3 minute read

Who knew that in 2018 print would still be king? Technology has opened new doors to connecting with audiences, but one thing has remained constant: Print still has the best response rate.

“Direct mail household response rate is 5.1% (compared to .6% email, .6% paid search, .2% online display, .4% social media). This is the highest response rate the DMA has ever reported, since coming out with the Response Rate Report in 2003.” 
—Data and Marketing Association

Whether you’re sending a postcard, annual report, invitation or catalog, it’s time to make sure your print is working as hard as it can for your business or nonprofit. Here are our tips to help ensure that your next campaign will get the response you’re looking for:

1. Use Variable Data

Variable data printing (VDP) is a form of digital printing that includes an on-demand element where text, images and graphics can all change from one piece to the next without stopping or slowing down the print process. VDP allows for marketers to develop targeted 1:1 communications to their audiences without drastically increasing the cost per piece.

At Firespring, we’ve seen campaigns experience a lift up to 10x when VDP is in play compared with campaigns that don’t use it. VDP can be as simple as changing the image on a mailer, populating an individual’s address onto their return card or changing an offer based on household information.

2. Engage with Video

Video mailers with a built-in audiovisual player are an innovative way to mix mediums and to wow your users. When a user opens the mailer, a video starts automatically or with just a push of a button. While other interactive and engaging elements are fun to employ, with a video direct mailer you don’t worry about users needing to obtain other applications or software. You know that once opened your video will play and people will watch it.

A less foolproof, but more cost-effective way to incorporate video in your print are QR codes and custom URLs that recipients can access with their phones. See how we did it with our own holiday card from a few years ago:

3. Enter Augmented Reality

In 2017 we saw augmented reality (AR) go mainstream. Pokémon Go was easily the most talked about app in 2016, and the next year we saw big family brands like Disney and Toys R Us fully commit to the technology. My four-year-old was gifted an interactive animal game that is 100% AR, so you can bet this will be the new normal for the next generation. In the print space we’ve been talking about AR changing the game and that time has arrived. Think about it: With little effort, users have the ability to connect with more personalized messages when technology is paired with print. AR also provides marketers improved ways to track responses, engagements and sales.

4. Go Big with Dimensional Print

Like we mentioned, in 2016 direct mail response rates skyrocketed to their highest performance. Automated, personalized campaigns is one factor that contributes to these numbers, but dimensional print is the other. While many are playing it safe with standard postcards and standard letter sizes, to get the utmost attention from your audience, think outside the box (or envelope). Dimensional mailers stand out in a stack of mail and will be sure to delight, engage and remain top of mind.

5. Automate Your Campaign

One of the biggest trends expected to thrive in 2018 is automated multi-channel marketing. Marketers have become accustomed to integrating their online efforts, but integrating with offline tactics like print will become the norm. We’ve already seen that direct mail results can increase by as much as 118% when direct mail is paired with one or more digital media compared to using direct mail only. Taking those efforts a step further is automated integrated marketing. It’s the art of taking creative marketing ideas, building them into data-driven, multi-channel marketing campaigns and launching them in one integrated platform.

In order for a campaign to be successful, it’s critical to employ data that tailors content to the interests and motivations of the audience you’re serving. Once you have your audience, creative and media touches in place you are able to outline and deploy your campaign and set drips and nurturing events.

With these new tools in your arsenal, your print will be fresher (and more effective) than ever. If you need a hand implementing any of these features, we’d love to lend one.