Marketing has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. We’ve all heard, “The Internet changes everything,” and it’s true. But it’s not just that business has moved online and we purchase with a click instead of with a wallet. They very process we go through to do business is completely different today.
In short, consumers now determine what information they want and how they are going to get it. They know that the information is out there. They control if they’re going to access it. Then they decide how much or how little information about a product or service they want to know. That’s quite a change from the days when companies would dictate what they shared with potential clients.
That’s the essence of inbound marketing. Consumers invite companies in and control the amount of information they want rather than having companies send out information (outbound marketing).
So does a method like direct mail (which is outbound by nature) fit in this kind of inbound world? Direct mail is somewhat invasive. It is, after all, pushed out to people who didn’t ask to be contacted. Does direct mail work in an environment in which people are used to controlling the information they receive?
If done correctly, direct mail actually works quite well with inbound marketing as long as it respects the principles of inbound marketing. You can generate direct mail that has a strong inbound feel to it. How? By making sure that you’re talking to people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say. That means having a clear understanding of whom your audience is and what kind of information they’re after.
It also means that you don’t try to bury your reader with information he or she may not want. You communicate enough to let them know that you understand their situation and that you have solutions to some of their issues and answers to their questions. Then you let them invite you in—by going to your website and searching for the specific information they want. It’s a delicate dance of “push” and “pull” marketing approaches (Read more about that in this free downloadable eBook, Push and Pull Marketing—Why You Need Both).
Here’s something else to consider. Even though consumers today want to gather information on their own—and they know they can find it on the Internet—actually accessing the information they want is another matter. It can be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack—and the Internet is a very big haystack! That’s where direct mail can be used to tell people exactly where that information is located. A mailing that points someone to exactly the information they want can be a welcome intrusion.
If you’d like to find out more about how to integrate your direct mail efforts with your other marketing efforts, click here to take a look at the Direct Mail & Multi-Channel Integration Checklist 2016. It’s a good way to see how direct mail fits well in an inbound marketing world.