Have you noticed…
Marketing is now synonymous with digital.
Ten years ago, our conversations (usually circulated in print magazines) revolved around, “Do you have a website?”
Now we want to know, “How much time do you give to social?” or “What are you doing to go mobile?” And we have those conversations in real time online.
We’ve hit a tipping point where we read a Web page with our mouse hovering over the back button — much like we used to sort mail over the trash can. And when planning a campaign, we don’t even consider a physical mail-out anymore.
Maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit. As people grow used to interacting with businesses online and through email, a physical interaction can offer a surprisingly refreshing change of pace.
I was reminded of this not long ago when I was on the receiving end of a mixed-medium campaign by MailChimp.
Let’s look at how they did it, then review ways you could do something similar and integrate physical touches into your own campaigns.
Touch 1 in this campaign is an email with an image of a wrapped gift box, promising me a gift because I had sent a campaign through MailChimp.
What I like
Even if I’m just scanning my inbox (which is usually the case), I won’t miss this one. Gifts tend to get my attention.
Notice the subject line: A little surprise from MailChimp.
Who doesn’t love a surprise? As a customer, I’m now engaged.
What I’d change
What’s confusing about this email is that I’m not a new customer. The first line of text says, “Congratulations on sending your first campaign.”
The truth is, I’ve sent lots of campaigns. This is just a fluke of MailChimp’s autoresponders. A new autoresponder goes to everyone on the list who meets the trigger event condition — no matter how long ago that trigger event happened.
If there were a way to fix this, say, to send a separate campaign to existing customers and this campaign only to new customers, that would remove the confusion.
But it’s not that big of a deal. Once I figured out what was going on, I was still delighted with the campaign.
The landing page
I wish I had an image of the landing page. I was so excited about getting a free t-shirt, I totally forgot to get a screenshot.
But that’s the point. I was completely engaged with this campaign and was thinking like a happy customer, not a marketer.
Here’s what I remember…
The landing page was short and sweet. Introductory text told me that my gift was a t-shirt. I was asked to select the size of t-shirt and give them my mailing address.
What I liked
There was no marketing copy, no gimmicks. Just a free t-shirt and my instructions.
I am curious, though, as to whether MailChimp has plans for the physical mailing list they’re developing through this campaign.
If you want to convert your mailing list from physical to email or vice versa, you have to give people incentive to give you that new information. A gift is a fantastic way to do that.
But it’s important to think about how you’ll use that customer data. It’s fine to keep it for future integrated campaigns, but you don’t want to dump a lot of junk mail on your customers.
After filling out my details on the landing page, this landed in my inbox.
What I like
It would be easy to forget to include this email, but in reality, it’s a critical part of the campaign.
From a usability perspective, it confirms that my instructions went through and tells me exactly what to expect: the t-shirt should arrive in about a week.
From a design perspective, it maintains the look and feel of the campaign. It uses the same white lettering on the same color background, so I immediately associate it with the first email.
The image (a gift box in the first email) is now a shipping box, so it suggests I’m getting closer to receiving my promised t-shirt.
As a copywriter, I love the playful, fun style of MailChimp’s communications. This campaign is no exception.
The “Wear it like a hug, from us to you” line indicates that this really is a gift. No strings attached.
Clearly, MailChimp expedited the responses, because this shipping confirmation email came one day later.
What I like
The subject line — “Your Item Is On Its Way” — serves as a second confirmation. The gift is real. MailChimp is following through.
The fact that I got this email just one day after the campaign began builds my confidence in the MailChimp brand. I haven’t been promised something that won’t be delivered. It won’t take six months to arrive.
Notice too that there’s a tracking number and a unique contact email related to this campaign. I like that MailChimp makes itself accessible, even with a gift.
Package in the mail
The package arrived, as promised, seven days later.
There’s nothing fancy here. Just a plain mailing bag addressed to me.
What I like
To be honest, by the time this package arrived in my mailbox, I had forgotten about MailChimp’s campaign.
But I’m impressed with the development and execution of this campaign. What MailChimp promised, it delivered.
Here’s the t-shirt, with a shipping label prominently displaying MailChimp’s logo.
Integrating digital and physical formats
As marketers, we talk a lot about integrated campaigns. But we’re usually talking about mixing different channels — such as blog + landing page + email + social.
We forget that “integrated” can also include “physical.”
There are four reasons why mixing digital with physical touches can make your brand more accessible.
1. Digital only allows for virtual connections.
Digital touches are still touches, but there’s nothing physical to remind people of your brand after that interaction is completed.
A physical gift, on the other hand, makes you more tangible, more “real,” if you will. Your gift is now in their home or office, hopefully being used on a regular basis.
2. People don’t get as much mail as they used to.
Direct mail used to dominate people’s mail boxes. But not any more. You can easily stand out by being the only bulky package that comes in the mail.
3. A physical gift can generate old-fashioned word-of-mouth advertising.
We’re used to making campaigns “sharable,” so we devalue a physical mailing that has no Like button. But a physical gift gets people talking both online and off.
It’s true. Not only did I tell my friends about the campaign, I wrote this article.
4. Combining virtual and physical communications strengthens the tie to your brand.
When you extend the time frame of a customer/brand interaction, you make it more memorable.
Think about it. A virtual transaction lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. This campaign, on the other hand, took seven days to complete. I interacted favorably with MailChimp on:
- Day 1, when the first email arrived
- Day 2, when I received the shipping confirmation
- Day 7, when the package arrived
- Day 8, when I wore the t-shirt
Physical mail lengthened the time frame of this one interaction, creating multiple hits on my memory. As a result, I’m more likely to remember it. And since the entire campaign was fun and pleasant, all those memories are good.
Virtual is good. Real is better.
Digital marketing is great. Don’t get me wrong. But we can get so tunnel visioned focusing on metrics, we forget to think of our customers as people.
That’s really what usability and conversion are about: understanding your customers as people with real needs and desires.
Create campaigns that have physical (not just digital) touches, that surprise and delight your customers, and you’ll win their trust and loyalty.
Both of which translate into higher sales.