Insights from Polaris Direct

The Omni-Channel Experience

Not long ago, a friend of mine was asking if I had watched the series ‘Mad Men’. She was quite surprised when I admitted that I had not — especially since I work in marketing and advertising. This particular friend is also “in the biz”, and she was imagining a career back in the days […]

Not long ago, a friend of mine was asking if I had watched the series ‘Mad Men’. She was quite surprised when I admitted that I had not — especially since I work in marketing and advertising. This particular friend is also “in the biz”, and she was imagining a career back in the days when the Don Drapers of the advertising world had only a finite amount of channels to build strategies and campaigns upon. “Imagine how much less confusing that would have been!”, she exclaimed.

AdAge once described the 1960s as advertising’s “coming of age”, a time “when the industry mastered the language of TV, appropriated the medium of photography and produced work of unprecedented creativity”.1 While magazines lost revenue to television, newspapers became the dominant medium for local advertisers that couldn’t afford to compete with national advertisers. Radio still drew advertisers because of the large audiences for programs dedicated to pre-recorded music hits in specific regions.

But that was yesterday. Today, the field is far more complex and overwhelming. Email, digital advertising, SEO, websites, TV, radio (satellite and terrestrial), social media, mobile — the list goes on and on. It’s easy to understand why it has been increasingly difficult for marketers to keep up!

When the digital players came to the table with all their shiny new toys, many marketers shifted toward these less expensive, metric-rich alternatives and abandoned the more traditional channels — like print and mail — as a way to reach and track customers. While there was early success in higher response rates with stand-alone digital and email campaigns, marketers soon saw erosion in customer retention and attribution. Why? Digital platforms grew in number becoming more and more over-crowded, delivery was disjointed rather than cohesive, and consumers became overwhelmed with advertising content that was just not relevant or interesting to them.

The Difference Between Multi- and Omni-Channel

With the advancement of technology across all platforms – including direct mail – marketers started to incorporate a multi-channel approach to their marketing strategies. According to HubSpot, “The multi-channel experience is what most businesses invest in today. They have a website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter. They use each of these platforms to engage and connect with customers. However, in most cases, the customer still lacks a seamless experience and consistent messaging across each of these channels.”

If you’ve got a solid social strategy, a high converting website, and a great direct mail program, you’ve got a multi-channel experience. But if they aren’t working together, in coordination, it’s not an omni-channel customer experience. In other words, all omni-channel experiences are multi-channel, but not all multi-channel experiences are omni-channel.

Print and Digital Sitting in a Tree

Every day consumers leave behind millions of digital footprints. A savvy marketer will look for ways to effectively capture and use that data to drive higher ROI in their campaigns. While email inboxes are filling up, many marketing eyes have turned to the tried-and-true postal mail. We have seen quite a few digital-only companies, like ModCloth and HelloFresh, incorporate direct mail to drive their marketing campaigns. Both companies executed their omni-channel campaign exceptionally well by sending out self-mailers with a strong drive-to-web message or offer, and then following up with cohesive digital retargeting using Google AdWords and Facebook advertising.

Unsurprisingly, we are huge fans of direct mail and its proven effectiveness. With technologies such as Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMbs) to expand a mailer’s ability to track individual mail pieces, it’s easier and more effective to incorporate mail into an omni-channel strategy.

Plus, people trust the mail. In a survey conducted by Royal Mail, respondents were asked to choose words they associated with direct mail. The top five words they chose were: Official, Formal, Considered, Believable, and Important.2 In fact, Bangor University and branding agency Millward Brown also conducted a study of how consumers felt about direct mail used in advertising. Some of their key conclusions were that physical material is more “real” to the brain; it has a meaning, and a place. It is also better connected to memory because it engages with the brain’s spatial memory networks and involves more emotional processing, which is important for brand association.3

Direct mail combined with digital advertising works harder and more effectively, yielding a 28% higher conversion rate than using just one platform alone.4 Website visitors who are retargeted are 70% more likely to convert5 and 26% of customers will return to a site through retargeting.6

In addition, a clear pattern is emerging: customers do not want to be bogged down with detail. They are seeking convenient solutions that will enhance their life. We know that consumers are increasingly interested in, and are more likely to engage with, content that is relevant to them. So, when you combine the strong success of direct mail with 1:1 relevant personalization, and digital advertising in a cohesive, consistent and intentional way, you will see more success and an increase in ROI.

It’s All About the Journey

Using programs like Polaris Direct’s PostaLink can help simplify and take some of the complexity out of creating an omni-channel campaign. Our PostaLink technology is a marketing-based solution that is designed to seamlessly track the effectiveness of your direct mail campaign while enhancing results through cross-channel marketing on the Google Display Network and Facebook Advertising – ensuring you deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time. And most importantly, giving them options for when and how they want to connect with your brand.

In conclusion, where once print, television and radio reigned supreme, the digital era ushered in data-driven technology, multiple platforms and a growing number of ways to consume media. The marketing landscape as we know it is changing at an increasingly faster pace — one that would probably look more like an alien planet to Mr. Draper. But have no fear, we are here to guide you through.


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About the author: Amber Jodoin is the Creative Director at Polaris Direct, a nationally acclaimed high-volume direct marketing services company in Hooksett, NH. With over 20 years of experience, she is both creative and strategic in her approach — recognizing the importance of successfully delivering “the message” and adhering to brand standards, while consistently bringing forward new ideas. With her B2B and B2C marketing background, she brings a strong foundation of brand strategy, marketing, digital & social content development, as well as creative design, to the Polaris Direct Strategic Marketing team.