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Digital marketing does better with a physical component

by Canada Post   |   June 12, 2017   |   Share this:  

When marketers go “all in” on digital campaigns, they may feel like they’re set up for success, but they’re actually losing out on the benefits that physical marketing provides in reinforcing their message.


Research suggests consumers have a 40% higher brand recall when a piece of direct mail follows an email. But today’s marketer has access to a plethora of platforms that reach their customers and that can be overwhelming.

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“As marketers, we have this great opportunity that not everyone is taking full advantage of. We need to go into our planning very thoughtfully and strategically and to consider all of the different channels at our disposal,” says Jennifer Campbell, General Manager, Influencer Marketing with Canada Post.

Bringing digital and physical marketing together lets the platforms “work harder together to amplify that message,” she explains.

Building an integrated strategy

In an ideal campaign, Campbell envisions digital efforts supporting the “mass” to create awareness while physical marketing would help build the brand’s story, to get more detail, and ultimately get the brand (literally) into the hands of every single Canadian. That’s powerful.

Direct mail has made strides in recent years through efforts like Canada Post Smartmail MarketingTM an approach that seamlessly marries the attributes of physicality, data and connectivity. “With new technology in the print industry, you can leverage sight, sound, taste and scent in your direct mail campaign. Appealing to the senses has a fundamental impact on our brains. Physical mail can be personalized in digital print runs, it can be brought to life with an app or a QR code, or a programmable ‘sticker’ that when paired with their smartphone, allows audiences to go further than has ever before been possible.”

Don’t go too far in one direction

Over the past decade, Campbell has seen a distinct evolution among marketers. From a determined pursuit of “likes” and other digital-only measures of success, to a more balanced approach. “I’ve watched marketers come back at the end of a campaign and say, `Perhaps putting all our marketing budget into that channel wasn’t the right approach for us to actually be able to sell something.”

Rather than an either-or choice, marketers have determined that a mix of digital and physical and the distinct traits and advantages of both presents a more powerful solution. “If you cut out one platform completely you run the risk of missing out on speaking to an entire audience.”

“A lot of marketers say, `Millennials are growing up digital – why would I even use physical?’”

The digital-only mentality for marketing to younger Canadians isn’t exactly supported by scientific research. “We’ve done some really intriguing neuroscience research that looks at the brain. Our brains are all wired the same way, it doesn’t matter the age. So we all respond really well to physical stimuli and it has proven brand recall. Those are really important things for marketers to consider.”

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Hard-wired for direct mail

Highlights from the neuroscience research Campbell refers to shows direct mail is more action-oriented than digital media, surpassing its response across key measures:

TITB Jennifer Campbell

A research-backed approach

Insights like these have helped put physical marketing back in the mix. “I think it’s really resonating in part because of the experiences marketers have had in investing too much into one channel and cutting out the others.”

So how do you find a balance that works? Marketers are constantly chasing down the perfect approach.

Start with having an open mind to all channels. “Don’t assume away a generation, or a medium. Consider them all, test them, and find wonderful results.

“Across the board, when direct mail follows digital channels, whether it be email, banner ads or video pre-roll, the message resonates better. That’s better brand recall, and more importantly, better intent to take action. And at the end of the day, convincing our audience to take action is what a marketer’s job is all about.”

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READ MORE: The brain doesn’t lie: Neuromarketing study looks at sequencing and channel combinations

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