Usually, when we say “future of direct marketing,” we are referring to variable data printing, where cutting edge technology makes it easier than ever to deliver personalized, high-impact direct mail campaigns.
But today, as we are all surrounded by constant updates on the spread of COVID-19, we know that many marketers are feeling uncertain of the future. How long will this last? What happens next? Should we freeze our marketing efforts, or keep pushing forward?
There are a lot of differing opinions on that last question. Some marketers advocate for pausing campaigns now and picking them up again when things are less hectic. Others advocate for continuing on, proceeding with business as usual.
We are on the side of moving forward, with increased sensitivity to today’s environment.
Rather than taking down your automated marketing messages or halting your direct marketing campaigns, think about what you can do to refine your messaging. Are you just trying to sell a product or a service, or are you expressing compassion and understanding? That will go a long way toward your customers and prospects remembering long after this crisis is over.
For those of you that choose to keep moving, here are a few tips for the short-term:
- Use SMS/texting for what’s immediate.
If you need to reach your customers instantly, SMS/texting can be your first line of communication. Appointment cancellations, daily specials, and daily hours are great examples of things that might need immediate notification.
Just be sure that you have the proper consent to communicate this way, and take extra care with your messaging that it is relevant and well-timed. People are more vulnerable than ever as they rely on their phones for updates of the crisis and checking on their loved ones. Be sure to take extra care to keep your messages simple and remember to lead with compassion and understanding.
- Use email for what’s ever-changing.
If you need to reach your customers with COVID-19 policies and updates, announcements from your leadership team, event postponements, closures, or other updates, email is a great fit.
The key is in email’s flexibility. As news changes fast and announcements are made everyday, email allows you to be agile in your crisis communications efforts. And depending on how many layers of approval your emails require, the turnaround time can be pretty quick.
As with SMS/texting, be sure that you have the correct opt-ins and aren’t spamming people with your messages. Think about ways that you can make your messages personal and engaging so they don’t get lost in a sea of other COVID-19 emails,and use this as an opportunity to connect with your customers authentically.
- Use direct mail for what’s constant.
We understand that there may be a reluctance to use direct mail right now, more than any marketing medium. The fast-changing landscape of COVID-19 makes it difficult to put your updates and policies on something as permanent as direct mail.
That being said, direct mail presents a great opportunity for sending messages about things that are constant, whether that is best wishes for your customers’wellness and safety, the link where you are housing all of your COVID-19 updates, your contact information, etc.
This is more of a time for deepening your connections with people that are already in your database and less about prospecting, though there may be ways to reach prospects during this time as well. Again, just be sensitive in your outreach and mindful of where your customers’ and prospects’ thoughts may be right now.
The Bottom Line
The future of direct marketing is uncertain, but focusing on the short-term can help you keep moving forward.