Driving Online Sales Through Offline Marketing – A Lesson From Google

Last week we received a direct mailer in the post from – of all people – Google. It was the third time they’d written to us in the space of six months. The mailer consisted of a glossy and substantial gate-fold with the headline ‘Boost your AdWords profits in under an hour a week’. But why send it? Surely if anyone is in a position to profitably shun direct marketing, it would have to be Google, or so you would think. Not only do they dominate the search engines, they actually own the means of dissemination – it doesn’t cost them a penny to position their own marketing messages at the top of every Google search on the web. And, besides, why didn’t they just send an email? They have our details. Why send a relatively expensive mailer?

Because direct marketing works…

As you would expect, the marketing boffins at Google have done their research – sending their AdWords customers a piece of hard copy information in the post acts as a tangible complement to their online marketing efforts. This is something that people are able to keep, put in their in-trays, read during a coffee break, pass around the office and, most importantly, act upon.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, more and more web-focused businesses are integrating both digital and direct to communicate with their customers and prospects. For evidence of this shift, just take a moment each day to monitor what turns up in your mail box.

Nor is direct marketing a static discipline. Breakthroughs in data processing and print technology have enabled direct mail to move away from broad-based mass mailings to smaller niche targeted campaigns, with highly personalised content – reflecting in its own way the one-to-one intimacy of the online social and business networks.

Importantly, targeting prospects by promoting your URL offline is proven to be a highly effective means of driving traffic directly to your website. An additional advantage of this approach is that there is far less chance of your prospects being distracted along the way by search results from competitor advertisers – not to mention reduced overheads on pay-per-click bidding and SEO wars.

While digital marketing is indisputably a powerful and essential element of the mix, it will never be a substitute for direct marketing, but it is a worthy partner. Just ask Google.

Modern Marketing With Postcards

Postcards may be one of the best kept secrets of modern
marketing. They produce even better results now than in the
past. That’s probably because postcards deliver information
the way people want to get it today …fast and with little
or no effort.

Use Postcards to Generate Website Traffic and Sales Leads

A brief captivating message on a postcard with an enticing
offer sent to the right prospects will generate a flood of
traffic to your website – or a large number of sales leads.

Keep your postcard simple. Make it look at first glance like
a message from a friend instead of like an advertisement.
This creates a pleasant emotional response from readers even
though they quickly realize that it is a commercial message.

State the biggest benefit you offer to customers. Then
briefly add a few other advantages or features you provide.
End with a compelling reason for prospects to contact you
…or to go to your website for more details. It’s that
simple.

Tip: Don’t try to close sales directly from a postcard.
There’s not enough space on a postcard to provide all the
information your prospects need to make a buying decision.

People Read Postcards

Almost everybody will read a postcard – even those who
usually throw out other direct mail without opening it.
That’s because it’s almost impossible to throw out a
postcard without looking at the message.

This high rate of readership is the main reason why
postcards produce a bigger response than other types of
direct marketing. With other types of marketing you often
lose prospects who would have responded to your offer – but
they never saw it.

Tip: Postcards are an excellent low-cost alternative to
email. People get so much email today that even legitimate
messages are getting deleted unread. But they get few if any
postcards. Your message is guaranteed to get their attention
when it’s delivered on a postcard.

Postcards are Cheap to Produce

Postcards cost less than 2 cents each to produce if you
print them using your own computer. You can print postcards
individually on blank 4 x 6 inch index cards or print 4
postcards on 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of index card stock and cut
each sheet into quarters.

Your postcards will cost between 4 cents and 9 cents each to
produce if you use a commercial printer …depending on the
number you have printed and the quality you want.

Postcards are Cheap to Mail

Even the postage for mailing postcards is cheap – 23 cents
each to send them by First Class Mail in the US. The only
requirement for this special rate is that the dimensions of
your postcards must be at least 3 1/2 x 5 inches but not
over 4 1/4 x 6 inches.

Tip: Always use a real 23 cent stamp on your postcards. It
produces more replies than a printed indicia (imprinted
postage) …probably because people associate a printed
indicia with junk mail.

Don’t overlook postcards the next time you want to drive a
huge amount of traffic to your website or generate a flood
of new sales leads. They’re simple to use, highly effective
and very low-cost.

