In a world awash in electronic mail, the experience of receiving physical mail has become all the more special. And yet digital marketing appeals as low cost, accurate and responsive. Is it possible to combine the best of both worlds?
Dr Sohail Choudhry, general manager of New Zealand Post’s Targeted Communications team, says, the direct and digital disciplines work extremely well together. “A key priority is to make data-driven direct marketing even easier and more relevant for our customers. So we’re busy developing products that include digital components as well as bringing direct mail into the future.”
One of these innovations is MailBase, a web-based, one-stop DIY direct mail service that allows businesses to create a direct mail campaign online. A step-by-step process guides users through everything from uploading their own mailing list or creating a list using the MailBase mapping tool, through to designing flyers, postcards or personalised envelopes (with New Zealand Post looking after the printing and posting).
Cost-effective DM for SMEs
Wellington-based Geeks on Wheels is an IT solutions company that delivers mobile computer support to home and office PC users. With a fast-growing customer base, Geeks on Wheels was struggling to keep up with its annual customer service requirement follow-ups.
Geeks on Wheels general manager Matthew Carr-Gomm says they used to call customers every year to remind them about their services and establish if they had any issues that required attention. “This was effective in boosting repeat business, but before long our call centre was struggling to keep up with the ever-growing list. We needed a cost-effective alternative.”
Using MailBase, Geeks on Wheels created a campaign to meet their objectives. Firstly, the team created a mailable postcard by using MailBase’s professional templates and images. Next, they uploaded their own mailing list, created from their existing customer database, to do a targeted mailout . All they needed then was to choose a date for posting, and the professional-quality printing and distribution was looked after by New Zealand Post.
Prior to the MailBase campaign, Geeks on Wheels reported a 10 percent response from its call centre. Just six weeks after the first mailout, they reported a 21 percent customer response – a result Matthew says was “far more successful” than the team had hoped for.
“And because our mailer was printed on high-quality card, many customers keep it on their pin board or fridge and we continue to receive more business, even six months after the first mailout. We’ve decided to use MailBase for all future customer campaigns.”
National campaigns made easy
Medical Assurance Society (MAS) has more than 20,000 members nationwide, serviced by a number of regional offices that regularly mail communications to members. With so many localised communications being sent, the National Office marketing team faced issues around consistency of messaging and maintaining MAS brand rules, plus costs tended to vary wildly across branches.
MailBase allowed the MAS National Office marketing team to centralise the process so the brand and messaging is consistent, and allow for standardised costs. So far the Society has sent more than 26,000 mail pieces, using MailBase for both national and regional campaigns.
Georgina Kirby from MAS says, “Effective, attractive DM has always been a challenge for smaller campaigns. With MailBase, we can produce impactful pieces using a cost effective, easy-to-manage solution.”
Send a Card from phone and web
Another innovation that brings together direct and digital is Send a Card. Send a Card users can design, personalise and send postcards or greeting cards from the web.
Sohail Choudhry says it’s proved popular. “Kiwis love the simplicity of the online service. And with the launch of the Send a Card iPhone app, they’ll be able to enjoy it anywhere, anytime from their iPhone handset.”
The service is proving popular among tourists and there are also new opportunities for businesses to make the most of Send a Card's success through sponsorship. “For instance, a business could sponsor a card that could be sent for free by consumers that includes branded elements, such as a redeemable voucher or product code, printed on the card. Businesses can also import their database and send branded cards with special offers.”
The Send a Card service has been further expanded for businesses with the development of an Application Programming Interface (API). The Send a Card API allows third party sites to access the innovative card creation and fulfilment capabilities of Send a Card, while keeping the user within their own branded website environment. In effect, it allows businesses to enable their online customers to create and send cards directly from their own site – with multiple branding and advertising opportunities.
And it doesn’t stop here. Sohail says it’s all about a multi-channel environment – bringing together addressed mail, email, mobile, web, and digital technologies such as QR (quick response) and AR (augmented reality). “We look forward to bringing even more new innovations to the New Zealand market in the near future.”