How Direct Mail Boosts Digital Marketing Power

Direct mail is becoming a key player in the digital marketing world, as Christopher Karpenko, executive director of brand marketing at the U.S. Postal Service, recently argued in an article for the Association of National Advertisers. His points are worth summarizing and support our own belief in the response power of combining direct mail with digital marketing channels, such as opt-in e-mail and social media, as we do in our Digital2Direct program.

Mail Bridges Paper-Digital Gap in Real Time

Karpenko points out that direct mail has evolved and now achieves even greater response power via technologies such as augmented reality (AR), near-field communication (NFC), and quick response (QR) codes. These technologies bridge the physical and digital gap by launching a website, a video or an interactive experience right from a paper mailing piece “These can be powerful ways of sparking product discovery and drawing consumers into the digital ecosystem of a particular brand,” he writes.

Technology is also removing the “snail” from “snail mail,” with real-time delivery scan notifications already sent within a few minutes and now an “Informed Delivery” service on the horizon from the USPS. Informed Delivery will allow consumers to check their e-mail inbox, social media and mobile apps to actually see the front of most mail pieces coming to their physical mailbox before they arrive. Informed Delivery is an opportunity to not only elevate the role of mail within the consumer digital experience but also, when coordinated with other channels and good analytics, to use data-driven delivery of timely, relevant information for better targeting and engagement.

Direct Mail Drives Social Engagement, Too

Direct mail can also leverage a partnership with social media, Karpenko notes. After all, gaining followers on social media doesn’t always equate to gaining engaged customers. Direct mail, which thrives on customer data, can both help drive the right customers to social media and benefit from knowledge gained via social behavior to better tailor messages and targeting.

Leveraging Multi-Channel Power

As Karpenko reminds, standing out in the noisy digital space is increasingly difficult when consumers are ignoring display ads, installing mobile ad-blocking apps, and deleting the majority of promotional e-mails unread. Direct mail is one way to give digital marketing a leg up, and vice versa.

To read more, including an interesting case study from Karpenko of how Chick-fil-A combined direct mail with interactive digital to successfully boost response, go to