Bob Rains Q&A: Do Direct Mail and Offline Marketing Still Fit Today’s Online Strategies?


Every other Monday, CAP hosts an exclusive feature with online marketing guru Bob Rains to provide you with some insider info on the ins and outs of Internet marketing — from affiliate program best practices to search engine optimization, and all points in between.

Bob Rains Q&A, No. 1, Monday, December 1: Do Direct Mail and Offline Marketing Still Fit in with Today’s Online Marketing Strategies?
Question: Where does offline marketing, esp direct mail, fit into online marketing and online businesses? (Does it still fit?)
Bob Rains:For some channels, high-impact strategic campaigns still combine elements of offline marketing like direct mail with online marketing to yield impressive results — with the caveat that your direct mail has to be well targeted, well conceived, well written, well designed, and, most importantly, compelling.
In fact, direct mail can have a much higher likelihood of being read over the sometimes hundreds of irrelevant electronic messages your audience receives each week.
To create direct mail that has a chance of making it past the recycling bin, remember the following critical success factors:
1. The list. Make sure you are mailing to the right segment, and that your list has been scrubbed recently. No campaign is able to generate positive results if it fails to reach your target audience.
2. The offer. The question “What’s in it for me?” is crucial to your success. Offer your audience something meaningful. Drive them to action.
3. The creative. Wrap your offer in a smart, professional bow. Direct mail is another branding opportunity, a chance to communicate who you are. Take advantage of this chance to speak directly with your audience, and make the message memorable.
Question: What response channel do you enlist if you use Direct Marketing (DM)?
Bob Rains:I am a big fan of Branded Software Experiences, otherwise known as Widgets IMO, as a modern method of direct marketing.
Online marketers whose cash flows come from advertising often look for some method of standardization or scale to grow their target numbers. The problem is that traditional direct marketing built on standardization and scale will eventually lead to homogeneity and total lack of authenticity.
The similarity between traditional direct marketing and widget marketing may seem like a stretch, but in principle, the two have a lot in common. In the old days of direct marketing, marketers bought mailing lists, and sent out cheap printed ideas to try to engage customers and drive purchases. In the early days of the Internet, we did the same thing with email, and today we need to think of new, cheap ways to engage our customers to convert. It happens with any new medium — after the initial buzz, creators start to understand the medium better. The Internet after all is essentially a huge chunk of open, networked, software, and it has more than its fair share of intricacies.
Just like The old days of direct mail, e-mail, and now branded software experiences, there are some basic, simple principles to remember that lend themselves to success:
–    Creation is cheap, and open to all
–    Distribution is cheap, and open to all
–    Interactivity is the default
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