The Future of Marketing Automation

Today’s business environment is being driven by technology and relationships. Technology seems to be driven by computers and the Internet. Relationships seem to be driven by trust. Have we come far enough to say that we trust technology? The first step in developing a trusting relationship is to reach out and connect. That connection, some call it Marketing, is readily accomplished through technology. The circle seems complete. Or does it?

The challenge with today’s Marketing initiatives is getting our hands around all the different and exciting ways to connect, so that we begin to form those trusting relationships. The marketing mix is definitely out there. Let’s mention a few; direct mail (both shotgun and personalized), email blasts, streaming video, interactive and personalized URLs, outbound and inbound call campaigns (both live and automated), online promotions, interactive telepromotions, mailing list generation, online surveys, telesurveys, radio, mobile text messages, the list goes on…

The future of Marketing will most definitely evolve into a true melding of technology and relationships. The Internet, accompanied by the interactive marketing movement, will make that evolution successful. Picture this scenario…

You’re a Marketing Manager for a nationwide manufacturer of widgets. You are given a project that entails coordinating a National Marketing Campaign for over 2500 dealers. How in the world do you launch and track all the different marketing mediums and then determine if they actually work across your 2500 widget dealers? Now mind you, these dealers aren’t card carrying rocket scientists. They were mostly the, “Blanch get me a beer” type of widget dealers. This campaign had to be easy, intuitive and most of all, cost effective. There are so many direct and supporting marketing mediums in this new age of technology. How do you make direct mail work intelligently with email? How do you make email work intelligently with private-branded, interactive web sites? How do you make those web sites trigger an outbound call campaign? How do you track the inbound calls that the direct mail and email generated? How do you fit radio and cable TV commercials into all of this? Or do you? Oh, by the way, make sure you keep the brand image and all the corporate creative assets in line and on message. Why do Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) only have an average lifespan of less than two years? Is it the lack of metrics and proper accountability? Is it the lack of their ability to think strategically and work holistically? What if there was a way to address all these logistical challenges?

We are living in a period that has produced extremely talented business resources. The global economy has a wealth of software and database architects, engineers and developers. There are going to be talented, visionary leaders that will figure out the logistics of this “marketing meld”. The ideal answer to the above scenario might look something like this…

There will be a back-end, administrative web portal that the Marketing Manager (let’s call him Joe) logs into. Joe will be able to set up a private, manufacturer branded web portal for the dealers to access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Joe would then set up and name a marketing campaign. This campaign will be modular in nature, allowing Joe to assign specific marketing medium to the campaign. One campaign might allow the widget dealers to launch direct mail, targeted HTML email and “drop-date + 4″ outbound call campaigns with pre-approved scripts. Most organizations could never coordinate this outbound call campaign to 10,000 direct mail recipients in a timely manner. But if this marketing platform is integrated with a Mid-West, accent neutral call center, we have another story on our hands, yes? Another campaign might have personalized direct mail with an inbound telepromotions number on the direct mail piece. The database on the platform will be set up to have recorded messages from local sports personalities based upon the toll-free number on the card. Add a PIN to the direct mail piece with a chance to win and suddenly your response rate skyrockets. These marketing mediums, which have already been integrated into the physical Marketing-On-Demand platform, will then be “published” to the manufacturer’s branded web portal. These web portals are the entrance way to widget dealer nirvana. This whole process will maintain the company’s brand logos, color schemes, fonts, content message and any legalize that is required. Joe the Marketer can set up the branded web site and the different campaigns prior to the actual campaign launch date. The automation will kick-in at the assigned launch time. The widget dealers are happy (they don’t have to think), Joe the Marketer is happy (he’s playing golf), the customer only receives information that reflects their buying needs and the CFO, CMO, etc. are able to access online daily, weekly and monthly reports showing the effectiveness of each marketing medium. All the metrics and data are “plugged into” the manufacturer’s legacy Accounting, Customer Relationship and Inventory Management systems. This integration allows the “C-Men” to make the proper strategic decisions in a more timely fashion. The best part of this whole scenario is that the platform is being accessed through a centralized, secure, multiple firewall protected, carrier grade data center. The scenario becomes a business expense, not a capital expenditure and the end result is a dynamic, revenue generating business tool. This scenario is going to happen in the very near future. Technology and Relationships demand so.