The cost of postage is not the only characteristic of direct mail that has changed over the last few decades. The sole purpose of direct marketers mailing pieces to households has also changed. For many years, that mail piece was designed, targeted, and mailed to households to drive a direct response from that mail piece – either for the consumer to call the advertiser or to visit their brick-and-mortar location.
Now, however, the primary function in many cases, has changed. The new main purpose of many mail campaigns is to drive an Offline-to-Online (O-to-O) response. This where a consumer receives a direct mail piece and is directed to the advertiser’s website for further information or browsing (and hopefully a purchase). Some mail pieces you’ll see don’t even list a phone number or even physical address, and only list a website and perhaps a unique identification code such as a PURL (Personalized URL) that is unique to that specific consumer that received the piece. When visited by the consumer, these PURLs are specially created website that can offer specific coupons or featured products that may be of interest to that consumer. That just takes the campaign a step further, making the consumer feel a little more important and a little more excited to actually visit the website to see what is being offered. This can help spark interest in even the more hesitant consumers that are used to giving a direct response straight from the mail piece and aren’t used to having to take the extra step to visit a website. It also gives the advertiser a higher probability that the consumer will make a purchase, since the PURL may be offering such a specifically catered product to the consumer’s liking or preference.
So the direct mail piece is simply acting as a vehicle for introduction to the advertiser, which leads the consumer to the website for further investigation to become more comfortable and more educated about the products being offered. A simple inexpensive post card can be used to drive targeted and quality prospects to any advertiser’s website.