The last two years have fundamentally changed us as human beings, yet the new year offers hope for a sense of normalcy. Consumer behaviour has also changed dramatically over the last two years, necessitating shifts in how marketers promote their brands.
The pandemic has had an impact on consumer behaviour, with lockdowns affecting the way in which people work, travel, and live. We ate at home and even baked more while experiencing shortages in everything from flour to lumber. As supply chains were crippled, these shortages caused consumers to hoard necessities, and stores saw bare shelves for months.
As we emerge from the fog, we realize that our needs have changed, and so has our purchasing behaviour. Lockdowns required people to have everything from food, clothing, and other supplies delivered to their homes. E-commerce was at an all-time high, and retailers of all sizes scrambled to pivot to a new business model. As people start shopping in person again, many still enjoy the convenience of having specific necessities shipped to their homes. We realized that too much screen time during repeated lockdowns has made consumers more appreciative of getting outside, travel, adventure, and personal connections. It has also made them increasingly distrustful of online offers due to the upswell in cyber attacks and scams. Marketers are also facing increasingly stringent Canadian legislation regarding how they collect, use, and manage consumer information. At the same time, Google is eliminating the use of tracking cookies, and consumers are increasingly using ad blockers.
These changes are further complicated by the economic conditions we find ourselves in post-pandemic. With soaring transportation and shipping costs and shortages in supply, product prices have increased, and high inflation rates have made consumers are more budget conscious. In a recent Nanos survey, inflation and cost of living were listed as the top source of consumer anxiety, with 87% of Canadians saying they are more worried about higher prices for everyday goods than higher interest rates. More recently, 39% of Canadians said their personal finances have worsened over the past year, near the highest since the early days of the pandemic.
In 2023, marketers will need to navigate the dichotomy of consumer expectations. For example, consumers have come to expect personalized offers, and at the same time, they are more protective of their personal data. Consumers expect more convenience but are also looking to save money.
Incorporating direct mail into your post-covid campaigns can benefit your brand
Use omnichannel marketing to build a brand story.
A trend we saw taking front stage in 2022 and expected to gain momentum in 2023 is omnichannel marketing. Omni-channel marketing isn’t new; it is a spin-off integrated marketing campaign and utilizes various marketing channels to interact with consumers creating a seamless and consistent brand experience. Businesses need to reach consumers through multiple channels to get noticed. It allows brands to meet their consumers where they are, with the right message at the right time. By providing consumers with online and offline brand experiences that are part of a seamless marketing campaign, you can increase brand awareness, engagement, ROI and sales.
Digital integrated with direct mail improves marketing performance:
- Consumers purchase 28% more items
- Consumers spend 28% more money
- Campaigns receive 39% more attention
- Total conversion rates are 40% higher
- Website visits 68% higher
- Response rates 63% higher
- ROI 60% higher
- Sales leads 53% higher
Enhance consumer experience with tangible product samples
One of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness is to offer a free product sample. Not only do consumers love getting free samples, but it also allows them to try the product without investment. Add a coupon to the free sample to motivate consumers to make a purchase. Samples are so successful that 73% of consumers say they are likely to buy a product after sampling it. Mail-delivered samples and coupons can help to get your product directly to your most desired target audience. Samples can also help to build consumer confidence in your brand when they have an opportunity to try the product without any expenditures, leading to increased sales and brand loyalty.
Utilize firsthand data for personalized direct mail
Consumers have come to expect personalized offers tailored directly to their needs. Direct mail is a valuable mechanism for first-party data collection. It is widely known that consumers trust direct mail more than digital marketing, with 76% of people saying they trust ads they receive in the mail. As a result, they are more likely to follow through with providing their private data when they receive an offline communication piece they view as trustworthy. Consumers are also 91% more likely to shop with brands that offer personalized experiences. Direct mail data processing combines firsthand data with variable imaging to produce highly targeted and relevant messages that will strengthen client relationships and improve response rates.
In an effort to connect the offline and online world, brands are making it easier for consumers to provide their personal data with the use of QR codes in direct mail. QR codes in direct mail pieces link consumers directly to the website, where they are prompted to enter their personal information. “The data collected by QR codes can improve the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns by utilizing custom-tailored data programming to identify historical purchase patterns and other online activities to create personalized direct mail campaigns that improve results,” says John Leonard, V.P. Sales and Marketing, Cover-All Business Communication Management.
What’s new to the marketing landscape is requiring third-party suppliers to manage your data with the appropriate Information Security Management System (ISMS) in place to ensure they can be trusted with your confidential consumer data. For example, a vendor that is ISO 27001 Certified provides assurances that they take the responsibility of managing your data seriously and can help mitigate a cyber breach that can cripple a brand’s reputation.
Capitalize on promotional offers through the mail
Current economic conditions are driving more consumers to take advantage of promotional offers. To deal with the consumer’s need to save money while demanding more convenience, we increasingly see promotions, including free delivery. Millennials and high-income consumers alike love to get a deal. Consumers say it makes them feel more competent. An overwhelming 92% of consumers say they always look for deals when shopping. BOGO, coupon codes, rebates, special discounts, limited time offers, rewards programs, and free shipping encourage consumers to take advantage of savings while helping to assign positive emotions to their purchase of your product. Consumers spend, on average, 30 minutes readying their direct mail, which gives them plenty of time to convey benefits and drive purchases with promotional offers. That doesn’t mean you can waste that time. Consumers are attracted to solid headlines, colour, and the uniqueness of your campaign offer.
As brand managers expand their strategic marketing toolkit in 2023, it makes sense to revisit those tried-and-true channels that deliver consistent results with the added benefit of new enhanced technologies while protecting a brand from potential cyber security risks on the horizon.
John Leonard is V.P., Sales & Marketing for Cover-All Business Communication Management. He works with his team and clients to develop relevant and effective communications by using data and technology. Contact Cover-All Business Communication Management to find out more at (416)752-8100.