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The prevalence of the Internet — and web surfers — has unleashed a stampede toward online advertising. Naturally, this has impacted budgets and, in some cases, businesses have reduced print advertising or dropped it altogether in favor of the online version. In most cases, these companies have found out the hard way that online advertising is most effectively used as a supplement to, and not a replacement for, print marketing. As a testament to this fact, some of the largest companies that were founded online routinely launch large direct-mail print campaigns. These companies understand the importance of integrated direct-mail marketing campaigns; a concept that should not be ignored if you want your business to be successful in today's dynamic marketplace.
The basic premise behind integrated marketing campaigns is that direct mail can work to drive highly targeted, motivated prospects to your website, where you can easily seal the deal. This is so important in a highly competitive online marketplace, where most people use search engines to find the products, services and information they're looking for. Search engine marketing is one way to get traffic to your site, but your prospects also have equal access to your competitors using this method. This means that every time your advertisement is served, several of your competitors' ads are also served and can potentially distract your prospects and steal your sales. By contrast, direct mail goes straight to your prospects' homes or businesses, making it a much more efficient way to draw attention to your products and services. Since you're not limited by search engine ad formatting constraints, you have the opportunity to make the sale while your marketing materials are physically in the hands of consumers and businesses through great copy, graphic design and offers. All that's left to do is tell them where to go to make the purchase.
Direct-mail marketing campaigns can also be used to build e-mail marketing lists while simultaneously bolstering the quality of your print marketing efforts. One way to do this is to make a great offer in your direct mail (like a free e-book, newsletter, simple software, free reports, coupons, etc.), and then have your prospects visit a squeeze page to get the free offer. That's where they'll submit their e-mail address and other pertinent information. The result is twofold: First, you now have a new name on your e-mail marketing list; and second, you can measure the online responses against who received the direct mail to help you build a robust and highly targeted and motivated direct-mailing list. You know that individual will log on if motivated properly through direct mail and that they're interested in your products and services, so you can begin to build a lasting customer relationship through continued marketing efforts. When developing an integrated direct-mail marketing campaign, it's important to keep track of everything you do. Robust tracking software is available for both online and print advertising campaigns; however, simply keeping track of mailing lists, responses, conversions and return on investment in a notebook or a simple text file will do. Weigh the results of all your campaigns, and all the tweaks you make in them, against one another to discover your formula for success. Above all, it's most important to look at the big picture and take advantage of all the resources available to you. Do not underestimate the importance of direct-mail marketing campaigns, because instituting them can yield much higher dividends than putting all of your efforts into online or print advertising alone.