Consider adding pixels to social ads leading to a landing page with an option to enter a mailing address. Offer compelling incentives for privacy-conscious users, and remember to keep your brand messaging and feel consistent to boost response rates.

Multi-stage campaigns for better conversion

Designing multi-stage campaigns that utilise social media for initial awareness and instant interaction and direct mail for deeper engagement is a great way to fuse both channels and achieve better results.

Social media facilitates direct interaction between brands and consumers. This engagement builds relationships, fosters brand loyalty, and provides valuable insights into customer preferences. Moreover, social media marketing is relatively cost-effective.

Direct mail, on the other hand, allows for highly personalised campaigns and boasts higher engagement rates compared to digital channels. According to Royal Mail Marketreach, direct mail’s engagement amounts to a whopping 95%. The tactile nature of direct mail can capture attention and encourage recipients to take desired actions.

Take, for example, Benefit Cosmetics. A lot of visitors to their website were browsing products without making a purchase. The brand sent personalised letters to those customers, encouraging them to complete their purchases and offering free delivery for the customers to strengthen conversion. As a result, basket abandonment was drastically reduced, and sales of the selected products increased by 37%.

When Toyota launched its latest Corolla in 2021, the brand leveraged the reverse tactic. By sending a mail piece that contains a microchip and a timer, Toyota created a race for recipients to view the car online as it was shown for the first time. As a result, traffic to the Corolla website increased by 257%, followed by a 900% increase in test drives, attracting 8,000 people to the waiting list.

Beasley said: “Brands can closely monitor their customers’ behaviour both online and offline to follow up with personalised actions that increase conversion. Another great way to bridge the gap between physical and digital is using QR codes and URLs embedded in physical mail that lead customers to a landing page along their consideration journey. That way, they can follow through with a campaign and meet the brand’s goals.”

Takeaway

In the dynamic world of marketing, choosing between social media and direct mail shouldn’t be a challenge. By recognising the unique strengths of each channel and strategically combining them, businesses can create a powerful marketing mix that resonates with a diverse audience. Embracing the digital and tangible realms can help brands establish a comprehensive presence in the ever-evolving marketing landscape.