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The 2022 Direct Marketing State of the Union

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FM Engage

Everything old is new again. Why not direct mail?

Marketers started predicting that direct mail was dying back in the 90s, when digital marketing was in its infancy. Well, the 90s are back in style again, and direct mail and other direct marketing tactics are gaining in popularity, too, thanks to rising numbers of people working from home, among other factors.

Younger consumers who were raised on screens report appreciating physical mail more than their elders do (77% of millennials and Gen Z versus 55% of Baby Boomers). But around 40% of Americans—people of all ages—enjoy checking their mail each day.

Those are just a couple of aspects of today’s marketing landscape that indicate direct marketing is a good choice in 2022 and beyond, especially for financial institutions and insurers. Are you positioned to take advantage of this opportunity?

What is Direct Marketing and How Can it Fit Into Your Marketing Strategy?

While indirect marketing promotes your brand to a broad audience, direct marketing is personalized and dispatched to your target audience and potential customers, both on and offline. Examples of direct marketing techniques include email campaigns, remarketing tactics, SMS marketing via text messages and direct mail.

Unlike the process of directing traffic to your website through search engine optimization and an increased social media presence, which can take months, direct marketing tactics work quickly, allowing you to target policyholders directly.

As the name suggests, direct response marketing is a type of direct marketing that’s designed with the specific goal of eliciting an immediate response. A postcard meant to build brand awareness is direct marketing; a postcard meant to generate leads via an online form is direct response marketing.

But how can brands determine whether direct marketing should be part of their marketing strategy?

5 Benefits of Investing in a Direct Marketing Campaign

Insurers know just how beneficial it is to make policyholders feel valued, and personalized communication does just that. But there are other benefits that make the case for prioritizing direct marketing efforts, too:

  1. Stronger relationships with existing policyholders.

Direct marketing helps financial institutions build stronger relationships with existing policyholders and improves customer loyalty. Targeting messages to a specific audience and building on previous campaigns allows you to address the biggest concerns your current policyholders have and nurture those important relationships.

  1. Opportunities to identify new audiences.

The wealth of real-world data available today, paired with comprehensive data modeling, allows marketers to gain insight into potential policyholders and discover new customers with similar interests, locations and behaviors. With the right audience list, you can fine-tune your targeting and improve your ROI. The right partner can help.

  1. Quick turn-around on campaigns.

Thanks to print-on-demand technology and digital advancements, creating a direct mail campaign isn’t as time-consuming as it once was. And you can see results from your marketing efforts quickly, thanks to robust reporting tools.

  1. Greater control over your marketing messages.

Direct marketing campaigns allow you to test and refine specific messages and improve your results. For example, an insurance agency looking to increase awareness could send out two versions of a direct mail piece, each with unique messaging and a corresponding URL. By tracking how many visitors each webpage receives, the agency can evaluate the response rates of both messages and determine which one is more effective. In their next campaign, they’ll know which message truly connects with audiences. A/B testing direct marketing campaigns like this gives you more control and better results over time.

  1. Measurable results and quantifiable ROI.

Using unique URLs and tracking metrics like response rates and conversion rates can give you a solid idea of how effective your direct marketing efforts are. And by acting quickly to adjust your direct marketing methods, you can reach new policyholders and retain existing ones. According to recent statistics, direct marketing can offer higher ROIs relative to cost per campaign.

Clearly, direct marketing offers benefits that can make a huge difference to your institution’s success. Here’s what else you should know about the landscape in 2022 and beyond.

Digital Marketing Trends to Jump on in 2022

  • Personalization, personalization, personalization

This is one marketing trend that isn’t going away. Generic mailers simply won’t cut it, and it isn’t enough to fill in a person’s name at the top of an email. Consumers want to see personalized messages and marketing that’s relevant to their lives. Thankfully, today’s data analytics tools and digital printing technology (sometimes called variable data printing or VDP) make developing personalized direct mail easier for marketers. Demographic information, purchase history and other data can help insurers develop direct communication that will reach potential customers at the right time and give them the right information to elicit a positive response.

  • Interactivity and informed delivery

The USPS encourages marketers to use digital technologies that improve open rates. How? With informed delivery, a service that allows users to preview and interact with their mail online before it arrives in the mailbox. People who use this service can preview their mail online and access attractive offers or visit a business’ website. The USPS also offers incentives for direct marketers who incorporate digital, mobile-enabled features in their mailers. The best part? Features like interactive video, QR codes, voice assistant commands and other digital prompts help insurance marketers, too. They offer future policyholders multi-channel touchpoints and a more integrated digital experience.

  • First-party data and consumer intent

The death of cookies is changing the way most marketers think about audience data. Behemoths like Apple and Google are phasing out the use of third-party cookies, so digital advertisers won’t be able to rely on these web activity trackers any longer. Instead, they’ll need to use first-party data to identify and get to know their audience.

To successfully execute a first-party data marketing strategy, advertisers must interpret user behavior on a website and understand the intent behind consumer searches—the “why,” not just the “what.” While this change may make some marketers nervous, it’s better for consumers. It forces marketers to think more about the customer journey and create messages that will really connect with potential policyholders. A marketing partner with experience and robust, real-world data can be a big help.

  • Video and social media content that boosts credibility

The insurers who will be most successful in 2022 and beyond will be the ones who show empathy and build trust with prospects and policyholders. One way to do this is to convey a compelling brand story to future customers via well-produced video content. Consumers are more likely to respond to video content that’s engaging and meaningful. They’re also more likely to believe in your company if you have a personable, reliable social media presence online.

Elements Every Successful Direct Marketing Campaign Needs

So, what do all successful direct marketing campaigns have in common? Good campaigns start with real-world data on promising prospects that helps you identify the people most likely to buy.

That’s followed up with creative content that catches the eye and compels policyholders and prospects to act.

Young woman checking direct mail marketing letters

Finally, successful direct marketing requires comprehensive reporting, which gives you direction for future marketing efforts.

Here are a few direct marketing must-haves:

  • Personalized content
  • Clear imagery that draws the eye, coupled with an engaging message
  • A singular focus and a persuasive call to action
  • Integrated digital features and seamless digital experience
  • Metrics that tell the whole story of a campaign’s success (or failure)

If your team is missing any of these elements, we can help.

FM Engage Helps Financial Institutions Create Successful Direct Marketing Campaigns

Are you prepared to take advantage of today’s marketing landscape and reach your policyholders with direct marketing? We have the data, expertise and creative skill to drive smarter campaigns. Give us a call.

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