The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much about living in what is normally a very social, transactional society. The frustration and even depression brought about by interpersonal and sensory deprivation is widespread. For all the benefits of e-commerce, being forced to shop online has its shortcomings. This is not to suggest that people should defy common sense health guidelines and venture forth without care. The ability to sustain households, deliver education, and conduct business online has blunted some of COVID’s effects on society and the economy. However, the experience of physical interaction with things we need or want can’t be fully replaced virtually. Which brings us to physical direct mail.
Direct Mail Makes New Friends
For awhile, it was assumed that physical direct mail was doomed. The battle against email and online marketing was unwinnable from the standpoint of volume and cost. Lost in this equation was the fact that for every piece of physical mail opened, far more emails languished in recipient inboxes (if they got that far). As millions endure relative isolation, the realization has emerged that the value of physical mail lies in its personal, tangible impact. Recent advances in production enhancements allow deeper personalization and sensory richness. Direct mail can actually be the portal to digital experiences. Younger generations such as Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly attracted to things that are real. Physical items such as brochures, postcards and samples are welcome. Reasons run from a feeling of substance, sense of belonging, better privacy, the utility of promotional offers, and the option for online interaction with physical mail. These are all attributes that lessen the difficulty of life during a pandemic.
Close The Digital/Physical Divide
The potential of limitless online discovery and shopping opportunities to overcome the limitations imposed by COVID is apparent. But, what if the ability to convert curiosity into sales could be enhanced via a physical direct mail experience?
A few examples of co-mingling online and physical direct mail:
- Move event marketing – and events – virtual but send physical, tactile invitations
- Mail catalogs with digital response mechanisms including purls and QR codes
- Send personalized, printed newsletters with scannable links to online resources
- Start loyalty programs, sending samples with registration or as awards incentives
Reports from around the world describe how tangible interactions are appreciated now more than ever. A case can be made for expanding online marketing and fulfillment using tangible marketing experiences. As long as COVID is with us, physical, interpersonal contact will be limited with good reason. In its place, tactile, sensory experiences that bridge the virtual and the physical will provide a respite from the current situation. They can be consumables or business items and media presentations. Thoughtfully and strategically executed, direct mail marketing techniques can be profitably merged into Life As We Now Know It.