Opinion

Influencer marketers could learn a thing or two from direct mail

Taking a leaf out of direct mail's playbook, hyperlocal influencer marketing could be the answer to your brand's personalisation problems, writes Taryn Williams.

Direct mail. It’s so local and so ’90s. But it still works. According to SEMA Group, 92% of all direct mail is opened, and 48% of people took action after receiving direct mail. See if you can find an email campaign which managed that.

So direct mail, despite the technology onslaught, still works. In actual fact, that onslaught potentially helped it work better. It might be time, then, that technology took a look at direct mail and stole a play from its book rather than trying to dismiss it. The play it should steal is hyperlocal, personalised, marketing tactics.

We are living in a disrupted world. Technology has invaded our lives with myriad options and opportunities. But it has done so on a limited number of devices and platforms. That means that while there is a lot to look at, it’s all crammed on to only a handful of devices. Your smartphone, laptop, tablet, TV, for example. And then on those, only a few platforms: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.  

The simple fact is a letter in your mailbox doesn’t have to compete with a 57 new Instagram posts, 14 new LinkedIn connections, three new Facebook friend requests and 89 retweets – not forgetting Spotify and Netflix.

Personalised, targeted marketing isn’t just the domain of direct mail

Aside from a lack of competition, there is another reason why direct mail is statistically so compelling. It’s usually personalised. From your name on the front of your envelope to a service that you are likely to require soon, direct mail is great at targeting specific individuals. Influencer marketing now has the power to do the very same thing. The results are worth it, but the rules of engagement need to be altered by comparison to large-scale influencer marketing.

The appeal of using social influencers in marketing campaigns for many brands is reach. They want influencers who can reach a million people, for example. That’s fine, but leave some budget for those that might not be able to reach a million people, but could target 500 brilliantly. Perhaps their reach is even less, but substantially more targeted.

According to the CMO Council, 43% of marketers said personalisation led to conversion. People trust people they know. They will look up to celebrities and take their product advice, but they will do this more so with people they trust.

According to a report by Forbes, 81% of consumers admit they make purchase decisions based on posts from their friends. Suddenly, mum, dad, brother, sister, neighbour, shop assistant and more are really important influencers, but have a relatively small but concentrated reach.

Williams: Direct mail, despite the technology onslaught, still works

That is not to say a marketer should go and sign up every mum in sight for a hyperlocal campaign around soy milk or something. There is a very fine line between a hit and a miss when it comes to hyperlocal marketing.

The CMO Council report also shows that 40% of promotions consumers get don’t interest them. So how do you know what will hit and what will miss?

The answer is a simple rule that’s difficult to police: engagement. Does the influencer, no matter who you have in mind and how big they are, engage with your product or service? Not just use it every now and then, but really like it and feel attached to it in some form?

The marketing message becomes a lot more natural when you have an influencer that truly engages with the brand. Their usage is natural and they can illustrate the benefits with ease.

But the difficulty for a marketer is finding these people and spending the time to organise the campaign. It takes just as long to find a hyperlocal influencer as it does a mass-market influencer.

Technology platforms are now enabling marketers to be more precise with who they are reaching out to. Suddenly you can find 10 relevant influencers in the time it took you to find one a year ago. But the proof will be in the testing.

Having worked on hyperlocal campaigns, it is clear that the reward is worth the effort. So next time an influencer turns up in your search with a reach of only a few hundred, it may pay to look twice.

Taryn Williams is founder and CEO of TheRight.Fit

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